The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which takes Route 50 across the Chesapeake Bay between the Kent Island and Annapolis areas, is officially named The William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge – but most locals refer to it simply as the “Bay Bridge,” or sometimes the Chesapeake Bridge.
The Bridge is 4.2 miles long – one of the longest over water structures in the world. The Bay Bridge is actually two side-by-side bridges with two lanes of traffic on each span. The first bridge (eastbound span) opened in July of 1952 and the second bridge (westbound span) opened in June of 1973.
The Bay Bridge is named after William Preston Lane, Jr., who was the Governor of Maryland when construction of the first span began.
The view from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is always spectacular. The bridges rise 186 feet above the water, affording a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. You will see lots of sail boats and other pleasure boats on the Bay during nice summer days. Note: Only passengers should be looking at the scenery – the bridges do not have full road shoulders and, therefore, do not offer motorists the same maneuvering space found on other roadways to avoid accidents, therefore it’s important for drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
Most of the time, all the lanes on each span have traffic going in the same direction, but during rush hours and times of heavy weekend beach traffic, the lanes change direction to ease traffic congestion. The lanes are clearly marked with lighted marking to show which way to go. See the Driver Information section below for details.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Hotline: 1-877-BAYSPAN
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Traffic Cams
(Live webcam views of Chesapeake Bay Bridge traffic at US Route 50 at Sandy Point & US Route 50 at Route 8)
The bridge toll is only collected one way. The toll booth is located on the western shore (Annapolis) side of the Bridge. Visit the Mdta website for the current toll rates.
The EZPass Toll Collection System works at the Bay Bridge. (EZPass is the automatic toll collection system that can be used throughout Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York – www.ezpassmd.com
Here is some important Chesapeake Bay Bridge Information for drivers, provided by the Maryland Transportation Authority.
Drivers should maintain a higher level of awareness when traveling on bridges. For your safety and that of your passengers and fellow drivers:
Obey and maintain posted speed limits. Bridges do not have full road shoulders and, therefore, do not offer motorists the same maneuvering space found on other roadways to avoid accidents.
Obey overhead-lane-use-control signals for traffic control. The meanings of these overhead signals are as follows:
A steady DOWNWARD GREEN ARROW means that you are permitted to drive in the lane over which the GREEN ARROW signal is located.
A steady YELLOW X means that you should prepare to vacate the lane over which the YELLOW X signal is located and move to a lane with a DOWNWARD GREEN ARROW.
A steady RED X means that the lane is closed and you must not use it.
On the Bay Bridge, traffic speeds tend to vary due to traffic volume, bridge grade and curvature, and scenic vistas. Motorists should use extreme caution and resist the temptation to sightsee while on the bridge. Adherence to overhead-lane-use-control signals and posted speed limits is strictly enforced. Fines are doubled in workzones.
Drivers traveling the Bay Bridge should exercise special caution when a “two-way” traffic configuration is in effect.
When speed-limit signs are superseded by reduced speed limits on variable message signs, drivers must obey the reduced speed limit.
If you have a cellular telephone, please report disabled vehicles by dialing #77. If reporting an accident, call 911.
If your vehicle becomes disabled on the bridge, turn on your emergency flashers and wait for Maryland Transportation Authority Police assistance. In addition, the Authority’s Vehicle Recovery Technicians are stationed at the facility to render assistance between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily.
Assistance Driving Across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
We’ve had several requests for information from people who are afraid to drive across the bridge. The Kent Island Express offers drive over service for a fee. Call them at least one hour before your bridge crossing time. Visit their website for details.
Kent Island, MD Visitor Information. The Kent Island/Stevensville/Grasonville area is on the eastern side of the Bridge. There are many restaurants and hotels concentrated in this area.
Annapolis, MD Visitor Information. The greater Annapolis area is located on the western side of the Bridge. This area has many hotels, restaurants, and the downtown Annapolis historic district.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Traffic. Current conditions, advisories, and best times to travel.
Ocean City Events. Find out what’s happening in Ocean City.
Chesapeake Bay Weather. Weather conditions and reports.
Bay Bridge Outlets. Shop the Kent Island Area Outlets.
For many years the Chesapeake Bay Bridge closed one span to traffic for a day in order to let pedestrian walk the span. The walk was usually held on the first Sunday in May. The annual Bay Bridge Walk became a regional attraction that brought 40,000 to 60,000 participants each year to walk the bridge and enjoy the view. Two way traffic was handled on the second span during the walk. The walk is approximately 4.5 miles one way. Participants parked at one of the MdTA designated parking lots and took shuttle buses to the starting point of the walk. Shuttles returned participants to the parking lot after finishing the walk. The Bay Bridge Walk has been cancelled for the last several years due to on-going construction projects, security concerns, and cost concerns. Visit the Bay Bridge website for the latest information regarding the scheduling of the annual walk.
A privately sponsored “Across the Bay 10K” has been schedule for November 9, 2014. General registration begins November 9th, 2013. See details at www.bridgerace.com
The William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge. The official Maryland Transportation Authority website.
Live Chesapeake Bay Bridge Traffic Webcams. View the MdTA traffic cams for US 50 at Sandy Point (western shore side) and US 50 at MD 8 (eastern shore side).
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Facts and History. Wikipedia has a good article about the Bay Bridge including the history construction and renovations, plus some structural details.