New Potomac River Bridge Finished 3 Months Ahead of Schedule

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New Nice-Middleton Bridge across Potomac River between Maryland Virginia in front of old bridge
The new Nice-Middleton Bridge on U.S. 301 (foreground) has opened. The old bridge (background) is scheduled to be demolished.
Maryland Transportation Authority

A new bridge linking Maryland and Virginia over the Potomac River is scheduled to open October 13 to replace an 82-year-old span.

The $463 million Nice-Middleton Bridge has been completed three months ahead of schedule as a U.S. 301 link between Charles County, Maryland, and King George County, Virginia. The new bridge has four lanes, doubling the crossing’s capacity, and 135-foot clearance for boats. The old, narrow two-lane bridge is set for demolition October 13 after a federal judge denied a request to stop its destruction. Trail advocates wanted the bridge, which is parallel to the new one, kept for recreational use.

The new bridge will get $2 million worth of features to accommodate lane sharing for bicyclists, who will be able to use the bridge in early 2023, according to Governor Larry Hogan’s office.

The bridge also features wider lanes, 2-foot shoulders, and a 42-inch-high concrete median to prevent collisions. Hogan says the new bridge will improve safety, emergency response, and maintenance and inspection.

New technology to improve traffic control is being installed. The Intelligent Transportation Systems include digital message signs, a virtual weigh station, a weather station, cameras and a push-button, warning-beacon system for bicyclists crossing the new span.

The new bridge will also not have any toll booths. Instead, it will use highway-speed, all-electronic tolling.

The project involves creating 100 acres of new oyster beds in the lower Potomac River basin. Three of the five planned seedings have occurred.

The design-build team consisted of a joint venture of Skanska, Corman Kokosing Construction and McLean Contracting. The contract was awarded in February 2020.