DUNDALK — Three out of the five electrical poles that will be placed next to the Francis Scott Key Bridge are up, in a utilities project to replace the lines currently under the bridge by next spring.
While most of BGE’s 230kV lines circling Baltimore are above ground, the utilities company has lines underwater at the Key Bridge, which were put into the riverbed in the 1970s.
Those lines are degrading, Bonnie Johanson, who manages large projects for BGE, said, and the Key Crossing Reliability Initiative, which broke ground last year, is going to replace them.
The new lines will be strung across poles next to the Key Bridge
“We realized we needed to go overhead” after analyzing possible replacements under the bridge, Johanson said. Going underwater would have a major environmental impact, and would disrupt the river channel as construction goes on.
The overhead option also allowed for more local companies to be involved in the construction, Nick Alexopulos, a spokesperson for BGE, said.
The three poles which have been completed are about 250 feet tall, and the project is working on two additional poles closer to the center of the bridge which will be closer to 400 feet, to accommodate for ships passing under, and for potential future expansions by the Maryland Port Administration.
The last two poles should be finished sometime in August, but that all depends on the weather, Johanson said. After those poles are done, the next step is to string the wire on top of the poles, which has to be done by helicopter.
Johanson, who recently starred in a segment of FOX45’s “Traffic Jam Jimmy” to talk about the Key Crossing project, said BGE has been working with the Maryland Transportation Authority and Port Authority on the wire stringing, to avoid the high-altitude act from becoming a distraction to drivers on the Key Bridge.
She said there will be a possibility of traffic impacts at that point, but it is unclear what the stringing will look like.
The wires are planned to be electrified by spring of next year, and then the old, underwater line will be decommissioned. Once oil is drained from it, it will be abandoned in the river as removing the line would have more of an environmental impact, she said.
The lines being electrified will also lead to BGE substations in Hawkins Point and Sollers Point being closed, as they won’t be necessary with the overhead lines. The company is looking at what can be done with those properties in the future.