MDTA Seeks Your Opinion on Where to Put the Third Bay Bridge

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Photo by Farragutful, via Wikimedia Commons

The Maryland Transportation Authority wants to know where you think an additional bridge should be added to traverse the Chesapeake Bay.

The agency has launched a public comment portal to solicit feedback from Marylanders on the site of the third planned Bay Bridge, and will be holding a “public scoping meeting” tonight. You can watch it online starting at 7 p.m. here, or show up in person at one of six listed locations.

The purpose of tonight’s meeting is to offer a “presentation with an overview of the project, study area and schedule,” and to encourage people to offer their feedback, according to MDTA. The public comment period ends Dec. 15, one month from today.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration announced plans in August 2016 to study how and where to build a potential third bridge, citing traffic congestion as the chief motivation. “Marylanders all across the state depend on being able to cross the Chesapeake Bay, but the reality is that there is simply too much traffic, and that it will continue to get worse,” the governor said.

His transportation secretary, Pete Rahn, noted at the time that at the current rate, delays could stretch 14 miles for commuters by 2040.

Two pathways across the bay currently exist: the congested, sometimes spooky Bay Bridge running 4.3 miles from Sandy Point to Kent Island, and the 23-mile combined bridge-tunnel from Virginia Beach to Cape Charles, Va.

The governor’s office has committed $5 million to an engineering and environmental impact study to explore which lucky area of Maryland will be getting the third proposed bridge. The study could take four years as it evaluates environmental impacts of proposals, costs and legal and engineering feasibility.

A 2006 report from a task force convened for this exact subject determined four suitable “zones”: Baltimore County to Kent County, Anne Arundel County to Queen Anne’s County, Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties to Talbot County and Calvert County to Dorchester County.

The first zone sits closest to Baltimore City, stretching from Southeast Baltimore County to Tolchester Beach, across the water from Edgemere. It would be the least costly bridge among the four options due to the relatively shallow depth of the bay there, the task force said in its report. The second zone between Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s counties would be about half as short at about four miles, but has a larger channel width and water depth.

MDTA says it will provide additional opportunities for public input throughout the rest of the study. The endgoal, the agency says, is to identify a “preferred corridor alternative to address congestion at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and [evaluate] its financial feasibility.”

Here’s the link again, in case you decide to tune into tonight’s meeting.

Ethan McLeod
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