Maldonado, 30, an independent tucker, said he had just dropped off a load of paint in Washington and was on his way home as he drove onto the bridge's right-hand lane at 40 mph in dead-calm conditions.

"Usually, there's warning signs flashing [in bad weather]. I didn't see any of that. All of the sudden my truck went flying sideways and I was holding on," he said.

The truck slammed into the concrete guardrail on the left-hand side and tipped.

"I went sliding toward the window, toward the water," he said. "I threw my arm up to stop myself and protect my face and it went through the glass. The windshield blew out. I went out through there.

"It was blowing hard and I held onto a pole. Then lightning hit and I let go — it was metal."

Maldonado was treated for cuts and bruises, and his truck was totaled. The eastbound bridge was closed for several hours while the truck was removed, and the westbound span was shut to clear debris.

The trucker said he hasn't heard from the MdTA since the incident and has never received an apology.

Maryland's policy was criticized in the days after the storm by motorists who had been trapped on the bridge, and by AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA, applauded the state's action Thursday.

"This is fantastic. It's going to be good for the MdTA and it's very good for the users," he said. "They were responsive and that's all we can ask."

Maldonado expressed surprise "that a bridge that big didn't have all those things already," but he praised the agency for making improvements.

"That's cool," he said. "But I'm still not going over it. I'll skip that one."

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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