Reporting Meghan McCorkell
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Five fatal crashes over the past 12 years. Now new safety improvements are coming to the Bay Bridge to try to prevent head-on collisions when there’s two-way traffic on one span.
Meghan McCorkell has details on the changes.
The new improvements will be on the westbound span to help drivers when traffic is flowing in two directions on the same span.
It was one of the worst accidents in the history of the Bay Bridge. Three people killed in a seven-car crash in May 2007 when a trailer being towed by an SUV came unhitched.
Just one year later, the driver of a tractor trailer died trying to avoid a head-on collision with a car that crossed into his lane.
Two of five fatal wrecks occurred while the westbound span was running two-way traffic.
“Drivers can often be confused when they’re used to traveling three lanes in one direction and now there’s two lanes in one direction and one reversible lane,” says Harold Bartlett, executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority.
So, the MDTA will put in a double yellow line between the left and center lanes, where traffic runs opposite directions.
Rumble strips will also be added between every lane on the westbound side.
“Those continuous rumble strips will provide a tactile and very distinct indication to the driver that they’re crossing into the other lane,” Bartlett said.
Drivers WJZ spoke with that take the bridge every day say they support the new safety measures.
“I think the bottom line is, if it can save lives, buy it. It’s a wonderful thing,” Aedson Sargeant said.
“I think that it would be a good thing, especially for the people who aren’t used to doing it,” said Steven Lode, who drives the bridge daily.
The new safety measures will be installed this spring, so the bridge will be ready for the busy summer travel season.
The safety measures are the result of a six-month study.
The improvements will cost under half a million dollars.
The MDTA did add temporary safety measures to the westbound span in 2008. Since then, there has not been another fatal crash during two-way traffic.