SOLOMONS, Md. – On May 23, U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Calvert County Commission President Earl “Buddy” Hance, St. Mary’s County Commissioner President James “Randy” Guy, State Senator Jack Bailey, Delegate Rachel Jones, and St. Mary’s County Commissioner Todd Morgan visited Solomons to discuss the urgent need to fix Maryland’s bridges.
The members also discussed their work in acquiring more than $400 million in federal funding for the next five years. The first round of the bridge project funding will be more than $80 million.
The Thomas Johnson Bridge, which was completed in 1977 and has been a key connection for transportation between St. Mary’s and Calvert County, is one of the 273 bridges in Maryland that has been deemed poor or structurally deficient. The bridge has the demanding task of transporting nearly 33,000 vehicles a day.
The idea of building a new bridge has been bouncing around for quite some time. Although, it finally looks like this is gaining traction with lawmakers. $1 million, which was funded by the fiscal year 2022 funding bill, has been secured for a project/design, to widen MD 4 for a potential Thomas Johnson Bridge replacement.
“We’ve had a lot of growth in St. Mary’s and southern Calvert County…we also have Pax River. All three of those are national security interests, not just St. Mary’s, Calvert, or local interests, they are national interests and they require national attention,” Congressman Hoyer said. “That’s why all of us are here because we’re one team. We may be of different parties, we may have different perspectives on certain issues, but there is a unity of purpose of what needs to happen with this bridge…”
Over the past year, we’ve also seen a significant rise in suicide attempts on the Thomas Johnson bridge. With the rising concerns, many residents are wondering what actions will be taken to prevent any further tragedies.
“We know that the state is working on suicide prevention measures with the bridge including the nets, hotlines, and things like that. The bottom line is, it’s another reason to accelerate the replacement of this bridge,” Cardin told TheBayNet.com. “It’s not just its height, but the way it’s designed. There are different things you can do today that can help with suicide prevention.”
With the added funding and pressure that Maryland lawmakers are pushing, we will have a new and safer bridge in the future.
“This bridge is unsafe, it’s not unsafe when you’re the single driver going across it, it’s unsafe when the demands that are put on it particularly if we had an emergency. God forbid if we had a catastrophe at Calvert Cliffs and we had to evacuate,” Hoyer said. “Also, if there’s an accident on that bridge, because of the single lane. We’ve also had tragedies on this bridge, so it is incumbent upon all of us that we join together as partners to make sure that we invest in making this bridge safe… we want to ultimately achieve a bridge that is at least a four-lane bridge.”
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