Girders installed over JFX to build light rail bridge Expressway closing for weekend work causes little pain

April 21, 1996|By MARCIA MYERS

At noon yesterday, as hundreds of motorists detoured a closed section of the Jones Falls Expressway, engineers hoisted the final green steel trusses for a bridge that will span the interstate highway and connect Central Light Rail to Penn Station.

It will be another year, however, before the light rail extension connects with Baltimore's major Amtrak and commuter rail station.

The JFX, which closed between the North Avenue-Eager Street and Fayette Street-Charles Street exits late Friday to accommodate the job, will reopen at 5 a.m. tomorrow.

Shutting Interstate 83, a prime downtown artery, could have been chaotic for motorists. But, with light weekend traffic and the Orioles out of town, it proved to be relatively painless.

"Everything's moving pretty smoothly," said a public works official.

Installing the bridge appeared similarly trouble-free.

"In fact, I'd guess we're about three hours ahead of schedule," John Coard, Mass Transit Administration project director, said yesterday.

A Pennsylvania firm, High Steel, had delivered the bridge girders in six pieces on six trucks. The 160 tons of steel rested on flatbed trucks in a University of Baltimore parking lot beside the bridge site until being moved onto the expressway yesterday and lifted into place by three cranes.

The bridge construction is part of a 7.5-mile, $106 million expansion that will extend light rail to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Hunt Valley as well as Penn Station.

In all, eight stops will be constructed.

MTA estimates the expansion will almost double the line's current 20,000 daily riders.

"This increases the ability for people to more easily get downtown," said MTA Administrator John A. Agro Jr.

"Now they would have to catch a taxi or bus service [from Penn Station]. This way, they'll be able to catch a light train directly to the hotel-convention district," Mr. Agro said.

Pub Date: 4/21/96

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