Letter to Editor: Chesapeake Bay Bridge Plans Lack Foresight

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As previously reported on the Spy, the Maryland Transportation Authority is now conducting a $5 million study to identify the location of a new Chesapeake Bay bridge crossing and to explore potential financial options. The study is expected to be completed in late 2020.

We have also read that interest has reached fever pitch among those who depend on the bridges, specifically: where exactly a new bridge will be built. Six crossing zones have been proposed, spanning an area of 100 miles. In addition to the resources assigned to the study and expended by advocates for and against various locations, Annapolis legislators are holding standing-room-only hearings on bills that would alter the present planning process. These include a proposal to prevent anyone on the Eastern Shore from having a vote in any decision as to where the bridge is located (HB0560 and SB34) and a proposal that would disallow any crossing to terminate in Kent County (HB1199). Residents of the Upper Shore jammed into the firehouse in Chestertown last month to express their concern that a crossing terminus on the Upper Shore would permanently alter the rural character of the area.

In the past 70-80 years, increasing automobile traffic has compelled public officials to build more roads, which have drawn more cars, which require more roads, etc., etc. This cycle is not sustainable, nor is it necessary in this new age. A third bridge at all is a twentieth-century solution to this decades-old traffic problem. In Thank You for Being Late, author Thomas Friedman notes that the advances in technology have “snuck up on us very fast.” Remarkably, for the past 50 years, computational power has doubled every two years. He quotes Ray Kurzweil, inventor and director of engineering at Google: “Because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the twenty-first century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress; organizations have to be able to redefine themselves at a faster and faster pace.”

Maryland policy-makers need to consider that, by the time a bridge location is determined and agreed upon, and funds are approved at multiple levels, and construction starts, we will likely not be driving our cars at all. Driverless cars are likely to be commonplace by then. Algorithms can be developed to transport vehicles across the Bay evenly and at speeds that will make toll lane backups history. These and similar revolutions in technology may make it cost-effective to take vehicles across the Bay by ship, by high-speed rail, or by other means that are over the horizon.

Our leaders must accept the ongoing technological acceleration and adapt to the times. The current study should be the end of discussion of a third Bay Bridge anywhere.

Muriel Cole

Kent County

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Letters to Editor

  1. Mike Waal says:

    Very nice, Ms. Cole. Direct hit. Terrific!
    GM has petitioned NHTSA to allow production of fully autonomous vehicles/modules by 2019.
    Most manufacturers will have them in production by 2021. “Platooning” will be the way we travel in the future.

    By chance have you submitted this to MDTA?
    If you have, Thank you!
    If you haven’t, here is a link to do that
    https://www.baycrossingstudy.com/public-involvement/comment
    And to make sure it gets into proper hands, as a back up as MDTA has had some technology issues in the past, here are snail-mail addresses;

    Ms. Heather Lowe, Project Manager
    Maryland Transportation Authority
    Division of Planning & Program Development
    2310 Broening Highway
    Baltimore, MD 21224

    Ms. Jeanette Mar, Environmental Program Manager
    Federal Highway Administration, Maryland Division
    10 S. Howard Street, Suite 2450
    Baltimore, MD 21201

    Mike Waal
    Kent County Citizen

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