Rebuilding of bridge is debated

January 24, 1995|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,Sun Staff Writer

A hearing tonight will help determine if a controversial bridge that linked several northwest Baltimore County communities to Liberty Road will be rebuilt.

The Buckingham Road Bridge, built more than 60 years ago over Gwynns Falls, gave residents in communities such as Villa Nova and Sudbrook Park access to Liberty Road.

Those closer to Liberty Road say they don't want the bridge rebuilt; those farther east say they do, and the debate has antagonized many residents between the Liberty and Reisterstown Road corridors.

The two-lane bridge was ruined by Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, and a one-lane bridge was put up. It stayed until April 1992, when a county school bus violated the 5-ton limit and nearly toppled it. It was never replaced.

Tonight's 7 o'clock hearing at Milford Mill Academy will address environmental concerns associated with rebuilding the 40-foot bridge, and is expected to be the deciding factor.

"We're still reviewing the project," said Ali A. Mir, central regional chief of the Non-Tidal Wetlands and Waterways division of Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Water Resources Administration. "Based on the information we've received, there's no indication that the project will adversely impact water resources that are in the project area or adjacent properties."

If state officials grant the county a permit to do the work, construction of a two-lane bridge could be under way by spring. When completed, the bridge likely would be used by about 2,400 motorists a day, said James Arford, chief of the structures section of the county's Bureau of Engineering and Construction.

The superstructure -- the beams that cross the water -- was removed in the summer of 1992 so children would not get hurt playing on it. All that remains are cement abutments on either side of the stream.

Materials to replace the superstructure would cost about $50,000. County workers would perform the labor, which would cost about $150,000 if a contractor did it, Mr. Arford said.

Residents with homes east of the bridge say that not having the bridge caused problems, so 1,000 residents from community associations in neighborhoods beyond the bridge submitted petitions in August to then-County Executive Roger B. Hayden. Mr. Hayden responded that "the project should go forward."

The county applied to the Water Resources Administration for a permit for waterway construction in November. Meanwhile, opponents of the bridge requested the hearing.

Those favoring the bridge will argue tonight that not having it wastes gasoline and, therefore, has a negative environment impact. Motorists now must drive past Buckingham Road to Essex Road, then double back to get to their homes, a 3-mile trip, said Villa Nova Community Association President Rosalie M. Poole.

"Essex Road is a nightmare," Mrs. Poole said.

Milford Mill residents, who live closer to Liberty Road, say they don't want the bridge rebuilt because it would create more traffic in their community of about 90 homes.

"With a bigger, wider, heavier bridge, we are going to have a different amount of traffic going through, at a rate of speed inappropriate for the community on either side," said Kenneth St. Ours, a member of the Milford Mill Community Association.

His side also will argue about the negative impact building the bridge would have. Mr. St. Ours said the bridge's extra weight would require erosion-control measures -- rocks placed in the stream -- to buffer the effect of water hitting the abutments. That could elevate the stream and increase risk of flooding, he said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.