High winds have the potential to cause dangerous driving conditions, especially on tall bridges located over water. The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) operates several major bridges throughout the state and requested help from KCI to update their Wind Restriction Guidelines. Having never completed a wind study before, KCI performed in-depth research to see what guidelines are used by other agencies in 14 states, and evaluated how they compared to MDTA’s. Currently, each facility is equipped with an anemometer that is monitored by police and operations personnel. When wind speeds meet specified thresholds for minimum periods of time, established procedures including, turn around areas, detour routes, temporary parking areas and variable message signs are implemented.
Our team found that MDTA had one of the most comprehensive wind restriction guidelines in the United States. It is one of the few that features hard limits in which protocols are automatically carried out when wind thresholds are reached. The only recommendation KCI made was that MDTA add a note to their guidelines that would allow the highest ranking Authority official to move to a more restrictive phase when wind events are combined with wet, snowy roadway conditions, which significantly increase the risk of accidents.