June 06, 2009

WWB Bike/Ped Lane Opens

And I was one of the first on it!

It's been announced for at least a month that the bike/ped lane on the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge was opening on June 6. Later on, it was put out that the public opening would be at 1pm (after an invite-only opening ceremony).

After several "antsy bikers" approached the west end asking if it was open, plus the Alexandria Police wanting an opening-related lane closure on the Washington St Bridge Deck finished, the clean-up of the ceremony area (on the bridge deck over the Beltway on the Maryland side) was accelerated, and the lane was opened to the public around 12:30pm after some brief comments by Bryan Johnston, the WWB project public affairs coordinator.

Yours truly was the 6th person "from the public" on the bridge after it opened on the Virginia side, and the 3rd one across the bridge (I passed a few bikers on the way).

The ride across into Maryland was fairly quick, as it's mostly a downhill grade heading east, plus there was not a lot of bike/ped traffic on the bridge just yet. The bridge deck over the Beltway on the Maryland side includes a huge U-turn (possibly to accommodate emergency vehicles) and also a 360-degree spiral.

At present, the paved path continues underneath the Beltway connection, then up the hill to Oxon Hill Rd where it ends. It's obvious that a trail connection directly into National Harbor is intended, but at present is not completed. A fine aggregate base has been put down on the SHA-owned segment, then a base of what looks like crushed seashells on the National Harbor side. It's too early to tell if the whole thing will be paved or not, but it would make sense for it to be.

By the time I got back to the bridge from National Harbor, the path was thick with bicyclists, as several local biking groups had organized rides across the bridge, in addition to other area residents checking out the new route.

Near and on the drawbridge portion of the bridge, the DC/Maryland and DC/Virginia boundaries were embedded into the concrete on the bike/ped lane. Oddly enough, the Virginia marker is buried under some thermoplastic striping (the striping being a caution for the drawbridge span). Photos are on the photo page.

I took dozens of photos, 126 of which are now posted on my WWB Bike/Ped Lane photo page, split into 3 subpages.