Although the delays and occasional backups caused by the work on the Interstate 68 Crosstown Bridge over Cumberland can get annoying, we took comfort from our front page story Monday that informed us that bridge conditions in other parts of the nation are much worse than what we experience.
In fact, the Maryland State Highway Administration has repeatedly assured the public that the Crosstown Bridge has always been structurally safe. It just has pothole and bridge joints that need repaired.
In the Monday story, The Associated Press said its analysis of 607,380 bridges in the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory showed that 65,605 were classified as “structurally deficient” and 20,808 were said to be “facture critical.” Of those, 7,795 were both — a combination of red flags that experts say indicate significant disrepair and similar risk of collapse.
The Crosstown bridge project is a two-year effort that requires lane closures as crews install the new highway lighting. Below the bridge, cleaning, painting and repairs are being done in sections.
Once the work is completed next year, the bridge should be in great shape. All of the inconvenience to motorists will have been worthwhile.
Two other bridge projects also have been undertaken recently. The new U.S. Route 220 bridge connecting Keyser, W.Va., to Maryland is a wonderful improvement. Only a few days ago, crews also completed concrete repairs to the state Route 51 (Industrial Boulevard) bridge over CSX rails and the Canal Parkway.
Highway and bridge construction and repair money is hard to come by these days. It is gratifying to see the state investing in several important bridges in our region.
Unfortunately, the AP analysis shows there is an overabundance of safety issues on bridges throughout the nation.