You Could Be the End of Old Wilson Bridge
Sometime late this month, on a night when the moon won't shine, someone is going to blow the old bridge on the River Potomac.
It could be you.
But there's a catch: You've got to win a contest. You must prove to a panel of veteran traffic reporters that somehow, during the old Wilson Bridge's 45 years of much-maligned existence, it managed to become a personal afront, a daily insult, to you and the things you value. You must show that you, among the billions who paled as they passed over this span, have earned the right to blow it to smithereens.
The people who are building the replacement bridge sense that the spirit of revenge is widespread -- so much so that they've created an entry form for detonator applicants. You must enter the Toughest Bridge Commute contest by 7 a.m., Aug. 18.
The rest of us just get to watch. Target date for the bridge bye-bye is 12 a.m., Aug. 24. (That's the midnight between Thursday and Friday.) A press statement from the bridge project describes the event this way: "The detonation will take two-tenths of one second, with a flash of light similar to lightning and a roll of thunder as the girders fall down."
I think those folks are having way too much fun.
Still, they say, this is serious work: The demolition, which will clear the way for construction of the second of the two new spans, involves some significant safety precautions in the immediate area, including a 30-minute closure of the Capital Beltway in both directions, a 30-minute no-fly period for aircraft and a just-don't-go-there zone of 750 feet around the blast area.
If you don't get to make like Gary Cooper in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" or Alec Guinness in "The Bridge on the River Kwai," all is not lost: The bridge project is planning to set up a viewing area on Washington Street.
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