Franchot asks MDOT to stop Bay Bridge project for fall, winter months

Traffic backs up at the Bay Bridge toll plaza in this undated photo. Comptroller Peter Franchot is sending a letter to Maryland Department of Transportation, asking for the current Bay Bridge project to be completely shut down for the fall and winter months.

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.

As we now know, the closure of the right lane of the westbound span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for deck rehabilitation has been poorly planned and executed from the start. As a result, travelers on both sides of the Bay Bridge have been subjected to severe, if not unprecedented traffic backups — as long as 14 miles eastbound, and back to the U.S. 50/301 split westbound.

The makeshift efforts by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to alleviate these conditions haven’t worked. 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 stranded in Annapolis.

We’ve seen enough, and we’ve had enough. This afternoon (Monday, Oct. 7), I will be sending a letter to MDOT, asking that this project be completely shut down for the fall and winter months.

It’s my expectation that the Department will use this time to step back, regroup and engage in an inclusive, comprehensive planning process with ALL of our community stakeholders — 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.

Peter Franchot is the Comptroller for the state of Maryland.

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