Cashless tolling

Video tolling is now done via an overhead gantry as cars come off the Bay Bridge onto Kent Island. Marylanders are encouraged to get an E-ZPass to get the best rates.

CENTREVILLE — During the Oct. 13 virtual meeting between state transportation officials and Queen Anne’s County Commissioners to discuss the Maryland Department of Transportation’s six-year capital budget, Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Director Jim Ports discussed Bay Bridge projects underway.

For the Bay Crossing Tier I NEPA Study, MDTA expects to publish a Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement and identify MDTA’s Recommended Preferred Corridor Alternative in fall 2020, and hold public hearings in early 2021. The Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement / Record of Decision is scheduled for 2021. More information is available at baycrossingstudy.com.

Ports also discussed ongoing and future Bay Bridge improvements: westbound deck rehabilitation (center/left lanes) and Bay Bridge crossover automated lane closure system.

The commissioners spoke about ongoing congestion and repeated backups, including two in three weeks that went on for 10 miles or more. And the temporary steel plates covering the joints that are being repaired continue to be a concern. The steel plates are needed for nighttime joint replacement work and allow crews to reopen the lanes each morning to traffic.

Queen Anne’s County Commission President Jim Moran said, “We know these joints need to get done — just anything we can do to expedite that process.”

The new Bay Bridge crossover automated lane closure system will allow maintenance crews to implement and discontinue two-way traffic operations at the bridge more safely and quickly. Project work, such as conduit boring and installation, has begun on the Eastern Shore automated lane closure system.

The automated lane closure system includes in-pavement lighting, automated gates, dynamic message signs and overhead lane-use signals. In fall 2022, when two-way or lane closures on either bridge are in place, travelers will begin the transition to the new lane closure system with gates and dynamic messaging signs as they get on or off the Bay Bridge on the Eastern Shore, Ports said.

For the near future, the existing cone and barrel system will remain in place on the western shore. In 2023, travelers will begin the transition to the new lane closure system on the western shore and the cone and barrel system will no longer be used on either side of the Bay Bridge. The western shore automated lane closure system will be constructed under a separate contract with notice to proceed expected in summer 2021, he said.

Ports encouraged all Marylanders to get an E-ZPass and take advantage of MDTA’s conversion to all-electronic tolling statewide. E-ZPass transponders are free. Bay Bridge motorists without an E-ZPass will be mailed a toll notice for the temporary two-axle video toll rate of $4 (standard video rate is $6). Out-of-state two axle vehicles rate is $4 and E-ZPassMZD is $2.50.

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