OCEAN CITY — The tedious work to repair failing concrete on the underside of the Route 50 Bridge will continue as the season approaches, but no impacts are expected.
Through much of the offseason, crews contracted by the State Highway Administration (SHA) have been systematically removing sections of failing concrete on the underside of the Harry Kelley Memorial Bridge. Motorists that routinely use the bridge are familiar with the scaffolding and the routine single-lane closures, but while the project continues to move forward, fewer impacts to motorists and boaters are expected.
The intent of the overall project is to repair sections of failing concrete on the underside of the bridge that pose risks of falling onto vessels or into the bay below. For months, SHA crews have been systematically chipping away at the failing concrete sections, starting on the east side over land and moving west to the more difficult sections over water.
At the outset of the project, SHA officials have said the age of the bridge, which was built in 1942, was a contributing factor in the patches of failing concrete and emphasized it wasn’t a structural issue but more of a surface issue. SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar explained there are roughly 70 individual spans that make up the bridge and the sections of failing concrete have been chipped away and now the resurfacing element of the project is underway.
“All loose concrete has been removed,” he said. “Crews are currently performing concrete work under the structure.”
Throughout the life of the project, SHA crews have often closed single lanes on the bridge to motorists. However, with the calendar flipping over to May next week and the summer season rapidly approaching, impacts on the top side of the bridge will be minimized, according to Gischlar.
“Crews are permitted to perform single-lane closures guided by a flagging operation Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. until early May,” he said. “At that time, crews will not close lanes as more travelers head toward Ocean City as the temperatures warm. All work after early May will be done on the side or under the bridge.”
With the change of seasons comes a higher volume of boat traffic in the channels under the bridge, but Gischlar said there should be few impacts as the project moves forward.
“We will not get in the way of boat traffic,” he said. “Our crews are very well aware that the boating channel under that bridge heats up even prior to Memorial Day. We can work around the boat and vehicle traffic.”