Task Force Signs Off on New Plan to Benefit Emergency Responders and Local Residents

(July 20, 2016) – The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) Administrator Gregory C. Johnson today announced an innovative solution to keep the Chester River Bridge open to traffic every day during the bridge painting project on the 86-year-old bridge in Kent County.  By using a unique temporary paint containment system on barges, the state painting contractor, Alpha Painting and Construction of Baltimore, will be able to keep the MD 213 bridge fully open to traffic from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the two-month project early this fall.  The plan will require the bridge to be closed completely to traffic for five nights between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. compared to the original plan which closed the bridge 24/7 for up to four weeks.  The drawbridge will remain in the closed position for the duration of the project.

“Thanks to out-of-the-box thinking and a great partnership with the community, the task force, and the contractor, we have come up with a solution that allows us to get this important bridge maintenance project completed and keep the bridge open and traffic flowing through the majority of the project,” said SHA Administrator Johnson.  “Partnership is key to maintaining access on the bridge for the emergency responders, residents, students and commuters that count on the MD 213 to get to the hospital, school, work and back home every day.”

The Chester River Bridge carries MD 213 (Maple Avenue) over the Chester River and is located just north of the Kent County/Queen Anne’s County Line. The project includes blast cleaning, priming and painting the draw span and related components, the machine room and the bridge railing.  The bridge was last painted in 1987.

While a work schedule and coordination with the Coast Guard is being finalized, the project is currently planned to occur September 7 through October 30.  The Coast Guard needs to approve keeping the drawbridge in the down position and staging barges in the channel.  Even with the drawbridge down, smaller boats can still get under the bridge through the side arches.

Working primarily from barges, crews will maintain both lanes of traffic across the drawbridge from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.  At night from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., crews will use single-lane closures and flagging operation except for the five nights when the entire bridge will need be closed to traffic.  SHA continues to work with the Joint Kent-Queen Anne’s County Task Force to schedule nights that will be least disruptive to the community’s planned festivals and other activities. 

Originally constructed in 1930, the MD 213 drawbridge over Chester River carries an average of 14,000 vehicles each day.  SHA awarded a $1.5 million cleaning/painting contract to Alpha earlier this year.  The additional cost for the new plan will be minimal and is currently being negotiated.