Bay Bridge question answered
An earlier reader was wondering about the operations of the Bay Bridge. Though he got the acronym for the agency wrong (the MTA is the Maryland Transit Administration while the Maryland Transportation Authority uses the clunky MdTA), that's the fault of the General Assembly's lack of imagination in naming agencies. Here's what he had to say:
There's really no need for the MTA to have 2-way traffic on the 3 lanes bridge. If they had any common sense, they should use the 2 lanes bridge for westbound and the 3 lanes bridge for eastbound and reverse direction come Monday. This should be the safest way for traveling across the Bay Bridge.
I raised that issue with the authority and got the following response:
Please thank your reader for inquiring about switching the Bay Bridge traffic pattern so that westbound traffic travels the two-lane eastbound span and eastbound traffic travels the three-lane westbound span.
In order to accommodate such a traffic pattern, significant construction would need to occur along the bridge approaches on both shores, including construction of fly-over ramps and access lanes. In addition to planning, design and construction costs, such ramps would incur ongoing maintenance and security costs, as well as annual inspection costs.
We appreciate your reader’s interest in the Bay Bridge. We’d like to remind travelers to Stay Alert So No One Gets Hurt during this busy holiday weekend. Bay Bridge travelers can call 1-877-BAYSPAN (229-7726) for 24/7 traffic conditions and visit www.baybridge.com to view bridge traffic cameras and sign up for email alerts.
Kelly L. Melhem
Deputy Director of Communications
Maryland Transportation Authority
Let me add to that: Adding the type of fly-over ramps it would take to allow such movements would easily take hundreds of millions -- if not more than a billion -- dollars. The project would likely involve higher tolls.
In addition, the planning and engineering of such a project would take more years than most people would think. There would have to be federal environmental studies, public hearings, local government input, General Assembly review -- to name just a few of the hoops. Then you'd have the question about whether it makes sense to invest that money in an already aging bridge. Oh, and there could be court challenges to any decision that was made.
So we're likely talking about decades before construction if this were judged a worthy idea. Nothing is easy when it comes to major transportation projects.