Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project

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Project Updates:

Tiny space is key for big bridge -June 16, 2003

A Pile Load Test Program has begun and is expected to last through June 2000. April 27, 2000

Environmental tests ruling overturned Dec. 17, 1999

News Updates:

6-21-02 Update

10-22-02 Update

12-14-01 Update

3-22-01 Update

10-20-00 Update

Project Funding News   
Sept. 30, 1999




Quick Summary

September 23, 2003



More details in Project Overview/Construction Summary on the Project’s website. Also follow progress on the Project Scrapbook/Present photo log


Three construction contracts are underway and nine environmental mitigation contracts underway.


The Maryland soils contract has made good progress with one section in final settlement phase. There are five areas, all south of the existing Beltway, which are proceeding with the Stage 2 or Stage 3 lifts. The north side of Rosalie Island is owned by the National Park Service and is off limits for construction outside of the MSHA right-of-way due to the habitat of special animals and birds that are in the area.

The I-295 bridge overpass contract is on target to complete its northbound and southbound “S-curves” and associated ramps in Spring 2004.

The second I-295 interchange contract south of the Beltway, building the majority of the interchange, has begun many of the bridge foundations and steel has begun to be placed.  There will be 11 bridges and 6 retaining walls constructed. Four ramps will be completely built and portions of four additional ramps will be built. A construction staging area is adjacent to this site, on the privately owned National Harbor property, for the in-river superstructure contract.

Environmental Mitigation contracts

To compensate for unavoidable impacts within work zones, a multi-faceted package of mitigation efforts is being carried out.  Many of these initiatives reach far beyond the Project area, providing environmental benefits in wide swaths of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.  Valued at approximately $50 million, the initiatives include:

Habitat preservation

  • An 84-acre bald eagle sanctuary has been established

Wetland creation, enhancement or preservation

  • More than 100 acres of wetlands are being created or preserved in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia

River grass plantation

  • Twenty-two acres of river grasses are being planted in the lower Potomac River, serving as fish habitat and cleaning the water


  • More than 140 acres of woodlands are being planted or preserved in Prince George's County

Steam restoration

  • "Fish ladders" enabling spawning fish to cross 25 man-made barriers will be created on Rock Creek/ Northwest Branch Rivers in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and Anacostia River (D.C)
  • As many as 15 million herring are being stocked in Rock Creek and Anacostia River tributaries
  • More than 800-feet of stream bank stabilization in Prince George’s County

As part of the environmental mitigation associated with the contract at the Hunting Point on the Potomac apartment complex, a wetland has been created. The wetland is adjacent to Hunting Creek, near Hunting Cove off of S. Washington Street. The environment in the area is excellent for birdwatching, today, and will be enhanced with the new wetland. This photo shows the wetland with water. The wetland is tidal-dependent which means that when the tide is high there is water in the wetland, as shown. When the tide goes down, or it is a drier period, this area will seem empty. The wetland plants clean the water naturally.


Three superstructure contracts are underway. The two approach contracts are in the process of mobilizing and setting up casting yards where the segments for the arches will be built prior to the placement. The contract with the most work on going, and the most visible, is the movable span contract.

Building an Arch

The first arch at the drawspan of the new bridge has taken shape. Since the pedestals were finished, the drawspan contractor has been building the falsework  for the southernmost support of the arch on the west side of the drawspan. The falsework is the steel that looks like an “erector set” that creates a frame for the formwork. The formwork is the bed of wood on which the concrete will be placed. Once the rebar has been placed creating the concrete boxes that lie on the formwork, the concrete will be poured. Once the concrete has cured, the formwork and falsework will be stripped away so that you can see the concrete facing. At the drawspan, there are three arches to support each roadway. For the other foundations, there will be a pair of arch supports for both the Inner Loop and the Outer Loop roadways.


There are three construction contracts in Virginia and three environmental mitigation contracts underway.

