- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006

3:50 p.m.

Hundreds of the Washington region’s dignitaries dedicated the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge today.

They marked completion of the first of two six-lane spans replacing the original bridge.

The outdated southern crossing opened in 1961 and handles more than double the 75,000 vehicles it was designed to carry each day.

Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta joined Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams to formally dedicate the new span of the $2.4 billion project.

During the ceremony, Mr. Ehrlich and Mr. Kaine walked from opposite shores to meet in the middle of the new bridge and shake hands. Both governors were joined in the handshaking by Mr. Mineta and Mr. Williams.

The first car to cross the bridge was President Woodrow Wilson’s 1923 Rolls-Royce.

The ceremony also featured the Navy’s Blue Angels.

The outer loop of the Capital Beltway will be rerouted onto the new southern span in early June.

Inner-loop traffic will be routed onto the new bridge in July, and traffic will run both ways on the new six-lane span until a second new span opens in 2008.

Demolition of the existing bridge begins in July.

About $100 billion in goods hauled on Interstate 95 moves across the Wilson Bridge each year. Delays caused by traffic congestion drain about $125 million from the economy.

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