By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson, District 29
I would venture to say that there is not a day that goes by when I don't hear at least one complaint about the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge linking Calvert and St. Mary's County.
For instance, in consecutive days last week, three different representatives of the age spectrum used three forms of communication to let me know their feelings about the bridge - none of them good.
A newly licensed driver wrote me via postal mail with his concerns about the safety and the traffic congestion on the bridge.
The day after, I received a call from an elderly woman who said she counted more than a hundred cars going across the bridge as she tried to get out of her subdivision right off Route 4 near the bridge. This constituent, like me, could not believe that the bridge could take the pounding that thousands of cars every day, back and forth across the bridge produce.
A day after that another constituent/business person visited my district office to say that while she could make money in Calvert County, she refused to do business there because she won't go over the bridge for fear of her safety.
After the terrible Minnesota bridge collapse, I wrote to the State Highway Administration asking them to give me an update on the safety of the bridge.
They did just that stating "The results of the most recent inspection [of the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge] received a rating of 6 for each the three main rating elements; substructure, superstructure and deck. These ratings are on a scale of 0 to 9, of which 9 represents a new bridge and 0 represents a bridge that is closed. A rating of 6 indicates that the bridge is in satisfactory condition, showing only some minor deterioration."
It doesn't exactly give me a warm fuzzy when SHA (based out of Baltimore City) reports to me that the Thomas Johnson Bridge is rated a 6 out of 9 on a "safety" meter which makes it in "satisfactory" condition, "with only some minor deterioration." This for a bridge that is less than 30 years old?
You've heard me advocate for a new or second span of the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge for years. I believe I am the only one still alive who was at the dedication of this structure. I didn't think it was an adequate structure then and I certainly don't think it is now.
If you are as angry about the slow process of replacing this bridge as I am and of the SHA's complete indifference to those who use it or are afraid to use it, I am asking you to join me in a show of solidarity and support at two informational open houses held by the SHA on October 2 and October 9.
The October 2 meeting will be held in the Dowell Elementary School gymnasium on 12680 H.G. Trueman Road in Lusby from 5-8 p.m. The October 9 meeting will be held in the Town Creek Elementary cafeteria from 5-8 p.m. I encourage a strong attendance to show the SHA that you are concerned about the safety and the traffic congestion on the bridge and to ask that they forego another ridiculous, expensive "study" and get to building a new bridge. It is preposterous that this bridge has been neglected by the state for so long.
According to SHA, the open house "will acquaint the public with the need for the project (as if we didn't already know that) and the progress of the study to date. Display areas will be set up explaining the purpose and need for the project. Project representatives will be available to discuss the project issues, answer questions and record your comments."
Some people believe this is a waste of time. I don't. I have heard your complaints and time and time again passed them on to our current and past three governors, our current and past four state transportation secretaries and our current and past SHA administrators and engineers. Now is your time to tell them no more million dollars studies. Get to work on building a new, safe bridge that is just two classifications lower than a 4 rating which would be classified as structurally deficient.