Major Route 50 Bridge Repair Project Underway; Lane Closures Expected Until March

Major Route 50 Bridge Repair Project Underway; Lane Closures Expected Until March
File photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — Motorists accessing Ocean City via the Route 50 Bridge can expect headaches for the next month seven days a week as the State Highway Administration (SHA) embarks on the next phase of rehabilitation of the Harry Kelley Bridge.

SHA crews on Thursday morning began shifting traffic lanes on the bridge in order to create a safe work zone for the next phase of repairs to the span. Crews are closing the eastbound lanes around the drawbridge and shifting traffic to the westbound side where one lane will run in each direction through early March most likely.

SHA officials said on Thursday the project and the associated lane closures will not be restricted to certain days or even certain times of the day, but rather the work will go on around the clock including weekends until it is completed. The closures are necessary to provide workers with the time and space needed to safely perform electrical, mechanical and steel repairs in the machine room, install new underwater electrical cables and renovate the bridge tender’s house.

In addition to the vehicle traffic closures on the bridge’s deck, drawbridge openings will not be permitted for boaters during the life of the project. Occasional channel closures will be necessary as well.

According to a release, SHA has been working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and local officials in establishing the mid-winter work schedule to minimize impacts to vehicle and marine traffic and the town of Ocean City. SHA is asking the public to slow down and stay alert when traveling through the work zone.

To help ensure public safety, the eastbound sidewalk on the bridge will be closed during the life of the project. Pedestrians and cyclists are advised to use the westbound sidewalk on the span. The project is beginning just as SHA is putting the finishing touches on a major $1.8 million walking and biking trail along Route 50 and across the bridge into Ocean City.

SHA will restore two-lane, two-way traffic on the bridge when the project is completed in early March. However, bridge repairs will continue into 2021 with minimal public impacts during the peak summer season. For the last two years, crews have been performing concrete spall repairs on the underneath side of the bridge and steel retrofits in the drawbridge machine rooms. Those repairs are designed to extend the service life of the bridge by 30 years.

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.