FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 20, 2012

Contact:          Kelly Melhem

                        410-537-1017

FHWA SIGNS OFF ON NICE BRIDGE PLANNING STUDY
Selected Alternative Includes New Four Lane Bridge with Bike/Ped Path;
Planning Phase of Nice Bridge Improvement Project Now Complete

BALTIMORE, MD – The MD Transportation Authority (MDTA) has completed a six-year study to select an alternative to eventually replace the 72-year-old, two-lane Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge (US 301), which connects Charles County, Md., and King George County, Va., across the Potomac River. 

The final environmental document for the Nice Bridge Improvement Project – the Finding of No Significant Impact/Final Section 4(f) Evaluation or FONSI – was recently signed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), signaling the end to the project’s planning phase.

“Just the planning alone for this project was a significant undertaking, involving extensive input from federal, state and local agencies, elected officials and the public.  I want to thank all who contributed to this effort,” said Acting Transportation Secretary and MDTA Chairman Darrell B. Mobley.   “The significant challenge of moving this project forward and funding the estimated $850 million construction project remains.  We will continue to work with our federal and local partners to develop a path that will make the eventual replacement of the Nice Bridge a reality at some point in the future.” 

The planning study was performed and completed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). If funding becomes available, the next steps include final engineering/design, right-of-way acquisition and construction of the bridge.

“Making strategic investments in our local infrastructure is critical to supporting the local flow of commerce, boosting our economic competitiveness, and ensuring the safety of our residents,” stated Congressman Steny H. Hoyer. “That’s why I strongly support making investments needed to eventually replace the Nice Bridge, which serves as a critical evacuation route in the event of a national disaster or security alert and links the region’s military facilities, contractors, suppliers, and businesses. With the planning phase complete, I will continue working with federal, state, and local officials to identify funding needed to move this project forward.”

The alternative selected (Modified Alternate 7) consists of a new four-lane bridge built parallel to and north of the existing bridge, with a two-way bicycle/pedestrian path along the south side, and removal of the existing bridge.  A designated path on each shore would guide bikers and pedestrians to the appropriate outside shoulder along the US 301 approach roadway.  Inclusion of a bike/ped path reflects public comments and recently enacted State legislation. 

“This is exciting news for Charles County and the region,” said Maryland Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton.  “This is a big step forward on a project that will improve transportation, security and the economy for Southern Marylanders.  I am grateful to Governor O’Malley and the Maryland Transportation Authority for working with us to make it a priority.”

The FONSI/4(f) document will be available at mdta.maryland.gov.