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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Prospect of third bay bridge encounters stiff opposition
By KRISTEN WYATT
23 April 2006

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - It's been more than a year since state officials started studying the possibility of building a third bridge across the Chesapeake Bay. A task force was appointed, public meetings were held, and reams of charts and graphs were produced for a report due this summer on a possible new bridge.

But are state officials any closer to figuring out where to put a new bridge to ease traffic congestion? Some close to the task force doubt it. Opposition is strong across the Eastern Shore to a new bridge.

"I'm laying in front of the bulldozers if it comes to that," said Queen Anne's County Commissioner Gene Ransom. "We're adamantly opposed to a third bridge. It means more development, more traffic. My gut feeling is, we'll never have a third bridge built."

The problems with building a new bridge, in addition to the one in Maryland and one in Virginia, are many.

Most crossings would be longer, and therefore more expensive to build, than the one between Annapolis and Kent Island. Roads leading to the bridge would have to be widened. The construction and noise from a new bridge would almost certainly damage any wetlands around it. And residents near the bay worry their communities would come to look like Kent Island on a summer holiday weekend -- one long traffic jam.

But sticking with just the Bay Bridge is no great option either, according to state transportation officials. They predicted last year that 12-hour traffic jams will become routine around the current span if something isn't done. And as the Eastern Shore population grows, taking U.S. 50 to the beaches will slow, too.

It's a pickle either way. That may explain why the report, originally due out this month, won't be ready until June. And why the final report won't suggest where a new bridge should go -- it will just outline the pros and cons of putting a new bridge in four regions, from north to south.

"It's not just a matter of, 'Let's go build a bridge,'" said Trent Kittleman, executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Kittleman said the report will be more of a compilation of research than a proposal.

"This task force was unique. It was not charged with making a decision. It was charged with getting the process started," she said.

And even if a site for a new bridge were settled, estimates vary on how quickly it could be ready. Kittleman said that some transportation experts have suggested it would take 20 years.

"A lot has to be done making people comfortable," she said.

Each of the four regions to be outlined in the report have detractors. A northern crossing, from the Baltimore area to Kent County, may not take enough traffic off the current Bay Bridge to be worth the trouble. The second option, building a new bridge alongside the current spans, is strongly opposed by locals in Annapolis and Kent Island.

The other two options -- building a new bridge from somewhere in southern Maryland to the lower Eastern Shore -- would attract Washington drivers but would require a great deal of land to be condemned.

"It's an extremely difficult problem," said Sen. John Astle, D-Anne Arundel, who served on the task force. In each option, the easy part is building the bridge. The hard part is everything else -- the land and the roads, he said.

"It's going to cause a lot of gnashing of teeth" if a bridge is ever built, Astle said. "Nobody in any of the four areas likes the solution of having their area be the local area for the bridge."

Another lawmaker, Sen. Richard Colburn, R-Dorchester, was even more pointed.

"Nobody wants it," he said, predicting traffic snarls and exploding development in any area where a bridge is placed. "Basically the people of the Eastern Shore don't want to be another Anne Arundel County."

If a new crossing is built, Colburn said, it should go right next to the current crossing near Annapolis.

"There's no need to take another pristine area of the Eastern Shore" and turn it over to development, he said.

So if no one can agree where to put a new bridge, but traffic planners say the current Maryland crossing is growing impossibly congested, where does that leave Maryland drivers?

Kittleman said that short-term goals include smoothing traffic already on the Bay Bridge. She mentioned getting more people to use E-ZPass, instead of cash, when they go through the tolls. And she said that last year's "Go Early, Stay Late" promotion for vacationers had a noticeable effect on summer bridge traffic jams, so that is likely to be repeated.

Also, Kittleman said, state officials are considering trying congestion pricing. That means the price to cross the Bay Bridge would rise from its current $2.50 on busy summer weekends, a move thought to discourage unnecessary trips and get people to use the bridge at non-peak times.

