Community Fights Replacing Fort Avenue Bridge

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Plans to rebuild a deteriorating bridge in Baltimore are sparking widespread controversy.

Weijia Jiang explains why.

Baltimore leaders have no qualms about admitting the Fort Avenue CSX Bridge is in bad shape.  Many who cross over will tell you, it’s not just bad, it’s dangerous.

“You never know when it’s gonna collapse,” said Gary Makarovich, Locust Point resident.

“Underneath it appears to be deteriorating,” said Rick Ullman, Locust Point resident.

In fact, out of 300 bridges in town, the transportation department ranks it the second worst.

It scored lower in safety points than the Minnesota Bridge that collapsed.Yet it’s one of only three ways into Locust Point, a peninsula.

The city is now moving forward with plans to tear it down completely and build a new bridge.

“We have the money, we’re ready to go,” said Khalil Zaied, Baltimore Director of Transportation. “We have the design almost 90 percent complete. We need to get it done and get out.”

But for years, locals have been pushing to build in stages so at least part of the bridge could remain open at all times, namely because the local fire station is located on the west side of the bridge. Most people live on the east side.

Authorities promise a solution.

“Our plan is to put a company on the peninsula,” said Chief Jim Clack, Baltimore Fire Department.“We need to find a location to stay for 9 months, 12 months, whatever it takes.”

Then there’s the traffic concern and what detours mean for residents and businesses.

Restaurateur Mike Marx is certain he’ll lose customers.

“Locust Point is the heart, and there’s really one artery that leads to that heart. And that main artery is going to get snipped,” said Marx, Miguel’s owner.

Transportation authorities admit traffic will move slower but say a total tear down is the safest, fastest and cheapest way to go.

The Department of Transportation plans to start accepting bids for the project in May with hopes to break ground in June.

CSX is funding 75 percent of the $5 million project. The city is paying the rest.

  • Tom

    When it collapses and kills somebody. And then it takes longer to fix because the plans are not ready and the project would have to be put out to bit. How much longer than a year do you think it will take.
    It’s a real public safety issue and not just for the people who live there. It is for anyone that crosses the bridge.

  • steve

    Who are they trying to fool? Yeah the work may take up a year to most other bridge work, they close off one half side to work on it while traffic is flowing on the other side and when that one half is completed, they switch sides to work on other half…and there’s another way in and out thru the street that goes by Dominos Suger to Hull St.

  • sobomeme

    I may be an inconvience for a while but as bad and as small as the bridge is they should do it all at once…its the design that will make it take forever with all the brick work and new height and median for joggers…just replace it the way it is and let the joggers find another route for a year.

  • T

    Safety trumps inconvenience, SoBo residents.How could they possibly have an issue with this?! It boggles the mind.

    • M Bruce

      You know what – all of you people, and I’m guessing that most of you with these ridulous opinions haven’t lived in Locust Point very long, don’t realize that not everyone who lives in Locust Point has a car!! I have a car, but I know others who don’t. And some are elderly and can’t walk long distances to catch a bus. Is anyone addressing that issue? So what’s the plan for the Bus Route? I think it would be better if they were able to keep one side of the bridge open while construction is going on. This is not simply a matter of inconvenience, so you all should just stop being so selfish and mean spirited, and show some respect for other peoples lives.

  • LPResident

    This is a public safety issue, but not just for a bridge collapse. What many people not from the area fail to understand is that Locust Point is a peninsula. This is the only route in and out of the neighborhood that does not cross train tracks. What happens when an ambulance needs to get out of the neighborhood and a train is blocking the only routes in and out? This is also an issue for regular vehicular traffic. The 2 routes that will be left open in and out of the neighborhood are already traffis nightmares. They will be much worse when the main road is closed. The city didn’t really entertain the idea of closing half of the bridge while the other half was left open. They said it would be more expensive and take longer if it was possible. I suspect it was a money issue. Steve – you’re wrong about them leaving half open. They said they will not do that. Fort Ave. Will be completely closed for at least 9 months. The project will take at least 12 months to complete. How many Locust Point bussinesses will be forced to close during that time?

