Cumberland Times-News

July 23, 2013

Can be scary

Take a good look at Bay bridge safety barriers

Cumberland Times-News

— For the many people in our area who make regular trips to Ocean City or other Eastern Shore destinations, it would be a bit more comforting if AAA Mid-Atlantic’s call for an investigation of the safety of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is heeded.

AAA on Monday asked the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate a crash on the bridge that sent a car and its driver 27 feet into the Chesapeake Bay. The car was struck by a tractor-trailer, hurling the automobile over the bridge barrier.  The woman driving the car suffered minor injuries and was able to free herself and swim to nearby rocks.

In a letter to NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman, Lon Anderson, managing director of the 900,000-member AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the crash raises serious questions about the integrity of the safety barriers that could shake public confidence in the 61-year-old span.

Maryland Transportation Authority Police continued their investigation Monday, including a crash reconstruction. No charges have been filed against the driver of the tractor-trailer, Gabor Lovasz of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the mishap comes as the MdTA is beginning a two-year review of the Bay Bridge's remaining life span. The $1 million study, prompted by two state senators, is the initial step in determining when lawmakers would have to act on building a third crossing to help ease congestion caused by 28 million annual users.

While we are glad there is an overall review of the bridge and whether a third crossing is necessary, we agree with AAA that an immediate review should be made of the barrier walls on the bridge. The barriers should be constructed in a safe enough fashion to prevent a vehicle from catapulting into the water.

Thousands of vehicles cross over the bridge daily. For many motorists, the crossing is a scary experience. Having safety officials take a close look at the bridge barrier safety may help allay some of the uneasiness many of us feel when we travel onto the span.