GOVERNOR HARRY W. NICE BRIDGE 765
In 1938, the State Roads Commission, under Chairman J. Glenn
Beall, gained the approval of the Federal government to begin work
on the first two crossings and, even more important, gained Federal
funds to finance 45 percent of the Potomac and Susquehanna Bridge
costs. Both projects were begun in 1938 by the Nice administration
and opened to traffic in 1940 by the O'Conor administration.
The Potomac River Bridge more than fulfilled the confidence of
its advocates. The span immediately exceeded traffic use estimates,
giving service to Maryland's citizens and impetus to economic growth
in Southern Maryland. During the war it proved a vital strategic
artery — as Potomac crossings had been in the times of Washington,
of Lincoln and Lee.
For over two decades the Potomac River Bridge provided the only
crossing of the Potomac between the District of Columbia and the
Chesapeake Bay. Its popularity, sustained for many years, was di-
minished only when demand dictated additional facilities crossing
the Potomac and these were free.
In renaming the Potomac River Bridge the Governor Harry W.
Nice Bridge, we are honoring the man who led Maryland during this
period. We pay tribute to a man who dedicated many years of his
life to the service of his community and State. Governor Nice was a
successful lawyer and a warm and vibrant personality. Above all it
was Governor Nice who piloted Maryland through and out of the
dark years of depression with good sense and a good heart.
While the bridge can only bear one name, there are others who
should not be forgotten today. B. Howell Griswold, Jr., a Baltimore
investment banker, directed the first blue ribbon committee to study
the feasibility of State toll facilities and energetically led the citizens'
lobby to enact this program. Dr. Abel Wolman, nationally renowned
engineer, led the seven-member Bridge Supervising Committee which
the 1937 Act empowered to approve the State Roads Commission's
plans. The 1937 General Assembly authorized this far-reachirig pro-
gram, a program which was to become a model for subsequent high-
way construction and toll facilities development programs. Certainly
as we focus upon the Potomac River span we must remember the
special role of the Southern Maryland delegation. For these men
argued cogently and fought tirelessly for this bridge to be the first
bridge built in the four facilities program.
Today, while we name the bridge for one, we recall with respect the
role of the many.