The Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the ongoing Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study is now available for review and comment at baycrossingstudy.com through Monday, May 10, 2021. Originally scheduled for December, the release of the DEIS was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The purpose of the study is to consider two-mile-wide corridors to provide additional capacity and access across the Chesapeake Bay to improve mobility, travel reliability, and safety at the existing William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge, while considering financial viability and environmental responsibility.
The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are holding public hearings to provide the public additional opportunities to review and comment on the DEIS, which has been prepared pursuant to the federally mandated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
“We are eager to receive feedback from residents, communities, officials, key stakeholders, and members of the public on the DEIS,” said Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary and MDTA Chairman Greg Slater. “We’re working hard to make this process safe by following the guidance of public health officials, while ensuring every voice is heard.”
According to an MDTA press release:
The release of the DEIS is one step in the Bay Crossing Tier 1 Study. Additional steps include identifying a Selected Corridor Alternative and publishing a combined Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision document in collaboration with FHWA which is expected to be complete in winter 2021/2022. After the Tier 1 NEPA Study is completed and should funding become available, a potential Tier 2 study, to identify alignments within the Selected Corridor Alternative identified during the Tier 1 study, could be initiated.
The DEIS evaluated four retained alternatives, including the No-Build Alternative and three Corridor Alternatives Retained for Analysis (CARA) that were presented to the public in fall 2019:
- Corridor 6 follows MD 177 and ties in with MD 100 on the Western Shore. The corridor ties into US 301 on the Eastern Shore without following the existing road network.
- Corridor 7 follows the existing road network along US 50/301 from west of the Severn River on the Western Shore to the US 50/301 split on the Eastern Shore. The existing Bay Bridge is in this corridor.
- Corridor 8 follows MD 214 and MD 424 to tie into US 50 on the Western Shore. It ties into US 50 on the Eastern Shore without following the existing road network.
Pursuant to the federal process, the MDTA has identified Corridor 7 as the MDTA-Recommended Preferred Corridor Alternative (MDTA-RPCA) in the DEIS.
“Of the no-build alternative and the three corridor alternatives retained in the federal environmental process for further study, the study’s traffic models indicate that building a third crossing within the same corridor as the existing Bay Bridge – Corridor 7 – would have the most positive impact on reducing traffic at the Bay Bridge,” said MDTA Executive Director Jim Ports.
Since fall 2019, a detailed analysis was conducted on the No-Build Alternative and the three CARA and is documented in the DEIS. Corridor 7 has been identified as the MDTA-RPCA based on analysis of a wide range of engineering and environmental factors and input through public comments and coordination with state and federal agencies.
The MDTA is accepting comments on the Bay Crossing Study Tier 1 DEIS for the public record through May 10, 2021. The DEIS is available in the Virtual Information Room at baycrossingstudy.com. If you are unable to view the DEIS on the website, please call 1-877-249-8370.
The public is encouraged to testify at one of the testimony sessions. If you wish to provide testimony, please visit baycrossingstudy.com to register. If you cannot access the project website, call 1-877-249-8370 to register. The testimony sessions are intended for live testimony only and will not include presentations nor responses to questions. The dates and times are:
Read the full press release for more information.