SANDY POINT — AAA Mid-Atlantic is calling for a federal investigation into the safety of barriers on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge after a car crashed and fell off the bridge and into the water.
In a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board on Monday, the group said the crash last week has shaken the public’s confidence in the safety of the span’s barriers. They called on the agency to investigate the crash.
“No motorist using this facility should have to worry about going off the bridge in the event of an incident,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Lon Anderson wrote in the letter. “We think your agency’s investigation of this crash would provide that assurance or lead to the changes necessary to provide motorists that peace of mind.”
The crash raises questions about whether the bridge’s restraint system failed, whether it met federal specifications or if those specifications may not be adequate for this kind of crash, Anderson said. Anderson said after previous crashes where tractor-trailers or other large vehicles broke through barriers, officials said federal standards only require that barriers contain cars and impacts from car crashes. But in Friday’s crash, Anderson noted it was a car hit by a tractor-trailer that went over the barrier.
“This clearly raises questions about whether there was a failure of the specific restraint system used on the bridge, and whether it meets federal specifications, or whether the federal specifications for bridge barriers are inadequate to restrain a vehicle in this type of crash,” Anderson said. “If so, does this warrant an examination of the adequacy of those federal specifications?”
Engineers inspected the barrier and bridge structure on Friday night and found no structural damage from this crash, the Maryland Transportation Authority said in a statement. Authority police and Maryland State Police are investigating the crash and the authority said it welcomes NTSB involvement and insight.
“As the investigators continue their work and gather all the facts and determine the cause, it is important to not pre-judge the investigation,” the authority said. “The crash reconstruction and investigation likely will take weeks, and we want to allow investigators the time needed to complete their work.”