Ches. City lane closure to begin June 6
— After several weeks of delays, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials announced Tuesday that their Chesapeake City Bridge repainting project will get underway on June 6.
The two-month delay from the initial discussion of the project to this week’s announcement also means that delays at the bridge will persist all summer long, now lasting until late October, officials reported.
The Corps, which maintains the 68-year-old bridge as the agency responsible for the upkeep and safety of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, originally hoped to start the project in late April. The federal agency ran into traffic control issues with the Maryland Department of Transportation, however, specifically in regards to the movement of first responders, school buses and farm equipment over the length of the project.
On Monday night, the Chesapeake City Town
Council also reported that some of the delay was attributable to soil testing that some residents wanted prior to the work beginning. As crews sandblast off existing paint, which may still contain some lead, residents who live in the shadow of the nearly 4,000-foot-long span wanted assurances that their property would not be contaminated. Therefore, the Corps is conducting soil tests for lead before and af- ter the project is finished.
With approvals in hand and preparations drawing to a close, Corcon Inc., an Ohiobased construction firm that specializes in bridge painting and has completed major projects like the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, is set to begin the $6.8 million project.
Crews will work at least five days a week — possibly six to expedite work — on the project. With crews working perilously close to traffic on the two-lane bridge, it will require a closure of one lane for much of the duration of project, creating traffic delays for the 13,500 vehicles that cross the span daily.
Corps officials are working with the Maryland State Highway Administration to install temporary traffic lights at either end of the bridge when delays begin. The lights will be set on a cycle of no more than eight minutes for northbound and southbound traffic, with the traffic lights capable of counting the cars passing under them and ensuring all pass through the other side before enabling the reverse flow, Boyle said.
A third traffic signal is also planning on being installed at the northbound entrance to Route 213 from the town’s south side, which enters traffic near the start of the bridge, Boyle said. Without such a signal, town officials were worried that residents and visitors would be blocked by the backup of northbound traffic.
While the Corps will be encouraging drivers to consider other canal crossings, the nearest detour back to Route 213 would be nearly 12 miles away using the Summit Bridge, meaning local drivers may be better suited to wait out the delay.
The preventative project will both beautify and protect the bridge, as crews sandblast off the deteriorating paint from rails and stairwells along the bridge, replace the chain link fencing, complete necessary repairs and repaint the affected areas. Areas of the bridge to be sandblasted will be covered in a protective cloth and crews removing the paint will be in full protective suits in case some lead-based paint remained after the last project, officials have said.
Drivers will be forced to deal with delays during the needed Chesapeake City bridge repainting project to start June 6.