More Route 50 Bridge Night Closures Planned For ‘Proactive Repair’

More Route 50 Bridge Night Closures Planned For ‘Proactive Repair’
File Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — The Harry W. Kelley Memorial Bridge, or Route 50 drawbridge into Ocean City, will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night starting Sunday, April 15 and throughout much of the following week.

Last weekend, the bridge was closed from 10 p.m. on Friday to 8 a.m. on Saturday as State Highway Administration (SHA) contracted crews made needed repairs to the structure. During a recent routine evaluation, SHA crews discovered a small crack in a single steel beam on the structure.

The bridge has been deemed safe and operable but the repairs are necessary to ensure reliability heading into the spring and summer seasons. At this point, it is not known if further damage was discovered during the maintenance project last Friday, or if the scheduled closures next week are precautionary to allow for more testing and maintenance checks.

According to SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar, there will be two crews working simultaneously next week, one on the east side and one of the west end. Gischlar said next week’s closure is a result of last Friday night’s inspection.

“While crews were there, they evaluated all of the approach span beams.  Because the beams all were manufactured and installed at the same time, it is in the best interest to make proactive repairs to all of them to ensure reliability of the bridge as we approach the busy season, as well as to add service life to the bridge,” he said. “Our crews will be off the road each morning no later than 6 a.m. Our crews will go out at some point this week and open the bridge for 15 minutes to make a template to use to manufacture the necessary sister plates in advance of Sunday’s closure. I am not sure when, but an overnight, 15-minute long closure should not create that bad of a backup. This is a completely proactive repair.”

In the meantime, motorists will be detoured to Route 90 during the planned closures next week. Motorists are advised to plan for extra time to reach downtown Ocean City via Route 90 during the overnight closures next week.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.