The plan marks a breakthrough in a yearlong deadlock in widening the bridge on the northwestern section of the Capital Beltway. In the past, Maryland said it did not have enough money for the company, and Virginia said the bridge was the neighbor's responsibility.
The new bridge would have four express toll lanes, in addition to eight free lanes as on the current span. The tolls would fluctuate and rise due to traffic jams to maintain free movement.
Much of the project will be funded through public-private partnerships to reduce the cost to taxpayers. In such collaborations private companies pay a large part of the upfront costs in return for future revenues from the tolls.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) and Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam (D) made the announcement in a surprise joint appearance at a regional transportation forum in the district.
"A new bridge means commuters get to work faster and back home," Northam said in a statement. "It's about helping people see their families better, grow their business, and tap the region's tremendous economic potential." Region, said Hogan, "a cross-party, common sense, intergovernmental agreement like this has deprived elected leaders throughout the region for many decades."
"Together with our partners in Virginia, we are building a foundation for even greater economic growth greater opportunity for our citizens and progress towards real, lasting, transformative improvements across the Washington metropolitan area. "
The American Legion Bridge connects Counties Montgomery and Fairfax, the region's two largest jurisdictions, and is home to frequent, kilometer-long backups. Time delays increased by 40 percent between 201
0 and 2017 as the population of the region grew. In March, an overturned tanker on the bridge blocked the lanes north for 12 hours, triggering a blockade of rush hour traffic throughout the region.
In a similar development, officials said Maryland would accelerate the addition of express toll lanes on the Capital Beltway, stretching from the bridge to the northeast to the junction of Interstate 95 at Prince George.
Traffic experts expressed concern that adding lanes to I-270 without broadening the beltway and bridge would worsen traffic. They warned against transporting more I-270 vehicles into the same smaller funnels on the Beltway and the bridge.
The project would need to undergo an environmental review by the Confederation and should face opposition, particularly in Maryland, to officials and grassroots groups who would rather spend money on transit than on the road.
"The only winners of this plan are the P3 financiers and the few wealthy drivers who can afford to pay $ 40 a day," said Ben Ross, chairman of the Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition. "Everyone else is stuck in a traffic jam – otherwise the drivers will not be willing to pay the high fees that P3 financiers have to pay to make a profit."
In addition, the widening of the Beltway could encounter resistance in certain places, because this would require the demolition of houses.
The Potomac River, after colonial agreements, is owned by Maryland when a charter granted by King Charles II in 1632 gave the river to the state.
The two states share the costs of rebuilding and widening the bridge as well as adding toll lanes for a stretch on both sides. Maryland will pay more than half of these costs, officials said.
Officials said the project will cut commuting time for many travelers by half, reduce traffic line congestion by 25 percent and increase lane capacity by 40 percent. 235,000 vehicles are transported daily on the bridge.
New bicycle and pedestrian paths are being set up on both sides of the Potomac.
Northam announced in January an agreement with Transurban for the extension of the 495 Express Lanes to the American Legion Bridge Three miles to Virginia's high-toll toll system and an important link to the region's growing toll network.
The Virginia Project includes connections from the Express Lanes to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Dulles Toll Road. Upon completion, four multi-purpose lanes and two new express lanes will run in each direction of the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia. Without public funding from the state, the Express Lanes network will be extended to the Maryland border.
Transurban is estimated to spend more than $ 550 million on the 2.5-mile extension of the 495 Express Lanes to the American Legion Bridge issued by the state in January. Officials said the project will help reduce through traffic in nearby neighborhoods.
The extension of the freeway will complete the final leg of a toll collection system on the Northern Virginia portion of the Capital Beltway, connecting to Maryland's proposed toll lanes on its side Beltway, I-270 and Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
According to a 2015 study of all Potomac crossings, Northam has found that the American Legion Bridge is the most traveled and congested 20 years.
"I do not have to tell you where the problem is," Northam said. "It can currently take 15 minutes or more in the afternoon for the last three miles in Virginia to go from the Express Lanes to the American Legion Bridge. That's bad for commuters, it's bad for our regional economy and it just is not sustainable. So we reach across the river and the corridor to do something about it.
Hogan said the deal was the result of months of negotiations between the two states since the summer. He said that Maryland would take the lead and be responsible for the construction of the new bridge, and Virginia would spend nearly half of this cost on the overall project.
"These negotiations have resulted in an intergovernmental regional pact, a new Beltway agreement, which will modernize the National Capital Beltway for the 21st century and link our two states with a significantly improved and new American Legion Bridge becomes. How would it be with? "Said Hogan at the transport forum opposite the group.
"The result will be less traffic, more peace of mind, cleaner air and a better quality of life for hundreds of thousands of local residents and commuters in the region over decades," said Hogan.
The Greater Washington Partnership, which sponsored the Transport Forum on Tuesday with the Greater Washington Board of Trade, has championed a plan to synchronize Maryland and Virginia toll networks, providing a seamless, integrated and efficient system , When Virginia announced its plan for the south side of the bridge, Joe McAndrew, the partnership's director of transport policy, said it was to be expected that Maryland would advance its project to coincide with Virginia's timetable and both jurisdictions had a plan for improvement or replacement work out the American Legion Bridge.
In a joint statement, Jason Miller, Managing Director of the partnership, and Jack McDougle, President and CEO of the Board of Trade, described the announcement as "a significant step in improving the performance and reliability of our transportation system. "
The bridge" is a critical link, but far beyond capacity, and the resulting traffic leads to daily frustrations and productivity losses for local residents, workers and employers, "the statement said Today's announcement marks the beginning of a serious collaboration to give these commuters their valuable time, which will be a benefit for the entire region, which will dramatically improve our ability to attract and retain workers in the Capital Region and compete in the global economy . "
For the Beltway, the project is a sort of final chapter of a project two decades ago: the replacement of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which was the equivalent of the American Legion Bridge on the south side of the Beltway for many years the most notorious choke point in the region.
After years of effort However, the old span has been replaced by a new one. wider bridge, which was opened in 2006. The new plan would do the same for his upstream siblings.