Arlington County crews will pave 49 lane miles this year, about 5 percent of the 974 lane miles of roadway maintained by the county. That’s a big step up from the 25 miles paved in 2009, 30 miles paved in 2010 and 36 miles paved in 2011. But it’s unchanged from the 49 miles paved last year.
The number of miles paved will jump next year, when extra funding kicks in thanks to the county’s FY 2013-2022 Capital Improvement Plan. Starting in 2014 and throughout the remainder of the CIP, the Arlington plans to pave 72 lanes miles per year.
By paving 72 lane miles, Arlington will get on a 15-year paving cycle recommended by county engineers. As of 2012, the countywide average Pavement Condition Index (a measure of road quality from a scale of 1 to 100) was 68.9. The extra paving is projected to improve Arlington’s average PCI to 74.6.
(The average county street deteriorates to a PCI of 45 after 15 years.)
Arlington’s road construction season starts in March and ends at the end of October. Among the roads set to be repaved this year are portions of Wilson Blvd in and around Clarendon, as well as portions of N. Harrison Street, Four Mile Run Drive and Shirlington Road.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the county spent $7.55 million of its $1.05 billion budget on paving. In the just-passed $1.09 billion FY 2014 budget, it will spend $7.63 million. Next year, that is expected to increase to $11.24 million.
(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) While the planned Columbia Pike streetcar has been making local headlines, Arlington County has been quietly moving forward with a project that’s bringing significant infrastructure improvements to the busy thoroughfare.
Arlington County’s Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements Project seeks to implement “streetscape and related improvements for pedestrians, bicycles, transit, and vehicles along Arlington’s 3.5 mile Columbia Pike corridor.” The improvements include a completely reconstructed roadway, new left-turn lanes, planted medians, additional street trees, enhanced pedestrian crossings and so-called bicycle boulevards.
The $80 million project is currently in progress, and expected to run through 2018. About $72 million of the $80 million price tag coming from the county’s commercial tax-funded Transportation Capital Fund.
The turn lanes in particular are expected to “lessen delays and improve traffic flow,” said Bill Roberts, Transportation Program Manager for Arlington County. Meanwhile, the bike boulevards, which will run parallel to Pike along 9th and 12th Streets, will combine with planned 10-foot-wide shared bike and pedestrian sidewalks to make it easier for cyclists to traverse the Pike away from traffic. But residents might be happiest to learn about the roadway reconstruction.
The project will ultimately result in the reconstruction of the entire stretch of Columbia Pike from the Pentagon to Fairfax County. That should be welcome news for road users, who have been grumbling about the pockmarked state of portions of the Pike.
Currently, road crews are working on the stretch of Columbia Pike between S. Wakefield Street and Four Mile Run Drive. That work is expected to wrap up this fall, according to Roberts.
The stretch of road is in especially bad shape, Roberts said, thanks to runoff from multiple water main breaks, which seeped into the project area, and heavy bus traffic, which has caused depressions in the roadway, particularly around bus stops. Even with plans to reconstruct the roadway, Roberts said crews will be doing some temporary repaving in the westbound lanes in the next 2-3 weeks.
Following that work, the county expects to start road reconstruction between the Fairfax County line and Four Mile Run Drive. That portion of the project is slated to start in the spring of 2014 and end 24 months later, in the spring of 2016.
Next up after that is S. Wakefield Street to S. Oakland Street, and Walter Reed Drive to S. Scott Street. Those projects will happen concurrently between early 2015 and early 2017.
Project work has already been completed between S. Oakland Street and Walter Reed Drive.
The work is necessary, Roberts says, because the underlying roadbed has become uneven due to its age and the patchwork nature of previous roadwork. Some of the existing infrastructure along the Pike dates back to the 1920s and 1930s, while the Pike itself was first built in 1810.
“What we’re going to be doing is installing a consistent sub-base and a thicker layer of asphalt,” Roberts said. “We’re completely reconstructing the roadbed.”
While the road improvements will be the most visible part of the project, much of the funding will actually going to work well below the roadway. Aging and leak-prone 8-inch water and sewer pipes under the road will be replaced by new 12-inch pipes, and existing overhead utilities will be placed underground. The utilities are all being placed in the middle of the roadway, so that water main breaks or other utility work doesn’t disrupt the future streetcar.
The timeline for the final piece of the multimodal project — from Washington Boulevard to S. Joyce Street — is still up in the air. The county is currently in talks with the federal government about a land swap that would allow the county to “realign” Columbia Pike to make a straighter, more direct connection with S. Joyce Street. If all goes well, Roberts says that work could be completed in 2018.
The Multimodal Improvements are a necessary warm-up act for the ultimate construction of the planned Pike streetcar, but the project is being run independently of the streetcar project. County Board member Chris Zimmerman, who lives along the Pike, said that improvements to the Pike are necessary regardless of whether the streetcar gets built.
