Tolls remain a concern in Md., Va. agreement to widen American Legion Bridge

After the governors of Maryland and Virginia agreed on a plan to widen the American Legion Bridge, officials expressed their support of the agreement and concerns about the plan.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich issued a statement saying he was “pleased” to hear the news, but added he still had reservations about the plans to add toll lanes to the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270.

Elrich said in the statement:

“I remain concerned about the potential impacts associated with widening these highways, particularly [Interstate] 495, and believe that any Traffic Relief Plan will require investment in public transit to provide a meaningful and equitable solution to the region’s transportation problems.”

Montgomery County council member Tom Hucker also applauded the regional cooperation that resulted in the agreement, and said dealing with congestion at the American Legion Bridge is “long overdue.”

Hucker shared concerns about the plan to add tolls on the Beltway, citing possible hurdles in getting a green light from regional planning board Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which has authority over lands that would be affected by the road-widening project on I-495.

Former Maryland Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, who said he was “painfully aware” of the challenges of projects involving bridges that span the Potomac River — citing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge as an example — called the announcement “a very important step” in relieving congestion that affects commuters on both sides of the river.

“An American Legion Bridge scenario is a big step forward, and I applaud the progress” Porcari said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is a Republican, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is a Democrat.

“Transportation is truly a bipartisan issue. There are no Republican or Democratic potholes; there are just potholes,” Porcari said.

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