US$4 billion bridge and highway project

A US$4 billion bridge replacement and highway upgrade project is planned for the US.
Finance & Funding / June 14, 2024 55 seconds Read
By MJ Woof
Replacing the notoriously congested American Legion Memorial Bridge in the US is a high priority due to its poor structural condition – image courtesy of © Grandbrothers|

A US$4 billion bridge replacement and highway upgrade project will improve transport between Maryland and Virginia in the US. The project is to replace the American Legion Memorial Bridge, which carries traffic on I-495 over the Potomac River, to the North West of capital Washington DC.

The bridge is struggling to cope with the massive traffic volumes it carries, with delays frequent at peak periods. The bridge is in poor condition and the work is a high priority due to its crumbling concrete structure. Building a new bridge as well as upgrading the highway leading to the crossing is expected to cost in the region of $4 billion.

Opened to traffic in 1962, the bridge originally featured three lanes in either direction but was widened to five lanes in either direction with the opening of a new central section in 1992. The plans call for construction to commence on the new bridge in 2026 with the opening due in 2032.

State funding from Maryland and Virginia worth a total of $1 billion has been pledged for the work in a joint agreement made in 2019 by the two states but the remaining $3 billion will have to come from federal sources. Survey work in the river is being carried out jointly for the project between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA).

The new bridge is expected to feature additional traffic lanes to help reduce congestion at peak periods and will also carry lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, which are not allowed on the existing structure. New tolled lanes will be included in the project, with VDOT planning to add these on a stretch of I-495 although MDOT SHA has still to commit to widening a stretch of the highway.

The project is one of several massive transportation upgrades being planned for the US states of Virginia and Maryland.