Friday, March 29, 2019

American Legion Bridge shutdown paralyzes D.C. region with no alternative Potomac crossing

Total victory, 
total vindication for
new bridge advocates

The Capital Beltway Inner Loop lanes on the American Legion Bridge reopened about two hours before the start of rush hour this morning. An accident that caused a fuel tanker truck to flip over and spill fuel on the highway shut those lanes down for about 12 hours. The bridge shutdown had region-wide effects, with many Virginia-to-Maryland commuters spending up to four or more hours in traffic jams. With Montgomery County politicians having blocked the long-planned Potomac River crossing north of the Legion bridge for decades, drivers were forced to seek any short cut or workaround they could find. Problem is, there weren't any.

Already, the Legion Bridge meltdown is being ranked as one of the D.C. region's Top 5 traffic disasters of all time. But imagine if this had occurred during a terror attack or other disaster. Sadly, the local media - out of political bias or simple ignorance of history - largely did not inform their viewers, listeners and readers about exactly why they were stuck in Carmageddon 2019: The failure to complete the D.C. region's freeway system, and most-specifically, Montgomery County and Maryland's childish refusal to build the new Potomac bridge to appease radical anti-car ideologues and developer sugar daddies who need traffic congestion to justify high-density development in the suburbs.

Nobody could take a lap around the Beltway yesterday, but this morning, I'm taking a victory lap as the only Maryland candidate in the 2018 elections who was not only advocating for the new Potomac River crossing, but made it a centerpiece of my campaign.

Simply put: I told you so.

And the tens of thousands of you who voted for me for Montgomery County Council At-Large, along with more than 6000 additional Democrats who voted for me across party lines, can also take a victory lap this morning. You weren't just tired of sitting in traffic; you did your homework before voting. And this morning, like me, you can celebrate total victory and total vindication.

Just as I was the only candidate representing you, the taxpayer and commuter, in the election, now I am sadly perhaps the only journalist who is telling the truth this morning. The truth about our "leaders" failing us by blocking a bridge critical to commuting, national security and Montgomery County's economic development - including the need for direct access to Dulles International Airport. But also the truth that yesterday's fiasco produced clear winners and losers.

And as my readers and my 2018 election supporters know, sometimes it's better to lose with a winner than to win with losers.


Robert Dyer

The local media and a number of community organizations colluded with the Montgomery County cartel to prevent any coverage of my campaign and platform. But the fact is, I was the sole County Council candidate who ran on the priority of building the new Potomac crossing, and completing Montgomery County's master plan highway system. I'm looking very smart this morning.

It's safe to say there is extreme voter remorse among low-information Montgomery County voters this morning. Those voters were poorly-served by the very media that claims it informs the public, and prevents democracy from "dying in darkness." Casual voters need to know now that they must begin to take their responsibility more seriously - if the Washington Post and other local media aren't informing you about the choices on your ballot, you need to sit down for an hour and research the candidates online before voting. And that having every seat on the County Council won by a Democrat every election kept you in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours last night. A hyperpartisan victory is ultimately an empty and Pyrrhic victory, as yesterday proved.

Robert Dyer voters

'Nuff said.

New Potomac River crossing advocates

While I've been alone as a candidate and activist on our side of the river in pushing for the new Potomac River crossing, the bridge doesn't lack for high-profile advocates. Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, former Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation Chair Bob Buchanan, and former Virginia Govs. Bob McDonnell and Terry McAuliffe are among those who have supported a new crossing in recent years.



D.C region commuters, especially those who live in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Council

Each member of the current Montgomery County Council (and the previous Councils this decade) has openly opposed a new Potomac River crossing in their public statements. They should be facing the wrath of their constituents today via phone, social media and email, and at the ballot box in 2022. They are almost entirely to blame for yesterday's catastrophe.

Gov. Larry Hogan

Incredibly, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan - a real estate developer, no less - has come out against a new Potomac River bridge. While claiming reducing traffic congestion is a key priority for his administration, Hogan instead became the latest governor in Annapolis to let the phone go to voicemail when Virginia's top leaders have called to discuss a new crossing.

Hogan's claim that the bridge is cost-prohibitive is simply false; the bridge and required highway extension from I-370 can be built privately as a toll facility, at virtually no expense to taxpayers. Our County's structural budget deficit shows what the costs of not building it are - year after year.

