(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Like so many spring flowers, the post-winter warm-up brings a multitude of potholes to local streets. While there’s no shortage of bumps, holes and cracks along local roads, two road hazards in particular are frustrating drivers and residents in Arlington right now.
On Wilson Boulevard in Ballston, in the westbound lanes just past N. Randolph Street, a steel utility vault cover continues to produce a bumpy ride and plenty of noise.
We reported about the vault cover last month, after complaints from local residents. The steel plates produced jarring bumps for vehicles, and the booming sound of cars running over the plates annoyed those who lived nearby. Since our report, which suggested that repairs would be made by the end of March, the steel plates were lowered “to create a more even roadway for drivers,” according to Arlington County spokeswoman Laura G. Smith.
The problem is by no means fixed, however. An anonymous local apartment dweller complained that the noise is still “incredibly loud,” and now there are several large screws protruding from the vault.
To fix the issues once and for all, Avalon Bay, the apartment owner that’s responsible for the upkeep of the utility vault, will replace the plates with new concrete vault covers. The covers are expected to be installed “within the next few weeks, depending material delivery time,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, two sets of concrete vault covers adjacent to the cover that’s being replaced are falling into disrepair. Those “may be replaced at some point,” Smith said.
The vault cover in Ballston is not the only road hazard that’s drawing the ire of motorists. On eastbound Columbia Pike near the Sheraton hotel, a sharp change in pavement height in the righthand lane is giving drivers a rude awakening.
It might not look like much, but the tail end of a patched-up section of road produces a sudden, jarring bump for drivers, especially those driving smaller cars. Luckily, the hazard is set to be fixed soon.
“Our Water Sewer Streets team confirmed that the pavement issue in this location was a result of work done to repair a water main break or leak,” said Arlington County Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy. “A crew is heading out today to make a temporary patch to smooth out the site and is scheduling work on a more permanent patch for the very near future.”
Arlington residents can report potholes using this form.
A pothole on N. Courthouse Road has been forcing some drivers to slow to a crawl and has been producing a big bumpy surprise for others.
The pothole is located in the northbound lanes of N. Courthouse Road, between Route 50 and 13th Street N, just a couple of blocks from County government headquarters.
The left side of the pothole is a big dip. The right side contains a portion of raised pavement. Drivers who hit the dip with their left tire and the bump with their right tire risk bottoming out and scraping the undercarriage of their car.
Most drivers we observed were able to see the pothole and slow down before hitting it. We first Tweeted about the pothole last Tuesday. As of this morning, it’s still there.
By at least one measure, Arlington’s roads — all 376 miles of them – are in better shape than they were last year.
Since Nov. 1, Arlington County crews have filled 1,007 potholes on county-maintained roads, according to Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel. Compare that to the 2,184 potholes filled between the start of November and the end of February last year.
McDaniel attributed the big drop in potholes to the mild winter we’ve experienced so far.
Still, a report that came out last summer suggests that Arlington has plenty of room for improvement when it comes to street maintenance. On a scale of 0 to 100, the average Pavement Condition Index for Arlington’s roads was 68.9, down from a PCI in the low 80s about 10 years ago.
In general, how would you grade Arlington’s roads at the moment?
Drivers who use the rough stretch of Clarendon Boulevard between Courthouse and Rosslyn will get some relief in the next few weeks.
The developer behind a new residential complex that’s being built on the old Hollywood Video site is planning to smooth out some rough patches of road on Clarendon Boulevard in the area of N. Scott Street, according to Arlington County Department of Environmental Services (DES) spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel. The work is expected to be performed in about three weeks.
Arlington County does not have any paving scheduled for Clarendon Boulevard between Rosslyn and Courthouse due to a number of large construction projects in the area. The developers of those projects – including the aforementioned residential building, a new office building and a new apartment complex — are responsible for fixing the road.
“There are several development projects in the area and the developers will restore the road as projects are completed,” said DES spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy. ”Once the major projects in the area are completed, the area will be eligible to be incorporated into our annual paving program.”
Kennedy said that residents can still report potholes and other problems on the road via the county’s online reporting form, or by calling 703-228-6570.
Thanks to the mild winter, the District of Columbia has reported a 22 percent drop in the number of complaints about potholes. After all, the warmer weather isn’t as conducive to pothole formation. Across the Potomac, however, Arlington’s pothole repairs crews have been busy.
