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Baltimore bridge collapse prompts HOS relief, truck detours

Maryland DOT providing up-to-date information

Posted April 5, 2024

Last week’s sudden collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, MD, has had a cascade of effects on the area’s transportation system and has prompted an emergency exemption from the hours-of-service rules for certain truck drivers.

The I-695 bridge on the Baltimore Beltway upheld a key trucking and transportation corridor across the Baltimore harbor. With its absence, the I-695 Outer Loop is now closed at MD 173 (exit 1) and the Inner Loop is closed at MD 157/Peninsula Expressway (exit 43), according to the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).

Until the bridge is repaired, the I-95 and I-895 tunnels will serve as alternate routes for crossing the harbor. Because many hazardous materials are not allowed in the tunnels, however, vehicles transporting hazmat may need to reroute across the western section of I-695. This includes vehicles carrying:

  • Bottled propane gas in excess of 10 pounds per container (maximum of 10 containers),
  • Bulk gasoline,
  • Explosives, or
  • Significant amounts of radioactive materials.

In addition, vehicles over 13.5 feet high or 8 feet wide are prohibited from using the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, and vehicles over 14.5 feet high or 11 feet wide are restricted from the I-95 Ft. McHenry Tunnel. Drivers are encouraged to go online for updates via websites of the MDTA and Baltimore City DOT.

Emergency declaration

A Maryland emergency declaration issued on March 26 automatically triggered emergency relief from federal hours-of-service limits (as found in 49 CFR 395.3 and 395.5) for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to emergency relief efforts due to the bridge collapse.

“Direct assistance” includes transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or driver related to the immediate restoration of essential services or essential supplies. Examples include transportation of heavy equipment and personnel into the area and removal of debris to assist state and local emergency efforts to reopen the Port of Baltimore and the waterway impacted by the bridge collapse.

The emergency declaration is currently set to expire on April 8, 2024, but could be extended.

Note that the emergency relief does not extend to the electronic logging device (ELD) or logging regulations, nor does it apply to companies merely impacted by the bridge collapse but not providing direct assistance. Additional details are available on the website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

This article was written by Daren Hansen of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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