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October 12, 2010

Bay Bridge makes list of scariest spans

Sun photo/Doug Kapustin

Just in time for Halloween, the Bay Bridge comes in at No. 9 on Travel + Leisure magazine's ranking this month of the world's 26 scariest bridges.

The magazine points to the tendency of storms to plow through the area and reduce visibility on the bridge to near zero. But the bridge hardly seems to keep up with the company it keeps on the list, which is rife with narrow, shaky pedestrian bridges over mountain gorges.

Travel & Leisure is entitled to its opinion, but I don't even rate the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge as the scariest bridge named after a former Maryland governor. I would award that honor to the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge, which carries U.S. 301 over the Potomac River to Virginia. The anything-but-Nice Bridge earns that distinction with its steep slopes and narrow lanes, coupled with the knowledge that it's 70 years old.

Now the Bay Bridge is a good place to get pounded by the wind, but I'd rate the Francis Scott Key Bridge a little scarier on that score. For its condition, which has its scheduled for replacement if it can stay up long enough, the Fort Avenue bridge in Locust Point earns big fright points.

What do you think? Does the Bay Bridge have you spooked, or is there some other bridge in Maryland that you cross in your nightmares?


Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:47 PM | | Comments (17)


Ok, I know these magazine rankings are just for conversation, but give me a break. The Bay Bridge isn't even the scariest highway bridge in Maryland (that would be the Governor Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge over the Patuxent River). Scarier than a rope footbridge over Pakistani floodwaters? Scarier than a Russian-made bridge that oscillates for no apparent reason? C'mon.

COMMENT: Good nomination. That's a scary bridge.

No way. The Nice bridge over the Potomac is ten times worse. The few times I ever cross it it triggers a repetitive nightmare of me falling off the top of a bridge, tower from way above the traffic lanes.

It's all about the fear of heights. I have white knuckles the entire time I drive over it.

I agree!! My husband and I take 301 down to Richmond all the time, and I always consider taking congested 95 instead, solely because of that bridge.

Do I remember correctly that it's supposed to be renovated/fixed/expanded?

COMMENT: The replacement or rehabilitation of the Nice Bridge is in the study process, but replacement is many years off.

When we were kids, my older brother tried to convince me that cars traversed the high-parabola superstructure of the Route 213 bridge over the C&D canal in Chesapeake City. Long after I got over that particular terror, I still don't very much enjoy the passage -- again with narrow lanes and steep inclines!

COMMENT: Another great nomination. Scary bridge.

I second the Gov. Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge. I went to college in Southern Maryland and knew a lot of people who hated driving over that bridge.

The only, and I mean ONLY, thing that scares me about the Bay Bridge is the idiot drivers who speed and change lanes on it; even when there's 2-way traffic.

What part of STAY IN LANE do they not understand?
I travel in the right-most lane, doing no more than 5 over the speed limit, which I *think* is 45. All you idiot ya-hoos go right on with your "hooray-for-me-and-to-hell-with-you" driving practices. I'll just stay over here, hopefully safely out of your way...

I have to nominate the Goethals Bridge in NY for its narrow lanes and overall appearance of disrepair. When you (inevitably) have to drive across next to a tractor trailer, it can be very scary.

The list is all kinds of caterwumpus. The Lake Pontchatrain Causeway is actually a fun drive - far better than its counterpart, the Huey Long Bridge (which didn't make the list). The Huey Long bridge has narrower lanes, steeper ascents, and a higher peak (it seems) than anything Maryland has. I will say this about Maryland bridges, though - they all seem to have a sharp turn somewhere along the span. Nothing like looking over to your right to see where you're going to be on the bridge in a few minutes...

Coolest MD bridge? The Conowingo Road (US-1) bridge over the Susquehanna - passing the power station at night is something else.

I have never understood the fear people have of that bridge! Is it the lack of a pull off lane? The fact that you can see right off of it? I just don’t get it. I commute across that bridge every day and the scariest thing is the summer traffic. Combine that with a total lack of effort to build a second span elsewhere. BUILD ANOTHER CROSSING!!!

The Bay Bridge is an odd member of this list--the Swinging Bridge in Patapsco State Park makes me more nervous than the WPL Mem. Bridge

My personal "favorite" is the Warren Road bridge over Loch Raven. It is narrow, has no center line, and the roadway is made of steel grid which causes your car to swerve around when driving across it, especially if it's wet.

Hate the 95 bridge over the Susquehanna

Yes, i agree with Chris, the tydings 95 bridge over the susq can have quite dangerous cross winds. On at least 2 occasions I almost crossed into the other lane because they got so bad, yes they can move your car a bit, and going highway is no picnic when that happens

i'm a little suprised the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel didn't make it. There are portions that are quite scary on some of those bridges. Its gotten better from when the one bridge was only 2 lanes with no shoulder, but it can still be scary when theres no shoulder and oncoming traffic close to you.

It is so funny & timely that I read this article when I got home tonight after a trip across that bridge...or should I say a tow. I found the bridge so high & terrifying that I likened it to walking across two sky scrapers on a tightrope. I had to pull over and have MDT tow me over. When I told the tow operator how embarrassed I was and that this never happens to me on other bridges, he said not to worry about it - he gets a call 2 times a week for the same reason.

I'd say the Nice Bridge is scarier than the Bay Bridge, but going to Richmond and points south it's a lot faster than sitting in the perpetual traffic jam that is I-95 from Springfield to Fredericksburg

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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