Bending over backward to accommodate Hollywood, Baltimore plans to close the Hanover Street bridge Saturday and possibly Monday so a production company can stage a scene in which a boat appears to land on the structure.
The city's Department of Transportation announced yesterday that the bridge between South Baltimore and Cherry Hill will close at 3 a.m. Saturday to allow Los Angeles-based Revolution Studios to film a scene for the movie XXX: State of the Union.
The span - formally called the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge - will reopen from 6 a.m. to midnight Sunday for Ravens game traffic, but then could close for another 24 hours if the film crew still needs the bridge.
Del. Brian K. McHale, a Democrat who represents South Baltimore, said closing the bridge Monday could be "disastrous" for residents of his district. "On a weekday I'm sure it's going to cause a lot of havoc," he said.
City officials say it's a routine matter to close a traffic route to accommodate a movie's shooting schedule. They said the bridge will be open for emergency vehicles.
Hannah Byron, director of the city's film office, called the decision to close the bridge "extraordinary" but said it was justified by the positive economic impact. She said she hopes the filming can be finished Saturday, but if it rains, Monday could be needed.
If weather predictions hold true, there's a strong likelihood of the Monday closing. The U.S. Weather Service was predicting showers and possibly thunderstorms Saturday as what remains of Hurricane Ivan marches up the East Coast.
Transportation officials said they will put large message signs along the route to alert motorists to the detour to Russell Street.
In addition to Cherry Hill, the Hanover Street bridge connects the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay sections of the city with South Baltimore. It is a major commuting route for residents of Brooklyn Park, Glen Burnie and other parts of Anne Arundel County. The bridge is also part of the route for Maryland Transit Administration bus lines 27 and 64.
The movie is a sequel to XXX, which starred Vin Diesel. The new film stars Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson and Willem Dafoe.
The scene the film crew hopes to shoot Saturday will show a speedboat chase in which one of the boats lands on the bridge, Byron said. The boat will be placed on the bridge with a crane, and the "landing" will be accomplished with special effects.
"It's all going to be done very safely," she said.
Byron said the production company will spend 10 or 11 days filming in the city. Movie makers spend about $100,000 each day they film here, she said, and the movie industry brings an estimated $120 million into the Maryland economy annually - of which more than 80 percent goes to Baltimore.