Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge

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Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge
Harrynicebridge603.jpg
Carries 2 lanes of US 301
Crosses Potomac River
Locale Dahlgren, Virginia and Newburg, Maryland
Maintained by Maryland Transportation Authority
Design Continuous truss bridge
Total length 1.7 miles (2735 m)
Longest span 800 ft (240 m)
Opened December 1940
Toll $6.00 (southbound) per two-axle vehicle beginning July 1, 2013; E-ZPass accepted
Coordinates 38°21′42″N 76°59′36″W / 38.3618°N 76.9934°W / 38.3618; -76.9934Coordinates: 38°21′42″N 76°59′36″W / 38.3618°N 76.9934°W / 38.3618; -76.9934

The Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge is a 1.7-mile (2.7 km), two-lane continuous truss bridge that spans the Potomac River between Newburg in Charles County, Maryland and Dahlgren in King George County, Virginia, USA.[1] The bridge is narrow (one 11-foot (3.4 m) lane in each direction with no shoulders), steep (up to 3.75 percent grade), and has a reduced speed limit (50 mph on the main span, even slower through the toll gates and plaza).[2] This combination causes cars and trucks to slow and merge, which often results in backups.

This two lane bridge carries U.S. Route 301, which is a spur of U.S. Route 1 and a popular north-south alternative for bypassing the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area as well as Interstate 95, Interstate 495 (Capital Beltway), and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to the north along the Potomac River. The traffic growth/volume in Southern Maryland has led to congestion and delays, especially on holidays and weekends.[3] In 2005, the bridge handled approximately 6.4 million vehicles.[4]

It is one of eight toll facilities operated by the Maryland Transportation Authority, and is one of only two toll bridges over the Potomac River.

History[edit]

President Franklin D. Roosevelt presided over the ground-breaking ceremony for the bridge in 1939.[5] Known as the Potomac River Bridge when opened in December 1940, the bridge was renamed in 1967 for Harry W. Nice (1877–1941) who served as governor of Maryland from 1935 to 1939.[6][7] The bridge was the first south of Washington, DC to provide a highway link between Maryland and Virginia.[8][9]

A photograph of the Harry W. Nice Bridge taken from Virginia. The border with Maryland is at the foreground shoreline; hence the "Welcome to Maryland" signs before the bridge.

Future[edit]

In June 2006, the Maryland Transportation Authority initiated the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge Improvement Project.[10] This project is exploring upgrade/replacement of the main span, which is a bottleneck as the bridge is only two lanes, whereas U.S. Route 301 is a four lane divided highway in both Maryland and Virginia. As of June 2007, it was in the planning stage. In December 2007, the Washington Post reported that six alternatives had been identified.[11] In December 2012, it was reported that the MdTA completed a study of the Nice Bridge and received approval from the federal government to replace the current structure with a span with four lanes and a bike/pedestrian path, to be located just north of the existing bridge, which will be removed upon completion of the replacement crossing.[12] The MdTA estimated the cost of a replacement span at about $850 million, but funding is not currently identified.[13] The project is being coordinated with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and is proceeding in conjunction with the Maryland State Highway Administration's U.S. Route 301 South Corridor Transportation Study [14] and the U.S. Route 301 Waldorf Area Transportation Improvements Project.[15]

On Nov 21, 2013, Governor Martin O’Malley announced that the MD Transportation Authority (MDTA) Board has approved an additional $50 million in its final six-year capital program (FY 2014 – FY 2019) to fund initial design and right-of-way acquisition for the project to replace the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge (US 301), which connects Charles County, Maryland and King George County, Virginia, across the Potomac River. The planning phase of the project was completed in fall 2012. A new four-lane bridge will be built parallel to, and north of, the existing bridge, and the existing bridge will be removed upon completion of the new bridge.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MdTA toll facilities: southern region: Nice Bridge". Maryland Transportation Authority. 
  2. ^ "Roadway Design and Features". Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge Improvement Project. 
  3. ^ "Bridge Maintenance". Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge Improvement Project. 
  4. ^ "Traffic Operations and Safety". Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge Improvement Project. 
  5. ^ Legler, Dixie; Highsmith, Carol (2002). Historic Bridges of Maryland. Crownsville, Maryland: Maryland Historic Trust. p. 64. ISBN 1-878399-80-2. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Maryland Manual, 1977-78". Archives of Maryland Online. 
  7. ^ "Civil Engineering in Maryland". The Johns Hopkins University. 
  8. ^ "Project Overview and Background". Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge Improvement Project. 
  9. ^ "The Governor Harry W. Nice Bridge". St. Mary's Today Online Edition. 
  10. ^ "Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge Improvement Project". Maryland Transportation Authority. 
  11. ^ Greenwell, Megan (2007-12-09). "6 Possible Paths for Cramped Md. Span". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  12. ^ Samuel, Peter (2012-12-20). "New Nice Bridge MD-VA moves forward". TOLLROADSnews. Retrieved 2012-12-26. 
  13. ^ "FHWA SIGNS OFF ON NICE BRIDGE PLANNING STUDY (press release)". Maryland Transportation Authority. 2012-12-20. Retrieved 2012-12-26. 
  14. ^ "2007-2012 Consolidated Transportation Program — State Highway Administration (SHA) Summary — Charles County". Maryland Transportation Authority. February 4, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Related Projects". Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge Improvement Project. 

External links[edit]