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County Executive Elrich’s Comments on the proposal to widen 495/270, including the proposal to rebuild the American Legion Bridge

For Immediate Release: Tuesday 31 December


“I have long been concerned about traffic congestion throughout our County, including on the Beltway and I-270.  That is one of the reasons that I first proposed a Bus Rapid Transit network more than ten years ago (which is now part of the County’s plan and some is underway.)   While I appreciate the State’s efforts to address congestion on I-495 and I-270, the current scope of the proposed solutions for I-270 and I-495 go beyond what is necessary and appropriate, and they do not include involvement from elected officials and local transportation and planning officials who represent the affected communities. I believe that involvement and collaboration are essential to finding the right solution. 

“Last summer, I, along with County Councilmembers, proposed an alternate solution that would add improvements within the existing boundaries of the roads and make better use of existing infrastructure, including the ICC which was built with the explicit intention of relieving congestion on the Beltway.  (See the map of our proposed alternate solution.)

“For more than a year, I have asked the State to begin its work where the problem begins – the American Legion Bridge - and they finally announced an agreement with the State of Virginia to begin that work.  The American Legion bridge is the beginning of the choke point, and it makes sense to relieve it there first because working from the other end or the middle won’t relieve the backup.

“Additionally, any attempt to address traffic concerns should include meaningful transit options.  When Amazon was considering coming to this area, the State proposed a comprehensive investment in BRT lines, along with additional longer-term transit and transportation improvements that would address Amazon’s concerns about traffic.  Even within that context, the State’s proposal did not include road improvements of the scope now being proposed for I-495 and I-270.  And while the transit improvements proposed during the Amazon bid process were significant and important, the State has now dropped them and instead have focused on this massive road-widening project.

“I continue to say to the State: ‘We appreciate the efforts to reduce congestion, and we want to work with you, so let’s do it the right way – together and with an understanding of the communities and impacts.’”

Release ID: 19-031