'Gateway' sculpture on Ma & Pa Trail gets 'new face'

It's seen by hundreds of walkers, runners and bikers daily, not to mention a few hundred motorists, too.

After nearly 17 years, the distinctive arch sculpture at the Tollgate Road entrance to the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail in Bel Air is getting a makeover.

The geometric sculpture, crafted from steel and a variety of metal machine parts, nuts and bolts and other odds and ends associated with the trail's namesake, the old Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad, is getting a "new face," in the words of Harford County government spokesperson Cindy Mumby.

Erected in 2000 to commemorate the opening of the trail's first leg from Williams Street to Tollgate Road, the arch is called "Gateway" and was created by Maryland-based artist Leigh Maddox, who is involved in the makeover project.

Work began Thursday morning with brushing and sanding some of the arch's most rusted areas. Those using the trail in that area are asked to be mindful of the work in progress.

Maddox is working with a painting contractor, Fresh Coat Painters of Harford County, who will be cleaning the sculpture once the rust is removed and spraying rust inhibitors, according to information the county posted on its Facebook page. A plastic containment setup will be used during the spraying process.

Once the contractor's work is completed, the sculptor will come in and paint the artifacts that are welded to the arch.

Weather permitting, the work was expected to be completed by the end of the day Friday but could take additional time, Mumby said.

The rehabbing is made possible through the Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Ma & Pa Foundation and the Harford County Cultural Arts Board.

Total cost for repainting the arch is $1,530, divided roughly among the foundation, the cultural arts board and the parks and recreation department, Mumby said.

The foundation is making arrangements to install beside it a small sign with a description of the sculpture project. A rededication ceremony is being planned, she said.

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