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Morning Poll: Rate Arlington’s Roads

by ARLnow.com February 15, 2013 at 11:55 am 65 Comments

Pothole on S. Glebe Road near 2nd StreetBy at least one measure, Arlington’s roads — all 376 miles of them  — are in better shape than they were last year.

Since Nov. 1, Arlington County crews have filled 1,007 potholes on county-maintained roads, according to Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel. Compare that to the 2,184 potholes filled between the start of November and the end of February last year.

McDaniel attributed the big drop in potholes to the mild winter we’ve experienced so far.

Still, a report that came out last summer suggests that Arlington has plenty of room for improvement when it comes to street maintenance. On a scale of 0 to 100, the average Pavement Condition Index for Arlington’s roads was 68.9, down from a PCI in the low 80s about 10 years ago.

In general, how would you grade Arlington’s roads at the moment?


  • Arlington, SSR

    I think the roads are decent in general, but if you go through a given bad strech all the time (like a daily commute) it can give you a biased impression of the county as whole. The long term construction on 10th & Wash and at Glebe & Wilson are my peeve areas.

    • Josh

      I agree with this – the area around pentagon city has really gotten torn up by construction lately and causes issues during my commute.

  • Paul

    There are some horribly patched utility cuts here and there. 10th St N and Wilson comes to mind. The left turn lane from 10th to westbound Wilson always gives my motorcycle a good tossing and the rough pavement is hard to see in the dark.

  • Sandy

    The Grand Canyon on Washington Blvd near Patrick Henry needs to go.

    • Annon


    • JamesE

      yeah that bump is absurd, have to slow down a lot to avoid damage.

  • LGRooney

    Anyone who has the need to travel Columbia Pike on a regular basis will shake their heads at the shape of Arlington roads. Are the road crews working there in cahoots with the car repair shops or the lawyers representing drivers? Even on a vehicle as large as a Metro bus, I have felt shattered hitting some of the potholes there.

    • Josh

      Columbia Pike from George Mason Drive to Four Mile Run Drive is absolutely terrible. It’s been so long that the lines on the road have worn off!

      I wish I knew when they are going to repave it, because I can’t think of a stretch of road that is rougher than that one.

      • DB

        I’ve stopped driving that stretch heading westbound even tho I live just past it. I’ll go around b/c I can’t afford more damage to my car. It’s in horrible shape.

    • Dan

      I gott’a say that The Pike always seems to be in bad shape….even just after having been in part, repaved.

      • pdarl

        I suspect Arlington is delaying repairs because they’re sure the streetcar line is going to be built. No need to repair what will be torn up soon.

        • Douglas Parker

          It is very generous and kind of you to give ArlCo the benefit of assuming that this is somehow a calculated move to save tax dollars.

          Maybe they are saving up FOR the streetcar by way neglecting road repairs/repavings.

  • Chipp4Prez

    From someone who has lived in a lot of different parts of the country, I can tell you that Arlington’s roads are atrocious (especially for a county as well off as this). Anyone who rated the roads any better than a C has clearly been drinking.

    • DCBuff

      “Anyone who rated the roads any better than a C has clearly been drinking.” Anyone driving on the ArlCo roads, with all the torn pavement and potholes, may look like they’ve been drinking.

    • Hank

      I totally agree. I grew up in PA and I think the roads are bad (home of some appalling highways).

      • CrystalMikey

        That is bad!

    • GMo

      Humn, have spent my early driving years in central NJ I had been rather impressed with the roads in Arlington.

      • GrandArch

        Having spent my early driving years in central NJ I find that Arlington roads are atrocious. In NJ your back doesn’t hurt from constantly running into manhole covers that are positioned below the surface of the road or bad repair jobs when they rip up the road. You certainly don’t run into miles of asphalt in an intersection like 10th & Wilson.

    • Mnnesota

      + 1. This area, especially the district, has third world roads. You need a BMW, merc, or caddy to drive these roads.

      • Rory

        Are you kidding? try going to a 3rd world first. Not even close

  • HoosNArlington

    I would have given them an ‘A’, but with all the VT alum on couches in the middle of the roads lately I just couldn’t do it.

  • Alex

    Been here 33 years and I have to say the roads have been pretty bad the last decade or so in many areas. The pace of repair seems to be akin to that of a snail.

  • Bicyclist

    The roads aren’t that great yet. Too much room for cars, not enough safe lanes for bicycles.

    • DCBuff

      Not enough room to open my car door.

