New, wider Nice Bridge should be top priority
There comes a pointed reminder from the Southern Maryland Newspapers that Maryland has huges transportation needs outside the Baltimore and Washington areas.
The Harry W. Nice Bridge is perhaps the most out-of-the-way major bridge in Maryland. Many Baltimore and Washington residents can live their entire lives without crossing it. But if you live in Southern Maryland, it is a critical lifeline to the South -- crossing the Potomac from the southern end of Charles County to the Northern Neck of Virginia on U.S. 301.
It's a 70-year-old, two lane structure, and the last time I crossed it, the old span was showing its 70 years. The Maryland Transportation Authority, which owns and operates the bridge, is now studying various plans for a new, wider bridge. Cost estimates range up to $1 billion.
There are all kinds of projects clamoring for the authority's toll dollars and bond-issuing power, but this one richly deserves to be at the front of the line. Since this is infrastructure our great-grandchildren will likely be using, it doesn't make sense to skimp when choosing alternatives.
By the way, even as narrow and old as it is, the Nice Bridge is a good route for Baltimore motorists seeking to avoid the truly horrendous holiday weekend traffic jams on Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia. A four-lane bridge would help uncork the existing bottleneck.