Beleaguered D.C. Beltway Bridge Gets Bistate Boost
The governors of Maryland and Virginia plan to rebuild and widen the American Legion Memorial Bridge, a notorious traffic chokepoint on the I-495/Capital Beltway that crosses the Potomac River. The estimated $1-billion project calls for a public-private partnership to replace eight existing through lanes on the 1,263-ft-long span and add three miles of dynamically tolled express lanes linking an extension to Virginia’s existing Beltway toll lanes with a new system currently being developed in Maryland. The bridge will also connect cycling and pedestrian trails on both sides of the river. Although Maryland owns and maintains the 57-year-old bridge, Virginia will provide a significant share of startup financial backing. The governors did not announce a timetable for selecting a P3 partner or beginning environmental reviews. Despite metropolitan Washington, D.C.’s rapid growth, the two states have been at odds about building another major highway crossing, leaving the American Legion Memorial Bridge part of a Beltway segment that the governors said handles more than 40% of the region’s population.