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baiskeli
01-12-2012, 02:20 PM
You might ride over this bridge on your commute every day. It's usually called the 14th St. Bridge, but this is a good day to remember that it's official name is now the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge.

Thirty years ago tomorrow, Arland D. Williams Jr., was a passenger in Air Florida Flight 90, which hit the bridge in heavy snow and went into the river after taking off from National Airport. Williams got to the surface of the ice cold water and helped several other passengers make it to safety. But when it was his turn to get out, the rescuers found he had gone under.

More about the crash:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/30-years-after-air-florida-crash-skies-safer-than-ever/2012/01/05/gIQAW0GwtP_story.html?hpid=z2

txgoonie
01-12-2012, 03:04 PM
I had no idea! Amazing story.

Dirt
01-12-2012, 03:07 PM
I forget a lot of things. The news footage is not one of them. Thank you for the info.

DSalovesh
01-12-2012, 03:12 PM
To be technically correct, which everyone knows is the best kind of correct, there is no "14th Street Bridge". The one we ride across is the George Mason Memorial Bridge, the next one downriver is the Rochambeau Bridge, and then we come to the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge (formerly just called the highway bridge or the 395 span). Those plus the two rail bridges are sometimes referred to as the "14th Street Bridge Complex", but because of the different histories, origins, and destinations I like to keep them straight.

I've actually ridden all three, and there's really no room for bikes on the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge - don't try it without a chase vehicle. Rochambeau is okay but access is difficult, and the George Mason Memorial Bridge is no challenge with the path and all.

baiskeli
01-12-2012, 03:15 PM
To be technically correct, which everyone knows is the best kind of correct, there is no "14th Street Bridge". The one we ride across is the George Mason Memorial Bridge, the next one downriver is the Rochambeau Bridge, and then we come to the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge (formerly just called the highway bridge or the 395 span). Those plus the two rail bridges are sometimes referred to as the "14th Street Bridge Complex", but because of the different histories, origins, and destinations I like to keep them straight.

I've actually ridden all three, and there's really no room for bikes on the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge - don't try it without a chase vehicle. Rochambeau is okay but access is difficult, and the George Mason Memorial Bridge is no challenge with the path and all.

Thanks for the details. Bonus question - which span was the one hit by the plane?

DSalovesh
01-12-2012, 04:07 PM
Tricky question too: The plane came down on the south-most span, then called the Rochambeau Bridge. Four people killed in the crash were driving on the bridge at the time.

In 1983, when that span was named in honor of the passenger who assisted in the rescue of five others by the Park Police helicopter "Eagle One" only to perish before he himself could be rescued, the Rochambeau Bridge name was transferred to the central span.

(I believe Eagle One is still in service, but in retirement it has a place reserved in the National Law Enforcement Museum which will open in late 2013.)

acc
01-12-2012, 05:44 PM
And for completeness sake...About 30 minutes after the plane crash, a Metro car derailed near Federal Triangle killing three passengers and injuring 25. It was a quite day, the scene on the bridge was particularly bad. There was a news camera on-site on the bank of the Potomac within a few minutes and we were able to watch events unfold in real time, an unusual occurrence.

ann

PotomacCyclist
01-12-2012, 05:48 PM
I was thinking of writing up a forum post on this topic too. Last week, I read through a few articles about the plane crash.

I usually just refer to the 14th St. Bridge. Very few people know the formal names of the individual bridges and there's only one with a bike path (that I'm aware of). Even DDOT refers to them as the 14th St. Bridge.

http://ddot.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/Projects+and+Planning/Capital+Infrastructure+Projects/View+All/14th+Street+Bridge+Rehabilitation

Except for a few people on this forum, any references to the George Mason Bridge, the Rochambeau Bridge or the Arland Williams Bridge are likely to be met with blank stares.

JimF22003
01-13-2012, 06:13 AM
I was going to college in Idaho at the time, and I followed the news of this crash avidly like everyone else in the country. Living in this area it's kind of odd to remember that even our "local news", like the Snowpocalypse, or this crash, or the guy who parked his tractor in the tidal basin, often makes national news.

