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DEVELOPING STORY — VDOT To Start Construction on New Washington Blvd Bridge Next Year

by ARLnow.com | August 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm | 2,257 views | 24 Comments

In a surprise move, VDOT has revealed that it is planning to begin construction on a new Washington Boulevard bridge over Columbia Pike next year.

In an email to local leaders, VDOT senior engineer Christiana Briganti-Dunn said the agency plans to award a contract to build the bridge by February. Utility relocations are expected to follow, with major construction beginning by late summer or early fall of 2011.

VDOT expects the project to be complete by the end of 2014.

One local leader said drivers should expect a traffic “nightmare” on the eastern end of Columbia Pike during construction of the new bridge.

The design for the bridge, more generally called the Route 27/244 interchange, will remain the same as was presented at a public hearing in June 2008. In addition to replacing the bridge, the project calls for new traffic signals to be placed on Columbia Pike.

Leaders say that given the long delays in the project, the announcement is surprising (in a good way). The bridge was called “decaying” and “crumbling” in a Washington Post article more than five years ago. The same article said that replacing the bridge “has been a top priority of Arlington County for more than 15 years.”

Even VDOT notes that the bridge, which dates back to the 1940s, “was rated as ‘poor’ in recent structural inspections.”

VDOT plans to call the new bridge the “Freedmen’s Village Bridge.”

Update on 8/31 — VDOT spokesperson Joan Morris assures us that as with all local VDOT projects, there will be no lane closures during rush hour on Columbia Pike or Washington Boulevard during the construction. It’s not clear how engineers will install a new bridge while maintaining existing traffic lanes and on-ramps, but we expect to learn more next week.

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  • BoredHouseWife

    I like the new name.

  • Hikin’ the pike

    I think I’ll take traffic hell over dying when the bridge gives out when I’m under it! Go VDOT.

    • NPGMBR

      Im with ya 100% on that. I pass over and under this bridge a few times on weekends and see first hand that the bridge is in-fact crumbling.

      Nice to see the State doing something about it even if its last minute.

      • charlie

        if you walk under the bridge, it is almost frightening. i have to walk because the buses aren’t always there on time. at least the trains are on time, right?. thanks zimmie.

  • Debbie

    When we moved here 22 years ago; that bridge was slated for replacement. It was bad then…and time has not been kind to it. I am glad they will be replacing it soon!

  • John

    About time this bridge got replaced. We should block widening of 66 and the HOT lanes until these projects get completed, by a local militia if we have to :-) (just kidding, but that’s what they’d do downstate).

  • Mikey

    Wow…had no idea the bridge was that old!

  • terri

    what is happening to all those trees that surround the bridge site on both sides of colombia pike./wash blvd? there are lots of raccoons, squirrels, rabbits and birds that live right there. i think there is even a red fox that makes it home in there. i am sick of these projects that replace trees with concrete and asphalt. the bridge does need to be fixed or replaced , but my questions still stands.

    • charlie

      just like every other tree in the way of progress. they come down. mulch. it is a shame.

  • G. Clifford Prout

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

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  • Shawn

    I notice that the off ramp now goes to queen instead of quinn. Any chance they will expand the bike trail along Washington to this exit or the old one?

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      We’re awaiting comment from VDOT. It should be interesting to see what they do with cars, cyclists and pedestrians who use Columbia Pike during the construction.

    • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

      Yes, the bike path (that currently ends at 2nd St.) will connect to Columbia Pike when this is complete. If you’re interested, there’s a little more here – http://www.thewashcycle.com/2010/08/columbia-pike-to-get-easier-to-bike.html

  • Henry Spencer

    It will also be a traffic nightmare on Washington in the evening; that’s right past the existing bottleneck created by cars coming down the ramp from 395.

  • Teyo

    How will the streetcars fit into all of this? They are going to have to go under the bridge along Columbia Pike, right?

    • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

      The long term idea is that yes, they will go under the bridge and continue along a (reconfigured) Columbia Pike before turning right (south) into Crystal City.

      • charlie

        Streetcars will destroy Columbia Pike just like METRO destroyed Clarendon (for 20 years) and H Street (going on 5+ years). “reconfigured” Columbia Pike means, no parking, no bike lanes, no urban vibe — lane, lane, streetcar, streetcar, lane lane.

        • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

          Right, Charlie. Clarendon is totally destroyed. Just look at that wasteland. Nothing going on, no one wants to live there . . .

          • charlie

            MB: You are right in that Clarendon is beautiful today. But from 1975 thru about 1997 it was in huge economic decline because of the destruction and interruption caused by Metro Construction. Those on the PIKE who expect streetcars to answer all their problems need to understand and ACCEPT that it won’t be 2011 when their cash register tills start kachinging but more like 2020. And most small businesses, just like in Clarendon, will not survive that type of disruption.
            you are right Clarendon is gorgeous and a great economic engine — but it came with a huge price tag of lost businesses and insane density.

          • http://barlington.blogspot.com/ bArlington

            I remember clarendon from the construction. Most of the businesses that were there went out of business or moved out to Eden Center. For those years and years of construction, yes, Clarendon was destroyed. Indeed, how long was it AFTER the construction that clarendon become what it is today. Another 20 years? The damage was significant and it was a long time to recover from it.

  • Carlos

    Great news about the needed bridge! From 395 straight into Columbia Pike! No need to get into Washington Boulevard.

  • Allen Muchnick

    The delay of this project (over the past two years) is largely due to the need to maintain traffic during construction. An elaborate plan for phased reconstruction was initially devised several years ago and involves building a temporary at-grade intersection at a new location on the north side of the interchange. The construction will take 3 or 4 years.

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