Q: Why is the old bridge being replaced?
A: Completed in 1940, the existing bridge is increasingly burdened with traffic congestion and does not meet current safety standards. If not replaced, the old crossing would require increasing maintenance and, due to the bridge’s single-lane capacity in each direction and lack of nearby alternative crossings, rehabilitation work would cause severe traffic impacts.
Q: How does the new bridge compare with the old bridge?
A: The new bridge will improve mobility, safety, and economic opportunities for Southern Maryland, Northeastern Virginia, and the region. Here are key comparisons:
|NEW BRIDGE||OLD BRIDGE|
|Four 12-foot-wide lanes||Two 11-foot-wide lanes|
|Barrier-separated median||No Median|
|Two-foot-wide shoulders||No shoulders|
|All tolls paid at highway speeds||Cash tolls paid when stopped; some E-ZPass tolls paid at reduced-speed lanes|
|100-year service life||Increasing maintenance needs and costs|
Q: What are the benefits of the new bridge?
- Faster, safer travel
- No backups at toll booths
- Fewer crashes from wider lanes and no lane changes at toll booths
- Quicker access for first responders when crashes occur
- More rapid clearing of crashes
- Fuel savings and lower emissions with no toll booth backups
- Discounted tolls via E-ZPass versus cash
- Enable tall ships to pass beneath its 135-foot clearance
Q: When did construction begin?
Construction began in mid-July 2020 with driving piles for the foundation of the new bridge’s piers into the Potomac River.
Q: When will the new bridge open to the public?
The new bridge will open to the public in early 2023.
Q: How will the public be affected by construction?
Because the new bridge is being built off-line from the existing bridge, traffic impacts are expected to be minimal. While boaters are required to avoid the well-marked construction areas, impacts on maritime traffic also will be minimal, with the navigational channel remaining open and marked at all times.
Q: What will happen to the old bridge?
The existing bridge will be demolished once the new bridge opens, and materials from the old bridge will be deposited in the Chesapeake Bay to create an artificial fish reef.
Q: How much will it cost to cross the new bridge?
Toll rates for the new bridge are anticipated to be established in 2022 prior to the early 2023 opening of the new bridge.
Q: Will I need an E-ZPass to cross the bridge?
While the new bridge will enable travelers to pay tolls at highway speeds by using an E-ZPass Maryland transponder or Video Tolling, drivers are strongly encouraged to acquire an E-ZPass due to significantly lower toll rates. Using toll rates on the existing bridge as an example, the E-ZPass Maryland toll rate for a 2-axle vehicle is $4.50 versus $9.00 for Video Tolling. Non-E-ZPass customers will be able to use Pay By Plate, which will allow customers pay “as they go” by registering their license plate and credit card.\