The right lane of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge’s westbound deck has reopened after an extensive project to repair and repave a deteriorating portion of the road, Gov. Larry Hogan announced today during an appearance on Eastern Shore radio station WGMD.
Work was completed one year ahead of schedule, a welcome bit of good news during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Maryland is facing significant challenges these days, and of course our primary focus is on the health and safety of our citizens amid the ongoing COVID-19 threat,” Hogan said in a release put out after the appearance. “But it’s important to celebrate the reopening of the westbound right lane of the Bay Bridge, because for me it represents the spirit, dedication and work ethic that will see our state through any crisis.”
The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) said the lower volume of traffic caused by the pandemic allowed state workers and contractors to work even faster while adhering to health guidelines to slow the spread of the virus.
Some work remains, including deck sealing, steel railing replacement, and deck and joint repairs and replacements on the center and left lanes of the westbound span. But the agency said those repairs will happen during off-peak hours or at night and should have a minimum impact on traffic.
MDTA Executive Director James F. Ports Jr. said work to install electronic tolling on the Anne Arundel County side of the crossing is 70 percent complete. Old toll booths have been removed and a new overhead structure, known as a gantry, has been installed. Workers have to install and test the software to collect tolls from travelers.
The entire project was scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day Weekend, the traditional start of summer, but it’s not yet clear if Marylanders will be allowed to take their usual summer trips by the time the holiday rolls around.
Earlier this week Hogan issued a “stay at home” order in response to the pandemic, only allowing residents to leave for essential trips to get food or medicine, go to a medical appointment or commute to an essential job. Outdoor exercise is also permitted so long as there’s social distancing.
Work on the $27 million project to repair the bridge began last September, leading to significant back-ups in Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s counties. Originally, the project was slated to take two years.
During an October meeting of the Board of Public Works, Hogan called for the work to be expedited.
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