Governor Schaefer's announcement that the state will go ahead with plans to build a high bridge over the Severn River near historic Annapolis is a perfect example of what is wrong with federal highway funding. Fearful of losing $32 million, the state's attitude is: The money's there, so let's use it -- regardless of the appropriateness of the bridge or opposition from the public.
In a time when federal dollars are growing scarcer, the governor's decision was not totally unexpected. But is it wise to let federal money dictate a decision that can change the character of one of the state's most treasured towns?
The opposition to the design reflects in part the feeling of many Annapolis residents that rapid growth has put them under siege. But as Baltimoreans who successfully opposed a bridge over the Inner Harbor know well, some kinds of growth can be worse than none at all. To his credit, Transportation Secretary James Lighthizer has restored details of the bridge's design that would soften its profile, and he vows that the bridge will remain two lanes. Even so, from all indications this design could put a scar on the face of one of the country's most charming towns.