Thursday, April 14, 2016
Governor's Bridge Repair Now 2019
From the Capital-Gazette:
Governor's Bridge, the historic one-lane crossing which links Bowie and Davidsonville across the Patuxent River, won't re-open until the summer of 2019, according to officials from Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties.
The news was relayed Wednesday night to about 80 area residents who gathered to hear more on the status of the bridge.
The 109-year-old structure has undergone major repairs three times in the last 20 years. It was closed again in March of 2015 because of safety concerns as officials debated what the next step might be. It has remained closed ever since.
"We can't do (major repairs) anymore," said Erv Beckert, who's in charge of highway and bridge design for the Prince George's County Department of Public Works and Transportation. "It is beyond repair."The preliminary plans call for what is essentially a new bridge. The project would replace the middle of the crossing — the driving surface and the girders underneath it — while preserving the bridge trusses that give the structure its distinctive, old-fashioned look.
"We understand it's a long period of time to get where we want to be," said Prince George's County Councilman Todd Turner, who presided over the meeting and who lives about a quarter-mile from the bridge.
Jerry Walker, an Anne Arundel councilman whose district includes the area on the other side of the bridge, represented the county at the meeting.
Prince George's County controls the bridge, but any repairs or work is shared 50/50 between Prince George's and Anne Arundel.
Federal funding would cover 80 percent of the final cost, which is expected to be $3-5 million, according to Beckert.
However, the involvement of the federal government adds another layer of permit and review during the planning and design phase. No less than 12 governmental agencies will be involved in the project because the bridge is surrounded by wetlands and is considered a historic bridge — the only one in Prince George's County.
Two county governments will be involved, along with the State Highway Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland-National Park & Planning Commission and the Maryland Historic Trust, to name a few.
The planning and design of the bridge is expected to take two years, with construction expected to last another year. Officials hope the project can begin this summer, but they must wait until county budgets are approved so the local pieces of the funding are in place.
Because of the interest in preserving the surrounding wetlands and the historic nature of the bridge, it appears unlikely that any design calling for widening the bridge or shifting the roads that lead to it would gain approval, Beckert said.
"This is a complex project with a lot of constraints," Beckert said.
The bridge, which provides a shortcut between Davidsonville and Bowie that doesn't involve driving on busy Route 50, was initially closed for repairs in May of 2013. The problem was the deterioration of the girders under the deck of the bridge. After extensive repairs, the bridge was reopened in March of 2014.
The bridge closed again last spring after contractors inspected the bridge and determined additional work was needed.
At that time, Prince George's County officials said the most recent six-month inspection revealed deterioration in several areas.
That deterioration, especially around the bridge joints, has made it too dangerous even for people to cross, much less vehicles, said Kate Mazzara, associate director in the office of engineering and project management for Prince George's County's Department of Public Works and Transportation.
"We would have great concerns in telling anyone it was OK to walk or bike across the bridge," Mazzara said.
Over the years, the bridge also has been closed intermittently due to high water because the Patuxent River is prone to flooding in that area.
There has been a bridge at the spot — not far from where Prince George's Stadium now sits — since Gov. Samuel Ogle had a crossing built to get him from his plantation home in Collington to Annapolis. He was the three-time Colonial governor of Maryland from 1732-52. The structure is called Governor's Bridge for that reason.The current 105.5-foot-long and 13-foot, 7-inch wide structure was built in 1907.