Maryland is moving closer to a new span for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday that the state is launching a “critical” $28 million study that will look into the new crossing and also examine traffic solutions for the entire 22-mile corridor from the Severn River Bridge to the U.S. 50/301 split.
“We’re gonna seek input from county and local governments, and from environmental regulatory agencies, and we will be actively engaging Marylanders and providing plenty of opportunities for public citizen input throughout the entire process,” Hogan said at Friday’s announcement.
“This is the critical next step, which is necessary in order to move forward so that we can make a new Bay crossing a reality in the years to come. It’s just one more way that, together, we truly are changing Maryland for the better.”
Anne Arundel County Council member Amanda Fiedler, who represents the Broadneck Peninsula, told WTOP’s John Domen that the new study and crossing “gives us hope that we won’t be tackling standstill traffic in our communities and local roads for generations to come.”
She added that they’ll be looking at a resolution and mitigating traffic “so we can get our livelihoods back on the peninsula.”
Fiedler said the County Council has been clear about avoiding delays in examining the corridor.
Maryland Secretary of Transportation Jim Ports told WTOP the study will look into how many lanes the crossing should be and where it’s going to be, as well as a possible bridge, bridge tunnel, or a full tunnel.
“We have to look at all these different factors because the federal NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process does not allow us to predetermine what it might be,” Ports said.
He added that, since it’s a federal process, Maryland doesn’t determine when shovels go into the ground for construction. But it’s “probably a four-year study,” Ports said.
Maryland won approval to design a new crossing for the Bay Bridge near the existing back in April.
The Maryland Transportation Authority studied 14 potential options for a new bridge before selecting Corridor 7, the area next to the two spans that connect the Annapolis area and Queen Anne’s County.
Federal officials paved the way for a Tier 2 study, which would produce an exact location for a third span, “within the two-mile-wide Selected Corridor Alternative.”
Officials from 12 of Maryland’s 23 counties have quietly embraced the plan for a new span over the past few months, with eight or more lanes, to replace the existing spans.
The counties, along with summer destination Ocean City, passed resolutions or sent letters of support for the concept. Some jurisdictions have directed their letters to Hogan and/or Ports. Others have sent letters of support directly to the Queen Anne’s County Commission, where the idea appears to have originated.
WTOP’s John Domen reported from Stevensville. Maryland Matters contributed to this report.