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Repaving, Electrical Work Causes Pike Traffic Headaches

by ARLnow.com April 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm 2,444 41 Comments

The construction cone slalom on Columbia Pike has converged into one relatively narrow, pock-marked chute of two-way traffic.

On one side of the Pike, two lanes are blocked by much-needed repaving work. On the other side, next to the still under-construction Penrose Square development, one lane is blocked by Dominion trucks that are preparing to replace an underground transformer that apparently blew this morning (a tipster reports hearing a large bang and seeing a flash in the area around 9:30 a.m.).

In the middle of the mess is the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Barton Street, where traffic lights are dark thanks to the aforementioned power problems.

Traffic and construction vehicles on the Pike are treating the intersection as if there was no stop light at all and simply driving through it. As of 1:45 p.m., no one was there trying to instruct them otherwise.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    Imagine what it will be like when construction on Zimmie’s Trolley starts!

    • PikeHoo

      Are you going to drive or take the bus from Bluemont to ride it?

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Neither. I won’t have any reason to ride it since I don’t live on or just off Columbia Pike.

    • G. Clifford Prout

      If it is really coming they should have laid-in the tracks like they did on H Street NE.

      Oh, and thank goodness for the paving. Trying to sleep to the sound of rattling steel plates was difficult.

    • Yeah, they will be focused on ripping up the new pavement to lay tracks, AND on the overhead power lines needed to electrify the thing.

      • Lou

        Hopefully the assessment of the No Build or Bus option will show you can do a hell of a lot more to improve transit by spending less money on modernizing the bus service along the Pike.

        • But a bus isn’t as glamorous as a choo choo train.

          • Lou

            They can get the buses to make fancy European beeping noises as they go by, and maybe even have a loudspeaker that plays back a recording of a train rolling on the tracks.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            LOL! Good one!

          • Maybe they will get some trolleys that look like a bus.

          • The Pikester

            I don’t think it is going to be as glamorous as the picture here indicates. when was the last time you saw so little traffic in this location??????

          • mehoo

            Yes, that’s true, and that’s an important consideration for attracting riders.

            But the more important factor is that bus service is less permanent so people or businesses don’t feel as confident investing in building or living in the area and depending on it as they do a fixed system.

    • BoredHouseWife

      We could have still had it if it weren’t for greed.


  • mehoo

    Imagine how better traffic will be when the trolley is here!

    • NPGMBR

      Coming from a city that has both Street Cars (New Orleans) and busses I doubt the trolley’s will have any more impact on traffic flow than Metro Bus currenlty does.

    • The Pikester


  • SoArlRes

    Got to remember that it’s all for a better 22204. Good things are happening!

    • Bluemontsince1961

      I hope it will be for a better 22204. I hate to think of the Pike becoming an uncontrolled overdeveloped mess like the Ballston-Clarendon-Rosslyn corridor.

      • mehoo

        Really? The Pike is better now than the Corridor?

    • PikeHoo

      I saw that Taqueria Poblano has put up a couple signs in the windows of Penrose Square. Now that is good progress!

      • FrenchyB


    • FrenchyB

      I’m all for the progress, and the disruptions have been relatively light for me. That said, I’ve seen the workers there moving construction equipment without properly halting or directing traffic – I’m surprised they haven’t caused a wreck.

      • NPGMBR


  • when i left from s barton st at around 10:15, the construction vehicles were completely blocking the intersection – i wound up just cutting through the parking lot (behind la bar&grill, etc) to cleveland and turned right onto the pike. the light at barton was off, but since you couldn’t turn on or off from there anyways, it didn’t seem to make a difference. (side note: i assumed the loud, house-shaking BANG was just a transformer… but it was pretty startling nonetheless)

    any word on whether the light will be back on by pm rush hour?

    • MC 703

      I often leave for work at 10:15am after a night at LA Bar

      • ha, i don’t go there a lot, just live nearby.

  • GOB

    It’s come to the point that I refuse to drive Columbia Pike unless I absolutely have to (which I don’t!).

    • Novanglus

      +1. If I need to go to something on the Pike, I figure out which cross street I want to be on and come in from there.

  • Joe

    Arlington may just be the worst run county in the United States

    • MIchael H.

      Worse than Prince George’s? I don’t think so.

      • Oh no you didn’t

        • Michael H.

          So you’re disagreeing with my statement? I’ve heard that the reason why MetroRail took so long to get built out into Prince George’s was because of political gridlock. The bike trail network in PG is sub-par when compared to other close-in jurisdictions in the metro area.

          • The Pikester

            I can’t imagine EVER riding a bicycle through PG.

    • BoredHouseWife

      How so? Most of the repair work has to be done in certain seasons.

  • South Arlington Ready

    time to move to Alexandria.

  • Funding for Zimmie’s choo choo is not a foregone conclusion.


    “That possibility infuriated County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman, who said congressional disinterest in Metro funding was symptomatic of “grossly under-funding” transportation needs across the nation.”

    I wish I could have seen Zimmie’s face when he learned about this.

    • Lou

      Thanks for posting that link. I liked this part:

      “County Board Vice Chairman Mary Hynes asked Moran to fight to make sure that those who drive don’t end up getting a higher subsidy than those who take mass transit, even if that means reducing or eliminating the subsidies.”

      That type of scorched earth, if we don’t get our way screw everyone else, mentality will not get you very far in politics, Mary.

      • Josh S

        Well, the fact is that the national subsidy for automobile drivers still dwarfs that for public transit. So she’s a little like David fighting against Goliath in this one. Not nice to kick the little guy who is already down….

  • charlie

    i like that we are completely rebuilding this road to, um, totally tear it up again for the Zimmie-line.
    until then the traffic hazards are UNACCEPTABLE. it wasn’t like this when VDOT controlled the road. Now developers just dig where and when they want.

  • Josh S

    Hmmm, Charles. When, exactly did the county gain control of the road? Has it even been a year yet? Already VDOT has been sainted?

  • Thanks

    I just want to say thanks to the paving contractor for another bang up job last night. They milled the Pike down to gravel and there was not one single f#*%ing sign to warn drivers coming from either direction. Perhaps we were supposed to see the random small cones placed throughout the section to mark sewers and grates that protuded 5 or 6 inches off the milled part. I hope whomever hires paving comapnies at the county offices reads this and never hires these asshats again.


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