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County Council Votes to Oppose New Potomac River Bridge

The Montgomery County Council, Tuesday voted to approve a resolution to formally oppose the idea to build an UpCounty Potomac River crossing at last week's meeting of the County Council.

On Tuesday, July 18 the Montgomery County Council unanimously voted on the resolution, introduced by Council President Berliner and cosponsored by Councilmembers Riemer, Elrich, Floreen, and Leventhal, formally opposing a new Potomac River bridge crossing. The proposed project would include extending Route 28 in Virginia to the portion of the Intercounty County Connector (ICC) that is in Montgomery County.

“Urgent action is needed to dissuade the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) from supporting a study of a new Potomac River bridge,” according to Council President Berliner. “Montgomery County has long opposed another Potomac River bridge crossing from Northern Virginia to Montgomery County because of the severe negative impacts such a project would have on our environment, our Agricultural Reserve, established residential neighborhoods and for promoting sprawl.”

Last week, Berliner called the idea of a second bridge spanning the Potomac a Zombie Bridge. “In my judgment this is a zombie bridge, and we need to put a stake in this,” said Berliner.

In a memo to the County Council on Friday, July 14, Berliner said, “This Council has repeatedly asked Maryland and Virginia transportation officials to focus on real solutions - not fantasy- to the unacceptable congestion on I-270 all the way to the Capital Beltway by expanding high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes to the American Legion Bridge and Maryland side of the Capital Beltway. Studies have demonstrated that a vast majority of commuters traveling through this major chokepoint are headed to destinations within or near the Capital Beltway, making an expensive, sprawl-inducing Potomac River outer crossing a serious mistake with scarce transportation dollars available.”

Supporters, which include all the members of the Loudon County Board of Supervisors, who voted unanimously last month to begin taking the first steps toward having another discussion about the bridge, argue that a second crossing into Northern Virginia would go a long way to help alleviate the congestion on The Beltway and I-270.

However, Berliner plans to stop any talk of a bridge before it can gain any sort of momentum. In his memo, Berliner continued, “Based on the unanimous vote last month by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to direct county staff to identify potential corridors for a bridge route and to include a statement of support for a new Potomac River crossing in the county's Countywide Transportation Plan, the idea of an additional river crossing appears to be gaining momentum. We must once again make it clear that Montgomery County opposes another Potomac River bridge crossing.”

The resolution opposing a new Potomac River bridge crossing will be voted on, at approximately 10:50 am, during the Council’s regular weekly meeting that will begin at 10:30 am in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

Photo by: CZmarlin — Christopher Ziemnowicz, [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (