Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases:
Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge Replacement (Alexandria, VA, and P.G. County, MD)
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January 1999 Developments
In November 1998, Potomac Crossing Consultants announced the results of a competition for the conceptual design for a new bridge to replace the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River between Alexandria, Virginia, and Prince George's County, Maryland.
The winning design, conceived by Steinman/DeLeuw of Baltimore, combines high aesthetic quality with features that would expedite construction time. The concept features a continuous haunched girder superstructure supported by widely splayed V-shaped piers of reinforced concrete that convey the feel of an arched structure in a form most suitable to the soft soils of the riverbed.
The Wilson Bridge concept features a continuous haunched girder superstructure supported by widely splayed V-shaped piers of reinforced concrete that convey the feel of an arched structure in a form most suitable to the soft soils of the riverbed.
Photo courtesy of Potomac Crossing Consultants and the Wilson Bridge Project
Council staff member MaryAnn Naber chaired a committee charged with analyzing the historic appropriateness and aesthetic merit of the seven entries before the competition jury. While the City of Alexandria participated on the selection panel, it continues to pursue a court fight against the 12-lane version of the bridge. Recent published reports suggest that a compromise is under consideration whereby the new bridge would be built to accommodate 12 traffic lanes, but initially be marked for only ten.
For several years, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in cooperation with the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Virginia Department of Transportation, has been considering means to replace the Wilson Bridge. The bridge carries Interstate 95 over the Potomac and, as one of two river crossings for the Washington Beltway, is one of the most critical transportation links in the metropolitan area.
It is also a drawbridge that must open approximately 200 times per year, and is the only property owned outright by FHWA. The bridge currently carries more than twice the volume for which it was designed in the 1960s, a situation further aggravated by the high volume of heavy truck traffic on the I-95 corridor. The Wilson Bridge passes through the Alexandria Historic District, a National Historic Landmark.
The bridge is in deteriorating condition and must be replaced within the coming decade. The preferred alternative is a pair of side-by-side drawbridges which would each carry six lanes of traffic on an alignment immediately to the south of the existing bridge. Given the scale of the undertaking and its proximity to the Alexandria Historic District, as well as other National Register-listed or eligible properties, the project has been viewed as having an adverse effect. A Memorandum of Agreement was negotiated and executed in 1997.
Staff contact: MaryAnn Naber
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