Reconstruction of Old Jeff Davis Hwy Set for 2012

by ARLnow.com December 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm 5,703 26 Comments

Old Jefferson Davis Highway, which will be officially renamed “Long Bridge Drive” next year, is arguably the worst road in Arlington County.

With deep potholes, large pools of standing water, and no lane markings, the road — which connects Boundary Channel Drive and Crystal Drive/12th Street S. — is not easily traversed by anything smaller than an SUV.

That was less of a problem when the road served primarily as a short cut for adventurous I-395 commuters and Pentagon employees. Since November, however, Old Jefferson Davis Highway has been the sole road leading to the newly-opened, $31 million Long Bridge Park. That has led to some grumbles among park users.

“Old Jefferson Davis Hwy is in SERIOUS need of repaving,” one local resident said in an email to ARLnow.com. “Why would they open a brand new park, but not provide a safe road to get to it or tear down the decrepit buildings next to it?”

The good news is that relief is on the way. According to Arlington’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources (PRCR), a reconstruction project for the road will begin in early-to-mid 2012.

“The reconstruction of Old Jefferson Davis Highway should begin in earnest toward the end of February/early March pending the completion of utility relocation,” said PRCR planner Erik Beach. “The installation of a massive stormwater system will be one of the first steps in rebuilding the road. The final paving will be late summer of 2012.”

The road was originally supposed to have been reconstructed by the time Long Bridge Park opened, according to Beach, but the project was pushed by due to delays in Dominion and Verizon relocating their utility lines.

“The County cannot begin its wet utility work until the dry utilities have been relocated by the utility providers,” Beach said. “Dominion appears to have completed their work and Verizon projecting a late January completion. This places the finished road at the end of August 2012 with landscaping going in in the early fall.”

The finished road — which will by then be called Long Bridge Drive — is expected to include an improved drainage system, two bike lanes, on-street parking, median strips, sidewalks, street trees, pedestrian lighting, curbs and new pavement.

  • CrystalMikey

    Ahhh…I think that’s where all the rattles came from in my car. That road is horrible for sure.

  • Lou

    $979,500. Not sure what that works out to per user / per mile though.

  • OX4

    It’s odd that the county has ignored this road. It’s been this way for as long as I remember, at least a decade.

  • Ben

    Now work on N Irving between Wilson and 13th St!

  • Vik

    This is much needed. There’s plenty of space along the road, so I was wondering what there may be, but I guess w/ bike lanes and trees in addition to a road, that should fill the space well.

    • Hattie McDaniel

      Streetcar tracks?

  • Brian

    A Wegmans would be nice!

  • Nana

    I asked the County about this in Sep, because the park was about to open and there was no progress on the road. They gave the same reason then that they do now: Verizon and Dominion. The original contract for $50M included both the park and road, so it sounds like poor project management. Utilities would have been in the original schedule, so it’s not like this is unexpected work.

    I do love the County’s ability to bait & switch: a $50M Phase 1 project more than ONE YEAR behind schedule becomes a wonderful “newly-opened” $31M park. “… relief is on the way.” There is no mention of holding anyone accountable for the delay. We passed a bond referendum – by which the residents assume increased risk – to pay for this, and we get poor contract performance and, apparently, worse overisght.

    • cj

      The utility work serving the park, such as stormwater systems, was covered in the park budget and has proceeded as rapidly as possible. The utility work that Dominion and Verizon have had to do is, regrettably, not under county control. The two companies have had to relocate many sensitive conduits serving the Pentagon and other federal establishments, and somehow got months behind. The county ought to take them to court if necessary to make them reimburse the county for the delays.

      • Nana

        I agree on your assessment of the scope. I have a copy of the contract. Even if oversight and coordination of issues not under county control [which is therefore true for every road project in ArlCo] is sufficiently inept that the project can slip so long, there is an issue of transparency in notifying taxpayers (bond underwriters) how the project is progressing.

        I think I have a plausible reason why the road delay is acceptable – and maybe even desirable – for this project. Construction on the new Boeing HQ bldg on the same stretch of road is about to begin. If they are delaying (or accepting a delay to) the roadwork in order to accomodate heavy construction equipment for the Boeing HQ without damaging a new road, that makes sense. Just tell someone. Incidentally, the County agreed that Boeing would only contribute $150K to road improvements. I think that’s wrong by an order of magnitude. Boeing should have paid something north of $1M and everyone could have benefitted from coordinating the two projects.

        • cj

          Nice theory but the two projects don’t completely overlap in territory or timing. The Boeing site is between 6th and 10th. They’re contributing — though not necessarily enough — to rebuilding that section of the road to the county’s design, and will have to maintain safe passage for park users while their construction goes on. The bulk of the road project is north of 6th, along the park. That’s where the utilitys’ delays have been most troublesome and costly for the county, as outlined in the recent report to the Board. The current target for finishing that part of the road is next summer, which is certainly before Boeing is done.

