Maryland has over 5,000 bridges, but 251 are classified as structurally deficient. In other words, these bridges have significant deterioration, and one of the key components of the bridge is in poor or worse condition. This is a concerning statistic for Maryland and those who use these bridges regularly.
Amongst the troubled bridges, ten counties in Maryland have the absolute worst bridges. These counties undoubtedly need urgent attention to ensure their bridges are safe for public use. Surprisingly, ten of the structurally deficient bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the nine counties in Maryland with the absolute worst bridges. We’ll also explore what this means for those who rely on them.
A Brief History of Maryland
Back in the day, like 13,000 years ago, humans were already thriving in Maryland – crazy, right? Look at all the prehistoric artifacts discovered in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. The Lenape, Nanticoke, Powhatan, Susquehannock, and Shawnee peoples were among the Native American groups who later lived in the region. But one of the first European sightings occurred when Captain John Smith arrived in the region in 1608.
Fast forward a bit, and in 1632, Englishman George Calvert was given the green light by the king of England to start the colony of Maryland – ultimate daddy-son trip as his son, Cecilius, settled the colony. In 1776 Maryland gained independence and became one of America’s 13 original colonies.
Oh, and they also gave up some of their lands in 1789, which helped create Washington, D.C. Can’t forget about Harriet Tubman, the absolute boss, and Maryland native. She played a pivotal role in the Underground Railroad and helped free slaves.
Maryland also fought for the Union during the Civil War, although it was technically below the Mason-Dixon Line. Sharpsburg, Maryland, was home to the bloodiest battle of the war, Antietam. Maryland waved goodbye to slavery in 1864.
How Many Bridges Are In Maryland?
Maryland is home to 5,456 bridges, with only 251 (4.6%) classified as structurally defective, meaning that one of the primary elements is poor or worse. The number of structurally deficient bridges has reduced from 274 in 2018, indicating a significant improvement.
The deck area of these deficient bridges accounts for only 3.1% of all deck areas. Of the deficient bridges, only ten are on the Interstate Highway System. In contrast, 86.5% are on roads linking airports, ports, rail, and truck terminals.
Furthermore, 443 bridges are posted for load, restricting vehicle size and weight. The state has identified repairs on 1,606 bridges. This comes at an estimated cost of $4.8 billion. However, this figure decreased from 1,634 bridges that required repair work in 2018, further indicating the government’s efforts to maintain bridges.
Nine Maryland Counties with the Worst Bridges
Maryland is known for its beautiful coastline, bustling cities, and charming small towns. Unfortunately, those looking to explore the state will have to navigate some seriously bad bridges in these nine counties:
1. Allegany County
Allegany County may be known for its beautifully scenic views. But it’s notorious for something else entirely. It has some of the worst bridges in the United States. With nearly 80 bridges in poor condition, navigating these dilapidated structures is becoming a daily headache for drivers.
Over 3,000 bridges statewide are structurally deficient, according to PennDOT. That’s 3,000 heart-stopping moments drivers face whenever they approach one of these potential death traps. The consequences of failing to address this infrastructure issue can be deadly, as the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge in Ross Township painfully illustrates.
Thankfully, measures are being taken. The Bridge Safety Inspection Program aims to identify and repair bridges with critical deficiencies, protecting drivers and ensuring safer roads. As a result, there’s hope for a brighter future – one where Allegany County’s bridge safety is taken seriously and lives are no longer at risk from faulty infrastructure.
Here’s the list of Allegany County bridges considered structurally deficient:
- Route 51 at Ansonia Place
- Ridge Avenue
- Milroy Street over I-279
- North Avenue and Brighton Road
- Thoms Run Road
- Versailles Avenue, Ravine Street
- Spring Hill Road
2. Montgomery County
Montgomery County, Maryland, has some of the nation’s problematic bridges. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, 20.5% of the county’s 1,438 bridges are structurally deficient. This is a staggering total of 295 bridges. Reports indicate an estimated 96,760 vehicles cross the heavily traveled Schuylkill Expressway over Righters Ferry Road daily, making it one of the most concerning bridges.
