Opening of Falls Road bridge puts area back on track Merchants attribute slowdown to closure

October 22, 1991|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

Margaret Darr is singing for joy over the opening of the new Falls Road Bridge in Baltimore County at 2 p.m. tomorrow, two months ahead of schedule.

Mrs. Darr manages the WaWa convenience store just south of the bridge, which spans the Jones Falls north of Lake Avenue. The store has taken a financial beating since the old bridge closed in January and traffic was detoured away from its door.

"I'm over-excited. I'm ecstatic, I'm planning all kinds of things," Mrs. Darr said yesterday.

"I have lost between $1,000 and $1,200 a day. It's been a rough nine months."

The new 658-foot-long bridge replaces a concrete span built in 1931 and used by an average of 9,500 cars daily, state highway officials said.

Corman Construction Inc. of Jessup, was paid $4.9 million for the job and will receive $5,000 per day for finishing ahead of schedule under an incentive clause in its contract.

The number of days is being determined, said Russ Ulrich, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow. Residents, County Councilman Melvin Mintz and state highway administrator Hal Kassoff will participate.

Mrs. Darr will be among the celebrants.

Today, the WaWa store will sponsor a picnic for everyone who worked on the bridge. Tomorrow, it will provide sandwiches for the celebrants and on Thursday, the store will give free coffee mugs to regular customers, she said.

Officials at a nearby Royal Farm store said business has slowed since the old bridge was closed, but a local liquor store operator said construction has not deterred customers.

The early opening of the bridge is tempered somewhat by the closing Nov. 4 of Falls Road just north of the bridge to repair a sinkhole, Mr. Ulrich said.

The closing should last no more than three weeks and a five-minute detour has been set up using Old Court Road, Greenspring Avenue and Hillside Road, he said.

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