Underwater Inspection Yielded Corrosion Issues; Repairs to Begin Next Week

(May 27, 2016) – The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) today closed the MD 157 (Peninsula Expressway) Drawbridge over Bear Creek (north of the Baltimore Beltway) in Sparrows Point, Baltimore County for emergency repairs.  The drawbridge is closed to vehicular traffic and in the open position, allowing marine traffic to pass through.

SHA posted detour signs for drivers to bypass the bridge:
• From MD 157, turn left onto MD 158 (Bethlehem Boulevard) and turn left to access the outer loop (northbound) of the Baltimore Beltway.

• From the Beltway, take exit 40/MD 151 (Northpoint Boulevard) and take ramp to westbound MD 150 (Eastern Avenue) and make immediate exit onto southbound MD 151.

• Take ramp to southbound MD 157 and turn left onto MD 157.

SHA began underwater inspections last week and identified areas of concern on the bridge supports.  SHA doubled the underwater inspection team to more quickly assess the extent of the deterioration on the nearly 100 steel piles supporting the draw spans.  The inspectors found significant corrosion on the steel beams since the last underwater inspection in 2012. 

“Our structural engineers are concerned about allowing traffic on the bridge based on the deteriorated condition of the steel piles.  With the closure, they can begin immediate repairs and get it open again as soon as possible,” said SHA Administrator Gregory Johnson, P.E.  “SHA appreciates travelers’ patience during the closure.”

As divers complete the underwater inspection, SHA will begin repairs early next week.  The bridge will remain closed to traffic until repairs are complete.  SHA does not have an estimated timetable for the repairs.

SHA conducts underwater inspections on State bridges every four years and above water inspections every two years.  The MD 157 Bridge was constructed in 1950 and has an average of 1,400 openings each year, with 9,300 vehicles using it every day.

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