The New Long Bridge Park is a Sight to Behold

by ARLnow.com November 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm 17,104 65 Comments

On Saturday, the public will be introduced to the new Long Bridge Park — just north of Crystal City — when county leaders hold an 11:00 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.

First-time visitors will be pleasantly surprised to find that the 18-acre park is quite a sight to behold. A year and a half after construction on the park began, what was once a muddy brown field is now a welcoming green space, with picturesque views of Reagan National Airport, the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, the Crystal City skyline and the Washington Monument.

The $31 million park features three lighted synthetic turf athletic fields, a half-mile long esplanade, a public art piece, a rain garden, a trellis and other public green space.

The esplanade runs parallel to a pair of CSX railroad tracks, used by freight trains, Amtrak passenger trains and VRE commuter trains. Lined with cherry trees, the esplanade will be utilized by walkers, joggers, cyclists and people who just want a scenic place to sit and relax.

Getting to the park will be somewhat of a challenge. Visitors coming to the Crystal City Metro station will have a bit of a hike before reaching the esplanade entrance, at the bend where Crystal Drive becomes 12th Street S. Those arriving by car will be able to use Long Bridge Drive — formerly Old Jefferson Davis Highway — to reach a modest surface parking lot. While Long Bridge Drive was recently renamed, it remains the worst public road in Arlington — with big bumps, ruts and potholes for most of the stretch between 12th Street and I-395/Boundary Channel Drive.

Find out more about the park’s first phase via Arlington County. A second phase of park construction, currently in the planning stage, will add a large new aquatics, health and fitness center, with an Olympic-sized pool and a 10-meter diving platform.

More photos, after the jump.


    The Pentagon City metro is closer? FREDTERP

    • One could also walk east on 12th Street from Pentagon City Metro, but they’re probably equidistant.

      • Novanglus

        They look the same on the map, but Crystal City is much closer. Especially through the underground mall.

        • OX4

          They’re the same. I used to work down at that end. Pentagon City walk on a nice day, CC walk when it rained.

          • drax


            Oh, excuse me!

  • PCity

    Picture 35 came up as MUCH larger than the other pictures (when viewed through the slideshow mechanism). Other than that, great pics! Can’t wait to walk down there when I have time.

    • John Fontain

      No, that guy is just really, really huge.

    • Fixed, thank you.

  • Bluemont Joe

    How much did Arlington pay you to run that headline?

    • FrenchyB

      Based on the photos, I think it’s a rather appropriate headline.

    • ArLater

      Always a cynic in the bunch… did you even bother to scroll through the pictures? I would agree with the title

    • drax

      What would you prefer, “New Park is There?”

      • MC 703


  • JimPB


    BUT: what is the projected cost/park visitor?

  • CrystalMikey

    I was hoping they were going to repave before the park opened. 😛

    • cj

      Old Jeff Davis Hwy is going to be transformed into a real street with bike lanes, sidewalks, street trees and all. The problem is that lots of sensitive utilities in the street right of way have had to be relocated and that work is months behind schedule. The street renovation is now scheduled to be done next spring.

      Meanwhile the cleanest route into the park is via the esplanade from the corner of 12th Street and Crystal Drive.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Yea, because picnic-ing in the flight path of an airport is just dandy.

    • Novanglus

      Then don’t picnic there. I’m happy to play sports on those fields, and I’m sure a lot of others are too.

    • bobco85

      The people that picnic over at Gravelly Point do not seem to mind. Plus, kids (and adults, too) love watching the planes take off or land just over their heads.

      PSA moment: if you’re at Gravelly Point, don’t stand on or walk onto the bike trail when you look up to watch the planes! I pretty much have to walk my bike through that area whenever passing through.

      • Gravelly Point picknicker


        • Person

          Haha! That’s funny.

          But seriously: Watching the planes from the marina on the other side is f–ing bad a##. Probably just as impressive from this park.

          But yeah, $31 MILLION? Jesus H! Why on earth should it cost that much?

          • Thes

            Former rail yard, toxic waste issue, for one. Really drives up costs.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            So the county can sue itself when folks who use the park start glowing or start losing their hair. Brilliant – the very definition of the self-licking ice-cream cone.

      • John Fontain

        “I pretty much have to walk my bike through that area whenever passing through.”

