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Public hopeful for Railroad Bridge rehab

Danielle Ryan

(11/28) During the November 21 town meeting, Thurmont Commissioners were presented with the results from the survey for the rehabilitation of the Maryland-Midland Railroad Bridge on North Church Street

Members of the Town have been talking about making improvements to the bridge for many years, and agreed that it would coincide as part of Main Street improvements. A painted bridge could be a potential attraction to get more people to visit Thurmont. The bridge, which has been in place since 1936, is in need of some desperate aesthetic improvements, as many view the bridge now as the town’s biggest eye sore. For starters, the bridge needs to be painted.

A committee was formed during the summer consisting of persons interested in thinking of ideas and making recommendations for this project. The committee decided to place a survey online to gauge Thurmont residents’ opinions on the project. The survey was online from July 20 through October 30 and a total of 354 online responses were polled and 147 emails were received. 264 of the online surveys were from residents of Thurmont; the remaining surveys were mainly from surrounding towns. Commissioner Burns noted that the community gave some very positive feedback and really appreciated the survey as a way for asking for public’s input on a town project. Surveys of a similar nature may be used in the future.

The survey showed an overwhelming response from the public that the bridge is in need of being repaired or refurbished. When asked about the preference for the overall appearance and design of the bridge, the public expressed that they would prefer the bridge to be painted black or a neutral color with Thurmont lettering added on the panels. It was also preferred that the abutments not be just plainly painted, but instead include a stone or faux stone application or murals. In addition, the committee also looked into installing LED color changing lights on the underside of the bridge.

When the committee looked into the potential cost for refurbishing the bridge, they were provided with an estimated $100,000 cost to paint the bridge. This cost wouldn’t include engineering costs or the cost to hire someone to control traffic while the bridge is being painted. The committee also talked about doing the project in house, by volunteers.

Another committee member also mentioned that they could insert removable panels in the bridge, which could have lettering on them or murals. This option will further be discussed at a future meeting. In the meantime, the committee will be looking at potential grants and fundraising to help cover the costs of some form of bridge beautification. "Refurbishing this bridge will only beautify the town," said Commissioner Burns. The town hopes, in the least, to paint the bridge and repair the concrete abutments.

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