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Mountains of Dirt Next to Rt. 50 ‘Aren’t Going Anywhere’

by Ethan Rothstein February 4, 2015 at 11:30 am 5,111 0

The two large mounds of dirt at the Route 50-Washington Blvd interchange “aren’t going anywhere,” the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

Ellen Vogel, VDOT’s district landscape architect, told the Arlington Civic Federation last night at its monthly meeting that the twin mounds of dirt are too expensive to move.

The mounds are made up of construction debris covered in 4 feet of soil at the minimum. The debris is from the recently completed Route 50-Courthouse Road-10th Street N. interchange project. As for why the mounds never appeared in the plans for the interchange — and residents weren’t told the mounds were to become their new neighbors — Vogel said “nobody knew about it except for the construction folks on site.”

“They cost millions of dollars to move,” she said. VDOT tried to find a suitable location to dump the debris in Maryland but “they didn’t want it.”

With a dearth of landfills accepting that much dirt and debris in Northern Virginia, there are no viable options to transport the mounds, we’re told. It will stay where it is, next to the ramps from Washington Blvd to westbound Route 50 and from eastbound Route 50 to northbound Washington Blvd.

“I guess we have a new mountain in Arlington,” one Civic Federation member said. Many of the dozens in attendance laughed at Vogel’s honest answers about the new mountains’ origins and future. Some expressed concerned over environmental hazards, which Vogel dismissed.

“Most of it is fill dirt and concrete from the bridge,” Vogel said. “There are no toxins, it’s all inert material. It’s unsuitable for road construction, but it’s not unsuitable to plant in.”

The two mounds take up almost 100,000 square feet of surface area between them, and, starting in the spring, VDOT is committing to planting hundreds of trees on the site, including 24 red maples, 47 scarlet oaks and 52 Jefferson elms.

Vogel said there would be no such mounds around the under-construction Washington Blvd bridge over Columbia Pike, another VDOT project. Most of the major excavation work has been done, she said, so there’s no dirt to be piled.

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