The $463 million Nice Bridge replacement over the Potomac River is officially open, as droves of weekend drivers have been excited to discover.
Officially called the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge, it spans US 301 between Charles County, Md. and King George County, Va.
It was expected to be completed in the new year but reopened three months early. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan touted the wider, safer bridge at a ceremony on Thursday. He led a procession of vehicles from the Maryland side to the Virginia side and back again, riding in a yellow 1940s Ford Super Deluxe convertible, in honor of the original bridge’s opening in 1940.
The project to replace the 82-year-old existing bridge began in July 2020. The new bridge has four 12-foot-wide lanes, compared to only two 11-foot-wide lanes on the old bridge. It incorporates all-electronic tolling to keep traffic moving and reduce emissions. Larger vessels will have no trouble passing under the new bridge’s 135-foot clearance.
A 42-inch-high concrete median barrier will help prevent against head-on collisions, and lane-sharing features will allow for bicyclists beginning in early 2023.
The governor says 500 jobs have been created through the new bridge’s construction. The nearly $463 million cost has been funded by Maryland and federal funding, including a $200 million federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan. Virginia is contributing $13 million to the project.
During construction of the bridge, the Maryland Transportation Authority has been working with oyster recovery partners. They’ll create 100 acres of newly seeded oyster bed in the lower Potomac River basin. Three of the five planned seedings are already complete.
-Meg Walburn Viviano