        As you should be doing anyway in such a congested area with lots of tots. You don’t have any more right to the turf you want to speed through than the gawkers do.

        • drax

          Well, no, people shouldn’t stand around on trails, kind of like they shouldn’t stand around in the middle of the road.

          Yes, he does have more of a right to the trail, which is not turf, but paved trail designed for traveling on, not standing and gawking.

          • John Fontain

            I didn’t say people should stand on the paved path (it’s best for safety purposes not to), I simple said he doesn’t have any more right to it than the gawkers do. Which is true unless he has a special easement.

          • drax

            Okay, John, but if you’re gawking, it implies that you are…standing.

        • bobco85

          John Fontain, you are misunderstanding my statement. I do not wish to speed through that section of the Mount Vernon trail, and I did not say anything about having more of a right to the trail than other people.

          The problem is that there are people looking up at the airplanes who do not pay attention to where they are standing or walking, children especially. There is plenty of flat ground adjacent to the trail where they can safely gawk. It makes things more dangerous when people are too distracted by the airplanes and do not pay attention.

          I slow down when passing through that spot because I have knowledge of past experience that it is a crowded area where people sometimes wander onto the trail. New riders would not know this. I do what I can to avoid an accident (and have done so multiple times) by being more vigilant. If I were to collide with one of these people wandering onto the trail, it would technically be their fault (just like if someone got hit by a car after wandering into a street).

  • OX4

    I was in the last car of the NE Amtrak train taking photos out the back window a couple years ago. An Amtrak cop came up to me and said he’d arrest me if I took photos of the tracks. So, I’m turning you in. Terrorists could see that we have train tracks next to the park if you keep these photos posted.

  • Henry Spencer

    I flew over it last week; looks good from the air. I’ll have to take a bikeshare bike down there one nice day at lunch.

  • Preschool Mom

    What.. no playgrounds?

    • Georgio

      I don’t think there’s any playgrounds, which is too bad for parents attending older kids’ sporting events with little kids in tow. But on the other hand, it is not really within walking distance (for parents with small children) of residential areas..

      • Novanglus

        True, that’s a nice feature of Barcroft Park — from most fields you can watch the older kid’s game while also keeping a close eye on the younger kid on the jungle gym.

        PRCR planners: maybe in a future phase?

  • Joe

    Is it really a large “green space” if the green is all astroturf?

    • cj

      The fields are synthetic. The gardens and lawns are real.

      • Quoth the Raven

        It’s true. They’re real, and they’re spectacular.

        • drax

          Another Seinfeld reference! Excellent.

  • MC

    What I like is that while it has an athletic focus, it is nicely landscaped. Wish Quincy Park had landscaping.

  • Rick

    Esplanade use has gone up 400 percent in Arlington county this past week and will continue to trend upward

  • Michael H.

    People have already been using the park to walk, run, bike or walk their dogs. The fences and Caution tape were removed a couple weeks ago. I can say that the headline is accurate. Moreover, it should say that the views from the park are a sight to behold. From the overlook at the north end of the esplanade, it’s possible to see National Airport, the Pentagon, the Air Force Memorial, Rosslyn, the Watergate buildings, National Cathedral, the Washington Monument, the Capitol Dome, Roaches Run sanctuary, the Potomac River and more.

    Kids will probably enjoy seeing the trains up close as they pass on the nearby tracks.

    Marymount University paid the construction costs of one of the new soccer fields even though they don’t get exclusive use. They will get to use that field for school soccer and lacrosse matches, which means that the park will see steady use throughout the playing seasons for those two sports. Since it’s a smaller school and soccer/lacrosse aren’t as popular as Division I college football is, the park should be able to handle the crowds.

    The park can fairly be described as spectacular. I didn’t know that those were cherry trees on the esplanade. Those will look very nice in the spring (although that also means allergy problems for many of us).

    As for walking there, it’s only two blocks from the Crystal City Metro. That’s not a major hardship, particularly when you’re traveling to a park. The point of going to a park in the first place is to enjoy the outdoor scenery, get some fresh air and perhaps get some exercise. It’s possible to walk through the Crystal City tunnels over to the 12th St/Crystal Drive corner where the esplanade starts, but I don’t see why that would be necessary. If it’s raining out or extremely cold, people likely aren’t going to go to the park that day anyway. If it’s nice out, then the two-block walk is perfectly fine and safe. There are sidewalks along Crystal Drive. And if you walk on the east side of Crystal Drive, you’ll walk past the smaller but also scenic Crystal Water Park.

