The day before the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Transportation Planning Board was scheduled to vote whether to study options for a new bridge across the Potomac River, the Montgomery County, MD, county council repeated its unanimous opposition.
The idea of a new river crossing between Loudoun and Montgomery County has come up many times in the past, recently picking up steam in Northern Virginia again. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, which funnels hundreds of millions of dollars into transportation projects every year, recently identified an “Outer Potomac River Crossing” at Rt. 28 on its long-range wishlist, and Loudoun County supervisors have voted unanimously to add a new bridge to the Countywide Transportation Plan.
On July 19, the Transportation Planning Board is scheduled to vote on 10 initiatives from the Council of Governments’ Long-Range Plan Task Force for further study—among them, a new bridge.
But the view from Montgomery County dais is clear: no new bridge.
Councilman Craig Rice said on Tuesday, “There is not any benefit for the county for having a second Potomac River crossing.”
“The reality is, there’s no money for this, there’s not going to be, this is not going to happen, and for someone to study something that doesn’t happen is not going to bring any relief, for whatever reason, doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Montgomery Councilman Sidney Katz.
Council members suggested other projects, such as improving I-270 and the American Legion Bridge, would be more realistic. Montgomery County argues that a new bridge would damage the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, established in 1980, which sits in the southern portion of the county. The resolution adopted by the council on Tuesday states there is “no feasible route” for a roadway to a bridge in Montgomery County.
County council President Roger Berliner, the resolution’s lead sponsor, remarked on the unanimity of the vote.
“I think that’s an important message to send to the Transportation Planning Board tomorrow,” Berliner said. He added the proposed study “distracts us from the things we need to do.”
“Fix the American Legion Bridge,” Berliner said. “You want to put something on that can actually create regional cooperation instead of regional tension […] That’s something that can happen. This will never happen. And it should not happen.”