“We’re going to have big traffic challenges in the next few years on the Pike, streetcar or no,” he told ARLnow.com late last year. “It’s been a good road for a long time but it’s really old now. The street itself has to be upgraded.”
VDOT crews have started tearing down the bridge from Courthouse Road to eastbound Route 50, leading to numerous closures, detours and delays in the area.
Today through Sunday night, traffic on westbound Route 50 is being diverted onto 14th Street N., up to Wilson Boulevard, down Barton Street and back to Route 50 via 10th Street. This afternoon, a long line of traffic was observed before the detour, which is in place to allow for the two-day demolition of the bridge.
Through August, when construction of a new bridge is expected to be completed, eastbound Route 50 drivers heading to Courthouse will have to drive past Courthouse and take the Rhodes Street bridge to 14th Street.
Drivers in Courthouse seeking to get on to eastbound Route 50, who used to be able to use the Courthouse Road bridge, will now have to take the Rhodes Street bridge to the Arlington Boulevard service road that leads to the difficult blind merge with Route 50 near the U.S. Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) memorial. Temporary traffic lights have reportedly been placed at the Arlington Boulevard/N. Meade Street intersection, before the entrance ramp, to help with traffic flow.
The bridge demolition is part of the $39 million Route 50/Courthouse Road interchange project. The project is scheduled for completion in October.
VDOT will close the lane as soon as tomorrow as part of the ongoing Washington Boulevard bridge and interchange project. Drivers should expect new traffic patterns on eastbound Columbia Pike as a result.
“Motorists in the right lane must take the exit ramp to Washington Boulevard,” VDOT said in a press release. “Motorists on eastbound Columbia Pike can use the left lane to continue east or to access the ramp to Washington Boulevard.”
The closure is expected to be in place through 2014. The overall project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015.
Photo via Google Maps
The sidewalk is being built along the north side of a five block stretch of 8th Street S., between S. Cleveland Street and S. Courthouse Road. Before the project, only two of the blocks had sidewalks, and those sidewalks were narrower than Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
Now, the street is getting a five foot wide, ADA-compliant sidewalk, plus water main upgrades, curb and gutter improvements, new landscaping and a repaved roadway. But while the sidewalk was requested by the Penrose Civic Association, not everybody who lives in the area has been happy with the project.
Residents have been emailing ARLnow.com about a number of perceived problems. One of the most visible is a utility pole located in the middle of the new sidewalk at the corner of 8th Street and S. Cleveland Street (pictured, above). While it might look like a construction mistake, county officials say it’s all part of the plan, and that Dominion will be working to remove and replace the pole “as soon as possible.”
“When the County undertakes a road narrowing project such as the 8th Street South project, the curbs and utility strips are built in what is currently existing roadway,” explained Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel. “In this case relocating the pole that is currently in the middle of the sidewalk to its new location before the curb and gutter work would have placed the pole in the existing street where it could potentially be struck by vehicles. Dominion and the County agreed that this posed more of a safety concern than temporarily obstructing the sidewalk and forcing pedestrians to use the driveway apron approximately 15′ east of the pole that has ADA compliant slopes to access the street.”
“This a temporary measure on a block that previously had no sidewalk at all forcing pedestrian, wheelchairs, strollers, etc. to use the street exclusively to traverse this entire block,” Whalen McDaniel continued. “Once the sidewalk work is complete, Dominion will erect a new poles. After all utilities are transferred to the new pole, Dominion will remove the old pole and Arlington County will repair the sidewalk. The cost of relocating the pole is borne by Dominion.”
Another local worry is about the level of the new sidewalk at the corner of 8th Street and S. Wayne Street. The sidewalk is below the current roadway, leading some residents to believe an error was made by the construction crew. That’s not the case, we’re told.
“The existing grade of the road at that location needed to be lowered in order to provide adequate drainage and that work will happen over the next couple of weeks,” said Whalen McDaniel. “When complete, the roadway will be level with the gutter pan. This is very typical of sidewalk and roadway design and construction.”
Another resident told ARLnow.com that the sidewalk was wider and the redesigned street is narrower than many residents wanted.
VDOT tells us the closure will last about 6-8 weeks while crews construct a new ramp as part of the Route 50/Courthouse Road interchange project.
As a detour, drivers are encouraged to take the Queen Street exit from WB Route 50, about a half mile before Courthouse Road. VDOT says exit signs will then direct drivers up 14th Street, to 15th Street, and finally to Courthouse Road.
Not every driver seems willing to abide the ramp closure, however. Today we spotted a minivan with diplomatic license plates that drove up to the closure, then reversed in traffic on Route 50, and weaved between a pair of orange barrels to get on to Courthouse Road.
