OCEAN CITY – The morning rush hour, such as it is in the resort area in mid-February, was snarled on Monday when a box truck overturned on the Harry Kelley Memorial Bridge, closing the span in both directions for several hours.
Around 8:30 a.m. on Monday, a Carvel Ice Cream truck bound for grocery stores in Ocean City overturned on the Route 50 bridge, directly over the drawbridge section of the span. The truck ended up on its side with the cab facing to the south almost reaching the south side of the span near the bridge tender’s booth, while its entire length blocked all four lanes.
The truck’s driver, identified as David Fitzhugh, was not injured in the accident, nor were any other injuries reported. It remains uncertain how the truck overturned although high winds on the bridge on Monday morning were likely a factor. The wind was blowing straight out of the west on Monday morning at about 20 mph with occasional gusts as high as 40 mph.
Another contributing factor could have been the ongoing construction on the bridge although that has not been confirmed. The eastbound lanes of the span were closed last week to accommodate the second phase of a major resurfacing project. Through the life of the project, which began last week and is expected to be completed before Memorial Day, traffic on the bridge is restricted to the westbound lanes with one lane open in each direction.
Temporary plastic lane markers separate the two open traffic lanes while a concrete Jersey wall divides the open part of the span from the section under construction. However, there is no Jersey wall on the drawbridge section of the span where the truck overturned.
Shortly after the truck overturned at 8:30 a.m., State Highway Administration (SHA) crews blocked access to the bridge on either side of the span and traffic attempting to cross in either direction. Traffic was re-routed to the Route 90 bridge and by a little before 9 a.m., cars hoping to cross over the Route 50 bridge into Ocean City had backed up for about a mile as they were forced to make a U-turn at Inlet Isle Rd. and head west to the detour route.
At least one person attempting to cross over the Route 50 bridge decided not to take the long detour to Route 90.
Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) Executive Director Glenn Irwin decided to abandon his vehicle on the west side of the bridge and set off on foot across the span in the cold early morning. Irwin said he was walking across to his office in the downtown area and would return later for his car when the accident was cleared up.
SHA crews, along with units from the Ocean City Fire Company, responded to the scene and contacted Cropper Towing to begin the process of righting the toppled truck. Shortly after 9 a.m., towing company officials began setting up an elaborate block and tackle system to begin the process of clearing the truck from the roadway and the truck was righted at around 10:45 a.m. The bridge was re-opened to traffic about an hour later after SHA officials determined there was no structural damage to the span or its drawbridge components.