Since the start of November, Arlington County has filled 2,184 potholes. That compares to 1,174 potholes filled by this time last year — an 86 percent increase. Why so many?
Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel says the weather has allowed crews to get a head start on pothole repairs.
“The warmer weather has enabled crews to get out more frequently to repair the roads,” Whalen McDaniel said. “It’s helped us to get a jump start on the official pothole season that starts in early March.”
Residents can report potholes on the pothole page of the county’s website.
Old Jefferson Davis Highway, which will be officially renamed “Long Bridge Drive” next year, is arguably the worst road in Arlington County.
With deep potholes, large pools of standing water, and no lane markings, the road — which connects Boundary Channel Drive and Crystal Drive/12th Street S. — is not easily traversed by anything smaller than an SUV.
That was less of a problem when the road served primarily as a short cut for adventurous I-395 commuters and Pentagon employees. Since November, however, Old Jefferson Davis Highway has been the sole road leading to the newly-opened, $31 million Long Bridge Park. That has led to some grumbles among park users.
“Old Jefferson Davis Hwy is in SERIOUS need of repaving,” one local resident said in an email to ARLnow.com. “Why would they open a brand new park, but not provide a safe road to get to it or tear down the decrepit buildings next to it?”
The good news is that relief is on the way. According to Arlington’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources (PRCR), a reconstruction project for the road will begin in early-to-mid 2012.
“The reconstruction of Old Jefferson Davis Highway should begin in earnest toward the end of February/early March pending the completion of utility relocation,” said PRCR planner Erik Beach. “The installation of a massive stormwater system will be one of the first steps in rebuilding the road. The final paving will be late summer of 2012.”
The road was originally supposed to have been reconstructed by the time Long Bridge Park opened, according to Beach, but the project was pushed by due to delays in Dominion and Verizon relocating their utility lines.
“The County cannot begin its wet utility work until the dry utilities have been relocated by the utility providers,” Beach said. “Dominion appears to have completed their work and Verizon projecting a late January completion. This places the finished road at the end of August 2012 with landscaping going in in the early fall.”
The finished road — which will by then be called Long Bridge Drive — is expected to include an improved drainage system, two bike lanes, on-street parking, median strips, sidewalks, street trees, pedestrian lighting, curbs and new pavement.
A big pothole on southbound Glebe Road, near S. 2nd Street, is causing a traffic hazard for drivers.
The pothole is forcing drivers in the left southbound lane to either swerve around it or slam on the brakes in order to avoid damage to their cars.
The hole appears to have formed in a recently-laid patch of asphalt.
The bumpy and pothole-ridden stretch of Columbia Pike between George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run will be getting some much-needed repairs this fall, according to Arlington County officials.
“The excessive heat and rain this summer, combined with construction and regular bus traffic, have taken a toll on the Pike,” admitted county spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel.
“Road repairs will happen over the next few weeks as crews assess trouble spots, patch the road and make needed improvements,” she said. “There will not be full paving between George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run, however signficant patch work will be done in that area to the sub-grade level.”
Whalen McDaniel encouraged residents to report potholes or bad sections of road on the county website or via phone at 703-228-6570.
The repairs can’t come soon enough for some drivers, who have complained about the possibility of damage to their cars from the bumps and holes.
“Potholes, bumps, ridges, and giant mounds of destroyed asphalt along the sides of the road are far too common on the stretch of road,” said one tipster. “The conditions are daunting for most sedans to traverse. Perhaps the county should consider licensing the road to Land Rover as a test track for offroad performance testing.”
Further east on the Pike, meanwhile, more utility work is underway, between S. Quinn Street and S. Courthouse Road. One westbound lane has been blocked during the day as a result of the construction.
A new video from Arlington County explains the entire life cycle of a pothole in less than 2 minutes.
In the video, county engineer Dave Hundelt talks about how potholes form, how residents can report them online (hint: use this form) and how road crews can patch a pothole in 20 minutes flat.
Expect the pothole crews to be out in force later this week, when temperatures are expected to rise well north of the 50 degree mark needed for more permanent repairs.
