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Much-Needed Bridge Projects Begin in Md.

Two bridges in Maryland are about to undergo a $13.9 million facelift.

Wed June 05, 2013 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

A federally funded project involving improvements to two bridges in the western Maryland city of Cumberland began early this year and will continue for the next two years.

Under the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), construction began in January and is scheduled to proceed in phases through early 2015. The contract, in the amount of $13.9 million, was awarded to Titan Industrial Services Inc. of Baltimore, Md. Approximately $12 million of the cost is for the Crosstown Bridge, and approximately $2 million is for the much smaller MD 51 Bridge.

The project involves repairs, painting and other improvements to two bridges in Cumberland: the I-68 Bridge over Wills Creek, CSX Railroad and municipal streets in Cumberland (known as the Cumberland Viaduct or Crosstown Bridge); and the MD 51 (Industrial Boulevard) Bridge over the CSX Railroad and Canal Parkway.

“The bridges are structurally safe, but showing signs of deterioration,” said Heather Keels, the SHA’s, District 6 and 7 community liaison for the Office of Customer Relations and Information.

“This major rehabilitation will extend their lifespan while improving the safety and attractiveness of the downtown streets and parking below. The contractor will sandblast and paint steel, make repairs to concrete and steel, wrap the piers in a protective fiber material, replace roadway joint seals on I-68 and MD 51, repair curbs and parapet walls, patch the decks, clean and repair the drainage system on the Crosstown Bridge, improve pavement on the MD 51 Bridge and the approaches to the Crosstown Bridge, and replace the roadway lighting on the Crosstown Bridge.”

Work is reportedly currently on schedule. In the early stages, the contractor focused on installing construction platforms. Next, the focus was on setting up plywood and tarps for the containment system in preparation to move into the sandblasting and painting portion of the project in those sections in mid-April, when weather allowed. The contractor also began taking initial soil and air monitoring samples to use as a gauge of conditions before the start of work, cold-patching potholes on I-68 and making concrete repairs under the MD 51 Bridge.

“The biggest challenge for this project has been that the Crosstown Bridge literally carries the highway over downtown Cumberland, crossing over parks, railroads, city streets, and public and private parking areas and running just feet away from homes, restaurants and other businesses,” Keels said. “The western section of the bridge crosses over part of the drive-through lane for a pharmacy and the parking lots for several other businesses. Another section passes over the trailhead of the C&O Canal Towpath at Canal Place, where the popular Cumberland-to-Georgetown hiker/biker trail connects to the Great Allegheny Passage, a rail-trail to Pittsburgh and beyond. Other sections are over parking lots that, while owned by the State Highway Administration, are leased to permit-holders and neighboring businesses through an agreement with the city of Cumberland.”

During work under the bridge, Keels noted that it is necessary for everyone’s protection that the active work areas are closed to parking as well as to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

“Preparing for this and minimizing the impacts on the community has meant a lot of careful planning and a lot of coordination with partners in the community,” Keels said. “For one thing, the bridge was divided into seven sections and the contractor is generally prohibited from closing adjacent sections at the same time, so that when one section is closed to parking, the adjacent section will remain open and hopefully people will not have too far to travel to find alternative parking. An exception is that, because the second section from the west is over a creek and railroad and does not have parking underneath, it worked out better overall to allow the contractor to work on this section at the same time as those on either side of it.

“There has also been a lot of attention to making sure the work does not interfere with special events in the area, and the contract language reflects that emphasis on advance planning. When contractors bid on the project, they were provided with sources of information about upcoming events and told to factor possible delays from events into their costs, and the contract actually stipulates that ’delays from additional events, scheduled or unscheduled, will not be a reason for any additional compensation.’”

The downtown setting and the number of nearby entities also has meant a much more involved partnering process for this project than many others, according to Keels.

“Most SHA projects have a partnering team that sets common goals and meets regularly to discuss project progress and resolve issues, and this is often made up of the contractor, SHA staff, and sometimes representatives from state or federal regulatory agencies,” she said. “On this project, that team has also included the Allegany County 911 Center, city of Cumberland police, fire, engineering, street, and economic development officials, the Downtown Development Commission, Canal Place, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Cumberland Outdoor Club, CSX, the US Postal Service and the Cumberland Times-News. The Downtown Business Association and Allegany Arts Council were also invited.”

In addition, a public informational meeting was held and attended by owners of many of the businesses in the area of the project, and an e-mail list was developed for updates and a project Web site created to keep the community updated about the project.

“The project schedule has been a great example of the way these partnering efforts have helped minimize the project’s impacts on the community,” Keels said. “The contractor had initially thought to begin the project in the far western section, but in an effort to get the work over Canal Place out of the way before the heavy tourist season begins, the contractor agreed to begin with the Canal Place section first and move west. This also ensured that platforms were installed over the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad before trains began running in May and postponed work in the far western section until June, when all of the existing parking permits for parking under that section of the bridge have expired.”

The Crosstown Bridge is more than half a mile long. It has 42 piers on the main structure alone, as well as six ramps that are considered separate structures, and each have between three and seven piers.

Major subcontractors for the project include Titan Industrial Services Inc. (prime contractor), for cleaning and painting bridge steel girders and fiber wrap for the concrete columns; Pioneer Contracting Inc. (MBE/DBE for the project), Odenton, Md., for bridge deck, curb, median repair, roadway seal, and replacement paving; Marksmen Company Inc., Baltimore, for concrete repairs; Traffic Systems Inc., Harmans, Md., for the lighting system; Protection Services Inc., Cumberland, for signs and MOT supplies and services; and Labor Ready, Hagerstown, Md., for flagging services.

Major equipment used for platform installation includes a 60-ft. (18 m) Genie manlift; a 45-ft. (13.7 m) JLG manlift; a 45-ft. Genie extended reach forklift; a 45-ft. JLG scissor lift; an 18-ft. (5.5 m) Dieci forklift; and a Hiab 300-B knuckleboom truck.

Equipment for traffic control includes an International truck attenuator, arrow boards and variable message signs.

Blasting equipment consists of an ADI 6 pot recycle machine, a 40K ECS dust collector, and 80k ADI dust collector, two 1600 cfm IR air compressors, a decontamination trailer and a 2,000 gal. fuel tank.

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