A new study commissioned by the Virginia Department of Transportation aims to measure the volume of traffic using the Potomac River crossings that connect the commonwealth with the District and Maryland as the Washington area’s population continues to expand.
WAMU reports that while the study’s authors say their work will not result in the recommendation for the construction of any new bridges, advocates for other modes of transportation like mass transit are already worrying that the final report will call for just that.
“They are pushing for another bridge even though the real fixes we need to make are at the American Legion Bridge,” said Stewart Schwartz, the executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, which supports expanding mass transit instead of road expansions. To Schwartz, a new bridge connecting Virginia and Maryland would lead to more congestion and sprawl. He favors implementing transit options on the American Legion Bridge.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has talked favorably in the past of building another span across the Potomac, the Maryland officials quoted in WAMU’s story are not too sanguine about a new bridge. A letter from the Maryland Department of Transportation indicated the state would be more interested in renovating the Governor Nice and American Legion Memorial bridge, and adding transit lines to existing bridges.
That position is more in tune with the Coalition for Smart Growth, which last month rebutted a study by a George Mason University research group that projected gridlock in the D.C. area will be just as bad in 30 years as it is today. The Coalition for Smart Growth cited data indicating that more than half of respondents to a 2011 survey by the National Association of Realtors said they would prefer neighborhoods with several modes of transportation.
The VDOT study will be completed next spring.