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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.

By Robert Thomson  |  August 10, 2006; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  
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Comments

I would like to have more details on this proposed destruction of the old bridge. Do authorities actually intend to implode this bridge into the river? What are the ramifications to the natural environment? These issues need to be seriously considered and evaluated before any action is taken, if they have not already been done. What environmental impact studies have been done to understand the effects to nature and wildlife. Is this a shortsighted effort or is their an environmental impact study that has been completed! WE NEED ANSWERS IMMEDIATELY! A very concerned resident of Alexandria, Virginia.

Posted by: Rudolf Rojas | August 10, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Isn't 12 am on 8/24 the night between Wednesday and Thursday? The 12 am on Thursday night/Friday morning would be the 12 am of Friday, 8/25.

Posted by: Time? | August 10, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

If you read the story, it sounds like they're really only imploding the section of the bridge over the Virginia bank. So the debris will land on the ground.

Posted by: tallbear | August 10, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Midnight -- 12 a.m. -- is generally considered (by newspapers and TV) to be the end of the previous day (Thursday Aug 24 in this case). The new day begins as of 12:01 a.m.

Posted by: Cosmo | August 10, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

PLEASE! PLEASE ! PLEASE !
RESCHEDULE THE DEMOLITION FOR A WEEKEND. NEITHER MY SON NOR I CAN ATTEND A WEEKNIGHT EVENT AND WE WOULD REALLY LIKE TO WITNESS THIS VERY SPECIAL OCCAISION.
PLEASE TALK TO THE DEMO TEAM & ASK ABOUT DOING IT ON SAT. OR SUN.
THANKS , GEOFFREY

Posted by: geoffrey mckinless | August 10, 2006 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Where on Washington Street can the public view the demolition? Are there any other places one can watch?
Thank-you!

Posted by: Cindy | August 23, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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