It’s possible to do an armchair version of this test by using online mapping programs. Both Google Maps and MapQuest, for example, allow you to request directions, then drag the Point A to Point B line around to visualize alternatives. I also find Google’s street view helpful in planning what to do when approaching key intersections or highway ramps.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I commute from northern Germantown to Northern Virginia about three days a week, and I am convinced that one solution to help with the congestion on the Capital Beltway would be to have another bridge on the Potomac River, between the American Legion Memorial Bridge and White’s Ferry.
There has been a lot of talk about when and if this is going to happen. Given the daily grind in traffic on the Beltway, I think it is time to look into this option again.
Akwasi Oppong, Germantown
DG: There’s no active plan to create a new Potomac River crossing to the northwest of the Legion Bridge. (The Gen. Jubal A. Early ferry boat, hauled across the Potomac via a cable at White’s Ferry, probably serves about as many commuters as it’s ever going to.)
The Maryland and Virginia governments just decided to raise more tax revenue for transportation projects. That’s going to launch a competition among them. So supporters of another bridge should make themselves heard now.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, an advocacy group for regional transportation improvements, thinks a new crossing is just about the most important upgrade we could undertake.
By 2020, the alliance says, nearly two-thirds of the region’s population will live outside the Capital Beltway, and half the region’s jobs also will be outside the hub. But eight of the region’s 10 Potomac River bridges are inside the Beltway.
However, money for such an enormously expensive project — a bridge and its approach highways — is only one obstacle. Governments on both sides of the river would have to believe it’s a good solution for our transportation problems, and the Maryland side continues to show no enthusiasm. Maryland is more likely to pump new revenue into two transitways, the Purple Line in the Washington suburbs and the Red Line in Baltimore.