The State Highway Administration will close one of the two bridges leading into Ocean City for two months so work crews can replace a damaged girder that has already prompted the agency to prohibit truck traffic on the span.
Highway officials said the full closure of the Route 90 bridge will begin next week or early the following week. Traffic will be diverted to the U.S. 50 bridge, which leads to the resort's downtown.
The Route 90 bridge was closed to all vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds last week after inspectors found that the concrete lining of an 85-foot girder had eroded, exposing the underlying steel to potential corrosion.
The decision to close the bridge was not unexpected. SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen said last week that the repairs could be performed more quickly if all lanes were closed.
The 38-year-old, 1.4-mile bridge carries traffic over Assawoman Bay to north Ocean City at 60th Street.
Work crews will remove an 85-foot section of the bridge, replace the steel beams, pour a new deck surface and paint new stripes, the agency said. The highway administration hopes to reopen the bridge by mid-December. The agency said it is now drawing up engineering specifications and hopes to soon hire a contractor. It said an exact date for the closing will be announced after the contractor is chosen.
Highway 90 will remain open to local traffic, including vehicles heading for Ocean Pines and U.S. 113, as far as St. Martin's Neck Road. The weight restrictions will remain in effect until the bridge closes.