Crumbling Glebe Road Bridge Slated for Replacement

by ARLnow.com February 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm 4,885 47 Comments

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.”

  • Overgrown Bush

    This bridge has been in poor shape for seemingly forever.

    Here’s a bit of sarcasm aimed at another thread: They want to widen the bridge? Won’t that just lead to widening the road and more traffic?

    • Lou

      They’re adding a lane. Call the lawyers!

      • Rick

        its a racist lane

    • BoredHouseWife
      • Rick

        someone didn’t get the joke.

        but in all seriousness, there needs to be a turn lane there. glad its going in

      • Overgrown Bush

        We would be so much better off on traffic if they had only left Shirley Highway alone, such as seen in this 1968 picture. Yeah, right…

        • BoredHouseWife

          Because the world is exactly the same as it was in the 60’s.

          Take the bus.

          • Overgrown Bush

            No, it isn’t. That’s the point. It won’t be the same in 2040 either.

          • BoredHouseWife

            Painting a HOT lane will surely fix the traffic issue and will keep it fixed until at least 2040. (eye-roll)

          • Overgrown Bush

            Hey! We agree! I’m against the HOT lanes… LOL..

          • Lou

            Adding a lane to the bridge seems to be progress. Glad to see the planners recognize the benefit of more lanes in some places.

    • Southeast Ben

      I wonder if they’ve considered an alternative that just lets it fall in…furthering separating North and South Arlington.

    • mehoo

      Some expansion of road capacity is good, including new lanes. It’s when you build enormous new highways or expand those that you get new sprawl development and traffic that just fills them up.

  • Arlwhenever

    I walked by Sunday night and checked out the ongoing work. For the patch, over the weekend VDOT crews cut out approximately a 5′ by 12′ section clear through, linked in new rebar and poured fresh concrete.

    • jjbug

      Watch that bridge! I suspect Glebe Road is the escape route for the massive parade of trucks departing the 10th & Garfield re-development and other redevelopments along the Balston Corridor. The immense weights and the frequency of this use may not have been anticipated by the designers.

      Someone made mention of “free” gifts to developers coming with taxpayer support of road construction. Think of this: private companies “rent”

      • jjbug

        Let that comment fly incomplete!
        The point is that companies earn profits utilizing public streets and bridges for moving excessively heavy equipment. Are they all keeping off the streets that were not built for such traffic? Do they pay a mileage fee to the government entity for use of the streets? Why not? Just watch the cranes appear in your neighborhood after a wind- or snowstorm! Should 5 cranes of 5 contractors be called to the same street, or could one be coordinated to proceed on the street to do repairs after the storm?

        The amount of clay and sand brought to the construction site I live near plus the 2 floors of dirt stone and concrete slab that is taken away – presumably out of the County – is amazing. This has to punish the roads and bridges!

  • G

    I find it hilarious that they are adding a 17 ft shared use path on one side and a huge sidewalk on the other when Glebe road has virtually no space for bikers aside from the small sidewalk usually used by pedestrians.

    • FrenchyB

      True, Glebe Rd. is not bicycle-friendly, but I’ve seen plenty of cyclists crossing this bridge anyway. At least now there will be plenty of room for bikes and pedestrians. Also, the north side of Rte. 50 has a bike trail running east from Glebe, as well as a service road on the south side that links up with the trail hear TJ.

    • V Dizzle

      Way easier to expand sidewalks down the road (not intended as a pun) when you don’t have narrow bridges to contend with.

    • MB

      1) Sure there’s space for cyclists – the rightmost lane in either direction.
      2) Future reconstruction of Glebe road may well end up with a more cyclist-friendly Glebe. So it’s smart to design a new bridge to accomodate that if it happens.
      3) The proposed expansion helps accomodate transitions across 50 from *existing* bicycle-friendly routes – N. Cathedral Lane, the Arlington Blvd trail, etc.

  • JimPB

    Better late than never (or after a collapse, as in Minneapolis), but best of all before the crumbling.

    How, other than thru an increase in the gas or other tax, does government get the money to address the crumbling of America’s transportation infrastructure (roads, bridges). Also crumbling, and with a huge cost to repair and replace, are water, sewer and natural gas lines. Higher utility bills — or higher taxes, too.

    • Overgrown Bush

      Some sewer line replacements in the area (not Arlington) are being paid for with an itemized fee on the sewer charge to customers. Bridges are a challenge it would seem. I would think raising the gasoline tax would begin to transform the landscape in many ways.

      • Lalaland


        • Overgrown Bush

          Ah, no. I am anti-tax. I pay through the nose already. But, it certainly would mold things differently. It won’t ever happen though, so no worries.

      • Arlwhenever

        Arlington has more than doubled sewer/water rates over the last decade. A big chunk of those increases has gone into building new capacity to treat the effluent from new condos and apartment buildings, as well as new office complexes. Truly progressive jurisdictions charge developers the cost of building new capacity, including for schools, wastewater and transportation, but not Arlington.

        • Overgrown Bush

          I don’t think any in Northern VA do.

          • Arlwhenever

            Loudon charges huge impact fees up to $54K for a single family detached dwelling, developers should pay for development.

          • Overgrown Bush

            I guess that is why you’ll pay $450K for a townhome on what used to be a rural farm, that still has the rural road infrastructure, miles and miles away from your job.

  • Wildhair

    The George Mason bridge over Rt 50 looks almost identical to the Glebe Rd bridge. Any reason to believe it isn’t about to crumble as well?

    • Lou

      It was built much later. Probably around 1980.

      • Frenchy B

        And probably less-trafficked than Glebe.

  • CrystalMikey

    That turn lane will be a very nice addition indeed.

    • Bender

      Now if they would only add a turn lane to Route 50. And Columbia Pike.

      • bob

        And then ban left turns from Rt. 50 onto the side streets EXCEPT at intersections where there is a turn lane!

        • othersideoftheriver


          • Tom

            YESSSS!!!!What is wrong w/VDOT in figuring this one out – there have been dozens of fatalities on the stretch of road between Glebe and Fillmore. I watched a taxi driver, on the phone, veer into oncoming lanes to miss running into a stoped vehicle waiting to turn at Highland. That was freakin scary.

        • JJ

          The problem is every street opposes putting turn lanes in, believing that it will attract cars. Probably correct unless they put turn lanes at every street.

  • V Dizzle

    Next, Woodrow Wilson Bridge? It’s years past it’s design life.

    • V Dizzle

      sorry, I mean Key Bridge…

      • CrystalMikey

        I know the Key is old…but it seems to be holding up and has plenty of traffic lanes. *shrugs*

  • G Clifford Prout

    Wassn’t the Washington Blvd bridge in worse shape? Oh wait.. 100% of that is in South Arlington. Never mind.

    • Josh S

      Also scheduled to be replaced in the near/medium term. (With a massive redesign of the intersection, actually.)

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  • Lacy Forest

    I hear that one of the new lanes will be HOT.

  • Bernard

    Same thing happened late Thursday night too as I was coming back from a dodgeball game in Crystal City.

  • Jerry

    It’s Bush’s fault!

  • Jerry

    Another example of a ‘shovel ready job’!


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