The main thing to remember, task force members said, is that a new bridge isn't coming anytime soon, so travelers will have to adjust to higher prices or longer waits on the current crossings.

"I think that getting people across the bridge in a more timely fashion is going to be the saving grace," said Al Silverstein, a task force member and president of the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce. "I don't think in the next 25 to 30 years you'll see any construction."
 

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but when they say build next to the current one, they mean the bridge tunnel right? because if they do, then would the new one also have to be a bridge tunnel?
 

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sorry to post this long after it's this thread has been overish, but they arn't talking about the bridge tunnel in virginia, they're talking about the bridge(s) in maryland, the one that people often think is part of the bridge tunnel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
EDITORIAL: Accident illustrates increasing hazards on Bay Bridge
13 August 2008
The Capital (Annapolis)

Last Sunday's tragic accident on the Bay Bridge sent chills down the spine of anyone who regularly travels the 4.3-mile twin spans between the Eastern and Western shores. How many drivers have wondered if those retaining walls would really keep their vehicles from plunging to the water below?

We now have a partial answer: Those walls will not stop a tractor- trailer, like the 18-wheeler that John Short of Willards drove onto the bridge, heading west, around 4 a.m. on Sunday.

As the westbound span was closed for repairs, there was two-way traffic on the two-lane eastbound span. An eastbound Camaro drifted into oncoming traffic when its 19-year-old driver, by her own account, nodded off. Mr. Short hit his brakes, and his rig swerved and jackknifed across both lanes, eventually going through the bridge's Jersey wall. He died of his injuries.

State highway officials say the accident was an anomaly and that the bridge is safe. But traffic experts have long argued that it's dangerous to have two-way traffic on a two-lane, shoulderless bridge. About 70 percent of the bridge's fatal accidents occur in two-way traffic - including the one last year in which an unhitched trailer on the westbound span caused a multicar pileup and three deaths.

Perhaps it was unusual for a vehicle to actually go over the side, but how many more accidents will it take before state officials admit that traffic hazards on the bridge are getting worse? Will they take it more seriously if the next accident involves a carload of people headed for a family vacation or a busload of kids headed for a church retreat?

Will it be another anomaly if a truck spills a substantial amount of chemicals or fuel into the Chesapeake Bay - or causes so much damage that a span has to be closed for months, during the summer?

Unfortunately, fixing the bridge's problems will not be easy or cheap. State administrators know from experience that elected officials aren't happy when their constituents complain about traffic delays. Two-way traffic patterns were the last card up their sleeve and they were willing to play it - at great risk to our lives - just to keep traffic moving and lawmakers happy. State highway officials are now stuck. With bridge repairs under way, they can't eliminate dangerous two-way traffic.

The ultimate solution is another bridge over the bay - something no governor has had the guts to support. Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. at least appointed a commission to study the issue, but Gov. Martin O'Malley is against such a span, saying it will spawn more growth on the Eastern Shore.

A new bridge doesn't have to adjoin the current spans - there are alternatives. But until a governor stands behind a new bridge, highway officials will continue to put lives at risk by allowing two- way traffic on the current bridge spans. This is not just shortsighted but insane.
 

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"We're adamantly opposed to a third bridge. It means more development, more traffic. My gut feeling is, we'll never have a third bridge built."
Wow we have the same dipshit attitude from people in Florida, idiots... That is stupid because even with opposition to bridges and highways development will come and lead to danger and congestion.
 

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Another problem is money. this kind of bridge will cost a pretty penny
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
True - even if all the environmental assessments pass and the technical problems are resolved, another bridge is going to cost too many billions for either the state and/or the federal governments to handle.
 

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True - even if all the environmental assessments pass and the technical problems are resolved, another bridge is going to cost too many billions for either the state and/or the federal governments to handle.
At the very least for today's economy. I wonder why tunnel is not proposed to solve the problem? it is more expensive but less disturbing to environment.
 
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