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Transportationby Mark Reutter1:40 pmJul 18, 20180

City selects contractor for new Harford Road Bridge

Traffic re-routing and bridge deconstruction are expected to get underway in a few months

Above: The Harford Road Bridge over Herring Run has somehow held itself together across decades of decay. (Mark Reutter)

It’s been promised for 25 years – a new bridge for Harford Road across Herring Run – and today Baltimore government took a concrete step toward turning talk into reality.

The Board of Estimates selected the U.S. subsidiary of the French construction conglomerate Demathieu Bard to replace the 107-year-old bridge with a new structure.

The $19 million bid by Technopref Industries beat out five competitors and was surprisingly low – fully $4 million less than the estimated cost by the city Department of Transportation.

Work is expected to begin next month on re-routing traffic around the bridge via 32rd Street, Hillen Road and Argonne Drive, according to Third District Councilman Ryan Dorsey.

UPDATE: The Councilman was over optimistic: DOT spokesperson Kathy Dominick says the agency doesn’t expect a Notice to Proceed with construction to be issued for another “few months.”

The next stage – dismantling the current bridge – will include environmental safeguards to protect Herring Run from falling debris and sediment churned up by trucks and heavy equipment involved in the teardown, Dorsey told The Brew today.

Construction has been slated to take 2½-to-3 years to complete.

This afternoon, spokesperson Dominick said: “The timeline for construction will be determined once the contractor provides their schedule, which will be discussed in the coming weeks.”
TONIGHT at 6:30, DOT will hold a public informational meeting on the project at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 3615 Harford Road.
Fixing the Harford Road Bridge, opened in 1911, has been a top priority of the Mayfield, Arcadia and Lauraville neighborhoods since the 1990s, when the concrete arch structure began to show serious signs of decay.

The structure is now too far gone to be repaired. It has a Bridge Sufficiency Rating (BSR) of under 40 – the result of buckling spandrel walls, arch-barrel deterioration and poor fill drainage.

In other words, the bridge has a high likelihood of failure. Over 22,000 vehicles use it daily, according to DOT.

The bridge structure is now too far gone to be repaired.

In 2014, northeast residents were promised that construction of a new bridge would start within months.

But then came a higher priority for the Rawlings-Blake administration – a Central Avenue Connector Bridge to link the Harbor Point/Exelon Building development of Michael Beatty with Harbor East.

Earlier this month, city officials celebrated the partial opening of the $10 million Central Avenue bridge, which Mayor Catherine Pugh hailed as “providing opportunities for us to engage one section of our city to the other.”

Dorsey said he was confident that the Harford Bridge project “is ready to go” and construction could start by next month.

Among the changes that will transpire with the onset of construction: The playground, basketball court and pathways near the bridge will be closed.

Among the still unanswered questions: How many trees in Herring Run Park will be cut down to allow the contractor access to the bridge?

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