City lists 18 streets needing reconstruction in 2015, included collapsed East 26th

Stretches of 18 failing streets in Baltimore are slated for reconstruction in the coming fiscal year, their problems reaching deeper than the potmarked asphalt characterizing so many area roadways after a rough winter.

Make that 17.

One entry on the list — the section of East 26th Street between St. Paul Street and Maryland Avenue — couldn't wait. Designs for an estimated $300,000 reconstruction of the roadway were about 95 percent complete when part of that stretch of the Charles Village street collapsed April 30 into a parallel cut of railroad tracks.

The collapse required the city to begin emergency reconstruction of the roadway. Adrienne Barnes, a transportation department spokeswoman, said engineers steering the emergency work are leveraging the design work already completed, but also had to change the plans, given the retaining wall collapse and subsequent landslide.

A new cost estimate has not been completed, Barnes said. Contractors are working off on-call agreements with the city.

The other 17 streets identified as needing reconstruction — meaning crews must address problems with their subsurface, not just the top layers of asphalt — are found all around the city.

There are stretches of major streets, such as Northern Parkway, Baltimore Street and Falls Road, but also smaller streets like East 26th.

There are other streets needing reconstruction that aren't budgeted for 2015. City officials could not provide a full list Monday.

The reconstruction projects are distinct from the annual milling and paving work city officials began Monday for the many streets riddled with potholes.

The annual repair effort is particularly large this year, city officials said, after a harsh winter of heavy snow, extensive plow and salt use, and dramatic freeze-thaw cycles caused more roadway damage than normal.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the recent East 26th Street collapse reminded everyone of the need to invest in the city's roads, and that the milling and paving work goes a long way toward preserving streets before they deteriorate to the point where they need to be completely replaced.

William Johnson, the city's transportation director, said this year's program aims to repave upward of 200 miles of traffic lanes this season, and will "go a long way toward filling a lot of those potholes and voids in our streets."

Since the beginning of December, city workers have filled nearly 77,000 potholes, and many streets remain uneven, officials said.

"Of course with the winter we had, it's all over the place," said Bob Kirk, president of the Moravia-Walther Improvement Association, at an event where city officials showed off a neighborhood street being repaved Monday.

Milling the street entails pulling up the top layer of asphalt, which is then replaced with a new, smooth layer.

Johnson said the work does not pull resources away from prioritized reconstruction projects.

The milling and paving work will be conducted 10 hours a day under seven contracts with outside firms and by the city's own crews, officials said. Rawlings-Blake said she's hopeful crews will continue to increase the annual lane mileage they are able to replace.

The city has a total of about 1,900 miles of road.

The work will be paid for in part with about $818,000 in state funding, provided to the city as part of a larger winter-driven allocation of $10 million to local jurisdictions for roadway repairs across the state.

The city spent about $12 million on winter cleanup and roadway repairs this winter, after having budgeted $3 million, officials said. The difference likely will be made up with the city's rainy-day fund, which stands at $253 million.

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