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Pike to Get Utility Undergrounding, Street Improvements

by Katie Pyzyk May 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm 3,855 45 Comments

Arlington County is preparing to move forward with utility undergrounding and street improvements along Columbia Pike.

The County Board is expected to approve a contract for work along a section of the Pike at its meeting this Saturday, May 19. The $5.7 million contract would go to Sagres Construction Corporation, and includes work from S. Wakefield Street to Four Mile Run.

Utility underground is the first phase of the project, to be followed by a variety of additions and upgrades. Some of the improvements include new bus shelters, traffic signals, bike racks, ADA compliant ramps, street lights, trees and wider sidewalks. That stretch of Columbia Pike will also be resurfaced with a new layer of asphalt.

County staff has been working to ensure customers have access to all the buildings along the affected stretch of road, as well as to public transportation. Lane closures and traffic disruptions should be expected during construction, but will be during non-rush times. Night work is also possible, which could create some construction noise.

A Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman said assuming the board approves the contract on Saturday, work should begin in July. It will take about 15 months to complete. Project updates will be posted on the county’s website.

  • WestoverAndOver

    Armchair public works experts in 3…2…1…

  • CrystalMikey

    I can dig it.

  • Josh S

    What’s the over/under on comments relating to how messed up this stretch of road already is and how terrible it will be to have to endure another year and half of messed up roads while this project is underway: 32.

  • Rick

    Long overdue. But am I the only one that thinks these ADA compliant pedestrian ramps are ugly?

    • Josh S

      Ugly? I never thought about curbs in terms of “ugly” or “pretty.”

      • Clarendon

        I like how granite curbs look. And, they certainly last much much longer. They have them in DC.

        • Josh S

          Speaking of granite, why do Metro train operators warn us to stay away from the “granite edge” of the platform? Are there two edges? How is that sentence improved in even the slightest bit by the addition of the word “granite?” Would someone say to themselves: “I wonder WHICH edge they’re talking about?” And what would happen if a Metro train operator, using that gray matter in between their ears actually took it upon themselves to lose the “granite” from their announcement? Would they be fired? Fined?

          • Granny Tedge

            actually they are warning people to stay away from me.

          • Thes

            There are two boundaries for the edge. One is made of rubber with little bumps on it for the blind, and then closer to the edge is the granite that everyone else can see. The “granite edge” is considered a safe distance from the moving train. If you stand on any part of the granite, they will honk and you and tell you that you’re jeopardizing your safety. However, standing on the bumpy rubber is not too close.

            If they just said “stay away from the edge” 700,000 people each day would have to decide for themselves how far “away” they need to be. Since this announcement is (by definition) made for people who don’t *already* have sense in their head to stay far away from a moving train, it needs to be spelled out very clearly and precisely.

          • Josh S

            Sorry, I don’t buy it.

            Stay away from the edge
            Stay away from the granite edge

            Don’t 700,000 each day still have to decide how far “away” is?

            Also – here’s an idea. SInce the trains are now stopping in the same location every time, go ahead and paint footprints on the platform in the location of the door stops. You can even paint a few pairs to indicate how people should line up – on both sides of the doors. It’s amazing what a simple prompt like this will do – just vist BART, which is where I got the idea.

          • Corey

            It’s just a little redundancy for clarity’s sake.

      • arlcyclist

        I agree. Aesthetically speaking, they’re awful. Between the two color options I’ve seen, the reddish brown is better than the safety yellow.

      • truthteller

        “Ugly? I never thought about curbs in terms of ‘ugly’ or ‘pretty.’ ”

        That’s because you’re not so much a thinker. As anyone can see from your posts on here, you’re a judger, a condemner, an opinionator, a bloviator. But not a thinker.

        • Josh S

          Definitely a judger. Guilty as charged.

          Can’t recall condemning much of anything.

          Who among those who posts here is not an opinionator?

          But I ain’t never blowed no viator. That’s sick.

          • nom de guerre

            bloviator definition-a person who discourses at length in a
            pompous or boastful manner:

          • speonjosh

            Gosh, now I’ll have to add bloviator to my comment about opinionators.

