West Nursery Road Bridges over MD 295 to be Constructed Offsite and Moved into Place Using Self-Propelled Transporters

(May 10, 2012) – Nobody makes weekend plans like the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA).  Later this fall, SHA will replace the two West Nursery Road bridges over MD 295 (Baltimore-Washington Parkway) in Anne Arundel County during only two weekends.  The impossible sounding feat doesn’t involve giant building blocks, but does require innovation. 

SHA will build the bridges in the MD 295 median and then move them into place using specialized equipment called “self-propelled modular transporters” (SPMTs).  The multi-axle, multi-wheel hydraulic SPMT can transport extraordinarily heavy loads. 

“After building the 76-foot-long, 215 ton bridges in the median, crews will literally roll them into place at about four miles per hour,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters.  “This innovative construction project is safer for drivers and crews because the work zone is out of traffic and the duration is shorter by nearly nine months.”

Approximately 22,000 vehicles use West Nursery Road every day traveling on the 63-year old bridges, which are due for replacement. The new bridges will be 59-feet wide, which is six feet wider than the existing structures.  There will be two travel lanes and 5-foot wide shoulders able to accommodate bicyclists. 

Crews recently started the $5.3 million project, installing concrete barrier along the MD 295 median north of the West Nursery Road overpass.  Both bridges will be completely built in the median on temporary towers.  Once complete, SHA will select two weekends to install the bridges, requiring the interchange and one direction of MD 295 to be closed.  With an average 90,000 vehicles using MD 295 each day, SHA will post detours and give advance notice, especially for nearby businesses and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport travelers.

The SPMT process provides extraordinary construction time savings and dramatically reduces the traffic impacts normally associated with a major bridge replacement.  The West Nursery Road bridge replacements mark the first use of SPMTs in a Maryland road project.  SPMTs have been used successfully in numerous bridge projects in Utah and Florida as well as Europe. 

To safely prepare the existing bridge site for the new structures, SHA will temporarily close one lane of MD 295 in each direction, maintaining two travel lanes at all times.  This construction phase will be preceded by the removal of four steel beams from the existing bridges.  To ensure the safety of motorists and workers during beam removal, MD 295 and West Nursery Road will be closed for two nights and a detour will be in place.  SHA will provide motorists with advance notice of these closures via overhead and portable variable message signs.  All detour routes will be clearly marked.

Project updates, including construction schedules and progress photos, are available at

SHA awarded the contract for this project to G.A. and F.C. Wagman of York, PA.  The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration contributed $600,000 for this project through its Highways for Life program that seeks to advance longer–lasting highway infrastructure using innovations to accomplish the fast construction of efficient and safe highways and bridges.  SHA is using traditional federal and state funding for the remainder of the project cost.

As crews strive to keep work zones safe, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving style to help prevent crashes. Stay alert – look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers. Slow down and don’t follow too closely. Safer Driving. Safer Work Zones. For everyone!

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