Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s the gateway to one of Baltimore’s most important historical sites. But starting Monday, work to replace a decaying bridge will cut Fort Avenue in two.
That will make getting to Fort McHenry more difficult, but as Alex DeMetrick reports, the work will eventually make it safer.
The first work trucks have pulled away, leaving the barriers that will form roadblocks, while surveyors take last-minute measurements on a 90-year-old bridge that supports Fort Avenue over CSX freight rail tracks.
“If you ever went under it, you’d never go over it. Trust me,” said Karen Johns, bridge activist.
A few years back, Johns showed WJZ a bridge in severe decay. Cement was crumbling and the steel re-bar was rusting away. She kept after the city and CSX to replace it. Now it’s finally happening.
“After 14 years, it’s like a gift,” said Johns. “A gift. It’s going to be wonderful for the community, and just to know it’s safe.”
But it’s going to take some adapting, especially for businesses.
“I’m not really worried about it. Hopefully, I get a lot of the construction workers from there,” said Danny Radcliff, South Beach Sanwicherie.
Electronic warning signs were turned on, and traffic officers were out talking detours to Locust Point residents.
“So there’s other streets they can take for the businesses and residents to get in and out of their homes,” said Adrienne Barnes, Baltimore Department of Transportation.
But trains run through the middle of the routes.
“The train does wrap all around the area. It starts here at Domino’s Sugar and goes around,” said Kathy Carroll, Locust Point.
The city will activate an alert system for area residents whenever a train blocks a detour for more than 10 minutes.
Fire and police have also developed contingency plans for the year construction will take place.
But along with inconvenience, there is also understanding.
“The bridge is falling apart, and who knows what could happen,” said Carroll.
Detours for a new bridge are better than a bridge falling down.
Baltimore and CSX are splitting the $6 million it will cost to replace the bridge.