Bridge Parking Woes

Bridge Parking Woes

Will an expanded Task Force help?

An estimated 100 vehicles that now park daily in the lot just off Jones Point Road on the north side of the existing Woodrow Wilson Bridge will have to go elsewhere when demolition of that structure gets under way next spring. Where they will go is the question.

That was the word from Reed Winslow, coordinator, Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, to members of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Neighborhood Task Force during its meeting last Thursday night at Lyles-Crouch Elementary School.

"We have to make a decision where to park these vehicles without impacting the surrounding neighborhoods. This closing will also pose a problem for the drop off and pick up at St. Mary's. We are going to have to develop a plan for this whole thing," Winslow said.

"As soon as the new bridge opens, demolition of the old bridge will begin. This will make the area along Jones Point Drive completely unsafe for vehicle traffic," said James F. Ruddell, construction manager, Potomac Crossing Consultants. That opening is now scheduled for Spring 2006.

The only persons to have access to the existing parking lot, following commencement of the demolition, will be bridge construction personnel, according to Ruddell. Demolition of the existing bridge is estimated to take approximately four months, commencing early May.

A REPRESENTATIVE of St. Mary's School, located on Green Street between South Royal and Pitt streets, asked Ruddell if the demolition could be delayed until mid-June when school normally ends for the academic year. It was pointed out that this would only shift the problem to the fall when school reconvenes.

Questions were also raised concerning access to Jones Point Park and Jones Point Road by pedestrians and cyclists while demolition and construction were underway. "There will be access to the south side of the park while the old bridge is being demolished and the new span constructed. Although, we may have to alter access routes occasionally," Ruddell said.

Mayor William D. Euille, Task Force chair, suggested a special meeting in February or March as a general community forum to discuss the ramifications of the demolition and reconstruction. "This would be the time to explore all these elements," he said.

He also suggested expanding the Task Force to include representative of the Eisenhower Partnership and others from Eisenhower Valley. "We are moving closer to the Telegraph Road and Eisenhower Avenue elements of this project and this would enable them to gain information and offer input," Euille said.

There would be one representative from each of the groups. They would be non-voting members of the Task Force as envisioned by Euille. There was no formal action on the proposal.

However, Teresa Miller raised concerns that any representatives to the Task Force, with or without voting privileges, should be representatives of neighborhood organizations, not businesses. "We should work with the Federation (Civic Association Federation) to suggest representatives so that any representatives on the Task Force will represent neighborhood interests not business interests," she said.

IN OTHER MATTERS, the Task Force:

* Received an update on the National Park Service environmental assessment study for the wetlands from Winslow following its recent open house at the Old Town Radisson Hotel. There was discussion of the proposed tree removal from the wetlands area where two athletic fields are proposed in future park development plans. Task Force member Yvonne Weight suggested that the balloons, which outline the area to be consumed by the fields, be reinstalled for a longer period of time "so people can really see the size of these fields and how deeply they will impact the wetlands."

* Ruddell assured Task Force members that any concussion from pile driving for the second span will be monitored on a daily basis. "There will be a concussion program in place prior to starting construction," he said.

* Received an update on the Franklin Street portion of the project and the opening of the new ramp from the outer loop of the Capital Beltway to feed traffic onto Route 1 north. Ruddell noted that the ramp was supposed to open early last week but due to weather and other factors it was delayed. He said it would open no later than Oct. 29.