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Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at

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Nice bridge project slowly advancing

Maryland officials have set aside $6.1 million toward the building of a new Harry Nice Memorial Bridge.

But don’t get too excited about how quickly a new four-lane structure may span the Potomac River.

Apparently, $6.1 million is a drop in the bucket when a project totals almost a billion dollars.

“This is the very nuts and bolts of the beginning,” Will Pines, a manager with the Maryland Transportation Authority, told the King George Board of Supervisors this week.

Maryland officials updated the King George board on the the project, which has officially moved from planning phase to preliminary engineering. For the next two fiscal years, the Maryland group will do geotechnical work, which includes checking the riverbed for old ordnance, then removing it.

The department also will spend $13.2 million on bridge maintenance, such as concrete deck repairs, deck sealing and rehabilitation of the catwalk.

Maryland plans to build a four-lane bridge parallel to the current structure. It would have a bike and pedestrian path on the south side, separated by a barrier.

The estimated cost of the project, which includes removing the current bridge, is $833 million to $916 million.

There’s no timetable for construction, but the bridge is designed to support traffic growth for 2030, according to the presentation.

The Nice bridge opened in December 1940 and has gone well beyond what the U.S. Department of Transportation calls its “theoretical design life” of 50 years.

Here’s the presentation on updated plans for the bridge: Nice Bridge update