Walking the Wilson Bridge
I just did the coolest thing. Okay, the coolest thing if you're a total transportation dork like me. (I swear I wasn't always like this.) Anyway, I was out this morning walking on the Wilson Bridges. First we took a little stroll on the new bridge -- the part where there's no traffic just yet, of course.
I had three main impressions of the bridge: 1) It's very commanding. It feels and looks like something that will be around for a long, long time; 2) It's much taller than the old bridge. You almost have to lean over the side of it to look down on the tops of trucks going along the old bridge; and 3) It's really bright. Weird, I know. But the surface is white concrete instead of black asphalt and the barriers along the middle and edges are also white. It's all new and relatively clean and even on a cloudy day you feel like you need some shades. I've been out there on sunny days and it's nearly blinding. That'll change as oil and exhaust and all the other muck that comes with driving colors the concrete, but for now I recommend wearing sunglasses.
Then we hopped over to the old Wilson Bridge, which, by comparison, felt really, reaaaaally old. The first thing you notice when you stand on that thing is that it bounces when trucks roll by. I don't mean it rocks a little or you can feel a vibration. I mean it bounces. It's a little disconcerting. The other thing you notice is that it's an old, decaying hunk of metal and asphalt. The barriers are chipping apart, the pavement is full of potholes and the drawbridge arms rarely work. Basically, it's a piece of junk.
Luckily for us, no one will have to use it after Saturday, when traffic is diverted from the old bridge to the new. Both directions of the Beltway will cross the new bridge for the next two years, while a second new span is built. Once that happens, the new one there now will become a six-lane outer loop and the second new span will become a six-lane inner loop.
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