American Legion Memorial Bridge (Potomac River)
|American Legion Bridge|
|Official name||American Legion Memorial Bridge|
|Other name(s)||Legion Bridge|
|Carries||10 lanes of I-495, 8 thru lanes and 2 exit lanes|
|Locale||Montgomery County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia|
|Maintained by||Maryland State Highway Administration|
|Opened||December 31, 1963|
|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.
Built in 1962, 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. It opened to traffic on Tuesday, December 31, 1963. 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. 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 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. Opponents argue that another bridge would increase development in those areas, increase traffic, and generate more pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.
The bridge crosses the western terminus of the Potomac Heritage Trail and the George Washington Memorial Parkway on the Virginia 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.
- "Rating Area Bridges," Washington Post: A10, August 5, 2007.
- The Washington Post-Times Herald, "Cabin John Bridge Opens to Light Traffic", Tuesday 1 January 1963, Volume 86, Number 27, page B-2.
- "Cabin John Bridge Given a New Name," Washington Post, Times Herald (Washington, D.C.): City Life Section, May 31, 1969
- American Legion Memorial Bridge at Structurae
- Maps and aerial photos
- Map and satellite image from Eyeball series