The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project closed out 2006 with two-thirds of construction completed. "As we hit the two-thirds milestone, still on schedule and on budget, it's appropriate to recognize the full project team — and we include the traveling public and project neighbors as extended partners — for their efforts during the previous six years," said Bob Douglass, Maryland State Highway Administration project manager. Echoed Ronaldo "Nick" Nicholson, VDOT project manager, "Hats off to our entire contractor team as they continue constructing new marvels of engineering despite numerous constraints, while beating national construction safety averages. Our efforts this year were most definitely aided by our neighboring communities and commuters, who have experienced both pain and gain as construction has advanced. We appreciate their continued patience as we finish the remaining third of the job."
Among the highlights of 2006 were:
- Dedicating the first new Wilson Bridge on May 18. The new crossing was dedicated with a star-spangled ceremony featuring a "Uniting the States" handshake where the drawbridge leaves meet. This involved Virginia Governor Kaine, Maryland Governor Ehrlich, District of Columbia Mayor Williams, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mineta; Woodrow Wilson's own Rolls Royce as the ceremonial first-crossing vehicle; 1,400 dignitaries and guests; U.S. Navy Blue Angels flyover and additional pomp and circumstance.
- Opening the new bridge in summer 2006. The complex transfer of traffic onto the new bridge required a carefully choreographed operation, reducing one direction of I-95 to a single lane over two weekends and conducting massive outreach to travelers. Both weekend operations were completed ahead of time and with substantially lower-than-anticipated traffic impacts.
- Toughest commute contest and detonating the old bridge on August 29th. From hundreds of entries, 29-year bridge commuter Dan Ruefly won the toughest commute contest and the rights to trigger the detonation of his bridge of misery. This "blast seen 'round the world" was witnessed by more than 100 million on media outlets across the globe.
- An Eagle's Saga. In April, a vicious attack by an intruding bald eagle severely injured Martha and left her mate George gamely but unsuccessfully attempting to hatch out their already-laid eggs. The Wilson Bridge Project team's courageous rescue of the injured Martha, captured on video, made national news. While Martha was rehabilitated and returned to her nesting area and George, soon thereafter she sustained a catastrophic wing injury and was humanely euthanized in September 2006.
- Opening the first half of the Maryland 210 Beltway overpass in fall 2006. Switching all Maryland 210 traffic onto the new structure enabled demolition of the old overpass and construction of the second half of the new overpass to move forward.
- Permanently restoring all four lanes on Washington Street in fall 2006, providing a marked improvement to travelers who had faced three years of lane restrictions in this area.
- Reducing congestion in Old Town Alexandria by opening new ramps from southbound Route 1 to I-95 North/Outer Loop and I-95 South /Inner loop.
- Opening a new ramp from I-95 South/Inner Loop to I-295 North toward Washington, D.C., in December 2006, which enables construction of a wider Inner Loop to proceed.
Upcoming milestones for 2007 include:
- 1st Quarter — Finishing the first half of the new Route 1 bridge that overpasses the Beltway and switching all Route 1 traffic onto the new structure.
- 1st Quarter — Opening the new ramp from I-95 North/Outer Loop to both northbound and southbound Route 1.
- 2nd Quarter — Opening a new flyover ramp from northbound Route 1 to I-95 South/Inner Loop.
- 2nd Quarter — Demolition of the existing Route 1 bridge overpass.
- 4th Quarter — Award I-95/Telgraph Road Interchange improvement construction contract, the final major Wilson Bridge Project construction contract.
The Wilson Bridge Project's improvements are critically needed, as today's 200,000 daily trips across the bridge are projected to grow to 300,000 by 2020.
The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration, Virginia Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of Transportation/State Highway Administration, and the District of Columbia Department of Transportation.
|Project Element||Complete as of December 1, 2006|
|New Potomac River Bridges||81%|
|Route 1 Interchange||68%|
|Maryland 210 Interchange||52%|
|Telegraph Road Interchange||9%|