OCEAN CITY — Repair work on the Route 50 Bridge was completed Monday night and the span got a clean bill of health heading into the holiday weekend.
Late last Thursday afternoon, the Route 50 drawbridge was stuck in the open position, briefly snarling traffic along the busy access route to the resort. A temporary fix quickly got the bridge reopened and State Highway Administration (SHA) crews and their contractors returned overnight on Monday to make more permanent repairs.
SHA District Community Liaison Bob Rager said this week he was out on the Route 50 bridge during the repairs overnight on Monday.
“I was out there with the crew Monday night and everything went as advertised,” he said. “We worked from midnight to about 4:30 a.m. with a westbound lane closure and a few bridge openings lasting five to 10 minutes each. Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists were patient and respectful of the work zone and we certainly do appreciate that.”
Rager explained Monday’s overnight project included trimming and cutting steel sections of the drawbridge that have shifted over the years and preventing the draw span from working as designed, which was the primary reason for the temporary closure last week.
“The work was primarily steel trimming,” he said this week. “I know that sounds alarming, but it’s actually fairly common for old drawbridges and swing spans to move a little over time due to normal wear and tear. This can lead to binding, especially on hot days when the steel expands.”
Rager said the steel trimming during Monday’s overnight project was precise work, but it was completed as planned and there were no concerns with the drawbridge heading into the busy holiday weekend.
“Engineers with our Office of Structures and Covington Machine and Welding determined where and how much to trim,” he said. “We’re talking just fractions of an inch in some places, but it does make a difference during the hot summer months. Everything is working well right now.”
Rager explained while the span has been repaired and is in good working order after last week’s brief closure, there is still more work ahead on the bridge.
“We’re currently performing steel repairs in the machine room and will eventually do similar work on the moveable bascule spans,” he said. “In the meantime, we wanted to create a little more space between the bascule spans.”