Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge

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Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge
Gov Johnson Bridge Dec 08.JPG
Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge, Solomons, Md., December 2008
Carries 2 lanes of MD 4
Crosses Lower Patuxent River
Official name Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge
Other name(s) Thomas Johnson Bridge, Solomons Bridge
Characteristics
Height 140 feet
History
Opened Dec. 17, 1977[citation needed]

The Governor Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge (also referred to as the Thomas Johnson Bridge and the Solomons Bridge) is a 1.37-mile (2.20 km) bridge in Maryland over the lower Patuxent River joining Calvert and St. Mary's counties. The bridge, named for the first governor of Maryland, Thomas Johnson, saw construction start in 1972 and opened to traffic on Dec. 17, 1977. The bridge, carrying an average of 33,000 vehicles a day on Maryland Route 4 (MD 4), is one of two crossings of the Patuxent River in Southern Maryland (the other is the Benedict Bridge approximately 20 miles up river, where MD 231 connects Calvert County and Charles County).

The north end of the bridge, on the Calvert side, is located in Solomons. Just prior to the bridge, MD 2-4 narrows from four lanes to two, and MD 2 exits the highway, passing under the bridge and heading toward downtown Solomons. MD 4 continues onto the bridge itself and over the Patuxent River.

Description[edit]

The bridge, carrying two lanes and no shoulders, rises to a height of approximately 140 feet (43 m) tall, making a trip over the bridge in windy weather somewhat nerve-wracking for travelers. From the top of the bridge, one can see the entire town of Solomons, the runways at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, and the Chesapeake Bay.

The bridge begins in St. Mary's County, before even reaching the Patuxent River. It passes over Town Creek first, then crosses over the unincorporated community of Spencers Wharf on a viaduct. Once over the community, the bridge passes over the Patuxent River, entering Calvert County. Shortly after reaching land, MD 2 joins MD 4 and cross Calvert County together for a long concurrency on a four-lane divided highway.

The Thomas Johnson Bridge is a variable depth beam bridge. Massive concrete pilings hold the bridge up over the river.

Problems[edit]

In the summer of 1988, cracks were found in the foundation of the Thomas Johnson Bridge, causing it to be closed for repairs over several months.[1][2] People traveling north into Calvert County were forced to make a half-hour detour to the Benedict Bridge. People traveling south into St. Mary's County were likewise forced to either utilize the Benedict Bridge or take a free charter boat across the Patuxent River to a park and ride lot on the southern side.

As of September 2007, there has been much talk and public debate over either expanding the Thomas Johnson Bridge by adding a parallel span, or replacing the bridge with a four-lane span. The reasons for such proposals are twofold. First, the recent increase in the amount of traffic of commuters traveling to and from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station has made the two-lane, single-span bridge functionally obsolete. Traffic on the bridge during rush hour can cause back-ups all the way back to the Route 235 intersection, and instances where there is an accident on the bridge itself can cause total gridlock.[citation needed]

Secondly, the fear of more structural issues of the Thomas Johnson Bridge arising (such as the one in 1988), coupled with the apparent over-capacity use of the bridge on a daily basis, has caused some safety concerns about the bridge's stability.[3][4] These fears have grown substantially in the wake of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 1, 2007. As of September 2007, a study to determine whether the bridge should be expanded or replaced is being debated by Maryland governmental officials.[citation needed]

Incident history[edit]

The bridge has a history of traffic accidents; some minor resulting in a slight delay to major accidents resulting in the bridge being closed for numerous hours. Also, at times the bridge has been closed numerous times for Maintenance and Repairs. Since the bridge opened in December 1977 (up to Oct 2016), at least 14 people have jumped off the bridge and died, and six have now jumped and survived, according to Southern Maryland Newspapers accounts.[5]

July 24, 1992; fugitive survives 100-ft dive.[6]

Sept 19, 2007; accident involving 2 cars; single lane operation for a couple hours

