Storms collapse scaffolds, forcing Key Bridge to close

2 to 4 inches of rain reported in Baltimore area

July 28, 2004|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Another round of torrential rain soaked much of Central Maryland last night, flooding roads and causing a scaffolding collapse that forced the closing of the Key Bridge.

No one was injured when the scaffolding - set up by a painting crew - fell onto the roadway about 9:30 p.m., Maryland Transportation Authority Police said. But the toll bridge that carries the Baltimore Beltway across the mouth of the Patapsco River was shut down in both directions.

No one could say last night when the bridge might reopen, but the painting contractor and bridge engineers were on their way to assess damage. Traffic was being detoured to the Harbor Tunnel and Fort McHenry Tunnel.

The storms - produced by a wicked system with regenerative abilities that hunkered over the region for several hours - dumped as much as 5 inches of rain on Harford, St. Mary's and Calvert counties, and 2 to 4 inches across much of the Baltimore area, the National Weather Service said.

Its forecasters noted the gathering gloom, high humidity and simmering temperatures - a mix that often leads to nasty thunderstorms - early in the day and issued a flood watch alert that remained in effect last night.

"It was a classical setup for flooding," said Roger Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

The rain started at sunset and continued until well after 10 p.m. Although there were no reports of injuries, creeks raged, roads flooded and traffic stalled.

The Jones Falls Expressway was closed temporarily in both directions at Northern Parkway after storm waters rushed down ramps and onto traffic lanes, city police said.

Several trees at various sites along Northern Parkway in Northeast Baltimore were toppled by the storms, police said.

Among city streets with problems, water as deep as 3 feet was reported at Conway and Light streets near Harborplace, where some cars stalled.

Thunderstorms July 7 and July 12 also drenched the region - the latter bringing as much as 8 inches of rain and causing serious flooding in the city as well as in Baltimore, Harford, and Cecil counties. Many flood victims are still cleaning up from the storms, some seeking federal and state aid to repair homes and businesses.

Last night in Harford County, state police closed Route 7 between Routes 543 and 136 in Abingdon, and also Route 161 at Harmony Church Road in Darlington because of flooding.

Sun staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

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