With locations for a third Bay Bridge narrowed to three, Kent Island is said to be the most likely option, where Queen Anne’s and Anne Arundel Counties are already connected by two spans.
Gov. Larry Hogan said last month that he will consider Kent Island as the only option.
The state already has the right-of-way there and Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jim Moran said it’s the only logical location to relieve the traffic backups that are “killing Queen Anne’s County.”
He said since the second span was built in 1973, highways east and west of the bridge have been expanded or added.
“All roads lead to Rome and Rome can’t take it anymore, the volume is just too much,” Moran said, at a Maryland Transportation Authority open house at Kent Island High School, Oct. 9. “The backups are here.”
“I’ve begged the state on multiple occasions to give us some hope,” he said.
Moran said he did not see another span at Kent Island as a third crossing but rather a replacement.
“This is a replacement bridge to handle the amount of traffic and future traffic we have running across that artery,” he said.
He said without a remedy, development and tourism on the Shore would suffer if people choose elsewhere to spend their money.
Moran also said there is solid support from at least four of QAC’s five commissioners to bring a third span to Kent Island.
Conservation Groups Fear Negative Impacts from More Traffic and People
ShoreRivers Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer said “increased growth and development associated with more traffic and more people will have a negative impact on water quality.”
He said other solutions such as electronic tolling and more transit options should be favored over a new bridge.
Trumbauer said traffic could be reduced by “creating more vibrant communities on the Eastern Shore [where] people won’t have to commute as much.”
Queen Anne’s Conservation Executive Director Jay Falstad said his organization will oppose the third span to stop development that runs “counter to the goals of just about every county” on the Shore.
“There is not a road in America that hasn’t ultimately lead to more growth,” he said. “Anytime you bring in a new highway, or expand an existing highway, it ends up bringing in a lot more growth and development.”
He said the Shore is looking more at preservation than development.
“They’re trying to keep agriculture a principle part of the economy,” he said. “Filling up farmland with new houses is going in the wrong direction and the most costly form of land use is rural subdivisions.”
Del. Steve Arentz said that his personal opinions would not interfere with the will of voters.
“I still have to represent my voters and what the want in my district.” He said he would not support a span to Kent County because of the overwhelming opposition there. And that the jury was still out on whether he would support another span to Kent Island.
“When Queen Anne’s County as a group comes out and tells me they support a bridge in Queen Anne’s County, that will help me with my decision, I’ll probably follow the voters.”