The Baltimore-Washington Parkway’s northbound lanes will remain closed near BWI Marshall Airport through Saturday, the Maryland State Highway Administration said. The highway administration had planned to reopen the lanes by 6 a.m. Saturday but said a problem developed with the bridge-replacement project at West Nursery Road.
The southbound lanes reopened as planned early Saturday.
The project involves replacing the two West Nursery Road bridges over the parkway. Workers have been building the bridges in the median, and demolition and replacement of the bridge decks was scheduled for overnights this weekend and next, with lane closings during the work hours.
Starting Friday night, the workers had planned to remove the bridge deck over the northbound parkway using a specially designed piece of heavy equipment that would wheel away the old deck. As the workers placed the deck on the equipment at about 12:45 a.m Saturday, the load shifted, SHA said in a statement.
The deck is intact on top of the transporter along the northbound parkway, but now the workers can’t move it away from the bridge abutments as planned. So the SHA has told the contractor to return the deck to its original position and secure it.
That means the contractor has to bring in four big cranes. Getting the cranes and counterweights to the site will require 35 trucks, SHA said. After the old deck is back in place, bridge inspectors will determine whether the parkway and West Nursery Road can be safely reopened.
SHA said it expects to make that decision Saturday night or early Sunday. Bridge engineers have looked at the deck and believe that when put back in position it will be able to carry traffic. But if there turns out to be any doubt about that, SHA said the next steps could include demolition and removal of the deck, rather than the quicker replacement originally planned. That could mean a long-term closing of West Nursery Road.
Saturday’s extended closing on the northbound side will require some drivers to rethink their north-south routes. SHA said motorists should use I-95, Route 1 (Washington Boulevard) or Route 29 (Columbia Pike) as northbound alternatives. I-97 is another option, but the right lane is closed from Benfield Boulevard to near Dorsey Road.
Drivers traveling east or west in that area should use Hammonds Ferry Road as an alternative to West Nursery Road.
Drivers from the D.C. area should add extra time if they’re traveling to BWI Airport, and by all means should avoid the northbound BW Parkway.