Sunday, March 5, 2017

TIME MACHINE: The Pocomoke River Bridge Collapse1988.

(Reader-friendly viewing of news archives/historical archives material)

August, 1988


Baltimore Sun

In August, 2009 our late Brenda Wise (jmmb) for The Pocomoke Public Eye posted pictures and information she had gathered regarding the 1988 bridge collapse.

The Falling of the Pocomoke Bridge

August 17,1988

Do you remember the day the Pocomoke River Bridge fell? My telephone rang very early that morning to tell me the news. I will admit I didn't really believe it until I saw it for myself! For some reason, very early in the morning the little bridge just came tumbling down. And of course, for months there were the rumors and speculations of how it could fall, who was the last to travel it and how remarkable it was no one had been killed.

My news clippings from the Pocomoke paper are gone but I did find these pictures that were taken 2 days after it collapsed. There isn't much on the internet but I did find some interesting information.......

Well, that was not all I found. Two days before the collapse of span, a motorist traveling west to east noticed a dip in the bridge deck and that the pedestrian crosswalk railing ,in places seemed to bowed downward. The same motorist on August 16,1988 crossed the bridge again and noticed the dip in the bridge had become more severe. He naturally assumed that the bridge tenders were aware of it and didn't feel the need to report it to anyone. ( I would assume that too). And the manager of the market on the Somerset side of the bridge
noticed the same thing
on those same two days.

August 16, 1988, around 11:00 a.m. another motorist noticed
a "V" shaped depression that traveled 10 to 12 inches deep and about 20 ft. long. This wasn't all he found to be faulty with the bridge and immediately drove to Pocomoke City Police Dept. and reported it to the dispatcher. The dispatcher did not notify the officers on duty nor was it logged in as a complaint on the police log.

Finally that afternoon another motorist noticed it and contacted the police chief. The police chief stated that all he saw was a pothole, and did not inspect any other sections of the bridge.

The report further stated that the police department is not trained in matters of bridge construction and defaults................And even though the tiny bridge would have collapsed anyway, IF someone had perhaps paid more attention to what these 3 people were saying that bridge could have been shut down and eliminated the possibility of personal injury or even death. No, personal injury did not occur. But it sure could have.

Quite interesting. I worked downtown for over 25 years and never heard any of this. I don't know of anyone at the time that had heard about this report written in January of 1990. Be sure to read it.  Another DUH moment.

Posted by jmmb at 9:52PM

A link to the report was posted by Brenda but that link is no longer working.  The bridge re-opened in June, 1989 with Maryland governor William Donald Schaefer on hand for the ceremonies.  Cost of repairs was about $3.5 million. -tk 

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