Everyone at the Nov. 6, meeting was in agreement about where to build a new Potomac River crossing – in Frederick County.
At the first meeting of members of the Montgomery County Council and Frederick County Board of Commissioners in an estimated 10 years, a new Potomac River crossing was one of three transit topics (see sidebar).
Both bodies are united in the idea that any new river crossing should be placed at Point of Rocks, near the Montgomery-Frederick border.
“The only new crossing we’ve supported as a council is at Point of Rocks,” said Councilmember Marilyn Praisner (D-4).
That was exactly what the Frederick Commissioners wanted to hear. Citing official opinions of the Commissioners from 1989 and 1996, they show a consistent policy of wanting a new bridge. “We have the right-of-ways in place,” said Commissioner Bruce Reeder (D-At Large). “We’ll take the crossing.”
Any new crossing is not likely in the near future, however. Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation, Robert Flanagan was also in attendance, and he was clear that the state was not interested in a new bridge. “We are not planning, in any way or form whatsoever, a new crossing. Period,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan later clarified that when, earlier this year, Gov. Ehrlich pledged $400,000 to study a new river crossing, he didn’t mean a bridge. He explained that Maryland is assisting Virginia in an “origin and destination” study.
The study, funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation, will look at the commuting patterns of drivers on the American Legion Bridge.
Some fear that this study will be used as a prelude to a Techway study, but Flanagan says that Maryland has other motives. “We want to expand the beltway,” he said. “Maryland’s interest is in relieving beltway congestion.”