The Virginia House Transportation Committee voted Tuesday to send a bill requiring further study of a new Potomac River crossing to the House Appropriations Committee. Bill HB-1244 would require the Virginia Department of Transportation to review the results of an ongoing demand study for a new bridge. The study area is between existing crossings at Point of Rocks (US 15) and the Harry Nice Bridge (US 301). A new crossing would be constructed within that area.
Historically, new Potomac River bridges had been planned at several locations. Most notable were those to connect the unbuilt Rockville Freeway to the Fairfax County Parkway at Riverbend Park, and the unbuilt Outer Beltway (I-370 extension) to VA 28. Other bridges were considered at Arizona Avenue in the District, and in relation to the George Washington Parkway. Failure to build some - or all - of these crossings is a major factor in today's congestion on the American Legion Bridge in Bethesda, and on I-495 and I-270. A recent Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments study concluded that about a quarter of all traffic on the American Legion Bridge is heading to or from the Dulles area.
If the study shows a need for a new crossing (duh!), the bill requires VDOT to furnish recommendations for specific crossing sites to the Virginia General Assembly, and VA Secretary of Transportation, by December 1, 2015.
HB-1244 is co-sponsored by Del. Thomas Davis Rust and J. Randall Minchew. There is some urgency regarding the bill, as the House Appropriations Committee has only three meetings scheduled before all non-budget House bills must be finished.
A new crossing has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia).