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Bay Bridge

Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is officially called the William Preston Lane, Jr., Memorial Bridge. Popularly called the Bay Bridge, this facility near Annapolis crosses the Chesapeake Bay as part of US-50/US-301. The bridge's dual spans provide a direct connection between Maryland's Eastern Shore recreational and ocean regions and the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington, D.C. The bridge also forms part of an alternative route from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to the nation's capital.
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With a shore-to-shore length of 4.3 miles, the bridges are among the world's longest and most scenic over-water structures. The two-lane original span was opened to traffic in 1952. It replaced two vehicular ferries that ran from near Annapolis, to the Chesapeake Eastern Shore. The parallel structure opened in 1973 and has three lanes for westbound travelers. The original span then became a two-lane roadway for eastbound traffic. All lanes are reversible. Generally, three lanes are thrown in the direction of peak traffic. Summer weekends tend to have very heavy traffic to and from the Eastern Shore, and to ocean resorts such as Ocean City, Maryland, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Each bridge has a suspension span over the main shipping channel. The main span has a horizontal navigational clearance of 1,500 feet, and a vertical navigational clearance of 186 feet, and the main shipping channel passes under the main span, utilized by oceangoing ships to and from the Port of Baltimore. The original Bay Bridge was closed during a couple winters for deck replacement, in 1986-1988.

During 2001, nearly 23.9-million vehicles crossed the Bay Bridge. There is a one-way eastbound toll plaza just west of the bridge. Two axle vehicles pay $2.50 ($1.00 with a commuter ticket), and each additional axle is $2.50.

Maryland had plans in the 1970s to build two more Chesapeake Bay bridges. The Northern Bay Bridge would have run from Miller Island near Edgemere in Baltimore County, to Tolchester Beach in Kent County, and the Southern Bay Bridge would have run from Lusby in Calvert County to Taylors Island in Dorchester County.

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