When the Harford Road Bridge in Northeast Baltimore was built in 1912 — for all of $60,000 — it was considered the “best in the state.”
No one would say that about the bridge now.
Concrete sometimes falls from the 106-year-old structure that carries thousands of cars each day over the Herring Run stream in Northeast Baltimore. Structural rebar is exposed. Last year, residents were alarmed when water started gushing out of the bridge’s side.
“The concrete has very clearly deteriorated,” said City Councilman Ryan Dorsey, who represents the area and runs a Facebook page dedicated to news about the bridge.
For about two decades, the city has been pledging to replace the bridge. In 2008, city officials held a public workshop in which they said work would begin in the next two or three years.
On Wednesday, that pledge finally came one step closer to reality.
The Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Catherine Pugh, awarded a $19 million contract to Technopref Industries of Alexandria, Va., to tear down the bridge a build a new one. Designs for the new bridge include sidewalks and a bike lane.
Dorsey said the structure is well past its expiration date.
“The common understanding is when the bridge project was initiated in the early 2000s, the bridge was 20 years past its life expectancy,” Dorsey said.
The councilman has concerns about the design of the bike lane and sidewalks — which he said aren’t buffered enough from cars traveling in excess of 50 miles per hour. But he said he told Department of Transportation officials he didn’t want to delay the project any further.
“I still think the design is really unsafe,” he said. “I’m not happy but we need to move forward with this. These communities cannot have this thing drawn out any longer.”
Demolition could begin in the fall, Dorsey said. It could be years before the replacement bridge is opened.