Gov. Ho­gan or­ders study for third Bay Bridge span


Spe­cial from the Star Demo­crat

— The Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Author­ity will start a $5 mil­lion study this fall to ex­plore op­tions and po­ten­tial fund­ing for a new Ch­e­sa­peake Bay cross­ing.

Gov. Larry Ho­gan, who or­dered the study, made the an­nounce­ment in Anne Arun­del County on Tues­day with the Bay Bridge as his back­drop.

“Whether you live in ar­eas close to the bridge and travel to and from the Eastern Shore for work, whether you’re a farmer, a va­ca­tioner, a busi­ness owner, Mary­lan­ders from all across the state de­pend on be­ing able to cross the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay,” Ho­gan said.

The first span of the Bay Bridge — of­fi­cially named the Wil­liam Pre­ston Lane Jr. Me­mo­rial Bridge — was built in 1952 and con­nects trav­el­ers pass­ing through Anne Arun­del county to Queen Anne’s County on the Eastern Shore, and vice versa. The three west­bound lanes and two east­bound lanes see high vol­umes of traf­fic, es­pe­cially on week­ends dur­ing the sum­mer months.

“It’s no se­cret that traf­fic backs up along Route 50


dur­ing peak hours dur­ing the sum­mer months,” Ho­gan said. “Hours that could be spent with your fam­ily or at work or do­ing things you en­joy are in­stead spent stuck in bumper-to-bumper traf­fic.”

A study com­pleted last year found that the cur­rent bridge struc­tures can be safely main­tained through preser­va­tion and main­te­nance un­til 2065, when the two-lane bridge would be 113 years old and the three­lane bridge would be 92 years old.

Traf­fic flow was also in­cluded in the study. The anal­y­sis looked at the Route 50/301 cor­ri­dor from Rowe Boule­vard in An­napo­lis to the split at Queen­stown.

It found that with­out added ca­pac­ity on the high­way and at the bridge, dur­ing sum­mer months the daily traf­fic in the east­bound lane could back up to 13 miles by 2040. It also found that dur­ing sum­mer months the daily west­bound traf­fic could back up to three miles, and 14 miles on Sun­days, when va­ca­tion­ers typ­i­cally drive back from the Eastern Shore, by 2040.

Even dur­ing non-sum­mer months, there would be east­bound queues of up to a mile on Fri­day even­ings and Satur­day af­ter­noons, ac­cord­ing to the anal­y­sis. On par­tic­u­larly con­gested week­ends in the sum­mer, traf­fic in the west­bound lane of Route 50 has backed up into Tal­bot County.

Ho­gan said the study, a Tier 1 Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy Act (NEPA) study, is the first phase of a full NEPA study. It will al­low the state to nar­row down the op­tions and iden­tify a po­ten­tial lo­ca­tion for a new Ch­e­sa­peake Bay cross­ing and to ex­plore fi­nanc­ing op­tions.

The $5 mil­lion study will in­clude traf­fic en­gi­neer­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal anal­y­sis, cost-per-mile es­ti­mates and pro­cure­ment op­tions, and eco­nomic and land use stud­ies, Ho­gan said. It could take up to 48 months to com­plete, he said, “but it is the first crit­i­cal step needed in or­der to move for­ward on ad­dress­ing the long-range is­sue of fu­ture traf­fic con­ges­tion for the Bay Bridge.”

Queen Anne’s County com­mis­sion­ers were pleased with Ho­gan’s an­nounce­ment.

But, Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran said the county would like to see the full NEPA study funded within the next year or two.

Mo­ran said that he’s ec­static the process has started, “but we as a county feel that the en­tire study needs to be funded to move this process for­ward in a timely man­ner” be­cause “dooms day” is com­ing the next six or eight years.

“In six to eight years, it’s not go­ing to be a happy place to be,” Mo­ran said.

The Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers wrote to Ho­gan and Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Pete Rahn last year, stat­ing the sit­u­a­tion with traf­fic on Route 50 on Kent Is­land can only get worse.

Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sioner Steve Wil­son said the traf­fic sit­u­a­tion is go­ing to be “pro­gres­sively de­struc­tive to the county,” and that “there’s no rem­edy, ex­cept the rem­edy of get­ting some­thing down.”

Wil­son said he wanted to see ac­tion, not more stud­ies about the Bay Bridge and “at least the gov­er­nor’s act gets us on the road to get­ting some­thing ac­com­plished.”

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