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Neighbors oppose lights on Weems Creek Bridge


Neighborhood groups will have two words for the State Highway Administration tonight when officials present new plans for replacing the deteriorating Weems Creek Bridge: no lights.

"We just don't feel like we need a lighted bridge," said Molly T. Smith, president of the West Annapolis Civic Association.

Similarly, a committee of area residents on both the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County sides of the creek prefers limiting lights to those needed for boat traffic.

"We didn't think lights were necessary," said Elizabeth McWethy, who heads the Weems Creek Conservancy and served on the committee.

The deteriorating span, built in 1929, has no lights. About 4,850 vehicles travel the bridge each day.

If the highway agency insists on lights, lamps with shades directing the light downward onto the road are preferred to mute the glare, Mrs. McWethy said.

"We are trying to get lights that light up the road but don't impact the neighborhood so much," said Glenn C. Vaughan, SHA project manager.

Chuck Brown, a SHA spokesman, said the state wants the lights "as a safety measure. But there is no written formal policy that says we have to."

The highway agency will present a new version of the proposed swing span, which is nearly identical to a design presented last year and similar to the current 360-foot bridge.

The two-lane bridge is 23 feet wide. The proposed bridge, projected to cost about $8 million, would be 12 feet wider, allowing room for a sidewalk and shoulder, Mr. Vaughan said.

Construction would take from a year to 18 months and could start this fall.

Also at tonight's meeting, officials will show options to refurbish the old bridge. Renovation would cost as much as building a new bridge, but would not include space for a sidewalk.

Another option is to renovate the old bridge and add a second bridge beside it.

The Weems Creek Bridge is the oldest of the three swing-span bridges in Maryland. Mr. Vaughan said the Maryland Historic Trust wants the demolition photographed. No decision has been made on what will be done with the old bridge. Some have suggested using the rubble to create wetlands.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Phoenix Center, 291 Locust Ave. in Annapolis. Unless a major issue emerges, there will not be a public hearing, Mr. Brown said.

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