- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2001

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Tens of thousands of people walked across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge early yesterday morning to get a birds-eye view of the vast waterway.
An estimated 50,000 men, women and children made the 4.4-mile trek over the Bay, said officials with the Maryland Transportation Authority. Yesterdays walk was the 27th consecutive year for the event. The first walk was held in April 1975.
Volunteers and organizers say the annual Bay Bridge Walk allows families to spend time together and enjoy what they call one of the states largest and most famous treasures.
"Its a wonderful way for everybody to enjoy the Bay and the beautiful scenery," said Carol Treiber, a local resident and volunteer. "It also gives you a chance to have a family day with your loved ones."
County officials who helped run the event agreed.
"Not only is it a perfect day, but its the only day of the year the state lets people walk the bridge," said Capt. Steve Thompson, operations chief with the Anne Arundel County Fire and Rescue Department, who stood at the finish line.
Walkers were encouraged to arrive by car early in the day at three parking lots, where they boarded buses that took them to the starting point on the eastern terminus of the two-lane eastbound bridge.
The westbound span, which is three lanes wide, handled the days motor vehicles. As anticipated, a rolling backup of travelers returning from or going to ocean resorts slowed traffic by noon.
But motorists didnt seem to mind the delays. "It only happens once a year and you have a beautiful view to look at when you get stuck up on the bridge," Kelly Ghee, of Northwest Washington, said as she sat in her car at the toll gate.
The three parking lots reserved for bridge walkers cars were filled to capacity. Shortly after 9 a.m., two lanes of eastbound Route 50 came to a brief halt about three miles before the bridge as walkers headed toward the lots at Naval-Marine Corps Stadium, Anne Arundel Community College and the Chesapeake Business Park.Each participant was asked to make a $1 donation to help defray the cost of buses.
Others like Leslie Barden and Pamela Roddy of Bethesda parked their cars along the exit and entrance ramps at the Sandy Point State Parkand walked to the shuttle buses that, within minutes, dropped them off at the starting line.
"We came to take in the beauty of the Chesapeake," Mrs. Barden said as she hurried to the bus stop. "This is the only chance you get to see the Bay from up above."
"Its our way of seizing the moment," Mrs. Roddy interjected as the two boarded the bus.
Most pedestrians crossed the bridge in just less than two hours, a stark contrast to last years walk when participants struggled through 90-degree heat before they could cross the finish line. About 100 walkers at last years walk suffered heat exhaustion, Capt. Thompson said.
Yesterday, the weather was much kinder to the participants, who were greeted by a cool breeze as they climbed the bridge. Only a couple of walkers, mostly elderly participants, were escorted by police to the finish line because they couldnt complete the trek.
Almost all of the walkers brought along water bottles, baseball hats and sunscreen. Others carried video cameras and stopped at points along the 49-year-old bridge to record the views.
"Its a nice way to remember this day and to say that I did it," said John Cole, who traveled from Havre de Grace, Md., to take part.
Most participants walked the bridge primarily for exercise.
"I mostly came out because I like to walk," said Wanda Stewart of Woodbridge, Va., who brought her husband, Randy. "Ive always wanted to experience this, and you get a great sense of accomplishment when you finish the walk."
Retired state trooper John Murphy, of Newcomb, Md., walked across the bridge for a different reason: He wanted to the conquer his fear of heights. He finished the walk in one hour and eight minutes.
"It was great, even if youre afraid of heights," Mr. Murphy said as he stood at the finish line smoking a cigar. "This is one of the best things to do to beat your fears. And you get a nice view with it, too."

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