New Chesapeake Bay Bridge Study Underway for Southern Crossing

  • A-1 Service!
Chesapeake Bay Bridge construction on July 23 1950 Md. DOT photo by Timothy Hyman

Chesapeake Bay Bridge construction on July 23 1950 Md. DOT photo by Timothy Hyman

Governor Hogan Announces Study for New Chesapeake Bay Crossing, Unveils Maryland’s New License Plate
Study to Identify Bay Crossing Location; New Plate Proudly Features Maryland Flag

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today announced the start of a study that will identify the location and explore potential funding options for a new Chesapeake Bay crossing. The $5 million “Tier 1 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)” Study, which was voted on and approved by the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Board last week, will begin this fall and take up to 48 months to complete. Following today’s announcement held overlooking the Bay Bridge, Governor Hogan also unveiled a new Maryland license plate design.

MD-LICENSE1

“Marylanders all across the state depend on being able to cross the Chesapeake Bay, but the reality is that there is simply too much traffic and that it will continue to get worse,” said Governor Hogan. “This Tier 1 study is the critical first step needed in order to move forward on addressing the long-range issue of future traffic congestion on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.”

NEPA requires state and federal agencies to consider the environmental consequences of proposed projects as part of their decision-making. It provides the flexibility to assess projects in a staged approach. The Tier 1 study will pursue environmental regulatory agency concurrence and agreement from the Eastern Shore counties on one crossing location. The study will include traffic, engineering, and environmental analyses; cost-per-mile estimates; preliminary financing and procurement options; and an economic and land-use study.

1986 STUDY ON SOUTHERN CROSSING
The Southern Bay Crossing would include a four-lane, 6.2 mile-long bridge between Calvert Cliffs (Calvert County) and Taylors Island (Dorchester County). It would connect to MD 2/4 on the western shore, and to US 50 east of Cambridge on the eastern shore. The main travel markets served would be Southern Maryland and Southern Washington, DC to the lower Eastern Shore, including diversion of DC Metro Area to Eastern Shore resort traffic. The conclusion of the study was that most of the traffic projected to use the southern crossing would be diverting from the existing Bay Bridge and would therefore not be new revenue to the Authority.
Therefore, the project would not generate enough revenue to be considered a toll facility, and annual operating and debt service costs would exceed projected revenues by $80 million per year (1985 dollars). This was based on the following estimated costs (1985 dollars):
• Annual operating expenses: $2.9 million
• Construction and engineering: $750 million.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Chesapeake Bay Bridge. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

“The Bay Bridge can be maintained safely through 2065 with preservation and maintenance work; however, studies show that by 2040, motorists could experience up to 14-mile delays,” said Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn. “This is the first step in a long process to address the demand for additional capacity across the Chesapeake Bay.”

SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS BAY BRIDGE STUDIES

Over much of the last century, several studies have been conducted to evaluate new crossings of the Chesapeake Bay. In most cases, the alternatives were dropped due to cost and revenue generation considerations. However, most of the studies were able to support the need for new crossings based on traffic projections. Therefore, these alternatives may still have merit today, as part of the current studies. The following list includes a summary of the alternatives considered. – Source: MDOT

CHESAPEAKE BAY NORTHERN CROSSINGS:

A bridge between the west shore of the inlet between Patapsco River Neck and Hart Island in Baltimore County to the north end of Miller Island and across the Bay to Tolchester Beach in Kent County (1928) • A bridge across the Chesapeake Bay in the vicinity of Miller Island with a western approach connecting to the then proposed extension of the Baltimore Beltway and an eastern approach connecting with US 301 (1965)

CHESAPEAKE BAY-SOUTHERN CROSSINGS:

• A bridge across the Chesapeake Bay from a point near Bertha in Calvert County to Taylors Island in Dorchester County with a western approach connecting to MD 416/MD 2 near MD 264 and an eastern approach connecting with US 50 east of Cambridge (1965) • A bridge with a four-lane, 6.2 mile-long bridge between Calvert Cliffs (Calvert County) and Taylors Island (Dorchester County). It would connect to MD 2/4 on the western shore, and to US 50 east of Cambridge on the eastern shore (1986).

A truck crashed on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Aug. 29, 2013. Photo courtesy of WJLA

A truck crashed on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Aug. 29, 2013. Photo courtesy of WJLA

The MDTA – the agency that finances, owns, operates, and maintains the state’s eight toll facilities – will conduct the study, and more information will be available on mdta.maryland.gov as the Tier 1 NEPA study progresses. Extensive public and community outreach efforts will include focus groups, listening tours, public workshops, a project website, newsletters, and fact sheets.

Following the announcement, Governor Hogan unveiled Maryland’s new license plate design, which will feature the Maryland flag front and center. The Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) will start issuing the new plate on Monday, September 26 for all passenger cars, SUVs, trucks, motorcycles, and multipurpose vehicles.

A truck on fire in another crash on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 2015. WJlA photo

A truck on fire in another crash on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 2015. WJlA photo

“You would be hard pressed to find another state that has more pride than our great state of Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “Earlier this year we launched our newly redesigned, state-of-the-art, Maryland-themed driver’s licenses, using our beautiful flag for inspiration. Now, Marylanders will have yet another way to show their state pride, with our new ‘Maryland Proud’ standard-issue license plate.”

The new plate meets all state standards and has passed all law-enforcement testing for readability. The new standard-issue plate will replace the War of 1812 plate, but customers who want to keep their existing plates do not need to get the new plate. Those who want to replace their existing license plates will pay the current $20 replacement cost. Registration renewal costs remain unchanged. All vehicles purchased on/after September 26 will be issued the new plate unless customers want to transfer their existing plates to their vehicles.

Carnival Pride passes under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on its way to the Caribbean from the Port of Baltimore, Md. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Carnival Pride passes under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on its way to the Caribbean from the Port of Baltimore, Md. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

“We think these beautifully designed plates will be very popular and strongly encourage our customers to skip the trip to the MVA and order them online,” said Secretary Rahn.

The War of 1812 plate was first issued in June 2010 and was scheduled to be in circulation during the Star Spangled commemoration. It is standard practice to update the Maryland license plate every few years. All Maryland license plates are manufactured by Maryland Correctional Enterprises, a division of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. MVA issues approximately 740,000 sets of license plates per year.

To order the new Maryland Proud plate after September 26, visit the MVA website at mva.maryland.gov and click Online Services.

Two spans of the present Chesapeake Bay Bridge carry five lanes of traffic. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Two spans of the present Chesapeake Bay Bridge carry five lanes of traffic. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo