Dover Bridge ahead of sched­ule

Pro­jected open­ing planned for spring 2018

Times-Record - - Front Page - By CON­NIE CON­NOLLY cconnolly@ches­pub.com Dustin Holt con­trib­uted to this story. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ con­nie_s­tar­dem.

TANYARD — Arc­ing 50 feet above the Chop­tank River and its marshes filled with rose mal­lows and wild­fowl, the new Dover Bridge is near­ing com­ple­tion.

The project is ahead of sched­ule, and traf­fic is ex­pected to cross the fixed span on state Route 331 next spring.

McLean Con­tract­ing Com­pany of Glen Burnie is build­ing the new 2,020-foot­long bridge south of the old bridge. The same com­pany built the orig­i­nal War­ren truss swing bridge in 1932.

The old 843-foot Dover Bridge isn’t go­ing any­where. Be­cause of its his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, it will re­main in a per­ma­nently open po­si­tion and serve as a fish­ing pier.

The 1932 bridge is one of only three swing bridges in Mary­land and the only bridge of its par­tic­u­lar struc­ture in the en­tire state, Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion spokesman Bob Rager said.

This type of bridge “was al­most ex­clu­sively used in rail­road ap­pli­ca­tions, and is very, very rarely used for ve­hi­cles,” Rager said.

“In 2001, in con­junc­tion with the Mary­land His­tor­i­cal Trust, the SHA said it would do every­thing it could to preser ve it,” Rager said.

In con­trast to the su­per­struc­ture on the old bridge, no net­work of trusses will block the panoramic views across the marsh.

In­stead, an “aes­thetic tribeam rail­ing” is be­ing in­stalled, of­fer­ing driv­ers and pas­sen­gers a largely un­ob­structed view of the river, wildlife and boat traf­fic be­low.

In Novem­ber, Project En­gi­neer Trudi Gaito of Smyrna, Del., will have led the project since it be­gan three years ago.

“This has been a great project to be on, it re­ally has,” Gaito said.”

Four in­spec­tors work with Gaito out of the en­gi­neer­ing of­fice on the Tal­bot County side of the bridge. The ground­break­ing was held Oct. 14, 2014.

The 272 large-for­mat pages of plans for the bridge sit open on the work table, and she stud­ies it daily.

An­other 4-inch binder con­tains “the con­tract for the bridge and has ex­tra, spe­cial pro­vi­sions not cov­ered at all in the plans. It’s a lot of ref­er­ence doc­u­ments,” Gaito said.

Ninety per­cent of the bridge deck has been poured, and 11.5 of the 13 spans are fin­ished. A bridge span runs from pier to pier.

As the con­crete is poured and fin­ished, it is wet­ted down to cure it. Some­times, when the wind is in the right di­rec­tion, the wa­ter sprays down on pass­ing ve­hi­cles, Gaito said.

The lanes will have 8-footwide shoul­ders. The cur­rent bridge has two 12-foot-wide lanes with no shoul­der room.

Fill dirt to com­press the sub­soil was added on the Caro­line County side in De­cem­ber 2016. Ex­cess fill now is be­ing re­moved to make way for the last abut­ment for the bridge.

The fill was the fourth layer of fill and has been in place for eight months “just for weight,” Rager said. “The quar­an­tine pe­riod just ex­pired.”

Be­cause the fourth layer was so suc­cess­ful in com­press­ing the soil, a planned fifth layer of fill will not be needed, Rager said.

“The fill dirt is sur­charge put down in the marshy area,” Rager said. “If we hadn’t done that, it would have been like build­ing a road­way on a marsh­mal­low.”

Five con­crete gird­ers on the south end of the bridge will be low­ered into place soon. They are in their “ac­tual stor­age lo­ca­tion be­cause the con­trac­tor had to take delivery last year for them, but we were not ready to set them be­cause the dirt had not set­tled,” Gaito said.

But be­cause they are sit­ting at a higher el­e­va­tion than the bridge deck, they have been the sub­ject of wise­cracks.

“I’ve had peo­ple say, ‘You guys at state high­way must be id­iots; you put those gird­ers in wrong,’” Rager said.

“Yeah, I’ve seen some stuff on Face­book,” Gaito said, laugh­ing. “It’s like, ‘Is this how we do the new math?’ It does look odd.”

“As soon as the abut­ment is com­pleted, they’ll go ahead and put those gird­ers in at the proper el­e­va­tion,” Gaito said. “They’re in the right lo­ca­tion; they just need to be low­ered.”

After the bridge opens to traf­fic, “other things will still be go­ing on. We’ll be adding land­scap­ing, sed­i­ment traps, bioswales,” Gaito said.

Be­neath the bridge are “ar­chi­tec­tural treat­ments,” tall sail­boats set in re­lief on the con­crete piers boats pass be­tween. “The de­signer wanted to add in­ter­est for the boat­ing public and wanted it to blend in with the beau­ti­ful scenery here,” Rager said.

To view the com­plete project on videos, log onto mdas­phalt.org/2016/dover­bridge-re­place­ment-project/

Dover Bridge Project En­gi­neer Trudi Gaito con­sults 272 pages of plans daily with four in­spec­tors. She has led the project for al­most three years.

PHO­TOS BY CON­NIE CON­NOLLY

Work­men at the top of the new Dover Bridge pre­pare balus­ters for the “aes­thetic tri-beam rail­ing” that al­lows mo­torists a panoramic, southerly view of the Chop­tank River.

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