An 81-year-old swing-span bridge on the Eastern Shore that has concerned residents for years because of its troubling opening at times will be replaced with a new $50 million bridge, Maryland officials announced Thursday.
Problems with the Dover Bridge, which connects Talbot and Caroline counties, have been a concern, because malfunctions can prevent access for emergency vehicles that serve one hospital for both counties. The bridge, which carries two 12-foot lanes, also is too narrow for modern standards.
The bridge is one of three remaining single swing-span types in Maryland and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It will remain at the current location in an open position to allow marine traffic to pass. The new bridge, which will be built just south of the current one, will be 2,020 feet long with two 12-foot lanes, 8-foot shoulders and a 48-foot clearance above the average high water.
Construction is scheduled to begin next summer. Erin Henson, a spokeswoman with the Maryland Department of Transportation, said construction is expected to take about three years.
Gov. Martin O'Malley is scheduled to attend a news conference at the bridge on Friday to announce nearly $160 million in investments for transportation projects on the Eastern Shore to improve safety and relieve congestion.
Additional projects include:
- $52 million to construct a new interchange at U.S. 301 and Maryland Route 304
- $42 million in construction funds to widen Route 404 to a four-lane, divided highway from west of Route 309 to east of Tuckahoe Creek
- $11 million for right-of-way acquisition funds to widen U.S. 113 to a four-lane, divided highway from Massey Branch to Five Mile Branch
- $3.7 million to start construction of a new roundabout at Route 822 and Route 675 near the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne.
The O'Malley administration has been announcing transportation projects after lawmakers this year approved the governor's proposal to raise state's gas tax for the first time in two decades. The administration says there will be about $4.4 billion in new investments in the next six years.