A study searching for the best place for another possible bridge across the Chesapeake Bay is focused on three locations in Anne Arundel County.
On Wednesday night, county residents packed an open house to learn more about the proposals and share their opinions.
At Anne Arundel Community College, the Maryland Transportation Authority showed attendees maps and graphics of their proposals. Those in attendance also asked questions and submitted written feedback on the ideas. The list of possible locations for a new bay crossing was originally 14, but was whittled down in August.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan favors adding a third span to the existing Bay Bridge. James Gooding of Arnold thinks that would be a mistake.
“If there’s a bad accident on Route 50, it’s just going to tie up everything anyway,” Gooding said. For security reasons, Gooding said it makes sense to put a new bridge a good distance away from the old one.
Meghan Howland lives in Arnold and grew up on Kent Island. She said Bay Bridge traffic is only getting worse.
“It’s starting to impact people’s everyday life, not just on the weekends how it used to be, where you knew Friday, Saturday and Sunday was going to be bad,” Howland said.
“I have friends that have difficulties getting home to their family across the bridge and people that are having to factor in an extra 30, 40, 50, 60 minutes just to get home from work.” Howland supports adding a new bridge just to the south of the current one.
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said he was surprised when he learned that the study options had been narrowed to three, with all of them in his county. “I think it’s shortsighted, I think there’s no plan to pay for it, and I think we have to be thinking bigger,” Pittman said.
He wants the state to look at all sorts of alternatives, from installing electronic tolling technology to the existing bridge so drivers don’t have to slow down to pay, to adding bus rapid transit and even launching electric ferry service in numerous locations.
Three more open houses are planned this month, starting at 6 p.m.: Oct. 3 at the Talbot County Community Center in Easton, Oct. 9 at Kent Island High School in Stevensville and Oct. 28 at Annapolis High School in Annapolis.
Public hearings are planned in about a year, and any construction — if approved — would be years away. Read more and submit comments at a website set up by the transportation authority.