Bridge work will bring more de­lays

Dorchester Star - - NEWS - By AN­GELA PRICE bay­times@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVIL­LE — For Queen Anne’s County res­i­dents al­ready un­happy with the fre­quent traf­fic back­ups on U.S. Route 50/301, things are about to get worse.

The Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Author­ity an­nounced Tues­day af­ter­noon, July 23, it will be­gin a $27 mil­lion deck re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion on the west span of the Wil­liam Pre­ston Lane Jr. Me­mo­rial (Bay) Bridge this fall. As part of the two-year pro­ject, the right lane of the span will close from Oc­to­ber to April dur­ing fall 2019/ spring 2020 and fall 2020/spring 2021.

“Even though traf­fic vol­umes are low­est at the bridge dur­ing th­ese months, driv­ers should ex­pect ma­jor de­lays, even dur­ing nor­mal con­di­tions, and es­pe­cially dur­ing hol­i­days, traf­fic in­ci­dents and in­clement weather,” MDTA Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Jim Ports said. “We’re ask­ing our cus­tomers for their pa­tience and un­der­stand­ing and to bear with us dur­ing this nec­es­sary work to pre­serve this crit­i­cal con­nec­tion be­tween Mary­land’s shores.”

Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran was fu­ri­ous when he got the news.

“Once again, the state of Mary­land has no in­ter­est in work­ing with lo­cal gov­ern­ments,” he said. “We have heard ru­mors for months about this type of pro­ject com­ing around, but none of our elected of­fi­cials, none of our ad­min­is­tra­tors, were in­formed. We have to find out on Face­book.”

When MDTA can­celed the Bridge Walk in March, the county heard ru­mors about some big pro­ject in the works, but of­fi­cials vowed to keep the county in­formed, Mo­ran said. That didn’t hap­pen.

“It would seem since we an­chor one side of the Bay Bridge that we would be in­cluded in the dis­cus­sions, but that never hap­pens,” Mo­ran said. “And that’s also un­for­tu­nate.”

Be­gin­ning af­ter La­bor Day and con­tin­u­ing through Sept. 30, the right lane will be closed con­tin­u­ously dur­ing week­days from 9 a.m. Mon­days through 6 a.m. Fri­days, MDTA said.

The long-term 24/7 right lane clo­sure will oc­cur from Oct. 1, 2019, through April 16, 2020, but will be lifted tem­po­rar­ily dur­ing the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day.

Then, from April 16 through May 20, 2020, the right lane again will be closed con­tin­u­ously dur­ing week­days from 9 a.m. Mon­days through 6 a.m. Fri­days. All lanes will re­open dur­ing the sum­mer travel sea­son when traf­fic vol­umes sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease. The MDTA will re­peat the same sched­ule dur­ing fall 2020/spring 2021.

Two-way traf­fic op­er­a­tions will not be used dur­ing the 24/7 lane clo­sures be­cause a con­crete bar­rier will be in place with re­duced lane widths, MDTA said. The MDTA will use twoway traf­fic for emer­gen­cies only. MDTA staff is co­or­di­nat­ing with the lo­cal school sys­tems, emer­gency re­spon­ders and other part­ners.

Not hav­ing the op­tion of con­tra-flow traf­fic for seven months out of the next two years is un­con­scionable, Mo­ran said. That means even more back­ups dur­ing the week and longer com­mute times for any­one work­ing on the west­ern shore.

“We’re not go­ing to take this lay­ing down,” he said. “There might be noth­ing we can do about it, but we’re go­ing to try.”

Fully funded by tolls, the MDTA’s $27 mil­lion pro­ject will re­place the bridge deck sur­face of the west span’s right lane. Work also in­cludes mak­ing deck re­pairs, seal­ing the bridge deck and re­plac­ing ex­ist­ing lane-use sig­nal gantries and steel rail posts. Wag­man Heavy Civil Inc. of York, Pa., will per­form the work. The pro­ject is ex­pected to be com­plete in Au­gust 2021.

For Bay Bridge traf­fic in­for­ma­tion, call 1-877-BAYSPAN (229-7726) or visit bay­bridge. com. To sign up for email/text alerts or view real-time traf­fic cam­era im­ages on MDTA road­ways, visit mdta.mary­land.gov.

PHOTO BY DAVID SITES

Af­ter La­bor Day, the Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Author­ity plans to be­gin a $27 mil­lion deck re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­ject on the west span of the Wil­liam Pre­ston Lane Jr. Me­mo­rial (Bay) Bridge. As part of the two-year pro­ject, the right lane of span will close from Oc­to­ber to April dur­ing fall 2019/spring 2020 and fall 2020/spring 2021.

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