by Greg Larry
CUMBERLAND, Md. — Cumberland’s mayor and City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept a $14.6 million bid from Triton Construction, Inc. to complete renovations to the downtown mall, which are expected to take 18 months.
The latest news concerning the effort, officially titled the Baltimore Street Access Project, was provided at a City Council work session held before the vote during the regular public meeting.
Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss said, barring any surprises, he expects the project to begin in the spring.
“We are still looking at April 1,” said Morriss. “We think that would be a good time for a start. Now that it is official that Triton has been awarded the contract they can start getting everything in gear and lining up the materials needed.”
The project includes replacing underground utility lines, reinstalling Baltimore Street through the pedestrian mall and creating a new streetscape with parklets, trees and shrubs.
City Council member Laurie Marchini provided an overview on measures being taken to help prepare downtown business owners for the 18-month project. She said a meeting of the stakeholders will take place in early 2023.
“There is expected to be a town hall meeting, no later than February, with the merchants/business owners to make sure everybody knows (what’s happening),” said Marchini. “They’ll be given the mitigation plan first in January so they can peruse that and come with questions.”
The Cumberland Economic Development Corp. is preparing a mitigation plan to help business owners cope with issues involving parking, front and rear access points, utility service scheduling and any other potential disruptions. Marchini said the town hall meeting will be made as convenient as possible.
“We are trying to figure out the best way to do it,” she said. “We will try to have it as a hybrid, in-person (event) but also have it to Zoom or whatever (streaming platform) they’ll use at that point.”
The bids submitted for the project included Triton Construction, Inc. of St. Albans, West Virginia, the low bidder, and Carl Belt, Inc. of Cumberland, which bid $15.1 million.
The city has secured roughly $12.5 million in state and federal grants for the project thus far. Morris said he remains confident an estimated funding shortfall, currently around $2 million, will be overcome. He said grant writers are working to find ways to expand on the grant packages already in place.
Baltimore Street previously extended through the downtown until the street was bricked over in 1977 to create a pedestrian mall. As tastes changed, several merchants began to prefer having the street reinstalled so motorists could see their stores, have drop-off ability as well as additional parking spaces.
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