The $2.35 billion Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project was featured on the Discovery Channel’s Extreme Engineering Series and was termed “the world’s largest drawbridge.” The Project has received over 70 major awards, including ASCE’s Opal Award, and has been referred as ‘Washington DC’s Newest Monument’ which has successfully eliminated the worst traffic bottle neck on Interstate 95 between Maine and Florida. At its peak, the Project employed 1,400 workers on site and executed over $1 million worth of work every day. Planning started in the 1980s, the signature design was selected in 1998, construction began in 2000, the Potomac River bridges were open to traffic by 2008, and the major interchange work was complete by 2014.
AECOM was a joint venture partner serving as general engineering consultant for the program. The project comprised a 7.5-mile project corridor located on the Capital Beltway (I-95/I-495) connecting 200,000 vehicles per day to Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia. The new bridge features pre-cast, post-tensioned segmental fixed spans and four parallel drawbridges, totaling 12 lanes with accommodation for pedestrians/bicyclists and future rail transit. The landside work included the complete reconstruction and expansion of four major Capital Beltway interchanges including MD210, I-295, US1 and the Telegraph Road interchange along with the reconstruction of Jones Point Park under the Virginia side of the new bridge.
The award winning environmental program included the following highlights:
- Development of a beneficial-use dredged material placement facility to accept 500,000CY of dredged material from the project to restore 50 acres of abandoned strip mine to highly productive agricultural land.
- Development and implementation of a contained air bubble curtain system which protected sensitive fish species during driving of 1,000 massive steel pipe piles up to 72” in diameter and 210 feet long.
- Protection of a bald eagles nest with the construction zone. The eagles successfully hatched and fledged 16 carefully-observed eaglets during the course of construction.
- Implementation of a fish reef creation program that delivered 52 barge loads totaling 65,000 tons of concrete debris from the old bridge demolition to create five major high-value fish reefs in the Chesapeake Bay.
- Implemented the $25 million mitigation program including underwater grass bed planting, fishery restocking, stream restoration, fish ladder construction, wetland restoration, and reforestation.
AECOM and the GEC Team resolved many major challenges including facilitation of four owners (MSHA, VDOT, DDOT and FHWA) and over 30 regulatory and resource agencies; managing five separate segment designers (main bridge and 4 interchanges) simultaneously; and resolving a high, single bid on the bridge superstructure contract. Amazingly, over the course of 15 years of design and construction, the cost of the project was actually reduced by $86 million from the original estimate of $2.44 billion to the final cost of $2.35 billion, thanks to diligent program management and cost control by AECOM and our partners.