To save the Chesapeake Bay from unknown environmental hazards, stateSen. Gerald W. Winegrad has proposed a halt to state financing of a proposed outer-Washington, D.C. bypass.
A bill that Winegrad, D-Annapolis, introduced Jan. 25 would prohibit the state Department of Transportation from spending any money on either an eastern or western bypass until alternatives are examined, plans to accommodate new development reviewed and environmental protections assured.
"If (the bypass) is going to occur, there have to be certain environmental considerations," said Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, who has co-sponsored the bill.
The Chesapeake Bay Commission, an advisory panel of lawmakers from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, said a federal environmental impact study completed last spring isinadequate.
Commission members recommended Jan. 3 that the legislatures in Maryland and Virginia intercede, requiring additional study. Winegrad is chairman of the Maryland delegation to that panel.
Maryland and Virginia transportation officials believe a bypass would divert traffic from the congested Capital Beltway.
Many opponents fearthe $1.7 billion expressway will deluge their counties with new traffic and growth.
Winegrad's bill is one of two proposals to preventconstruction of a bypass around the congestion in the Washington metropolitan area.
A pair of Prince George's County lawmakers, Sen. Leo Green and Delegate Joan Pitkin, have introduced legislation prohibiting the state from spending money to plan, build or acquire land for an eastern route.
Several of Anne Arundel's state lawmakers favor the Prince George's proposal over Winegrad's.
The county's 18 delegates and senators backed non-binding resolutions last year opposing an eastern bypass, but the measures were killed by Montgomery County legislators, who oppose a western route.
"My problem is (Winegrad's bill) basically says, 'If you do these things, you can proceed,' " said Delegate John Gary, R-Millersville.
"That's not our position. The resolution we adopted last year is that we oppose bringing an eastern bypass through. Period."