Drivers coming to and going from Courthouse on eastbound Route 50 will have to find another route later this summer. VDOT is planning to demolish the busy Courthouse Road bridge as part of the ongoing Route 50/Courthouse Road interchange project.
VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord says the agency is currently planning on closing and tearing down the bridge either in late August or early September. She said the exact timing of the demolition is contingent on some other work, including the completion of new ramps to and from westbound Route 50 and Courthouse Road.
Once the closure is in place, eastbound Route 50 drivers will be directed to the next exit — Rhodes Street — and detour signs will point them back to Courthouse Road. McCord said engineers are still working on a detour for those trying to get on eastbound Route 50 from the Courthouse area.
A new Courthouse Road bridge is expected to be complete by Spring 2013, McCord said.
Another interchange project-related closure is planned for Monday. Workers are planning to close Fairfax Drive, which runs parallel to Route 50, from N. Taft Street to N. Scott Street. The closure is expected to remain in place until project completion in fall 2013.
Photo courtesy Keith Hall
Rush Plus Starts Today — This morning marks the start of Metro’s “Rush Plus” modified rush hour rail service. So far, via Twitter, numerous problems and crowded trains have been reported on the Blue Line. Initial reviews have been mixed on the Orange and Yellow lines.
Hearing Set for Pike Neighborhoods Plan — A public hearing about the new Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan will be held on Saturday, July 21. The plan envisions the addition of 6,000 new rental apartments (to the existing stock of 9,000 apartments) along the Columbia Pike corridor over the next 30 years. Arlington County says the goal of the plan is to “Preserve affordable housing… encourage private investment… create a more pedestrian-friendly community… [and] strengthen the Pike corridor’s transit network.” [Washington Post, Arlington County]
Streetcar Agreement Approved — The Arlington County Board and the Alexandria City Council have approved an agreement to move forward on a plan to build a streetcar along the Route 1 corridor. The streetcar line could open in Crystal City as soon as 2019. [NBC Washington]
Second Phase of Crystal City Road Project Approved — The second phase of a major road project in Crystal City has been approved by the Arlington County Board. The project will convert Crystal Drive to a two-way road between 23rd Street and 26th Street. The project includes bicycle lanes, new traffic signals and street lighting, intersection improvements and ADA-compliant curb ramps and sidewalks. [Arlington County]
Fourth Name on 8th District Ballot — Independent Jason Howell has qualified for the 8th District congressional race. Howell joins incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, Republican Patrick Murray (R) and Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy on the Nov. 6 ballot. [Sun Gazette]
Road work is currently underway on S. Joyce Street, described as “one of the few places for cyclists and pedestrians to cross I-395 in Arlington.” The $1.8 million federal project will not only improve the aesthetics of the road — “more urban, and less highway-industrial” — but will result in significant functional improvements for road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists.
Among the changes, as described by the Federal Highway Administration:
- “Project will build a narrower median, leaving two through travel lanes in each direction, and provide much-improved ten-foot wide shared use sidewalks on both sides, plus three-foot buffers between the walkway and back of curb.”
- “New pedestrian-scale street lighting will be installed the length of the project on both sides.”
- “All guard rails will be removed (terminal median crash barriers will be installed).”
- “Large standpipes will be re-located out of the accessible pedestrian route.”
Construction is underway now and is expected to wrap up in September. The project also accounts for the planned Columbia Pike streetcar, anticipating that the streetcar will use the road’s inner lanes.
Officials describe the project as a “coordinated effort” involving the Federal Highway Administration, VDOT, the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the Navy Annex demolition project, and Arlington’s streetcar project.
Photo courtesy Arlington County
Parking has been temporarily restricted along the side of Old Lee Highway due to a lane striping error.
The VDOT-owned street was recently repaved, but the crew that added the double yellow line apparently failed to take parking on the eastbound side of the road into account. As a result, eastbound traffic has to partially cross into the westbound lane to get around parked cars. Residents worried that this posed a grave danger to drivers.
“It’s only a matter of time before a serious accident occurs,” one resident said on the Cherrydale neighborhood listserv.
Arlington County has now put up temporary no parking signs between Taylor and Randolph Streets, while VDOT prepares to re-stripe the lanes. Arlington County Director of Transportation Dennis Leach told the Cherrydale listserv that the work may be performed over the weekend.
“Weather permitting, parking and striping should [be] normal by Tuesday,” Leach said Wednesday night.
Daytime lane closures will begin this week for the Washington Boulevard bridge project.
The three year, $51.5 million project will ultimately result in the construction of a new, wider Washington Boulevard bridge over Columbia Pike, complete with a reconfigured ramps, additional bridge clearance and a new shared use path along Columbia Pike. To help facilitate the construction, daily lane closures on Washington Boulevard will start this week.
