The Hanover Street Bridge was shut down for several hours earlier today after crews found pieces of grating were missing.
German Vigil, a spokesman for DOT, said Baltimore police got a call about “structural issues” this morning and, as a precaution, shut down the entire bridge for about half an hour, until inspectors arrived around 11 a.m. They then isolated the problem to the southbound side only and immediately reopened the northbound side.
Inspectors found “the metal grates in the middle, some were missing,” Vigil said, adding that it was about a total of foot’s worth of grating, and not in one consecutive piece. The pieces were replaced.
Because it was only a small section, the inspectors said the bridge was safe to travel; DOT reopened one lane of the southbound side around 12:30 p.m. and another around 3:30 p.m.
Inspectors will be taking a closer look throughout the week to gauge whether the bridge requires any more service.
“Normally when we get a report like this, we inspect the area and we then take a closer look” in the days afterward, Vigil said.
The 103-year-old bridge is showing its age. A study commissioned by the city, the results of which were published last year, estimated it needs at least $50 million in repairs, though now-former Transportation Director Michelle Pourciau pegged the cost at double that amount.
In the interim, the city is still maintaining the bridge so it is usable for cars. Last year, it spent $400,000 on resurfacing and “structure adjustments,” which required shutting it down to traffic for a weekend.
The study recommended a more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly design that would remove an existing lane, allowing for wider sidewalks and two-foot barriers between them and traffic. It also proposed closing the drawbridge in the middle and filling in the steel grate deck to save the city money on maintenance, and adding a “unique urban space” with outdoor art and recreational amenities below, completing with a “sculptural staircase” leading downward.
Alternatively, a sweeping plan for the Middle Branch–supported by Baltimore’s mayor and others–suggests gradually shutting the bridge down to traffic, converting it into a linear park and building a new bridge further down the river, leading into and out of Port Covington.
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