Like many bridge opponents, Hogan has made the suggestion of instead "improving" the existing Legion bridge. The problem is, even a magical 16-lane American Legion bridge would have been closed for the same number of hours yesterday. We need more crossings. Period.

New Potomac crossing opponents

Developer-funded bridge opponents ranging from the Coalition for Smarter Growth to Greater Greater Washington to the Rockefeller Foundation aren't looking too "smart" this morning. I would love to have seen them walk from car-to-car in the backups of commuters desperately trying to get home to family and dinner last night, and pass out brochures opposing the new bridge. And to witness the response of drivers!


  1. I'm a firm believer in urban density and metro-centric development but at the same time we need a second river crossing. We have needed it for decades. 495 is terrible even during a typical rush hour back up (which is daily) but these nightmarish scenarios are inexcusable. God forbid there is a greater disaster that requires an evacuation. But the second crossing would be a huge help to those MD residents who commute to VA for work as well as give us a fighting chance for major corporate investment (i.e. all those major companies we lose to VA). Rather than giving billions in tax breaks to attract one corporation how about spending those billions on giving us improved access to VA/Dulles and make this area more attractive for every corporation.

  2. Total victory,
    total vindication for
    new bridge advocates
    This sounds vaguely familiar, like the words of an internationally known dictator, spoken to his minions. Very Dotardish and juvenile of this author to act like a white supremacist Nazi.

    1. 3/29 @ 12:38, dude, your tin foil hat needs a tune-up.

  3. Robert and Robert alone can fix it!!! Build the bridge. BUILD THE BRIDGE and make Hans pay for it.

    How are you going to explain to Montgomery citizens why you took their property via eminent domain?

    How are you going to pay for this (oh I forgot Hans will do it). You think Virginia is on board for this bridge to nowhere?

    You build the bridge and it won't ease congestion it will just bring in more development.

    Have no fear Robert and Robert alone can fix it.

  4. A new bridge is needed period. All the drum beating greeny, nimby, socialists, transit lovers should chill out and move. This region is tired of their social experiments. Families needs cars, people move jobs and transportation by car is still the future. Enough road projects have been hijacked by this groups, incomplete 95, 270 through the city, outer beltway, GW parkway, uprade of us 29,MD 97 and the list goes on.

    1. "Socialist", the new radical, right-wing nut job term for anything of a liberal nature. The offensive fairies are at it again, and the local minions, like the above, are lapping it up. What is the socialist experiment of not wanting to create sprawl, and destroy nature resources. Perhaps you should stop taking a communist view of everything rational.

    2. 10:06: Sprawl already happened. It's also called "the suburbs," and offered a better quality of life than the decaying cities. People have the freedom of choice, and they chose a better lifestyle, and more house for the buck. Now those folks need to get to and from work in a civilized manner every day. And we have the rights-of-way that were set aside for that very purpose decades ago. It's time to act.

  5. A second crossing of the Potomac River may never happen… Why?

    1.) The cost of a bridge and associated highway (mostly in Maryland) would be in the tens of BILLIONS. The fact that Maryland owns the Potomac River, up to the shores of Virginia may mean that the cost of a bridge is borne mostly on Maryland. And who’s going to pay for this? The feds? Trump hates the state of Maryland… he’d block it, if it ever got that far. The State? Tens of Billions… I don’t think so. Montgomery County… we can’t even pay on the pensions we own to our retired employees.
    2.) Virginia doesn’t really care about another crossing… The jobs are mostly in Virginia, hence the traffic is the problem of Maryland commuters going to their Virginia jobs. Also, Virginia businesses have nearly exclusive access to Dulles Airpot; why provide that access to a competitor state?
    3.) THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON: It’s too late… By this I mean, the land that a second river crossing and associated highway would take (by Eminent Domain) has been developed… mostly hi-end residential. If poor people lived there… no problem… Eminent Domain… take the land… Done. Unfortunately for the second crossing crowd, RICH people live there… VERY rich people. Go ahead draw a line between Rt 28 in Virginia and I-370 (Rt 200, Intercounty Connector in Maryland). What lies on that line? VERY RICH AND POLITICALLY INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE. Most of the lavish estates along any of the second river proposed crossing points are valued between $2M to $30M each. There’s no way you’re going to bulldoze through or near hundreds of multimillion dollar estates without a huge amount of pushback from people would can and will fund candidates that will prevent this from ever happening.

    Due to the above reasons, a second river crossing anywhere south of Point-of-Rocks will never happen.

