I want to add some thoughts to Howard Freedlander’s excellent column in the Spy of January 29, 2019 regarding a contentious 3rd Bay Bridge. I originally focused on a new bridge to Kent County since this seemed the most likely crossing option and Kent County residents are already alarmed.
From the economic standpoint in Kent County, there could be some reason for a 3rd bridge. Unfortunately, I see the unintended, but very foreseeable, consequences of a new bridge far outweighing the benefits.
Middletown, Delaware seems to be a huge concern to the Kent County people. I agree that Middletown is a poster child for destruction of a small town and its surrounding countryside. It makes me sick every time I ride through there. What forces allowed or caused this to happen I wonder.
To me, a better example of the threat to Kent County is what has happened to Kent Island; creeping sprawl, creeping haphazard commercial sprawl and inappropriate development.
I go back to the time of the 2nd ferry (Sandy Point to Mattapeake) before the first bridge. We lived in Catonsville after WW2 and went to Ocean City every summer. I remember waiting in the long line for the ferry; but then Kent Island was largely undeveloped rural countryside. The 1st bridge went in in 1952 and the 2nd in 1974 and you know the rest of the story of what has evolved over 66 years, not just to Kent Island but to other eastern shore counties as well. There is little doubt in my mind that a 3rd bridge will make history repeat itself. The rural character of Kent County will change for the worse forever. Maybe the rest of us too, depending on where the infrastructure (road) goes.
Kent County has a Comprehensive Plan I’m sure. While I haven’t seen it, like ours for Talbot County, I’ll bet it calls for preservation of the rural country side and quality of life. A bridge and associated infrastructure sure works against this.
An idea of a toll or limited access road to the bridge is an interesting one. I guess if you have to have a bridge, this might be the least worse option. I’ll bet there would be a huge battle over how many and where the exits would be. Over time many of the exits would assume the same characteristics that we see at exits all over the USA. Is this good?
My next comment concerns us in Talbot County. I have no idea where a road/roads serving a new Kent County bridge might go. If it goes inland and skirts Talbot County, traffic on Route 50 might actually go down for a while. I doubt this would be the case 60 years after the 3rd bridge opens. Heaven help us if a widened 213 connects in to the present Route 50. Perhaps 50 will be widened to 6 or 8 lanes. Or elevated going through Easton. Or a bypass around Easton like Salisbury (then 309 or 328 0r 331 can develop like Route 13 in Salisbury – a mess). Also, would it stimulate more development than would otherwise occur?
But wait, don’t options 8, 9, and 10 noted in Mr. Freedlander’s piece cross the Bay into Talbot County and connect to Route 50 in or near Easton. Unimaginable! Our County would be ruined.
Obviously, I am not in favor of a 3rd bridge but I do understand its importance to the “reach the beach” people, maybe economic recovery in Kent County, and probably real estate interests. But, the effects of a 3rd bridge are too high a price to pay.