American Legion Bridge will need to be replaced or overhauled within six years, officials say

Public meetings began Monday night about the future of the bridge and the adjacent Interstate 270 corridor

NBC Universal, Inc.

The heavily used American Legion Bridge has about six years or so of useful life left, before it has to be replaced or completely overhauled, according to Maryland transportation leaders.

The stark warning concerns the bridge known as one of the worst traffic chokepoints in the D.C. area. The American Legion Bridge takes the Capital Beltway across Potomac River to connect Montgomery County, Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia.

"We do believe that it will reach the end of its functional life by the end of the decade, and so we will need to make improvements to the bridge," said Maryland Department of Transportation policy advisor Drew Morrison.

The statements now being made about the bridge are sobering. 

"There are structural issues," Morrison said. "Before the end of the decade, we will need to replace the American Legion Bridge."

Maryland transportation leaders are holding meetings all this week about what a new bridge should look like, and how the Interstate 270 corridor just beyond the bridge should change. Multiple factors are being considered, including bike and pedestrian crossings, toll lanes, bus lanes and rail transportation.

Monday night's public meeting will be at Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School starting at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are planned in Gaithersburg and Frederick for later this week. Find information on the public meetings here.

Commuter John Hill says it’s time to get moving on some sort of solution.

"I've been here since '85, and it gets worse and worse every year," Hill said.

What about paying for a quick trip on a new bridge and I-270, like drivers do on the Express lanes in Northern Virginia?

"I don’t know how to fix it, but I can guarantee you there’s going to be a lot of folks who are not going to be happy about paying to jump on the Beltway," commuter Raphael Mata said.

The amount of funding required for all of this is still not known, and the state acknowledges there would likely have to be some federal money available to accomplish the task.

Contact Us