HD56 - A Review of Previous Studies Regarding An Additional Potomac River Crossing

Executive Summary:
In response to the 1998 Virginia General Assembly's House Joint Resolution 134 (HJR134), the Virginia Department of Transportation has prepared the following documentation updating the previous Department of Transportation studies on the benefits of constructing one or more limited access parkways and bridges connecting Virginia and Maryland between the American Legion Bridge and the north-south powerline alignment in Loudoun County. A copy of HJR134 is included in Appendix A.

To date, several studies have examined the benefits and costs of a bypass or new transportation corridor in the Northern Virginia Region linking the suburban areas of Washington D.C. in Virginia and Maryland. Some of the studies were undertaken in conjunction regional planning and others were special initiatives resulting from the recognition of the need to improve linkages between Virginia and Maryland. In the 1980's a closer look at an "outer loop" was requested and the resulting study, the Washington Bypass Study, First Tier Draft Environmental Impact Study, was completed in April 1990. This effort focused on a vast study area from south of Fredericksburg, Virginia to Frederick, Maryland. In this study various sites for river crossings were considered. Funding for an additional crossing of the Potomac River was also analyzed.

As a result of this study, Maryland and Virginia focused their attention on two different study areas. The focus in Virginia shifted from the study of a continuous loop to a western corridor. The recently completed Western Transportation Corridor Study (WTCS) examined many alternate routes and evaluated the need for and effects of transportation improvements in the study area, which was bounded by the Potomac River in Loudoun County and Interstate 95 in Stafford County. The study found that there is a definite need for improvements to accommodate north-south suburban travel. Also, the westward shift of the employment base will continue to increase the demand on the western corridor transportation system.

The Western Transportation Corridor Major Investment Study identified a need and a feasible corridor for a transportation improvement, and recommended more detailed study of the corridor to arrive at a location decision for a new freeway. A more detailed and comprehensive traffic and transportation study will be necessary to determine the most effective solutions to the already growing problem.

In September 1997, the Commonwealth Transportation Board adopted a resolution requesting the Virginia Department of Transportation to continue discussions with Maryland and local officials for the purpose of studying a new Potomac River crossing. It is anticipated that with support from Maryland and Virginia officials, another river crossing study will be undertaken in the future.

This report was distributed to the Northern Virginia Transportation Coordination Council (TCC) for their review and comment. Comments received from the members of the TCC are included in Appendix B.