Feb. 11, 2008; Serious vehicle crash resulting in a fatality.[7]

July 15, 2008 at 6:59; motorcycle accident that resulted with fly out to Shock Trauma

May 2, 2011 at approximately 10:55pm; single vehicle accident with 3 trapped.[8]

April 9, 2013 at approximately 6:30 p.m; Suicide.[9]

Feb. 16, 2015, at 6:33pm; Serious vehicle crash resulting in a fatality.[10]

May 1, 2015 at approximately 1:18 a.m; single vehicle accident resulting in driver flown to Shock Trauma and another passenger taken by ambulance to the hospital.[11]

September 28, 2015, at approximately 7:55 am; head on collision with 4 vehicles with 1 subject trapped.[12]

March 18, 2016; 4 Car accident, rear end collision, seen on Youtube. [13]

April 29, 2016, at approximately 12:38p. Head-On/Serious motor vehicle crash, 3 vehicles involved; 1 driver flown to Shock Trauma and another transported by ambulance to the Hospital. Bridge was closed till 2:40pm (2 hours).[14]

Sept 6, 2016 reports started around 7am for a major pothole, later to learn that the manhole cover had been stolen. Bridged closed for 2–3 hours and then 1 lane operation for 10 hours while SHA temporarily repair/replace the manhole.[15]

Oct. 7, 2016, at approximately 2:35 p.m; suicide attempt and then flown to Shock Trauma [16]

Nov. 10, 2016, approximately 4:37pm. Head-On/Serious motor vehicle crash with fatality; 3 vehicles involved. 1 passenger flown out, several transported to the hospital by ambulance. Bridge was closed for several hours.[17]

Future[edit]

On May 16, 2013, Governor Martin O'Malley signed the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, which increases the gasoline tax to fund transportation infrastructure projects. The governor's announcement specifically includes $20 Million for design of a new Thomas Johnson Bridge.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eugene L. Meyer (June 21, 1988). "Johnson Bridge Closing Cuts Calvert, St. Mary's `Lifeline'". The Washington Post. 
  2. ^ John Lancaster; Robert Barnes (June 23, 1988). "Md. Bridge Structure Seen As Inadequate". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^ Michael Dresser (August 2, 2007). "Maryland bridges sound, officials say". Baltimore Sun. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Dresser, Michael (August 3, 2007). "Bay Bridge, 8 others to be reinspected out of 'abundance of caution'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 
  5. ^ SoMdNews.com. "somdnews.com - Southern Maryland News Online". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  6. ^ "Fugitive survives 100-foot dive". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  7. ^ Inc., Virtually Everything,. "St. Leonard Motorcyclist Dead After Thomas Johnson Bridge Accident". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  8. ^ Department, Bay District Volunteer Fire. "Crews Catch Another Car Accident Near The Thomas Johnson Bridge". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  9. ^ "Possible Suicide on Thomas Johnson Bridge - Southern Maryland News Net". 10 April 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "Racheal Keaton killed in crash on top of Solomon's Bridge; George Steffey injured in snowy nightmare - THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "Serious Accident on the Thomas Johnson Bridge Under Investigation - Southern Maryland News Net". 1 May 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  12. ^ "Charges Pending in Four Vehicle Accident on Thomas Johnson Bridge - Southern Maryland News Net". 30 September 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  13. ^ Nicholas Hoburn (18 March 2016). "Thomas Johnson Bridge crash 3-18-2016". Retrieved 19 March 2017 – via YouTube. 
  14. ^ "Serious Accident stalls bridge traffic". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  15. ^ "The missing manhole cover caper might remain unsolved". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  16. ^ mcady@somdnews.com, MEGHAN CADY. "Woman jumps off Solomons bridge, police report". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  17. ^ "Update - Names released in fatal crash on bridge". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  18. ^ http://www.governor.maryland.gov/blog/?p=8731

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°19′34.7″N 76°28′17.23″W / 38.326306°N 76.4714528°W / 38.326306; -76.4714528