FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2013
Contact: Cheryl Sparks
MARYLAND TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY READIES FOR WINTER STORM
Follow the MDTA on Facebook, Twitter & 1-877-BAYSPAN for Updates
BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), the agency that finances, owns, operates and maintains the State's eight toll facilities, is preparing for the winter storm predicted to start this evening and continue through tomorrow. Crews are on hand in anticipation of the storm.
The MDTA, whose facilities include four bridges, two tunnels, two turnpikes and their approach roadways, will tackle tomorrow’s storm with maximum resources. The agency has 258 pieces of equipment and over 36,000 tons of salt available to handle its over xxx highway miles. Maryland Transportation Authority Police will be fully staffed at all detachments and will increase the use of four wheel drive vehicles to augment their current patrol fleet.
As the MDTA prepares for potentially severe weather, it has no immediate plans to close any toll facilities in anticipation of the storm. Any decision to close a toll facility would be based upon current weather and road conditions at a given facility. The MDTA will make every effort to keep all of its facilities open as long as conditions are deemed safe to do so.
On all MDTA bridges, wind warnings and restrictions would be implemented as outlined below:
· Wind Warning (sustained wind speeds or wind gusts of 30-39 mph) – operators of house trailers, box trailers, motorcycles, vehicles with roof-mount racks containing cargo or any other vehicle that may be subject to high winds are advised to use caution while traveling across the bridge.
· Wind Restriction I (sustained wind speeds or wind gusts of 40-49 mph) – house trailers, empty box trailers or any vehicle that, in the opinion of law-enforcement personnel, may not safely cross the bridge will be prohibited from traveling the bridge. Motorists who are denied passage will be assisted with safely turning around.
· Wind Restriction II (sustained wind speeds or wind gusts exceeding 50 mph) – only automobiles, pickup trucks, flatbed trailers, commercial buses and heavy-laden tractor/trailers are permitted to cross the bridge. Tractor-box trailer combinations will not be permitted to cross any bridge if the gross weight is less than 64,000 pounds.
· Traffic Holds/Bridge Closure (sustained wind speeds or wind gusts exceeding 55 mph) – In the event of a sudden increase of sustained wind speeds or wind gusts that could jeopardize life or property, the MDTA may elect to discontinue the movement of traffic across the bridge.
The MDTA offers the following tips for its customers if they must travel during the storm:
· Reduce speeds on bridges and elevated roadways as they freeze prior to other road surfaces.
· Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.
· Watch for snow plows and other equipment – do not pass.
· Stay Alert So No One Gets Hurt – devote your full attention to driving.
· Know before you go:
o Follow the MDTA at twitter.com/TheMDTA and facebook.com/TheMDTA for the most up-to-date information.
o For Bay Bridge traffic conditions 24/7, call 1-877-BAYSPAN (229-7726) or visit baybridge.com to view live traffic images and to sign up for email alerts.
o For statewide travel conditions, visit MD511.ORG or call 511.
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency stresses awareness and preparedness as Hurricane Sandy approaches Maryland. Go to mema.state.md.us for the latest storm track and preparedness information.