Tomorrow's Protest Will Be Over Severn Bridge--literally

July 26, 1991|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff writer

Hundreds of people are expected to link hands across the old Severn River Bridge tomorrow in a protest against the drawspan's planned 80-foot-high replacement.

The protesters, led by Citizens for the Severn Scenic River Bridge, will gather at noon at Jonas Green State Park, then line a sidewalk on the span, joining hands in solidarity against the high bridge.

From there, the protesters will walk through the streets of Annapolis to the Governor's Mansion, where they will present an appeal to stop construction of the $40 million bridge.

Opponents plan to encircle the mansion while singing protest songs to the tune of a bagpiper and carrying balloons and signs. They will then rally near the State House.

The group's leaders say they are working with city police to ensure that the protest doesn't block traffic or endanger protesters.

Organizers have asked boaters to form a flotilla beneath thebridge to show their opposition to the high span.

John Nassif, chairman of a committee coordinating the protest, said he expects as many as 1,000 people, including elected of

ficials, motorists, joggers, cyclists, environmentalists, neighborhood representatives, business leaders and residents of the Historic District.

"This whole bridge thing has been planned by people who have bypassed the interests of the people of this city," Nassif said. "We just want to tell the governor to put this back in the hands of the people and give them what they want."

Tomorrow's rally will mark the latest in a series ofopponents' 11th-hour efforts to stop construction of the high span to replace the crumbling Route 450 drawbridge.

More than 2,000 opponents have signed petitions protesting the 80-foot span, and leaders of the opposition movement have threatened to sue. They say the high bridge would overwhelm the historic skyline, dump high-speed traffic onto tiny streets, harm the environment and increase the number of boats on the river.

But state officials say the state would lose $32million in federal money if it doesn't proceed with plans to build the bridge and warn that reopening public hearings would delay construction at least five years.

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