Collapse at Construction Site Threatens Nearby Apartments

by ARLnow.com August 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm 23,519 45 Comments

Update at 1:35 p.m. — See this post for the latest on the road closures surrounding the site.

Roads are closed in Rosslyn after a retaining wall partially collapsed at a construction site on the 1500 block of Clarendon

A large retaining wall at the Sedona and Slate apartment construction site gave way following this evening’s heavy rains, allowing earth and debris to spill into the construction pit. The collapse raised fears of an even bigger structural collapse.

Clarendon Boulevard will be closed between Pierce Street and Oak Street “for the foreseeable future,” according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Gregg Karl. Parts of Ode Street and several other roads in the area are also closed.

The Swansen Apartments, at 1625 N. Ode Street, has been evacuated while structural engineers determine whether the building is in danger of collapsing as a result of the failed retaining wall. The building sits on the edge of the landslide that occurred after the wall collapse.

Residents of the Swansen Apartments, who spoke to ARLnow.com on the condition of anonymity, said that they’ve noticed widening cracks in the building’s basement and in the pavement of the parking lot adjacent to the building within the past two weeks. The residents said they recently saw workers measuring the cracks.

About 10 apartment residents have been displaced and will be placed in temporary housing, Karl said. He said other residents found alternate housing on their own. Between 20 and 35 people live in the building, according to resident and fire department estimates.

As of 11:00 p.m., Clark Construction, the primary contractor on the Sedona and Slate project, had around a dozen employees on scene assessing the situation. Arlington County engineers were also on scene, Karl said. The Red Cross arrived to assist displaced residents, and the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department arrived to provide food and drink to emergency workers.

So far, there has been no indication that there’s any danger to a large construction crane at the site.

  • rich

    Wouldn’t that intersection be in courthouse clarrndon not rosslyn

  • rich

    Sorry my brain just realized that is rosslyn duh

  • Marie

    I live right across the street from that and they have Clarendon blvd closed down between the Courtyard hotel and the Starbucks. It’s probably related to the massive hole they are digging for the Slate project.

  • Tony Sinkhole

    You sure the sinkhole is related to the giant construction site with the massive hole?

    • Tommy Sinkhole

      Are people allowed to put pets back in the uninhabitable apartments?

  • David

    I also live across the street. I’ve seen a few Arlington firefighters walk in to the construction site, but only in the upper area where the mobile trailer offices are, not down in the deep hole dug for the the new condos.

    The most interest seems to be in the northwest corner of the construction site (ode and clarendon).

  • Rob

    Tried to walk the perimeter, and police stopped me going north beyond 16th & Ode. Said they were concerned about the tall crane and a building. Can’t really see the sinkhole, but as has been noted, probably at the north end of the site. Guys in hard hats now wandering around up there.

    • David

      Looks like power is out at the condo on the east side of ode. Maybe a precaution?

      • David

        Someone just unlocked the main hole area of the construction site, firefighters with flashlights have entered.

  • Bobby

    Its a very big crane Rob… interesting. Just occured to me that me and my girlfriend are sitting right in the fall path of said crane at the marriott. News crew here now… not sure what there is to report. Bunch of firefighters standing around looking at a hole pretending like they are engineers telling people to get away from the ever growing hole. News guy just said their is a team of engineers checking it out and they’re going to start evacuating buildings. I better grab another 12 pack before midnight.

    • Rob

      Another 12 pack is always a wise call. Stay safe!

    • CMG

      “Bunch of firefighters standing around looking at a hole pretending like they are engineers telling people to get away from the ever growing hole.”..

      No dude, they’re facilitating evactuations, and are trained to deal with cave in emergencies. The engineers have their jobs, the firefighters are not trying to BE or TRUMP engineers. Go back to bed, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Bobby

    “For the forseeable future”?? Great quote. So technically no one can see into the future at all so then that time is equal to zero. So the roads are open. If we take that to mean able to predict the existence of any future at all then this is now a permanent closure never to be opened again. I’m watching intently for more dramatic updates. Stay tuned all.

  • Bobby

    The firefighter’s flashlights have blue LED lights on them. Curious as to the purpose of this. Must be a secret magical structural integrity scanner.

    • David

      The five individuals have left the construction site and the gate has been re-locked. Flashlights were shined on the ground and the north wall about halfway between ode and oak. I didn’t see a hole (other than the hole that is supposed to be there due to several months of digging).

    • CMG

      they’re another way for firefighters to find each other when crawling around a smoke charged hallway. Hence why they’re on the back of the boxlight. You shouldn’t make stupid comments on subjects you know nothing about. It only makes you look stupid, Bobby.

  • Bobby

    Another engineer guy just showed up. He’s older with nicer clothes on… looks higher paid and more in charge. He might be the real deal. We shall see.

    • Engineers

      The real head engineer with be in a short-sleeved dress shirt with lots of pens in the pocket and will have a beard and glasses. Even the women. This is required for a PE.

    • Clarendude

      Has the gaggle of lawyers showed up yet ? I guess those would be the ones in suits with briefcases.

