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New bridge crossing from Loudoun to Maryland? No thanks, say Maryland leaders

As Loudoun County embarks on plans for a new Potomac River crossing and begins exploring new corridors for a second bridge, Maryland officials – those required to sign off on a new bridge – aren't showing interest in the project.

At a Loudoun transportation summit last month, the local Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to add a statement in support of a new Potomac River crossing east of Goose Creek and Leesburg to its Countywide Transportation Plan.

Supervisors also asked county staff to identify different corridors for a new bridge over the Potomac connecting Loudoun County with Maryland.

The idea of a second Potomac bridge is also slated for a vote on the National Capital Regional Transportation Planning Board on July 19, where they will decide whether the concept should be further studied.

But Loudoun’s renewed push to fix one of the region’s worse choke points has so far been met with staunch opposition from politicians and transportation officials in Maryland.

“No one, least of all our regional transportation planners, should spend a nanosecond thinking about a second bridge crossing of the Potomac,” Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said in a statement on Facebook Tuesday. “Fix [Interstate 270] all the way to the American Legion Bridge! We need real solutions to real problems, not fantasies spun by real estate holders in Northern Virginia.”

Although a proposed route has yet to be set, a bridge connecting northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland, via Route 28 to I-270 has long been considered the preferred route for Virginians. Yet that route has continued to cause fierce pushback from Montgomery County officials for years.

Maryland officials fear a bridge extension into the county would harm its 90,000-acre agricultural reserve. Others have also said a bridge would pit Maryland against northern Virginia economically and potentially cause the two sides to have to fight for jobs and workers.

Some in Virginia, however, see the river crossing as a way to significantly reduce traffic and drive economic opportunities on both sides of the Potomac.

But neither Loudoun County nor the commonwealth of Virginia on its own can move forward without Maryland’s cooperation, transportation officials say.  

“[A Potomac River crossing] is a multi-state initiative. It will require engagement by the state elected officials, and that’s to the highest level, as well as the federal government and, from a funding perspective, a federal highway administration perspective,” Loudoun’s Director of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure Joe Kroboth said.

On Tuesday Berliner introduced a resolution formally opposing a new Potomac River crossing and the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board’s plan to study the feasibility of a new bridge, Bethesda Magazine reported.

Earlier this week Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) told reporters the state would not fund any additional Potomac River crossing on its own. WTOP news reported Hogan saying that if Maryland did not have federal and state support for the river crossing, it would not happen, and the state would not pay for it.

Maryland’s Department of Transportation also said it does not support an upper Potomac bridge crossing being added to the Transportation Planning Board’s Long Range Task Force.

“The project would be prohibitively expensive, and Maryland’s impacted counties don’t want the project,” MDOT’s Director of Public Affairs Erin Henson told the Times-Mirror in an emailed statement.

Loudoun Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run), who sits on the Transportation Planning Board’s Long Range Task Force, said although Montgomery County opposes the new river crossing, he knows Maryland politicians who see the need for the bridge. He also cited recent polling that shows Marylanders widely support the crossing.

“There’s a lot of Maryland politicians that I talk to everyday that understand that this is what the people of Maryland want, and they’re willing to look at this,” Meyer said. “But for people like Berliner that clearly listen to the entrenched special interests … I just wish you’d go out and knock on a couple hundred doors in the areas that are close to I-270 and ask them if they need another river crossing. A lot of people are going to say yes.”

Despite the clear need for a solution to the region’s transportation woes and the renewed talks to build a new bridge over the Potomac, Loudoun officials admit the effort will likely take decades.

“Whether there is a fiscally viable solution for a new river crossing is far out in the future, it remains to be seen, and what that route would be also remains to be seen,” Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) said at a recent Board of Supervisors business meeting. “But I don’t think arguing against the need for a bridge is going to be a winning argument because anybody who commutes in the region knows very well what the situation is.”

In the meantime, there are a number of daunting unknowns surrounding the project, Kroboth said, which include agreeing on a location of the crossing as well as whether the project will ever evolve beyond planning talks.

“The first and probably the largest challenge is discussing the project with other jurisdictions and allowing them time to understand the project, what the project benefits are, and coming to the conclusion that they agree or disagree with Loudoun’s request,” Kroboth said. “That is a monumental effort … and that’s local, state and federal collaboration that has to take place.”

In Loudoun County, Kroboth anticipates the process of updating the Countywide Transportation Plan and identifying potential corridors for the new bridge is likely to take anywhere from nine months to a year.

Comments


So what else is new? Anything that’s makes sense is considered nonsense to anyone in Maryland. An additional crossing makes total sense. But the lefties are more concerned about the trees. I wish they felt the same way about the unborn.


Mopar19-it’s not that simple.  A lot of Virginians do not want to live with Maryland’s taxes and lefty politics, especially restrictive gun rights.  But, whatever.  Y’all keep fighting the good fight.  We just moved to SC to get out of the DC area.


No thanks says, Virginia!


I say we charge all Marylanders a $15 per day entry toll to commute to their high-tech jobs in Va. Since most of the traffic is caused by these commuters, it seems like a fair deal to me!


