City seeks bids on two CSX bridge projects
At long last, Baltimore's Department of Transportation began seeking bids from contractors Wednesday for the replacement of two deteriorating city bridges that take important roads over CSX tracks in the city.
Bids are due July 13 on contracts for the replacements of the aged CSX bridges on Sinclair Lane in Northeast Baltimore and Fort Avenue in Locust Point -- both of which have had severe structural deficiencies for many years.
The bid solicitation is a major step in a long process of negotiation, engineering and design that has encountered significant delays because of the thorny issues raised by bridge replacements on heavily used city streets.
Jamie Kendrick, the city's deputy transportation director, said contracts for construction will be awarded in late July and -- barring a bid protest -- work will proceed in August.
"There ain't no stopping us now," he said.
Under a detailed construction agreement with CSX approved by the Board of Estimates Wednesday, the railroad will pay 75 percent of the cost of replacing the two bridges and the city will contribute 25 percent. The city and CSX reached a general agreement in principle on the bridge replacements in 2009, but both projects have run into delays since then, Kendrick acknowledged.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a statement hailing the approval of the detailed agreement on the city's and railroad's specific responsibilities for the projects.
“Today’s agreement represents a milestone in the renewed partnership between the City of Baltimore and CSXT,” the mayor said. “Working together with members of the community and business owners, we identified concerns and developed creative solutions to the challenges presented by the project.”
Kendrick said the Sinclair Lane project, which had been expected to start construction last year, had been held up by complex issues involving high-voltage lines in the bridge area. He said the Fort Avenue work, the start of which had been predicted for late 2010 or early this year, had been delayed to let BGE and the Department of Public Works complete utility work on the detour routes.
"There is no such thing as an easy bridge project," he said.