The demolition was slated to begin on Nov. 20. “This delay was caused because the large crane that they are going to use hasn’t arrived from Portsmouth,” said Reed Winslow, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project Coordinator for the city of Alexandria. “We expect demolition to begin some time in early December.”
Demolition will occur in stages. “We will remove the brick façade first and then proceed with the demolition of the building,” said John Undeland, the director of public affairs for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project. “The contractor hasn’t decided whether to remove the façade from the entire building and then demolish it or to remove the façade from one wing, demolish that wing and then move on to the next wing.”
The brick façade must be removed first and hauled away because there is “non regulated asbestos” around the windows and between the bricks. “This was used as a sealant,” Winslow said. “These bricks must be hauled away and disposed of properly. They are going to be taken to somewhere in the Tidewater region.”
Once the façade is removed and taken away, a wrecking ball will be used to demolish the first four to five floors of the tower. “Material from this demolition will be used to construct a ramp and a standard excavator will then be used to demolish the remainder of the building,” Winslow said. The entire process will take until the end of January.
The remaining residents are concerned about the dust and debris from the demolition. “I have asked VDOT to consider getting weather stripping for all of the windows,” said Ardith Dentzer, the president of the Hunting Towers Hunting Terrace Tenants Association. “These buildings are very old and we do not have double-paned windows. There are cracks and dust is bound to get into our apartments.” VDOT has agreed to consider this request.
Dentzer is also concerned about traffic patterns and other issues as construction progresses. “They are going to be working on the Route 1 interchange and on Washington Street at the same time, leaving us no good way to get in and out of the complex,” she said. “We are just going to have to see how this is all going to work.”