Cumberland Times-News

Local News

October 24, 2013

Underpass traffic to increase

With Baltimore Street rail crossing closing for resurfacing, officials working on plan to clean underground passage

CUMBERLAND — With the city announcing that the railroad crossing at Baltimore Street and Queen City Drive will be closed for six weeks beginning Monday to allow CSX to resurface the intersection, use of the pedestrian underpass is likely to increase.

However, the issue of cleaning the underpass still remains unresolved.

“We are waiting for details at this point,” said Mayor Brian Grim.

The city is hoping that an agreement with CSX can be struck that will share the cost of hiring a third party contractor to establish a cleaning schedule for the tunnel passage.

The underpass has been plagued by trash, bottles, graffiti and loitering for years with no firm deal in place to maintain the pedestrian passage.

A pedestrian referred to the underpass as “dispicable” when he attempted to use it over the summer.

“I would expect increased use of the underpass during the resurfacing,” said Grim.

While many wait for a cleaner underpass, some feel it should not be shut down.

“I think it is imperative that we keep it open. Closing it is not the solution,” said Ed Mullaney, downtown manager.

Mullaney feels that the city has allowed CSX to close too many crossings as is.

“There are people getting community service for crossing at unsafe places. I’d like to see the Harrison Street crossing reopened,” said Mullaney.

The underpass allows the neighborhoods to be more easily connected, according to Mullaney.

The city met with CSX to discuss the resurfacing project and decided to contribute around $37,000 to ensure a high quality project.

“That crossing is widely used for automobile and pedestrian traffic. We wanted it to be a smooth crossing,” said Jeff Rhodes, city administrator.

Rhodes said he has been working with Jason Bishop of CSX on the project. Rhodes believes that CSX will use more concrete in the resurfacing as opposed to simply using railroad ties.

“We want a grade A crossing,” said Rhodes.

During the resurfacing, the city said that detour routes will be at Knox Street for westbound travelers on Queen City Drive; westbound travelers on Henderson Avenue or Queen City Drive can use Interstate 68.

Pedestrians can use the underpass while handicapped travelers may use the John J. McMullen Bridge.

“We hope that users of the underpass will respect it and use the trash cans in place at either end during the resurfacing,” said Grim.

The city hopes that CSX will return the favor of helping with the cost of the resurfacing and join in with a cleaning schedule for the underpass in the future.

Video cameras monitor the underpass for the city, but no janitorial responsibilities are completed on any regular schedule.

“We need to have a open, clean and safe underpass,” said Mullaney.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

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