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Car Catches Fire After GW Parkway Crash

by ARLnow.com — April 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm 1,689 58 Comments

Update at 4:10 p.m. — All lanes have reopened but traffic is moving very slowly, according to the U.S. Park Police Twitter account.

Several people were injured after a car ran off the GW Parkway and into a ravine, then caught fire.

The crash happened around 3:00 p.m., in the northbound lanes just after Memorial Bridge. As of 3:25 p.m., both lanes of the northbound GW Parkway were blocked by emergency vehicles near the crash site.

Initial reports suggest the car occupants were still trapped in the vehicle when it started to catch fire in the ravine. They were apparently pulled out of the wreckage and three people are now being treated by paramedics. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the car fire.

  • ClizzleDizzle

    The let Joseph DiPhilipo go already?

    • Modwop

      This is why we can’t have nice things. Counting down until the comments are closed.

      • http://arlingtondirt.blogspot.com TGEoA

        Thanks mom. Wait until someone says they are illegals.

  • JamesE

    Probably hit one of those drainage grates near the curb and it launched their car into the air, I swear some of those grates are nearly 1 foot deep.

    • CW

      +1000. Those grates on the parkway and in the left lane of washington blvd are deep enough that I’m always scared of bottoming out.

      • JamesE

        I am almost certain that some of them would actually rip my bumper off

        • CW

          I hold my breath every time.

          • CarsSuck

            try slowing down a little instead

        • CarsSuck

          probably won’t happen if you slow down a little

          • The Pikester

            While you are technically correct, and legally correct, slowing down is only going to increase the danger for yourself and others. If everyone around you is driving well over the speed limit but still able to maintain control on the road, it is speed differential that is the threat. Yes, 90% of the drivers are breaking the law. 1% of them are driving too fast for their vehicle on the road. The other 9% are driving the speed limit. This is a VERY dangerous situation. If 99% of the drivers were driving the same speed, it would be much safer. Aggressive speed limit enforcement is one way to accomplish this. The other is to evaluate what a safe speed limit is for this stretch of road. The road was built many years ago and given a speed limit based upon safe speeds in much older technology automobiles. I don’t know if the limit has changed over the years, but it is possible a higher limit could be given and enforced to minimize speed differential threats.

          • JamesE

            no, pretty sure it would still happen at 55. Great comment.

          • CW

            Slow down? Have you ever driven those roads during the waking hours? Often times, particularly on Washington, traffic isn’t going near the limit.

      • brendan

        the section of Washington blvd between 50 and 395 has got a couple holes that could easily throw a car off the road or into another lane.

  • Ray

    The Parkway is not an interstate. You’d never know it by how fast people drive there.

    • Westover

      It serves the role of an Interstate. The money should be invested to make it safe for the speeds that are driven.

      • Ray

        I would suggest that the Park Police enforce the posted speed limit more aggresively.

        • JamesE

          I would suggest they raise the limit to 85.

        • CW

          Yes, Ray, because it’s perfectly logical that the speed limit on a median-divided limited-access freeway through the woods be only 5 mph higher than the limit on, say connecticut avenue.

          • madisonmanor

            And only 5 mph LESS than the average speed of drivers barreling down McKinley/Ohio. But it’s not enforced there either. . . oh, wait – this is Arlington – abiding by laws is for OTHER people.

        • Westover

          The Park Police do not have enough officers to have enough of an effect to slow traffic down. And even if they did, it would further exasperate our congestion problem. GW Parkway should be three or four lanes wide in each direction and be upgraded to Interstate standards. It can be done and still maintain the nice park atmosphere.

          • FrenchyB

            “GW Parkway should be three or four lanes wide in each direction and be upgraded to Interstate standards. It can be done and still maintain the nice park atmosphere.”

            No, the roadway exists to serve the park, and not the other way around. Expanding the road would inherently pave over hundreds of acres of parkland.

          • Westover

            What park does it serve? The three overlooks? Turkey Run, opened years after the Parkway was built? Mount Vernon, a privately owned estate? GW Parkway was built as a thoroughfare in the 1930 as a make work project of the CCC to bring folks to the outer villages north of DC in Maryland and Virginia. Adding lanes will help the park land out by keeping cars from idling for as long as they do everyday. Upgrading to the Interstate standards will save lives and even save trees and wildlife. Every year deer are slaughtered as nothing impedes them from entering the road way, and trees are knocked down as vehicles leave the roadway with nothing else to stop them.

    • OX4

      I’ve never understood why it’s apparently okay to drive 80 MPH on the GW Parkway north of Rosslyn and 295 in the District. I guess the cops really don’t care about those stretches of road?

      • Westover

        60-70mph I see and is reasonable. 80mph is the dangerous exception. The problem are the folks that feel it is fine to stick in the left lane going 50mph or less on the parkway. The speed differential that thay cause is as dangerous as a guy weaving in and out of traffic doing 90mph.

        • NOVApologist

          “the folks that feel it is fine to stick in the left lane going 50mph or less on the parkway”

          There is a name for those people …

          Maryland Drivers.

          • CarsSuck

            actually the Maryland drivers are the ones driving well over the speed limit and running over cops, pedestrians, and bicyclists… then fleeing home, to Maryland.

        • Ray

          Thanks for raising my insurance rates, Westover, with your 30 mph over the limit driving. Yeesh.

          • Westover

            There is NOTHING that I do that raises YOUR rates. The average speed in the area does not factor into it. The number and costs of wrecks does. Speed rarely causes wrecks except on wet roads, speed only increases the chance of a fatality, but once you have an impact at over 50mph it really makes little difference if you are going any faster.

