The Bridge That Wouldn’t Die

The Bridge That Wouldn’t Die

Ehrlich pledges $400,000 for a new Techway study.

It’s been studied before. It’s been rejected before.

But that didn’t stop Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) from pledging $400,000 to initiate a new Techway study.

Laura Olsen, assistant director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth called it one of many "vampire proposals."

"Because they never quite die as proposals," she said.

“Gov. Ehrlich agreed we would take another look at it,” said Greg Messoni, Ehrlich’s press secretary.

On Monday, April 28, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) and Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) affirmed their support for a new study during a summit meeting with D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (D).

Ehrlich pledged $400,000 complementing the $400,000 in Virginia's six-year transportation plan earmarked for a Techway study.

“A number of issues were discussed,” Messoni said. Transit and security issues dominated the agenda, and the Techway was one topic that came up.

The governor will include a request for $400,000 in next year’s budget, said Messoni.

Kevin Hall, Warner's deputy press secretary, said the two states could now finance an $800,000 study "which frankly should allow both states to do origination and destination studies, plot traffic patterns in the region."

This request disturbs Del. Jean Cryor (R-15). “It’s painful to think of money going to that,” Cryor said. “I can think of any number of places to put $400,000.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-15). “We’re in a fiscal crisis right now. Where are you going to find $400,000 to study something that no one wants?” Garagiola said.

Cryor is the only Republican from Montgomery County in the General Assembly, and therefore, generally enjoys a higher level of access to the governor. “To agree to another study, around here, is a very serious thing to say,” Cryor said.

Cryor states that throughout the assembly session she has been assured by the governor that he was opposed to a second river crossing. “I quickly reminded him of all this,” Cryor said.

Messoni disputes that Cryor was given such assurances. “That’s simply not true,” he said.

Messoni characterized the study as a way of working with Virginia. “We want to work together and look at some things,” Messoni said. “He’s made no commitment, It’s just a ‘look into it.’”

Cryor believes this to be a waste of resources. “If you want to study it, just get out the old study and look at it,” Cryor said. “We have no place to put it.”

In the Fall of 2000, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va) secured $2 million in federal transportation funds to study the feasibility of building a new bridge across the Potomac River, north of the American Legion Bridge.

Wolf asked for his study to be canceled in May of 2001. "How many homes are you willing to take out to build a bridge? 100, 200, 300, 400, 500? How many is worth it?" wrote Wolf, in 2001.

“If you can find a place to build a bridge, show me," he said, after announcing cancellation of his study.

The Federal Highway Administration officially canceled Wolf's study the next day.

David Harrison and Ken Moore contributed to this story.