  6. 1:19: It will happen, as soon as enough voters inform themselves about the very stupid and corrupt people we currently have in elected office.

    1) The bridge and highway can both be built by a private firm at virtually no cost to taxpayers, as toll facilities.

    We don't need Hogan, we don't need the feds - that's the beauty of it. We don't need their money to build the crossing.

    Even if built privately, it would only cost a fraction of the $10 billion MoCo is spending on the BRT boondoggle.

    2. Virginia's top leaders have mostly been in favor of a new crossing. That's why they've spent big bucks preparing Route 28 to connect to it. Look at all of the cloverleaf interchanges on 28 to verify.

    3) Wrong. The right-of-way is there from I-370 to the river. Virtually no demolition, if any, will be needed. There's a green strip you can follow on the map from Sam Eig to the Potomac, and there are no mansions on that land. It was set aside decades ago.

    Due to these reasons, a second river crossing will happen, as soon as people like myself are elected into office, or the County goes bankrupt from what are already the worst economic development numbers in the region.

    "If it's what you say, I love it." - Donald Trump, Jr.

    1. Robert,

      I’m not one of your haters or trolls and was trying to keep an open mind with your claims. However, when you concluded your argument with, “"If it's what you say, I love it." - Donald Trump, Jr.,” you completely lost me. Why in the world would you introduce a statement from an email written by Trump Jr., as he was happily accepting a meeting with Russian agents in Trump Tower???

      As far as the rest of your argument is concerned, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

      Your point number one: I have seen no evidence that a private firm has bid this to any local jurisdiction. Please provide concrete evidence to your claim. To what firm are you referring? As far as “virtually no cost to taxpayers,” I find this very hard to believe… Taxpayers ALWAYS end up paying. And as far as, “toll facilities” will pay for a $10B to $20B bridge and highway, the tolls would have to be out of this world high, which would discourage drivers from using it. Also, there’s a little thing about upfront financing to build the bridge/highway, which will cost actual dollars now, years before the first toll is collected.

      When you say, “We don't need Hogan, we don't need the feds - that's the beauty of it. We don't need their money to build the crossing.” With all due respect, that’s delusional. Of course you need local politician buy in and support.

      Why would you conflate the BRT with a second crossing? The two are not related.

      Your point two: Virginia politicians are, at best, tepid about a second crossing. They know that it would help Maryland a lot more than Virginia and they also know that Maryland would probably bear the brunt of its cost.

      On your point three: You’re dead wrong. The land that you mentioned was NOT set aside, multimillion estates would have to be taken by eminent domain.

      To sum up your claims: ‘A $10B+ bridge/highway second Potomac River crossing will cost the taxpayers nothing and not plow through multimillion dollar estates.’ Bob, I don’t know what you’re smoking… but I want some.

    2. "On your point three: You’re dead wrong. The land that you mentioned was NOT set aside, multimillion estates would have to be taken by eminent domain."

      Correct. There is no "right-of-way", "seekrit highway facility posing as park", zero, zilch, nada land reserved in any way between the south end of Sam Eig Highway and the Potomac River.

      "A $10B+ bridge/highway second Potomac River crossing will cost the taxpayers nothing"

      The only completely private toll road in this country is the Dulles Greenway between Dulles and Leesburg. That hasn't exactly been a smashing success.

    3. 7:54: Did Mueller charge Don Jr. with anything? (Nope)

      1. Private companies are building toll roads and toll lanes around the world. They have something called "financing" they get from banks. Then they recoup their costs via tolls over time.

      When you think of absurdly-high tolls, you are probably thinking of projects that were NOT privately-built and/or are run by government or a government-created entity, such as the I-66 disaster. And that was actually MEANT to be a disaster by the folks behind it, to generate money for developer-sought transit projects while ensuring traffic misery continues with the insane idea that people will eventually cry uncle and "get out of their cars."

      The bridge and highway together would be under %10 billion. If you don't have a problem with the County's $10 billion BRT network, you shouldn't have a problem with a project that costs less, yet moves more commuters per day than the entire BRT network combined.

      You're correct - we would need County elected officials who support a new bridge in order to do this. That's why I'm saying we need to elect those people, such as myself, and we don't need Hogan or the feds. With private financing, we can do anything we want.

      BRT is a transportation project, and one that is far less efficient and cost-effective than any of the unbuilt freeways we could build with the same money. So it's definitely fair game to discuss and compare.

