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Pittman Signals Wiggle Room On Bay Bridge Replacement

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman at a virtual press conference Tuesday. Credit: Livestream/County Executive Steuart Pittman

Back in April, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman was sharply critical of a five-year, $5 million state study that said the best place for a replacement of the aging Chesapeake Bay Bridge was along the existing, traffic clogged Route 50-301 corridor.

He said the study “didn’t consider a lot of the things that are being done to reduce traffic on the bridge.”

Members of the Broadneck Council, an amalgam of community associations on either side of Route 50-301 in Anne Arundel were adamant that a third crossing on the route would destroy the peninsula between the Magothy and Severn rivers and decimate the roads that service businesses on either side of the highway.

But in a recent letter to the Broadneck Council, Pittman called for a compromise “that allows our neighbors on the other side of the bridge and our partners at the state to move forward together.”

At his weekly news conference Tuesday, he said he told Gov. Larry Hogan last week that compromise would involve replacing the nearly 60-year-old eastbound span on that corridor, but only under certain conditions.

“What we want is a replacement of aging infrastructure, and that that replacement infrastructure accommodates the traffic flow in the corridor and we address the whole corridor,” he said.

But there’s one thing that’s out of the question, he added.

“We just have to be clear that we are not going to put a third span over Sandy Point State Park and have major environmental destruction as a result of that.”

Hogan, who has been pushing for a third Chesapeake Bay crossing for years, said in a statement he appreciates Pittmans’ “reconsidering his position and recognizing that we need to address the traffic congestion at the Bay Bridge.”

He called it “an important step in building a consensus.”

It’s unclear, however, when, or whether, this project may start. The Maryland Transportation Authority, which operates toll facilities in the state, has to do more detailed studies before work can begin. And thus far, there is no money budgeted for them.

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