American Legion Memorial Bridge (Potomac River)

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"Cabin John Bridge" redirects here. For the 19th-century masonry structure in Cabin John, Maryland, also known as the Union Arch Bridge, see Union Arch Bridge.
American Legion Memorial Bridge
American Legion Memorial Bridge, Maryland, April 20, 2014.jpg
The American Legion Memorial Bridge in April 2014.
Coordinates 38°58′13″N 77°10′47″W / 38.97017°N 77.17962°W / 38.97017; -77.17962Coordinates: 38°58′13″N 77°10′47″W / 38.97017°N 77.17962°W / 38.97017; -77.17962
Carries 10 lanes of I-495, 8 thru lanes and 2 exit lanes
Crosses Potomac River
Locale Montgomery County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia
Official name American Legion Memorial Bridge
Other name(s) Legion Bridge
Maintained by Maryland State Highway Administration
Opened December 31, 1962 (52 years ago) (1962-12-31)
Daily traffic 204,000 (1997)

The American Legion Memorial Bridge, also known as the American Legion Bridge and formerly as the Cabin John Bridge, is a bridge in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It carries the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) across the Potomac River between Montgomery County and Fairfax County, Virginia. It is an American Water Landmark.

The bridge has five traffic lanes in each direction. The outermost lane in each direction is an exit-only lane. The outermost northbound lane is exit-only onto the Clara Barton Parkway, while the outermost lane in the southern direction is exit-only onto the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Georgetown Pike (State Route 193). The bridge does not allow for pedestrians or cyclists.


Opened on December 31, 1962,[1] the bridge was originally named the "Cabin John Bridge" because of its proximity to the community of Cabin John on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. The bridge opened without a ceremony due to the cold weather.[2] On May 30, 1969, the bridge was officially renamed the "American Legion Memorial Bridge" in a ceremony led by Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, director of the U.S. Selective Service System.[3] This action reduced confusion with the Union Arch Bridge, which carries the Washington Aqueduct and MacArthur Boulevard across Cabin John Creek and which some people also called "the Cabin John Bridge".

The American Legion Memorial Bridge is an important commuter route because of its proximity to edge cities and high tech centers in Maryland and Virginia, and is the only major crossing between Maryland and Virginia between the Point of Rocks Bridge, more than 30 miles (50 km) upstream (not counting White's Ferry, which is the only crossing between these bridges, and the last operating ferry on the Potomac), and the Chain Bridge downstream between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia. Congestion on the bridge and commuter travel between the western Washington suburbs in both states has fueled support for a western bridge around the Loudoun County/Fairfax County line in Virginia (Virginia Route 28/Fairfax County Parkway area), or farther out as part of the Western Transportation Corridor.[4] Opponents claim that another bridge would increase development in those areas, increase traffic, and generate more pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.[5]

The bridge crosses the western terminus of the Potomac Heritage Trail and the George Washington Memorial Parkway on the Virginian side of the Potomac River. On the Maryland side, the bridge crosses over MacArthur Boulevard, the Clara Barton Parkway and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Lock 13 (Seven Locks 6) of the canal is underneath the bridge.

The American Legion Memorial Bridge is one of the two locations at which the Capital Beltway crosses the Potomac River; the other is the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge.


  1. ^ "Cabin John Bridge Opens to Light Traffic". The Washington Post. January 1, 1963. p. B2. 
  2. ^ "Cabin John Span Opens Monday: Cabin John Bridge To Open". The Washington Post. December 29, 1962. p. A1. 
  3. ^ "Cabin John Bridge Given a New Name". The Washington Post-Times Herald (Washington, D.C.). May 31, 1969.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  4. ^ Ginsberg, Steven (May 11, 2004). "Traffic Study Renews 'Techway' Debate: Most Md. Drivers Who Cross Legion Bridge Turn West, Researchers Find". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: The Washington Post Company. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ Chesapeake Bay Foundation (August 2001). "A Northern Potomac River Crossing: Will It Address Regional Congestion?" (PDF). Annapolis, Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Retrieved October 27, 2002. 

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