  • Deadite

    Why is filling in fewer potholes automatically attributed to there being fewer potholes? For all we know we could have the same number or even more potholes and the County has just gotten worse at filling them in. I’m leaning toward the latter.

  • ArLater

    Please drive down Clarendon Blvd between Courthouse Rd and Barton Rd and then answer this question.

  • johnny b

    Until less salt is used (wasted) each year, the roads will never improve.

  • PotholeDodger


  • Douglas Parker

    Several times I have seen roads repaved to new again only to be ripped apart a month or two later by some other crew. How about a little coordination so that perhaps the road can be repaved after the road work?

    Also, Arlington Co. put some really crappy lipstick on our pig of a street in the form of a tar/gravel veneer which, when the idiots applied it went right over loose impediments in the street such as grass clippings which of course pulled away from the street within a matter of weeks and left a sorry looking mess.

    So whoever is making those decisions in the Arlington administration, you are a dunce.

  • JamesE

    Wilson west of Ballston, F-

    • JamesE

      Also F- to VDOT for closing off two lanes of route 50 last night during rush hour causing a horrific backup.

  • Eva

    Seriously?!?!? Anyone who voted above D does not live in Arlington. Have y’all lived and driven anywhere else in the country? The roads here are the worst I’ve ever seen and I lived in 6 states. NYC and its boroughs do not have such horrible roads. Alr County roads remind me of 3rd world countries’ roads but the worse part is how nonchalant the community and the Arl County board are about the situation.
    My car is taking a beating each time I drive and maintaining it is costing me more than I could ever imagine.. ughh..

    • Advice

      Take the metro and stop complaining.

      • eVA

        Really? Is that your answer to a problem? Thank G-d you’re not on the Alr County board.. otherwise, we’d accomplish tons..

        • Advice

          Have you been to a 3rd world country? I promise you that ArlCo’s roads are better. I’ve been to several and they’re not even comparable. Stop making such broad generalizations and whining on an internet forum.

          Take public transportation to reduce the beating your car is taking. More than anything, just stop complaining.

          • JamesE

            Shut up

          • Not Me

            Why u being such a d ick?

          • LGRooney

            I do take public transportation or walk for 90% of my needs but when I do need to drive… and, FYI, you’re not the only one to have been to 3rd-world countries. I’ve spent plenty of time in them and usually try not to use them as a basis of comparison for my expectations of the county in which I live, one of the wealthiest in the nation.

          • Eva

            Yes, smart-ass! I have been to many 3rld world countries and even lived in a refugee camp or two (by choice). You’re so narrow-minded; instead of providing a solution, you’re complacent with the crappy road situation in Arlington County. But who am I to say – you just may be one of those that shut up and swallow whatever is being fed to them. Those, my friend have never changed the world … eh.. ’nuff said..

          • Advice

            Eva, I did provide you a solution. You’re not likely to change the roads by complaining about it on Arlnow. I gave you the solution of trying out public transportation. That’s one of the few things you can do by yourself to fix the problem. I, in fact, did give you a solution. It was you that offered no solutions. Do you propose raising taxes to pay for these road improvements? You’ve offered nothing except complaints. I apologize if my bluntness seemed rude, but the fact of the matter is you’ve offered nothing.

          • Eva

            So, taking the metro will magically improve or repair the roads? I did take the metor and that was a bigger disater than driving. Remember, I lived in NYC and I am used to efficient fast ways of transportation.. In any case, my solution was to start the conversation which is what the intention of this forum was, parallel to the County’s report. .. oh and I can vote so that in itslef is pretty powerful, as you may very well know, based on your travels to 3rd world countries.

          • Advice

            Eva, I appreciate the level-headed response. Sorry to hear the metro didn’t work out for you. Taking the metro alone won’t necessarily improve the roads, though the more people who take metro the more it will alleviate some of the wear and tear on the roads. The impact may be minor and take a while to be realized. It’s kind of the same as the torn up roads most likely aren’t directly responsible for your car problems. It’s probably part of owning a car that you’re not used to maybe? I wish you luck in your transportation travels in the future. Take care.

          • Minnesota

            I have been to many 3d world countries and arlington is barely better; the district is worse.

          • AssFault

            I visited Malaysia (a 2nd world country) last year and all of their roads were immaculate, albeit in a tropical climate. However, the fact that one of the top-5 wealthiest counties in the nation, which also borders the capital city of the most powerful country in the world, CAN’T properly pave its roadways is a fu*king travesty and really is inexcusable.

      • xarl

        didn’t realize d rax had an evil twin….

