- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2001

U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf yesterday asked the Federal Highway Administration to cancel a study he sponsored looking at placing a Potomac River crossing north of the American Legion Bridge, citing concerns about the impact on the neighborhood and the environment.
"What started out as an idea to build consensus to improve the lives of area commuters and to give the people facts to make an informed decision, has now turned into a process that is frankly out of control," Mr. Wolf, Virginia Republican, said in a statement.
Last fall, Mr. Wolf ordered the highway administration to do a $2 million study to look at ways a fourth river crossing could be built to link Virginia and Maryland. Specifically, Mr. Wolf wanted the highway agency to look at the feasibility of a "Techway" bridge that would connect the high-tech areas of Herndon/Reston along the Dulles Corridor in Northern Virginia with the biotech areas of Gaithersburg/Rockville at Interstate 270 in Montgomery County.
Since then, business and neighborhood groups have mounted all-out wars for or against the Techway, with Montgomery County and Maryland officials insisting it would never be built where Mr. Wolf wanted, because it would destroy neighborhoods and their agricultural preserve.
Virginia officials, on the other hand, refused to see a crossing link U.S. Route 15 in Loudoun County — which is in Mr. Wolfs congressional district — with a landing at Point of Rocks in Frederick County, Md., a spot Maryland officials said would be the best spot for a bridge.
It was not clear last night if the FHA would scrap the study. Officials at the federal agency did not return repeated phone calls.
It seems Mr. Wolf was listening to both states concerns and found no room for a compromise.
"I am sympathetic to homeowners in both Virginia and Maryland who in recent weeks have grown exceedingly concerned about the study," Mr. Wolf said, noting that "numerous 'proposed routes" on flyers dropped in neighborhoods have been deceiving residents, even though the routes were never under consideration by the highway administration.
"It is not fair for homeowners or property owners to have a cloud hanging over their houses or land," he said. "The longer the study proceeds, and the more erroneous information is circulated in the community, the greater the chance that someone would have difficulty selling his or her home."
Maryland and Montgomery County officials were elated with Mr. Wolfs announcement, although they said the region should still come together to find solutions to the areas ever worsening gridlock.
"We applaud Congressman Wolfs efforts to bring the region together in the first place," said Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari. "[The new crossing] is a very difficult issue."
Montgomery County Council member Nancy Dacek, a Republican who represents the upper part of the county, said Mr. Wolf "realized you cant [put a bridge in] neighborhoods and peoples houses … . The whole process has turned into turmoil the western part of Montgomery County."
Mrs. Dacek said Mr. Wolfs desire to kill the study was a victory for residents in her county and elsewhere in Maryland who had opposed it.
In Virginia, Gov. James S. Gilmore IIIs spokeswoman said the Republican governor still wants to see a bridge built. "Hes not wedded to a particular route," Lila White said. "The governor does believe there should be another crossing."


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