A Closer Look at the Safety Conditions of Maryland’s BridgesOctober 27, 2018
Every day, millions of motorists travel over the bridges that are located across the state of Maryland, including interstate overpasses, urban viaducts, and rural spans. Some of these bridges are in dire need of major repairs, like the 106-year old Harford Road Bridge, which has been listed in “poor” condition by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) for over ten years.
Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that have prevented some of these repairs from being made, including the high cost of overhauling these structures and other bureaucratic red tape. While a bridge that is listed in “poor” condition does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe, safety officials and many motorists fear that it will take a tragic accident for the government to act.
What Will Close a Bridge?
In order for a bridge to be closed, it would need to be structurally unsound. Many of the bridges with a “poor” rating can be a nuisance, or cause damage to car tires, but they are not unsafe to cross.
However, if a bridge is in poor condition, it can deteriorate at a faster pace. In an article published in the Baltimore Sun, reporters found the following facts about Maryland bridges:
- Based on the FHA’s 2017 National Bridge Inventory, 288 of the bridges in Maryland had a “poor” rating, and were classified as “structurally deficient.”
- According to the FHA data, 66 percent of the bridges owned or maintained by the State Highway Administration were listed in “poor” condition.
- Thirty-three Baltimore bridges that are city-owned were in “poor” condition.
- Twenty out of 33 city-owned bridges in Baltimore have been in poor condition for at least a decade.
- In Baltimore County, 11 of the 36 bridges in “poor” condition have been in this condition for more than ten years.
- Twenty-one bridges in Harford County have been in “poor” condition for over ten years.
How are Bridge Conditions Rated?
When rating a bridge, there are three elements that the FHA considers, including the deck, or surface of the bridge; the superstructure, which includes the beams and support elements; and the substructure, which includes piers that hold up the deck and superstructure.
Each element is given a rating from zero to nine. Any bridge that has elements rated four or below will be classified as being in “poor” condition.
It is extremely costly to repair old bridges. If the money simply is not there, engineers will sometimes only repair the surface of the bridge. However, if the bridge is structurally deficient, this minor fix is not enough.
In addition, according to an engineer from the American Society of Civil Engineers, if a bridge is left in poor condition, the deterioration process will begin to accelerate. Bridge deterioration puts drivers at increased risk of car accidents and injuries that may result.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Bridge-Related Accidents
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a car accident that took place on or near a bridge that is in poor condition, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the condition of the bridge and determine who is responsible for your resulting injuries. Our dedicated team will work tirelessly to secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.