Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

October 27, 2013

Underpass

Now’s time to decide what is to be done with it

“I don’t want it, you can have it ...,” is a refrain we’ve heard from time to time over recent years.

There was a question about whether the city of Cumberland or CSX owns the bridge that crosses the railroad tracks on Washington Street.

The bridge’s condition was not at issue. It had been closed to traffic because it was in bad shape. Papers that might have verified its ownership were lost in a fire at City Hall in 1910.

Now, we’re wondering who owns the Potomac River dam under the Blue Bridge between Cumberland and Ridgeley, W.Va. There is talk of removing the dam as part of a scheme to increase river tourism here (an idea that may prove unworkable for a variety of reasons).

And now, the city is faced with the problem of a pedestrian tunnel that goes under the CSX tracks at Baltimore Street and Queen City Drive. The above-ground railroad crossing is to be closed for six weeks so it can be resurfaced.

Ownership of the underpass is not in question, and neither is its condition — which is filthy enough to make people think twice about walking through it. The city is hoping that CSX will share the costs of cleaning it. This would be a fair arrangement, considering that the city is going to contribute $37,000 toward the resurfacing.

The underpass will see increased use while the crossing is closed. Those who must use it — it does serve a purpose — can at least be assured by the fact that their passage is monitored by video cameras. The city should do one of two things with the underpass: either find the money to keep it clean on a regular basis, or fill in the hole and close it for good.

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