Privatization option still marginalized

Once again, alternatives to the current Bay Bridge situation are being floated and discussed. And once again, the idea is being debated within a framework that only allows for state funding and state construction of such an improvement.

Why not the private sector? Why not a privatized ferry system? Why not a privatized third span? Why are we so stuck in the muck that Maryland will not consider privatized alternatives? Every time I think we’ve turned the corner on this issue, we find ourselves right back at square one.

Instead, we get stupid stuff like this:

The MTA isn’t enamored with either idea. It is focusing more on short-term solutions to make the existing bridge spans more driver-friendly.

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Last week, the MTA increased Eastern Shore commuter bus service. They also believe changes in driver habits, like increased E-ZPass usage, could ease traffic flow along the bridge.

That’s right, let’s focus on fixing what’s already broken in the short term, and try to punt on anything that could really make a lasting impact in the long run.

A privatized third span of course would be wildly popular, and would easily allow a private contractor to make their money back in a relatively reasonable fashion. A privatized ferry system could work if it is done correctly and made attractive to commuters. I have used the ferry system in Washington State, and it is very user friendly, very efficient, and while not entirely cheap, it saves a boatload of time that would otherwise be spent on roads. A car and passenger ferry that docked in downtown Baltimore, for example, may even remove cars from Baltimore streets if it allows workers the possibility of walking or biking to work from the ferry port, something done extensively by Ferry Commuters in Washington State.

Something is needed to relieve the stress on the current Bay Bridge spans. Public safety demands the issue. Government cannot afford to build them on its own, nor can government allow Luddites to complicate the matter. We need to allow the private sector to undertake these projects….


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