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A triumph of human ingenuity, the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge (US 50/301) spans one of Maryland’s great natural barriers, the Chesapeake Bay. Stretching 4.03 miles, this magnificent, curving ribbon of steel is graceful and elegant yet strong enough to carry 24 million vehicles a year. The original bridge (left in the photograph) opened in 1952. Supported by 354-foot-high suspension towers and 14-inch-thick cables, its roadway soars 198 feet above water, providing ample clearance for ocean-going vessels making their way into Baltimore’s port. Designed by the J.E. Greiner Company, the bridge features 123 steel spans—cantilever trusses, simple trusses, plate girders, and beams—culminating in the bridge’s centerpiece: a 1,600-foot-long suspension span. In 1967 the bridge was renamed for Lane, governor of Maryland from 1947 to 1951, who vowed to give the state “a system of highways second to none in the nation.” To accommodate increased traffic, a parallel bridge, also designed by the J.E. Greiner Company, opened in 1973. The older bridge carries eastbound traffic; the newer one, with its 1,500-foot-long suspension span and 379-foot-high towers, takes traffic west.
More information about this bridge can be obtained from the Maryland Transportation Authority website, http:\\www.mdta.state.md.us
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