Comptroller asks to name Dover Bridge for George Jackson

MD-Franchot to name George's bridge_3x

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Work crews are busy building the new Dover Bridge across the Choptank.

ANNAPOLIS—“I have just one item,” Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said at the April 15 Board of Public Works meeting here, “I promised the great George Jackson, who is someone on the Shore who has dedicated 20 years of his life to getting the Dover Bridge replaced. I don’t know what the process is … if you could possibly take a look at the merits of renaming the Dover Bridge, or adding his name to it. George Jackson is a, just an icon in my humble opinion, for having pushed this issue for so many years almost by himself.”

So saying, Mr. Franchot took the first step towards naming the new Dover Bridge after Mr. Jackson, resident of American Corners who has worked on the issue of replacing the old Dover Bridge on Route 331 since 1994.

Comptroller Franchot has recognized George Jackson in the past, most recently awarding Mr. Jackson the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award in 2014, for his longtime advocacy for a replacement Dover Bridge, for his commitment to sending holiday scrolls with well-wishes from Shore residents to armed services personnel serving in combat zones, and for his many years playing Santa Claus for the Maryland National Guard and with the Maryland State Police’s “Bears That Care” program that brings toys to needy children.

MD-Franchot to name George's bridge_2x

George Jackson is congratulated by Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot for receiving the William Donald Schaefer Helping People award. His granddaughters, Emily and Lauren Jackson and wife Shirley are pictured with him (Noelle Jackson photo).

The new Dover Bridge is scheduled to be completed in late 2017/early 2018, weather permitting. The original swing-span bridge remains open to traffic while the new bridge is built. The new bridge will be a high-level, fixed-span structure, 2,020 feet long with two 12-foot lanes, 8-foot shoulders, and 50-foot clearance above the Choptank River for marine traffic.

The existing Dover Bridge was built in 1932 and is a steel three-span Warren truss bridge with a swingspan and concrete deck that carries two 12-foot lanes with no shoulders. When the swing-span bridge opens to marine traffic, vehicular traffic is halted on both sides. The delay for motorists is a concern among local residents, especially since it prevents access for emergency vehicles that serve one hospital for both counties.

Due to its age, the opening mechanisms of the original bridge have been prone to break down. Additionally, the bridge is too narrow for modern standards and is nearing the end of its service life. The existing bridge, one of only three remaining swingspan bridges in Maryland and eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, will remain in an open position to allow marine traffic to pass and people to fish from either side of the structure. A seven-space parking lot will be constructed on the Caroline County side of the old bridge to accommodate people who want to fish or enjoy recreational activity along the Choptank River.

Peter K. Rahn, Maryland Secretary of Transportation, promised at the Board of Public Works meeting to look into the possibility of giving the new Dover Bridge Mr. Jackson’s name.

Mr. Jackson, a man of many scrolls but few words, said of the bridge naming suggestion, “Thank you to Comptroller Peter Franchot for tossing my name into the hat for the new Dover Bridge. Now let’s get it built!”

Comptroller Franchot was careful to assure that George would get his due after 20 years of campaigning for a new bridge. Before leaving the meeting, Mr. Franchot added, “Just don’t name the old one after him!”

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