WASHINGTON – Gov. Parris N. Glendening Wednesday asked the Maryland congressional delegation to press for full federal funds for two spans to replace the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
Glendening argued that the federally owned bridge should be replaced with federal money.
The new spans – each a six-lane drawbridge – are expected to cost around $1.6 billion.
Another option that has been discussed would be to have the federal government pay at least $400 million, with additional funds being raised through $1 tolls.
But, Glendening said, “a toll facility would cause the biggest traffic jam in the Northeast.” The spans are projected to carry 300,000 vehicles a day by the year 2020.
At least one Maryland congressman, Democratic Rep. Albert Wynn of Largo, said although he sympathizes with the request, he believes it is unrealistic.
“We’re not going to get $1.6 billion,” Wynn said during the meeting in the Capitol.
But other area congressmen – including Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Baltimore, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Northern Virginia – support Glendening’s position, they or their spokesmen said.
“We start asking for 100 percent from a negotiating standpoint,” said Jerry Irvine, Hoyer’s spokesman.
A letter sent Sept. 27 to then-Secretary of Transportation Frederico Pena, and signed by Rep. Thomas Davis III, R-Va., Rep. James Moran, D-Alexandria, Rep. Constance Morella, R-Bethesda, Wolf, Hoyer and Wynn, argued the federal government should pay between 90 percent and 100 percent of the costs.
The letter said the federal government has covered 90 percent of the costs for other major transportation projects, including the Fort McHenry tunnel on I-95 in Baltimore.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments last month recommended building the drawbridges, probably just a few hundred feet south of the existing bridge, which opened to traffic in 1961.
Original estimates were that about 75,000 vehicles would use the bridge daily. Today, an estimated 170,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily.
Construction on the new spans is not expected to begin until 1999. They could be open to traffic by 2004.
In other requests, Glendening asked the delegation to work with the president on education issues and welfare reform.
He asked that benefits taken from legal immigrants by last year’s welfare reform act be reinstated. He also asked that the delegation support the president’s HOPE Scholarship program, which would give up to $3,000 in tax credits to eligible college students, spread over two years. -30-