This story was updated to clarify the final cost of the proposal and funding sources for new lanes over the American Legion Bridge.
Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday announced a partnership to improve and expand the American Legion Bridge, a regional traffic bottleneck with worsening congestion.
The billion-dollar “Capital Beltway Accord,” announced at a regional transportation forum, will replace existing lanes in both directions across the Potomac River and add two new express lanes in each direction between the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia and River Road in Maryland.
The expanded American Legion Bridge will add four express toll lanes in addition to the eight lanes already present. Both governors described the project as vital to improving traffic along the bridge — an aging piece of infrastructure which they blamed for long delays and worsening congestion in the area.
The bridge has been operating beyond its capacity for nearly four decades, according to a press release from Northam’s office. More than 40% of residents in the region travel over the bridge, and both states expect traffic to grow by another 1.2 million people by 2040.
Maryland will take the lead on reconstruction, Hogan said, but Virginia will pay for 50% of the new express lanes on the bridge. Virginia will also pay for 21% of the general purpose lanes, according to Assistant Secretary of Transportation Amy Wight, while Maryland will pay for 79%.
Officials from both states say the project will require no public funding.
“We are confident that the toll revenue will fund the project costs,” Wight wrote in an email.
The plan also calls for Maryland to add express toll lanes on the Capital Beltway more quickly than originally planned.
Under the accord, the state will prioritize adding toll lanes on I-495 to the Potomac River and the I-95 interchange in Prince George’s County, Hogan said. The initial phase of his existing lane widening project was previously limited to widening the southern portion of I-270.
At the same time, Virginia will complete its own express lane project leading to the bridge.
“A bipartisan, common-sense, interstate agreement like this comes around once in a generation,” Hogan said.
Officials from both administrations have been negotiating the details of the project since the summer, he added.