The Federal Highway Administration approved the decision to move forward with plans for a new crossing site. They set the location for a 2-mile-wide corridor surrounding US 50/301 between Annapolis and Stevensville. The new crossing is set to help traffic and hopefully improve the quality of life for commuters. The estimated cost is $5 million. The plan is to use tolls to fund the project. However, this is only the first phase of more to come. This crossing will help traffic patterns, but only another crossing will really help local communities thrive. This raises the question of whether this first crossing is really the best option for Maryland in the first place.
They ruled out 14 corridors from Hartford County to St. Mary’s County. The Federal Highway Administration is confident that this is the best option for Maryland moving forward. Governor Larry Hogan himself approved the site plans for the alternative corridor. This new crossing will follow the existing Bay Bridge Road Network over the Severn River to the US 50/301 split. Some residents say that this option will just bring more traffic to the surrounding communities. They could have built further north or even south to help disperse traffic patterns. However, four years of environmental impact studies suggest that this is the best place to implement the crossing.
That is, if they can complete the second phase of this project. This phase includes a brand new crossing, which will address resident concerns. This could be a third bridge, tunnel, ferry, or other option. Local officials will need to conduct further studies to know for sure. These studies can cost upwards of $30 million. They are still searching for funding for this project, and they will give no timeline until funding is secured. However, there are easy ways to get the funding. The Biden administration’s infrastructure bill is one guaranteed way to secure their funding. With the billions of dollars allocated to states to improve their infrastructure, it seems like the perfect place.
The Consolidated Transportation Program decides if any new structure will have an impact on the communities. It will be difficult to estimate the impact, considering there will be a new crossing they need to account for. However, local officials are optimistic that this will serve Maryland well. There are even talks that the Bay Bridge and this new crossing may merge into an 8-lane crossing. To put that in perspective, the Golden Gate Bridge is only six lanes and the Brooklyn Bridge is only five lanes. This would be a massive structure in Maryland. A final construction timeline is still awaiting final approval.