- The Washington Times - Monday, November 19, 2001

The residents wanted to know if the bridge project was on schedule. They asked if it was over the budget. They wondered if the bridge was safe from terrorists.
And some asked when that irritating and seemingly interminable "pang, pang, pang" from pile drivers was going to stop.
Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project officials invited their Prince George's County neighbors to the land-based Maryland work site yesterday to answer questions, listen to concerns and show off their progress.
"It was a good-neighbor gesture," said project spokesman John Undeland. "People heard about the bridge for years and years. Now they get a chance to see what is taking place up close. And we couldn't be more pleased with the amount of interest and the high turnout."
About 150 residents enjoyed the sunshine and the tour of the site. Some came because they said it was a "historic opportunity" to see a bridge in progress. Others came to learn more about the massive project in their midst. Still others came to complain about noise.
Dennis Mounsey of Oxon Hill said his interest in engineering and technology drew him out.
"It a worthwhile project," he said. "I look forward to its completion."
Others, such as Karen Williams and Jean Burgess of nearby Riverbend, said they understand the necessity of the new bridge but are tired of the hammering acting as their "own personal alarm clock."
"People [living] right here don't get any rest," Mrs. Burgess said. "The noise even scares the animals out into the streets in the day."
"Some days I really want to sleep in," Mrs. Williams said. "Then I hear the bang, bang, bang start and think 'Oh, please, just 30 more minutes.'"
The noise is scheduled to take a break on Sundays as soon as work gets back on schedule. During the week, however, it will continue for a while.
The bridge project ran into equipment problems in the second phase. Because of the approximate six- to eight-week delay, contractors are working Sundays to catch up.
The estimated $2.4 billion twin-span bridge is being built next to the existing 40-year-old bridge, part of the Capital Beltway that links Alexandria and Oxon Hill. It will open with 10 lanes with two more lanes reserved for mass transit.
Construction is set to be finished in 2011, when all of the interchanges in Virginia and Maryland are completed. The first span is scheduled to be finished in 2004; the other, in 2006. About 190,000 cars and trucks currently cross the bridge each day; it was designed for 70,000.
Currently, crews are working from a site near Oxon Hill to create the foundations of the bridge. They have finished putting in 330 concrete piles more than 200 feet into the Potomac River. Now they continue to put in steel pilings. Every 40 or so of these will then have a cap and footing laid on them to tie them together. After that, another piece of concrete hopper in a V-shape will be laid on top for the arches.
Some residents of the Broadcreek community farther along the shore complained that bridge construction has uprooted grasses and sent them farther downstream to grow. As a result, shorelines in front of their homes have filled with stagnant water, grass, trash and sewage.
"It looks like a dump," said Sean O'Day. "I have a dock and a boat, but the boat is trapped by the grasses."
Broadcreek residents say they would like project officials to view the damage and consider installing barriers to prevent this type of buildup.
Mr. Undeland said the project has extensive environmental control projects to prevent that type of erosion. He also said that projects this large are going to create some issues, which is why they invited Alexandria residents for a tour a few weeks ago and Prince George's residents yesterday.
"In some cases, we have gotten to know our neighbors by their first name."
That is a good thing, he says. It helps project officials alleviate problems as much as they can.


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