    The park is a great addition to the neighborhood and the county. Now if we could only speed up the planning and construction schedule for the extension of the esplanade over to the Mt. Vernon Trail, and for the aquatic/indoor fitness center. That planned facility will have an Olympic pool, additional pools for exercise and for children, strength training and aerobic exercise equipment, an indoor track and more.

    As for Old Jefferson Davis Highway, yes, that road is currently in bad shape. Walkers, runners and cyclists should enter the park through the esplanade at Crystal Drive and 12th St. Drivers could go along that road but be prepared for a bumpy ride. You’ll also have to clean your car afterward because the tires will kick up a lot of dust and dirt from the road. An alternative is to park elsewhere in Crystal City or Pentagon City and walk over to the park. Walking a couple extra blocks isn’t going to kill most people. If you do it often enough, it’ll actually contribute to improved health, thereby extending your life.

    Enjoy the park, everyone. The County did a good job with it.

    • AllenB

      “The County did a good job with it.”

      Dude, there is no place for that kind of language in the ArlNow comments section.

      • Michael H.


  • Disgruntled Eagle

    Those fields would look much better with a 25,000 seat stadium wrapped around them with the United crest on it.

    • EB


    • Joe Hoya

      Can we rename the team “Arlington United”?

      • Fenty Accuser

        After Fenty pulled the rug out on United at Poplar Point, it appears there are talks to take the team to Baltimore. Baltimore United may be the future unless a footprint for a stadium locally can be dealt. It is sad for the fans, who are mostly from Northern VA, to not have any interest by Virginia entities to put a stadium right where we all live.

      • Ed

        Arlington United, yes. AU as an abbreviation would be . . . golden.

        • Nick

          Maybe Fairlington could accommodate a stadium…

    • Aaron

      As arlnow.com reported in July, there’s a large area in Pentagon City that’s scheduled to be demolished and turned into yet another generic office complex.


      A soccer/mixed-use stadium there would be super sweet.

  • Ed

    With David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane coming to play in April . . . think of it . . .

  • JimPB

    Private money, not taxpayer money, should pay for stadiums and arenas for pro teams.

    • Ed

      How about a nice IDA bond issue? This won’t hurt a bit . . .

    • Fenty Accuser

      The deal in the District that was on the table was for the owers of United to pay for the stadium, in full, with the District to provide some infrastructure upgraded. When Fenty’s cronies didn’t get tied in to the job, he pulled the plug.

      I still believe there is intent for a stadium to be funded fully by the club, with infrastructure to be provided by the local entity. There isn’t a sweeter stadium deal on the table anywhere.

      • Disgruntled Eagle

        Fenty is a crook. I saw him stand in front of RFK and tell the fans the stadium was a done deal. Then he pulled the rug out when his buddies didn’t get a cut of it.

  • Budget Hawk

    Is there parking at this place?

    • South Arlington

      FROM RIGHT IN THE ARTICLE: “Those arriving by car will be able to use Long Bridge Drive — formerly Old Jefferson Davis Highway — to reach a modest surface parking lot.”

      • budget hok

        So, does that mean there is parking?

    • Dewey101

      As the article rightly points out the section of Long Bridge Drive between 12th and Boundary Channel Drive is the worst paved road in Arlington. Bounce around before destroying your suspension crashing in to the mahoosive pot holes. It’s like driving in the District for goodness sake.

  • Charles

    Arlington County should hire writers who actually live in the DC area. The Arlington Web page about the park says it is accessible by “Metro on the Blue Line” WHAT ABOUT YELLOW LINE? Wakey, wakey, Arlington County.

  • bee

    Love the esplanade and the public art!! Can’t wait to bring my out-of-town family to do some train & plane spotting & people watching! Great use of space!

  • Don

    The road’s name does not change until 4/1/12, so technically saying it is ‘formerly Old Jefferson Davis Hwy’ in this article is incorrect. See http://news.arlingtonva.us/pr/ava/old-jefferson-davis-highway-to-215795.aspx

  • Arthur Itus

    Does anybody know how the original contract for $23.7 million to build the park ended up at $31 million? That is 30% over budget in a 24 month time period.

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