Long Bridge Park Takes Shape Near Crystal City

by ARLnow.com March 7, 2011 at 9:00 am 4,497 38 Comments

We’re about one year into the construction of Long Bridge Park and some of the park’s features are starting to take shape.

The long rectangular buildings that will eventually house concession stands and restrooms for the park’s multi-use athletic fields now line Old Jefferson Davis Highway. Large, bulldozed stretches of red dirt will at some point become the lush, green Esplanade and rain garden. A lone steel entrance gate sits in a construction parking lot, awaiting completion of a field around it.

Construction on the first, $50 million phase of the park, located just north of Crystal City, is expected to wrap up in September. Design work on a second phase, which includes an aquatics, health and fitness facility, started last month.

The park will have breathtaking views of the Potomac and the D.C. skyline, but don’t don’t expect to attend any outdoor concerts there. The noise from planes taking off and landing at nearby Reagan National Airport is deafening.

The Long Bridge Park construction project kicked off last March, with the official groundbreaking ceremony held a month later. Since then, heavy equipment has only made the ill-kept road that runs next to the park site even more treacherous.

Old Jefferson Davis Highway, which connects Crystal City with Boundary Channel Drive, is a disaster zone, with potholes the size of Honda Civic tires. Although it’s eventually slated to be repaved, but until then it probably should only be traversed with a truck or SUV.

  • LyonSteve

    Will the trolley connect to the park?

    • FrenchyB

      Possibly – one of the options is to build the streetcar maintenance facility just north of the park (where a self storage facility currently sits).

    • It will terminate at Jay’s bathhouse.

  • SoArlRes

    They are working to figure out whether the initial alignment will connect to Long Bridge. Currently, it will either connect to Long Bridge OR it will connect to NOVA in Alexandria, but not both (at least that’s my understanding). One of the locations would be used for a storage and maintenance depot. So far, from what I’ve read, NOVA is actively trying to win this opportunity, and business owners near Long Bridge don’t want it. We’ll see what happens! Hope this helps.

    • cj

      If/when the Route 1 and Columbia Pike trolley systems link up, they would come at minimum to Old Jeff Davis and 12th. Park advocates (I’m one) want trolley service up Old Jeff Davis to Boundary Channel Drive to provide easy access to the future aquatics/fitness facility, the north end of the park and the riverside trails. Regrettably the owner of the self-storage facility there isn’t interested in selling or, so far, discussing some kind of partnership. Public support can help.

      • Burger

        Why should the storage place care. It puts him out of business and given the number of storage facilities in the area with franchisee agreements he would likely not be able to build a new one.

    • frob

      Seems like NOVA would generate more riders.

      • SoArlRes

        Plus all the talk of future expansion into Alexandria to Mark Center and beyond, via Beauregard. Given long enough, I think we will see stops all over the place – this is just the initial alignment. It’s nice to see that it is generating so much interest. I’m hopeful that this is truly a viable long-term solution for this area.

      • Arlwhenever

        Ya, but Jay Fisette didn’t go to a junior college. He did go to a preppy school where he played on the water polo team.

  • CrystalMikey

    I can’t wait for this thing to open…and for them to repave Old Jeff Davis. 😛

    • MIchael H.

      But at least Old Jeff Davis Hwy is good for mountain bike practice right now. Plenty of obstacles to simulate tree roots and drop-offs. Just don’t try riding on that road on a road bike for the time being.

  • RS

    I’ve been a Crystal City resident for a few years now and I’m kinda kicking myself. I really wish I hadn’t missed the boat on the planning and public comment part of the development of the park.

    Although I think this is awesome and is something both Arlington and Crystal City need badly, I’d love to see the fitness center become home to another metro-accessible ice rink.

    Currently, there’s only two real ice rinks that are metro accessible: College Park and Kettler. College Park is seasonal (outdoors) and Kettler is horribly expensive and very busy due to its ties with the Capitals and huge number of hockey players.

    Anyone in the area looking for ice time has to either pay $300+ per hour or go to a rink with no Metro access. And even the rinks outside of the beltway and with no Metro access charge $300+ and are booked up from Fall-Spring.

    Ice sports are getting ridiculously popular in DC thanks in part to the Cap’s success and the growing popularity of broomball and other on-ice activities in the region. It would be great to have another facility that could help increase the amount of available ice time, drive down ice costs and give us cold-weather folks another metro-accessible place to take the ice! Also, it could be a huge money maker for the county at $200+ per hour for ice rentals!

    • CrystalMikey

      I was going to mention the rink @ Pentagon Row, but it seems you are looking for a place to play hockey?

      • RS

        Pentagon Row is only about half the size of a regulation NHL rink and has low boards. With the road only about 20 ft. away, hockey/broomball and other activities just can’t be done there. It’s also outdoors and seasonal, which significantly cuts down the amount of time it’s available.

        It is Metro accessible, but it’s only really of use to ice skaters and the local businesses looking for an attraction!

    • Arlwhenever

      How about buses?

      You can get a Fairfax Connector bus from the Huntington Metro station down to the Mt. Vernon rink.

      One of the supreme ironies of Metrorail is that it made many locations less accessible by public transportation. Before Metrorail there were literally dozens of Route 11 Metrobuses daily that travelled down Fort Hunt Road and Belle View Boulevard right past the doorstep of the Mount Vernon Ice Arena, vs. the relative handful of Fairfax Connector buses that go down there today. Metrorail concentrated public transportation more than it improved its availability.

