Maryland bridge under heavy loads

News AASHTO Journal December 29, 2004
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Maryland's Department of Transportation released a study showing increasingly heavy use ahead for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, wh

Maryland's Department of Transportation released a study showing increasingly heavy use ahead for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which links Washington, D.C., and other western Maryland metro areas to the Eastern Shore and popular beaches. The study shows daily traffic is expected to rise by more than 40% within 20 years, the Washington Post reported.


If no steps are taken to alleviate the congestion such traffic will spur, weekend use of the crowded span could lead to 12 hours of congestion per day in the busy summertime.


"It's definite that we need new capacity," said Maryland DOT Secretary Robert Flanagan. "We're open to all feasible alternatives." Flanagan said the DOT will form a task force to look at possible responses, including new spans across the bay.


The current bridge consists of two 4.3-mile-long spans. The first opened with two lanes in 1952 and was hailed as an engineering feat. It opened the relatively isolated Eastern Shore to the rest of the state and nation. The bridge proved so popular that a three-lane second span was opened in 1973.


Last year more than 25 million vehicles crossed the bridge. The nearest alternate across the bay is 65 miles north. The nearest crossing to the south is four hours away.


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