Skip to comments.Maryland and Virginia to rebuild and widen the American Legion Bridge, governors say
Posted on 11/15/2019 12:47:04 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
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DC is way ahead of the suburbs on this. We have too many suburbs built on the assumption that people will get into their cars to cross the street, that no one would ever walk anywhere, and that bicycling should require loading your bikes onto a car to go find a park with a bike path.
Poolesville doesn’t want to be turned into just another wasteland of ugly sprawl development. I’m with Poolesville on this one.
There is a definite need for an interstate highway that does not put interstate trucks onto the DC beltway.
I drive across that bridge every day. There isn’t one single good reason to spend an addition $150M to connect one suburb to another. There are plenty of good paths already in existence to go from the burbs downtown. I have yet to hear a single neighbor pine about how much they’d love to bike over to Tysons Corner. Just how would you get a bike path past the GW parkway? How about repave all of the parkways along the river and bring them imto compliance with Federal Highway Standards. Geez the GW doesn’t even have paved shoulders or barriers to keep a car from going into a ravine.
DC also is way ahead on a lot of dumb ideas too. Like the newly installed trams that block traffic and take away parking.
So am I!!!
Plus I love occasionally taking White’s Ferry.
An alternative bridge, say 6 lanes, right over Dan Snyder’s house would solve many of these problems...
Wow. I'm not trying to pick a fight, but I've not heard such an unalloyed specimen of 1960's spokes-and-hub transportation thinking in 25 years.
There are over nine million people in the Washington-Baltimore CMSA. About 700,000 live in the DC proper. Fairfax, Montgomery and PG Counties are all larger in population. A majority of the jobs are in the suburban countries. Lateral movement around the core is arguably a bigger problem than the schlep into DC. That's as true for metrorail, busses and bicycles as it is for cars.
I don't understand your complaint about spending an additional $150 million to connect one suburb to another. The American Legion Bridge already does that. The point of the story is that the American Legion Bridge is inadequate for today's traffic volume and needs to be rebuilt. All I'm saying is that if the bridge is rebuilt, it should be rebuilt to modern standards, which would include pedestrian and bike access.
Where does your $150 million figure come from? I refuse to pay the Washington Post so I can't view the rest of the article.
I-495 already has tolled express lanes from Springfield to Tysons, but they have their own exits. However, the lanes will be extended across the new bridge to connect to Maryland’s future tolled lanes. That will hopefully alleviate the problem a little bit, but it won’t be like I-270, which actually has free express lanes from Gaithersburg to just south of Montrose Road (Rockville). Slip ramps take drivers to and from the local lanes, which have the actual freeway exits.
The multi-use path on the Wilson Bridge is separated from the traffic by a tall, thick see-through screen of glass or some even better material, so that the cyclists and joggers will be safe, while drivers still get to enjoy the view.
As much as I agree with you on a greater reliance on transit, when possible, there is NO WAY this great knot of congestion will become completely untied without a second bridge somewhere along the Potomac, preferably connecting two existing highways, such as Sam Eig/I-370 in Maryland with Route 28 in Virginia. The people building the approaches should take care to make sure that all streets that they go through remain connected, like you’ve said before. That connector should look like the JFX in downtown Baltimore, with all its street overpasses.
Another cyclist wet dream.
You are unable to answer any of my objections, you just spout socialist eurocentric nonsense.
Just how many times have you even crossed the Wilson bridge on foot?
This has zero chance of coming to pass. And you know why? Because nobody wants a wasteful expenditure of tax dollars that no one would ever use. Especially when there are much more serious transit problems to be addressed.
The %150M is just to add an bike path to the bridge. I have lived in the MD suburbs most of my life and I travel across the ALB every day.
Are you at all familiar with the American Legion Bridge?
Where exactly would this bike path connect to and from? River Road to Route 123? That would be insane.
There is no similarity between the Wilson Bridge and the ALB. The Wilson is a draw bridge crossing over a wide span on flat terrain and the ALB is an elevated bridge (125’) over rough river canyon. The Canal tow path is a hundred feet below and there is NO pedestrian paths for miles and the VA side.
In short this would be a huge waste of money.
