Off the Needed Path
Somehow, the ever sanctimonious Michael Dresser seems to think this is a feasible alternative to a new Bay Bridge:
Perhaps, as a toll agency, the authority feels an affection toward its counterpart in Delaware. But the combined toll for a weekend jaunt to the beach using the authority’s suggested route comes to $13 for a passenger vehicle ($5 for Interstate 95 in Maryland, $4 for the Delaware Turnpike and $4 for Delaware Route 1). Hardly an incentive to avoid the $2.50 toll on the Bay Bridge, is it? Here’s a modest proposal: Shift traffic to the northern route by reversing the toll incentives. The authority could adopt a modified version of congestion pricing on the bridge, raising the rate at times of peak weekend congestion to, say, $10 (exempting commuters and other frequent users).
Then, when emergencies close lanes, the authority could jack those prices up to truly demand-dampening rates. Let’s say $20. That’s still a pretty good deal when the previous alternative was a ferry.
That’s the stick. The carrot would be to refund tolls on Interstate 95 and other toll facilities to motorists who use those alternate routes to reach the Eastern Shore during peak bridge travel periods. (There are ways.) Once you have the toll incentives in place, you stop giving Marylanders bad advice on reaching the beach and instead provide smart directions — such as cutting over to U.S. 40 to avoid the Delaware Turnpike.
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So instead of building a new bridge, Dresser would rather create a confusing myriad of “solutions” of allowing people to reach the beach. Of course, the cornerstone of this idea of is to really jack the tolls up at the existing Bay Bridge, but like any good liberal he completely ignores local economic factors in creating such a decision. With so many people living on th Eastern Shore who work on the Western Shore, it would virtually create a new tax aimed specifically at people who live and work on opposite shores. When you factor in the number of businesses in Greater Annapolis and Kent County that have business relationships with each other, Dresser’s cockamamie idea really starts to become absurd and unfair tax on Anne Arundel and Kent County residents who already can factor in existing tolls into their household or small business budgets.
Don’t worry though. Dresser’s silly ideas don’t end there. Because when in doubt, why not spend more taxpayer dollars:
Here’s how the authority could spread out the traffic and lure people away from the Bay Bridge: There are two stops along I-95 where many travelers already pause for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat: the Maryland House and the Chesapeake House. The authority could set up kiosks there to distribute “goody bags” including directions to different Delmarva destinations and coupons good for gas and goods and services at the beach and at businesses along the different routes. Throw in claim forms for Maryland toll refunds and vouchers to cover tolls along Route 1 in Delaware.
How about a stuffed “Cecil the Bridgeless Bear” to honor the intrepid beast who made it to the Shore last week without paying a toll? The goal should be to make the northern route the No. 1 choice for Baltimore-area leisure travelers (and truckers). That frees up a more costly but less crowded Bay Bridge for folks from Annapolis and Washington while taking traffic pressure off Kent Island.
This is useful dialog? I don’t think so.
It continually and constantly befuddles me that a so-called “expert” in transportation like Dresser would continually propose all sorts of off-the-wall solutions, but not endorse the most obvious, most useful solution of all to Bay Bridge traffic….