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Are status signs necessary for Thomas Johnson Bridge?

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on January 18, 2001:

Senator Dyson By most all accounts, Calvert resident Thomas Johnson was a remarkable governor and a great name in Maryland history. Unfortunately, the bridge that is named for him doesnít do him justice. It has had its share of problems over the years. Remember when it was closed down completely for safety improvements?

For those who use it regularly such as myself, itís a terrific time saver. For instance, during the General Assembly Session I drive from my home in Great Mills over the bridge, through Calvert County on my way to Annapolis then reverse myself after the dayís proceedings are over.

Most of the time, this is an uneventful trip, but every once in awhile, itís a nightmare. Like Jan. 11. An accident or series of accidents tied up the bridge for about an hour.

Being stuck in traffic is a unique nightmare. Being stuck on a bridge is even worse. Some people suffer mild to terrible phobias of bridges, but they must travel the bridge anyway to get to work. Itís these people who Iím most concerned about when I get caught on the bridge. I noticed the person behind me the other day was particularly agitated by being stuck at the top of the span.

A lot of people have come up to me with complaints and ideas about what to do with this bridge and its occasional tie-ups. Some have recommended a new bridge. In a perfect world that would be great. But the money isnít there for such a massive and expensive project.

But I know we can do something to alleviate some of the problems of being stuck on that bridge, frustrated, furious and stuck in that uncomfortable zone of having no idea when youíll be free from the gridlock. Iím currently drafting a letter to Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary John Porcari asking him to consider funding permanent ďstatus signsĒ of the Thomas Johnson Bridge at strategic areas of roadways in St. Maryís and Calvert counties. For instance, drivers heading towards St. Maryís with the intention of using the Thomas Johnson Bridge may take an alternative route such as using the
Benedict Bridge. If drivers were to see that the status of the Thomas
Johnson bridge was ďheavy congestionĒ in Prince Frederick they might choose to head down 231. Even in St. Leonard they might reverse course and turn back to head over the Benedict Bridge. In Lexington Park, a status sign warning of congestion might send a motorist down Route 235 to Hughesville instead of over the bridge.

I believe this is the proper thing to do for our motorists. Already, there are such signs regarding the status of the Wilson Bridge strategically located on the Beltway and roads feeding the beltway such as Route 210, or Indian Head Highway.

For those who think the cost of such signs is too high, I suggest that congested bridges already cost money. During the Jan. 11 backup, I noticed several State Police cruisers and troopers managing the flow of traffic. I also noticed State Highway and trucks doing their part to divert drivers. There is a definite cost to all of this unforseen activity not to mention all of the gas wasted as cars are either stopped or inch along during long delays.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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