      • Grognak

        What can the county claim as hardship from the delays by the utility companies? Revenue loss on a park?

        • cj

          Added costs for having to keep the construction management firm on site while waiting to install park-related utilities in the road right of way.

          • Grognak

            If they are volunteering to pay CM added general conditions to sit in the trailer twiddling their thumbs waiting for Verizon, they are stupid.

            If the CM is claiming prolonged general conditions for having to remain on site and pay their PM’s salary to do nothing but wait for Verizon, the County’s getting bad client representation.

            Either way, the reimbursement to the County is only to reimburse them for payments they made to the CM, and a good client would tell the CM to demobilize and go pound sand if they want any more money.

            The County should not be paying the CM to sit around and wait.

  • Arlingtron

    I attempted to ride my bike from the rebuilt Humpback bridge to the new park. Was nice paved path until I hit an embankment. Had to portage my bike over and around earthen berms and highway shoulder until I could reach Boundary Channel Drive (still not bike friendly). Seems there’s a missing link here.

    • Bike path lover

      Yes, when are they going to connect the bike path under the new GW Bridge to Long Bridge Park. This would also connect Columbia Pike and Pentagon Row. It can’t happen soon enough!

      • Nana

        I think the planned path is a little different. I believe that planning documents show that the Esplanade in the park will be extended in Phase 2 to carry bike and pedestrian traffic all the way over and across the GW Pkwy, providing a connection between the Mt Vernon Trail and Crystal City.

        I agree that an bike underpass under the Humpback Bridge would have been a nice (and relatively easy) improvement that would take people around Columbia Island Marina to Boundary Channel.

        • CrystalMikey

          Crystal City already has an existing connection to the Mt. Vernon, right at the Water Park on Crystal Drive. 🙂

      • cj

        Nana is right — there are two separate connections. Neither is done yet. The path under the humpback bridge is open, but a safe, fairly direct way through the Pentagon exurbs to the Boundary Channel roundabout isn’t established and may not be for some time. The direct link from the Long Bridge Park esplanade over the parkway to the Mt. Vernon Trail will be a while coming. It will require not only extending the esplanade, which is part of Phase 2 of the park, but also getting myriad design approvals for the crossing, potentially involving NPS, CSX, the National Capital Planning Commission and VDOT and/or DOT. Plus money. The County is promoting this as a separate park phase because of the complexities involved.

    • Walsh44

      My understanding is that the southside Humpback Bridge tunnel & paved extention ends where land under the Pentagon’s control begins. For now, the Pentagon does not want the bike path completed around Boundary Channel Basin to BC Drive because of a sensitive facility that the path would come too close to. To get this done — which would be far cheaper than building an overpass over the GWM Parkway to the MVT — will probably take intervention from VA senators & Rep Moran. Mark Blacknell, chair of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, said on Dec 7, “the Pentagon had been in discussions with Arlington County about connecting the path. Unforuntately, it seems those discussions have ground to a halt, with Pentagon staff citing amorphous security concerns connected to a particular facility along the path. This is not a little frustrating, as anyone can walk up to that facility from North Boundary Channel Drive. But for the Pentagon’s cooperation, those living along Columbia Pike could avoid having to go to Rosslyn or Crystal City to get to the Mount Vernon Trail.”

  • MikeinARL

    So when the road gets repaired, where else in the county can someone say, you know, entertain a lady who formerly worked as a masseuse or dispose of a large, heavy item, about the size of a weasely, two-faced puke of a man. But not a body. Why would you ask? It’s just an example. I’m asking for a close, personal friend of mine. So where could someone allegedly do that? I mean “hypothetically” do that.

  • Joe

    Pretty ridiculous that when it rains people can’t go to the new $31 million park for a week. The management behind this project is such a joke.

    • cj

      Agree that the road situation is most regrettable. If you know a way to whip Verizon into finishing its work, do share. Meanwhile, there is another way into the park: you can park near the corner of Crystal Drive and 12th St. and walk through the south entrance to the esplanade.

  • Diana Sun

    Regarding the reconstruction of Old Jefferson Davis Highway — related to our Long Bridge Park project — Arlington County confirms that Dominion Power has completed its utility relocation work with the exception of removing certain utility poles, which is being delayed at the County’s request, so that street lighting can be provided until the new pedestrian-friendly light poles and fixtures can be placed.

    Diana Sun, Director of Communications
    Arlington County, Virginia

  • Mike

    One should ask, What would Jefferson Davis do?

    • topper

      Roll over in his grave.


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