What's wrong with this picture?

June 10, 2012
  • A Williamsport reader says boulders and rocks have come loose underneath the Interstate 81 southbound bridge going over the Potomac River. He noticed them while walking on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.
Submitted photo

The problem: Jeremy Ardinger of Williamsport wondered if there was a problem with a local bridge.

Ardinger wrote in an email: “Every Sunday afternoon, I walk the canal with my dad and cousin. We’ve noticed boulders and rocks have come loose from week to week underneath the I-81 southbound bridge going over the Potomac. It also looks like the concrete support pillars are cracking as well.”

Who could fix it: Maryland State Highway Administration

What they say: “The boulder and rocks that are seen in the photo are not part of the bridge at all, but rather appear to have broken off the side of the hill adjacent to the bridge,” SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar wrote in an email.

“SHA bridge engineers performed a detailed bridge inspection on the southbound I-81 bridge over the Potomac River on March 18 and the bridge pier that is displayed in the photo was found to be in very good condition, as was the rest of the structure. The discoloration noted in the photo is simply dirt from years of weathering and traffic. SHA recently (in the past year) completed painting the steel beams of the bridge, which helps prevent corrosion of the metal surfaces.


“SHA has an extremely aggressive inspection program with comprehensive evaluations every two years on most bridges (some, such as drawbridges, are inspected more frequently). The three major bridge systems are thoroughly inspected. These systems are the substructure (the piers that hold the beams and driving surface), the superstructure (the supported concrete or steel beams) and the driving surface (the bridge deck).”

— Compiled by Andrew Schotz

Editor’s note: Each Monday,The Herald-Mail will highlight an infrastructure issue or other problem and will try to find out what is being done to fix or improve the situation. We will not tackle situations involving neighborhood or domestic disputes, or consumer problems.

If you are aware of a safety problem, a major annoyance or a pet peeve that one of our governmental bodies, an agency or an organization is responsible for fixing, send the information, and a photo if you have it, to:

What’s Wrong With This Picture
c/o The Herald-Mail newsroom
100 Summit Ave.
Hagerstown, MD 21740

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