Maryland transportation officials are about to begin a four-year study examining where to build another crossing to relieve future traffic congestion on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Tuesday.
The study, which will start this fall and cost $5 million, also will explore ways the state could pay for another bridge, Hogan said.
While the Bay Bridge can be safely maintained through 2065, Hogan said, studies show that, by 2040, westbound summer traffic on Sunday evenings could back up 14 miles. The bridge already has heavy congestion, particularly on summer weekends when Washington-area residents use it to head to and from Eastern Shore beach communities. It is also a daily commuting necessity for many Eastern Shore residents reaching jobs in Washington and Baltimore.
The bridge study, which is required under federal law, will examine the environmental effects of a new bridge and seek agreement from counties on the Eastern Shore about where to build it. It also will include cost estimates, traffic projections and preliminary financing options, Hogan said.
The Maryland Transportation Authority, which owns and operates the Bay Bridge and other state toll facilities, will conduct the study and seek community input via focus groups and public workshops.
In other news, Hogan announced that starting Sept. 26, the state will begin issuing a new license plate showcasing Maryland’s red, yellow, black and white state flag. It will replace the War of 1812 plate, which the state began issuing in 2010. Motorists can keep their current plates or buy the new one for $20 in person or online, he said.