Flying ice has become a major hazard on the Bay Bridge and the roads around it after last week’s ice storm, and state transportation police are warning drivers to be alert after—not just during—winter weather events.
Around 3:20 p.m. Friday afternoon, Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police say a vehicle was struck by a piece of ice on the eastbound span of the Bay Bridge. The driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
The accident caused a lane closure on the bridge that backed up traffic for nearly five miles, beginning on Ritchie Highway and heading south.
While several drivers in the area reported ice falling from the bridge structure above them, MDTA Police say it’s unclear whether the ice blew back off of another vehicle or came down from the bridge itself.
One person we talked to says the trouble began hours before that driver was injured.
Michaela Catherine Simmons, a resident of Cape St. Claire just a few miles from the Bay Bridge, tells Bay Bulletin she drove across the bridge a couple of hours before the big accident. Simmons reports it took her an hour and 40 minutes to get from her home to Stevensville on the other side of the bridge.
“While I was on the top of the bridge at a dead stop there were large chunks of ice that fell on the roof of my car. It was so loud it sounded as if I had hit the car in front of me or the car in front of me had hit the car in front of them. It was really scary once I realized that’s why there were large piles of ice in the left lane of the bridge.”
During last week’s winter storm, from 1 a.m. Thursday to 1 p.m. Friday, National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington reported ice totals up to 0.25″ in the areas around the Bay Bridge. That’s in addition to the combined 1.5″ of snow and sleet from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning.
In a statement, MDTA says, “During natural weather events, snow & ice can accumulate on the Bay Bridge. Crews continuously monitor the bridge. Stay alert for changing traffic patterns. MDTA will proactively close lanes temporarily as a safety precaution. Remove ice & snow from your vehicle before driving.”
Numerous other cases of ice strikes on windshields were reported in areas near the bridge over the weekend and through Tuesday, most of them coming from the roofs of the vehicles in front of them.
Holly Pelley of Pasadena, Md. had her windshield smashed and her car’s roof and hood damaged, thanks to ice flying off the roof of a minivan ahead of her on Route 100. “I wasn’t even close to the vehicle,” she tells us. “I braked, but not soon enough I guess… I was glad my four year old was not in the vehicle and I could safely safely make my way to the shoulder.”
-Meg Walburn Viviano