WASHINGTON – A new bridge across the Potomac River has been a commuter pipe dream for decades, but it may never happen.
Another crossing between the American Legion Bridge and Point of Rocks over the Potomac River could alleviate the traffic-riddled Interstate 495 by taking traffic away from the Capital Beltway, but differences between Maryland and Virginia on how to handle the congestion may make that impossible.
David Versel, a researcher at George Mason University, says traffic over the American Legion Bridge has increased 13 percent since 1990 and is forecasted to increase even more. While the bridge continues to see more drivers, local traffic between Fairfax County, Va., and Montgomery County, Md., has declined according to the study.
Versel’s research shows coordination between local counties on mass transit, carpooling and other options could help resolve some congestion in the short run. But adding additional lanes, which could cost billions of dollars, would have limited impact.
While a new bridge has been suggested for decades, there’s been little progress. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says there have been some discussions on the issue but there’s no plan.
The study draws no conclusions on a new bridge.
“The larger differences that persist between Maryland and Virginia have made this a difficult proposition,” says Versel.
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This story has been corrected.