        • ACDC Hack

          The ACDC posters are a tag team…..

    • Hee-Haw

      Everything here is the worst, just the worst !!

      • Diggity-Dang

        Not only that, it’s AWFUL!

  • Arlingtoon

    I’ve lived in the County for 33 years, and it’s my sense that the roads today are in worse shape than ever.

    A smart guy I once knew frequently said “everything is compared to what.” If you compare our roads to those in D.C., ours are clearly in better shape. Our don’t seem to me to be better than those in the surrounding Virginia jurisdictions, and in many cases they’re worse. It wasn’t always this way.

    Paul mentioned utility cuts, and I think he’s right on. If I’ve got to slow to a crawl to get over a contractor’s ditch in the road, either the contractor was incompetent or just didn’t care. And it’s not like the County swoops in afterwards and corrects the mistake.

    There’s a patch on Old Dominion right where it enters the County that’s like something out of the Aberdeen Proving Ground. It actually was worse before; however the “fix” the County did still looked like the “before” picture in a before and after comparison.

    The fall in the PCI seems to me to be about right. Ten or fifteen years ago it was a relief to get back into the County and on to well maintained streets. Not anymore.

    • PotholeDodger

      “If you compare our roads to those in D.C., ours are clearly in better shape.”

      The moon has better roads than DC.

  • Dan

    The road maintenance seems to have fallen off in the past ten years or so….back in the neighborhoods the roads are pretty beat up.

  • Autoexec.bat

    So far it’s a perfect bell curve.

  • pdarl

    I lived in Fairfax County until 2 years ago. When I moved to Arlington, I was appalled at how bad the roads were in comparison. We had a repair in front of my house on 6th St. S. The road crew paved over the repair in a perfect rectangle. There was a section of loose pavement about foot square that was just outside the rectangle. Did they fix it? Of course not. Now we have a nice pothole. That’s the caliber of persons we’re working with here.

  • JohnB

    You can find the improvement plan on page 93:

    “Paving 72 lane miles over the remaining years of the CIP is projected to increase the PCI from 68.9 to 74.6.”


  • WeiQiang

    since we have the worst traffic in the country. i don’t know how we’d ever rate higher than a C. i’d infer that the roads are handling traffic beyond their capacity. so, the roads don’t hold up. we are a community where lots of people live, where lots of people work, and through which lots of people drive to get to where they live and work. until or unless we reduce the traffic, increase capacity, and/or [since the gov’t can always use an efficiency improvement] improve road maintenance capability, we will have what we have.

    • WeiQiang

      ERRATA: delete ‘since’

  • Pikin’ My Way Home

    Columbia Pike from Mason to “The Shell” is awful. It’s barely suitable for rednecks to go four-wheelin’ on. How in the heck are residents supposed to traverse this stretch with the common driver who’s barely capable of operating heavy machinery in perfect conditions?

    Where’s the ARLNow report on how this stretch of road has gotten 1,000x worse since the last time we called Arlington County on their BS?

  • SlipLane

    The removal of the slip lane on Arlington Ridge Road by the county is inexcusable. It has created a traffic nightmare and hazard and keeps the older citizens of the county trapped in their homes.

  • YWhine?

    People take Arlington’s services for granted. When I left California for Arlington over ten years ago, the roads back there had craters that could swallow whole cars – and that was before CA’s budget really tanked; I can only imagine what it’s like there now. By comparison, Arlington’s roads are pretty good. Municipal infrastructure will never be perfect, but Arlington does a good job of staying on top of things. If you want to see really bad roads, take a trip out West to any one of a dozen states; you’ll complain less about what we have here.

    • Deadite

      The difference is, those roads out west aren’t under the jurisdiction of one of the five wealthiest counties in America.

    • NIMBY The Chicken

      Yeah, and the flu is technically better than AIDS. Doesn’t make having the flu any better.

  • mickey_

    The worst roads in the world! How about that “repair” near Ballston Mall? What a joke…they have better DIRT roads in Bangladesh

  • parker

    7 exits within 12 miles on interstate-66 makes the hope of 50 mph travel nuts! Why not give the outer suburbs the advantage and close at least 3 of the exits. Arl would not miss those cars on our roads. Why aren’t those who work in Arl. coming via Metro or bus?

  • The Bible

    Is a C/C+ average “World Class”?

  • bobbytiger

    No problem with the road in front of Jay Fisette’s house. I know it’s just a coincidence, but it got repaved last year. Smooth as silk now.


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