Watchdog: Rusty bridge, weather lead to lengthy wait for repairs

Pedestrian walkway closed for months at harbor reopens after water warms up

  • The pedestrian bridge connecting Piers 4 and 5 in the Inner Harbor was closed for months.
The pedestrian bridge connecting Piers 4 and 5 in the Inner Harbor… (Algerina Perna, Baltimore…)
March 12, 2011|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

The problem: A pedestrian bridge connecting two Inner Harbor piers was closed for months.

The back story: Vicky Schetelich regularly walks around the harbor from her home at Spinnaker Bay on President Street, and her husband uses the paths to commute to his downtown job.

"He walks to the Bank of America center without even crossing a street, really," she said.

But since the fall, the two have been thwarted by the boarded-up pedestrian bridge connecting Piers 4 and 5, which walkers and runners would normally use to cross from behind the Power Plant to the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse and the Pier 5 Hotel.

Schetelich noticed the closure months ago, but during the winter, she tended to walk toward Canton. As the weather got warmer, though, Schetelich wondered about the bridge.

With seasonal tourists and convention visitors returning to the harbor, she thought the closure probably discouraged hotel residents from visiting the businesses on the south end of the Power Plant.

"I just felt sorry for the businesses along that way," she said. "Being a resident here, I encourage tourism."

This wasn't the first inquiry that Watchdog has received about the bridge. Other fitness enthusiasts were unhappy about having to add mileage to their workouts. And like Schetelich, they wondered why no construction or repairs seemed to be taking place.

On Wednesday, Watchdog called Adrienne Barnes, spokeswoman for Baltimore's Department of Transportation, which is responsible for Inner Harbor maintenance.

It turned out that the bridge repairs had been completed Tuesday.

"We had to wait for the water to warm up and the ice to melt," said Scott Weaver, a DOT bridge engineer.

The bridge's steel beams in the water were extremely corroded, making it unsafe for people to walk on, he said. "You have water, you have air, you have steel — you get rust," he said.

But now, steel channels have been placed on both sides of the beams, Weaver said. The project cost about $150,000, he said.

The barriers were removed Wednesday afternoon, and runners and walkers can resume using the bridge.

Schetelich was in the area at the time and discovered that the repairs had been completed. "It was just coincidence," she said. "It was closed one minute and open the next."

Who can fix such issues: Bimal Devkota, division chief for transportation engineering and construction, Baltimore Department of Transportation. 410-396-6930. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

Need help?

Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by e-mailing or calling 410-332-6735.

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