County Gears Up for Pothole Repairs — Arlington County and VDOT are preparing for a big spring pothole push. Crews have been out 5-6 days per week filling potholes, but as things warm up they may be able to start making more permanent repairs. You can report a pothole over the phone at 703-228-6570. [Sun Gazette]
Man Who Threatened Metro Sentenced — The Arlington View man accused of threatening to blow up Metro trains and Georgetown sidewalks has been sentenced. Awais Younis, 25, pleaded guilty in federal court to sending threatening communications. Younis, who said he never actually intended to carry out the threats, was sentenced to time served, a two-year supervised release, anger management courses and mental health counseling. [WTOP]
Rosslyn Blasting Starting Soon — The Rosslyn Metro entrance project has hit bedrock and will soon start blasting. The blasting will take place nightly between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m. for several months. Arlington County says the contractor is taking steps to minimize noise and vibration from the blasting. [TBD]
Crystal City Office Building to Be Renovated — An old 1960s-era office building at 1411 Jefferson Davis Highway will be renovated into “prime Class A office space” after BRAC forces its current tenant, the National Guard, to move out at the end of the year. [Washington Business Journal]
Englin Will Seek Re-Election — Del. David Englin, whose district includes part of South Arlington, says will not be seeking higher office this year. Instead, Englin announced yesterday that he will be running for re-election.
Flickr pool photo by Rukasu1
At least a half dozen cars suffered flat tires after hitting a big pothole on southbound I-395 this morning.
The pothole is located in the left lane between the 14th Street Bridge and the exit for Route 1, according to VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord.
“Our contractor is en route right now and will be repairing it ASAP,” McCord said in an email.
Arlington police assisted a number of the disabled motorists.
Pothole Problem May Persist — County Manager Barbara Donnellan says the county is waiting for the beginning of spring to fix most of the potholes on local roads. Donnellan, speaking at Saturday’s county board meeting, said “it’s better” to fix the roads after the winter. Board member Walter Tejada acknowledged one resident’s complaints about potholes on his street, adding that Wilson Boulevard and Columbia Pike also have some particularly rough patches. [Sun Gazette]
Remy to be Guest Bartender at Fundraiser — Arlington rapper Remy will be the guest bartender tomorrow at a fundraiser for the Arlington Free Clinic. The fundraiser is being held at Velocity Five (2300 Clarendon Blvd) from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Remy’s sister, Lena, will help select the evening’s door prize winners. [Gregs List DC]
Myerton Apartments Becoming Condos — In 2007, developer JBG decided to scrap plans to market a new renovation project in Penrose as condominiums. Instead, with the economy on the ropes, it leased out the property as the Myerton Apartments. Now, the project’s 74 apartments are once again slated to be sold as condos. Two bedrooms will be priced just below $300,000. [Urban Turf]
President’s Day Schedule Set — Most county offices will be closed on Monday in observance of President’s Day. [Arlington County]
Between on-going utility relocation work and construction on several large-scale developments, Columbia Pike has lately been riddled with construction bottlenecks and rough sections of road.
That’s to be expected. But one area of the Pike is particularly hazardous for drivers at the moment.
The asphalt on two patched-up sections of road between South Barton Street and South Wayne Street has begun to sink, causing a violent jolt for motorists traveling at speed. Some drivers who spot the big bumps early suddenly hit the brakes, presenting the risk of a rear-end collision.
The ruts — one in the far eastbound lane and one in the far westbound lane — are located across from the under-construction Adams Square development.
We’ve posted video of one of the ruts after the jump.
It would swallow up a truck tire — maybe even a small motorcycle — if given a chance. This monster pothole, near Ballston Common Mall, is more than two feet deep, perhaps big enough to be classified as a sinkhole.
The pothole, which apparently extends into some sort of sewer line, is located in the turning lane of N. Carlin Springs Rd at the intersection with N. Glebe Rd.
An Arlington public works truck was on the scene earlier this afternoon, apparently waiting for some heavier machinery to arrive.
There are plenty of other potholes around Arlington, but this is probably the biggest. If there’s a suspension-twisting, tire-flattening pothole that you want to see patched, fill out this form on the county’s web site, or call 703-228-6570.
A county spokesperson says their crews are trying to take care of potholes within 72 hours but, due to the large number of potholes this year, meeting the 72 hour goal may be difficult.