The Virginia soils contract, between US Route 1 and Telegraph Road, is adding soil on top of the existing ground to load it for bearing strength. The series of lifts is completed on the Outer Loop and, in fact, some of the excess material, or surcharge is being removed since the soil has reached its bearing strength. On the Inner Loop, additional soil is necessary and some of the areas will have to settle for a period of time to reach their bearing strength. In addition, many of the overhead utilities are being relocated. Currently, Virginia Dominion Power is relocating transmission towers.

The Virginia Tie-In contract will join the Wilson Bridge to the US Route 1 interchange. In addition to the roadway work on the Beltway, which will occur in the future, a lot of work is needed adjacent to the Beltway. Already, a wetland mitigation site has been created south of the apartment complex on the west side of S, Washington Street (see Environmental Mitigation section, this page). A Washington Street Urban Deck has had its construction begin with demolition of a part of the S. Washington Street. A retaining wall is under construction, which will be the southern edge of the Beltway. Demolition is required and is partially completed with two buildings down.

One of the contracts for the Virginia side of the Project is called the US Route 1 Interchange Advanced Bridge Contract. The construction of the eleven bridges will be to the south of the existing Beltway, beyond the Ground Improvement Contract. The work is not very easy to see by the drivers on the Beltway. That can be a good thing. This contract will not noticeably affect the Beltway traffic, as all work will be outside of the roadway, similar to the Ground Improvement Contract.

11-22-02 Project Overview Update:

- Project corridor is 7.5 miles.  Includes two side-by-side bridges
replacing the old, four rebuilt interchanges, one new access point in
Virginia, widening the I-95/Capital Beltway and creating an express/local
lane system as follows:
1.  8 lanes for general purpose traffic
2.  2 lanes for merging/exiting
3.  2 lanes for rail or bus transit or carpool lanes.  These lanes would
not open until connecting systems (rail, bus, HOV) are in place in Virginia
and Maryland.
- Total estimate is $2.44 billion (due to be updated next month).  Funding
as follows:
1.  Special federal funding:  $1.631B
2.  Virginia:     $505M
3.  Maryland  $292M
4.  District of Columbia $15M

Older information

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project covers a 5-mile area and is moving forward with design activities for the bridge and four adjacent interchanges. The bridge, the only federally owned span on the interstate system, will be doubling is lanes to twelve from six.  The bridge itself will be $600 million out of a total $1.9 billion dollars. The new bridge will be about 30 feet of the existing bridge and will consist of two 6,000 foot long mutliple-span bascule bridges.  The total width is 257 feet which includes a fifteen foot gap between them.

The bridge will sit on steel piles 150 feet below the bottom of the river.  They will be supporting 18 v-shaped piers (57 on the existing).  The new bridge will add fifteen more feet in clearance to 70 feet over the existing bridge. By increasing the clearance the number of draw-span opening will decrease from 220 to about 70.

The original bascule bridge open in 1961 was designed to carry 75,000 vehicles per day, now it carries over 190,000.  A study has shown that if the bridge is not replaced by 2004 it will need to be overhauled or a ban on trucks would be needed.


A unique Bridge Design Competition was completed in November 1998. Its purpose was to bring forth the finest possible design. Four firms, which submitted a total of seven concepts, were finalists in the competition. A jury comprised of individuals from a variety of disciplines, and chaired by former Maryland Governor Harry Hughes, selected a winning concept which was announced on November 18, 1998 during a press conference.

The winning design  is a graceful, seamless concept by Steinman and Deleuw. The box-girder bridge is characterized by V-shaped piers that offer the look of arches but enable a more open appearance with smaller foundations than would a true arched design.

The fours team that competed were:

Steinman and DeLeuw (Both part of Parson Corp)
Figg Engineering Group/Johnson &Mirmiran &Thompson Team
HNTB Corp.
T.Y. Lin Internation


Bridge: $600 Million

Ramps and Design: $300 Million

4 large Interchanges in Maryland and Virginia (2 each):  $1 billion

As of December 19th, 1999 there is a total of 1.3 billion dedicated to this project. It breaks down as:

Federal Government: $900 million

Maryland and Virginia: $400 Million ($200 Million each)

Congress is currently being pressured by Clinton and others to come up with the last $600 million needed to fund this project.

