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New Route 7 bridge in Belcamp is open to traffic

The bridge over James Run has re-opened after construction that closed the stretch of Route 7 between Routes 136 and 543 in Belcamp.
The bridge over James Run has re-opened after construction that closed the stretch of Route 7 between Routes 136 and 543 in Belcamp. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The replacement bridge carrying Route 7 over James Run in Belcamp has opened to vehicle traffic after four months of construction and detours for motorists.

The new two-lane bridge opened Oct. 6, and workers will be at the site through the end of the month completing projects such as landscaping and stormwater management, said Fran Ward, community liaison for the State Highway Administration's District 4 office in Hunt Valley.

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The bridge it replaced has a somewhat chronicled history in Harford. Because of the area's history of flooding, it was often the subject of newspaper photographs and TV video clips during major storms.

Ward said Tuesday that workers could be conducting flagging operations to direct traffic along the bridge when one lane is closed at "any time" between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday,

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"Weather permitting, [the project] should be complete by the end of this month," she said.

The $2 million bridge replacement project began in June after Harford County Public Schools closed for the summer, in deference to school bus traffic along that stretch of the highway between Routes 542 and 136.

The original bridge was built in 1925. About 11,600 vehicles cross it per day, Ward said.

During construction, traffic was detoured along Route 543 to Route 40 and I-95.

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"We appreciate everyone's patience during the summer construction season," Ward said.

The new bridge, which was built to current federal and state bridge standards, is 2 feet higher than the old bridge, and the support pier that was in the stream under the middle of the bridge structure has been removed.

Ward noted debris would get caught in the pier during heavy storms, and the bridge was occasionally closed as workers removed the debris.

"By raising the bridge and removing that center pier, we're hoping to improve stream flow," she explained.

The new bridge also has 5-foot shoulders on either side, and support structures have been built on both banks, removing the need for a center support pier.

The shoulders meet state standards for disability access and bicycle compatibility, Ward explained.

"It's a completely new bridge," she said.

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