OCEAN CITY — If you drive anything bigger than a pick-up truck, you will not be allowed to drive on the Route 90 bridge until further notice.
On Wednesday, the Maryland State Highway Administration informed the town of Ocean City that an annual inspection of the Route 90 Bridge revealed a substantial structural flaw on an 85-foot section above the Assawoman Bay.
In a memo obtained from an anonymous source on Wednesday from City Manager Dennis Dare to all town department heads, City Council members and other assorted city-wide staff members, Dare reported that all departments should “immediately review their operations and institute procedures to comply with the restriction placed until [the bridge] is repaired.”
“The center girder over the boat channel was found to have failing pre-cast concrete and the strands are exposed,” read Dare’s email. “The expert bridge engineer brought in yesterday [by the SHA] recommended a 6,000 pound weight limit to be established.”
Simply put, the damage found to the bridge is substantial enough that the SHA will restrict vehicles driving on the portion of the bridge closest to Ocean City to small passenger cars, unloaded pickup trucks and small SUV’s.
This turn of events could effect area school children the most.
“We’ve already been in contact with the Board of Education and they know that they are going to have to reroute the school buses until further notice,” said SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer. “We will also be placing the digital message boards at both ends of the bridge informing motorists of the new weight restrictions.”
Drewer told The Dispatch that the SHA is unsure how exactly they are going to proceed with amending the problem, and they have no idea how much it is going to cost, nor do they know if they are going to have to repair the flawed portion or if a full replacement of the aforementioned section is necessary.
“We just found it yesterday, so we aren’t sure if we are going to have to replace it or simply just have to fix the problem,” said Drewer. “First, we got to find the ‘fix’, then we have to take the steps to fix it, and then we have to find a way to handle all of the traffic coming in and out of town from now until cold weather while we fix it.”
For the complete story, see tomorrow’s issue of The Dispatch.