The Maryland Senate Tuesday rejected a bill that would force the state to perform an environmental impact study on building a third Chesapeake Bay bridge span. The vote on the bill was 20-27.
The bill was backed by all three of the senators from the Eastern Shore.
“This bill is vital,” said Sen. Jim Mathias, the Lower Shore Democrat who had been mayor of Ocean City.
“I’m voting for this ‘cause it’s going to eventually settle the argument,” said Sen. John Astle, D-Anne Arundel, one of the sponsors of the bill. Not building a third span would be one of the options in the environmental impact study.
Opponents said the Maryland Transportation Authority, which runs the current bridges, has not requested the environmental impact study and was not equipped to perform it. Others objected to the estimated $30 million cost of the study over the next five to seven years.
“It is tied to a dedicated source of revenue,” the tolls on the bridges and tunnels, said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, lead sponsor of the bill. He said there was more available funding for the bridge study than there was to study construction of the Purple Line in suburban Washington and the Red Line in Baltimore.