Repairs being planned for the Hancock Bridge over the Potomac, too

by Geoff Fox

The bridge carrying traffic over the Potomac River and Hancock is approaching 90 years old and has seen its fair share of potholes and damage over those years.

When the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration announced work on the U.S. 522 bridge over I-70, many wondered if the bridge between West Virginia and Maryland is in line for its own repairs.

The answer to that question is a yes, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA).

Cars cross the U.S. 522 bridge over the Potomac River in Hancock. photo by Geoff Fox

Charlie Gischlar, Deputy Director for the SHA, said there are proposed concrete and steel repairs on the Potomac River bridge coming later this summer or fall.

“One of the proposed items of work in this project will address the bump at one of the roadway joints that drivers have been informing SHA about,” Gischlar said in an email.

That joint near Potomac River Grill that has been an issue for some time.

The most recent repair the SHA made to the bridge’s deck, or driving surface, was done in 2016 to repair another bridge joint in the deck.

A separate repair, Gischlar said, was done in 2017 to fixthe concrete parapet wall following a crash that damaged the section of wall.

With the bridge nearing 90 years old, one would think it’s nearing the end of the usefulness, but Gischlar said that isn’t the case.

The original bridge deck was replaced in 1978 with a new one, “so the deck still has years of service life remaining,” he said.

That deck is in “fair condition” with very few reported issues other than a few minor asphalt patches, Gischlar added.

“Currently the condition of the bridge deck does not warrant a replacement, but it is routinely inspected,” he said.

Any of the existing issues with the bridge deck could be addressed without replacing the deck or replacing the bridge itself.

“When the time does come to perform some major rehabilitation action on the bridge, a total replacement would be part of the consideration due to the existing limited lane widths and lack of shoulders,” Gischlar said.

Those driving over the bridge, or any  state maintained road (numbered routes) who notice an issue that needs to be repaired can be reported on the SHA’s website – on the online service request form.

“The public are our best eyes on the road, and we appreciate the input,” Gishlar said.

Gischlar said the average daily traffic volume on the U.S. 522 (Warfordsburg Road) bridge over I-70, which is currently being repairs, is approximately 4,400 vehicles per day.

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, the daily average traffic flow on the U.S. 522 Potomac River bridge was 10,550 vehicles each day in 2022.