Opening of bridge span is expected to ease travel

The Baltimore Sun

Maryland motorists headed south on Interstate 95 this summer will find their travels a little easier with the opening this month of the second span of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge over the Potomac.

The inner loop bridge, alongside the outer loop span that opened in 2006, will be dedicated today in a ceremony including U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, Gov. Martin O'Malley, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. The officials will arrive in President Woodrow Wilson's 1919 Pierce-Arrow limousine.

The new span is scheduled to open to traffic the weekend of May 30-June 1.

At that time, three southbound lanes that share the 2006 bridge with northbound traffic will be shifted to the new span, said project spokesman John Undeland.

The bridge's full capacity won't be used until the fall, when two express lanes reserved for long-distance traffic will open on each of the spans. Three lanes in each direction will then carry local traffic. A sixth lane on each bridge will be reserved for future mass transit use, as a rail line or rapid bus lanes, Undeland said.

The old bridge, which opened in 1961, was demolished after the first replacement span opened.

Today's ceremony will mark the completion of the bridge-building phase of the $2.5 billion project, which will continue through 2012 or 2013 as Virginia officials complete the rebuilding of the Telegraph Road interchange.

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