The situation with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is even more grim than VT_Hawkeye described. The bridge is only six lanes wide, and has been inadequate since the day it was built. In addition, a recent tieup in construction of the replacement bridge has emerged. A contract for construction of the superstructure of the new bridge was expected to come in at a cost of about $475 million dollars. Only one bid was returned, which was for $850 million dollars, so the MD State Highway Administration has had to go back to square one in the bidding process. Maryland's new governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. has just taken over the mess from Parris Glendenning, and is the first Republican governor since Spiro T Agnew. Hopefully he can restore some sanity to the process of governing the People's Republic of Maryland.
Even with the replacement bridge, commuters will still be facing hellish traffic problems. If and when the upgraded Wilson bridge is opened, this will put more pressure on the The Mixing Bowl near Springfield, one of the most infamous interchanges in the entire Eisenhower Interstate System, despite ongoing construction to upgrade that section of road. Much of the traffic on this stretch of Interstate 95 is through traffic, and should be diverted off of the Capital Beltway system. There have been proposals bandied about for as long as I can remember (since the 1970's anyway) to build a bridge further down the Potomac River in Quantico, and to upgrade the US Route 301 corridor in southern Maryland to an Interstate-Class highway. I wonder if it will ever happen in my lifetime. With the increased emphasis on Homeland Security this should be done as well, a sucessful attack on any of DC area bridges across the Potomac could deal a crippling blow to not only the regional economy, but the national economy as well.
A couple of side notes:
The Wilson Bridge had to undergo a complete redecking in the early 1980's
which caused severe traffic problems in the Washington DC area (I had to commute over the bridge frequently in those days). To minimize the delays, they came up with a fairly novel solution: Rather than tear up the old decking
and pouring the new decking in place, taking a badly needed lane out of commission for several weeks while the concrete
cured, they worked almost entirely at night, and were usually able to fully open the bridge to traffic by morning. This is how they did it: First, they would remove a number of short sections of decking each night. Once each section was removed, they took a barge mounted crane and lifted whole sections of precast concrete
roadway up to the bridge, and they were set in place. A number of sections could be replaced each night, and the roadbed, while not quite finished, was driveable by morning. The contractor finished the work under budget and several months ahead of schedule, earning himself a tidy bonus for his efforts. So far, the current Wilson Bridge project is not going nearly as smoothly.