Eastern Shore residents gathered on Wednesday night to let officials with the Maryland Transportation Authority know they’re not happy with delays on the Bay Bridge.
The MdTA recently began repairing the jersey wall on the left-hand side of the bridge’s eastbound span. To complete the job, the left lane of that span has been closed, indefinitely.
Residents gathered to hear from several top officials from the MdTA, and to tell them what’s been on their minds. ‘A great deal of money is intended to go toward these efforts via tolls and taxes and to have a situation which we are currently facing is unacceptable as a taxpayer,’ said Rob Morrison of Stevensville.
The MdTA officials listened to comments from the public, but they did not offer responses. Instead they explained the reason for the delay. They say the fatal crash on August 10 revealed corrosion problems in the jersey wall of the eastbound span. A tractor-trailer broke through the jersey wall, after its driver swerved to avoid an on-coming car. The driver of the tractor-trailer, John Short of Wicomico County, was killed. The crash led to emergency inspections of the jersey walls. ‘It is absolutely not ideal, it wasn’t an ideal situation for us to close a lane and initiate repairs before the Labor Day weekend,’ said Ronald Freeland, the MdTA’s Executive Secretary.
State Senator E.J. Pipkin, a Republican from the Eastern Shore, cut short his trip to Minnesota for the Republican National Convention to attend Wednesday’s meeting. ‘We need to do something long term and sticking our head in the sand and saying we’re not going to do anything is not an option, as you could tell from this hearing tonight,’ he said.
Sen. Pipkin is calling on Governor Martin O’Malley to begin the environmental review process that would be necessary to build a new span across the bay, or to recommend alternatives if a ‘No-Build’ option are chosen. ‘We just can’t ignore that all Marylanders use this bridge,’ Sen. Pipkin said. ‘These bridges are important and we need to get the process started.’
The environmental review would take at least three years. So far, the O’Malley administration has not indicated whether it would consider starting that process.
Two-way traffic is expected to operate on the westbound span of the Bay Bridge during the following times, to provide two lanes for eastbound travelers:
- Monday through Wednesday, from 9am to 9pm
- Thursday and Friday, from 9am to 10pm
- Saturday, from 7am to 9pm
- Other times as needed
Commuters will still have three westbound lanes available during the morning rush hours.
If you are traveling to Ocean City from parts of Maryland that are north of the Bay Bridge, including the Baltimore area, the MdTA recommends avoiding the bridge and using I-95 North, to southbound Route 1 in Delaware.
Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.