AASHTO Journal, 02 December 2016
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled a $765 million plan to replace an aging, two-lane toll bridge spanning the Potomac River on US 301 with a four-lane structure from Charles County in the state’s southeast to King George County, Va.
Hogan made the announcement Nov. 21 while standing at the base of the 75-year-old Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge, and described that crossing as vital to the nation’s security and to the quality of life of thousands of area residents who depend on that bridge work, business and recreation.
Among other needs, it serves military personnel and contractors at the Dahlgren naval facility on the Virginia side, and the Indian Head naval center in Maryland.
The Maryland Transportation Authority has said it anticipates advertising a design-build contract for the new bridge in 2018 with construction starting in 2020. That would allow the opening of a larger bridge in 2023.
Hogan’s office said the plan would have a new bridge operating there seven years sooner than under a plan the state General Assembly has backed, and at a lower cost.
The Baltimore Sun reported the new structure would be paid for by a combination of toll receipts and debt financing, according to state Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn. “It involves refinancing three bonds and paying off a fourth early, plus trimming about $25 million a year in state transportation projects,” the Sun said.
The Transportation Authority made design changes to reduce the project’s projected $1 billion price tag by more than $200 million. “By right-sizing the bridge design, we’re able to deliver an affordable new bridge and do it years sooner,” Rahn said.
Currently, with only one, narrow lane in each direction, the existing bridge causes almost daily congestion and traffic issues, the announcement said, while both routine maintenance and large-scale preservation work has significant traffic impacts.
It said the new bridge will be built north of and parallel to the existing 1.7-mile structure and will include two lanes of traffic in each direction plus a barrier-separated bicycle and pedestrian path.