  • Bobby

    Did they get down on a rope or something or could they walk? I’m on the other side… couldn’t see them going down.

  • Bobby

    Also I have never laughed so hard in my life. The hole that is supposed to be there… haha that’s the only hole I can see also

  • Rob

    Bunch of engineers and ACFD shining flashlights on the pavement of Ode and around Swanson. Crack hunting, I presume.

    • Aaron

      That would have been a much shorter search just two to three years ago.

  • Scott

    I was just at the scene,”sinkhole” may not really be an accurate description. A section of the wall shoring used to support the sides of the large hole being excavated has given way. This caused the dirt the wall shoring was holding back to fall into the hole. The wall shoring that gave way is very near the Swansen apartment which is the obvious reason for concern.

  • Bobby

    Pretty sure all these people coming into the marriott are the evacuees themselves. They don’t appear thrilled.

  • Rob

    Rosslyn Roberts have now made contact. Confused tourists making their way back to the Courtyard. Bigwigs in khakis akimbo.

  • Shelia

    Can you turn down Pierce off Clarendon blvd?

    • Rob

      Seemed like you could last night at least – they were letting people turn left back toward Wilson, and I think people were going right toward Rt 50 as well. Not sure if they’ve changed the traffic pattern for this morning.

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  • G Clifford Prout

    Wow, that old lady that owns the Swansen Apartments needs to go back to the Board and tell them she was right. All this development DID ruin her property.

    • Bemused bystander

      This is her reward for refusing to sell?

  • Lightbulb

    Let’s make this sinkhole the new Artisphere.

    • Rosslynite

      I am afraid this hole is too small to accomodate the money pit that is the Artisphere.

  • V Dizzle

    Wow, that really sucks. I’d never seen that kind of shoring (with pipe for lateral supports) and took pictures a few weeks back (dorky engineer with zero pens). That’s going to be very hard (i.e. expensive) to reinforce…I hope the contractor has more than the minimum insurance!!

    • The Old Lady That Owns the Apts

      We could really use any pictures, information or observations anyone has about the cavein and photos taken of this event, we need serious help here.

  • Amazing that a branch or tree down on Nebraska Ave in DC got mentions in every traffic report on WAMU this morning, but I didn’t hear a word about this. Unfortunately for a lot of outlets, if it doesn’t happen in DC or Montgomery County, it’s not news.

    • normal

      That’s a reflection of Arlington’s relatively light traffic because it isn’t as car-dependent. So that’s a good thing.

      • Greg

        I think it’s more the fact that Wilson/Clarendon, 66, 50, and Lee Highway, all basically go the same direction. Wilson/Clarendon aren’t major commuter routes, because people who live to the west have several faster bypasses.

        I wouldn’t think we are significantly less car-dependent than those who live in DC. The problem for DC is the people coming from farther north have to take local roads to get downtown.

        • normal

          Why are the bypasses faster? They aren’t completely clogged with traffic. In other areas, both the main roads and the alternate backroads routes are packed.

          We aren’t less car-dependent than downtown DC, perhaps, but we are compared to most other suburban areas in this region. Those are the ones I was comparing to.

          • Greg

            I don’t doubt that the fact that a higher percentage of Arlington commuters rely on public transit or bike plays some role. But our population is small compared to the number of people commuting from the west. It’s the fact that they avoid our surface streets that saves Wilson/Clarendon from congestion. BTW – 66, 50 and Lee Highway (in Rosslyn) are typically backed up in the morning. Maybe you aren’t referring to rush hour?

            Look at DC. DC streets are packed at rush hour because they are the only option. The fact that many (most?) people who live in DC probably aren’t driving can’t offset that fact.

  • Neil

    I live on the 8th floor of the Oakwood and have a terrace view of the site. I made the 911 call when it happened.

    Update – They are supporting the crane and the existing walls. Have not even dug at the caved in spot near the Swanson Apt.

    In the Swanson Apt they are putting support rods on all the floors. It doesnt look good but maybe they are being preventitive. The parking lot behind the apt is demolished.

    Clarendon, one lane on Wilson, Ode, are all still closed. I missed Starbucks this morning, where was the Red Cross for me 🙂

  • OK, what is the deal with the construction team? They have “Security” guys running around with handcuffs threatening to “detain” me until the Arlington Police come. I was walking down the “road” next to the Starbucks and he said it was private property. When I left there, and started walking on my way up Wilson, he threatened again to handcuff me and hold me for the cops. I am amaged that a rent-a-cop has such authority. Apparently they also told one of my folks to stop taking pictures from across the road on Wilson. What is up with that?????

    • Thes

      Private security sometimes try to stop people from taking pictures even though it’s perfectly legal to take pictures as long as you’re not obstructing anymore, you’re using a normal camera and are standing in a place you have a right to be. If someone threatens you for doing that, I’d say call the cops on THEM.

  • Tony Sinkhole

    The sinkhole taught me how to love a woman, and how to scold a child

    • Tommy Sinkhole

      The sinkhole taught me how to communicate better with birdwomen and smuggle out cats


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