A bay bridge crossing from Sandy Point to Kent Island was completed in 1952 at a cost of $45 million. Until then many considered the best point of crossing, Hart Island to Tolchester.
By 1964 the problem of traffic backups on the bay bridge was severe enough that the Maryland legislature authorized a report to study a new crossing. Kent County was one of the three crossings on the engineer’s list of candidates to solve the congestion. Because of cost, considerations, a parallel route next to the old span was selected. The second span, with a price tag of $145 million, was opened in 1972. However, it was noted that eventually all three spans would be necessary to combat the increasing demands of the future.
Today, with long backups, particularly on summer weekends, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) has been tasked to complete a study, over the next two years, to recommend where to add a span to increase the capacity crossing the bay. Although this will be a years long project in the making, there is a real possibility that Kent County would be selected as the location for the third bridge and wide access highway cutting a large swath through the countryside.
MdTA submitted a Notice of intent to prepare a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement(EIS) for the Chesapeake Bay Crossing to the Federal Government on October 11th, 2017. Thus, started the countdown for one of the largest and most costly, undertaking for transportation infrastructure in Maryland’s modern history.
Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance believes that this is a 20th century solution for a 21st century transportation and growth future. No new bridge should cross the bay and certainly no bridge should terminate in Kent County. Instead, take the money that would be spent on this infrastructure project, upwards of $6-7 Billion, and use it to improve the communities and infrastructure of the State, making them more livable and sustainable thereby reducing the desire to commute long distances, including across the Chesapeake Bay. A third span will only encourage more commuting and extend sprawl to the open lands of the Eastern Shore, looping back to a congested future. Don’t destroy prime farmland, open space and historic towns replacing them with expensive new infrastructure to support cul-de-sac bedroom communities.
We as a community have a lot of work to do to prevent a catastrophic paving over of the back roads and historical landscape here in Kent County.