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State transit authority approves Nice Bridge without bike path

Hogan renames Nice Bridge after Middleton

In this file photo from 2018, former Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton, left, and Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn listen as Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announces that the existing and future Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge will be renamed for Middleton during a ceremony.

The Maryland Transportation Authority announced in a press release last week that it had approved the contract that will allow the design and construction of the new Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge.

Not part of the project is a bike/pedestrian path, which the MDTA rejected due to cost and limited daily use.

According to the release, the MDTA board voted to approve a $463 million contract for Skanska-Corman-McLean Joint Venture to design and build the new bridge. Virginia will contribute $13 million to the project. The current two-lane bridge is used by about 18,000 vehicles daily, the release says.

“We’re implementing a major infrastructure project that’s affordable, invests in safety and will improve our citizens’ quality of life today — not years down the road,” said MDTA Chairman and Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn in the release.

The new bridge will replace the existing one, which is two lanes, nearly two miles long and first opened in December 1940, connecting Charles County to King George County, Va. The replacement bridge will be comprised of four 12-foot-wide lanes with 2-foot shoulders, and “will double capacity and improve safety, enhancing emergency response and maintenance/inspection activities,” the release says.

Construction is slated to start in early 2020, and is projected to wrap in 2023. The bridge will have a 100-year service life, the release says.

“Virginia’s collaboration with Maryland on the Nice-Middleton Bridge illustrates how important cooperation is to creating seamless travel in the region,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine in the release. “The connectivity improvements on Route 301 will serve citizens and provide more reliable travel along this essential corridor.”

According to the release, “the project has been hailed by the local and regional community, including the adjacent Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, the area’s largest employer, and Naval Support Facility Indian Head.”

“As commanding officer of two Navy bases directly affected by the bridge, this is great news and means the timeline for the new four-lane replacement remains on schedule.” said Capt. Michael O’Leary, commanding officer, Naval Support Activity South Potomac in the release. “We are appreciative of the great relationship we have with MDTA and look forward to supporting their continued efforts in bringing this project to completion.”

While the new bridge doesn’t have the biker-friendly features the county had hoped for, Charles County Commissioner President Reuben Collins (D) said in a statement to the Maryland Independent they remain supportive.

“We look forward to the construction of the new U.S. 301 bridge to replace the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge over the Potomac River,” Collins said. “While we are disappointed about Maryland Transportation Authority’s recent decision to not include the separated bike lanes as part of the project, we know it will enhance transportation access between Maryland and Virginia. We will collaborate closely with state officials and neighboring jurisdictions to plan for and mitigate increased traffic impacts through Charles County when the new bridge opens.”

“The MDTA had previously offered to make repairs to the bridge and turn it over to Charles County for a pedestrian/bicycle crossing, but county officials declined the offer,” the release says. “Due to Charles County’s decision, the existing bridge now will be demolished as part of this approved contract.”

According to the release, the remnants of the demolished bridge will be used to create an artificial fish reef.

In addition, MDTA and SCM are partnering with the Potomac River Fisheries Commission and Maryland Department of Natural Resources to fund oyster seeding in the lower Potomac River basin.

Per the release, “As part of the procurement process, MDTA requested a bid option to add a separated bicycle/pedestrian path to the new structure. The proposal from SCM would cost an additional $64 million for a separated path with limited daily use. After a thorough discussion and analysis, as well as public testimony, the board voted instead to move forward with a project to improve safety and capacity for thousands along the I-95 corridor.”

Twitter: @LindsayIndyNews

Twitter: @LindsayIndyNews