Annapolis, Md. — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced the start of a study that will identify the location and explore potential funding options for a new Chesapeake Bay crossing. The $5 million Tier 1 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Study, which was voted on and approved by the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Board, will begin this fall and take up to 48 months to complete.
"Marylanders all across the state depend on being able to cross the Chesapeake Bay, but the reality is that there is simply too much traffic, and that it will continue to get worse," said Governor Hogan. "This Tier 1 study is the critical first step needed in order to move forward on addressing the long-range issue of future traffic congestion on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge."
NEPA requires state and federal agencies to consider the environmental consequences of proposed projects as part of their decision-making. It provides the flexibility to assess projects in a staged approach. The Tier 1 study will pursue environmental regulatory agency concurrence and agreement from the Eastern Shore counties on one crossing location. The study will include traffic, engineering, and environmental analyses; cost-per-mile estimates; preliminary financing and procurement options; and an economic and land-use study.
"The Bay Bridge can be maintained safely through 2065 with preservation and maintenance work; however, studies show that by 2040, motorists could experience up to 14-mile delays," said Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn. "This is the first step in a long process to address the demand for additional capacity across the Chesapeake Bay."
The MDTA — the agency that finances, owns, operates, and maintains the state's eight toll facilities — will conduct the study, and more information will be available on mdta.maryland.gov as the Tier 1 NEPA study progresses. Extensive public and community outreach efforts will include focus groups, listening tours, public workshops, a project website, newsletters, and fact sheets.