All Fall Down ... Later

All Fall Down ... Later

Old bridge span demolition delayed.

The demolition of Woodrow Wilson Bridge has been pushed back to after July 4.

"The contractor working from the Maryland approach won't be completing their work until well into June. Therefore, demolition can not start until July and we have been told it will be after July 4," said Reed Winslow, Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project liaison, Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Services. He informed Woodrow Wilson Bridge Neighborhood Task Force members during their Jan. 17 meeting at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy.

"The contractor building from the Maryland side to the center of the bridge has a longer distance to go than those on the Virginia side and this has caused some slippage in the planned schedule," Winslow said.

"It will take approximately four months to get the existing bridge down. But we are still looking at opening the new south span by mid-2006," said Alex Lee, community relations manager, Potomac Crossing Consultants.

"We are on schedule and on budget. And, we intend to stay that way," Lee said.

Lee's assertion to "remain on schedule" even if it meant working "at night and on weekends," once again raised the specter of construction noise, specifically pile driving, particularly to those living in the Yates Gardens area immediately adjacent to the bridge. This brought forth an angry response from Teresa Miller, Yates Gardens representative to the Task Force.

"I hope you are not talking about pile driving on Sunday morning. That noise at that time is not acceptable," she said.

Lee's response was that the work would be done in the river and that was not under the control of Virginia. "We've been through this before," Lee said without answering Miller's question.

"We need a memorandum clarifying just when this pile driving will be done and when demolition of the existing bridge is now expected to start," said Mayor William D. Euille who serves as chair of the Task Force.

Winslow pointed out to Lee that "pile driving that goes beyond Labor Day will adversely affect St. Mary's School." Lee agreed to draft a memorandum specifying when certain functions pertaining to the demolition and pile driving would take place.

"DEMOLITION SAFETY issues mandate the closing of Jones Point Road," Winslow said.

This will also require finding new parking spaces for the 80-plus city employee vehicles that now park daily in the area previously occupied by the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. Winslow indicated there are several locations in other areas of the city under consideration.

"We have also been considering the establishment of three or four parking spaces either on South Lee Street or South Fairfax Street for handicapped parking while Jones Point Road is closed for demolition and construction," Winslow said. "But, no decisions have been made."

He added, "If the demolition runs over the anticipated schedule, we will probably have to relocate any soccer games from Jones Point Park for this coming season," Winslow said.

One of the factors impacting the final decisions affecting the ultimate uses of Jones Point Park and location of various facilities is the delay of the Environmental Assessment Study being conducted by the National Park Service, owners of the park land.

Originally it was to have been completed in December with a public hearing earlier this month. "Currently, the Park Service hopes to complete the study by mid-February with public hearing in mid-March," according to Lee.

"The National Park Service's time frame may run up against our need to close Jones Point Road to maintain the construction schedule," Lee said.

Winslow informed the group that he has had conversations with a variety of residents and community leaders on various proposals for ultimate parking and access to the park. This has also included a possible temporary turn-around at the intersection of Jones Point Road and South Royal Street.