Chester River bridge painting gets underway
CHESTERTOWN — The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration will clean and paint the Maryland 213 (Maple Avenue) drawbridge over Chester River in Kent County beginning Wednesday, Sept. 7. Working primarily from barges, crews will use overnight single-lane closures between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. to clean and paint the draw span, bridge operating system and metal railing across the entire bridge.
SHA will maintain normal two-way traffic across the bridge daily between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. This schedule is consistent with lane closure hours for recent steel repairs to the drawbridge, which worked well for travelers and residents. Crews may work daytime hours without lane closures.
SHA’s contractor, Alpha Painting and Construction of Baltimore, may need up to five nights for a full roadway closure to clean and paint the drawbridge end sections; these closures will be limited to overnight hours, 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The nearly $2 million project will be complete mid-fall, weather permitting. The drawbridge will remain in the down position (closed to marine traffic) until the cleaning and painting is complete.
“Thanks to members of the Joint Kent-Queen Anne’s Task Force for their commitment and perseverance,” said SHA Administrator Gregory C. Johnson, P.E. “They challenged SHA to find a better solution and supported us as we worked with the contractor to develop schedules that would get the job done with minimal impacts to travel and the local economy. This has been a great team effort.”
SHA, elected officials and business and community leaders agreed to the revised work plan at the July meeting of the Joint KentQueen Anne’s Task Force. SHA met with County tourism officials and the contractor to establish a work schedule that would respect late summer/fall tourism events that are critical economic drivers for Chestertown and Kent County. The team finalized schedule details last week. As part of the agreement, Alpha will suspend Friday and Saturday operations for the Riverfest (Sept. 23-24), Harry Potter (Sept. 30-Oct.2) and Sultana Downrigging (Oct. 28-30) events. SHA will keep the community informed if any emergency changes occur.
Previous plans called for a full bridge closure and detour for up to four weeks. SHA announced in April it would postpone the painting until 2017. Negotiations continued with Alpha and local officials through the summer and yielded the current plan to paint the bridge this year with no daytime traffic impacts.
SHA’s repairs to steel portions of the bridge will conclude this week. Originally constructed in 1930, the Maryland 213 drawbridge over the Chester River carries an average of 14,000 vehicles each day.
Only nighttime lane closures are planned on the Chester River Bridge during painting, which is scheduled to begin in September.