harry nice bridge
harry nice bridge

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (all D-Md.) urged the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to pause its plans to demolish the existing Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge until an independent review is conducted to determine the feasibility and cost of repurposing it for recreational use. The lawmakers requested an independent study to ensure that this is not a wasted opportunity to provide taxpayers with bicycling and pedestrian transportation options at a competitive cost or potentially lower cost than demolition.

“With the work on the new Harry W. Nice/Thomas ‘Mac’ Middleton Bridge across the Potomac River proceeding rapidly, we urge the State to reconsider plans to demolish the old bridge, and halt any immediate efforts to do so. These plans should not proceed until a study can be conducted on the feasibility as well as the financial and environmental costs and benefits of converting the old bridge to a non-motorized trail that could be used by pedestrians and bicyclists,” the lawmakers said.

“An independent study, conducted by an entity with experience in similar bridge repurposing projects, is in the taxpayer’s interest to ensure that we are not wasting an opportunity to provide bicycling and pedestrian transportation options at a competitive cost or potentially lower cost than demolition,” they continued. “Premature demolition would squander the opportunity to repurpose the bridge if it is in the taxpayer and community’s best interest. We strongly urge you to undertake this basic due diligence before moving forward on demolition.”

The full letter can be read here and below:

Dear Secretary Ports:

With the work on the new Harry W. Nice/Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge across the Potomac River proceeding rapidly, we urge the State to reconsider plans to demolish the old bridge, and halt any immediate efforts to do so. These plans should not proceed until a study can be conducted on the feasibility as well as the financial and environmental costs and benefits of converting the old bridge to a non-motorized trail that could be used by pedestrians and bicyclists.

The demolition cost estimates made by the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) have ranged between $15 million and $23 million. Given that a new Environmental Analysis (EA) may now be necessary due to the modification of the demolition process to use explosives, which was not part of the original EA, an independent study to determine a common set of facts and costs would allow all parties the opportunity to consider the options for the use and ownership of the existing bridge.

An independent study, conducted by an entity with experience in similar bridge repurposing projects, is in the taxpayer’s interest to ensure that we are not wasting an opportunity to provide bicycling and pedestrian transportation options at a competitive cost or potentially lower cost than demolition. This study should include costs, safety and navigation impacts, and the potential economic and health benefits of alternative transportation and outdoor recreation uses. Premature demolition would squander the opportunity to repurpose the bridge if it is in the taxpayer and community’s best interest. We strongly urge you to undertake this basic due diligence before moving forward on demolition.

We would appreciate a response by July 22, 2022 regarding the State’s position and plans to secure an independent study and pause in demolition until this study is published.

Sincerely,

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18 Comments

  1. If structural sound and feasible it would make sense to keep it for emergency vehicles only or for detouring traffic on new bridge in case of severe accidents or weather.

  2. More bull from our elected criminals
    Let’s have another feasibility study so their pals can make more money
    That bridge is dangerous and should have been demolished long ago
    Let the three of them walk to the top and once they jump off the bridge we can demolish it

  3. If HOGAN would have kept the original plan, pedestrian and bike lanes, as well as future transportation lanes would have been part of the new bridge

  4. Just more BS from the Democrats, to throw a Monkey Wrench in at the end of decades of planning. What about the Contractor that now stands to lose 20 Million, will he be reimbursed, sue the state, create job losses? Really nice timing for this plan.

    1. Yet folks walk and bike across the Brooklyn Bridge and the Wilson bridge all the time. I’m confident many bike riders would relish the chance to ride between Maryland and Virginia. Unfortunately Hogan nixed the bike lanes so that can’t happen now. The old bridge would also make a lovely fishing pier, like the one on 50 in Cambridge when they kept portions of the old bridge. I know some folks don’t like it because those Demorats proposed it, but last time I checked people from both parties biked, fished, and hiked.

  5. Sure. Give those wishing to commit suicide something else to jump off of. By the time you make it “safe” it will be unusable.

  6. theres a way to reach Congress without going to their web page, where those in their district or in their state can leave messages, but thats it. Members of Congress are candidates + as such, they have candidate e-mail addresses in their state. Go to the State Elections Board + get their candidate e-mail address + contact them that way. Its ok to go Congress shopping to get a 2nd opinion. You don’t have to wait 90 years until your current member of Congress might agree with you about something.

  7. Stop the political grand standing. All the options were discussed long time ago. Don’t need to spend money the state doesn’t have. Tear the bridge down.

  8. Are the three senators going to fund the annual maintenance of the bridge. Very nice of them to attempt to saddle the Maryland Taxpayers with an unfunded liability in perpetuity.

  9. Where were these three fools when Maryland was seeking funding to build the replacement bridge on a US highway. Federal transportation funds should have been acquired. They could have gotten funds so the original design could be built with the bike lane and pedestrian path. The old bridge is unsafe and needs to go. Keeping part of it for a fishing pier is probably too close to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.

    1. Obviously this is a story you have not paid any attention to. You might want to go read up on it before you post.

  10. I would think retaining the full bridge would retain a high maintenance cost. All that steel will become a rust display and huge eyesore. Retaining the approach ends for use as a fishing pier might make sense and not entail much in the way of long-term maintenance cost.

  11. Who is going to maintain it at what cost. Spend our money over and over is all they want to do. Drive our taxes up

  12. I would like to point out the face that they spent extra cash to really push the new bridge. The only reason is the old is in real danger of being closed due to deterioration. Politicos love grand standing but not in front of collapsed bridges. They cut out bike paths to get it built now. The old bridge should have been replaced a decade ago. It is lightly built even for its day. It was a war time project that had to cut steel, but critical for the WW2 effort . Very odd new bridge with 12 fat lanes. 14-16 is modern standard. Suspect new bridge designed in 1960’s and not upgraded to save time. Hilites the need to get the new bridge in service. You can sense fear something bad really bad could happen.

  13. If that bunch is interested they are out to make a buck. You can bet there is a payoff behind the scenes. They never miss an opportunity to piss away taxpayer’s money, an never miss a buck for themselves.

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