Gov. Hogan opens the new Dover Bridge

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, at center in black shirt, cut the ribbon to officially open the new Dover Bridge. The ceremony took place on the old bridge, as the new span opened to traffic on Tuesday. The old bridge will be used for a fishing pier.

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, at center in black shirt, cut the ribbon to officially open the new Dover Bridge. The ceremony took place on the old bridge, as the new span opened to traffic on Tuesday. The old bridge will be used for a fishing pier.

PRESTON — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan led a group of state and local officials in a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 13, to open the new Dover Bridge. The structure carries MD 331 over the Choptank River, connecting Talbot and Caroline counties.

The bridge opened to traffic on June 12. This $65.4 million project replaces the existing swing-span bridge with a higher fixed-span, two-lane bridge with shoulders.

The old bridge, which is being restored as a historic structure, will remain in the open position and serve as a fishing pier for local residents and visitors. As vehicles passed nearby — almost overhead — on the new bridge, the governor cut a ribbon on the original span, inaugurating its current recreational use.

“I am pleased to announce the completion of this critically important project as we officially open the new Dover Bridge over the Choptank River — something that people have requested for decades,” Gov. Hogan said. “Our administration is proud to not only get it built, but deliver this project a full year ahead of schedule. We are working hard to rebuild our transportation infrastructure on the Eastern Shore and all across the state.”

It was the end of a years-long process to upgrade the crossing. Traffic, including emergency vehicles, was often delayed when the old bridge’s swing-span was deployed to allow boats to pass, or during mechanical breakdowns.

“It’s going to do great things for North Dorchester,” County Commissioner Rick Price (District 4) said. “There are so many folks from North Dorchester who go to Easton for services. It’s going to mean a lot to them.”

The original bridge was built in 1932. In addition to motorists’ concerns with delays, the structure was in a declining state of repair, with visible rust and missing chunks of concrete. It will still be more than strong enough, though, for its new use.

“The new bridge is a high-level, fixed-span structure just south of the existing bridge,” a statement from the Maryland Department of Transportation said. “It is 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 will remain at its current location in an open position to allow marine traffic to pass and people to fish from either side of the structure.”

The new structure was constructed by McLean Contracting, Inc. of Glen Burnie, led by Project Engineer Trudi Gaito. It has two 12-foot-wide lanes and two 8-foot-wide shoulders. Its height allows marine vessels to use the river without stopping bridge traffic.

At the event, Gov. Hogan spoke about his administration’s progress in delivering on promised projects from his $2 billion investment in roads and bridges, announced in 2015.

“All 69 structurally deficient bridges identified in June 2015 have now been rehabilitated, replaced, or are in the construction phase,” a statement from his office said. “Just three years after his promise to fix these 69 bridges, the final projects are being advertised for construction this month.”

Among the jobs the governor mentioned were:

• The $28.1 million rehabilitation of 11 bridges along the Salisbury Bypass that opened to traffic by this past Memorial Day;

• The $158 million dualization of MD 404 between US 50 and Denton opened to traffic by Thanksgiving 2017; and

• The $133.9 million widening of US 113 Phase 3, which is nearly complete, and the final phase, which just began construction.

“It’s a great day for the Eastern Shore,” Gov. Hogan said to the assembled guests on the bridge. “People have been begging for decades. It has finally become a reality.”

For information from the Maryland Department of Transportation, visit www.mdot.maryland.gov.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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