Maryland Lawmakers Start Planning for a Third Bay Bridge Span - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Lawmakers Start Planning for a Third Bay Bridge Span

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One of the spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (Photo: WBOC) One of the spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (Photo: WBOC)

ANNAPOLIS, Md.- For years, Maryland lawmakers have been debating the idea of adding a third span to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Supporters say the state needs to start saving money now for such a big project.  This comes after a report that outlined the cost of a new bridge.

A new bay bridge span is a $5 billion proposal, according to that report.  Lawmakers from the Eastern Shore, led by Democratic Sen. Jim Mathias, believe that cost will not just be worth it, but is absolutely necessary as traffic continues to increase across the bay.

It's a long term project, but this year, Republican Sen. Addie Eckardt believes there's a stronger push than ever for the span following that report outlining the costs and benefits.

"I think enough people have been caught in traffic, and we've had enough incidents on the Bay Bridge this year that it's beginning to sink in. So we do have to make that investment for the future, and we need to begin now," said Eckardt.

Mathias is leading the charge this year on the third span. He has introduced a bill to put this long range project into motion.

"It's time now to make the appropriate arrangements and plans for the next bridge," said Mathias.  "Whether that bridge is parallel to the existing spans, or falls a little bit farther south or farther north remains to be seen.  But what we need to do right now is fund the NEPA study."

That environmental study would be funded by Senate Bill 56, drafted by Mathias.

"We have to fund about $1.5 million to do this study, so we can find out absolutely what has to be done from an environmental perspective for that bridge," said Mathias.

That will get the ball rolling on a project the Eastern Shore Delegation hopes to complete in 20 years at the earliest.

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