Beginning July 1, cyclists will be allowed to use the bridge on U.S. Route 40 to cross the Susquehanna River in northeast Maryland, state officials said Wednesday.
Like all Maryland toll facilities, the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge between Perryville and Havre de Grace has long prohibited cyclists. State officials said they were responding to bicyclists’ complaints that their lack of access to the Hatem Bridge, in particular, interfered with using Maryland’s section of the East Coast Greenway and the September 11th National Memorial Trail that connects memorial sites at the Pentagon and in New York City. The bridge now has signs telling bicyclists to call a taxi if they want to cross. Police occasionally escort large groups across the bridge on special occasions.
Because the bridge has no shoulders, cyclists will have to share the right travel lanes with vehicles. State officials said they are still working out details about tolling rates, safety signage, and any restrictions.
Cheryl Sparks, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority, said “safety will be a priority” in the plan that state officials are working on now and will announce closer to July 1. Asked how the state will ensure that cyclists in the right lanes won’t worsen traffic congestion on the bridge, Sparks mentioned the potential for some restrictions during certain times of day.
Sparks said the authority isn’t considering allowing cyclists to use any other Maryland toll facilities because state law prohibits riding a bike on any road where the posted speed limit is above 50 mph. With a posted speed limit of 45 mph, Sparks said, the Hatem Bridge is the only toll facility with a speed limit below 50 mph.