- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

POINT NO POINT, Md. (AP) — After having long served as a parking lot over the Potomac River, sections of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge are heading downriver to a spot where anglers one day will dally in leisure instead of anger.

Portions of the much-maligned bridge demolished last month will be used to build an artificial reef just north of where the Potomac meets the lower Chesapeake Bay in St. Mary’s County, Md.

Fifty-foot concrete sections of the center span will be dumped Wednesday off a football-field sized barge, said Aaron Kraus, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

“It’s going to be pretty visually stunning,” Mr. Kraus said.

The sections will add to an established artificial reef site, providing more habitat for fish and other Bay denizens and more chances for recreational fishermen to land the big one.

Reef building is one of several environmental projects using materials from the bridge construction.

River mud dredged at the bridge site also has been used to reclaim strip-mined land to restore farm production on a historic plantation near Richmond.

The old six-lane drawbridge, which opened in 1961 and connected Maryland and Virginia on Interstate 495, has long been too small for commuter traffic from burgeoning suburbs on both sides of the river. It is being replaced with two new drawbridges.

A half-mile section of the bridge came down last month, when longtime commuter Dan Ruefly, who won a contest to find the person with the “toughest bridge commute,” pushed a symbolic plunger that started the demolition.

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