A June 6 Close to Home article and a June 20 letter shed light on a foursome of often-overlooked landmarks of local history: the cornerstones of the District of Columbia's original diamond perimeter. In particular, the future of the southern cornerstone was questioned in light of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge reconstruction. Specifically, the bridge project was said to "threaten" the cornerstone in that it "could damage or destroy the cornerstone's site" at Jones Point Park.
The new bridge will be built adjacent to the existing bridge, more than 2 1/2 football fields (more than 800 feet) north of the cornerstone. Also, the new bridge's impact on Jones Point Park will be minimized through a number of design characteristics, including wide pier spacing. In contrast with the existing bridge, the much greater distance between piers will minimize the new bridge's physical intrusion into the park, enabling greater utilization of the recreational space under the bridge and improving the sightlines through the park.
Our intent is not only to protect the south cornerstone but to enhance the site. Located immediately south of the Jones Point Lighthouse, placed amid riprap within the lighthouse retaining wall, it is now difficult to access. The 207-year-old marker itself needs restoration, having been subject to considerable exposure. As part of efforts to improve areas adjacent to the bridge, we will work with the local community, the park's owner -- the National Park Service -- and others to explore the creation of a south cornerstone visiting space that is a focal point for residents and visitors.
Clearly, building the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge will occasion some unavoidable negative impacts. But it's also an opportunity to leave Jones Point Park an even better place for kids to play soccer, citizens to walk their dogs and history buffs to experience our region's heritage. A key element of that goal is a south D.C. cornerstone site where our region's heritage can be better explored and celebrated.
GENE McCORMICK, Project Manager Potomac Crossing Consultants Alexandria.