Several major changes are coming to Chesapeake Bay Bridge after a truck driver rammed into two cars, sending one plunging into the water.
The truck driver pleaded guilty last year to negligent driving, unsafe lane changing, failure to control vehicle speed to avoid a collision, and driving in excess of a reasonable and prudent speed during the July 19 crash.
A police report determined that distracted driving caused the crash on the eastbound span. Investigators found the truck driver was distracted by flashing lights behind him and didn't notice vehicles ahead of him stopping until too late. He swerved, hitting two vehicles. Investigators believe the tractor-trailer was traveling between 47 and 51 mph just before the crash.
A Chrysler driven by Morgan Lake, 23, of Calvert County was pushed up onto the barrier wall and a second impact sent it into the water below. Lake swam to safety and was treated for minor injuries.
According to the Maryland Transportation Authority, the following changes will be implemented in spring 2014, though a set date for completion has not been released:
- Require headlight use on both the eastbound and westbound spans at all times.
- Improve speed limit signage and speed transition areas by:
- Installing 40-mph speed limit signs at the beginning of the eastbound span to remind motorists of the speed limit departing the toll plaza.
- Extending the 40-mph zone on the eastbound span beyond the curve.
- Relocating the 50-mph speed limit sign on the eastbound span beyond the curve.
- Installing curve warning signs and 40-mph advisory speed plates on the left and right sides of the roadway approaching the curve on both the eastbound and westbound spans of the bridge.
- Install mounted static signs with flashing lights to be illuminated only during congestion or heavy traffic to warn operators of the potential for stopped vehicles at strategic locations on the bridge.
- Install mounted electronic digital speed readout signs ("YOUR SPEED IS") at strategic locations on the bridge.
- Install a "DO NOT TAILGATE" sign on the eastbound bridge approach to be illuminated during congestion or heavy traffic.
Future changes may be made to the eastbound span for major deck rehabilitation, but officials say a new bridge, or "crossing," is valued at $4 billion.