County Explains Delay for Joppa RD Bridge

Bridge Now Set to Open October

The Joppa Road Bridge near Honeygo Elementary School in Perry Hall has been closed since January.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks shared an email from the Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works and Transportation about the Joppa Road bridge, and why it is taking so long.

According to the email, the Joppa Road Bridge is now scheduled to reopen in October

“Councilman Marks,

I’ve had a lot of internal conversations with DPWT on the bridge that is currently closed on Joppa Road by Honeygo Elementary School. The bridge was closed in January 2021 because the center portion of the bridge had delaminated (the concrete outer cover was coming loose from the structure) and it was determined the structure in the center could no longer carry the minimum moving load of typical cars/truck traffic.

“The center portion of the bridge was built around 1920, the ends around 1940. The County had no existing plans on the structural design. Once the bridge was closed, the County was able to deconstruct the outer concrete in order to see the structure and re-engineer from there. This also required surveys and testing. That re-engineering has been going on behind the scenes and is not easily viewable by the public.

“When the bridge was closed the best case scenario on timeline was released publicly. In hindsight the DPWT team should have put float in the schedule to allow for unforeseen conditions.

“Attached are two images that help highlight the technical design complications with this bridge that were not evident until the testing, which couldn’t be done until the bridge was closed.

“Typical Bridge 210727” – note the 2 straight tension rods that are marked on the plan. These create even/equal sections of structure between them for the whole length of the bridge. This makes for a copy and paste for the design engineer once they design 1 section.

This is a layout on typical bridge.

“Joppa Road Bridge B0545- 210727” – note the quantity of ‘dashed lines’ these are the tension rods needed for the geometry of the Joppa Road bridge due to the ‘kink’ circled on the plans. This means each of these rods needed a design and each section between rods needs a design, there is very little copy
/paste. This took longer to engineer before the plans can be given to a pre-caster to form the bridge sections.

How the 1920s Bridge design is set up

“In order to expedite, this the design was done in house, instead of adding time for proposals from design firms, procurement of contracts, this saved at least 3 months. The plans are finishing up today and being released to the on-call precast contractor. The contractor needs to have the materials made, delivered and installed.

“Given the significant design effort that was unknown at the time of bridge closure the new timeline is reopening of the bridge in October 2021. The Countys website is being updated to reflect this information.

“Thanks for your patience and concern for the safety of our roads!”

Mark said he is frustrated with the ongoing process of this bridge and the delays to reopen.

“I recognize this is a major inconvenience for motorists. My parents live a half-mile from this bridge,” Marks said.

“While there are special circumstances that make this a difficult bridge to reconstruct, it’s unacceptable that the county did not recognize these structural issues earlier.”