Allegany County residents expressed frustration to the Western Maryland state delegation on Thursday, November 2 about the continued closure of the CSX-owned Washington Street bridge. With the bridge closed “indefinitely,” residents of historic Washington Street turned to their delegation for help in getting their street back.
After the bridge received a poor safety inspection in April 2016, CSX repaired parts of the bridge so that one lane of vehicular traffic could remain open. However, on August 20, a CSX rail car failed to clear the bridge, damaging it and causing its full closure two days later. CSX indicated at that time that the bridge would remain closed “indefinitely.”
Some had hoped to address repairs to the Washington Street and other CSX-owned bridges in Cumberland by adding them to the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Howard Street Tunnel grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation. However, MDOT officials cancelled their request of $155 million in federal funds for the Howard Street Tunnel expansion after CSX pulled out of the deal.
Cumberland Times-News reports:
Cumberland Mayor Brian Grim has said the attempts to resolve bridge issues with CSX have resulted in frustration.
“Our bridge is closed,” said Murphy. “It is dangerous. It is an historic area … a heritage area. I realize it is owned by CSX. We have been extremely patient for years. It is a street in this city.
“Why would someone want to move here? You can’t even drive up it. I feel like we’ve been talking about it for years, but it keeps getting worse.”
The Washington Street bridge is one of three bridges on Cumberland’s West Side in disrepair. In addition to Washington Street, bridges at Cumberland and Fayette streets are in poor condition, according to officials with the city and CSX.
Grim said the Cumberland Street bridge will also be closed soon due to safety concerns.
Delegate Jason Buckel suggested that the City of Cumberland sue CSX:
“I don’t think the state has any leverage on them (CSX),” said Buckel. “My advice … the shortest time frame to get a human being from CSX to come to Allegany County and look at the bridge is to sue them in Circuit Court for Allegany County, which will require them to retain council within 30 days and show up in Allegany County to deal with it. That is the truth.”
Delegate Mike McKay suggested involving the state’s federal delegation.