Baltimore's bulkheads called new, safe

City has spent millions since 1970s to improve walls of its waterfront

May 20, 2000|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Baltimore officials said yesterday that the construction of tens of millions of dollars' worth of steel and concrete bulkheads around the Inner Harbor's piers has strengthened them to the point that they could not collapse like Philadelphia's Pier 34.

Parts of the Philadelphia pier were believed to be 100 years old, and a partial collapse six years ago reportedly forced a restaurant on top of it to close.

"Anyone who is walking around the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, around the National Aquarium or the Power Plant, they have absolutely nothing to worry about," said Kurt Kocher, spokesman for the city's Department of Public Works.

"Those piers are all in excellent shape. They have all been rebuilt, reinforced and inspected."

Baltimore spent $6 million from January 1998 to June 1999 to rebuild the bulkhead around the Pier Six Concert Pavilion and along Pratt Street near piers Three and Four, which hold the aquarium and the Power Plant entertainment complex.

The city has spent tens of millions of dollars since the 1970s installing steel and concrete retaining walls around the harbor. But the waterfront is not in perfect condition.

A blacktop walkway for the public north of the Harborview Towers on Key Highway recently crumbled into the water, injuring no one but forcing the Harborview Corp. to fence off the area.

The City Pier Broadway, commonly known as the Rec Pier in Fells Point, which housed the set of the television show "Homicide" until it was cancelled last year, is in need of minor repairs, but it is safe, said city spokesman John Wesley.

The Cordish Co. built a wooden platform in 1998 over the water beside the Hard Rock CafM-i that holds dozens of tables and chairs for outdoor dining. This platform is in "excellent" condition and poses no threat to the public, said Wesley.

"We regularly inspect the barge [dining platform]," said David Cordish, the company's founder. "It's about as safe as safe can be."

The Lighthouse Point marine complex on Boston Street in Canton plans to open a Bo Brooks crab house on a platform over the water in June. This is being built "by the book," atop steel pilings with a steel-reinforced concrete floor, said Dan Naor, general manager of the complex.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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