Update: The speed limit around the Bay Bridge proposed to protect construction operations from wakes and danger of collision has officially been adopted as of August 10, 2023. The limit is in effect until March 31, 2026.
With a multi-year redecking project getting underway, the state of Maryland is proposing a 6-knot vessel speed limit around much of the Bay Bridge that would remain in place through spring of 2026.
The Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources’ proposal was open for public comment through June 5. The speed limit covers about two-thirds of both spans of the Bay Bridge, closest to the Eastern Shore side. The 6-knot limit, created with the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, is meant to protect workers and barges from excessive wakes. This should prevent delays to the project.
In a Notice of Proposed Action, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources says “the proposed action is required to ensure public safety and protect human life. Without an established speed limit, the construction zone poses safety threats for all waterway users, employees, and contractors.”
MDTA’s $140 million redecking project is already underway with a large crane doing under-bridge utility work ahead of the redecking. You may have seen the crane pulled up alongside the bridge this spring.
MDTA says areas of the existing deck (or road surface) are nearly 50 years old and have reached the end of their service life. This project is similar to the redecking that was done on the westbound span beginning in 2019.
But unlike that project, MDTA says major work will be accomplished overnight using two-way operations on the westbound span. There will not be 24/7 lane closures and both spans will be open for drivers during peak periods.
The redecking process of the Eastbound Bay Bridge Deck Replacement Project will begin this fall. Working in sections, crews will replace the deck floor system, upgrade barriers, rehabilitate the truss superstructure, replace lane-use signal gantries and work on stormwater management.
The deck replacement is expected to be finished by the winter of 2025/2026.
-Meg Walburn Viviano