A $2.4-billion project to replace the 44-year old Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River is well underway. Two parallel 6,075- ft long bascule bridges, with reinforced concrete piers and structural steel girders, and featuring six lanes each, will replace the existing structure. While the old bridge has only a 50-ft channel clearance, leading to about 250 drawspan openings a year to accommodate ships on the river, the new bridges will provide a 135-ft clearance, reducing the annual openings to about 65. The article looks at some of the challenges associated with the project and how they were resolved. While the project was initially put out to bid as a single contract, a lone bid coming in at more than 70% above the states estimate eventually lead the project to be broken down into three more financially-viable individual projects. Hundreds of fish were dying as a result of shock waves from pile driving during the foundation phase. The situation was remedied by using compressed forced air to create a curtain of air bubbles around a pile. The shock waves were absorbed by the air bubbles, thus significantly reducing fish fatalities. High steel prices lead to unique negotiations, and difficult bridge designs were also resolved. Cast-in-place piers were used to meet the requirements for supporting the heavy bascule leaves. The article concludes by noting that coordination and extensive partnering have also been key elements to the projects success.

  • Availability:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Page range: 26-30, 33
  • Corporate Authors:

    McGraw-Hill, Incorporated

    330 West 42nd Street
    New York, NY  United States  10036
  • Authors:
    • Ichniowski, T
  • Publication Date: 2005-1-31


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos;
  • Pagination: 6 p.
  • Serial:
    • ENR
    • Volume: 254
    • Issue Number: 4
    • Publisher: McGraw-Hill, Incorporated
    • ISSN: 0891-9526

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00986898
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: UC Berkeley Transportation Library
  • Files: BTRIS, TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 2 2005 12:00AM