The governor briefed business leaders at the Board of Trade on Wednesday on his plan to advertise dredging and construction contracts next month so construction on piers for the new bridge can begin on schedule. If initial work on a new bridge does not begin this construction
season, its first span will not be completed by 2004, when heavy trucks may have
to be diverted from the aging Wilson Bridge to other area roads.
Because Maryland has jurisdiction for the river beneath the Wilson Bridge, Maryland can move ahead on initial construction, using a portion of the $170 million of the $900 million in federal funds previously approved by Congress.
"The quarter-million Washington area residents who use the Wilson Bridge every day owe Governor Glendening a vote of thanks for breaking the impasse on a new bridge," said Board of Trade chairman-elect John Derrick, Chairman and CEO of Pepco. "The governor knows the clock is ticking for all 5 million of us in the region who'll face a transportation Armageddon if 14,000 trucks a day are diverted from the old bridge onto other roads."
Congress recently enacted legislation championed by Senator John Warner (R-VA) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) allowing work on the new bridge to begin even though all funds for construction have not yet been identified. Congress has pledged $900 million, and Virginia and Maryland have committed $200 million each, leaving a $600 million funding shortfall.