CUMBERLAND — A limited makeover of Baltimore Avenue will be expanded to a more extensive project thanks to the infusion of additional funding, said John DiFonzo, Cumberland’s director of engineering.
DiFonzo delivered an update to the project at the regular meeting of the Cumberland Mayor and City Council on Tuesday.
The Baltimore Avenue improvements project has gained additional funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and a Community Development Block Grant.
Although the city had bond money available, the failure of an Allegany College entrance project freed up $937,000 in ARC funds.
“After the new entrance to Allegany College was not able to move forward,” said DiFonzo, “Baltimore Avenue has become a much better project.”
The added funding will allow for updates that include the intersection of Front Street and Baltimore Avenue, Henderson Avenue all the way to Glenn St. and the widening of the “narrow section” of Baltimore Avenue, DiFonzo said.
Initial bond money was only going to allow for the milling off of the road, adding waterlines, then patching and paving, DiFonzo said.
“We would not have been able to do this with just the bond money,” said DiFonzo.
The project was upgraded after property was obtained along the steep side of Baltimore Avenue, which will receive a new retaining wall and a widening of 5 to 6 feet.
The project will also include funding for handicapped accessible sidewalks through money from the community development grant.
“A fair amount of money was needed to improve the handicapped access,” said DiFonzo.
Traffic will be forced to become one-way during the work.
“Traffic will be temporarily one-way from Baltimore Avenue at Henderson all the way out to Marion,” DiFonzo said.
DiFonzo said that making Baltimore Avenue one-way during construction, with Interstate 68 being used as the detour, is the best way to handle traffic during construction.
“We did this on Virginia Avenue with wonderful success,” said DiFonzo.
Council member Nick Scarpelli echoed the sentiment.
“We had no disruption during that,” Scarpelli said.
“If it were two-way it would be a mess,” said DiFonzo. “We will have flagmen and signs to help direct people around the equipment.”
“I wanted to do this in the 80’s,” said DiFonzo. “We just didn’t have the funding. I think it’s going to be a noticeable improvement that I think we are going to be proud to have done” he said.
“The design work by EADS of Somerset is complete and the State Highway Administration is reviewing the plans now,” DiFonzo said.
“We will bid it in February or March and hope to award it and begin the work in the summer.
The project is not expected to be finished until 2014.
Greg Larry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.