The association’s 2019 bridge report found the number of structurally deficient bridges is rising. More than 47,000 bridges require urgent repairs. These bridges were built 62 years ago and are crossed by Americans more than 178 million times daily.
Montgomery County’s structurally deficient bridges require immediate attention. Repairing these bridges will cost $784.5 million, and 746 need repair. Several bridges were explicitly identified for repairs, including:
- Barnes Road over Bennett Creek
- Valleywood Drive over Josephs Branch
- Southlawn Lane over Rock Creek
- Beach Drive over Silver Creek
- Garrett Park Road over Rock Creek
- Greentree Road over Bulls Run
- Zion Road over Hawlings River
- Glen Road over Kilgour Branch
The deteriorating conditions of these bridges pose a safety issue for Montgomery County’s drivers, and immediate repairs are crucial. Montgomery County needs to take action to repair these bridges before it’s too late.
3. Anne Arundel County
Anne Arundel County, located in Maryland, is one of the counties with the worst bridges. The county has several bridges in critical condition. You risk your safety when driving or walking over any of the deteriorating bridges. As a precaution, you should know which bridges to avoid within the county. Here are some of them:
- Aris T. Allen Boulevard over Weems Creek
- Governor Thomas Bladen Way over Bacon Ridge Branch
- Hawkins Road over the Little Patuxent River
- Jones Station Road over the Governor’s Run
- Route 648 (Old Annapolis Road) over the Patapsco River
It’s critical to note that these bridges potentially threaten your safety. County officials have collaborated with state and federal agencies to address this issue. They’re working to find a solution to these hazardous bridges. As a resident or visitor, know these bridges’ status to avoid accidents.
4. Cecil County
Cecil County, Maryland, is known for its historic bridges. These structures, from the iconic Conowingo Creek Railroad Bridge to the Bohemia Bridge, testify to the county’s rich history. Unfortunately, some Cecil County bridges have seen better days and require repair or replacement.
The Nutwell Memorial Bridge and Old Forge Bridge are two of the worst bridges in Cecil County, both suffering from structural damage due to age and lack of maintenance.
The Riva Bridge (South River) and Severn River Bridge (Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge) also need attention due to their deteriorating condition. Other notable bridges include Gilpin’s Falls Covered Bridge, the longest covered bridge in Maryland at 119 feet, and the Millard E Tydings Memorial Bridge and Pivot Bridge (historical).
5. Dorchester County
Dorchester County is renowned for its scenic beauty and rich history. Sadly, the state of the bridges here hardly inspires excitement. The county is also on the list as one of the Maryland Counties with the Worst Bridges, and understandably so. Driving across some of these bridges is akin to a horror movie experience.
- Best pitch Ferry Road Bridge over Transquaking River: In need of repair or corrective action. It meets minimum tolerable limits and should be left in place as is.
- Best pitch Ferry Road Bridge over Windmill Island Creek: Somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is.
- MD 795 Bridge over Cambridge Creek: Needs repair or corrective action.
- Back Landing Road Bridge over Hunting Creek: Structurally deficient bridge.
6. Frederick County
Frederick County also ranks among Maryland county worst bridges. Several damaged and structurally deficient bridges in the area require immediate attention. Let’s take a look at some of the worst bridges in Frederick County and why they need repair:
- Fairview Avenue over Carroll Creek: In need of repair or corrective action due to several structural deficiencies, including cracks in the concrete and deteriorating steel reinforcement.
- Gas House Pike over Linganore Creek: This bridge is functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. The support beams are corroded, and the concrete foundation has shifted.
- Frederick Road over Hunting Creek: This bridge’s superstructure and substructure have exceeded their design life and are in poor condition. The bridge deck and beams have cracks and delaminations, and the abutments have settled.
- Hornets Nest Road over Friends Creek: This bridge has structural deficiencies such as cracks in the concrete abutments, deteriorating steel reinforcement, and a corroded steel beam.
- Old Mill Road over Maryland Midland Railroad: This bridge is closed due to its poor condition. The substructure and superstructure have exceeded their design life, and the bridge deck and beams significantly deteriorated.
7. Harford County
Harford County in Maryland has a major issue with its bridges. They are the worst in the state. Recent reports by TRIP show that many of the bridges in this county have significant deterioration. This is on the bridge deck, supports, or other components, making them structurally deficient.
