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Building a Bridge on River

State may widen, build pedestrian bridge.

County and State engineers are studying a section of River Road just west of Potomac Village with an eye toward making it wider and more pedestrian friendly.

The West Montgomery County Citizen’s Association had asked the county to construct a bridge over a section of the road across from the post office to allow uninterrupted pedestrian access, said Tom Pogue, spokesman for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and Public Works.

Currently the sidewalk along the south side of River Road ends at a small stream which passes under the road. It then starts again on the other side. Pedestrians walking along the road would need to come close to the travel lane and walk on a narrow shoulder to go around the stream.

The county then found out that the state had a similar project in mind, so it decided to back off from funding its own project. The county recently surveyed the area, as a back-up, Pogue said.

The county found that it has most of the land required for the project. “As it turns out, we have almost all of the right of way,” Pogue said.

The State Highway Administration is also engaged in its own study.

“There is funding for preliminary design,” said Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for state highway.

While the project would have to widen River road a little, Gischlar says that it will be done while respecting Potomac’s two-lane road policy, and will not add capacity.

“It will be widened to accommodate the sidewalk and a shoulder,” Gischlar said.

The $112,000 study is scheduled to be completed by this fall, Gischlar said. After it is done, the state will have a better idea of the time and money necessary to complete the project.

The final project would then be placed into the state transportation budget and would require the approval of the General Assembly, so actual construction is, at best, several years off.

If the state decides that it does not want to do the project, the county may step in. “Should the state ultimately cancel the project, we would have take another look at it,” Pogue said.