Montgomery County and Fairfax County are considering the future of the American Legion Bridge.
The span is approaching its 50th anniversary. It opened Dec. 31, 1962, completed at a cost of $2.8 million.
In the early years, it was called the Cabin John Bridge. The name was officially changed to American Legion Memorial Bridge in 1969.
Opened with six lanes, the bridge now has eight through lanes, matching the configuration of the Beltway on either side of the Potomac, though the highway narrows farther north. Traffic is more than four times heavier than in the early years. In 1965, the bridge was used by 47,990 vehicles a day. By 2010, that number had grown to 232,000.
Long-term options outlined in a Maryland State Highway Administration study include widening the bridge to make it part of a managed-lane system that could stretch west up I-270 and link up with the Virginia express lanes to the south, but there’s no financing in place for any such construction. The Maryland study, completed in 2009, estimated that widening the Beltway and the bridge would cost at least $800 million.
If the bridge is widened, this may be an opportunity to add a bike crossing. Such a crossing could connect the C&O Trail to Live Oak Drive. Ideally, it would include a connection to MacArthur Blvd.