June 23, 2024


Have you got an irrational fear that hits when you head out on a drive? For me it’s a worry that a tree will fall off the back of a logging truck and smash through the front windscreen. For other people it’s driving across long bridges. If you fall into the latter camp, then you might be interested to hear that there are people who will drive you across a bridge if you’re too scared, and business is booming after the Baltimore bridge collapse earlier this year.

On the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, there’s a whole industry dedicated to ferrying frightened passengers across the four-mile span, reports the Washington Post. In Virginia, Kent Island Express has been taking passengers across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for more than 20 years, charging $40 per crossing or $50 if you pay with a card.

Now, ever since Baltimore’s Key Bridge collapsed after it was hit by a container ship, demand for the service is on the rise. More and more drivers are beginning to fear for their safety on America’s bridges, and services such as Kent Island Express have become the only way for some to get around. As the Post reports:

“The bridge,” Steven Eskew [manager of Kent Island Express] said, “is like a speed bump in their road.”

He and his crew shepherd around 6,000 rides a year. Eskew says service hasn’t quite recovered from the pandemic, but he’s gotten more calls since the collapse of Baltimore’s Key Bridge in March. The tragedy hasn’t heightened his concerns, but Okes can’t help but reflect.

“I do think about [safety] more often than I ever did before,” she said. “We travel the bridge 30, sometimes 60 times a day, but I wouldn’t let it stop me.”

A photo of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

At four miles long, there’s no wonder people get scared driving over this bridge.
Photo: Visions of America/Joseph Sohm/Universal Images Group (Getty Images)

While the fear can be put down to being stuck in the confined lanes of a bridge, which often raises anxiety for many drivers, the boost in frightened drivers as a result of the collapse of Baltimore’s bridge may be unfounded.

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge was obviously a disaster and highlighted shortcomings in protection for several key bridges across the States. However, bridge safety in the U.S. isn’t as bad as you might fear. In fact, a 2023 report found that the number of bridges rated as ‘poor’ across the country had reduced and the number with roadways and construction rated as ‘good’ was on the rise.

A photo of repair crews working on the Baltimore bridge.

Repairs on the collapsed Baltimore bridge continue.
Photo: Andrew Harnik (Getty Images)

However, if you’re scared, then headlines about more near misses, other collapsed bridges around the world and rusting spans might not quell those fears. But at least services like Kent Island Express exist to help out when you really need it.

A version of this article originally appeared on Jalopnik.



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