MDTA Rolls Out Bay Bridge Lane Closure System

MDTA Rolls Out Bay Bridge Lane Closure System
The Maryland Transportation Authority has deployed a new automated lane closure system, pictured above, along the westbound span of the Bay Bridge. Submitted Photo

BERLIN – Holiday travelers crossing the Bay Bridge this weekend will likely notice a new innovation along the westbound approach to the span in the form of an automated gated lane closure system.

It’s not unusual for one or both spans of the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge to have lane closures at different times of the day or different times of the year depending on traffic flows in either direction. Motorists crossing the bridge from the Eastern Shore to the western shore are certainly familiar with the orange barrels, cones and overhead directional signals advising which lanes on a particular bridge are open for travel with either a red “X” or a green arrow.

However, starting this past Tuesday, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) rolled out an innovation on the westbound approach to the Bay Bridge, the latest phase of a project designed to improve safety and accelerate the process of opening and closing lanes on the bridge. Drivers heading westbound on Route 50 approaching the Bay Bridge from the Eastern Shore will be among the first to witness the use of the new gates as part of the Automated Lane Closure System (ALCS), which will replace the existing and time-consuming use of barrels to close off lanes.

In addition to the new horizontal gates to mark lane closures, the ALCS also includes illuminated pavement markers, full-color dynamic message signs and overhead lane-use control signals to alert and guide motorists when lanes are opening and closing to accommodate two-way traffic operations on the westbound span of the Bay Bridge.

The new gates and the entire ALCS helps protect MDTA employees by replacing the current manual system with automation. It also improves safety for drivers by giving them more time to move into the correct lanes, allowing for safer lane changes, and helping to prevent secondary crashes during incidents. The ALCS also enhances incident response, enabling crews to switch between lane closure scenarios more rapidly during incidents or periods of heavy traffic.

MDTA began to implement the system in November, when new overhead lane-use control signals and full-color dynamic message signs – the first in Maryland – became available on the Eastern Shore. Starting one-and-a-half miles before the westbound span of the Bay Bridge, the devices give drivers more notice than ever before of bridge lane closures ahead.

This week, the new lane closure gates were deployed on the westbound approach to the Bay Bridge from the Eastern Shore. The project is being phased in to allow motorists to get used to the new system, and barrels will still be deployed during the transition period.

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.