        • CarsSuck

          50mph is perfectly in someone’s right in ANY lane, it’s a PARKWAY, not a freeway or expressway. Slow down and give yourself more time. It’s a speed LIMIT (maximum), not speed MINIMUM.

          • The Pikester

            Sure it is a right. In fact, 35 mph is probably the minimum speed on this road. That’s your right too. Go out there and drive it, and likely get plowed into as if you were standing still. Drive 50, and feel as if you are safe? I don’t think so. The cops should either aggressivly enforce or re-evaluate the speed limit on this road to decrease speed differential issues.

          • CW

            The reason why they don’t do much enforcement, and thus the reason traffic flow is 30 mph over the limit, is that there is no safe place to pull people over. I guess they could use cameras, etc. if they wanted to.

          • Westover

            They can easily pull folks over using the very low curb, and they do. Enforcement is low because they do not have the manpower.

          • JamesE

            moving over for faster traffic is Virginia law, don’t squat in the left lane and be a terrible driver.

  • SaveDaveMcKenna

    A ravine just North of Memorial Bridge? Maybe North of Key Bridge.

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

      Nope, Memorial.

    • brendan

      boundary channel?

      • SaveDaveMcKenna

        That makes sense.

        • brendan

          Depends which side of the channel… but traveling northbound on GW and hitting the boundary channel ravine would likely mean the accident occurred in DC.

      • arglebargle

        I drove by it on the way home tonight at about 4:30.

        It was right after/on the yield into the left lane of the parkway before roosevelt island.

        Looks like they left the parkway and drove through a TON of field before hitting the scrub and trees right on the boundary channel.

  • SlowDown

    Update (from listening to ACFD scanner traffic):
    – Engine 110 arrived on scene, established command, extinguished the car fire, and began treating 3 patients, originally triaged as 1 “red” (immediate), and 2 “yellows” (delayed). Initial arriving units Medic 110, E110 and E103 began treating/packaging the patients while additional medic units were called.
    – All three patients (one of which was downgraded on scene to “red/immediate” with an apparent femur fracture) were transported by ground to GW Hospital.

  • Aaron

    Update at 4:10 p.m. — All names have reopened but traffic is moving very slowly, according to the U.S. Park Police Twitter account.”

    Scott- I think you mean lanes have reopened*

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

      yes, thank you

  • Hmm

    Do you mean all lanes have reopened? (in the update) I don’t know how names get reopened.

  • ConstantCritic

    What mile marker was this at? Oh wait – the GW Pkwy doesn’t have any.

    • Westover

      There were mile markers years ago. Would be a nice thing to return to the Parkway.

    • ConstantGas

      You’re kidding right? Why would a road that short need mile markers? Besides, you should be busy appreciating the scenery and nature around you driving at a leisurely pace, and not worrying about mile markers. That’s the point of a PARKway, and the reason the speed limit is lower – so that people can get out, walk the trails, ride their bikes, and not be worrying about some a**bag barreling down the road at 80 mph so they can get to work 5 minutes earlier.

      • Thes

        It is, in fact, a *Memorial* Parkway. You are supposed to be remembering George Washington by driving slowly.

        • George

          on your way to a secret lover…

      • CrystalMikey

        Short? You do know the Parkway starts at Mt Vernon right?

      • CarsSuck

        +1 Million. Great way to sum it up! The parkway was designed for recreational driving, not commuting from Rockville or Pennsylvania.

        • The Pikester

          Yeah, but it was designed long ago when the population was much lower and it wasn’t needed to commute to work. What leisurly pace in DC?

        • charlie

          The GW Parkway has been changed many times over the years to diminish its role as a commuter artery. Remember when police would direct traffic at Spout Run/GW Parkway during morning rush hour? Gone. Remember how you could take the left exit from Northbound GW Parkway onto Key Bridge? Gone. Remember how you could exit to National Airport from Northbound Parkway at a sensible place right at the start of the airport instead of having to drive past it and come back? Gone. Much like Route 110 was moved to accommodate the Pentagon, the GW Parkway was also moved, but closer, to the Pentagon, to help traffic. Remember the huge parking lot at GW Parkway and 14th Street bridge that would fill up more quickly than TR Island parking lot on the weekends? Gone. Yeah, I don’t remember my point either.

        • CW

          If it’s for “recreational driving”, then let me open that puppy up and see what she can do! I’ll even sign a waiver!

      • ConstantCritic

        not kidding in the least. The northern part of the parkway goes from Old Town Alexandria to the beltway – 15 miles. Drive off the road into a ravine and it could be the only way you’re found is the smoke or flames. Mile markers won’t solve that, but could at least give a witness a reference when he calls 9-1-1.

  • BoredHouseWife

    I just want to complain about the idiots who “get lost” in the circle.

  • CarsSuck

    I vote for speed tables approaching the circle and speed cameras in the area of Gravelly Point and National Airport. We’re in an economic crisis, let’s tax the drivers who put everyone’s lives at risk and drive up the insurance rates. What really cracks me up is when people challenge the legality of speed cameras, saying they’re unconstitutional and drivers should have a real police officer to tell them they’re violating the law.

    • The Pikester

      Better yet, let’s put RFID devices in every car tied to the speedometer. When the car exceeds the posted speed limit anywhere it will report in to the police and a ticket will be issued. It can also report when the vehicle doesn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign or runs a stop light. It could report erratic driving to the police so they can pull you over.

      Better yet, let’s just fit each and every one of us with a GPS sensor in our forehead.

      • CarsSuck

        great idea! We were given plenty of opportunity to be responsible drivers and play by the rules, but f*c&ed that one up, time to crack down. And FYI, you don’t have to take a car everywhere and sit in traffic, nobody’s forcing you. You took that job, you chose where you live, so shut up and deal with it. That includes adhering to the laws and rules of the road.

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