3-year Beltway bridge work starting in Prince George’s Co.

WASHINGTON — If you drive on the Beltway through Prince George’s County, get ready for three years of bridge construction work.

Two parallel bridges that carry Inner and Outer Loop traffic over Suitland Road, are being replaced.

The bridges are 54 years old and are considered structurally deficient.

Charlie Gischlar with the Maryland State Highway Administration says the new bridges will have bigger inner shoulders in case the highway is widened in the future.

“That’s going to be something that will be explored down the road, but until then, the bridges are going to be built wider,” he said.

The project area is nearly two miles long, and runs from the Auth Road overpass north past the Maryland 4 interchange ramps.

“Work should be finished by 2020. That’s weather permitting and progress permitting, because it’s a big job for both bridges,” said Gischlar.

Overnight work is typically done Sunday nights through Friday mornings between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“As in any kind of work zone, make sure you slow down. We’ve had some work zone incidents across the state already, particularly a couple of weeks ago, we had three in one night,” Gischlar said.

In 2015, a chunk of concrete fell from one of the bridges and smashed a car’s windshield. No one was hurt.

After the incident, crews removed other loose bits of concrete and sprayed an adhesive on the bridge.

“Concrete by itself starts to flake after awhile and that’s normal. A lot of people see that and think, ‘Oh, the bridge is going to fall.’ No, no, no. What the concrete is, it’s surrounding the metal, the steel that’s holding up the bridge,” said Gischlar.

When Larry Hogan became governor in 2015, Maryland had 69 structurally deficient bridges.

Since then, 21 have been replaced or repaired, and the rest are either in the design or construction phase.

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