The Board of Estimates approved on Wednesday for construction to begin on a new Water Taxi terminal in the Inner Harbor.
The terminal, the first of its kind for the Water Taxi service, is set to begin construction in July or August, according to the Baltimore City Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Muhammed Khalid.
The decision, “approved without discussion” by the board, has been in the works for years, Khalid said. The terminal will be located at Pier I, replacing what is currently the U.S.S. Constellation Museum.
“It [the museum] does not meet the ADA compliance, and it has a structural issue. This needs to be replaced,” Khalid said. “The city has been working for seven to 10 years now trying to develop a new U.S.S. Constellation building.”
The Water Taxi terminal will still offer service and access to the historic ship. In fact, the current exhibits in the museum will be displayed in the new terminal, according to James Bond, president and CEO of Living Classrooms, a nonprofit organization “focused on education, workforce development, health and wellness and violence prevention.”
Living Classrooms has been overseeing the historic ships and operations in the Inner Harbor for 20 years, Bond said. However, the building which houses the museum was built before Living Classrooms began its historic ship operation, Bond said.
“Pier I is the epicenter of the Inner Harbor,” Bond said. “We [Living Classrooms] have been slowly raising funds and support to be able to replace that building.”
The Water Taxi terminal will be built by Mid-Atlantic General Contractors Inc. for approximately $3.8 million.
Most of the funding for this project comes from the federal, state and city governments, including an approximate $27,000 in surplus funds from the Baltimore City Department of Transportation’s Lexington Street project, Khalid said.
Bond said the Charles T. Bauer Charitable Foundation donated half a million dollars to the project, and the money is being used to fund the construction, to pay architects and to purchase gangways, Bond said.
The department is overseeing the construction of the terminal, but once opened, it will operate in partnership with the Water Taxi and Living Classrooms. The terminal is set to be complete by “late 2020,” Khalid said.