Finally, Movement on a new Bay Bridge

The need for a new crossing of the Chesapeake Bay has been apparent for years. It’s something that we have talked about her at Red Maryland for a long time.

Finally, Governor Larry Hogan is getting the ball rolling:

Maryland transportation officials are about to begin a four-year study examining where to build another crossing to relieve future traffic congestion on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Tuesday.

The study, which will start this fall and cost $5 million, also will explore ways the state could pay for another bridge, Hogan said.

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While the Bay Bridge can be safely maintained through 2065, Hogan said, studies show that, by 2040, westbound summer traffic on Sunday evenings could back up 14 miles. The bridge already has heavy congestion, particularly on summer weekends when Washington-area residents use it to head to and from Eastern Shore beach communities. It is also a daily commuting necessity for many Eastern Shore residents reaching jobs in Washington and Baltimore.

The existing studies, of course, tell us what we already know; that the Bay Bridge has a lot of traffic and there needs to be more than five lanes crossing the Chesapeake Bay. The study being started by Governor Hogan will do the necessary legwork and environmental impact statements necessary to determine where a new span would be placed. Just as important will be determining how such a bridge would be funded, and given the fiscally conservative nature of the administration one has to hope that privatization will be seriously considered as an option.

The obnoxious thing about all of this is that these environmental impact studies could have been done years ago and we could be well on our way to having a new bridge. Successive Governors, including Martin O’Malley, continued to kick the can down the road and hope that there was never a situation where we would regret not having a new bridge built. And given the Democrats predilection for killing roads, even the completion of a study doesn’t mean we’ll be any closer to a new Bay Bridge. But Governor Hogan has, fortunately taken the necessary action to build another span across the Chesapeake Bay. An act that is huge victory for Maryland’s economy, Maryland’s tourism, and the people of the Eastern Shore who need a new bridge to maintain their links to the rest of our state.

It’s a shame that it took this long, but we should thank Governor Hogan for getting the ball rolling and hopefully in the next ten years we’ll have the new bridge we desperately need.

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