Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Trapped in the middle of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge! Trucks speeding by on the Outer Loop with air horns at full blast! The new draw span soaring 150 feet into the air – no way to get off!

Not that anyone at the dedication of the second new Woodrow Wilson Bridge last Thursday morning wanted to get off. The sun was shining and the temperature balmy as several hundred invited guests gathered in the middle of the new Inner Loop span to celebrate the completion of the bridge. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, and retiring Virginia Senator John Warner arrived at the speaker’s stand aboard President Woodrow Wilson’s 1919 Pierce-Arrow presidential limousine, provided by the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton, Virginia, his birthplace. The shiny Pierce-Arrow traveled somewhat more slowly than the regular traffic on the adjoining span, and provided a sharp contrast to the four jet flyover by the 113th Wing of the D.C. Air National Guard. Following the governors’ remarks, Senator Warner “torqued” the final bolt into place on the north guard rail with a space-age steel wrench, completing the new crossing.

 

The public will start using the new span after a switchover scheduled for the weekend of May 30 – June 1, weather permitting. The interim period is needed to allow contractors to make final preparations for the switchover. Initially, only the local lanes will be open, as major work remains on the long-distance lanes on the bridge and in both states. The long-distance lanes should be finished this fall, providing two more lanes in each direction, for a total of five lanes each way. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project is jointly sponsored, and paid for, by the Federal Highway Administration, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Maryland State Highway Administration, and the District of Columbia Department of Transportation.

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Memorial Day provides an opportunity for everyone to remember and reflect on the wonderful gift of freedom and democracy here in the United States, gifts that many countries across the globe do not, or cannot, enjoy. As we plan for the traditional pool openings, family picnics, and a day off from work, let us also remember all the gallant souls who fought and died for our freedoms in so many wars. Fly the American flag on Memorial Day. Join the observance hosted on Monday at 11 a.m. by American Legion Bicentennial Post 1976 at the “Cannon” on Columbia Pike in downtown Annandale. As the song says, “Every heart beats true for the red, white, and blue…”

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