Bridge Foes Gear Up

They'll Offer Case For A Lower Span

July 07, 1991|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff writer

Opponents of the planned 80-foot-high Severn River bridge say they'll present a detailed case this week for building a lower span similarto the existing Route 450 drawbridge.

In their 11th-hour bid to sink the $40 million bridge design, opponents hope to convince state planners and lawmakers that a lower span would prove feasible politically and economically.

Tom Davies, an Annapolis architect and a leader in the fight against the bridge, said the opponents' analysis would prove that a lowerbridge could be built cheaper and faster than state highway plannerssuggest.

Opponents also suggest that the state could get more federal money later to replace $32 million that would be lost if the high bridge were scrapped.

State highway officials and lawmakers, however, dispute that claim. They say abandoning the project now would force the state to return the $32 million and begin a four-year publichearing and design process anew.

Davies said his group, Citizens for the Scenic Severn River Bridge, will present a written proposal to state lawmakers representing Annapolis by the end of this week.

The group, which met Friday with legislators and State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff, has repeatedly called the bridge an eyesore thatwould ruin the city's skyline, dump high-speed traffic onto tiny streets and harm the environment.

Now, Davies said, the group hopes to reach "common ground" with highway planners by suggesting an alternative.

"We certainly can't do this without the cooperation of the state highway planners," Davies said. "They can make life miserable for us, no doubt about it. That's why it's so hard walking this tightrope."

Delegate Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, said he and the other three state lawmakers representing Annapolis would scrutinize the opponents' written proposal before deciding whether to recommend that Gov. William Donald Schaefer reconsider the bridge.

But Busch, like the other state lawmakers, expressed serious reservations about losing $32 million in federal money when the state has already put out bids on the project and spent more than $2 million for planning and design.

"At this point, we're talking about a real roll of the dice," he said.

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