Study Recommends a $50-Million Rehabilitation of the Hanover Street Bridge

| June 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Hanover Street Corridor Study has been completed and it recommends a $50-million renovation of the 102-year-old Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, often referred to as the Hanover Street Bridge. Six options were considered in the study, including demolishing and replacing the bridge, rehabilitating the bridge, and building a separate bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

The two-year study examined 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 was funded by a $1.1 million-federal TIGER Grant and $700,000 from Baltimore City. The study was a partnership between Baltimore City Department of Transportation and a team of consultants.

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 working on the study.

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.

A Draft Project Report of the study is now posted on the DOT website with a comment period until June 30th. The Final Project Report will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on July 13th.

Option 3 of the study was the plan recommended to move forward. Option 3 would undertake a complete replacement of the concrete driving deck on the bridge. It takes the deck of 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.

This plan will also permanently close the drawbridge span. The steel grate grind deck would be filled with the new concrete surface.

Rendering from the Hanover Street Corridor Study 

To move forward with this plan, a specialized engineering work/structural analysis is required to demonstrate that a suitable additional service life of approximately 75 years can be achieved prior to selecting rehabilitation as the preferred option. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge is still structurally sound according to yearly DOT inspections.

This analysis would be followed by a National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) study and a request to the US Coast Guard to permanently close the movable span. After this, DOT will begin to identify funding opportunities.

Due to these upcoming steps, it is likely the rehabilitation will not begin for another four to five years.

As Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge’s driving surface has been in poor shape in recent years. An approximately $400,000 improvement is currently underway to provide a temporary fix. Spot bridge deck repairs were recently completed and an asphalt overlay will be placed over the bridge deck to improve the riding surface of the bridge. The overlay is expected to start in late-summer with work taking place at night and on weekends.

“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge on S. Hanover St. is an incredible piece of architecture and is a major gateway into the City. There are significant maintenance issues which are currently and finally being addressed as this maintenance has gone unaddressed for far too long,” said District 11 Councilman Eric Costello in a statement.  “Option 3, which would include four travel lanes and protected pedestrian and cycle lanes with the closure of the moveable span while ensuring the bridge is completely structurally sound at an approximate price tag of $50 million seems to make the most sense. This would preserve an incredible architectural asset to the City while ensuring safe travel for automobiles as well as pedestrians and cyclists.”

New bridge options in the study are estimated to cost $195 million to $245 million.

DOT did not respond to requests for comment.

The study has also outlined $9 million to $26 million of additional corridor improvements north and south of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge.

For the roadway, the study recommends reconstructing the pavement with concrete north of the bridge to Cromwell St. and south of the bridge to Waterview Ave., and resurfacing the remaining roadway in the corridor with asphalt. Also included is cleaning all existing inlets, pipes, and bridge scuppers and inspecting the existing storm drain system; upgrading traffic/pedestrian signals; and removing channelized/free-right turn movements.

For pedestrians, it recommends adding pedestrian lighting; enhancing crosswalks; providing pedestrian signals at all signalized intersections; clearing debris from all sidewalks; providing full ADA access throughout corridor, including curb ramps and sidewalk clearances; and reconstructing stairwell connecting Hanover St. to the Gwynns Falls Trail.

Rendering from the Hanover Street Corridor Study 

For bicycles, the study recommends providing separated bike facility along the corridor, including on the bridge; potentially adding emerging bike facility technology; providing connections to existing and planned bike facilities identified in the 2015 Bike Master Plan and 2017 Separated Bike Lane Network Addendum, to include existing Gwynns Falls Trail/East Coast Greenway/Middle Branch Park; connecting to the Port Covington shared use path and cycle track; and connecting to a planned separated facility to Brooklyn and Anne Arundel County, to South Baltimore, Federal Hill, and Downtown, and to the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network 35-mile loop.

For urban design, it recommends creating “unique urban areas” under the bridge with an outdoor art gallery and recreational amenities. This would include a sculptural staircase from this area to the bridge deck, and enhancing the living shoreline adjacent to West Covington Park.

Rendering from the Hanover Street Corridor Study 

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. 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.

Deck conditions before repairs began

Renderings from the Hanover Street Corridor Study 

     

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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, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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