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Thread: Wilson Bridge Opening Tonight at 11:30

  1. #11
    mstone is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LhasaCM View Post
    I think it was something like $200m of the $2.4b construction cost. (Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...081201700.html) Beyond the occasional ship traffic like that, it also has a potential utility should any large naval ships need to get close to DC. Not making it a drawbridge would've meant either an even higher bridge (so higher cost) or closing DC to certain sized ships.

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    Yes, I remember the ridiculous arguments at the time. The added cost of 200M, while huge, is also a major low ball because it ignores the ongoing liability of a bridge that moves. (See the old Wilson bridge or a certain other Potomac bridge that doesn't even open anymore--a movable thing is more fragile and maintenance intensive than a solid thing.) The reason there aren't more openings is because the planning didn't notice that DC isn't really a port city. (It's ok, George made that mistake also, right?) The projections missed the collapse of the vestiges of the region's shipping industry. There was mumbling that the Navy needed to access the Navy Yard, but by now they've admitted that won't happen. There was mumbling that we needed a draw bridge because one customer needed to access the port of Alexandria, but they've finally admitted that Alexandria wants condos more than a run down second rate dockland. There was mumbling about what if we needed to park a missile cruiser (too much Tom Clancy?) or hospital ship by the Jefferson memorial. Well, what if we needed to park a missile cruiser or hospital ship in Tyson's or Omaha? Should we put in a bunch of canals now just in case we have to exercise a specific low probability option? Better answer: park the boat downstream of the bridge. If we'd just said no and built a shorter solid bridge we probably would have cut the life cycle cost of the project by more than half.

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  2. #12
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    rcannon100 is offline Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!
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    Putting a navy ship in the middle of the potomac for any notion of defense would be moronic. The ship would be a sitting duck. Plus, most naval ships are sea going.... they would not do well in the shallows of the muddy silty Potomac. If you had some reason to defend DC - there are a couple of local air bases that might prove a better tactical advantage.

    The draw bridge is opened multiple times a year. Most of these times are just to make sure the draw bridge can open. So the number of times the bridge NEEDS to open? And what does it need to open for? Tall Ships for Alexandria? You could just move Alexandria down river of the bridge for that cost......


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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    Yes, I remember the ridiculous arguments at the time. The added cost of 200M, while huge, is also a major low ball because it ignores the ongoing liability of a bridge that moves. (See the old Wilson bridge or a certain other Potomac bridge that doesn't even open anymore--a movable thing is more fragile and maintenance intensive than a solid thing.) The reason there aren't more openings is because the planning didn't notice that DC isn't really a port city. (It's ok, George made that mistake also, right?) The projections missed the collapse of the vestiges of the region's shipping industry. There was mumbling that the Navy needed to access the Navy Yard, but by now they've admitted that won't happen. There was mumbling that we needed a draw bridge because one customer needed to access the port of Alexandria, but they've finally admitted that Alexandria wants condos more than a run down second rate dockland. There was mumbling about what if we needed to park a missile cruiser (too much Tom Clancy?) or hospital ship by the Jefferson memorial. Well, what if we needed to park a missile cruiser or hospital ship in Tyson's or Omaha? Should we put in a bunch of canals now just in case we have to exercise a specific low probability option? Better answer: park the boat downstream of the bridge. If we'd just said no and built a shorter solid bridge we probably would have cut the life cycle cost of the project by more than half.

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    It probably wouldn't have been savings of half; the construction cost of the bridge itself was only about 1/3 of the overall project; most of the money went towards the interchanges and surface highways leading up to the new bridge spans.

    But yes - the original design and underlying math was based on the assumption that traffic at the time (i.e., the 250 openings per year) would remain constant, so needed to be accommodated. That, and the doomsday scenarios of battleships on the Potomac. More likely, you'd see large barge traffic carrying precast building segments that can't fit through a normal train tunnel, but most of those can probably fit under the new/higher span. In any event, that lead to the options of either (1) a high bridge that anything could get under (roughly same initial cost, Maryland loved it, but the FAA and Virginia did not); (2) the current design (higher ongoing maintenance of moving parts); or (3) a tunnel (higher initial cost and higher ongoing maintenance).

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    You might want the ability to bring naval ships close in for disaster relief, like as happened after the Indian Ocean tsunami.

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    Another observation: the money added to include the drawbridge on WWB would have paid for all the work needed now for Memorial Bridge.

  6. #16
    mstone is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcannon100 View Post
    Tall Ships for Alexandria? You could just move Alexandria down river of the bridge for that cost......
    I bet national harbor could be convinced to host any floating tourist attraction that couldn't fit under the wilson bridge.

    Quote Originally Posted by LhasaCM View Post
    It probably wouldn't have been savings of half; the construction cost of the bridge itself was only about 1/3 of the overall project; most of the money went towards the interchanges and surface highways leading up to the new bridge spans.
    A significant part of that was the result of trying to compensate for the traffic problems of having to get heavy trucks to suddenly go up a hill that really doesn't need to be there, and provide room to park the vehicles stopped for a bridge opening...the knock-on effects of this whole silly boat thing were huge. Also note that "life cycle costs" includes decades of drawbridge operations & maintenance, not just the construction. I can't wait to see the studies for how much it will cost to weld the thing shut once pieces start falling off.

    More likely, you'd see large barge traffic carrying precast building segments that can't fit through a normal train tunnel, but most of those can probably fit under the new/higher span.
    How do landlocked cities manage without their construction barges?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    How do landlocked cities manage without their construction barges?
    The landlocked cities are where the cheaper labor is and things are actually made and not brought in...

    Slightly more seriously - trains (usually there are more routes/options to avoid tunnels away from the coasts).

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterw_diy View Post
    Another observation: the money added to include the drawbridge on WWB would have paid for all the work needed now for Memorial Bridge.
    Very true. So does a single F-22 Raptor. Or (by some estimates) the security for the inauguration. Or the 2012 film Battleship.

  9. #19
    mstone is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post
    You might want the ability to bring naval ships close in for disaster relief, like as happened after the Indian Ocean tsunami.
    I'm not convinced that parking the hospital ship a half mile further down the potomac is really a significant difference in comparison to a rescue operation that covered hundreds if not thousands of square miles. It's not as though there are suitable port facilities in either location. If the man was really concerned about disaster resiliency he'd reallocate funds from the bridge to adding redundancy to regional medical facilities rather than banking on a dunkirk operation. In the event, I suspect it would be far more practical to use one of the many airports to shuttle in people & material. (And anything significant enough to make all of the airports unusable would likely render the potomac unnavigable and break the drawbridge anyway.)

    Obviously, none of this is meant to question the value of a naval response for a costal area or archipelago suffering from a tsunami...only for a marginally navigable inland city on a minor river suffering something that didn't come from the deep ocean.

  10. #20
    mstone is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LhasaCM View Post
    The landlocked cities are where the cheaper labor is and things are actually made and not brought in...

    Slightly more seriously - trains (usually there are more routes/options to avoid tunnels away from the coasts).
    Uh huh. Honestly, I think we can safely just write off using parts that are too heavy for a highway, too big for a railroad, and happen to be critical to construction on the landfill and/or parks on the banks of the potomac and anacostia.

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