WASHINGTON – A regional planning board considered options Wednesday ranging from adding ferry service to imposing tolls at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to ease traffic during needed repairs and after.
Larry Marcus, a transportation planner for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, told the Transportation Planning Board that constructing a new bridge 10 miles south of the Wilson Bridge would divert the most traffic from the 34-year- old structure – about 27,500 vehicles daily by the year 2020.
About 165,000 cars and trucks now cross the Woodrow Wilson Bridge each day.
But Ron Kirby, COG’s director of transportation planning, said constructing a new bridge may not be a viable option for the short term.
“At this time, there’s no way to get a commitment on that,” he said. “They’ll probably have to go forward of the assumption that the other bridge crossings are going to have to be looked at later.”
More realistic alternatives suggested by a coordinating committee included a ferry service that would operate during commuting hours and voluntary commuter options, such as carpooling. Each would remove about 500 of the bridge’s travelers daily by the year 2020.
Other options suggested included:
* Instituting a $1 toll, which would remove 25,000 vehicles daily;
* Developing a high occupancy vehicle network on the Capital Beltway and I-295, which would remove 8,500 of the bridge’s travelers; and
* Adding an express bus service, to divert 1,500 vehicles.
“The alternatives that they’re looking at, all of them would maintain traffic while they’re doing construction,” Kirby said.
Congress began looking for ways to improve the Wilson Bridge and its corridor in 1992, when it provided funds for an improvement study. Shortly after, the coordinating committee – composed of local government leaders, state and federal highway officials, and members of the National Park Service and the D.C. Department of Public Works – was formed.
Legislation to give Maryland, Virginia and the District an authority to develop, finance and manage improvements to the Wilson Bridge must be enacted by Congress.
Once an authority is established, the coordinating committee can seek funds for improvements through federal, state or local government sources or public-private partnerships, said David Keever, the committee’s project facilitator. Keever said the Transportation Planning Board is expected to make a decision on a plan of action in early 1996. -30-