A proposed “Outer Beltway” crossing of the Potomac River somewhere north of the current Beltway–what we like to call the “zombie bridge”–has raised its head again. In case you didn’t see it in the Washington Post this morning:
A second Potomac River bridge connecting Montgomery County and Northern Virginia — an idea that has been studied and debated since the 1950s — is again drawing both interest and criticism, as elected officials and transportation planners search for ways to ease the region’s notoriously heavy traffic.
But, a new bridge won’t ease traffic in Virginia or Maryland, and will bring new roads and sprawling development to our best streams and healthiest watersheds. It will also threaten the heart of Montgomery County’s Agricultural Area–one of the county’s best ideas for long-term conservation planning.
Fortunately, the Montgomery County Council is standing firm! Council President Roger Berliner introduced a resolution this morning urging the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board not to do any further study on the bridge idea or include it in long-range planning. Many other Council members have also spoken out in support of the resolution or against the bridge.
On July 18th, the Council will take a vote on the resolution ahead of the Planning Board’s meeting on July 19th. Take Action today: write your Council member to thank them for opposing the bill, and encourage them to vote unanimously in favor of the resolution on July 18th!
Here are a few tips on what you could include in your letter:
- Thank the Council for supporting Council President Berliner’s July 11th resolution opposing an Outer Beltway Bridge, and encourage them to vote unanimously in favor of the resolution on July 18th.
- Describe your own personal relationship with the Agricultural Reserve, quality of life in Montgomery County, and the importance of protecting our upper watersheds from the excess development that new bridges and highways would bring.
- Even if Virginia wants the bridge, it will be Maryland’s responsibility to largely build and maintain it, and Montgomery County’s environment that will be most affected. Maryland recognizes that such a bridge is a bad idea: it was removed from the state’s long-range transportation plans in 1974!
- In addition to conserving farmland and open space, the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve protects our federally designated Piedmont Sole-Source Aquifer. Many of the best remaining streams in the region, including Ten Mile Creek and its tributaries, are in the Agricultural Reserve.
- Better planning, transit, improvements to existing infrastructure including the American Legion Bridge, and high-occupancy vehicle lanes would be better fixes for Maryland’s traffic problems than a new bridge.
UPDATE 7/18: The Montgomery Council vote on the resolution passed unanimously! You can still write in and thank your Council for representing the citizens of Montgomery County and working to protect our water and land from unnecessary sprawl.