By: David M. Higgins II

Lexington Park, Md- In 2005 The State of Maryland conducted a study to determine whether to upgrade the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, The Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel or create a new one. No definitive plans were made.

Fast forward to 2017, and a $5 million, 4-year study was again being conducted.

One year into the new study the Maryland Department of transportation has released its first “Draft”, and “Pre-Decisional and Deliberative” maps. Included in these maps are fourteen possibilities for a new bridge, including five that connect Southern Maryland to the Eastern Shore.

Four of these possibilities connect Calvert County; Chesapeake Beach(to Talbot County), Plum Point, St. Leonard, and Cove Point (to Dorchester County), while a fifth would connect Lexington Park to Somerset County.

Specifically, the study concluded that:

  • The forecasted transit ridership would not meet accepted thresholds for cost-effectiveness.
  • On a summer-weekend day, about 2,900 people would switch to transit by 2030, leading to 1,250 fewer cars traveling to the Eastern Shore (a 1.1 % reduction in vehicles).
  • For weekday morning rush-hours, about 870 people would switch to transit by 2030, leading to 620 fewer cars heading westbound (a 4.3 % reduction in vehicles).
  • Transit service alone will not provide significant relief to either weekday-rush or summer-weekend traffic congestion.

“Any successful strategy to address transportation demand across the Chesapeake Bay must involve a comprehensive approach, transit is just one component,” said (Former) Transportation Secretary and Authority Chairman John D. Porcari. “(Former)Governor O’Malley had directed the Department of Transportation to evaluate the potential of ferry service, special excursion/express bus service, targeted road improvements along the US 301/US 50 corridor, and variable pricing and enhanced capability to clear incidents on the Bay Bridge. We also must link future land-use planning and transportation planning. An analysis of this comprehensive approach will help determine a course for the future.”

During the study, Authority and Transit staff assumed transit-only concepts would use the existing Bay Bridge location and identified potential origin-destination combinations for both eastbound and westbound travelers – including Kent Island to Annapolis and Washington, D.C., to Ocean City. The team also developed basic cost estimates for heavy rail, light rail and bus rapid transit and evaluated Eastern Shore land use and population and employment densities.

“The Authority will continue its commitment to ‘thinking outside the booth’ as we manage existing capacity at the Bay Bridge by investigating innovations like open-road tolling,” said (Former) Authority Executive Secretary Ronald L. Freeland.

This is the first year of the four year study, and several steps still need to be taken. Public meetings are scheduled for the upcoming year, and The Calvert County Planning Commission does have this listed on their Comprehensive Plan Approval meeting scheduled for February 26, 2019. Coincidentally, this is the same day that Public and Agency comments are due.

Below you can find the published schedule for the Bay Bridge Crossing Study.

Schedule

Project ScopingFall/Winter 2017
Public Scoping MeetingNovember 2017
Develop Purpose and NeedSpring 2018
Public MeetingSpring 2018
Develop Range of Corridor AlternativesFall/Winter 2018
Public MeetingWinter 2018/2019
Identify Corridor Alternatives Retained for Analysis (CARA)Winter 2018/2019
Detailed AnalysisSpring 2019
Publish Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) /Identify MDTA’s Recommended Preferred Corridor AlternativeFall 2019
Public HearingFall 2019
Identify the Preferred Corridor AlternativeWinter 2019/2020
PublishFinal Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)/
Record of Decision (ROD)

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...