Whenever I ride the MVT under the 14th street bridge(s) I always picture what the scene must have been like when the Air Florida plane crashed.

Mariner
01-13-2012, 08:34 AM
The guy who jumped in the river.

The chopper crew.

The other guy who jumped in the river (there were two; one of them was memorably caught live on camera by a WRC-TV crew on the scene).

Arland D Williams Jr.

Wow what a day... incredible people all.

Mariner
01-13-2012, 08:40 AM
I've actually ridden all three, and there's really no room for bikes on the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge - don't try it without a chase vehicle. Rochambeau is okay but access is difficult, and the George Mason Memorial Bridge is no challenge with the path and all.

Impressive! But those are technically interstates, right? And aren't self-propelled vehicles prohibited from interstates? Or is that not an ironclad rule?

Rochambeau has long leads that lead only to bigger and faster highways. At least Williams has a ramp right at river's edge on the south.

Speaking of bridges, I've been wanting to try the new Wilson Bridge.

baiskeli
01-13-2012, 09:01 AM
Tricky question too: The plane came down on the south-most span, then called the Rochambeau Bridge. Four people killed in the crash were driving on the bridge at the time.

In 1983, when that span was named in honor of the passenger who assisted in the rescue of five others by the Park Police helicopter "Eagle One" only to perish before he himself could be rescued, the Rochambeau Bridge name was transferred to the central span.

(I believe Eagle One is still in service, but in retirement it has a place reserved in the National Law Enforcement Museum which will open in late 2013.)

Thanks for the history.

baiskeli
01-13-2012, 09:06 AM
Impressive! But those are technically interstates, right? And aren't self-propelled vehicles prohibited from interstates? Or is that not an ironclad rule?

The George Mason span is the interstate, but it has the separate bike lane we all use. The Williams span is Route 1, not an interstate. But I don't think it's an ironclad rule, just the rule on virtually ever Interstate. There's a few out west you can ride on I think.


Speaking of bridges, I've been wanting to try the new Wilson Bridge.

It's pretty cool. Nice view.

PotomacCyclist
01-13-2012, 11:45 AM
Mariner, the bike trail on the George Mason Bridge is completely separated from the car traffic lanes by concrete barriers.

The Wilson Bridge is a great ride, but watch out for the expansion joints. They are kind of deep for bike tires. Either bunny-hop them or slow down as you ride over them if you're using a road bike.

Shortly after you get on the bridge from Alexandria, look for the lookout area. Right after that, you'll see narrow brass lines on the bike path. Those mark the boundaries between Alexandria, the District and Prince George's County. About 400 ft. of the trail lies in D.C. So in just 401 ft. or so, you can say that you rode in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland.

***
The Post has a reprint from the paper (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-buzz/post/air-florida-crash-washington-post-coverage-from-jan-14-1982/2012/01/12/gIQAVta5tP_blog.html) on the day after the crash. There's a link to a photo gallery too. No. 9 shows Lenny Skutnik, an onlooker who jumped into the river to help stewardess Kelly Duncan after Duncan became exhausted and sank under the water. She survived.

DSalovesh
01-16-2012, 11:15 AM
Impressive! But those are technically interstates, right? And aren't self-propelled vehicles prohibited from interstates? Or is that not an ironclad rule?

I'm sure it is illegal, and it's also not a good idea. I'm sure there would have been some explaining to do if I had been caught but arrest or charges are unlikely, and at 3-4 AM when I did it getting caught was pretty unlikely too. Morning rush slows traffic to bike-safe speeds too, but the drivers are irate and unpredictable.


Rochambeau has long leads that lead only to bigger and faster highways. At least Williams has a ramp right at river's edge on the south.

Williams has no shoulder or space to spare - hence the need for a chase vehicle. Rochambeau has good shoulders. In general, the DC side is a big mixing bowl from highway to highway and ramp to ramp. It would be almost impossible in traffic. The VA side has some ramps that flow much more smoothly, but you'd still want to aim for the good exits. Same for Washington Blvd., 110, 50... there are spots that seem very reasonable to bike and others that are near-suicidal.


Speaking of bridges, I've been wanting to try the new Wilson Bridge.

