Legion Bridge alternative stalls because Va., Md. can’t settle on location

ROSSLYN, Va. — The regular traffic jams over the Capital Beltway’s Legion Bridge leave many drivers begging for a shortcut from Gaithersburg, Maryland, to Sterling, Virginia, but the transportation secretaries of both states say there is nowhere to put a new bridge that would actually be useful.

“Logical places where it would land in Maryland are not suitable to Virginia, and logical places where it would land in Virginia are not suitable to Maryland,” Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said.

“We have mansions in the way or we have preserved conservation land that I’ve been told — I’ve had a delegation come to me from Montgomery County and simply said ‘don’t touch those properties,’” Rahn added.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said Virginia is coordinating with Maryland on a $6 million study of the aging Legion Bridge itself and the recently announced plans to widen and rebuild the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge on Route 301.

Rahn said Maryland, which controls the bridges, is “committed to addressing the American Legion Bridge.” He said its geography and demographics and development patterns call for the need for a new bridge.

“If we keep going north to try to find a location for a bridge, it would provide no benefit to the people who are currently coming in to D.C. and around. It would still be shorter to do that than to address this so far north,” he said.

Maryland’s plans for its side of the Beltway could include toll lanes similar to the ones already in place in Virginia.

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