Work crews hustled on Labor Day to break down concrete barriers and fencing from the Grand Prix of Baltimore, racing to reopen downtown streets and sidewalks before Tuesday's rush hour and a National Football League pregame concert later this week.
By mid-morning, joggers, strollers and cars were pushing through roadway openings that workers had cleared between downtown and Federal Hill, areas that had been closed off for the weekend's auto races.
The Baltimore City Department of Transportation said streets along the track circuit, which included portions of Pratt, Conway, Russell and Light streets, were scheduled to open one-by-one on Monday and "most roadways affected by the race" were expected to be accessible by 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Crews planned to work nonstop to clear at least a third of the fencing that surrounded the Inner Harbor by Thursday, said Tim Mayer, general manager of the Grand Prix of Baltimore. The aim is to open up as much of the waterfront as possible for fans to gather at pregame festivities before the Ravens open the NFL's regular season.
Scheduling conflicts with the Orioles forced the Super Bowl champions to open their season in Denver, against the Broncos. But festivities planned at the Inner Harbor before the game's telecast will include a free performance from country music star Keith Urban. The concert is slated to start at 7:30 p.m. next to the Maryland Science Center as part of NBC's pre-game show.
City officials said they were on schedule to meet Thursday's deadline for the event.
"Although there may be some lane closures in place," transportation department spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said, "we do expect everything to be cleared in time to set up for the NFL event."
Work crews will temporarily stop removing barriers on Thursday so the concert and other football festivities won't be disrupted. They will resume work on Friday and continue until completion, Mayer said.
About 39,000 linear feet of spectator fencing wrapped around 2.4-miles of downtown streets for the weekend's auto-racing track. Barnes said it would take between three weeks and a month for all of it to be removed.
The Charm City Circulator, a free bus service that runs through downtown and South Baltimore neighborhoods, also expected to resume normal routes on Tuesday, according to its website. Routes going north and south had been detoured because portions of Pratt Street and areas surrounding the Convention Center and Camden Yards were cordoned off for racing.
The Maryland Transit Administration expected other downtown bus routes that had been detoured to resume normal operations by Tuesday, as well.
The raceway had also temporarily shutdown light rail service between Baltimore and Hamburg streets but MTA spokesman Terry Owens said the entire line was re-opened Monday.
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