Hanover, Md. — Working to ensure motorist safety and alleviate concerns regarding the structural integrity of Maryland bridges, Acting Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn ordered the State Highway Administration (SHA) and Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) to immediately inspect all state-owned bridges of similar age and condition to the I-495/I-95 (Capital Beltway) bridge that is being repaired after a piece of concrete fell onto a car below driving along Suitland Road on Feb. 10. The statewide directive applies to 27 state-owned bridges — all built prior to 1969, have traffic underneath and are in similar condition to the Capital Beltway bridge.
“Motorists should not have to think twice about driving across or under one of our bridges,” said Rahn. “These targeted statewide inspections will help us immediately identify any bridges in need of repair, with the goal of preventing what happened on Tuesday from occurring again. I want to extend my sincere apologies to the driver involved in Tuesday’s incident. I am grateful she was not injured.”
The inspections will start immediately and are expected to take several days. Each inspection will involve teams of specially trained bridge inspectors carefully examining each bridge to identify and repair any loose concrete. Repairs may extend beyond the inspection period and might impact traffic. Of the more than 5,300 bridges in the State, SHA and MDTA maintain 2,903 bridges. Of these state-maintained bridges, 82 are rated as structurally deficient. All of the needed rehabilitation work for these bridges is either in design or under construction. Approximately 3 percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient, which means they are safe for travel but are in need of rehabilitation or replacement.
Maryland has an aggressive inspection program that has resulted in one of the lowest number of structurally deficient bridges in the country. Structurally deficient bridges are inspected every year, as opposed to every two years for all other bridges. Structurally deficient is a term established by the Federal Highway Administration and includes bridges in which the deck, superstructure or substructure have been rated in poor condition. The bridge deck carrying the Capital Beltway over Suitland Road is rated as structurally deficient and the entire structure is under design for replacement.