“Drivers can expect single lane closures daily on Washington Boulevard in both directions from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.,” VDOT said in a press release. “Drivers can also expect periodic traffic shifts, the first this summer to new temporary pavement crews will construct over the next few months.”
VDOT also announced additional closures Tuesday night.
“On Tuesday, May 15, crews will close a lane in each direction from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. between I-395 and the entrance to Fort Myer,” the press release said. “Beginning at midnight, crews will also stop traffic for up to 30 minutes at a time on southbound Washington Boulevard just prior to the ramp to Columbia Pike to remove an overhead sign structure. Drivers should use an alternate route on this night if possible.”
The Washington Boulevard bridge carries more than 80,000 vehicles over Columbia Pike every day, according to VDOT.
In addition to the closures on Washington Boulevard, Columbia Pike will be completely closed up to five weekends per year to allow for bridge demolition and other work.
“These closures will begin after rush hour Friday evening and reopen by rush hour on Monday morning,” VDOT said. “Traffic will be rerouted between S. Quinn Street and S. Orme Street around the north side of the intersection. Message signs will notify motorists of these closures in advance.”
VDOT crews are preparing for a number of significant road closures as a result of the ongoing Route 50/Courthouse Road interchange project.
Westbound Route 50 will be completely closed between Courthouse Road and 10th Street from 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 24 to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. The closure is being put into place to allow the demolition of the bridge from 10th Street to eastbound Route 50. During the demolition process, drivers will be encouraged to avoid the closure area and use Washington Boulevard as a detour to Route 50. The 10th Street bridge itself will close starting on Thursday, March 22.
Longer-term closures are also planned starting next week.
The ramp from westbound Route 50 to N. Fairfax Drive (between Courthouse Road and 10th Street) will close starting on March 22, as will the stretch of Fairfax Drive between Scott Street and Courthouse Road that runs parallel to Route 50. Both closures will be in place “until work nears completion in fall 2013,” according to VDOT.
VDOT will put detours in place during the closures.
In place of the bridge from 10th Street to eastbound Route 50, drivers can use Washington Boulevard to North Pershing Drive back to Route 50 as a detour. Instead of the ramp from westbound Route 50 to Fairfax Drive, drivers can use 10th Street as a detour.
Maps of the detours are available from the VDOT project website.
Last week the Sun Gazette reported that supporters of Green Party candidate for County Board Audrey Clement were trying to make the case that Arlington’s roads are crumbling — and the county’s political leaders should be held responsible for it.
County Board Chair Mary Hynes acknowledged that local roadways were “rough,” and that road maintenance had fallen behind in recent years, but said funding added several years ago should help allow Arlington to repave roads every 15 years.
How important will the state of local roads be when you go into the voting booth on March 27?
Various lane closures due to work on the new Courthouse interchange could cause some additional traffic headaches starting this weekend.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will be closing up to two of three lanes in each direction of Route 50 from 10th Street to N. Rhodes Street. Those closures will take place at night, from 9:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., starting on Sunday and running through Thursday, February 2. Daytime closures from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. will begin on Monday and continue until Friday, February 3.
VDOT warns drivers that although late night closures don’t officially begin until 9:00 p.m., preparations for the road work could start as early as 7:00 p.m. Drivers should use extra caution in the area and be aware of construction crews.
The $39 million project to redesign the interchange at Route 50, Courthouse Road and 10th Street was launched to improve accessibility and safety in the area. Aesthetic improvements will also be added.
The project’s second phase of utility relocation is scheduled to be finished this spring. The entire project is slated to be completed in fall of 2013.
Big potholes aren’t the only hazard on Old Jefferson Davis Highway, which is set for a reconstruction project in 2012.
With rain in the forecast over the next couple of days, it’s worth recounting this scene from two weeks ago. A reader — who we’ll call “Joe” — says he was driving down Old Jefferson Davis Highway, between the Pentagon and Crystal City, in the middle of a rainstorm on Dec. 7. Despite the fact that a couple of cars passed him going in the opposite direction, all of a sudden Joe found himself and his car stranded in high standing water.
“The cars had apparently turned around going the opposite direction, something I should also have done,” Joe lamented. “I entered what I thought was a muddy puddle and quickly came to realize just how dangerous it was. The car started to choke and it was too late for me to get out.”
Joe said he called 911 and had difficulty getting the dispatcher to understand where “Old Jefferson Davis Highway” was. Eventually, an Arlington police officer showed up and was “very helpful.”
Joe added that there was a “road closed” sign on one end of the street, but not on the end he was traveling on.
“Even I’m not stupid enough to bypass a road closed sign, why was there not one on both sides?” he asked.
County officials expect to start installing a new storm water system along Old Jefferson Davis Highway as soon as February. In April the road will be renamed “Long Bridge Drive” after the adjacent Long Bridge Park.