Where should Maryland build the next Bay Bridge?

Marylanders have until next week to offer feedback on plans for a possible third bridge across the Chesapeake Bay.

The Maryland Transportation Authority is collecting comments until Dec. 15 in conjunction with the first part of a $5 million study of possible locations for another bay crossing.

The Maryland Transportation Authority held a public online meeting on November 15 outlining the project scope. This “Tier I” portion of the project seeks to identify a corridor for a new bridge location as well as funding feasibility and environmental impact. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the study in August of last year.

The study area stretches for about 100 miles, from Havre de Grace to the north and the Virginia-Maryland border to the south.

The first span of the Bay Bridge was constructed in 1952, with a second built in 1973. Traffic on the bridge has increased since, with backups in both directions common on weekends. Weekday bridge traffic has also increased from commuters traveling from the Eastern Shore to Washington, D.C. or Baltimore. The MDTA reports an average of 61,000 cars crossing each day.

In 2005, officials convened a task force to explore the possible construction of a third bay span, but nothing moved forward.

“People have been talking about a new crossing for years, but this is the first real, tangible step toward doing it,” said MDTA project manager Heather Lowe in an online presentation last month.

State officials acknowledge this will be a long process, with the Tier I study extending until at least 2020. A public workshop is scheduled for this spring, with the identification of a preferred corridor by the fall of 2019.

More information on the study can be found at baycrossingstudy.com. Members of the public can submit comments online.