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I-395 and I-66 Projects Causing Contractor Shortages, Higher Costs

A proposed streetscape improvement project has revealed rising construction costs in Arlington County due to ongoing work to add new lanes to I-66 and I-395 — and associated projects.

“We believe the shortage of qualified contractors resulting from the abundance of work generated by the I-66 & I-395 Express Lanes projects is contributing to the higher than expected bid prices,” according to a county staff report.

The project in question — which “will reconstruct curbs and sidewalks to install [Americans With Disabilities Act] compliant curb ramps and sidewalk areas,” mostly along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor — will be considered by the Arlington County Board at its Saturday (June 15) meeting.

The county selected Fort Meyer Construction Corporation, which submitted the lowest bid for the project at $718,580.97.

“We have observed a high volume of construction in the region because of many projects, including major ones such as the I-66 and I-395 Express Lanes, and this work is distributed over a limited number of qualified contractors,” Ramzi Awwad, the engineering bureau chief at the Department of Environmental Services, told ARLnow today (Thursday).

“Contractors have indicated they are paying more to compete for qualified laborers, and we have observed less competition in the form of lower numbers of bidders for some projects,” Awwad said. “The result is higher than expected costs in comparison to estimates.”

He added that this trend has affected other recent projects, especially in the last six months.

VDOT does not provide funding to offset the rising construction costs in Arlington, according to Awwad.

On Saturday, the Board will vote to accept Fort Meyer’s bid and could approve an additional $107,787 for the project in case costs rise further.

For now, the pedestrian proposal is still within the $2.02 million budget set for the two-phase project.

The pedestrian project aims to make eight areas in Rosslyn and Ballston ADA compliant by extending curbs, widening sidewalks, repainting crosswalks, and building new curb ramps. One of the sites is the intersection of 36th Street N. and N. Kensington Street, which aims to make students walking to Discovery Elementary School safer.

The seven other intersections slated for improvements are:

  • N. Nelson Street & 9th Street N.
  • Washington Blvd & N. Nelson Street
  • Washington Blvd & Jackson Street N.
  • Washington Blvd & 9th Street N.
  • Clarendon Blvd & N. Barton Street
  • Wilson Blvd & N. Barton Street
  • N. Troy Street & 14th Street N.

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_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._

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Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.

Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.

About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.

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