A day after state officials presented three possible options for another Chesapeake Bay crossing, Gov. Larry Hogan said he would only accept the one that calls for a third span near the existing Bay Bridge.
“While the federal process requires multiple proposals, the data is indisputable— this option would maximize congestion relief & minimize environmental impact,” he posted on Twitter.
There is only one option I will ever accept: adding a third span to our existing Bay Bridge. While the federal process requires multiple proposals, the data is indisputable— this option would maximize congestion relief & minimize environmental impact.https://t.co/yMhGIIMuoQ
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) August 28, 2019
Two other possible spans were selected yesterday as part of an ongoing study by the Maryland Transportation Authority and Federal Highway Administration.
One would sit further north of the current bride, running between Pasadena and Rock Hall before crossing the Chester River to connect with U.S. 301 near Centreville. The other would be south of the bridge and take a route from Crofton to an area near St. Michaels, eventually connecting to Easton.
There’s also an option to not build anything at all.
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, whose jurisdiction is home to all three finalists, quickly criticized the announcement and said all of the sites would damage a natural area.
He also pushed back on the idea that traffic to the Eastern Shore will only increase, saying those projections “are based on an assumption that the Eastern Shore will develop in ways that its communities oppose.”
Though not citing it by name, he referenced climate change and suggested finding alternatives to automobiles.
“If we haven’t figured out how to get cars off the road by the time this bridge gets built, we’ll have much bigger problems to confront than traffic,” he said.
Hogan, in his Twitter thread, said research shows there could be 14-mile traffic jams by 2040 if nothing is done.
“Marylanders all across the state depend on being able to cross the Chesapeake Bay, and this is the only serious way forward,” he said.
In interviews with The Sun yesterday, two other Anne Arundel County politicians, both Republicans, were critical of the proposed sites, with Anne Arundel County Councilman Nathan Volke, who represents Pasadena, calling a bridge near his district a “pipe dream.”
The Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition, a public transportation advocacy group, called a new span a “financial fantasy” that would cost between $5 billion and $10 billion and require a sharp increase in tolls.
There’s still a long way to go before anything is decided in the $5 million National Environmental Policy Act study, which was commissioned in 2016. Researchers and engineers would have to determine where specifically the new spans would be built, and if they would be bridges or tunnels.
MDTA is holding six open house sessions on the study in the fall, with plans to add more to follow in 2020. An environmental impact report is slated to be published in 2021.