Virginia and Maryland have come to an agreement for widening the American Legion Bridge, which connects the two states on Interstate 495, just north of Washington, D.C., to reduce traffic congestion.
Under the project, the bridge will be rebuilt to replace the current lanes and to add two express lanes in both directions. The new lanes will extend about three miles from the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to River Road in Maryland.
Virginia’s costs for this project have not yet been determined, but the Virginia Department of Transportation expects that all of the costs can be funded by toll revenue, VDOT Megaprojects Communications Manager Michelle T. Holland told The Center Square in an email.
Under the agreement, Virginia will fund 21 percent of the general purpose lanes on the bridge, 50 percent of the express lanes on the bridge and 100 percent of the northbound general purpose and express lanes between the George Washington Memorial Parkway and River Road. Virginia would operate all of the northbound express lanes and retain that toll revenue.
Maryland would provide all of the other funds and would operate and toll the southbound lanes.
No homes or businesses are expected to have to relocate, according to a news release.
“A new bridge means commuters will get to work and back home faster,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said in a news release. “Our teams have identified a way to fix one of the worst traffic hot spots in the country. This demonstrates what can get done when leaders come together to find shared solutions to tough regional problems. This is about helping people see their families more, grow their businesses, and further unlock the region’s vast economic potential.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, noted that the agreement between the states was a bipartisan effort.
"Together with our partners in Virginia, we are building a foundation for even greater economic growth, greater opportunity for our citizens, and advancing real, lasting, transformative improvements for the entire Washington metropolitan region,” Hogan said in a news release.
Upon completion of the project, the expanded bridge should reduce congestion in regular lanes by 25 percent, create 40 percent more lane capacity and reduce commuter time by half for many travelers, according to the news release. Since its opening in 1962, the bridge’s traffic has grown about 400 percent, and the region’s population is expected to continue growing.
“This is once-in-a-generation project that will improve accessibility throughout the region,” Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said in the news release. “This is a milestone in regional cooperation. We in Virginia look forward to working hand-in-hand with Maryland to deliver this transformative transportation solution.”
The project will also establish new bike and pedestrian access by connecting a trail on the Virginia side to a trail on the Maryland side.