What's wrong with this picture?

March 20, 2011
  • Many drivers traveling over the stone-arch bridge on Old Forge Road at Clopper Road in Hagerstown honk their vehicles' horns to alert others who are approaching the one-lane bridge in the other direction.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

The problem: Visibility from either side of the one-lane bridge over Antietam Creek on Old Forge Road, near Clopper Road, is limited.

Aaron Slunt of Hagerstown said it is difficult to see if there is oncoming traffic until drivers are on the bridge.

“The other side of the bridge is not visible until you start to cross,” he said in a video he made while driving across the bridge. “I can’t see if there is a car coming or not.”

Slunt said in an e-mail that he lives a few miles from the bridge and travels it occasionally.

“I’ve came close to a collision a couple of times, due to not being able to see the oncoming vehicle,” he wrote.

Currently, there are one-lane-bridge signs posted on either side of the bridge, along with signs lowering the speed limit on the bridge to 15 mph. There also are signs detailing weight restrictions on the bridge.

Who could fix it: Washington County

What they say: Scott Hobbs, county chief of capital projects engineering, said the bridge is one of the county’s historic stone bridges.

It dates back to 1863 and, while not known to be involved in the Civil War, is subject to standards of the Maryland Historic Preservation Trust and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Hobbs said the county is required by the state to inspect all of its historic bridges biannually. It has scheduled rehabilitation of the Old Forge Road bridge for 2013.

Because it’s a historic bridge that dates to the 19th century, widening or changing the design of the 135-foot-long structure is not an option, Hobbs said.

He said the county will assess sight distances at the bridge to see if any steps can be taken to improve visibility by clearing brush or removing tree branches.

The county also will study the rate of accidents at the bridge, and evaluate the position and effectiveness of existing signs, he said.
— Compiled by Kate S. Alexander

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