The problem with most road facilities is that they're built around the assumption that vehicles will be moving at 50-70 mph with 100-200 bhp to power up elevation changes. I'm always amazed at how much slope some roads, ramps, and bridges actually have and that I've never noticed it when I drive. Wilson Bridge is like that - there's 100 feet of elevation change from the MVT to the top but due to the superhighway scale it just feels like I'm having a bad day and can't get any speed. Nice view though, and the park at the MD end is worth a visit by itself (situated on a bridge over the beltway, great views of the Potomac, Alexandria, and DC).

DSalovesh
01-16-2012, 11:50 AM
Shortly after you get on the bridge from Alexandria, look for the lookout area. Right after that, you'll see narrow brass lines on the bike path. Those mark the boundaries between Alexandria, the District and Prince George's County. About 400 ft. of the trail lies in D.C. So in just 401 ft. or so, you can say that you rode in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland.

I can't find references - so I could be wrong - but I could have sworn they sliced that tip off as part of the bridge project. Wikipedia says DC gave up ownership of and granted a permanent easement for the bridge, but I remember reading elsewhere that they had actually redrawn the border at the northern bridge line to avoid creating a discontiguous lump of DC south of the bridge.

If you like reading up on strange borders and interesting map features, I recommend this blog - seems that the author(s) are based nearby so there are a lot of items of local interest, in addition to a bunch from around the world:

http://www.howderfamily.com/blog/washington-dc-anomalies/

PotomacCyclist
01-16-2012, 12:54 PM
The scenic overlook on the Wilson Bridge has an explanation of the boundaries. It states that the bike/pedestrian path crosses from Virginia to DC and then Maryland. There are thin brass boundary markers embedded in the concrete with small triangular sections that indicate which parts are in Virginia, DC and Maryland. The angles of the boundary lines match up with the VA/DC/MD boundaries that I see on Google Maps and elsewhere. I've never heard of D.C. giving up a piece of their land for the bridge.

If D.C. granted an easement, that doesn't mean they gave up the property. It just means that they turned over the right of way and responsibility for bridge construction and maintenance to other jurisdictions (federal or to Virginia and Maryland). That small slice of land is still part of D.C.

mstone
01-16-2012, 02:31 PM
I'm sure it is illegal, and it's also not a good idea. I'm sure there would have been some explaining to do if I had been caught but arrest or charges are unlikely, and at 3-4 AM when I did it getting caught was pretty unlikely too. Morning rush slows traffic to bike-safe speeds too, but the drivers are irate and unpredictable.

In this area it's illegal. In some of the flyover states biking on interstates is legal (presumably because there aren't many alternatives).


The problem with most road facilities is that they're built around the assumption that vehicles will be moving at 50-70 mph with 100-200 bhp to power up elevation changes.

I'd actually argue that most non-road facilities are worse than roads, because they don't care to spend the money to flatten them out. E.g., compare the custis to 66, or the MUP along 7100 that plunges down into streambeds while the adjoining road is flat.

americancyclo
01-16-2012, 03:10 PM
...most non-road facilities are worse than roads, because they don't care to spend the money to flatten them out. E.g., compare the custis to 66,

I thought that was a 'feature'? :cool:

DaveK
01-17-2012, 09:16 AM
When I was coming home last night northbound on the regular lanes across the river I came across two unfortunate cyclists who had found themselves stranded at the south side of the bridge, where the ramp from the GW Parkway merges on. This isn't the first time I've seen this, and these guys were kitted out and looked like experienced cyclists. How do you even find yourself there? Keep in mind it was around 5:30-6pm, not the middle of the night. Traffic was at full speed.

Terpfan
01-19-2012, 01:13 PM
There is a wreath on MVT right after going under rail bridge, presumably for the crash. I saw someone stopping to take a photo this morning so maybe they will post it here?

Rootchopper
01-20-2012, 07:55 AM
It was probably me you saw taking the pictures. Here's my blog post about it from last week:

http://rootchopper.blogspot.com/2012/01/remembrance.html

What I was photographing yesterday morning was an addition to the mmeorial. Someone left a typed note, held down by a tree branch. The note was in sanskrit. That pic is here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rootchopper/6728567669/in/photostream