Transurban project map.

By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA 

The governors of Virginia and Maryland Nov. 12 announced a partnership to rebuild and widen the heavily-traveled American Legion Bridge, a major choke-point on Interstate 495 north of Washington, D.C. The billion-dollar project to relieve congestion will be financed through public-private partnerships.

Known as the “Capital Beltway Accord,” the deal between Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is an example of bipartisan cooperation in transportation investment to improve safety, economic opportunity, and the quality of life for millions of regional residents.

The new bridge is scheduled to have four express toll lanes, in addition to eight free lanes as on the current span. Toll pricing will vary based on congestion, rising to keep traffic flowing freely. Construction is expected to begin in 2022 and be completed and open to travelers in five or six years.

ARTBA member and primary contractor Transurban, which has built other high-profile Virginia projects, will spend more than $550 million to complete the 2.5-mile northern extension of the 495 Express Lanes to the American Legion Bridge, according to January estimates by Virginia officials. They said the project will help lessen cut-through traffic in nearby neighborhoods.

“The reconstruction of the American Legion Bridge and addition of four new Express Lanes will be transformational for drivers in this region,” said Jennifer Aument, North American President of Transurban. “We applaud Governor Northam and Governor Hogan for coming together to solve one of the most pressing transportation needs in our area. We appreciate the confidence they have placed in us to take on this historic project.”

Virginia has agreed to help pay for the project even though most of the bridge belongs to Maryland.