ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland’s Comptroller Peter Franchot is among the motorists in the state that are frustrated by the delays caused by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge rehabilitation project.
Franchot said he’ll be sending a letter to Maryland’s Department of Transportation asking that the project be shut down.
“I think we’ve seen enough. The whole point of government is to ensure the safety, security and well-being of the people we serve. Which is precisely what is not occurring now on, near and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge,” Franchot wrote in a Facebook post.
The right lane of the westbound span of the bay bridge is closed for deck rehabilitation. But the closure has created a traffic nightmare for anyone who commutes over the bridge — causing major delays.
“It was horrendous I work in Linthicum and it was a four hour commute and it was awful,” said driver Julie Thompson.
MDTA rolled out a new plan to provide cashless tolling which would make it so drivers don’t have to come to a complete stop at the tolling booths, and instead, drivers could get billed by their license plate- an effort to help ease traffic as the state works to complete a two-year, $27 million redecking project.
That plan doesn’t seem to be working.
“Commuters can’t get to work on time, kids are missing school and, just last Friday, transit riders bound for the Eastern Shore were literally been stranded in Annapolis,” Franchot added.
Franchot wants MDOT to step back and regroup, engaging in an inclusive, comprehensive planning project which includes stakeholders like commuters, schools, police, fire, rescue, cities and counties.
“It’s my hope that, through some real preparation and planning, we will be able to conduct the necessary repairs to the bridge while using every tool in the kit – including a greater investment in mass transit and the elimination of the Bay Bridge tollbooths – to relieve the burden to Maryland travelers to the greatest extent possible. At this point, we just don’t have a choice,” he added.
Maryland Transportation Authority’s executive director Jim Ports said the safety of Marylanders is the top priority- and exactly why they are taking action on the “urgent safety project,”
“To delay this work from fall and winter, as the Comptroller suggests, would shift it into spring and summer when traffic is at its peak, only magnifying the disruption that residents are experiencing now. Most drivers recognize that any highway or bridge project causes traffic delays and disruptions,” Ports said in part in a statement.
He said MDTA has been working since mid-summer with the Queen Anne’s County school system and school bus contractors, as well as emergency managers and public safety officials from Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s counties to coordinate operations.
The westbound right lane will be fully reopened for the summer travel season from Memorial Day to Labor day next year. The project is expected to be completed in August 2021.