I would much rather have the parkways repaved and made safe than build a bike path that no one living here wants.
Start with pedestrians. My philosophical baseline is that people should be able to walk safely around their own neighborhoods. In high traffic areas, this means sidewalks and lots of streetlights at crossing points. (Joe Commuter who lives 30 miles away and wants to sail through other people's neighborhoods at high speed can just suck it up and bear it. Or move closer to his job.) Widen the sidewalk enough that a bike (or someone pushing a stroller or walking a dog) can pass a pedestrian, and you have a de facto bike path. Depending on the neighborhood, there may be better options, but that's a simple baseline and is enough to work around a lot of the real trouble spots. Far more pedestrians than bicyclists are hit by cars, and my guess is that if we fixed the pedestrian danger zones, we would take care of most of the real bike problem spots as well.
Now: if you look at the map, you will see a workable bike network in the core and in most of the outer ring suburbs. This is growing in DC, as the city has finally realized that it is at maximum congestion and simply can't handle more cars. The DC planners are fully committed to intermodal options that encourage people to get out of their cars. The big strategic problem here, as in so much of what else is wrong in America, goes back to the 1960's, and specifically the beltway suburbs. McLean, for example, is a bicycling disaster area; it was built totally for cars. Tysons is well, Tyson's, a monument to carheaded folly that Fairfax County will now spend billions of dollars over the next several decades trying to rehabilitate as something other than a congested eyesore.
Pay attention to gaps, barriers and chokepoints. Bridges by definition are critical to solving all three and are too big, too few in number, and too expensive to waste. The cul de sac pattern of development that was so characteristic of the 1960's beltway suburbs is a related problem. The designers didn't want cut through traffic in residential neighborhoods, so they built road systems that forced everyone out onto the arterial highways to go any distance at all. That's what flushes bicyclists and pedestrians onto unsuitable roads. (It also creates extra congestion.) Many biking problems could be solved by neighborhood connectors, very small and short local cut throughs to jump from a bike friendly street in cul de sac A to a bike friendly street in cul de sac B. People living in A and B stare at each other across their backyards. All we need to do is put in a path so kids, dog walkers and bicyclists can cut through without getting out on the commuter road.
It's challenging to retrofit older neighborhoods. The beltway suburbs were outer ring when they were built. They are inner ring now. They have densified significantly, as have the areas all around them. They are now choking on traffic and that's only going to get worse. People are starting to realize that things like sidewalks, intermodal transit options, and street grids that let you stay off the major commuter roads are pretty good ideas. We can't wave a magic wand and make the follies of the 1960's disappear, but when a major rebuilding project offers the opportunity, we can chip away at the problem.
So: what would I do with a pedestrian/bikepath on the American Legion Bridge? Where would it connect? I can stand today on the C&O Canal towpath in the Seven Locks stretch, just under the 495 overpass, and throw a rock and hit a car. (Not that I would .) A ramp would be easy. Think of the GW Parkway overpass at Theodore Roosevelt Island, which is how you get from the river up into Rosslyn and to Key Bridge. It's not hard. Look at the map. The towpath, Clara Barton and MacArthur are all within a quarter mile of each other as they cross 495. This is all close enough to the river to be in the bridge rebuilding zone. Connect to the towpath and MacArthur now and build out from there later. (MacArthur currently overpasses 495 and does not connect directly. That doesn't mean that you couldn't put a bike ramp up to MacArthur to connect to the existing bike lane.)
Thinking strategically, Montgomery County needs to keep upgrading the bike routes along River Road and MacArthur Blvd. Both of these are supposed to be bikeable, but the sidewalks/bike lanes disappear at inopportune times and cyclists are shunted onto unsuitable stretches of road. This needs to be fixed over time as those roads are redone. Moving uphill from the river, you have the C&O Canal towpath, the Capital Crescent, the Clara Barton Parkway (which, absurdly, has no biking option), MacArthur and then River Road but moving north-south across the grid is difficult. This is important for people on bikes who are actually trying to go somewhere (long distance riders and commuters) and who need to be able to connect to already-existing paths to take them to different destinations. This isn't part of the American Legion Bridge project and doesn't belong in that budget, but it is part of the strategic plan of which the bridge rebuild is a keystone element. The goal is to build a coherent system, and that requires taking advantage of major targets of opportunity as the really big projects roll around. Rebuilding the American Legion Bridge is a 50-75 year opportunity to get a big piece right.
