Told that its chances of winning an appeal were "slim," the Annapolis City Council reluctantly abandoned its attempts to block construction of the 80-foot-high replacement for the old Severn River Bridge Monday night.
The council voted, 5-3, not to pursue an appeal of U.S. District Judge Joseph C. Howard's Dec. 4 ruling that allowed the State Highway Administration to proceed with the controversial project.
"It killed me to do it," said Alderman Ruth Gray, R-Ward 5, who opposes the high bridge but voted against the appeal in the belief that it would fail. "I still feel strongly about it," she said, "but apparently, feeling strongly about it doesn't hold up in a court of law."
The city's decision to back out of the appeals process will not affect its co-plaintiff -- Citizens for the Severn River Bridge Inc. -- which has filed notice of its intention to appeal the ruling in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"We understand that the city had political issues to deal with and that some were concerned about the cost," said Bryan Miller, president of the citizens group. Miller saida docket report outlining the appeal would be filed "some time in the next couple days."
In September, the council decided to join thecitizens group in suing state and federal highway agencies for failing to inform the public of the scale of the bridge and in questioningthe agencies' ruling that the larger bridge didn't require environmental, historical or traffic-impact studies.
Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, and Aldermen Samuel Gilmer, D-Ward 3, Gray, Carl Snowden, D-Ward 5, and Theresa DeGraff, R-Ward 7, voted against appealing. Aldermen John Hammond, R-Ward 1, Dean Johnson, Ind-Ward 2, and Ellen Moyer, D-Ward 8, voted in favor of an appeal. Alderman Wayne Turner, R-Ward 6, was ill and missed the meeting.