If another bridge is needed, build it in Fairfax at the Fairfax County Parkway.  We don’t want any bridge crossings in Loudoun.


Smart move Maryland!! Loudoun and VA gave in to the mostly out town developers years ago! Why should MD allow a bridge so that all these new people who moved to Loudoun can move around easily and create a mess in Maryland too? If Loudoun was really interested in controlling Route 15 corridor it would not have allowed the hundreds of houses to be built on that road. But they did not…and now we are paying for his myopic view of things.

If you fly into IAD from the north, you cross over Frederick County into Loudoun and the contrast is staggering. From green fields to the Potomac it looks like a green swath until you cross into Loudoun and it looks like New Jersey. Bravo Maryland..hold your ground…Loudoun lost its way years ago.


MargeGeneverra ... you nailed it!


It is easy - block the entrance to Virginia at the Leesburg/Lucketts Bridge and when Maryland screams suggest either we put a toll there or they agree to help pay to widen the bridge and then VA can widen Route 15 north of Leesburg. Let’s try to do what we can and not just blow smoke politically about another river crossing!


There needs to be a balance between preserving natural space and development which Loudoun County has completely lost.  I drove the back way from One Loudoun through Ashburn to Leesburg last night and it’s completely overwhelming.  I no longer think I want to be living here in another 10 or 15 years.  I totally get why Maryland doesn’t want that mess to seep into their beautiful land.  That being said, there are many people who live in MD and commute to NoVA that have to suffer by only having 2 river crossings.


Please don’t be naive to think this is about open land in MD.  This is totally a political play by MD.  It’s been going on for years, they are afraid of losing business, people to Dulles, and residents.  They’ve been fighting widening the American Legion bridge forever, there is no “open land” there they need to worry about.  If there is a spot in the DC area that needs fixing it’s the american legion bridge, and yet nothing in the works thanks to MD.  Their politicians could care less about the thousands that sit on that bridge or anywhere else to get into VA.  Look at 15, it’s a disaster and yet nothing.


Let’s hope that Maryland continues to treasure their farmland and open space. 

Loudoun certainly has surrendered theirs to developers to build strip malls (now called ‘town centers’) and plastic-sided “town homes” that will be the ghettos of tomorrow.


The rich elite can go buy farmland in Kentucky and fly there in their private jets.  The time to build this bridge is about 30 years overdue.  Sounds like the Maryland cronies need to be voted out.


honeycrisp-  Naive?  So the issue is the river crossing to maryland and you think by moving to arlington or mclean would help?  common sense would say move to maryland so you wouldn’t have to cross the river.  its all about personal choices.


Great…our supervisors spend their time and energy on thinking up ways to get MORE cars into Loudoun at rush hour.  This is INSANE!  We need West to East traffic relief.  Doesn’t take a data center to figure that out.


LoudounResident010 and HoneyCrispApples have nailed this one. The rich folks don’t want the bridge running through their peaceful pasture lands, so it is not going to happen.


LoudounRes - why in the world would you want more MD drivers coming down RT15 and through Leesburg?  We need less, not more, of those nutsy drivers


So let me get this straight
a elected official in Maryland tells us that a bridge is impractical and the people of Maryland will not support it unless the government foots the bill but Meyers and Buona know better. 2 miles of this roadway would be in Virginia while 11 miles of it would be in Maryland. That’s farmland and hunting preserves Loudoun supervisors are willing to clog with 100,000 cars a day. And you wonder why Maryland says no. Back to Nilsson “put the lime in the coconut” Meyers and Buona!


Why not start with a widened bridge on Rt15?  Make it 4 lanes


I actually commute to MD for work (around 6:00 AM) and there is a parade of cars along Georgetown Pike (and some of the back roads I take. Shhh.) going the opposite direction in VA with MD tags.


Donatello,

This isn’t about preserving open space, there are 2 main reasons why a bridge will never happen. 

First, a small group of one-percenters don’t want their view of the Potomac spoiled by a highway.  And they don’t want the peasants driving through their area.  Its just your typical NIMBY stuff.

And second, the state of MD does not want their residents to have easy access to Dulles.  They want those people flying out of BWI.


Tell MD that they can pull up EZPass monitors on the bridge and roadways, that usually works.


When are the MD politicians going to stop being so anti-progress. It’s no wonder so many their residents drive to VA for great jobs. A new bridge could really increase productivity and be great for the environment with reduced traffic/pollution. Thanks Berliner! Glad I don’t live in MD anymore.


Mopar19—move closer?  Right, everyone living in a $400,000 home in Loudoun can just drop a mil or so to live in Arlington, McLean, etc.  Naive.


Maryland is working to preserve open space, while Loudoun is trying to pave it over.


Yeah I’m sure Ron Meyers thought that one through.  So let’s add a 8 lane highway from 28 to 270.  We can’t solve the transportation problems in our county and he wants to help solve a problem in fairfax and Montgomery.  Widen the American legion.  Or how about just moving closer to where you work.


There’s a ton of rich, powerful, influential people in the Potomac area.  They care about preserving their serenity and don’t give a hoot about people stuck in traffic.  Never going to get a bridge into western Montomgery County.


Battle of the Bridge, No!

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