The following is a Press Release from the MDTA.
The Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Maryland Transportation Authority’s ongoing Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study is now available for review and comment through May 10, 2021. Originally scheduled for December, the release of the DEIS was delayed due to concerns with rising state COVID-19 rates and associated restrictions. In following public health guidance and to ensure adequate opportunity for the public to comment, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) and its federal partners at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) updated the roll-out schedule. Pursuant to the federal process, the MDTA has identified Corridor 7 as the MDTA-Recommended Preferred Corridor Alternative (MDTA-RPCA) in the DEIS.
The purpose of the Bay Crossing Study Tier 1 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is to consider two-mile-wide corridors to provide additional capacity and access across the Chesapeake Bay to improve mobility, travel reliability, and safety at the existing Bay Bridge, while considering financial viability and environmental responsibility. The MDTA and the FHWA are following a tiered NEPA process which allows MDTA and FHWA to complete an initial assessment of environmental impacts. The Tier 1 DEIS considers potential corridors on a broad scale and examines potential natural environmental and socio-economic impacts by applying a high-level review of cost, engineering, and environmental inventory data. The study also evaluates modal and operational alternatives including ferry service, bus rapid transit, rail transit, and transportation systems management/travel demand management.
The MDTA and the FHWA are holding public hearings to provide the public additional opportunities to review and comment on the DEIS, which has been prepared pursuant to the federally mandated NEPA. The Public Hearings will be made up of two components – a Public Hearing Virtual Information Room (VIR) and Live Testimony Sessions. The live testimony will consist of four call-in sessions, with two in-person opportunities also available. Each testimony session will include the opportunity to provide public and one-on-one testimony. There will be no formal presentation during the testimony sessions, and no responses to questions will be given. Due to the current COVID-19 health crisis and MDTA’s commitment to protect the public and agency members, the public is encouraged to provide public testimony through the call-in sessions.
The MDTA is accepting comments on the Bay Crossing Study Tier 1 DEIS for the public record through May 10, 2021. Please visit the project website to read the DEIS, provide comments, and view hearing information and materials. All comments received, whether at the hearing through oral testimony or through other methods (project website, email, and mail), will be given equal consideration.
In addition to a No-Build Alternative, the DEIS evaluated three Corridor Alternatives Retained for Analysis (CARA) that were presented to the public in the Fall of 2019:
- Corridor 6 follows MD 177 and ties in with MD 100 on the Western Shore. The corridor ties into US 301 on the Eastern Shore without following the existing road network.
- Corridor 7/Existing Corridor follows the existing road network along US 50/301 from west of the Severn River on the Western Shore to the US 50/301 split on the Eastern Shore. The existing Bay Bridge is located within this Corridor.
- Corridor 8 follows MD 214 and MD 424 to tie into US 50 on the Western Shore. It ties into US 50 on the Eastern Shore without following the existing road network.
Funded by toll dollars, the Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study: Tier 1 NEPA is expected to be complete in Winter 2021/2022. The final steps are to identify the Selected Corridor Alternative and publish a combined Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision in collaboration with FHWA.