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Canal Parkway, from Wiley Ford Bridge to MD 51

Project Abstract

Prior to this roadway project, severe traffic congestion occurred daily at the Virginia Avenue underpass (locally known as the "subway") of CSXT tracks and its intersection with MD 51. When this facility was blocked (by accidents or flooding) there was an extensive detour required through West Virginia to get residents back into their community. This effectively limited access to South Cumberland. As a result, improving the "subway" or providing alternative access into South Cumberland became a major goal of the study.



MD canal 3:
Project Description Prior to this roadway project, severe traffic congestion occurred daily at the Virginia Avenue underpass (locally known as the "subway") of CSXT tracks and its intersection with MD 51. When this facility was blocked (by accidents or flooding) there was an extensive detour required through West Virginia to get residents back into their community. This effectively limited access to South Cumberland. As a result, improving the "subway" or providing alternative access into South Cumberland became a major goal of the study.
In concert with the subway issue, the local leaders in Cumberland and Allegany County identified a new airport access road through their master planning process that addressed the access issue into South Cumberland while also providing access to the Cumberland Regional Airport which was actually located in West Virginia.
The community and the local leaders along with the National Park Service (NPS) expressed a desire to improve access to and the condition of the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) in South Cumberland.
SHA participated with NPS and other agencies and local elected officials in a Steering Committee that further refined desires for long term improvements to the C&O Canal National Park.
SHA held an Alternates Public Workshop and a Location/Design Public Hearing where both transportation improvements and park improvements were presented and comments on both elements were received.
SHA met with local property and business owners concerning impacts to their properties as well as access to the proposed Canal Parkway.

Partnerships and Stakeholder Involvement The Canal Parkway's success is due to a broad based partnership that included, the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the National Park Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Allegany County, the City of Cumberland, the C & O Canal National Historical Park, the Canal Place Preservation & Development Authority, the Maryland Historic Trust, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and CSX Transportation.
During the Planning stage, a Steering Committee and Technical Committee were formed with representatives of the above group to provide guidance and make design decisions. Once the project moved into the Final Design stage, two new teams were created. The Project Team, which was charged with the design execution and delivery of the Canal Parkway, and the Policy Guidance Team, whose primary focus was to clarify the vision and provide concurrence on the team's design recommendations.

Evaluating Alternatives A purpose and need was developed for both the transportation and park improvements. Specific transportation alternatives were developed that aimed at addressing the transportation need. A comprehensive redevelopment plan was outlined for the park. The Project Team looked at how the transportation alternatives interfaced with the park improvements. Ultimately an alternative was selected that met the transportation need but also best facilitated the improvements to the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

Finished Product Canal Parkway was designed to blend in with the surrounding environment and to complement the natural features of the C & O Canal NHP, the Potomac River and historic Cumberland. The vertical and horizontal alignments were designed to minimize impacts to the C & O Canal NHP and CSX railyard and maximize viewpoints of Cumberland and the Potomac River. The Parkway was developed as a low speed scenic roadway consisting of mainly automobile traffic.
Parkway Retaining Structure (Three-wall system): The parkway alignment was woven between the C & O Canal NHP and CSXT railyard. A three-wall system was created to minimize impacts to the park and railyard. The massive size of the wall between the roadway and park (2200 linear feet of 30-foot total height) was a major concern of the National Park Service. To address this concern, the project team developed a custom stone pattern formliner and coloration finish to meet the parkļ¾’s needs.
Woodcrete Screen Wall: At the southern limit of the project, the roadway alignment weaves between the existing boundary of the C & O Canal NHP and several industrial properties. In order to minimize right-of-way impacts, screen industrial operations and protect the Parkway from falling materials from industrial operations, the project team needed to identify a strong, low maintenance product with natural appearance. The Woodcrete post and panel screen wall system, with a wood pattern concrete formliner finish, was selected. The Federal Highway Administration approved this proprietary product on a research basis.
Parkway Typical Section: The horizontal and vertical alignments of the parkway closely followed the principles adopted by existing parkways throughout the country. Design elements included narrow travel lanes, stabilized grass shoulders, steel-backed timber traffic barrier, limited access points and minimal signage. Landscaping opportunities were maximized.
Canal Parkway Truss Bridge over the C & O Canal: When design of the parkway began, elimination of the at-grade crossing between the C & O Canal towpath and existing Ford Avenue was one of the first issues to be addressed. Attention focused on non-conventional low-profile structures that would provide the necessary underclearance over the towpath. SHA selected a through truss with a grid deck for this crossing. With the type of structure established, effort then focused on blending the new bridge into the park setting with architectural features that would evoke the historic period of Cumberland. With considerable input from NPS, a Warren Truss was selected due to the structural features similar to an industrial area. Concrete traffic barriers and abutments faced with native stone were selected to create a structure that serves the highway users and fits well with the park setting.

Lead Agencies: Maryland State Highway Administration Engineers: The Wilson T. Ballard Company; Rummel, Klepper & Kahl Consultants: Mahan Rykiel Associates; Gipe Associates; EDAW; Wallace, Roberts & Todd; John Milner Associates; Louis Berger & Associates; Robert D. Wall Associates Other Funders: FHWA

    
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