Hatem Memorial Bridge’s Crossing of the Susquehanna River

    Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge

    The first crossing of the Susquehanna River in the vicinity of Harmer’s Town (later becoming Havre de Grace in 1782) was a ferry that was established in 1665. It proved to be a key transportation link for George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War and for Union troops during the Civil War. The first bridge for horse-and-buggies and automobiles opened in 1910 from a converted c. 1873 railroad crossing. It was operated by a group of private citizens as a tolled facility until the State Roads Commission acquired the bridge in 1923.

    The bridge was narrow with a roadway only 13 feet wide which caused numerous side-swiping accidents and very low traffic speeds. To alleviate the problem, the Commission constructed a second deck over the old bridge in 1926-27, converting each level into dedicated eastbound or westbound lanes. But after the crossing reopened to traffic on November 29, 1927, the “Double Decker Bridge” caused new issues: the lower deck had a vertical clearance of 12½-feet, barely sufficient to accommodate commercial vehicles.

    Ultimately, the “Double Decker Bridge” was replaced with a graceful through arch bridge that carries US Route 40 over the Susquehanna River between Havre de Grace and Perryville, Maryland.

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