Chesapeake Bay Bridge third span study launched

Traffic at the Bay Bridge regularly stretches for miles. Photo: Brad Bell

As traffic continues to get worse and worse on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the idea of once again building a third span across the bay is being bounced around by Maryland transit officials.

According to the Baltimore Sun, a two-year analysis has been launched into the viability of building a third crossing. The current spans carry tens of millions of cars between the the mainland and the Eastern Shore every year. State officials say that number isn't going down anytime soon, either.

"Unless you put a wall around the state of Maryland, the amount of traffic will continue to grow each year," Maryland Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-36th, told the Sun.

The study undertaken by the Maryland Transportation Authority will only look at potential traffic growth and future maintenance on current spans. It wont address such things as the location or environmental impact of a third span.

The Sun reports that a new span would cost upwards of $3 billion.

A similar study undertaken in 2005 proposed four options for the construction of a new span over the Chesapeake: a third span or three potential new crossings; one would connect Baltimore and Kent counties, one would connect Calvert County to Talbot County and the third would connect Calvert and Dorchester counties.

And a 2007 study that looked into adding mass transit options to and from the Eastern Shore concluded that potential ridership would not only be not cost-effective, it would only reduce vehicular traffic by no more than 5 percent.

Ask a local for their advice when it comes to the Bay Bridge and they’ll often say to avoid it at all cost. The traffic is bad enough for at least one commuter to consider taking drastic measures to avoid it.

“If I could, I would retire just to avoid the bridge,” Janice Carrell says. She’s been commuting across the bridge to Annapolis for 30 years.

Kent Island resident have another reason to hope something will be done to reduce the amount of traffic.

“We just don’t leave the house,” says Carl Gerg.