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Date 03/15/2010

New Woodrow Wilson Bridge Spanning the Potomac River Uses Lafarge's NewCem High-Performance, Environmentally-Friendly Slag Cement

Herndon, VA

Lafarge North America Inc.


Winner of numerous engineering and environmental achievement awards, megaproject in capital area relies on innovative slag cement product to achieve high strength, durability, and sustainability goals.


NewCem slag cement from Lafarge is playing a key role in one of the largest public works projects in the mid-Atlantic region. A partnership of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Maryland State Highway Administration, and the Virginia and District of Columbia Departments of Transportation, the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge is designed to eliminate one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country and reduce driving delays for hundreds of thousands of daily commuters.


The $2.5-billion megaproject involves a 7.5-mile corridor beginning in Maryland and connecting to Virginia by a bridge over the Potomac River. It consists of replacing the original 5,900 foot long span that opened in 1961, rebuilding nearly 12 percent of the Capital Beltway, and reconstructing four interchanges for easier entry and exit from the highway. Lafarge's NewCem slag cement and Type I/II cement are used in concrete mixes for the foundations, concrete pedestals, bascule span, and Virginia approach spans and abutments. Due to the large size of the bridge foundations and strict mass concrete requirements, slag cement was specified to help control shrinkage, creep and thermal cracking. In addition, NewCem slag cement and Type II cement are used in the concrete for interchange construction, and Lafarge fly ash was used to produce foam concrete for space filling and soil stabilization.


The FHWA is actively promoting the use of high performance concrete (HPC) in constructing longer-lasting, low-maintenance roads and bridges - an effort that promises to deliver huge cost savings in the nation's infrastructure. Engineered for long-term durability, NewCem is widely specified in HPC mixes by many state DOTs to help achieve greater strength, reduced permeability, and increased resistance to chemical attack. It also provides significant sustainability benefits, as the use of slag cement in concrete saves virgin raw materials, consumes less energy, and makes use of an industrial by-product material that might otherwise be disposed of in landfills. The result is high performance concrete with an extended service life, lower life cycle costs, and less environmental impact.


Construction of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project began in 1999 and is now more than 80 percent complete, with the last interchange scheduled to be upgraded by 2013. Two new side-by-side drawbridges, each carrying six lanes of traffic, are high enough to reduce draw span openings from 260 to 60 times a year. The lane configuration separates local and long-distance travelers, thereby increasing safety and efficiency. Ten lanes help eliminate the bottleneck and two lanes are available for options such as trains, buses, high occupancy vehicles, or express toll lanes. Work on the surrounding interchanges will alleviate traffic congestion and improve traffic flow.




Steve Meima

Lafarge North America Inc.


Woodrow Wilson Bridge


The Lafarge Group is the world leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in all of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum. With 78,000 employees in 78 countries, the Group posted sales of 15.9 billion Euros in 2009. Lafarge North America Inc. ("Lafarge North America" or "Lafarge"), a Lafarge Group company, is the largest diversified supplier of construction materials in the United States and Canada.

In 2010 and for the sixth year in a row, the Lafarge Group was listed in the "Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World". With the world's leading building materials research facility, the Lafarge Group places innovation at the heart of its priorities, working for sustainable construction and architectural creativity.

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