UNITED STATES SENATE
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
INTERMODAL SURFACE TRANSPORTATION EFFICIENCY ACT REAUTHORIZATION
WOODROW WILSON MEMORIAL BRIDGE
June 6, 1997 - 9:30 am
Statement of the DC Department of Public Works

Good morning Chairman Warner and members of the Committee, my name is Ken Laden. I am Acting Administrator of the D.C. Department of Public Works, Office of Policy and Planning. I am here on behalf of Cell Bernardino, Acting Director of the D.C. Department of Public Works who is unable to attend, to provide testimony regarding the replacement of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge as part of the reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.

The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge is a vital regional transportation facility, which is in need of immediate replacement. The bridge is currently handling a much larger volume of traffic than was originally intended. The Washington Metropolitan Region cannot afford to take a "wait and see" position regarding replacement of the bridge. Congress needs to take immediate action to ensure that a new bridge is in place before a catastrophic failure of the existing bridge causes serious disruption to the region's economy and possible loss of life.

The D.C. Department of Public Works has been actively coordinating the planning of the replacement bridge with Maryland and Virginia and federal transportation officials. The District is a signatory to legislation which would create a regional authority to operate the replacement bridge.

Our major concerns regarding the replacement of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge are outlined below.

1. The existing bridge was constructed with 100 percent federal funds. The bridge is a federal bridge. We maintain that the replacement bridge should be paid for with 100 percent federal funds.

2. The District of Columbia will not make any capital contribution to the design or construction of a replacement bridge which connects Maryland and Virginia. Neither would we agree to have any portion of the District's allocation of Federal Highway funds diverted to pay for a portion of the replacement of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge. We have many other critical transportation needs within the District of Columbia which must be addressed with our local and federal transportation funds.

3. The District of Columbia does not favor the imposition of tolls to pay for the replacement bridge. We believe that a toll would divert traffic through the District onto Route I-295 and local streets, thereby adding to traffic congestion and air pollution in the District of Columbia.

We will continue to work with State officials in Maryland and Virginia, and local governments and interest groups in the Washington Metropolitan Area to ensure that a replacement bridge is built as soon as possible. We look to Congress to play a central role in financing this essential transportation facility.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this testimony.