Taking advantage of an accelerated work schedule, a mild winter and lighter traffic loads, repairs to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland finished at the end of March more than a year ahead of schedule.

Begun in late September 2019 and scheduled to span two construction seasons, deck rehabilitation on the toll bridge's severely deteriorated 4.3-mile westbound span soon caused major traffic delays on both sides of what is the primary highway link to Maryland’s Eastern Shore from the state capital in Annapolis, and metropolitan Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Some peak-hour backups reportedly stretched up to 14 miles.

To alleviatecongestion, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) removed toll barriers and asked contractor Wagman Heavy Civil of York, Pa., to explore use of alternate milling methods and overlay materials, as well as multiple work zones and round-the clock operations.

Although work was originally set to pause in late May to prevent disrupting travel to and from Eastern Shore beaches, mild winter weather aided the accelerated rehabilitation effort, as did a drop in traffic volume following a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in early March as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement, Hogan praised the contractors and others involved with the project “for rising to the challenge on a complex effort and in a challenging time.”

An MDTA spokesperson says the agency and Wagman will negotiate a final cost for the project, originally budgeted at $27 million. Other elements are still underway, including replacement of overhead signal gantries, deck sealing, steel railing replacement and deck joint repairs and replacements.