Project Update


Dredging Contract Begins

Because much of the river at the Wilson Bridge is only a few feet deep, removing soil from the river bottom is needed to create a channel for construction equipment to safely access locations where the future bridge's foundations will be built. The first dredging phase will begin this month and end in February 2001. Subsequent dredging will take place during the same calendar window in succeeding years.

Approximately 300,000 cubic yards of river bottom soil will be removed this fall/winter. Overall, an estimated 550,000 cubic yards will be dredged during the course of the entire project. Dredged river soil will be barged to a reclamation site on the James River east of Richmond, Virginia.

Extensive testing and consultation with environmental agencies have demonstrated the river-bottom soil to be safe.

The first contract will involve dredging approximately 300,000 CY of material for an east-west construction channel through a submerged aquatic mitigation (SAV) bed in the middle of the river. Dredging in open water will only be allowed from October 15 to February 15 (year-round dredging is permissible from within a cofferdam). It is anticipated that the dredged material will be barged down the river to the Chesapeake Bay and then to an upland disposal site. The exact location of this disposal site remains to be determined.

The second contract will involve the majority of foundations for the bridge as well as interim site improvements in Jones Point Park, and possibly bulkhead improvements in Jones Point Park and at the Maryland shore south of the bridge for construction staging areas. The foundations will likely include steel pipe piles ranging in diameter from 42" to 66" inches for the river piers and Pier V-2, the first pier on the Virginia shore. The other Virginia piers will likely include 24" square prestressed concrete piles. A concrete pile cap will also be included in this contract.

The third contract will include the remainder of the construction for the Potomac River Bridge. This work includes prestressed concrete V-piers, steel box girders, concrete deck, operator's house, machinery, electrical controls, signing and roadway and aesthetic lighting. This contract will also include a few foundations that overlap the existing bridge which would not be accessible in the previous foundation contract.

Anticipated Construction ContractsŽ The construction contract information provided below is preliminary and subject to modification based upon funding constraints, schedule adjustments and final design considerations. Final information will be provided on the MSHA web page.
Contract Description Est. Value
M 1999$
1. Bridge Contract 1
-Initial Dredging (300,00 CY)



2. Bridge Contract 2
-Foundation contract encompassing the majority of new foundations tothat do not conflict with the existing bridge. Excludes the VA abutment.
2000-3rdQ 24+
Actual November 20, 2000
Year 2000 Estimate $120-$140M
3. Bridge Contract 3
-Remainder of bridge, including balance of foundations and to completion of dredging Includes demolition and removal of existing bridge.
2001-2ndQ 63+

Potential Construction Quantities Ž VERY PRELIMINARY!

Anticipated Major Quantities:
Bascule Span:
  • Steel Pipe Piles: 36,000 LF
  • Pile Cap Concrete: 20,000 CY
  • Cast in Place Pier Concrete: 30,000 CY
  • Structural Steel: 8,000,000 LB
  • Epoxy Coated Reinforcement: 700,000 LB
  • Reinforcement Steel Bars: 14,000,000 LB
  • Post Tensioning Steel Reinforcement: 2,000,000 LB

Approach Spans:

  • Prestressed Concrete Pile: 26,000 LF
  • Steel Pipe Pile: 120,000 LF
  • Pile Cap Concrete: 68,000 CY
  • Structural Steel: 75,000,000 LB
  • Epoxy Coated Reinforcement: 8,500,000 LB
  • Reinforcement Steel Bars: 9,200,000 LB

