Arlington, VA

Two years after concrete began falling from the “structurally deficient” Glebe Road/Route 50 bridge, VDOT expects to advertise its plan to replace the crumbling overpass next week.

The bridge has raised concerns recently as chunks of concrete began falling anew. On Friday, rush hour traffic was snarled when a chunk of concrete fell from the bridge onto a westbound lane of Route 50 around 4:30 p.m. Police shut down the bridge and one lane of Glebe Road for more than an hour as a result.

The falling concrete actually left a hole in the roadway from which one could look down and see the highway below, according to Arlington County Director of Transportation Dennis Leach. Over the weekend, VDOT patched up the part of the bridge from which the concrete fell.

ARLnow.com has also heard a thus-far unconfirmed report that falling concrete struck a vehicle last Sunday. No injuries were reported.

VDOT will be installing a protective shield “as soon as possible” to make sure more debris doesn’t fall on Route 50, according to agency spokeswoman Jennifer McCord. The shield will either be a protective netting or some sort of wooden structure, she said.

McCord says VDOT expects to advertise a long-delayed plan to replace the bridge next week. The agency will expedite the bidding process so that work on the new bridge can begin as soon as this summer and be complete by August 2012, officials said.

The $6 million project will completely replace the bridge deck while widening it by 27 feet. The increased width will allow for a 17-foot shared use path on one side, a 10-foot sidewalk on the other and five travel lanes in between, including a new northbound turn lane. The bridge will feature “wrought-iron picket fencing, gateway pillars and decorative LED lighting,” according to McCord.

Drivers will still be able to use the bridge during the replacement process.

“There will be no major impacts to traffic during the day,” McCord said. “Crews will shift traffic on Glebe and on Route 50 at night depending on the work they are doing, and any lane closures or shifts would occur between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. There may be some intermittent detours on Route 50… We will get the word out about those closures in advance.”

In the meantime, McCord says that VDOT will be keeping an eye on the bridge for signs of further deterioration.

“Crews will continue to monitor the concrete also and attend to any issues until the contractor is on site this summer,” she said.

Leach, the county’s top transportation official, said that VDOT has been “very responsive” to issues with the bridge.

“Our goal is to keep the bridge safe and functional until we get the new span in place,” he said. “We are very anxious for this project to get started. The new bridge will serve the community very well.”

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