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The Dripby Mark Reutter9:30 amMar 31, 20160

Bridge to Harbor Point to cost nearly $47 million

To pay for project, the city used $35 million in federal funds earmarked for other construction, including the long-delayed Harford Road Bridge over Herring Run.

Above: The new bridge will extend Central Avenue at this point across an old canal to the Harbor Point development. (Mark Reutter)

That’s $179,923 a foot.

Building the 260-foot-long Central Avenue Bridge, linking Harbor Point with Harbor East, will cost $46.78 million under a contract approved yesterday by the Board of Estimates.

Allan Myers, a Pennsylvania construction company, was awarded the design-build contract for the first major new bridge in Baltimore in more than a decade.

The bridge will serve the 27-acre Harbor Point site, whose first phase of construction includes the Exelon Tower, a 350,000-square-foot residential apartment building, large parking garage and landscaped park.

The project comes amid a backlog of other roads projects in Baltimore.

To pay for the bridge, the city reallocated $35 million in federal funds originally earmarked for other construction. Those projects included the realignment of Boston Street between Canton Crossing and I-95 and a new bridge over Herring Run, replacing the badly deteriorated Harford Road bridge.

Clarification: In 2013, when the city agreed to build the Harbor Point Bridge (as opposed to having developer Michael Beatty build the bridge and foot the bill), it committed federal highway funds to “fast-track” the bridge over other infrastructure projects, including the Harford Road Bridge over Herring Run and realigning Boston Street through Canton. Yesterday, the Board of Estimates formally allocated $35 million of federal funds to pay for the Harbor Point Bridge.

Originally planned to be completed in February 2016, the Harbor Point bridge is now expected to open in 2018.

About $6.6 million of the construction costs will be financed by TIF (tax increment financing) bonds awarded to the Beatty Development Group, Harbor Point’s developer, by the Rawlings-Blake administration.

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The Baltimore Department of Transportation, on social media, called this story misleading and inaccurate.

We asked spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes: “Is the $47M cost of Central Ave Bridge cited in the article not accurate? Is the $35m in federal highway funds going for the bridge’s design and construction not accurate? Are not these federal funds coming from other projects slated for federal funding before city/DOT agreed to pay for Central Ave Bridge in 2013? If not the case, please explain where the federal money came from.”

Her reply: “The 47 million covers the Central Avenue Phase II project which includes the construction of the Bridge plus the reconstruction of the Central Avenue (between Lancaster and Baltimore Streets) roadway and upgrades to utilities, storm drains and inlets. . This work is necessary regardless of the construction of the bridge. Out of the 47 million, approximately 10 million will be used for the construction of the bridge.

· Federal funds are provided for capital improvement projects which this project falls under. It is typically an 80/20 split.
· The money for Central Avenue/Harbor East was moved from a Construction Reserve Account for Central Avenue to an “Active Authorization for Use” Account, this action does not have an impact nor does it affect the Harford Road Bridge or other scheduled projects.
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Replacement of the Harford Road Bridge over Herring Run is one of victims of the diversion of federal highway funds to the Central Avenue Bridge. (Mark Reutter)

STILL WAITING: Replacement of the Harford Road Bridge over Herring Run has been planned for over 15 years. (Mark Reutter)

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