Anticipated Specialty Items:
  • Bascule Bridge Operating Machinery
  • Bascule Bridge Electrical Controls
  • Navigation Lighting
  • Bascule Bridge Warning Gates
  • Pier Protection System
  • Traffic Control Signal System
  • Pedestrian Railing
  • Bridge Deck Expansion Joints
  • Control Tower Building
  • Stone Facing Overhead Sign


Project Update


Work Anticipated to Start in Late May
Baltimore - The Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration (SHA) identified Tidewater Construction Corporation/Kiewit Construction Company/The Clarke Construction Group, Inc. Joint Venture of Virginia Beach, VA as the apparent winner of the foundations contract for the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Fulfilling a variety of contract requirements, their bid of $125,396,511 million was the apparent low bid among five proposals submitted by leading construction firms from across the nation.

"This is another major step forward in the cooperative effort between Maryland, Virginia, and the Federal Highway Administration to relieve the worst bottleneck on the East Coast" said Parker F. Williams, SHA Administrator. "The best of the bridge building world competed for this much-anticipated contract, which guarantees the region's citizens will receive top value from the contractor." "We are very pleased to win the work," said E.W. McLaughlin, President of Tidewater Construction Corporation. "We are also very excited to start work on the project that will soundly support future generations of bridge travelers." Foundation construction is anticipated to start in May 2001 and continue until summer 2003. Foundations, consisting of piles that are driven to support concrete footings and pedestals, will be built for a total of 17 piers (eleven in the river and six in Jones Point Park in Virginia). Built to just above ground or water levels, the foundations will provide the platforms upon which the remainder of the bridge will be built.

The remainder of the bridge will be constructed in the third and largest phase of work, which is estimated to begin in early 2002. This will involve completing the dredging and building the remainder of the foundations, v-shaped pier supports, steel girders, concrete deck, roadway barriers and drawbridge operating machinery. Removal of the existing bridge will also occur during this phase. Subsequent contracts will follow with the ultimate goal of opening the first new bridge by the end of 2004 and the second new bridge in early 2007. The Project's commitment to minimizing disruption to traffic flow, as well as to the general public and neighboring communities, will remain a priority throughout the life of the Project. This pledge to being a "good neighbor" will become evident during bridge foundation construction. A number of special community-sensitive elements are built into the foundation job. These include specific times and days for construction, quieter and more efficient equipment, designated hauling routes and street permit restrictions. Maximum use of the Potomac River for delivery of materials, supplies and equipment will be encouraged to avoid community streets. There will be no construction on Sundays and holidays in Jones Point Park; pile driving hours in the park will be restricted to between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday through Friday and 10:00 am and 4:00 pm Saturday. Pile driving in the Potomac River is restricted to daylight hours only. Because the initial foundation work is physically separated from the existing bridge, the driving public should not be affected. During subsequent construction phases, special efforts will be made to keep traffic flowing safely and smoothly on the bridge and adjacent interchanges. In addition, the Potomac River channel in the bridge area should remain open and passable at almost all times, for both recreational and industrial vessels.

BID SUMMARY          
F.A.P. Yes Thursday, March 22, 2001 12 Noon          
Tidewater Construction Corporation/          
Kiewit Construction Company/          
Clark Construction Group, Inc. $125,396,511.00          
Virginia Beach, VA          
Pile Foundation Construction Company $128,480,712.00          
New Hyde Park, NY          
Jay Cashman, Inc. $134,122,525.00          
Boston, MA          
Potomac River Constructors $134,454,905.00          
Cranford, NJ          
Modern Continental Construction Company $187,347,360.00          
Cambridge, MA   


Maryland and Virginia will share ownership and upkeep of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge in an agreement that should guide the region's largest public works project to completion on schedule, both states' governors said yesterday.



Now Two Years Into Construction,

Project Activity Continues to Step Up

Marking the second anniversary of construction in October, Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project activity will further accelerate in the months ahead. Within the next year, seven large construction contracts are planned to be bid and awarded on the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest project, joining the five major contracts that are currently underway or completed More significantly, the contracts scheduled to be awarded by October 2003 together comprise more than $800 million in estimated value – more than three times the $240 million in contracts that are now in progress or already finished.

