BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City struggles with aging infrastructure, and some of the city’s bridges are more than a century old and in need of repair.
Earlier this year, a hole developed in the Kelly Avenue Bridge that sent debris onto the light rail tracks below and shut down service.
Last year, a 20-inch main break sent water spurting from the sides of the Harford Road Bridge. This weekend, resurfacing is scheduled for the bumpy Hanover Street Bridge in South Baltimore.
“There are four or five bridges that will be under construction by the end of the year. A bunch of bridges are under design right now,” said Muhammad Khalid, with Baltimore City’s Department of Transportation. “Many of the bridges are old. We do a bi-annual inspection. There are a few bridges, we do an annual inspection just to make sure things are in good condition.”
Eric Daughtry drives underneath Annapolis Road on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway almost every day and has heard concrete falling.
“If there is an example of infrastructure neglect, this is it. This bridge is a hazard, and I think it’s an accident waiting to happen,” he told WJZ.
WJZ saw rust and decay on the bridge, and chunks of concrete that had fallen near the B-W Parkway.
Another project – renovating the Hanover Street Bridge – could ultimately cost more than $100 million.
Roger Harris crosses it frequently in his job driving for Lyft.
“Hanover is terrible, and they say they’re going to fix it. Let’s hope they really do,” Harris said.
It is a major traffic artery for the massive new Port Covington development.
A resurfacing project will begin Friday – closing the bridge from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. on Monday. The Department of Transportation says in addition to providing a smoother surface, they will make “structure adjustments.”
Chopper 13 flew over the pockmarked bridge deck, scarred by decades of wear and tear on the bridge built in 1916. Two city council members wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation earlier this year saying they had grave concerns about its safety.
Two years ago, a two-foot wide hole opened, temporarily shutting the bridge down.
Transportation officials insist Baltimore’s bridges are not dangerous.
“Yeah, we need more money, but the bridges are safe and sound for people to travel on,” said Khalid. “In any major. old city, it is a challenge to fund the total infrastructure needs.”
He said the city mobilizes maintenance teams quickly, as they did after the hole in the Kelly Avenue Bridge created an emergency.
“I think it was the right thing to do to close it, even though it was out of an abundance of caution. The maintenance team did do its job. It’s just that an incident happened where a pothole went deeper than we thought it did.”
A major repair project will begin soon on the Harford Road Bridge, which will disrupt traffic in northeast Baltimore for months.
“The city has the responsibility to ensure the safety of its drivers. There’s no such thing as we don’t have it in the budget,” said Lyft driver Harris.