Construction begins on Capital Wheel in National Harbor

Kimberly Debarros and her son Johan watch as the steel support beams begin to go in at National Harbor. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty
This is what developers envision the Capital Wheel will look like by the end of May 2014.
(Courtesy Capital Wheel developers)
The Poseidon sculpture at National Harbor's beach frames the pier where construction was set to begin.
The Cianbro Construction crew lowers one of the stabilizing beams into its base on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
It took the barge carrying the first pieces of the wheel 50 hours to reach National Harbor from Baltimore, in part, because of ice in the Chesapeake Bay.
The crane rises in the air above National Harbor. It will lift the 100,000 pounds of steel on the barge below into place. Given the height of the crane, wind is a consideration in whether construction stays on schedule.

WASHINGTON – It will look a little like the London Eye and offer a view of the D.C. skyline. Now, construction has begun on the Capital Wheel.

It took 50 hours to tow the more than 100,000 pounds of steel down from Curtis Bay near Baltimore where it was loaded.

The 175-foot wheel will eventually be secured and rise from one of the piers of National Harbor.

“It was a challenge getting it here with ice in the bay,” says Mike McGeady of Cianbro Construction, who has the contract to construct the wheel.

Weather pushed the project timeline back a few weeks. Now, the wheel is set to open in late May. It certainly doesn’t look like a wheel now.

“I actually thought more pieces would be put together on the barge, but we got to see it coming in,” says Kimberly Debarros, who brought her son to see it on Tuesday.

She stood watching with her son, Johan, from the boardwalk as the crane raised support beams in the air.

The Capital Wheel was just an idea a few years ago, now principal owner John Peterson is seeing his vision become reality.

“When you’re a kid growing up, if you had an erector set — that’s exactly what this is. They’re going to put the decking in and then put it together piece by piece,” Peterson says.

His company is taking a timelapse video of the construction. He says they plan to post it so you can see the wheel built in a matter of minutes.

This is how it will look through the stages of construction:

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