When the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) announced in late August that one of three potential sites for a new Chesapeake Bay bridge crossing runs between Pasadena, Rock Hall (Kent County) and Centreville (Queen Anne’s County), Pasadena’s state delegation quickly denounced the plan.
“I find the proposed new Bay Bridge span between Pasadena and Rock Hall/Centreville to be preposterous,” said Delegate Brian Chisholm. “The proposal suggests using Mountain Road all the way down to Gibson Island, which is already engulfed with traffic congestion. The inescapable increased traffic and congestion would cause major delays and unacceptable dangers to residents, drivers, pedestrians and businesses on Mountain Road and all the surrounding arteries.”
As part of an ongoing study, MDTA determined that only four corridors met both the need for traffic relief and the guidelines established by the National Environmental Policy Act. The other corridors are between Crofton and Easton, and the existing Bay Bridge corridor between Crofton and Queenstown. A no-build alternative is also being considered.
The study also looked at other transportation methods including ferry service, bus rapid transit and rail transit.
Governor Larry Hogan stated that the only solution he would accept is a third span near the other two crossings. Delegate Nic Kipke said Hogan is maintaining that stance privately.
“I've spoken with the governor and the executive director of MDTA to express my opposition to this plan,” Kipke said. “They both agree with me that this plan would devastate our community and they've pledged to ensure a new bridge only go at the existing location at Route 50.”
A study conducted in 2015 showed that without additional capacity by 2040, daily queues in the eastbound direction during summer months could extend up to 13 miles. Daily westbound queues could extend three miles and Sunday queues could extend up to 14 miles.
According to the MDTA, the current location would best reduce backups at the existing Bay Bridge, provide the greatest reduction in the duration of unacceptable congestion levels, and is more compatible with existing land-use patterns.
Residents of Rock Hall and Centreville don’t want the crossing either, according to anonymous messages MDTA has shared as part of its public comments gathered in July.
One person wrote, “I am against any bay crossing affecting pristine Kent County. Please do not consider this as an acceptable location to commercialize. The beauty of Kent County is its farmland and quiet way of life. Please do not spoil it for concrete and automobile pollution.”
Another wrote, “Kent and Queen Anne's counties are beautiful places full of historic, cultural and agricultural landscapes. Creating a quick route from Baltimore to this remote area of the shore would transform a quiet rural area into another bedroom community within commuting distance of Baltimore. We don't want to see our gorgeous landscape and quiet small towns transformed into just another area of suburban sprawl.”
The MDTA study will be completed in 2021. In the meantime, Anne Arundel County residents can voice their opinions by attending one of several open houses. The closest is at Anne Arundel Community College on October 2 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. To see the full list, visit www.baycrossingstudy.com.
Pasadena legislators encourage their constituents to attend. Kipke has also created a petition online at www.kipke.com/baycrossing.
Chisholm hopes enough people voice their opposition to a plan that could change the character of Pasadena.
“I would be diametrically opposed to the taking of private property from any Pasadena residents by the state of Maryland to expand the roadways for this proposed new Bay Bridge route if necessary,” Chisholm said.