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Task Force Awaits Word

The Woodrow Wilson Neighborhood Task Force and Alexandria city officials met with Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation, Whit Clement, Tuesday to discuss issues relating to the project.

"We wanted to make sure that the secretary understands our concerns and addresses them,” said Mayor Kerry J. Donley. “I believe that we accomplished both of those goals because Secretary Clement and the other officials listened to us and made a commitment that he would get back to us with an answer within 60 days.”

Clement toured the bridge construction area and listened to the concerns of members of the task force. At issue is the noise from the construction and the noise from the traffic on the replacement bridge. Approximately 65 homes in the quadrant that is bounded by Washington Street, Lee Street, Greene Street and the bridge are left unprotected. St. Mary’s School is also in this quadrant but is being handled as a separate item.

“We would like for a noise wall to be built on the bridge structure, for there to be in-residence noise abatement measures and for VDOT to look at the use of noise abatement surfacing materials such as rubberized pavement for the bridge itself,” said Richard Baier, the director of the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services. “We believe that these are the best alternatives that will provide the most protection for our residents.”

THESE ARE NOT NEW REQUESTS. The city has asked VDOT to look at these measures in the past but has never received an affirmative response. "I know that this is a complicated project that has been around since the 1980s,” Clement said. We are here to listen and to respond to your concerns. If there are requests that we cannot respond to here tonight, we will get back to you,” Clement said.

Each member of the task force had an opportunity to address the secretary and to express individual concerns. Teresa Miller is the president of the Yates Garden Homeowners Association. “Our community is a garden-style community that is located nearest the bridge,” she said. “We would hope to have a noise wall on the bridge. We are a community that spends a great deal of time out of doors but there are also children who spend time inside sleeping. We want to insure that our neighborhood is protected and remains as it is. We appreciate your coming and your attention to this issue that is of such concern to all of us.”

RENALDO NICKELSON IS THE bridge project manager for VDOT. He addressed an issue that had nothing to do with noise abatement. I want to address the so-called funding deficit,” Nickelson said. “As all of you know, the sole bid for the superstructure has been rejected. It is our position — Maryland’s, VDOT’s and the project’s—that that bid was not a legitimate bid. Maryland is looking at how they can increase competition when they rebid the project. Instead of one large project … they are going to break it down into smaller pieces … this has no impact on Virginia.

"At this point, there is no consideration of downsizing the project in an effort to address this so-called deficit. Both states are proceeding aggressively to see that the schedule is met and that the bridge and the interchanges are completed in a timely manner so that the disruption to the effected communities is as little as possible…”

Councilman Bill Euille is the co-chair of the task force. He thanked the secretary for coming and said that he is encouraged by the Warner administration’s support.

“It is very important that we take measures to protect our citizens and I believe that this administration is committed to doing just that,” Euille said.