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New Potomac River Crossings/The Techway

Nine Reasons to be Concerned About a Second Potomac Bridge
Studies and Other Resources


Solutions Not Sprawl, a campaign to protect Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve in Maryland, has an excellent background on the Techway available on their website.

Nine Reasons to be concerned about a second bridge across the Potomac River

Time and again, studies have shown there is no need or demand for a second bridge across the Potomac River.  Furthermore, these studies have shown that the construction of a second bridge would seriously impact Loudoun County with new traffic and development pressures.  

1. A second bridge will increase development pressures. A second crossing will increase development pressures, not only in Loudoun County but also in areas west of us, such as West Virginia.  New development in these areas mean more commuters on Loudoun roads trying to get east to job centers such as Tysons Corner and Arlington.

2.  A second bridge will generate new traffic and won't give commuters relief.  Studies have shown that a second crossing would be quickly gridlocked due to new traffic generated by the bridge

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) own studies, a new techway bridge connecting to either the Fairfax County Parkway or Route 28 would have a failing level of service as a direct result of induced traffic.  In a 1999 analysis, VDOT reported that 75-84% of traffic on any bridge crossing in 2020 would be induced traffic.

3.  A second crossing will exacerbate traffic problems in Loudoun County. New traffic generated by a second crossing will feed directly onto Loudoun’s commuting corridors, including Route 7, the Greenway, and the Dulles Toll Road.  In addition, a second crossing will not help the majority of Loudoun commuters, who travel east-west.

A study by Smart Mobility analyzed the land use and transportation benefits of new river crossings, and found a 89% traffic increase on Route 28 if the Techway were built, and a 189% increase on Route 28 if the WTC were built.

4. A second crossing will divert taxpayer dollars from critically needed projects. The incredibly high cost of construction for a second crossing will take away our taxpayer dollars from the traffic fixes we desperately need in Loudoun County - and spend the money on a project for which there is no demand.

While there has been no official cost projection for a second crossing, we can get an idea of the scope: the Tri-County Parkway segment recently approved is a 10.5-mile section of highway that would run from Manassas north to Route 50.  This project, which would run mostly through undeveloped land, will cost $19 million per mile to build.

Compare that price tag to the cost of a new bridge and its approaches, taking into account expensive and technically difficult environmental mitigation measures with the Potomac River.  In addition, a second crossing could potentially require the removal of dozens or even hundreds of homes in Loudoun County, which would require significant compensation to home owners. 

5. Study after study has shown that there is no demand for a second crossing.  Numerous studies have been conducted over the years – and every study comes up with the same answer: there is no demand for a second crossing, and any future demand would be traffic induced by a second bridge.  So why does the idea keep popping up? Special interests, including developers and those involved with Dulles Airport, continue to raise the issue.

• The VDOT Techway Origin and Destination Study of 2004 showed that the U-shaped commutes between middle and upper Montgomery County and the Dulles Corridor and Loudoun represent a very small percentage of Virginia and Maryland commuters. The report shows that just 342 VA vehicles traveled from the Dulles, Route 15, Route 28, and I-66 corridors to Gaithersburg. No more than 1,637 MD vehicles traveled from the entire I-270 corridor including Frederick to the I-66 and Dulles corridors and beyond.
• Just 4% of Virginia trips to work are made to ALL of Montgomery County. However, 74.5% of Virginia trips to work are made to core job centers including Tysons Corner, Arlington, Pentagon, DC, etc. How can we justify so much money for 4% of Virginia commuters when we have so many other pressing needs?

6. A second crossing could severely impact or even destroy several Loudoun neighborhoods.  In 2001, Congressman Frank Wolfe appropriated $2 million for a study on the feasibility of a techway bridge. He later canceled the study, saying “it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to build a new bridge without negatively impacting established neighborhoods or cutting through parkland.”

7. Montgomery County, Maryland, opposes a second crossing.  The Montgomery County Council has gone on record to oppose a second crossing.  In 2004, the council unanimously passed a resolution opposing any bridge, citing "concerns about destruction of existing neighborhoods, damage to parkland along the Potomac River and the need to protect the county's 90,000-acre Agricultural Reserve."

8. A second crossing will jeopardize our region's air quality.  The traffic and new development spurred by a new bridge will increase air pollution and smog.  Northern Virginia's federal highway funding, dependent upon exceeding air quality standards, is already in jeopardy.  We can't afford to lose precious transportation dollars. 

9Better options for managing American Legion Bridge traffic exist.  Studies have shown that alternative traffic relief measures would provide give the greatest help to commuters.  The Virginia 2020 Transportation Plan reported that alternative solutions to a second crossing would provide a 6% reduction in American Legion Bridge traffic, significantly more relief than a second crossing would provide.


Studies and Other Resources

More Sprawl, More Traffic, No Relief: An Analysis of Proposed Potomac River Crossings
Technical report by Smart Mobility, Inc.
PDF File

Analysis of VDOT's 2003 Study: Morning Commuter Traffic Crossing American Legion Bridge
By Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth
Word Document

Morning Commuter Traffic Crossing American Legion Bridge
This study was commissioned by VDOT in 2003 was "to identify and quantify current morning commuting patterns of Virginia and Maryland residents crossing the Potomac River via the
American Legion Bridge" and to determine if demand exists for a second crossing.
Report published in April 2004.
PDF File

A Northern Potomac River Crossing: Will it Address Regional Congestion?
Report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, August 2001
PDF File