"The Wilson Bridge Project is the World Series of transportation construction," commented Parker F. Williams, administrator of the Maryland State Highway Administration. "And we’re just rounding first base in terms of construction activity," added Ronaldo "Nick" Nicholson, project manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation. The state agencies, with the Federal Highway Administration and District of Columbia Department of Transportation, sponsor the $2.44 billion project.

Ultimately, more than 30 separate contracts are planned for the 7.5-mile long Wilson Bridge Project, which connects Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia along I-95 on the Capital Beltway. Coordinating the massive project in a budget- and schedule-driven manner is essential because several contractors must work concurrently to meet simultaneous milestone completion dates. The agencies and their general engineering consultant (Potomac Crossing Consultants) are making every effort to enhance timely and responsive coordination with contractors individually and amongst all contractors collectively.

Major construction work planned for award in the coming 12 months is detailed below. VDOT and SHA are seeking maximum competition for the work, which will be advertised in various trade publications.

Major Construction Work To Be Awarded By October 2003

Bridge (Maryland State Highway Administration)

  • Superstructure/Drawbridge (BR-3A) – Construct the massive piers and movable bascule spans. With an estimated value of $140-170 million, the contract is planned for award in the fourth quarter of 2002, with construction starting in the first quarter of 2003.
  • Superstructure/Virginia Approach (BR-3B) – Construct the bridge spans approaching the bascule from the Virginia abutment. Because the drawspan is located near the Virginia shore, this approach work is primarily over land. With an estimated value of $130-160 million, the contract is scheduled for award in the first quarter of 2003, with construction following in the second quarter. - more -
  • Superstructure/Maryland Approach (BR-3C) – Construct the bridge spans approaching the drawbridge from the Maryland abutment. This third major component of the new river crossing involves mainly marine construction work. It is planned for award in the second quarter of 2003, with construction following in the third quarter.

The first of the twin bridges is planned for completion in late 2005/early 2006. After traffic is moved onto the first bridge, the old bridge will be torn down through demolition components in each of the above contracts. The second new bridge is slated for completion in late 2007/early 2008. These key milestones underscore the imperative of bridge and adjacent highway work being completed concurrently and on time.

Virginia Landside (Virginia Department of Transportation)

  • Beltway Tie-In (VA-4) – Align the existing Virginia Beltway and US Route 1 Interchange with the new river bridges that will be south of the existing bridge. The contract has an estimated value of $55-65 million and is planned for award in fourth quarter of 2002, with work starting early next year.
  • US Route 1 Bridges (VA-5) – Construct raised structures for Beltway and ramps on the southern portion of the US Route 1 Interchange. With an estimated value of $40-50 million, the contract award is planned for the second quarter of 2003, with construction commencing in the summer.
  • US Route 1 Interchange (VA-6) – Rebuild the main portion of the US Route 1 Interchange. This is the largest Virginia contract associated with the Wilson Bridge Project, estimated at $170-200 million, and is planned for award in the third quarter of 2003, with construction beginning in the fourth quarter.

Maryland Landside (Maryland State Highway Administration)

  • I-295 Interchange Southern Ramps and Outer Loop (MA-2&3) – Align the Maryland Beltway and I-295 Interchange with the new river bridges, widen the Capital Beltway and provide new access to a planned major recreation/retail/business development to the south. This major contract is planned for award in the fourth quarter of 2002 and to be under construction in first quarter 2003.

Two Years of Progress

Construction of the new Wilson Bridge started October 19, 2000 with the dredging of a construction channel. During the following four months, more than 12,000 scoops of river mud – totaling more than 330,000 cubic yards – were removed and disposed of in an environmentally beneficial manner.

On July 2, 2001, the first of 1039 piles that will support the future bridges was driven. The $125 million contract for building bridge foundations is now 85 percent complete.