      2. Why would Virginia have spent hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading Route 28 to interstate standards near Dulles if they didn't support the bridge? In fact, the bridge would allow more development on the Virginia side, which is why a new crossing is supported by most moderate and conservative officials of both parties, and by virtually every business and trade group in Northern Virginia.

      3. I am absolutely correct about the highway facility set aside decades ago for extending I-370 over the Potomac. It's called Muddy Branch. It directly abuts the I-370-I-270 interchange, and goes all the way to River Road near the Potomac. Then you have more public parkland between River Road and the river.

      Don't smoke something - just read a map. Indeed, a privately-built road costs taxpayers virtually nothing. That's why Hogan is using the same concept to build what would be the largest Express Lanes network in the nation using private partners (and why MoCo politicians are going nuts trying to stop him).

  7. "...the bridge and required highway extension from I-370 can be built privately as a toll facility, at virtually no expense to taxpayers".

    Sorry Robert try again. How can it be a toll bridge and not be at the cost of the taxpayers? Well sure we won't have to fork over the money to the DEEP STATE, but we would have to pay to use the road.

    With no controls on how much would be charged poorer people would be priced out of using it.

    Where is the money going to come from to build it in the first place? Don't say the magical toll company, because they aren't going to put the money up front and hope they will make a profit from tolls when completed.

    Tell us more about this mythical green strip? What is there now? Who owns it? Is it farm land, wet lands? Set aside for other purposes? You hate developers so much you want to give over MORE land to them? Are you set up to get kickbacks from the magical bridge construction?

    You hate it so much here just move already! It isn't as if you have a job here do you?

    1. 1:12: Again, don't confuse I-66, Dulles Toll Road or even the ICC with what I am proposing. In this case, with a private company in charge, the market controls how much drivers are charged. If no one uses the bridge, the private operator can't recoup their debts for construction. So they have to charge a market-rate toll, unlike I-66.

      I just explained the upfront financing and right-of-way in my comment above. Just look at the map and follow Muddy Branch. Developers won't get any of the land, as it is not buildable land.

      Your "job" comment gives you away as the troll, despite your protestations otherwise. The Yellow Vest uprising that's coming to MoCo may run you out of the County on a rail, so maybe you should just "move already" now on your own.

  8. Oh hold up a sec. Today is April 1st so you are having fun with us on this whole bridge to nowhere thing right?

    1. 1:13: This article wasn't published on April 1. Voters were definitely fooled in the 2018 election, though.

  9. Mr. Dyer, its very unsettling that you would proclaim: "Total victory, total vindication for new bridge advocates," based on a serious beltway accident, which injured at least two people and could have caused serious harm to many others.

    1. 2:49: Think about the serious harm if we were trying to evacuate the area during a terror attack with an inadequate freeway and river crossing network.

  10. Two paths closer to 370: Muddy branch stream valley (make it elevated) on the stream. Two trade high power transmission line closer to Watkins mill. Nothing is impossible, only obstructionists and spineless politicians. All green, environmentalists, tree hughers wipe there backside with paper and talk about going green.

    1. 10:55: Yes, that's the one. It was set aside as a highway facility, like many other stream valleys in the D.C. region.

  11. Bob, I'd like to believe you on all this, but hoping that something is true, does not make it so. We're going to have to agree to disagree. Lastly, if you want people to listen to you and vote for you, you're going to have to drop the unrelated Trump references.

    1. 12:00: It's not only true, but backed up by historical documents from decades ago. If I want people to listen and vote for me, you have to tell your bosses to allow for free elections again in Montgomery County, including a free, independent press with campaign coverage, and candidate debates.

  12. Mr. Dyer, Do yourself a favor and post a new piece on anything... anything at all, so this sorry post scrolls onto the next page... so to be forgotten.

    1. 2:37: I understand your frustration. It's a powerful piece. Total victory.

  13. Pontificate, stomp, scream, pinch loaves all you want, you will never see a new bridge in your lifetime.

    1. 10:09: Oh, but we will. We will. The status quo is not sustainable. The Yellow Vests are coming.

    2. Bob, You're sick. The yellow vests are not coming... just the men in the white coats for you.

    3. 6:46: Given your 24/7 obsession with me, hanging out trolling here all day and night, it's YOU who will be visited by the men in white coats.

      The Yellow Vests are coming, and you'll have a front row seat.