WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The governors of Maryland and Virginia have announced their plan to replace the American Legion Bridge. The plan, unveiled on Tuesday as the 'Capital Beltway Accord,' would work to relieve congestion along a part of Interstate-495 that has long been considered one of the country's worst traffic bottlenecks.
"A new bridge means commuters will get to work and back home faster," said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in a news release from his office. "Our teams have identified a way to fix one of the worst traffic hot spots in the country. This demonstrates what can get done when leaders come together to find shared solutions to tough regional problems. This is about helping people see their families more, grow their businesses, and further unlock the region's vast economic potential."
"The 'Capital Beltway Accord' is a once-in-a-generation achievement for the capital region," said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan in the release. "A bipartisan, commonsense, interstate agreement such as this has eluded 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 advancing real, lasting, transformative improvements for the entire Washington metropolitan region."
Traffic flows over the American Legion Bridge along I-495, the Capitol Beltway, on the day before the Thanksgiving holiday November 22, 2006 between Virginia and Maryland. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The governors made the announcement Tuesday at the Capital Region Transportation Forum in Washington.
The partnership would also deliver infrastructure relief, expand bicycle and pedestrian access and connect the interstate highway system between the neighboring states and would complement ongoing plans by both governors in their jurisdictions, according to officials.
The project, Northam's office says, is expected to cut commuting time in half for travelers and reduce congestion in the regular lanes by 25 percent. It is also expected to provide 40 percent more lane capacity over the old bridge across the Potomac River.
According to officials, the project will replace the lanes in each direction and will add two new Express Lanes in each direction. The Express Lanes will run approximately three miles between the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to the area near River Road in Maryland.
The project could begin as early as 2021.