Bay Bridge Anxiety Blues

alantig

Zombie Four, DFZ
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Apr 28, 2012
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Since I know some folks have issues driving across the Bay Bridge, I thought there might be some interest in this article that was in the paper this morning. This is the first I've heard of it.

Personally, I love the Bay Bridge. I first drove over it more than 25 years ago - at that time, there was a grate that ran parallel to the roadway. I HATED that - it felt slick as all hell. I'm glad that's gone. Without that, I actually enjoy the bridge.

There's a bridge on the QEW between the Peace Bridge in Buffalo and Toronto that I really enjoy as well. And on Route 43 in PA, there's a huge sweeping ramp that feels like it's going out into thin air - I love that, especially at night.

Quelling anxiety across the Chesapeake

STEVENSVILLE, Md. -- On stormy days, it is difficult to see the shore from the halfway point. The bridge, arcing high into the air, has tall ships passing beneath. Its guardrails look like split-rail farm fences, revealing a dizzying drop to choppy waters.


Driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge stirs fear in the hearts of no small number of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., residents, an anxiety that resumed its seasonal peak over the Memorial Day weekend and the start of the annual pilgrimage to the beach towns and quaint sailing harbors of the Eastern Shore.


"Everyone talks about the fear of crossing the bridge," said Carolyn Casey, who lives in Washington with her family and has a second home near St. Michaels, Md., across the bridge.


On Friday, she pulled her silver Lexus SUV to the side of the road before the western end of the bridge, which stretches more than 4 miles. The passenger seat was piled with Whole Foods bags, and two Labrador retrievers were curled in the cargo area. As Ms. Casey climbed into the back seat with her 3-year-old daughter and a nanny, Alex Robinson got in behind the wheel.


"When I told people I'd found someone to drive me over the bridge, they laughed," said Ms. Casey, 41, a homemaker whose husband is a consultant. "But it all came out -- everyone is afraid of the bridge."


Mr. Robinson, 27, runs Kent Island Express, which charges $25 each way to shuttle people in their own vehicles across a bridge that Travel & Leisure magazine ranks as one of the world's scariest.


As he drove to pick up one customer, he fielded the kind of telephone call he receives all day. "Do you have a lot of people you drive because they're afraid?" a woman asked, with uneasiness in her voice.


"About 5,800 people use our service," Mr. Robinson told her.


"Whoa," the woman said. "That makes me feel better."


Mr. Robinson's business, which he took over last year from his mother and stepfather after they had run it for five years, has made him an amateur psychologist. He hires only upbeat drivers so as not to further alarm clients. "Their stress and anxieties feed off of your mood," he tells employees.


He knows to talk about anything but the bridge in the 10 to 15 minutes it takes to cross: first, a disconcerting dogleg curve, then a precipitous climb over the initial suspension span; then downhill and over a second span, a cantilever whose boxy sides and roof feel like a suffocating tunnel.


"Most people, when they're nervous, they babble," Mr. Robinson said. "They talk about their first boyfriend. Their kids. People will tell you about their entire life story."


But not everyone. Construction workers have been known to ride in the back seat of their pickup trucks, hats pulled over their eyes and their ears plugged. A woman once rode with a blanket over her head. A man asked to be put in his trunk, an offer that was refused.


The fear of bridges has a name, gephryophobia. Psychotherapists say it is common and often traces back to a panic attack during a particular crossing, even after years of driving over the same bridge without incident.


The bridge, officially the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge, is not the only one with a service to help anxious drivers. The 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge in Michigan, one of the world's longest suspension bridges, offers a free drivers' assistance program. In the Florida Keys, enterprising college students have been known to wait at either end of the Seven Mile Bridge to drive tourists.


But the Bay Bridge, because of its proximity to major cities -- 366,000 people were expected to cross from Friday to Monday -- is apparently the only one busy enough to support commercial drive-over services.


Fear of the bridge is not limited to men or women, the young or the old, the educated elite or the working class. A driver of a large van for an environmental services company paid Mr. Robinson to ferry him west after a day's work on the Eastern Shore.


"It's the weirdest thing in the world," said the man, who asked that his name not be used because he found his fear embarrassing. After years of crossing with no problem, he had an anxiety attack on the bridge three years ago. A doctor suggested it could be the stress of becoming a husband, a father and a homeowner.


Earlier in the day, he had crossed another bridge over the nearby Severn River without a hitch. "I was telling my wife it just doesn't make sense," he said. "The Bay Bridge just freaks me out. I think it freaks everybody out."
 
what i dislike about the bridge is the traffic and how it prevents me from getting to Experience. and it's 4 miles long. and it's 300 feet high. and i dont understand the traffic patterns at night. and it costs something like $4. but other than that it's ok... :laugh:
 
As someone who lives in NY, a place known for some remarkably historic bridges, I absolutely adore the Bay Bridge. Its gorgeous, long, breath taking and just tall and narrow enough to send chills up the drivers spine no matter how seasoned a bridge traveler they are. It is truly the passage to our holy land! :)
 
As someone who lives in NY, a place known for some remarkably historic bridges, I absolutely adore the Bay Bridge. Its gorgeous, long, breath taking and just tall and narrow enough to send chills up the drivers spine no matter how seasoned a bridge traveler they are. It is truly the passage to our holy land! :)
Get a room you two.
 
Growing up by the Mississippi River bridge passage was a daily occurrence. When I first went to PRS, driving in from Annapolis, I didn't even really know about the bridge. When I got to it I was like wow...this is huge big. I was taking pictures when I was stopped and having a blast.
 
Grew up using it and I think that's why I've never had a problem with bridges.

Only one I was less than comfortable on was stuck in traffic on the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. Couldn't wait to get off the lower level of that one. Who the hell puts a double decked bridge in earthquake country? :dontknow:
 
]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©;77222 said:
Get a room you two.

I left out the part about crossing the bridge at 2am to find your wallet, having nothing but the moonlight eluminating your smile <3 hahaha
 
I loved the bay bridge last year! We didn't have traffic issues on it but we went early and stayed late every day. I will admit, one night the traffic pattern was kinda goofy but during the day it's beautiful! I think someone was shooting video just about every time we crossed. Lol
 
I am not a Fan of the Bay Bridge!

But Markie it's such a cool view

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I cross it twice a day to get to and from work. The only time I have ever been nervous on it was the first time I rode my Harley across it. It was windy and blowing the rear of my bike around (solid wheel on the rear). That made me less than comfortable.
 
I cross it twice a day to get to and from work. The only time I have ever been nervous on it was the first time I rode my Harley across it. It was windy and blowing the rear of my bike around (solid wheel on the rear). That made me less than comfortable.

Yea I can't imagine what that would be like. My Duece is the same and that would probably freak me the hell out
 
I love the bridge. It has always been the gateway to the promised land: Ocean City when I was younger and Stevensville now a days...
 
Great... now I gotta rent a boat.

Stick with the bridge. I rented a little 14 ft. boat at Sandy Point on a nice day and by the time I was in the middle of the bay I was in a trough with swells above my head on all sides. Couldn't get out of there fast enough.
 
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