    • A

      The Baltimore mindset “If it inconveniences me I don’t want it”

    • Really?

      They most likely did consider a partial close of the bridge but as they are tearing down half of it it will increase the dangers of the other half collapsing. Also, the likely hood of a ambulance not being able to get over the train tracks timely is not even a valid point. What if there was an accident on the bridge or a telephone pole down blocking a road. They will get you there. Money is not an issue. The difference is negligible. Stop belly aching and let them do what is right for the community.

      • LPResident

        Really? – That’s a terrible analogy. How often do telephine poles bloch roads. When they do, there are other routes available. The train tracks in LP are a loop used as a staging area. The trains block the tracks numerous times per day. When they do, they block the tracks for long periods of time as they move very slowly while staging. They also are not able to move out of the way quickly as they are moving slow. So the likely hood of an ambulance having to wait for a train to move is a valid concern. As far as the partial close versus the tear down, The city told us that money was an issue. They said that if it was able to be done, it would cost more. They weren’t willing to persue that option because of the cost even though CSX is paying fo rmost of the project. Everyone at the meeting heard this. I’m guessing you weren’t there.

  • harrythe hammer

    Yuppies rule now in Locust point. Disgusting phoney’s

  • Yaffa

    LP residents stop whining and let’s get moving. Do you realize how dangerous this situation is??

  • FedHill

    People are very quick to criticize when the are removed from the situation. It’s also childish to name call and label tax payers who mind their own business and don’t bother anyone.

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  • shetazz

    It is mind boogling that the Baltimorons prefer convinience over safety. So when the bridge collapses and kills ppl, then they will be wailing about that. Shut your mouths, let the Engineers do their job, and fix the bridge. They are not going to fix the bridge without a plan for the Firestation…..SMH (means shaking my head) at these stupid people : (

  • FedHillGal

    This an issue of safety and residents should let the city repair the bridge in the way they see fit. They would be the first to complain if somehting happened. The article says the firehouse will be relocated until the work is completed. And to Harrythe Hammer, thanks to those “yuppies” your home value has probably more then doubled.

  • Dawn Marie Bruce

    I am a lifelong resident of Locust Point, and when we had another bridge replaced, back in 1991, the bridge closest to “Southside Shopping Center” it was still allowed to remain open, on one side, and btw, there’s actually traffic that goes underneath that bridge, not just trains, it worked out fine, this is a penninsula, ohh btw, I really wish people who want to inslt the residents of Locust Point would leave their real names, and not cowardly fake names…The property value of Locust Point Homes was always high, this was a safe neighborhood before any of the developement and yuppies moved here the only reason any yuppies moved here was because “The Lifer’s” kept the neighborhood nice, I have years of statistics to back up my info, btw this neighborhood always had “yuppies” but back then we called them snobs or preppies, they actually were born and raised here…I also think some of people leaving this posts with fake names are people who used to live here, but think they are better…BTW again here’s another statistic, nobody has high property value is this economy, thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…I just love it when people who think they are so sophisticated and know everything can’t get their facts straight, and take every chance they get to insult “The Life Long Resident’s of Locust Point, and South Baltimore”, every chance they get, just trying to get a rise out of us…My Name Is Dawn Marie Bruce, I am lifelong Resident I proudly put my name by my comment…This bridge repair can be done a different way, I know because the bride right up the street from was repaired differently, and to all those whom are doing their best to insult us “Lifer’s” one day you’ll face a similar situation, and you won’t like it! Keep insulting us, that just shows how low and unsophisticated you are, you know like you are accusing of of being……

  • harrythe hammer

    Dawn Marie, shut your pie hole & stop repeating yourself as U did in your post.
    Get a life. You sound like a Jerry Springer Oprah type person sitting at home eating bon boons.

    • M Bruce

      Harry hon – you need to shut your pie hole and leave my baby alone!!! Who are you Harry? I’d like to talk to you hon. Dawn’s Mom.

