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Bay Bridge span reopens after 'unusual' movement

Wednesday - 8/29/2012, 5:03am  ET

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Workers detected the unusual movement during an overnight inspection. (File)

Local reactions to Bay Bridge closure

WTOP's Adam Tuss reports

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Caution causes bridge closure

Harold Bartlett, executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority

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WASHINGTON - A huge, tarp-like containment being used by a painting crew on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge caused the westbound span to move in an unusual manner Tuesday, prompting its closure.

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, workers carrying out a routine inspection of the bridge noticed "unusual, vertical movement," says Harold Bartlett, executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority.

"I guess the best way to describe it is that tarp acted kind of sail-like, and created some motion on the bridge," he says. "The bridge is designed to move somewhat, but this was a little bit more unusual."

The westbound span was closed for several hours Tuesday while officials examined the bridge in the daylight. The eastbound span carried traffic in both directions during the closure. The westbound span was open by noon.

"We erred on the side of being very, very cautious today. For those people who are worried about crossing the bridge, I hope they take some comfort in knowing that the patrons that use our bridge every day are of prime importance to us, and we always want to make sure they are safe," says Bartlett.

It is not known what the wind velocity was.

The Bay Bridge is inspected every year. It was last inspected in March and given a safe rating.

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WTOP's Mitchell Miller contributed to this report. Follow Mitchell and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)