Bad news for a bridge lover
Photo by Kara Brown
Kara Brown of the Medfield neighborhood of Baltimore saw the item here about the State Highway Administration's plans to replace the deck on the McDonogh Road bridge over the Gwynns Falls. She had a funny feeling about the project and sent the folowing inquiry:
I love that bridge, it is a small but great example of art deco, I have never seen anything else like it, and have even photographed it. I drive it every week day, and even talked to a workman there, who seemed to know nothing about the project. I read your article saying that the bridge is structurally sound, but needs a new deck. Can you tell me if that means removing the concrete and metal railings? I have been upset for several weeks since they started working there, not knowing if the aesthetics of the bridge are going to be destroyed. Since the work is to take so long, I suspect that it does mean destroying all that is visible.
I would greatly appreciate your answer, as I have been driving that way, even though it is backed up now, just to see if the bridge has been destroyed.
I passed along her inquiry to SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar, and it turned out her worst fears would come true.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your reader concerning SHA's project to replace the bridge deck (driving surface) of the McDonogh Road Bridge over Gwynns Falls in Baltimore County.
While SHA recognizes that the original steel railing displayed a unique aesthetical value to the bridge, the safety of motorists and our construction crews must come first, which includes replacing the existing driving surface (the bridge deck) and replacing with a new concrete bridge deck. SHA will also replace the existing steel railing with a new concrete parapet wall (The parapet wall is part of the bridge deck). The improvements will improve safety, ride quality and add years of life to the bridge.
It is worth noting that, before undertaking any large project, SHA thoroughly evaluates various aspects of the project, including the potential for impacts to historical structures in or near a project site. After careful evaluation from SHA's environmental planning division and consulting with the Maryland Historical Trust, the McDonogh Road Bridge over Gwynns Falls was determined to be not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (or not historic in nature) and therefore could be dismantled as part of the bridge deck replacement project.
The $891,000 bridge project should be completed spring 2010, weather permitting.
So it goes. It would be nice if the SHA would at least let art deco fans bid on some of that old steel railing instead of disposing of it as scrap.