  • Martina

    I have been a resident of Locust Point and it is a great place to live. I understand this is a safety issue because of the deterioration of the bridge. There however are many issues which concern the additional safety of the people of Locust Point. If the other ways into Locust Point are blocked because of trains stopped on the tracks there is no way in or out should the bridge be completely torn down. I understand that they are considering moving some of the firehouse to the east side of the bridge problem is where will they go? They closed the firehouse that was there and is now occupied by the Marine Corps. Should the other accesses be blocked by trains stopped on the tracks what are they going to do ferry people to Harbor Hospital for medical treatment and hope that person(s) does not get motion sickness as well? Are they going to do this for every broken bone. severe cold, you know some of the ordinary stuff that people go to emergency rooms for? There is no urgent care facility in Locurt Point for the residents to seek treatment. There is not even a doctor’s office there for people. if you are trapped in Locust Point because of the trains stopped on the tracks you are stuck. NO where to go. What is the City going to arrange times for the trains to run so everyone is aware that there is at least one way to get in and out of Locurt Point? The business that rely on the trains coming and going will suffer and will not hear of that, it will slow there production and can lose business as well. Good Luck to all in finding a resolution to the problem.

  • J

    The plan is not up for debate. As city engineers have already determined, the bridge in it’s current condition has to be completely destroyed and then built whole from scratch. This bridge is in very bad condition. Tearing down half while allowing the other half to stand could cause the whole thing to cave in at some point. It’s not like other bridges where the structure was sound enough that they could brace it and keep half open. Knowing that and knowing that they have already decided to close the bridge and it won’t change, stop bellyaching, figure out an alternative that may inconvenience you and move on. I’ve read these posts full of “what ifs”. I mean how did you people make it this far in life. What ifs happen every day, were still alive, we adapt and carry on.

  • IDun'tLiveThere

    I believe the bridge is probably so bad that engineers are afraid to take down one side without the whole thing coming down. The design of the old bridge may not make taking down one side realistic. It is a big inconvience I would agree, but if it fell down tomorrow you would be in the same boat.

  • former haubert st resident

    i lived in locust point for 5 years and loved it despite the nosey neighbors and the ethnic battles the german church vs our lady of good counsel the bridge they need to replace is the short one thats further up ft ave near the old coca cola plant that one is bad you could look through the holes in the deck and see the railroad tracks below

    • urnotfunny

      former haubert st. resident – Whattttttttt are you talking about, those churches work together and help each other at their fundraiser dinnesy. Lived there my whole, who are you to judge a community when you lived there for 5 years? Ethnice battles? You have lost your mind!!! As far as the bridge, you have something mixed up.

  • Angela

    I am a Locust Point resident and it’s clear to me that people leaving comments here (questioning the intelligence of our neighborhood residents and whether or not tearing down the bridge completely will paralyze our neighborhood in instances of emergency) obviously have not had to sit for long periods of time waiting for a train to pass over our train tracks on Andre Street or Key Highway. It is a valid concern. It’s easy to say “stop your whining” and call LP residents names, but if you lived here and needed to get out in an emergency you might feel differently. It amazes me how easily people like to judge, but I bet those same people do not like to be judged. We understand that the bridge needs to be repaired. In fact, there have been signs up for years asking for the repair of this bridge. Of course the safety our residents is our number one priority. I support the safest way to repair the bridge; however, if it is possible to keep the main artery into and out of the neighborhood open during that repair I prefer this option.

    • Martina

      Angela, that was my point exactly. It is understood that the bridge needs to be replaced the safest way possible for everyone.

  • SickofTrash

    @harrythe hammer: “Yuppies rule now in Locust point. Disgusting phoney’s”

    I’d take a Yuppie living next door than white trash any day. I’m sick of the trash that wanders around Locust Point without anything better to do than make other residents feel uncomfortable and unsafe. These people obviously do not respect their community as their hangout spots are covered with litter and they graffiti the neighborhood. I hope that the police crack down on these people as soon as possible, especially considering the stabbing and car break-ins that have popped up over the past 3-4 weeks.

    As for the bridge, unfortunately a complete tear-down seems as though it is the only option and it is going to happen, whether we like it or not. The sooner they start working on this thing and get it over and done with, the better. I just hope that it does not deter police patrols throughout the neighborhood.

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