Friday, April 4, 2008
Spanning the Chesapeake in Maryland is the William Preston Lane, Jr., Memorial (Bay) Bridge. Approved for construction in 1927, the bridge was delayed for more than 20 years as a result of the Great Depression and World War II. Finally, in 1949 building commenced and was finished in 1952. Upon completion, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was the longest fixed-span bridge of its time in the world at 4.3 miles. The original first span was two lanes wide and cost $45 million to build. Today, this span carries traffic eastbound and is the primary route from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis, and points west of the bridge to the shores of Maryland and Delaware.
In 1969 construction commenced on a second span--this one to carry traffic westbound--and was completed in 1937 at a cost of $148 million. The westbound span is three lanes wide. During the evening rush hour, one of the lanes is reversed and heads eastbound to accommodate higher traffic volume. (The picture to the left is of the three-lane, westbound span with all lanes open.)
Over the years, the bridge has weathered several hurricanes and high wind storms with little or no damage. Occasionally, drivers fail to obey the speed limits on the bridge or improperly secure trailers and spectacular, horrific accidents have resulted. The most recent was in 2007 and involved seven cars and resulted in three deaths. In 2008, the bridge saw approximately 28 million cars cross its spans. (The photo on the right shows traffic on the westbound span with the eastbound span to the left.)
For those who enjoy bridge walks, the Bay Bridge holds an annual event that draws walkers from all over the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. The walk has been canceled for 2008 and 2009, though, due to preservation projects currently underway, but when the weather cooperates, it's suppose to be a great way to see the bridge and the bay!
Click on the images to enlarge them.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 4/08