A full list of options for a potential third Chesapeake Bay crossing is out, though meetings—not to mention, an official, finalized list—are still months away.
A set of six maps, which appear to have first been disseminated in a column in the Chestertown Spy last month before being shared more widely on social media, show 14 route options spanning 11 total counties on the east (Harford, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Calvert and St. Mary’s) and west (Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Dorchester and Somerset) sides of the Chesapeake Bay. One of the draft maps is published below.
Closest to Baltimore City are routes three, four and five, which would cut across Southeast Baltimore County and over to Queen Anne’s County. Respectively, those would begin near I-95 in Essex, near I-695 in Middle River and near I-695 in Sparrows Point, a.k.a. Tradepoint Atlantic.
According to John Sales, manager of public affairs for the Maryland Transportation Authority, these weren’t supposed to made public just yet–not before the agency schedules a series of open houses to solicit public feedback. And contrary to what Del. Robin Grammer of Baltimore County posted on Friday, neither the state nor the Federal Highway Administration released them.
“We don’t know exactly how it go out there, to be honest with you,” Sales said.
Unsurprisingly, they’re already drawing some strong responses from people who live along those routes, as reported today by the Calvert County Recorder. But Sales noted that these aren’t necessarily the final choices.
“These are draft, pre-decisional maps, so they’re not final,” the agency spokesman said, later adding, “That’s how those maps exist today. I can’t say that’s how they’re gonna look a few months from now in the spring, when we get to those open houses.”
Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration announced plans in 2016 to study how and where to build a a second bay crossing in Maryland–and a third one overall–citing traffic as the chief motivation. Given the severe congestion that happens along the two existing routes to traverse the bay, particularly during the summer, Hogan forecast at the time, “the reality is that there is simply too much traffic, and that it will continue to get worse.” More specifically, Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn predicted that at the current rate of tourist travel, delays on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge could stretch 14 miles for commuters by 2040.
So, they’re looking to build another outlet to alleviate that stress. What’s followed has been a $5 million, state-financed environmental impact and engineering study over the last several years, exploring everything from traffic and costs to channel depth to air quality, and even proximity to cultural resources.
“From the beginning of the study, the team has been looking at the entire Chesapeake Bay within the state of Maryland, so you’re talking from the top to the bottom there,” Sales said of the geographic range shown on the maps.
Sales said they’ll make a formal announcement of the open house dates soon—likely to be “later in the spring”—and will publish the official maps online and share the meeting schedule on social media.
Per this schedule, the draft environmental impact study is due to publish this fall, and officials hope to “identify the preferred corridor alternative” by next winter.
There are not dates on these maps, so no one knows how old they are, but they do pattern themselves within the six zones originally provided by and discussed by the MDTA when the Tier 1 NEPA process started more than two years ago.
Correction to the article; the closest to Baltimore City are proposed routes three, four and five, which would cut across Southeast Baltimore County and over to Kent County, not Queen Anne’s County!
Proposed routes one, two and three will never see the light of day as they are very near to, or cross Aberdeen Proving Grounds on the western shore.
Proposed route 14 will never happen for two reasons: it is too long, and therefore financially not viable, and it will do nothing to address the “Purpose And Need” for another Bay Bridge as defined by the MDTA; it is too far south.
Routes one thru six don’t make any sense, as a Bridge at any of these points would dump even more traffic onto an already congested Route 50 from the split to the DE and MD shore destination points. At 1500 vehicles per hour per lane during peak seasonal travel times, a new Bridge at any of these points exacerbates the Route 50 congestion adding 3,000 or 4,500 vehicles per hour depending on the number of lanes the new Bridge has.
Proposed routes eight, nine and 10 would, again, dump 3,000 or 4,500 vehicles mid-way between the split and Cambridge. Albeit, some Route 50 traffic makes that left at Route 404 to get to DE shore destination points.
The proposed routes that make the most sense are either 11 or 12, by diverting Washington, DC and Northern VA away from the existing Bay Bridges, and by coming into Route 50 below Cambridge, when Route 50 traffic starts to thin out.
Another reason for proposed routes 11 or 12 making sense would be for the very likely emergency evacuation of the Delmarva due to a life threatening storm that would require such an evacuation. It is not an if, but when issue. All the blue and white evacuation signs all lead to the existing Bay Bridges. A Bridge further north, above route seven, would not help the evacuation process. Getting traffic off of Route 50 as soon as possible in such an emergency situation is the logical approach for Washington, DC and Northern VA travelers.
If the Maryland DOT desires to alleviate traffic jams to Ocean City I have 2 ideas; one, remove the east bound tolls on the Bay Bridge. All they do is create the jams during peak travel times. two; build by-passes around Easton and Cambridge like was done in Salisbury. Upgrade the entire route to interstate from the Bay Bridge to the Salisbury by-pass. These two ideas would cost a LOT less than building a new bridge with more tolls.
On another bridge crossing issue, I think an added Potomac River Bridge for US 301 to alleviate the traffic jams there should take priority over another Bay Bridge.
By-Pass: Makes perfect sense to construct a limited access expressway by-pass between the Rte 50/301 split in Queenstown down to just below Cambridge near Rte 16, especially for all the seasonal DE and MD resort beach traffic, which is now pretty much year-round.
Albeit, I can tell you that there will not be any By-Pass in Queen Anne’s County from the Rte 50/301 split heading physically south on good authority. Queen Anne’s County may widen Rte 50 from the split down to, maybe, Rte 404 by one lane, but that is about it.
Tolls: Most assuredly, going from 3 lanes of east bound traffic funneling out to 11 toll booths, then funneling back in to 2 or 3 Bridge lanes certainly does impede smooth traffic flow. And MDTA knows this. The tolls will be going to Full Electronic soon, but MDTA must give careful thought to Contra-Flow.
Another 2-lane Bridge span next to the current 2 lane east bound span will help in a couple of ways: 1-Bridge Repair. As the Bridges get older, resurfacing, repainting and other maintenance efforts that create traffic jams due to lane closures would find relief by another 2 lane Bridge span; 2-When the Bridges have to be replaced, and they will have to be replaced, where do you put all the traffic once one Bridge is torn down….by adding another 2 lane Bridge span, now, and not then!
I would love to see a rail line to the beach areas! If they construct a new bridge…why not add a train option to get to Rehoboth for the day?
I seriously doubt this would happen. What if you forget something or have a family emergency. Opps, got take the train. The train runs on it’s schedule, not your’s.
Good public transportation is the answer not more highways! Pretty soon the entire state will be paved!! And where do all these cars park at the shore? This is no different than the ski resorts in CO!! Build expensive highways and ruin the resorts with traffic jams, car exhaust and more paved ocean areas!! Yes are a step back folks and let’s be creatively intelligent. Aren’t the Dems aging “green” and no fossil fuels in 10 yrs!! Trains, shuttles, flights cheaper and upgrade the airports, special buses, more Uber’s at the beach,,,
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