Updates Provided at Public Meeting about the Condition – and Future – of the Hanover Street Bridge

| February 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Hanover Street Corridor Study, which is examining the condition and use of the 1.4 mile stretch of Hanover St. from Wells St. in South Baltimore to Reedbird Ave. in Cherry Hill, is currently underway. The $1.8 million study is funded by a $1.1 million federal TIGER Grant and $700,000 from Baltimore City.

A key aspect of the study is determining the future of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, often referred to as the Hanover Street Bridge. On Tuesday night, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) and engineering firm AECOM provided an update on this study, which is expected to wrap up in about a year. When finished, a plan will be put in place and the costs will be determined.

Now 100 years old, the bridge was built in 1916 and was rehabilitated in 1970 and 1992. It is .43 miles long and 72 ft. wide, and includes five driving lanes and two sidewalks. The bridge also features a moveable (bascule) main span which was opened four times in the past year for maintenance and twice for recreational sail boats.

Not surprisingly, it’s been determined that the bridge will need significant repairs to last another 100 years, which is the goal of the plan versus just making enough repairs to extend its life another 10 to 15 years. The team has determined the deck surface made of concrete and steel, as well as the sidewalks and side barriers, need to be replaced. While many repair elements of the study will be determined at the end of the study, Betty Smoot of DOT told the crowd that the department is looking into funding for deck repairs for fiscal year 2018 or 2019. She estimated this would cost $10 million to $20 million.

Repairing the deck alone will not be enough to secure another century for the bridge. While major support elements were described as in good condition for continued use, repairs are needed to secure the long-term future of the bridge. Retrofits are needed for the steel superstructure of the bridge, and an additional study is being done on all elements that support the bridge. It is also being determined if the span will need to remain or can be eliminated, which could be a large factor in rehabilitation and future maintenance.

Other issues with the bridge are the lack of sidewalk space and the limited space between the sidewalks and the roadway. The team is studying if the bridge could be widened using the current structural elements in place, as well as the importance of the middle reversible lane. Bike and pedestrian access is another key aspect of the study, and pedestrian lighting is also needed on the bridge according to the study’s findings.

Sagamore Development, the developer of the 266-acre Port Covington Master Plan, has proposed funding a $1.134 million lighting display for the bridge.

Approximately 37,500 vehicles, including 2,500 trucks, use the bridge each day. Very few pedestrians and cyclists currently use the bridge – on the day it was studied, this number was only seven.

Additional corridor problems discovered were sidewalks being too close to trucks and high speed traffic; lack of accessibility to bus stops; lack of pedestrian lighting, pedestrian signals, and curb ramps, which are not ADA compliant; crosswalks in need of maintenance; and insufficient bike facilities.

The Maryland Transportation Authority is also currently studying I-95 access improvements to Port Covington. This study will wrap up in early 2018. Last year, Sagamore Development detailed its recommendations for these improvements to the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association (SBNA). They included a new exit to Port Covington off I-395, eliminating the South Hanover St. exit, and widening on and off ramps.

Sagamore Development has also proposed changes to Hanover St. from the bridge to McComas St. Much of Hanover St. in this area is an above-ground ramp and Sagamore intends to bring much of it back down to grade just past McComas St. Sagamore also plans on adding large sidewalks to Hanover St. as well as a median, on-street parking, trees, new landscaping, and new east/west intersections that are safe for pedestrians and vehicles. Though Hanover St. will not have dedicated bicycle lanes, new parallel streets to the east and west of Hanover, including Black St., will include them.

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.