Hanover Street Bridge To Be Resurfaced This Spring

| February 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

While a study is currently underway to determine the long-term future of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, more commonly known as the Hanover Street Bridge, its deteriorating driving surface will be addressed immediately.

District 11 Councilman Eric Costello and District 10 Councilman Edward Reisinger called a meeting with Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) Director Michelle Pourciau yesterday to receive an update on the bridge they said needs an “immediate re-decking.”

Councilman Costello posted a recap of that meeting to Facebook, reporting that there will be immediate, mid-term, and long-term repairs to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge.

A new two-inch layer of hot rigid asphalt will be added to the bridge deck, from curb to curb, this spring. The work will be completed by the end of May or sooner if the weather permits. This repair will cost approximately $500,000 and take seven to ten days to complete. The surface is expected to last two to three years if needed.

In Spring 2019, the bridge will receive a new concrete deck. This will include removing the new asphalt and completing structural work beneath the existing concrete deck. These repairs are expected to cost $7-8 million.

“While it would have been ideal for this work to start immediately, due to the very unique structure of the bridge underneath the deck, significant design work is necessary before actual work may begin and the design is slated to begin in next two months,” said Councilman Costello.

Both of these solutions will buy DOT time to find a permanent solution for the bridge. Any rebuilding or replacement of the bridge is expected to require at least five additional years of planning and studies.

The Hanover Street Corridor Study has started to outline some options for future renovations – or a replacement – of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge. The team of consultants working on the study and DOT held a public meeting earlier this month.

The study 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 that includes the bridge. The $1.8 million-study is funded by a $1.1 million-federal TIGER Grant and $700,000 from Baltimore City. The study was expected to be completed around this time, but will be extended to June due to delays caused by other transportation projects underway in the area.

After the study is complete it will be sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, DOT Transportation Director, and elected officials for a decision on how to move forward.

Now 102 years old, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial 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.

The bridge requires $500,000 of maintenance each year. Most of this funding is used to maintain the span, according to the team of consultants at the meeting.

Approximately 37,500 vehicles, including 2,500 trucks, use the bridge each day according to the study. Very few pedestrians and cyclists currently use the bridge. On the day it was studied, for example, this number was only seven.

Any bridge replacement or long-term renovation project likely wouldn’t start for at least another five years as future studies would still need to take place including a design and construction plan, an environmental study, and a United States Coast Guard study to determine if closing off the span is possible.

DOT would also have to secure the funding which would range from $30 million to $245 million. Funding would likely come from City, State of Maryland, and Federal Government sources.

The bridge study laid out four long-term options for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Options 3 and 4 of the study include a new driving deck and a new alignment of the bridge surface.

Option 3 takes the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge from a five-lane bridge to a four-lane bridge. The extra space is used to increase the sidewalks from 6 ft. in width to 8 ft. in width on one side, and to 10 ft. in width on the other side. The plan also includes new 2 ft.-wide barriers separating the sidewalks from the driving lanes, and separating the middle two driving lanes.

Option 3 is estimated to cost $30 million with no rehabilitation of the drawbridge span, $50 million if it permanently closes the span, and $70 million if it includes renovating the span.

Option 4 would renovate the bridge deck into a six-lane surface and remove the sidewalks. The span would be replaced with a new concrete surface. Pedestrians and cyclists would then use a new dedicated 15 ft.-wide bridge that is the same height as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge and that connects to trails at West Covington Park and Middle Branch Park.

Option 4 is estimated to cost $70 million with $50 million for the rehabilitation and $20 million for the pedestrian and cycling bridge.

Options 5 and 6 cover constructing a new bridge. At this month’s meeting, DOT Chief Engineer Muhammed Khalid stated that a new bridge would need to have the same historical architectural character as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge.

A new six-lane bridge would be 102 ft. wide and would include 12 ft.-wide sidewalks on each side that are protected with a barrier. It would also have a span. A barrier would additionally separate two middle driving lanes.

A new six-lane bridge is estimated to cost a total of $245 million with $15 million included in the costs to demolish the existing bridge.

A four-lane bridge with sidewalks is estimated to cost $195 million. A Coast Guard Study could reveal that a span is no longer needed or reveal the height needed to avoid having a span.

Due to new stop lights along S. Hanover St. that will be added in Port Covington, the study estimated that the difference in travel times between a six-lane bridge and four-lane bridge are minimal.

The team of consultants said a new bridge could potentially be built in phases to keep two lanes of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge open during the first phase of construction, and two lanes of the new bridge open during the second phase of construction.

At this month’s earlier meetings, the team of consultants also showed renderings of potential improvements underneath the bridge that could include public spaces for fishing, public art, and pedestrian paths. The plan also addresses path, sidewalk, and ADA-compliant improvements throughout the corridor.

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

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.

Sagamore was approved for $534,795,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) from Baltimore City. In Sagamore’s proposal the TIF bonds would fund $10,311,500 going towards Hanover St. improvements from McComas to Wells St. with matching state and federal funds and $48,123,000 in TIF funds going towards Hanover St. improvements from McComas St. to the bridge.

About the Author:

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.