Md. Senator Proposes Third Span Over Chesapeake Bay - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Md. Senator Proposes Third Span Over Chesapeake Bay

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The Chesapeake Bay Bridge (Photo: WBOC) The Chesapeake Bay Bridge (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md.-  A Maryland state senator is proposing a way to minimize congestion on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

At a recent transportation meeting in Wicomico County, Sen. Jim Mathias (D-Dist.38) picked up a conversation that started years ago. He proposed the idea of having a third bridge built over the Chesapeake Bay to cut down on congestion. The state's transportation secretary, Pete K. Rahn, was present at the meeting.

Last year, 25.6 million cars crossed over the Bay Bridge, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. Mathias tells WBOC it's a lifeline for people who travel to and from the Eastern Shore on a daily basis. He said an extra way to get across is needed.

"It's critical for our industry, for our workforce, " Mathias said. "It is critical for folks that are working here on the Shore, folks that live on the Shore and work back on the Western Shore."

Tara Nunan of Bishopville has been stuck in heavy traffic on the bridge before. She said it is no fun. 

"It is a daunting experience because you can get stuck on the bridge and sit there for hours at times too," Nunan said.

The Bay Bridge was built in 1952. In 1973, the three-lane parallel span was constructed to minimize congestion. 

In the early 2000s, Mathias said a bill,  that would allow a ferry to travel from Southern Maryland to Crisfield, was introduced to state legislators during the Maryland General Assembly, but did not pass in the Senate.

The idea to build a third bridge over the Chesapeake Bay surfaced in 2007. At the time, a state task force was commissioned to study the pros and cons of a third span. Back then, former Secretary of Transportation John Pocari told WBOC a project of that scale would cost well into the billions.

Mathias said he plans to discuss the idea at an upcoming transportation meeting with Worcester and Somerset counties. He will also contact Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and inquire about a feasibility study. 

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