Bridge work will bring more delays
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.
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.