Renovations of Downtown Mall Now Expected to Cost 8.7 Million

Published: June 12, 2019

CUMBERLAND — A preliminary estimate on the renovations planned for the downtown Cumberland pedestrian mall has the project costing $8.7 million.

News of the latest estimate was disclosed at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Cumberland Economic Development Corp. held at the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce.

The estimate was prepared by The EADS Group, an Altoona, Pennsylvania, engineering and design firm that has offices in Cumberland. The $8.7 million price tag exceeds earlier design estimates prepared by consultants McCormick & Taylor that pegged the cost between $5 million and $7.4 million.

The official title of the plan is the Baltimore Street Redevelopment Project, which includes reinstalling Baltimore Street through the downtown mall running one-way from Mechanic Street to George Street. During the process, the aging below-ground utility lines will be replaced.

Paul Kelly, CEDC executive director, detailed the expenses that have contributed to the increased cost estimate.

“We did receive a preliminary cost for the project,” said Kelly. “The hard cost is roughly $7.3 million. We do have contingencies added to that: a 10% construction contingency of $750,000 and a cost escalation over the life of the project of $219,000 and then another soft cost of inspection oversight of $400,000.”

Kelly said the CEDC currently has $3.3 million secured for the project in the form of state and federal grants. However, the new cost estimates reveal a funding gap, or shortfall, of more than $5 million.

CEDC officials remain confident that additional funds will be obtained in the coming months.

“I have written a letter to the Western Maryland legislative delegation seeking their assistance to find additional funding for the project,” said Kelly. “We are also reaching out to our state partners.”

Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss attended the meeting. Kelly asked Morriss to confirm, “we still have the political will to make that project happen. We all remain optimistic it can be done.”

Morriss said the city remains supportive.

“Yes, we are still a go,” said Morriss. “We will continue to work on narrowing the gap in the funding and see what we can do moving forward.”

The current cost projections, according to Kelly, will ultimately be replaced by EADS’ final plans, specifications and estimate that are expected to completed by August.

EADS, which is charging roughly $400,000, is basing the streetscape costs on the design plans created by the Frederick-based Cochran Studios and approved by the mayor and City Council. Kelly said Cochran Studios will stay on as consultants through the construction phase.

After the final design blueprints are completed by EADS in August, the plans will be reviewed by the mayor and City Council and then sent to the Maryland State Highway Administration for its approval.

Kelly said he hopes to have SHA approval by November. The city then will issue a request for proposals from prospective construction companies to complete the work. Kelly hopes to have a contractor selected by February with the project breaking ground in April.

The reinstalled Baltimore Street will be lined by street lamps and fast-growing trees that will form a canopy over the street. Other features will include complete removal and rebuilding of the parklets at the corner of Mechanic and Baltimore streets and the McCoury Family Stage at the corner of Liberty and Baltimore streets.

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