***Editorial *** A Chesapeake Bay Bridge Traffic Mess

 I don’t doubt there are intelligent planners that studied the Chesapeake Bay Bridge construction project for months or years in advance, but here we are and the traffic issues on Thursday and Friday nights were among the worst I can remember on what were two days with no bad weather and not during the midst of summer beach season.

MDTA posted Friday night, “MDTA carefully evaluated all options to complete this work, focusing on safety, traffic impacts and work quality. We understand a 24/7 lane closure is not ideal for anyone traveling the bridge – especially our local residents and communities – but it’s the best option to help ensure safety, minimize impacts as much as possible and ensure a quality product. The lane closures allow sufficient time for the contractor to remove the existing deck surface, place new overlay and allow for proper curing of concrete. This process cannot be performed without a continuous lane closure. This work is needed to preserve and extend the service life of the bridge deck.”

In the midst of this cluster last night, MDTA posted they were waiving tolls and had contacted Maryland State, MDTA and Anne Arundel County police departments to assist. And that “Moving forward during Bay Bridge construction, when the traffic backs up to I-97, @theMDTA will hold traffic westbound for short periods to allow three lanes of eastbound traffic until backups clear unless prevented by severe weather condition.”

Wait, what? Traffic is going to be held in place? For how many hours? Within those vehicles you have people that are picking up kids, emergency responders, people that are expected at jobs.

I haven’t seen any communication from Governor Hogan or any elected representatives on either side of the bridge on this matter.. If Thursday and Friday nights were any indication what the next two years will be like, the public deserves better answers. What the MDTA referred to as “the best option,” clearly needs another look. If you can’t get overhead toll readers on the bridge immediately, eliminate tolls on the bridge every Thursday and Friday. Encourage employers (especially the state and counties) to offer telecommuting. Offer free buses and/or a passenger ferry to and from the Eastern Shore. I don’t know what the “best option” is, but last night did not appear to be it. And communication from elected officials also does not appear to be the best.

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