Route 18 bridge over Kent Nar­rows to close

Record Observer - - News - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY ck­ersey@ches­pub.com

GRASONVILLE — The Route 18 Water­man’s Me­mo­rial draw­bridge over Kent Nar­rows will be closed to mo­tor ve­hi­cle traf­fic from Feb. 27 to March 31 for re­pairs, said Char­lie Gis­chlar, spokesman for the Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

For boaters, the draw­bridge will be in the open po­si­tion dur­ing the day and some­times at night, Gis­chlar said.

If the draw­bridge must be closed, the high­way ad­min­is­tra­tion will no­tify the U.S. Coast Guard which will no­tify boaters and a barge will be placed in front of the bridge to warn boaters, he added.

Work­ers will make gen­eral re­pairs to the part of the bridge that opens and on the ap­proaches to it. Steel parts of the bridge will be re­placed “in kind,” which means one part will re­place an­other part.

Cov­ing­ton Ma­chine and Welding, based in An­napo­lis, has been con­tracted by SHA to per­form the work at an ap­prox­i­mate cost of $550,000, Gish­lar said.

Mo­torists who use the bridge can use Route 50/Route 301 and its ex­its to de­tour the clo­sure, he said, adding, “We ap­pre­cia­tive mo­torists pa­tience dur­ing the re­pairs and this will ex­tend the life of the bridge even longer.”

The Kent Nar­rows De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion was re­cently briefed on the clo­sure, said Gigi Wind­ley, the group’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor.

Wind­ley de­scribes the re­pairs as “nec­es­sary” and per­formed at a fa­vor­able time of year for busi­nesses. “This is the least vis­ited time of year,” she said.

Kent Nar­rows has restau­rants, ho­tels, mari­nas and dock­side din­ing. Some of them are closed this time of year, she said.

The Foun­da­tion was cre­ated in May 1990 to fa­cil­i­tate the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of the Kent Nar­rows, a 955acre wa­ter­front area, which has been iden­ti­fied as a strate­gi­cally im­por­tant as­set for the fu­ture of Queen Anne’s County.

As for the de­tour, Wind­ley said, “The ac­cess won’t be cut off to any busi­ness. You can still get from point A to point B by tak­ing Route 50.”

Tracy Schulz, one of the own­ers of Fish­er­man’s Inn and Crab Deck which is lo­cated near the bridge, said it was prob­a­bly the best time to close the bridge be­cause of the weather. “Things are slow, not as much traf­fic as usual,” he said.

Eric Hoff­man, man­ager of the Hol- iday Inn Ex­press which is near the bridge, said he doesn’t ex­pect the clo­sure to af­fect his busi­ness. Peo­ple can use Exit 42 each way on Route 50 to de­tour the clo­sure, he said.

He doesn’t think it will af­fect busi­ness be­cause it didn’t when the same bridge was closed two years ago, he said.

In the spring of 2015, the same Route 18 bridge over Kent Nar­rows was closed to traf­fic for about seven weeks while it was cleaned and re­painted. Work­ers dis­cov­ered re­pairs were needed and they were sched­uled for this year, said the State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion spokesman.

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