There are similar issues and opportunities on the Virginia side. Suppose a bike lane was put across the American Legion Bridge. One would want to get off the interstate right of way as soon as possible after crossing the river. I know those areas by car but not by bike, but the map shows a bike friendly road (Live Oak Drive) just outside the beltway that starts right at the foot of the bridge. The point is, there's a stub already there. Use it to connect to the various bike routes in that area. There aren't many; the whole area between the river and Tysons is cul de sac hell. Fairfax has a long way to go to remediate its 1960's mistakes. But the point is, rebuilding the American Legion Bridge is a huge piece of the puzzle. If that's not done right, Canal Bridge (which also needs to be revisited next time it's rebuilt) would remain the only crossing, and that would be a major unforced error.
By the way, I will take some convincing on the estimate of $150 million to add a bike lane to the AL Bridge. They're talking about a billion dollar project. That probably doesn't include reengineering the merge and exit ramps for all the roads between Tysons and the 270 spur, which should be part of the long term plan. But for the bridge itself, they're talking TWELVE traffic lanes, plus shoulders. Do you really believe that a ten foot sidewalk would account for 15 percent of the project cost? Especially since essentially all the load requirements are for vehicular traffic? That sounds like the kind of game playing that goes on when planners just want to make something go away.
This, unfortunately, is something that is familiar to those of us who follow the bike wars. The road lobby will propose to drive an arterial road through a residential neighborhood, generally by commuterizing an existing street. They will acquire the widened right of way at vast expense. They will eliminate everybody's on street parking (thus killing most of the local merchants on what used to be a neighborhood main street), tree plats, sidewalks and half of peoples' front yards. They will do massive work on buried water, sewer, and other utility lines. Then, with a straight face, they will say that it's just too expensive to build new sidewalks. It's too expensive to build frequent overpasses for neighborhood streets, so they'll only do that for other major arterial roads. It's too expensive to build pedestrian overpasses so residents can cross the new, high speed commuter sewer. And they'll say that these things are just neighborhood amenities, that the roadbuilders aren't responsible for mitigating the adverse impacts of their project, and so livable neighborhoods just have to be sacrificed in the name of progress.
No more. Build complete roads. With sidewalks. And put adequate pedestrian/biking access on all bridges.
Sorry for the length, but one has to get pretty granular to talk sensibly about options.
P.S. I said Canal Bridge. I meant Chain Bridge. Too much towpath on my mind.
Nice philosophy. If you you want to put up the money go right ahead. Don’t ask me to. Are you honestly thinking that people in Rockville want to ride a bike to McLean to go to work? Or go shopping in Tyson?
MacArthur Blvd passes under the bridge BTW.
I have waited 40 years for the Techway bridge and I don’t see that happening either.
As for the cost estimate. Rockville paid close to $10M to put a bike bridge across Viers Mill Rd 8 years ago. Sop yeah it will be a hell of a lot after you incluse all of the new paths, approaches, ramps, barriers, signage ect. What did you think it add $5M? And best of all.... nobody use that one either.
Thanks for wanting to impose your dream world on the rest of us .... at our expense.
In general, in a major metro area, a pedestrian/bike overpass is a subsidy for motorists, not bicyclists or pedestrians. It is the price for eliminating a stop sign or stoplight. The Viers Mill biking overpass to which you refer may be an exception. Do you know the rationale? The overpass is on the Rock Creek Trail at the point where Viers Mill Road crosses Rock Creek Park. There is an at-grade crossing just a short distance away, which I suppose is how trail users crossed Viers Mill before the overpass was built. This is a very minor detour off the trail and looks perfectly serviceable to me. It’s nice to have an uninterrupted trail, and maybe the National Park Service and/or Montgomery County had money burning a hole in its pocket at the time. Eight years ago was the Obama era; was this perhaps stimulus money, which was thrown around rather promiscuously for press release purposes? Or were too many people getting hit at that crossing, as the Rock Creek Trail is busy, and so is Viers Mill.
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