Virginia Roads - I-95/I-495 Wilson Bridge walk

I-95/495 (Capital Beltway) - Wilson Bridge walk

This promenade onto the new drawbridge was the feature of the 2009 DC Road Meet (see link at bottom).

As part of the Washington Street Deck project, which you can see on my VA 400 page, these compasses have been embedded in the sidewalk for the amusement of passers-by.

From the second compass, I walk east toward MARYLAND and come to this staid concrete wall protecting an old cemetery to the north. Why couldn't the northern side of the I-95/495 abutment work well enough? For whatever reason, VDOT decided to keep the original abutment of the old Wilson Bridge as the cemetery wall. The black and yellow marks against the side of the wall are where the concrete pavement and base material were ripped away after 50 years - the yellow is in fact rough and pebbly from the concrete. Above the top of the yellow concrete line is about 4 to 6 inches of abutment, which served as the southbound (westbound) curb.

Looking back west at the wall, which was ingloriously sawed off where it met the bridge. A (presumably electrical) conduit formerly led straight between the two, leaving a hole.

Detail of a large joint in the bridge. The first photo is taken through Plexiglass that relieves Virginian shore dwellers from the noise of passing vehicles while allowing them to peer in curiously. Fortunately, it ends before the main span so that photos may be taken. Judging from the look of the second photo, this bridge won't come apart in a meteor strike or monster attack.

Equally massive are the piers that support the bridge abutments. Seriously, I think civil engineers harkened back to the days of the Brooklyn Bridge (before anyone really "knew" how bridges work mechanically) and decided to impart a 10.0 factor of safety. This could outlast the pyramids.

Looking down at Jones Point Drive, a mostly closed access from Royal St. It can't be entirely closed, because I saw a few vehicles parked along it that did not appear to be abandoned.

Now that you've seen the piers from below, here they are from the top, forming a scenic arch that spans the river much more beautifully than the bridge's predecessor, along with equally overdone bulkheads below to protect the piers. Does someone anticipate battleships to attempt to ram at full speed?

Not to be outdone, the vehicular and pedestrian gates are designed to withstand elephant stampedes and French armies led by short guys with complexes. The walk signal amuses me, given the considerable length of the draw span - how many minutes must it flash "Don't Walk" to let people clear?

This is the command center from which the bridge operator makes sure the pedestrians have stopped walking and no armored tanks are trying to break through the gate before opening the bridge for marine traffic. I appreciate the retro Art Deco style and the detail of how the barrier breaks at an angle to allow the bridge to lift.

Sidewalk details. Not only is the sidewalk drained separately from the rest of the road, it has its own milemarkers (well, those at least I think are supposed to apply to vehicular traffic as well), state line signage (minus heavy paint over Virginia at the DC line), and mood lighting! The pavement joint is cleverly stepped instead of staying on a diagonal for the benefit of wheelchairs and strollers (and maybe bicycles).

The bridge has free binoculars at midspan. Here I discover that it is in fact possible to line up my camera and use them as an extra lens.

Here's the northward view toward DC without the binoculars.

Alexandria's Old Town seen looking westward from the bridge.

More views of Alexandria, including the George Washington Masonic Memorial.

West with the DC Road Meet to I-95/495 HOT Lane construction
General I-95/495 photos
Back to I-95 main page
Back to I-495 main page

Into Maryland on I-95/495
11/21/09 DC Road Meet main page
Woodrow Wilson Bridge on Steve Anderson's
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