      • RS

        I’m sure that there are ways to get to the other rinks that don’t involve driving and that’s actually a great suggestion (might have to start taking a second look at Mt. Vernon).

        Unfortunately, there’s still no ice availability there (or anywhere else really) during the peak winter sports months and the ice costs are simply ridiculous. I mean…you pay $300+ an hour to play a game from 12AM-1AM on a Wednesday.

        I think another rink in Crystal City would be incredible for our community. It would have direct Metro access. It would provide hours of additional available ice time, which is in very high demand. The increased supply of ice time could hopefully reduce the current cost of ice time at other rinks. Also, it’s surrounded by bars and restaurants (Bailey’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Crystal City Sports Pub, etc.) which is solid for post game eating and imbibing.

        The rink would help drive increased business to these places, generate revenue for the county and provide residents with something they want and need. I mean…the park and fitness center are a blank slate and awesome opportunity to provide recreational facilities that are wanted and needed…I think an ice rink is a slam dunk.

        Now how do I get someone who actually has some power over things to see that…and is it too late?

        • ossipago

          The problem is that land near the Metro is really too valuable to be used as an ice rink. The money calculus just won’t work out very well compared to high-rise mixed-use commercial/residential. Ballston got away with it because it didn’t take up any land with potential for redevelopment, and the rink’s price reflects the high cost of adding floors to an existing building.

    • othersideoftheriver

      I’d love another rink — the pressure on roster spots for hockey is huge. It’s gotten worse with the collapse of the PW rink in Snowmageddon, though they are rebuilding that.

      FWIW, the hour ice time I bought for my team for practice in Feb. was $430 (one hour on ice + 15 mins for the Zamboni).

      • RS

        Folks in the midwest are laughing at us right now. They’re paying $100 for an hour of ice at the most. We’re dropping $300-$400!

        Seriously…this needs to happen. How do we get this brought up in front of people that can actually make decisions? Seriously…I’ll even volunteer to drive the zamboni for free if they build a rink!

        Maybe we could get the Caps to chip in. Increased interest in hockey in the region would only benefit them and Ovie’s salary is probably only a small fraction of the $190 tickets and $12 nachos at the Verizon Center!

        • othersideoftheriver

          There’s a lot that’s cheaper in the midwest — and I bet there are more rinks, too.

          And just think: The market price on Kettler time would be even higher if some Ovie magic stayed on the rink for us beer-leagues. Alas, it doesn’t.

  • Dreamer

    Hmmm. . . aquatics facility. Can we get a sauna too?

    • No, but Fissette wants a steam-bath and roman tub installed.

      • FrenchyB

        A little fixated on this, aren’t you?

  • Map it

    Looking at a map of Arlington, I cannot find any location that is less accessible or with fewer homes nearby. Great job spending $50 million dollars by our genius County Board.

    • local

      Where do you live? Let’s take your house by eminent domain, or at least put a huge parking lot right next door.

    • Idi Amin Dada

      The voters approved the bond that is paying for this.

      • Wayne Kubicki

        The voters approved a bond issue that was going to pay for two soccer fields AND a pool building. There is now not nearly enough money in that bond to cover the pool building.

        • Burger

          Naturally, but don’t worry that Trolley line will only be 300 million? or HSR from Tampa to Orlando will only be 2.6 billion.

      • Burger

        Has the county ever turned down a bond referendum?

        It is easy to say “yes” the hard part is most people making the mental leap that connections the paying off the bond and increases in taxes. Someday people will figure it out.

        • Vinh An Nguyen

          Not much different than people who vote for the politician who promises to cut taxes, and then wonders why the infrastructure is crumbling.

      • LyonSteve

        Voters would approve any bond in this county.

    • MIchael H.

      It’s only about 3 blocks from the Crystal City Metro. That’s not accessible?

      • Hokie

        To be metro accessible to many people means a 90 second walk. Anything beyond that is too much- it’s either too cold/too hot/too easy to get lost/too easy to get rain soaked. Sadly- this place is filled with people that can’t hack it on their own

        • MIchael H.

          The destination is an outdoor park. How could it be too hot/too cold to walk 3 blocks and then not be too hot/too cold to play soccer in the park? That doesn’t make sense. People are going to the park to exercise and be outdoors, not to be in a climate-controlled environment.

          I don’t see the problem here. There will also be easy bike access from Pentagon City and Crystal City.

      • LyonSteve

        3 Crystal City sized blocks = ___ regular sized blocks?

    • CrystalMikey

      People do live in Crystal_Pentagon City you know.

    • ossipago

      There is not a MORE densely populated region of Arlington than this, with the exception of Rosslyn-Ballston.

      Most planners consider anything within a half-mile radius as “near” mass transit. That’s a 10 minute walk, perfectly reasonable, and development patterns bear this out.

  • JohnB

    For all the haters, you should know that the aquatics center is a direct result of community demand. The county asked the community what parks and recreation facilities were needed/wanted most and the answer overwhelmingly was pools. And the voters repeatedly approve bonds via referendum because they are for things we need, are well thought out, and stay within Arlington’s conservative borrowing constraints as evidenced by our AAA debt rating.


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