Harry W. Nice/Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge Replacement

Newburg, Maryland, United States

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AECOM is the Lead Designer for the new Nice-Middleton Bridge across the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia for the design-builder, Skanska-Corman-McLean (SCM).

The new Governor Harry W. Nice/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge (Nice-Middleton Bridge) brings faster, safer vehicle and maritime travel to a key gateway over the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia. The new four-lane Nice-Middleton Bridge replaces the existing 1.9-mile, two-lane bridge that was originally opened in 1940 and had reliably stood the test of time; however after seven decades of dedicated service, it had reached its end of service life.

The new 61-foot-wide, four lane concrete and steel bridge will alleviate traffic congestion and enhance safety. Over time, the existing bridge became a bottleneck along US Route 301 as four lanes of traffic needed to merge into two lanes to cross the bridge, which resulted in lengthy queues. Due to the age of the structure, it also did not meet current safety standards. The new Nice-Middleton Bridge provides twice the traffic capacity with its four 12-foot-wide lanes and includes shoulders to improve safety and facilitate access for emergency response, maintenance, and wide-load vehicles. It also has a navigational vertical clearance of 135 feet, enabling tall ships to pass beneath it, and more gradual vertical grades to allow vehicles to maintain a safe, consistent speed. The innovative bridge design incorporated efficient and cost-effective span lengths, structural performance, constructability, and maintainability considerations that saved project costs for the Maryland Transportation Authority while improving aesthetics and lowering long-term maintenance costs.

The design-build team identified opportunities early-on to advance sustainability on the project. Sustainable practices were utilized throughout the project including the re-use of 18,000 cubic yards of Potomac River sediment delivered to the Weanack Reclamation site that reclaims undesirable river mud to transform over 100 acres of highly productive agricultural fields and wildlife habitat; re-use of approximately 9,500 tons of the original bridge concrete that was transported to an artificial reef site to enhance the habitat; and creating newly seeded oyster beds on the 148-acre natural Lower Cedar Point Bar to advance Maryland’s clean water goals. Additionally, all the existing toll booths were replaced with all-electronic tolling on the new bridge which eliminated lane-shifting safety issues at the toll booths and backups that will translate to fuel savings and reduced emissions.

The design of the bridge provides for a 100-year service life and is a benchmark to the start of a new era for the southern Potomac area of Maryland and Virginia. Innovative design features were used to extend the service life including minimizing the number of deck expansion joints; drainage features to limit damage from de-icing salts used on the deck; the use of custom-designed high-performance concrete mixes; and using low-carbon chromium reinforcing steel in specific locations. The design reduces life-cycle costs through state-of-the-art design details, durable material selections, and provides a structure that is easily accessible for future inspections and maintenance.

The new bridge opened to traffic over two months ahead of schedule on October 12, 2022 and final completion of the project is anticipated in December 2024 when demolition of the old bridge is completed.