News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, May 2, 2016

Flashback Monday: The Once and Future Bridge Over Wiehle

Bridge 1

Hey, would you look at that? After all our complaining about the fact that it will ultimately take nearly a decade to build the much-needed bridge lifting spandex-clad cyclists plying the W&OD Trail over Wiehle Avenue, construction's already begun! It's only a matter of years time before it's built, fancy substructure medallions and all!

Hahahaha, nope. This is actually a picture of construction of the original Wiehle Avenue pedestrian bridge, a mile or so up from the W&OD near North Shore, from the excellent Reston Remember When "Face Book" thingy. Let's set the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to 1970 and take a look, shall we?

Bridge 2

Man oh man, we love us some good renderings. Here we see the original design called for a fancy fountain reminiscent of the one right down the street in Lake Anne. Maybe the whopping $90,000 price tag for the project dissuaded developers.

Each of those cars had more square footage in their trunks than our first apartment.

Bridge 3

One of those awesome foam and balsa wood scale models you used to see Mike Brady working on, complete with Reston-friendly fake trees for context. Notice the random building originally planned behind the fountain, which apparently replaced the geyser effect with a sculpture uncannily reminiscent of the carnivorous Triffids we'd get four decades later. Or maybe they've been lurking in the shadows all this time, biding their time (and their taste for human flesh, but we digress).

Not sure what the building was intended to be used for, but the car-friendly, vaguely bank-like awning in the back seems to suggest it was intended as a drive-through -- maybe to allow Restonians to drop off the checks for their jet-age lake-powered air conditioning on their way home from the office.

Bridge 4

Excited Restonians rush across the bridge, presumably not long after the official dedication in August 1970, their sweeeeeeet baja sweaters fluttering in the breeze as they cross Wiehle, no longer troubled by the massive torrents of traffic below (the Bug, which may or may not have a flooded engine after its driver unwisely tried to drive it up a slight incline). In the far distance, you can see a recently cleared area where St. Thomas and the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation would soon be built.

Our extensive online sleuthing failed to determine exactly when construction of this mid-century marvel of concrete began, but given that Reston was under six years old at the time, it clearly got built a lot faster than the current bridge ever will, the end.


  1. Think the people in the bottom picture are rushing across the street to the big key party in Forest Edge. It was 1970, after all.

  2. Noone like the Restonian to infuse some context into our crazy little world as the fake trees did on the scale model ;)

  3. Ponchos and bell bottoms. I miss the 70s!

  4. Maybe the county should throw in a couple million extra to rebuild the McTacoHut complex to match this old design.

  5. Like a bridge over troubled Wiehle...

    1. ... I will ease your wallet with our reasonable RA assessment.


(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).