Among other advancing construction elements:

  • Stabilizing soil conditions in Virginia and Maryland to support the expansion of the I-95/Capital Beltway is nearly half finished on both sides of the river.
  • Rebuilding ramps and overpasses connecting I-295 with MD 210 is almost halfway completed. This $45 million job employs more than 100 daily workers.
  • Demolition of buildings and garages that stand in the path of the new bridge and its highway approaches is now in progress and will be completed next year.
  • Seven environmental mitigation contracts are now underway in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia to compensate for construction impacts, with three more mitigation contracts to follow. While much of the mitigation work is being performed at or near the project site, the effort also extends far and wide, including river grass planting more than 60 miles south where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay; wetland creation 30 miles west in Prince William County, Virginia; woodland planting and preservation 20 miles east in Prince George’s County, Maryland; and fish passage restoration 20 miles north in Washington, DC and suburban Maryland. Substantial habitat preservation work for bald eagles and other species is also part of the environmental effort.


  Revised schedule as of March 1st, 2003

Contract 2 - Foundations
Construction Underway
Superstructure Contract - Separated into 3 contracts
Contract 3 - Superstructure
First Contract 3A - Bascule Spans
Contract No. PG3455173R
Second Contract 3B - VA Approach
Contract No. PG5175173
Construction Underway
Third Contract 3C - MD Approach
Contract No. PG5155173
Construction Underway
Maryland Contracts
Contract PG3555173 - Pre-Consolidation at Rosalie Island
Contract PG3465173 - Ramps E&F at I-295 interchange
I-295 Outer Loop Local and Express. / National Harbor Interchange
Contract No. PG 3475173
Virginia Contracts
Contract K86 - Project No. (FO) 0095-96A-106, C503, D601, D613 - VA Ground Improvement
Contract A21 - Project No. 0095-100-104, C510 - VA Tower Demo
Contract A88 - Project No. 0095-96A-106, B648-50, C504, C51, L802 - VA Tie-In Contract
Contract A89 - Project No. FO 0095-96A-106, N507 - Virginia Route 1 Pile Indicator Program
Project No. (FO)0095-96A-105,C502, (FO)0095-96A-106,C502 - Advanced Intelligent Transportation System Installation
Construction Underway
Contract B69-Project No. (FO)0095-96A-106,C520,B626-629, B631-634,B640-642 - US Route 1 Advanced Bridge Contract
NTP June 15, 2003
Environmental Mitigation
MSHA - Contract No. AT1355173 - Fish Passage (MM1)
Under Construction
MSHA - Contract No. 3445173 - Northwest Branch / Sligo Creek (MM2)
Under Construction
MSHA - Contract No. PG3525173 - Cabin Branch / Tuxedo Road (MM4)
Restart Spring 2003
MSHA - Contract No. SM8085173 - Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (MM7)
Initial Phase Completed
Restart Spring 2003
MSHA - Contract No. PG5015173 - Reforestation at various WSSC sites (MM8)
Initial Phase Completed
Restart Spring 2003
MSHA - Contract No. PG51351173 - Offsite Reforestation (MM9)
Under Construction
VDOT - Virginia Shoreline Stabilization Contract
Contract L13 - Project No. 0095-96A-106, L801 (VM1)
VDOT - Four Mile Run / Hart Property Wetland Mitigation (VM2)
Contract A20-0095-100-104, L802
Under Construction
VDOT - Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (VM4)
Contract A52-0095-100-104, L803
Initial Phase Completed
Restart October 2003
MSHA - Contract No. AT1345173 - Rock Creek (MM3)
Advertise April 8, 2003
Bids Open July 3, 2003
MSHA - Contract No. PG3525173 - Bladensburg Marina (MM5)
Advertised March 28, 2003
Bids Opened April 29, 2003
VDOT - Silver Property / Aquira Harbor (VM3)
Contract A19-0095-100-104, L801
Advertise May 13, 2003
Bids Due June 24, 2003