Woodrow Wilson Bridge Replacement

This project replaced a functionally obsolete bridge on the Capital Beltway with the world’s widest draw spans over the Potomac River between the US states of Virginia and Maryland.


  • Washington, DC, USA
  • Virginia to Maryland, USA


  • Virginia Department of Transportation/Maryland State Highway Administration/Federal Highway Administration/ District of Columbia Department of Transportation

Project Status

  • Completed in 2013


  • American Council of Engineering Companies - Engineering Excellence Grand Award, 2009
  • American Society of Civil Engineers - Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award, 2008
  • Gustav Lindenthal Medal - Excellence in Bridge Engineering, 2009

Enhancing Mobility Between Communities

The dedication ceremony for the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge carried the theme: “A bridge completed, a region connected.” This multi-award- winning project replaced a functionally obsolete bridge on the Capital Beltway with two side-by- side 1.4–mile- (2.25- kilometer-) long structures with the world’s widest draw spans carrying 12 lanes of traffic over the Potomac River between the U.S. states of Virginia and Maryland.

WSP was the lead member of Potomac Crossing Consultants (PCC), a joint venture that served as general engineering consultant for program management, construction management and inspection. The 7.5-mile (12.1-kilometer), USD 2.375 billion project also involved reconstructing four adjacent interchanges, two in Virginia and two in Maryland, and redeveloping Jones Point Park, a National Park Service landmark underneath the new bridge. The program was delivered with 32 design-bid- build prime construction contracts, 15 of which were environmental mitigation contracts.

12.1 km 12.1 km
12 12
Traffic per Day
200,000 200,000

Our responsibilities included the following:

  • Conducting the NEPA process and securing all of the project permits
  • Procurement and management of five section design consultants support for right-of-way Acquisition cost and schedule control
  • Creation of the nation’s first Financial Plan to comply with FHWA’s newly implemented Mega-project requirements
  • implementation of a corridor wide intelligent transportation system (ITS)
  • Creation and staffing of a project traffic operations center
  • Incident management and congestion management
  • Community relations and stakeholder involvement
  • Environmental compliance monitoring; partnering
  • Field inspection and quantity surveying
  • Material testing
  • Documentation control
  • Full-service construction management

Understanding the Bridge’s Environment and Context

The bridge’s location in a heavily developed metropolitan area carrying more than 200,000 vehicles per day —rich in parks and natural areas— required compatibility with local environmental, traffic, aesthetic, historic and socioeconomic concerns, with a particular sensitivity to public issues.

The project faced unique challenges that necessitated high-level government decisions. These included a decision regarding Maryland’s plan to employ union labour under a Project Labour Agreement, and substantial changes in the bridge design following a lone, but substantially high, bid for construction of the Potomac River spans (including the approach and drawbridge spans).

Complete Engineering and Program Management Services

During the planning phase, WSP provided construction management professionals to assist with the project planning. This effort included:
1. Identifying the likely contractor operations and accommodating the impact areas in the project permits
2. Writing project-specific, corridor-wide contract special provisions that were applicable in both MD and VA,
3. Establishing contractual milestone dates for key interface elements among the multiple construction contractors. 

During construction, the project team also provided hands-on construction engineering and inspection services. For example, WSP’s construction manager chaired weekly corridor coordination meetings in which the prime construction contractors attended and reviewed the program schedule and addressed critical issues. The completion of the Telegraph Road Interchange in 2013 marked the final stage of this project and also heralded an unheard of completion that was USD 68M below the original 2000 Financial Plan estimate.

Innovative Engineering

Several state-of- the-art program management innovations were directly responsible for the project staying on time and on budget. WSP developed an automated, integrated forecasting system to allow its project sponsors to be constantly kept up-to- date on the overall cost-to- complete General Engineering Services required by the WWB program. Special provisions for required on-site safety professionals for contractors or subcontractors with a staff of 25 or more. As a result, the project had just half the national average of lost workdays.

Multi-Award Winning Project

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge project is the recipient of numerous industry awards and honours, including the 2008 American Society of Civil Engineers Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award, the 2009 American Council of Engineering Companies Engineering Excellence Grand Award, and the 2009 Gustav Lindenthal Medal for Excellence in Bridge Engineering.