Redesigned Bridge Would Lose Federal Aid

May 31, 1991

A Federal Highway Administration official says the state will lose $32 million in federal aid if it redesigns a replacement bridge acrossthe lower Severn River to suit residents who want a new drawbridge.

The FHA has agreed to finance 80 percent of a $40 million bridge with which the state plans to replace the Route 450 drawbridge.

"If not constructed as presently designed, these discretionary funds will be returned (to the federal government)," said Porter Barrows administrator of FHA's Maryland Division.

A coalition of residents and County Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, however, have complained that the 80-foot-high replacement will mar Annapolis' historic skyline and damage the environment.

They want the state to reconsider the design.

Last week, the Severn River Association -- an umbrella group representing 600 individuals and 101 neighborhood organizations -- joined the opposition.

In a May 21 letter to State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff, the association endorsed a new drawbridge.

Barrows said the federal aid was awarded specifically for the high-span design. But, he said, even if it weren't linked, the state could not redesign the bridge in time to use the money this year.

"If this design is not built, and I surely hope it is, I think it is the right design for this spot. It would take a long time to come up with a newdesign," Barrows said.

The FHA has given state highway officials until mid-August to commit to building the bridge, Barrows said. Then, the federal government will award the money to another state.

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation officials say they don't have $8 million needed for the state's share of the bridge.

DOT officials have told state lawmakers they don't have the $59 million in matching money they need to claim a total of $300 million in federal aid.

State lawmakers, who rejected Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposed gasoline tax, insist DOT officials are wrong.

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