Smooth sailing for bridge walk

Event, canceled several times in recent years, to feature views of Volvo Ocean Race

From the region

May 03, 2006|By ANICA BUTLER | ANICA BUTLER,SUN REPORTER

Canceled three times in the past five years, the Bay Bridge Walk is on again and will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday.

This year's walk across the 4.3-mile span should have even more spectacular views because it will coincide with the restart of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race. The seven 70-foot yachts will round a buoy just south of the bridge before leaving the Chesapeake Bay on their way to New York.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for Maryland's citizens and visitors to cross one of the world's most scenic over-water structures while enjoying the view of the Chesapeake Bay and the action of the Volvo Ocean Race," Trent M. Kittleman, executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority, said in a statement.

The Bay Bridge Walk started in 1975 and attracts up to 60,000 people from around the region.

It was canceled in 2002, the last time the Volvo Ocean Race stopped in Annapolis, because of bad weather. Post-9/11 security worries were the reason for cancellation in 2003 and last year, when crews were also repairing cracks in the surface of the westbound span.

"It was so we could take a year to take a step back and examine the walk and evaluate the event in terms of cost and manpower requirements and security," said Kelly Melhem, a transportation authority spokeswoman.

As an added security precaution this year, backpacks won't be allowed and diaper bags must be see-through.

Having to increase security in recent years has made the walk much more expensive.

"It always has been quite a significant undertaking," Melhem said. "Before 9/11, it cost about $250,000 to put on. When we had additional security at the 2004 walk, it was $400,000."

Walkers older than age 6 are asked to donate $1, and T-shirts will be sold for $10 at the end of the walk. Proceeds will be used for future Bay Bridge events.

Participants should park at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold or Chesapeake Bay Business Park on Kent Island, where shuttles will pick up participants to drive them to the starting line on the Eastern Shore side of the bridge. All participants must board a shuttle by 1 p.m.

No jogging, running, pets, bikes, radios, in-line skates, skates or skateboards are allowed. Strollers or small wagons to carry children are allowed.

The eastbound span of the Bay Bridge will close to traffic at midnight Sunday in preparation for the walk and the 10K Governor's Bay Bridge Run at 8 a.m. It is expected to draw 3,000 competitors.

Traffic will move in both directions on the westbound span until 7 p.m. Sunday. Congestion is expected all around the Annapolis area.

"We want to be realistic," Melhem said. "Delays will be extensive."

anica.butler@baltsun.com

More information about the event is available at www.baybridge.com or 877-229-7726. The walk will be canceled if there is rain, high winds or extreme temperatures.

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