City officials have long known that entrance into Cumberland via Baltimore Avenue has been an eyesore and a bad impression to visitors. Finally, improvements are going to be made.
The avenue, which runs several blocks until it intersects with Baltimore Street, has been plagued with run-down properties, sidewalk problems and street disrepair. A few efforts have been made over the years to make improvements, most notably by the Let’s Beautify Cumberland project.
At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Cumberland mayor and council, John DiFonzo, the city’s director of engineering, revealed that rather than a limited makeover of the avenue, the project has been upgraded to be more extensive. Besides the original plan to do milling work, add waterlines and then patch and pave, the city will now be able to build a new retaining wall, widen the street by 5 to 6 feet and build handicapped accessible sidewalks.
The city is receiving added funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission that will allow for updates that include the intersection of Front Street and Baltimore Avenue, Henderson Avenue all the way to Glenn Street and the widening of the “narrow section” of Baltimore Avenue, DiFonzo said.
Once the work is complete, we urge the city to find incentives for property owners to renovate and spruce up homes in the neighborhood. Having attractive residential properties along the street should be a major goal.
As with any major project, the construction — which will be bid early next year and start in the summer — will entail traffic disruption. Plans call for making Baltimore Avenue one-way until the work is finished in 2014. Interstate 68 would be used as the detour route.
The disruption will be well worth it when the avenue finally has its facelift.