Bids for redecking the potholed Woodrow Wilson Beltway Bridge will be opened next Tuesday. But the project will not include a bike and pedestrian path over the bridge, even though many local organizations had lobbied for one.
Federal Highway Administration officials said last week they had studied construction of a bikeway cantilevered out over the side of the I-95 bridge, and estimated to cost at least $4 million, but decided to treat the bikeway as a separate project that could be built later.
Federal officials ruled out any bike or pedestrian path on the Woodrow Wilson bridge itself, including the new seven-foot-wide shoulders being constructed on it, "because we don't permit pedestrian or bicycle access on interstate highways," according to area FHA engineer Steve Rapley. Some interstate bridges, however, such as the 14th Street Bridge at I-395 over the Potomac, do have sidewalks and bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
The bikeway idea may well die as a separate project, especially with a $4 million price tag, even though 90 percent of the cost would be paid by matching federal interstate highway funds.
Under a recently concluded agreement, Virginia, Maryland and the District will take over future repairs and construction on the Woodrow Wilson bridge. It presently is the only bridge in the nation's interstate highway system owned by the federal government.
Congress last winter authorized $60 million to repair the bridge. The project is expected to take just over a year once construction starts next spring. Most of the work will be done at night when only one lane will be open in each direction and I-95 traffic will be encouraged to use the beltway's Cabin John Bridge. The bridge's full six lanes will be open during rush hours.