But the end is in sight
Warmer weather means longer days, bulbs planted in the fall emerging, and an increase in Bay Bridge traffic. The signs of spring are here.
With two simultaneous construction projects underway, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is warning drivers to expect significant backups the weekends surrounding St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. The weekends of March 14 and April 10 will be particularly clogged, says MDTA.
The solution to the headache is as simple as traveling during off-peak hours whenever possible. For St. Patrick’s Day weekend, that means going before 10am or after 8pm. For Easter weekend, aim to cross the span before 10am or after 10pm. On Easter Monday, April 13, traveling before 6am and after 6pm is best.
Crews are continuing their aggressive timeline in re-decking the westbound span of the bridge, which is expected to finish by summer. In the meantime, drivers will be impacted by round-the-clock work. They’re also transitioning the bridge to all-electronic tolling by summer, and adjusting to that change may take a little work on your part.
If you want to get across at the best rate, you’ll need to have an E-ZPass account. The plus side is that drivers will no longer have to stop and pay tolls, which will keep traffic flowing. Instead, overhead gantries collect tolls electronically as vehicles pass underneath.
Marylanders without E-ZPass should go to ezpassmd.com to enroll. Free transponders with no monthly fees are available. Keep in mind that if you do not have an E-ZPass account, your license plate will be read electronically — via video tolling — and you will receive a bill in the mail. The cost of video tolling is much higher than if you have an E-Z Pass account.
To spread the word about the cashless tolling, MTA is hosting free outreach events starting this week. Locally, outreach events include: Friday, March 13 at the Broadneck branch of the Anne Arundel County Library (10am-noon); Monday, March 16 at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Branch (2-4pm) and Tuesday, March 24 at the Severna Park Community Center (3:30-5:30pm). Free transponders will be available and new customers can sign up for an E-ZPass account.
Upgrading to E-ZPass is one step towards speeding up your future Bay Bridge trips. And the mild winter and early spring we’ve been enjoying are also helping. Crews have been able to take advantage of the recent good weather, laying more than 50% of the necessary latex-modified concrete. Once the rest has been laid, the lane will be ready to support traffic.
Be prepared for heavier traffic all spring; not just on the holidays. MDTA says to expect major weekend delays for spring break as well as warmer weekends in late April. For the latest on traffic call 1-877-BAYSPAN or go to baybridge.com.