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Monroe Avenue Bridge Underway

Final design still being debated.

On a cold and blustery afternoon, just ahead of the approaching snow storm, years of debate, wrangling, planning and political maneuvering finally came to end for one of the city’s most controversial projects. Ground was officially broken for the straightening of the Monroe Avenue Bridge.

Gathered under a tent on the site of the future Potomac Yard development last Friday, city politicians and officials joined with contractors and development representatives in turning a pre-placed patch of symbolic soil initiating the $15 million project that will replace the present “S” shaped curve on Route 1 with a straight vehicular path between Crystal City and Alexandria. However, final details of the bridge design are still unsettled.

“We’ve been waiting for a very long time for this moment,” said Stanley F. Settle Jr., vice president, Land Acquisition, Washington Division, Pulte Homes. They and Centrex Homes have joined forces to implement the Potomac Yard development. The partnership, which is financing the bridge replacement, is officially known as Potomac Yard Development, LLC.

REFERRING TO the gathering clouds and wind, Charles Smith, vice president, Shirley Construction, the prime contractor, told the crowd, “This is good weather to start a bridge. Starting Monday [Feb. 13] we will start pile driving.”

Smith also assured city officials: “Shirley plans to be a partner with the city for the next 30 months. We plan to work with the citizens.”

Mayor William D. Euille described the overall Potomac Yard development as “an exciting mixed use development project. We’ve definitely have been waiting years for this.”

In recognizing the various members of City Council and staff present, Euille said, “This will add to the economic viability of our city. Potomac Yard has been a good partner.” He also told the contractors, speaking as a contractor himself, “Have fun doing this project. Life is about building bridges.”

“MANY FAMILIES have invested their whole lives in building Del Ray. This whole area is going to come to fruition because of this project,” said U.S. Rep. James Moran (D-8), a Del Ray resident himself.

“A major commitment of the federal government is to get rapid transit in this area. Potomac Yard has a lot more potential and this bridge will release that potential,” Moran said.

Potomac Yard, upon completion, will offer a variety of housing choices, retail stores, offices, parks and open space, along with significant transportation changes, according to the developers. The site is bounded by Jefferson Davis Highway, the railroad tracks to the east, Potomac Yard Shopping Center to the north and the present Monroe Avenue Bridge to the south.