Severn River Bridge project on schedule for Memorial Day completion

WASHINGTON — In the depths of winter, Maryland transportation officials are looking ahead to the upcoming onslaught of summer beach traffic through Annapolis: The multimillion-dollar Severn River Bridge project is on track to be completed by Memorial Day.

“That project is actually slightly ahead of schedule today,” Greg Slater, administrator of the Maryland State Highway Administration, told WTOP on Tuesday at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting.

The half-mile bridge on U.S. Route 50 will be widened from six lanes to seven lanes. A fourth travel lane is being constructed on the eastbound side. The fourth lane will act as a transition lane, connecting the on-ramp from Rowe Boulevard on one side of the bridge to the Maryland Route 2 off-ramp on the east side of the bridge.

“For many, many years, the eastbound Severn River Bridge was one of our top bottlenecks … and there were a number of factors contributing to the bottleneck that we were seeing there. One was volume-over-capacity — it was just dealing with more traffic than it was designed to handle. Another was the merge points, the Rowe Boulevard area … the third one was in the human factors category” — drivers slowing to take in the scenic view from the crest of the bridge, which can worsen delays when traffic is heavy.

The 12-foot lanes have been narrowed to 11 feet. Construction is underway between temporary jersey barriers set inside the east and west lanes.

The space separating the east and west lanes is currently being fused together. Demolition of the concrete between the lanes has begun and steel reinforcement will be installed, creating a stable driving surface and permanently joining both spans.

“The project is on track, working within the existing footprint. We actually made the two bridges one bridge,” Slater said.

“It’s a bridge that is in structurally great condition. We didn’t want to have to replace a perfectly good structure but we wanted to help alleviate some of these traffic issues.”

The State Highway Administration says the $22.8 million project represents a local transformative effort to bring a regional benefit to at least three counties, including Annapolis residents.

“On any road system, whenever you address a bottleneck and relieve that, then you move more people downstream and identify the next bottleneck,” said WTOP Traffic’s Bob Marbourg.

“Heading for the Eastern Shore and the Bay Bridge, the Severn River has indeed been the biggest bottleneck, not so much at the Bay Bridge tolls except when weather is an issue — rain or wind — and they’re limited running just two lanes to the Eastern Shore,” Marbourg said.

Slater remains optimistic that the project, once completed, will open up a new era for shore-bound drivers on U.S. 50.

“We’re really working collaboratively with the [Maryland] Transportation Authority because if you look at that system — it starts at I-97/50 to the Severn, to the Bay Bridge, to Kent Island, to the [U.S. Route] 301 split. Each one of those offers different challenges, and if we can focus on it as a system and make it a little better across the board, then we can deliver a better product for our customers,” Slater said.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2018 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Dave Dildine

A native to the Washington area, Dave Dildine is no stranger to the region's complex traffic and weather patterns. Dave joined WTOP in 2010 when the station launched its very own in-house traffic service. You can hear him "on the 8s and when it breaks" from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up