New signs, gates on Bay Bridge to give drivers earlier warning of lane closures

Starting Monday, drivers heading to the Eastern Shore over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge will encounter a new automatic lane closure system during two-way traffic on the westbound span of the bridge.

The system will roll out on the Western Shore near U.S. 50/U.S. 301, the Maryland Transportation Authority announced.

This system is aimed at improving safety for motorists and road crews by using overhead signals and automatic gates to close lanes, instead of barrels.

The authority said it started developing the implementation of the new lane closure on the Eastern Shore of the bridge in November.

Since that time, motorists going westbound during two-way traffic on the westbound span were directed by overhead lane-use control signals and system features such as message signs, horizontal swing gates and pavement markers to inform them of when lanes are closed and open for traffic operations, according to a news release.

The authority said the new control signals and message signs begin 2.5 miles before the Bay Bridge on eastbound Route 50/301 on the Western Shore. That means drivers will be given more of a heads up on bridge lane closures.

The new gates of the automated lane closure system helps safeguard Maryland Transportation Authority employees by putting automation in place of a manual process, increasing safety for drivers to give them additional time to go on the correct lanes, and preventing secondary crashes during accidents.

Also, it allows crews to switch between lane closure scenarios more quickly during accidents.

Transportation officials said drivers will still see barrels along with the new gates as the new system rolls out.

“While we know we will continue to have recurring congestion from traffic volumes exceeding the capacity of the bridge, we’re excited to see the safety benefits from the new closure system,” said Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Director William Pines said in a news release.

Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

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