OCEAN CITY — Motorists who frequently utilize the Harry Kelley Bridge can expect intermittent temporary closures over the next few months as State Highway Administration (SHA) crews perform inspections and maintenance.
With a project that got underway yesterday, SHA officials are predicting multiple 10-minute openings each day over the next three weeks while crews perform the biennial inspection and maintenance. The inspection will consist of a thorough review of the bridge’s mechanical, structural and electrical systems. Crews will use portable variable message signs to advise motorists of upcoming lane closures and directing traffic across the bridge and SHA officials are intent on minimizing impacts on motorists.
“SHA and the contractor will open the bridge for test openings during the day,” said SHA District 1 Engineer Donnie Drewer. “It is our hope to keep traffic disruptions to a minimum.”
SHA crews were on and around the span yesterday preparing for the project, but the real nuts and bolts of the operation are set to get underway on Monday.
Weather permitting, the structural inspection requires SHA to close a single lane between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays starting Monday, February 20 and continuing through April 15. The single lane closure will allow SHA to use a “snooper” truck. A “snooper” truck will use a travel lane, has an elevated bucket and an arm extension that reaches underneath of the bridge.
The inspection and maintenance project is not limited to the structure itself. SHA crews will also use a small boat to perform channel depth measurements at the bridge.
Although inspection personnel and equipment will be in close proximity to the navigable channel, SHA does not anticipate any disruption to navigation by boaters. If the inspection work does interfere with navigation through the channel, SHA crews will relocate temporarily upon request. Nonetheless, mariners are urged to exercise caution when using the channel area near and under the bridge.
While SHA and its transportation partners work hard to maintain safe traffic mobility in work zones, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving style to help prevent crashes. During the project, motorists are advised to stay alert and look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers.
“Slow down and don’t follow too closely,” said Drewer. “Safer driving and safer work zones benefit everyone.