            Who among those who post here has not been a bloviator from time to time? (Obviously leaving out the famously terse FREDTERP….)

    • WeiQiang

      What I have a problem with is that they dig up recently-installed ADA-compliant ramps to install new ones that match the others at the intersection. Meanwhile, other streets and intersections in my neighborhood are in crappy shape. There has to be some kind of sidewalk and ramp cult/mafia [no offense to mi amicci Siciliani] in ArlCo.

      • Josh S

        Always best to cover your bases…..:-)

      • Quoth the Raven

        Grazie, non c’è problema.

  • CrystalMikey

    Oh, and how about some left turn lanes.

    • Quoth the Raven

      Slip lanes too.

      • Plunkitt

        Slip lanes are spawn of the devil !!!

        (at least according to Arlington County)

    • Nick81

      In the picture, it does appear there is going to be a left turn lane from west-bound Columbia Pike to Four Mile Run Dr. That will be helpful, as there are always cars turning there, which have to wait a long time to go, who block traffic behind them. Some others at the other lights would be nice though.

  • JamesE
  • Aboutime

    And while we’re at it, let’s bulldoze every eyesore of a building/business on that stretch and start over with a center lane, wider sidewalks and new attractive retail space.

    • SoArl

      Oh, lord yes. Those shopping centers scare me. There are WAY to many people hanging around in the parking lots for them to actually be shopping there. And the combination laundrymat-beauty salon? Super classy!

      • Indian Spices and Appliances

        Please to tell, what is wrong with combination stores?

        • MC 703

          +sanskrit concept of zero

      • demonfafa

        To be fair, when you’re living in a 2-bedroom apartment off S. Dinwiddie with 8 other people, you’d probably go crazy just sitting at home.

        • Taxpayer

          Fair Statement. Also, no one should be allowing their tenants to pack 8 into two bedrooms.

          • demonfafa

            If only we could live in your world of “should’s.”

          • Corey

            Maybe if there were more housing in Arlington people wouldn’t have to cram themselves into tiny apartments.

  • Noonan

    Undergrouding the utilities is absolutely fantastic. After they get done, they should declare a permanent moratorium on any overhead lines ever being installed on the Pike in the future.

    • Bender

      Sly. Very sly. Wink, wink.

    • WeiQiang

      … but, but what about the trol …

      oh, sorry. I’m slow.

  • Bender

    The reason that that stretch is so cratered is because it was only last year (or maybe the year before) that they were doing underground utility work under the street.

    Why wasn’t everything done then??

    • Chris Slatt

      From the county project site:

      “As of January 2011, construction crews have installed new water, sanitary sewer and gas utility lines in the middle of the road. Work on undergrounding overhead telephone, electric and cable TV lines has been delayed. Project staff discovered a previously unknown concrete duct that conflicted with existing underground utilities. The issue has been resolved by a coordinated redesign with Dominion Virginia Power and Verizon.”

      • KnowItAll

        They should have called Miss Utility.

  • Taxpayer

    Now, will the cost of my two realignments be included in the $5.7 million?

  • chipotle_addict

    Why don’t they also add a metro tunnel and track real quick while they are digging up the road?

    • Josh S

      The perfect place to relocate the Artisphere!!

  • Ashton Heights

    Arlington needs a policy that after a road is dug up and repaved, no more digging is allowed for one year.

    • Nick81

      For example, on the Pike in front of Penrose Square. They nicely repaved a short stretch there when the Giant and the apartments opened. Just a couple months later, someone dug up parts of it, running almost the entire width of the street, on multiple occasions. As usual, these trenches were hastily filled in, turning that stretch back into an obstacle course. I blame the half-completed “green space” – and probably the utilities for its “water feature” as the likely culprits. They couldn’t have dug that up before repaving it?

  • Nick81

    At least they seem to be fixing the absolute worst stretch of the road first.

  • Mc

    A basic problem with this stretch is that there are many parking lots facing the street. Will need to replace the auto centric buildings, but the County’s low income housing policies will prevent such redevelopment.


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