New Rt. 301 Nice/Middleton Bridge from Maryland to Virginia now open (+ Fly-over video)

Watchful Eye

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MD Governor Larry Hogan (passenger) crossed the new bridge in a 1948 Ford Super Deluxe reflecting the era of the original bridge (1940)Courtesy of MDTA

The new bridge that carries Route 301 across the Potomac River and connects King George County, VA and Charles County, MD opened today, October 13, for traffic in both directions.

The official opening was preceded by a ceremony on Wednesday where Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, former Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton and Will Pines, executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) cut the ribbon and led the first drive across the new bridge.

Formally called the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge, the new structure has four 12-foot lanes, a center median, 2-foot shoulders, and a 42-inch-high concrete median barrier that will protect more motorists.

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Courtesy of Maryland Transportation Authority

This new Nice/Middleton Bridge replaces an 82-year-old bridge that only had two 11-foot lanes with no shoulders.

According to MDTA, the new bridge doubles capacity, improves safety and enhances emergency response and maintenance/inspection activities.

Over $2 million was invested in features to accommodate bicyclists, who will be able to use the bridge in early 2023, according to MDTA.

With a 135-foot clearance, the new bridge also accommodates tall vessels.

Further, the bridge project is being used as an opportunity for a clean water project. MDTA partnered with agencies in that space to create 100 acres of newly seeded oyster beds in the lower Potomac River basin. The effort already has accomplished three of the five planned seedings.

This $463 million bridge project was completed three months ahead of schedule.

“It’s a rare opportunity to take a mega project like this, start it with a governor, and end it with the same governor. Kudos to the infrastructure governor,” said MDOT secretary Jim Ports.

Bye-bye toll booths

Going forward, there will be no more slowing or stopping for tolls at the foot of the bridge. The former tolls booths have been with highway-speed, all-electronic tolling.

There will be three means to cover toll charges. Video tolling is an option MDTA describes as good. Pay-By-Plate is considered better. And E-Z Pass is deemed to not only be best, but it offers savings up to 77% for Maryland E-ZPass customers.

MDTA said the benefits of this include less idling, better fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, decreased congestion, and increased driver and employee safety.

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