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We present a heuristic method to optimize the capacity of a WDM mesh network assigning working and protection capacity to a set of static optical-connection requests under the link-disjoint constraint. The method can be applied to networks supporting either dedicated or shared path-protection. Routing and fiber and wavelength assignment (RFWA) are jointly performed for all the lightpaths with the aim of minimizing the number of fibers in the network. The employment of multiple prioritized heuristic criteria and an efficient link disjoint paths search algorithm are proposed. With less computational effort, the proposed heuristic approach allows one to obtain good suboptimal results compared to the exact integer-linear-programming optimization. After introducing our design approach, we discuss the optimization of particular case-study networks under various conditions and compare the results.