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Federal safety agency to review Bay Bridge crash, make recommendations

Highway and Road DisastersTransportation DisastersChesapeake Bay BridgeNational Transportation Safety BoardAAATransportation Industry

Two National Transportation Safety Board investigators will meet Thursday with Maryland officials to review the crash on the Bay Bridge that flung a woman and her car into the water.

The meeting with the Maryland Transportation Authority, operator of the bridge, will determine whether the accident Friday exposed safety issues of national concern or identified deficiencies in the 61-year-old span, the federal agency said in a statement.

MdTA officials said they welcomed any assistance from the NTSB as the investigation continues.

The MdTA noted that the number of accidents on the Bay Bridge per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is significantly lower than on state roads. From 2008 to 2011, the bridge averaged 43 crashes compared to 166 on state roads.

Earlier Wednesday, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski used a speech on the Senate floor to call for a federal review.

"Are the barriers high enough? Should we be using two-way traffic? … Very important questions," Mikulski said during debate on a $54 billion transportation and housing spending bill.

Her comments echoed concerns raised by AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Lon Anderson, who said state officials assured him that the concrete barriers that act as guardrails were up to federal specifications and would keep cars from leaving the roadway.

Last Friday evening, a tractor-trailer rammed a car driven by Morgan Jade Lake, 22, of Calvert County, driving it up and over the barrier. The car fell 27 feet into the bay and Lake had to swim for her life to a rock piling.

Video shot by Scott Fortney, a real estate broker on his way to St. Michaels, showed Lake calmly talking to stunned motorists on the bridge, asking them to call her mother while she awaited rescue.

Fortney called it "completely surreal, unbelievable."

Lake, who suffered bumps and bruises, called herself "a walking miracle."

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Highway and Road DisastersTransportation DisastersChesapeake Bay BridgeNational Transportation Safety BoardAAATransportation Industry
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