ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Amid growing frustrations over congestion caused by the woe-filled Chesapeake Bay Bridge rehabilitation project, Gov. Hogan and his administration Wednesday announced a series of plans designed to speed up construction and traffic.

He is pledging that MDOT crews will work 24 hours a day to expedite the project, using faster drying concrete, as well as eliminating toll booths and moving to all-electronic tolling on the bridge, which so far has just been mainly Thursday and Fridays.

“My most important responsibility is the safety of Maryland citizens. Not taking action is not an option. But I am demanding that every effort must be taken to complete this project as soon as possible. And I am demanding that all the experts look at every possible solution that is feasible,” Gov. Hogan said.

MDOT, SHA, and the Maryland State Police will also assist in improving the flow and direction of traffic.

He dug in on the deteriorating condition of the right lane of the bridge, citing one section of the lane as 75 percent patched and deteriorated.

“Anne Arundel County has more than 11 times the population of Queen Anne’s County. And there were massive backups in Anne Arundel County in the first few weeks,” Hogan said. “To address this situation, MDTA instituted contraflow and reversed lanes on the bridge, which did relieve the traffic considerably in the population center of Anne Arundel County, however it caused massive traffic on the shore.”

The governor has not said how much these expedite efforts will cost.

State Comptroller Peter Franchot has called for the project to be delayed; he renewed those calls again Wednesday.

“I guess it comes down to whether or not we want to do this project the right way or just press on with it because it’s already begun,” he said.

Drivers WJZ spoke with were split over whether the changes will make much of a difference.

“I guess if he acknowledges that there’s a problem and is working to fix it, that’s the best that we can hope for,” said Brandon Nardoe.

Meanwhile, Queen Anne’s County resident Rick Hendricks said it’s too late to fix the problem now.

“Traffic is already here. What should have been done ten years ago or longer is build a third bridge and be done with it,” he said.

Hogan said the repairs can’t be delayed any longer, adding if the project doesn’t move forward now, the bridge could become dangerously unsafe, possibly even life-threatening.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, MDTA said it’s moving “full steam ahead” on the items Hogan outlined.

“We will redouble our work with elected officials and our partners in both Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s counties to minimize impacts as much as possible to our drivers and communities, while ensuring the safety of workers who are on the bridge day and night, the safety of our motorists who rely on the bridge, and the integrity of the bridge itself,” the statement read in part.

Stetson Miller

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