(The Center Square) – A study centered on traffic congestion occurring when crossing the bay is in its next phase, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
The governor announced Friday that Tier 2 of the Chesapeake Bay Crossing study is now underway. The project, being conducted by the National Environmental Policy Act, is taking an in-depth look at traffic rates and future demand of crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to get to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The cost of the study comes in at $28 million.
“At my direction, we are immediately launching a critical $28 million Bay Crossing Tier 2 Study, which will not only study the new crossing but also look at solutions for the entire 22-mile corridor from the Severn River Bridge to the 50/301 split,” Hogan said in a release. “This is the critical next step which is needed in order to move forward so we can make a new Bay crossing a reality in the years to come, and it is just one more way that together we are truly changing Maryland for the better.”
Tier 1, according to the release, was completed in April and follows Hogan’s attempts at finding traffic congestion solutions for future generations passing over the bridge towering above the Bay and its 22 miles of connector highways.
The state’s Transportation Authority, along with the Federal Highway Administration, according to the release, are mandated to use a tiered NEPA process for any possible improvements, which is a requirement of all federally funded projects seeking approval.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement and a Record of Decisions, in April, according to the release, for the Crossing Study Tier I project earned approval through the Federal Highway Administration. Corridor 7 was named as a focal point for having the existing Bay Bridge in its plan.
“The $28 million Tier 2 study will build upon the Tier 1 findings and identify specific alignment alternatives within Corridor 7, which is two miles wide and 22 miles long, from the Severn River Bridge in Anne Arundel County to the U.S. 50/US 301 split in Queen Anne’s County,” MDTA chairman and Maryland Transportation Secretary James F. Ports Jr. said in the release.
Ports said the second phase will “identify and evaluate” any no-build alternatives in addition to other crossing alignment configurations that could include new structures, such as a bridge, a bridge/tunnel, or replacement of the decks on the original bridge.
The transportation authority’s board anticipates voting on the Consolidated Transportation Program plan at its upcoming June 23 meeting. The vote will include funding for the Tier 2 study, according to the release, and will take four to five years to complete. Before heading to final design, the study will look at the final design of the project, acquiring rights-of-way, and building costs.