- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2003

Construction workers successfully installed three massive beams Saturday night at a Northern Virginia interchange that connects some of the eastern region’s busiest roads.

The three beams were supposed to have been installed Aug. 17, but thunderstorms forced crews to pack up and go home — delaying the entire project by a week. The beams will be the foundation for an overpass about three stories high.

“Winds have a way of making 288-foot beams act like a feather,” said Steve Titunik, Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman yesterday. He also said the weekend weather was perfect for the work.

Crews hoisted the 100-ton beamsabout 100 feet, then attached them to the northbound lanes of Interstate 95. The work is part of a $676 million effort to modernize the interchange, known as the Mixing Bowl.

Each beam consists of two girders that are spiked together on the ground. After the beams were lifted into position, workers installed 290 bolts to hold them in place.

“It was just as good as it gets,” Mr. Titunik said. “The weather was cool, traffic was just as we thought it would be, and the job went off as it was supposed to.”

All four northbound lanes of the Capital Beltway’s Inner Loop had to be closed for crews to navigate the mammoth cranes needed to hoist the beams. Crews closed a lane at 6 p.m., two more at 7 p.m. and the final one at 8 p.m.

They remained closed until about 9 a.m. yesterday.

About 430,000 vehicles each day pass through the junction of the Beltway and Interstates 95 and 395.

“There is never a good time to close roads in the Washington area,” Mr. Titunik said.

Traffic was minimal after midnight, but enough motorists were in the 7-mile detour to cause a 10-mile backup. Mr. Titunik said motorists can expect some more lane closings overnight Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as crews continue to stabilize the bridge.

Crews will shut down the road the weekend after Labor Day to install three more beams.

The bridge should be intact by late September but is not expected to open until November next year. It is one of 50 being built at the Mixing Bowl. When the exchange is finished in 2007, it will have 24 lanes at its widest point. Planners hope the improvements will eliminate dangerous weaving and merging that contribute to about three accidents a day.


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