By Emily Harris
In addition to the marina renovations, many students and residents likely recall the announcement of maintenance work that was proposed for the Chester and Sassafras river bridges. A timeline for the project has been formed and the task force has met to discuss possible alternatives since the public meetings were held in the fall.
“On the good side, I think it’s pretty clear that SHA has moved the project to next year which I think was one of the goals was to give us more time to prepare,” said Cerino. The work on the Chester River bridge was originally slated to take place in May around the time of graduation which would present a problem for the College, as well as farmers who are very busy during the late spring months.
A fixed span to replace the drawbridge was one alternative that was proposed, and sending the drawbridge to Baltimore for repairs and placing a temporary span was another idea. The intent was to save time and limit the number of days the bridge would be closed, but both of these ideas would ultimately only save between a week and two weeks.
“So we’re kind of resigned to the fact that it’s going to hurt and hopefully we [will] keep working with the state to provide more incentives to whoever gets the contract to just get that window as small as possible and give us at much lead time as possible so that businesses can prepare, we can talk about when it’s going to happen,” he said.
The maintenance work will likely be postponed until fall of this year. Cerino addressed the concern surrounding public safety and transporting first responders back and forth across the river. “We’ve talked about stationing a boat on either side of the bridge to ferry first responders back and forth, I think that’s a very strong possibility,” he said.
Many residents and town officials have been advocating for a second crossing upriver of the bridge for many years, but it is unlikely that such a large project will be undertaken in the near future. “It’s just one of those things that’s been on paper for 30 years and it costs literally hundreds of millions of dollars and right now it’s just not going to happen for a long time,” Cerino said.