Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Does Maryland Need a New Bay Bridge?

ANNAPOLIS State transportation officials continue to oppose a study for another crossing over the Chesapeake Bay, and last week said congestion snarling those using the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge may be a situation that never gets fixed.

The state Senate Finance Committee held a hearing Feb. 22 on a bill dropped by committee member and Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, R-36-Upper Shore, ordering a $25 million National Environmental Policy Act study on the potential impacts of a new Bay Bridge span.

Pipkin has proposed the bill for the last several years without success. Last week, he received support from fellow committee member Sen. James N. Mathias, D-38-Lower Shore, while drawing opposition from the Maryland Transportation Authority.

"The bill does not require that the third span be built, but to begin the NEPA process," Pipkin said during the hearing.

Pipkin said the latest traffic counts show on average 68,000 vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge daily during the week, with summer traffic being about 100,000 vehicles per day during peak hours. He said delays have stretched traffic from U.S. Route 50 to the Interstate 495 cut-off in Washington.
It seems to me that the purpose of the legislature is to determine the laws and directions of the state government, and the business of the State bureaucracy (an extension of the executive branch headed by the Governor) is the execute those directives to the best of it's abilities.  Oh, I know, we've gotten into the habit of thinking of presidents and governors as little tyrants, with broad powers to imagine the will of the people and create policy, and that legislatures have ceded that authority to them in too many ways.

Does the idea of a new Bay bridge have enough popular support that the public will support the cost, and the legislature vote for it?  If so, the MTA should salute and carry on with the mission. I don't know if that will happen but:
Future traffic projections have Pipkin really concerned. He said traffic levels are expected in 2025 to be 41 percent higher than in 2001 and could lead to 12-hour delays at the at the bridge during peak travel times.
 I do know that Marylanders love their Ocean City vacations.

1 comment:

  1. A alternate route is needed. The fact that the politicians in Annapolis have put their head in the sand on thIs ridiculous. Look at Boston planning 30yrs in advance based on traffic projections, but Maryland we have to wait until a crisis actually happens. Baltimore to Kent would be the cheapest and divert the most traffic. yl