Hanover Street Bridge repairs to begin this spring, transportation director tells city councilmen

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation has moved up its timeline for repairing the Hanover Street Bridge to this spring, Transportation Director Michelle Pourciau wrote in a response to two city council members' request for immediate fixes to the pothole-riddled, century-old bridge.

Councilmen Eric Costello and Ed Reisinger had expressed “grave concerns” about the state of the bridge in a Feb. 14 letter to Pourciau, and asked the department spend $5 million to “re-deck” the span immediately.

The bridge, officially named the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, was built in 1916 and connects South Baltimore to Cherry Hill. Residents frequently complain about the many potholes on the bridge’s concrete deck.

In her response, Pourciau said a major rehabilitation or repair of the bridge could take six to nine years and cost more than $100 million.

In a letter dated Friday that Costello tweeted a picture of it Monday, she wrote that the department has created an interim plan “to extend the useful life and address the most needed items.”

“Construction will begin this spring when temperatures allow us to proceed,” Pourciau wrote. “In the meantime, we will proactively monitor the bridge to assure that it remains safe for all, and will respond and perform repairs as needed.”

The Department of Transportation did not respond to a request Monday to specify what repairs would be made, or how much they would cost.

Pourciau’s letter said she looked forward to a meeting with the councilmen scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Costello said Monday evening that the transportation director subsequently told him that two inches of asphalt would be installed on the bridge this spring, followed by a “complete re-decking” next year. He said he was “confident” the steps would address the bridge’s immediate safety problems, while a complete overhaul is planned.

“I’m glad the director came around,” Costello said. “I’d like to think our letter and our meeting had something to do with it.”

Last year, drivers submitted 41 property damage claims against the city “which implicated the condition of the bridge as causing damage to their vehicles,” the councilmen wrote in their Feb. 14 letter to Pourciau.

“Re-decking” the bridge, an interim measure while the city weighs whether to replace it or make major repairs to it, would provide it with a new surface for cars to drive over, the councilmen wrote.

In 2016, Baltimore's spending panel approved a $1 million, four-year contract with a consultant to study whether the city should repair or replace the aging span. Using a federal grant, the city hired AECOM Technical Services Inc. to study the bridge.

At the time a spokesman for then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said it was unlikely the bridge would be demolished because it has “architectural merit.”

Concerns about the bridge come as Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is planning a massive mixed-use development in Port Covington to which the bridge would serve as a main route.

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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