City to present Cumberland Street bridge design plans

This 2017 file photo shows the Cumberland Street bridge, which was closed to traffic on Nov. 17, 2017. City officials updated the public Tuesday on design plans for a replacement for the bridge.

CUMBERLAND — City officials moved one step closer Tuesday in the lengthy process of designing a new bridge for Cumberland Street.

A virtual presentation on the project was given by Robert Smith, city engineer, at a public work session held Tuesday evening with Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss and members of the City Council present. Periodic public sessions are required under federal guidelines during the design phase, which is currently 30% complete, according to Smith.

If the project progresses through all phases, Smith said a new span could be in place sometime in 2022. With the Cumberland Street bridge closed since November 2017, that would make it five years before citizens see the bridge reopened.

Smith said the span — which is 174 feet long and 38 feet wide — is in “dire need of replacement.” He said bracing beneath the span has deteriorated and support timber has rotted.

Standing nearly 27 feet above CSX Transportation railroad tracks, the bridge meets federal guidelines requiring a minimum height of 23 feet. Therefore the federal government will pay 80% of the estimated $3 million for constructing a new bridge. CSX will pay the remaining 20%.

Smith said there are three options on the table. However, he said he favors a single-span steel bridge as opposed to the concrete girder systems used in the other two options.

“Basically it will look similar to the Valley Street and Market Street bridge(s),” said Smith. “It will have a concrete stormwater release, a concrete deck, along with lighting improvements and a chain link fence above the parapet, which meets CSX requirements.”

Morriss asked about the sidewalks. Smith said they would be on both sides and each be 5 feet wide.

Councilman Rock Cioni wanted to confirm the traffic flow on the bridge, which Smith responded would remain two-way.

Smith added, “It won’t be like Baltimore Street where we are replacing just the super-structure. We are replacing the whole bridge. As far as how long it lasts ... it should last 30 to 50 years. It won’t be without maintenance. You want it well maintained.”

Smith said he hopes to submit final designs to the Maryland State Highway Administration in 2021 and, following approval, begin soliciting bids from contractors by the end of 2021. He hopes construction could begin in April 2022.

Spencer Lee and Pkar Attukudy from EBA Consulting were present at the meeting. EBA has been working with local officials throughout the process.

The city will continue to take public comment from citizens through 2 p.m. Friday. Residents may comment by sending an email to Smith at robert.smith@cumberlandmd.gov.

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.

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