These bridges may be posted for lower weight limits or even closed if their condition worsens. This poses a major problem for commuters, emergency vehicles, commercial trucks, school buses, and even farmers, who must use these bridges to transport their goods.
The restrictions on vehicle weight may cause these groups to use alternate routes. These lengthen travel time, wasting fuel and reducing the efficiency of the local economy.
Immediate action must be taken to address this issue to prevent further deterioration and inconvenience for those who rely on these bridges.
Here are the bridges that need work:
- Glenville Road over Mill Brook
- Abingdon Road over CSX Railroad
- Stafford Road over Deer Creek
- Hookers Mill Road over Bynum Run
- Grier Nursery Road over Deer Creek
- Cherry Hill Road over Deer Creek
8. Queen Anne’s County
If you plan on driving across Maryland, beware of the bridges in Queen Anne’s County; it has some of the worst bridges in the state.
Queen Anne’s County has 442 bridges, 21 structurally deficient, with a rate of 4.8 percent. Even more concerning, 115 bridges require repair. This would cost $73.8 million. Here are some of the bridges in Queen Anne’s County that have been flagged as structurally deficient:
- Count Road 51 bridge over Ws Limited
- I-694 SB bridge over I 94
- Highway 104 bridge over the Mississippi River
- I 694 NB bridge over I 94
- Putnam Blvd S bridge over Valley Creek
- Grey Cloud Trail bridge over Channel
It’s a concerning situation, but Queen Anne’s County County officials are working to address the issue. Until then, anyone driving in the area should cautiously approach these bridges.
9. Worcester County
Worcester County also makes the naughty list of the state’s worst bridges. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association reports 177 bridges in Central Maryland have been identified as structurally deficient.
This includes six well-traveled bridges in Worcester County, which almost 315,000 people cross daily. Here are the six bridges in Worcester County that are of particular concern:
- Interstate I-290 westbound over E. Central Street in Worcester
- Interstate I-290 eastbound over E. Central Street in Worcester
- State Route 2 over Wyman Brook in Fitchburg
- I-495 southbound over the railroad tracks in Westboro
- Interstate I-90 eastbound over Route 12 in Auburn
- Interstate I-90 westbound over Route 12 in Auburn
These bridges have been deemed “structurally deficient,” meaning one of their key elements is in poor condition or worse. The report has left no room for doubts about the state of the bridge infrastructure in the United States.
Worcester County must realize the situation’s magnitude. Immediate action is needed to address the issue. Failing to do so could result in devastating consequences. Therefore, authorities must prioritize maintaining and improving county bridges. Only through these measures can we ensure the safety of all the people who rely on these bridges daily.
How Dangerous Are the Bridges in Maryland?
Bridges in Maryland can pose significant safety risks to drivers if not adequately maintained. The state has identified several bridges with structural deficiencies, making them especially dangerous for motorists.
These bridges can have corroded steel or concrete supports and decks in poor condition. With the increasing number of cars on the roads, Maryland’s transportation authorities must prioritize repairing and maintaining deficient bridges — a bold move that will prevent catastrophic accidents.
The public should stay alert when crossing these dangerous bridges until adequate repairs can be made to ensure their safety.
Bridge repairs and maintenance should be a priority in Maryland for the counties listed. From the data compiled, it’s clear that unless maintenance and construction efforts are taken soon, these counties may face bigger issues regarding transportation and traffic.
Special attention must be given to all bridges within these 9 Maryland County regions by local and state governments alike to reduce damages and improve travel conditions for residents. Despite coming at a high cost, investing in the structural integrity of these bridges could save lives in the long run.
Further research into more reliable solutions is needed to ensure drivers’ safety while traveling over any Maryland border bridge. Doing so will help reduce losses due to deteriorating infrastructures. All stakeholders must band together to take action now to have safe passage across bridges throughout Maryland for many more years to come.
Summary of the 9 Counties in Maryland With the Absolute Worst Bridges
Here are the 9 Counties in Maryland With the Absolute Worst Bridges:
|Anne Arundel County
|Queen Anne’s County
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mihai_Andritoiu/Shutterstock.com
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