Bay Bridge walk canceled for next 2 years

December 07, 2007|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Sun reporter

The Bay Bridge walk, a popular event that opens the span over the Chesapeake Bay to foot traffic one Sunday a year, will not be held next year or in 2009, the Maryland Transportation Authority said yesterday.

The agency, which operates the state's toll facilities, said a bridge preservation project will take up space needed to stage the event. Because the walk was canceled this year because of weather, the decision means Maryland will go three straight years without holding an event that has attracted thousands of visitors to see the bay from a new perspective.

"This was certainly a difficult decision to make, and we did not take it lightly," said Ronald L. Freeland, executive secretary of the authority.

The agency explained that an area near the base of the eastbound span that had been used for boarding buses will be used for storing equipment and construction materials during deck-replacement work.

The 4.3-mile walk, ordinarily held each spring, has had an inconsistent record since the first event in 1975. It was postponed in 1977 because of the weather, the only year it was rescheduled after a postponement. Because of poor attendance that year, the event has been held as scheduled or has been canceled entirely.

The event was canceled because of the weather in 1980 and 2002, and in 2003 because of security concerns over terror alerts. In 2005, the walk was canceled because of construction on the westbound span.

The decision not to hold the walk will also result in the cancellation of the Bay Bridge Run for the next two years.

The 10-kilometer event, held separately from the walk and organized by the Annapolis Striders, has attracted thousands of runners from across the country.

"No walk, no run," said Charles J. Muskin, a past president of the Striders and a past race director for the bridge run.

"It's a great disappointment, but we fully understand what needs to be done," Muskin said. "We would like to put on the event. We will miss the opportunity to do so."

Sun reporter Phillip McGowan contributed to this article.

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