At 12:33 a.m. on Aug. 29, Dan Ruefly of Accokeek, Md., achieved ultimate payback for the frustration and pain he has faced for 28 years from traffic jams caused, in part, by the old, narrow Woodrow Wilson Bridge spanning the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia on the south side of Washington, D.C. As winner of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project’s Toughest Bridge Commute contest, Ruefly got to trigger detonation charges that cut and brought down about a half-mile stretch of elevated steel girders that supported the old bridge. (Watch a video of the blast at www.wilsonbridge.com/bridgeDemolition.htm.) Ruefly endures a daily, 120-minute commute to work and a 90-minute commute home. Additionally, in 1999 he was involved in a serious accident on the old bridge. Ironically, Ruefly attended the dedication ceremony for the old bridge in 1961 when he was eight years old.
A new Woodrow Wilson bridge opened in June, which currently is carrying both northbound and southbound traffic on I-95. Following demolition of the old bridge, a second new span will be built in its place to carry southbound traffic. The project remains on schedule to open the second new bridge in mid-2008.