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Three light rail stations reopen two weeks early

Three light rail stations in North Baltimore reopened Thursday after being closed last week for repairs to an area of eroded soil near the transit system's tracks.

The reopening of the Mount Washington, Cold Spring and Woodberry stations came about two weeks earlier than city officials originally estimated, significantly diminishing the inconvenience of to riders.

"They were working very hard trying to make sure that they could finish before the July Fourth weekend, but nobody could ensure that," said Paulette Austrich, a Maryland Transit Administration spokeswoman, of the initial longer timeline. "They were trying to be conservative."

Good weather allowed the $1.5 million repair job to move more quickly.

"If we'd had more rain, that would have slowed down the work and made them stop at some points," Austrich said, "but everything worked with us."

The repairs forced the closure of all three stations because they share an energy source for their overhead wires, which had to be shut off.

The initial estimate of three weeks for the repairs overlapped with a 13-game homestand for the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards downtown and the Inner Harbor's annual Fourth of July celebration — two major drivers of transit use from Baltimore's northern suburbs.

Buses were arranged to carry light rail passengers from to and from operating stations to the north and south of the closed stations during the closures.

The erosion that caused the closures was identified not far from the Cold Spring station after heavy rains pummeled the area in recent months, swelling the nearby Jones Falls. More recent rains made the problem worse, prompting the emergency closures.

Austrich said the contractor for the repairs, Southern Improvement, stabilized the soil and built a new retaining wall in the area to prevent further erosion. She said the MTA would continue to monitor the area for the next couple of weeks, "just to make sure everything is where it needs to be."



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