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September 01, 2020

Trone gets update on West Side bridges

CUMBERLAND — Between visiting the region’s community colleges and university, U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) stopped by Cumberland’s three closed bridges with Mayor Ray Morriss on Friday afternoon to see them firsthand.

Bridges on Washington, Fayette and Cumberland streets are in varying states of closure and disrepair. All three bridges run over railroad lines owned by CSX, and in mid-August, the Washington Street bridge was the subject of a press conference held by concerned citizens seeking answers.

The Washington and Cumberland bridges have been closed since August and November 2017, respectively, though problems date back to 2012. The Fayette Street bridge, originally ordered fully closed in 2018, reopened to two-way traffic over a single lane in February. 

On Friday, Morriss and Trone worked their way down from Washington Street, ending on Cumberland Street. There, Trone told the Times-News that the repairs are “a job that needs to get done,” and commended the council and Morriss in particular for “leading the charge” to see them get underway.

Construction on Cumberland Street’s bridge is currently slated to begin in April 2022, and the $4 million for the project has been allocated, Morriss said. Federal dollars will cover 80% of the cost, Morriss said, with CSX picking up the remaining 20%.

For the other two bridges, officials are examining their options for funding the necessary work. One potential option being investigated for both Fayette and Washington’s bridges, Morriss said, is the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program, or CRISI, funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration. If received, Morriss said, that program could fund up to 50% of the estimated $8-10 million needed, with CSX, county and local monies filling in the rest.

In regard to Washington Street, Morriss said they’ll also examine options presented by the Washington Street Association, the group that held the August press conference, to see if there are “better alternative routes.”

Trone said they’re working with local and state officials to devise a CRISI application when the period comes open again in April.

“It’s government actually working for a change,” Trone said. “Slowly, though.”

“Things are going OK, but never fast enough,” Morriss said.