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September 08, 2022

Trone says $4.8M Fayette Bridge funding is part of 2023 budget

Credit: Cumberland Times-News, Greg Larry

CUMBERLAND, Md. — U.S. Rep. David Trone said Wednesday that $4.8 million in funding for a new Fayette Street bridge is included in the federal government’s 2023 budget and not an earmark this time around.

Trone gave an update on the bridge funding during a visit to Cumberland Wednesday. The two-lane bridge, which spans CSX railroad tracks, was damaged when it was stuck by a train in June 2018, forcing its closure. CSX opted to pay for a partial repair, allowing the span to open to one lane of traffic in January 2020.

The congressman has been trying to secure funding for the bridge, but his efforts have met some challenges. Last year’s funding request was part of congressional member’s community projects, known as earmarks.

“The last time we had (the funding) in a surface transportation authorization bill,” Trone said. “That bill passed the House and went to the Senate, but the Senate cut out all the earmarks in that transportation bill. Now this time it’s in the budget and that’s the difference; they can’t cut the budget, so it’s quite different.”

Trone said the funding has a much higher likelihood of passing the Senate as part of the fiscal 2023 budget. He said the earliest senators would likely give their approval on the budget is December or January.

“The budget was approved by the House,” said Trone. “Now it’s up to the Senate. I think it’s looking good.”

Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss, councilmember Laurie Marchini, City Engineer Robert Smith and several other local officials first met with Trone at City Hall to discuss the bridge and other projects.

“We’ve been working on this one but we got it on try number two,” said Trone. “This is important and we are in the budget. The Senate always passes the budget, sometimes late, but they pass the budget.”

City officials have purchased and demolished properties on both sides of the bridge to allow for construction. They also purchased the bridge through a quitclaim deed with CSX, so ownership rights are no longer an issue for funding.

Morriss said it could take two years at the earliest before residents will see construction begin, even if the funding is approved due to the nature of the federal bridge construction process.

‘Big start’

Trone also met with Canal Place officials to receive an update on the proposed $20 million Canal Place River Park. Dee Dee Ritchie and other local officials gave Trone a briefing on the potential economic impact of building the park, which would include a moderate whitewater course, docks for canoes and kayaks and walking trails along the Potomac River behind Canal Place.

Bill Atkinson, river park coordinator, spoke about the benefits stemming from the removal of the industrial dam at the site, which is a key part of construction plans.

“Another important part of this project that is important for the Army Corps (of Engineers) and MDE (Maryland Department of the Environment) to understand is that when we remove that dam and sediment behind there and clean up the river it’s going to improve the water quality in D.C. where you get your water from … the Potomac River being your water source,” said Atkinson. “So, from an environmental standpoint, cleaning up this river will make a huge impact also.”

“I encourage you to keep thinking of things that we can help you with as your making your plans moving forward,” said Trone. “So you have a big start and you have many things that are already happening.”

Following the meeting at the Western Maryland Railway Station, Trone took part in a tour of the river area.

Trone encouraged the officials to include West Virginia in the planning of the park. “What can we do on the West Virginia side?” he said. “How can we get West Virginia to be better partners? Really we are part of a three-state region which includes West Virginia.”