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August 10, 2006

Blow up a bit of the beltway contest

The winner of the Toughest Bridge Commute contest gets a very special prize--the right to blow up a little bit of the beltway:

The driver who endured the toughest commute over the old Wilson Bridge soon will get payback: Later this month, he or she will trigger detonation charges that will cut and bring down a nearly half-mile stretch of elevated steel girders that supported the old bridge over Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Via Boing Boing.


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For a few months before we were married, my wife lived in Alexandria. I worked almost 180 degrees around the beltway from her in Maryland. On those occasions when I had to get to work from her place, I knew better than to use the Wilson bridge, so I always commuted the other way. One morning, traffic reports mentioned a bad accident on my usual route, so I decided to take the Wilson.

Never again!

Even if I hear that Godzilla is currently devouring I-495 in McClean I will not take the Wilson bridge. I figure I can get off the exit before Godzilla and take side streets to the next on ramp.

There wasn't even any problem the morning I took it - no accident, no opening, no jumper. The traffic just doesn't go. I think about 30 lanes of various interstates feeding in from N. VA merge into the 2 lanes crossing the bridge. God help the people who get stranded there when there's a jumper.

The jumper was the first thing I thought of. About five years ago, the Fire Depart closed the bridge for something like 7 hours because someone was threatening to jump. After that, new procedures were put in place to prevent the closure under such circumstances. IIRC, there were more than a few stranded motorists who might have been egging the guy to just go ahead and get it over with.

And then there's being stopped so a sailboat can go under the drawbridge.

I think there was one occasion where the draw was going to be opened and the signalman forgot to bring down the gates. I don't think anybody died but it was pretty shocking.

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