Loudoun Co. board chair suggests funding new Potomac bridge over Legion

For decades, discussions of building another bridge crossing the Potomac River — north of the American Legion Bridge — linking Loudoun County, Virginia, to Maryland have been quickly shot down.

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall has again raised the possibility, in light of a regional transportation panel’s decision to strip plans to widen the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 from a required environmental analysis.

“I have gone over to Maryland, personally, four separate times to talk to my counterparts, to just inquire about even doing a study for a bridge,” Randall said. “And it has been a consistent and incredibly loud ‘No.'”

Randall said she has heard anecdotally that Maryland constituents and Chambers of Commerce now favor a bridge: “If that change is real, it has not reached the elected officials in Maryland.”

Randall encouraged Loudoun’s Chamber of Commerce to seek to engage businesses: “It really will help with business, on both sides of the river. Maryland’s Chamber of Commerce is open to it, but has said ‘No.'”

Eleanor Goedeke, communications manager with Maryland’s Chamber of Commerce told WTOP: “We have not taken an official position on the project.”

Recently, the Transportation Planning Board, which operates under the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, dropped support for the privately financed Beltway/I-270 project touted by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

“The TPB deferred some money out of the Legion Bridge. Whenever we’ve talked about the Potomac Bridge, the answer’s always been, ‘But we have the Legion Bridge, and we’re going to do improvements on that,'” Randall said.

“If improvements to the Legion Bridge do not happen because money has been taken out of that project, perhaps Maryland would be open to having discussions about the Potomac Bridge. But as of now, and every time I’ve gone over there, it’s been a hard and fast ‘No,'” Randall said.

Hogan remains confident a deal will be reached to widen Interstates 270 and 495.

Randall’s comments came last week, during a virtual public meeting on the county’s plans for U.S. 15, which is one of the few current Potomac River crossing. The two-lane Point of Rocks Bridge, built in 1937, links Loudoun County to Frederick County, Maryland.

Loudoun County is considering amending its long-term transportation plan for portions of U.S. 15, from Leesburg north to the Maryland line. Stretches of the road could become a four-lane, median-divided highway.

In addition, the county is weighing creating a Route 15 bypass around the tiny town of Lucketts.

Editor’s note: Adds quote from Maryland’s Chamber of Commerce.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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