(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) After two years of construction, the Arlington Memorial Bridge is completely open for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
The 90-year-old bridge, which connects Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial, was renovated to save it from potentially closing for good in 2021. The $227 million rehabilitation project, one of the largest infrastructure projects in National Park Service history, will give the bridge another 75 years of service, officials said on Friday.
According to NPS, although the bridge is officially open, workers will continue putting final touches on the bridge and the Memorial Circle, replanting staging areas, completing small projects on the deck and installing bird netting.
In addition to the heavy infrastructure work on the bridge, a key Potomac River crossing, NPS repaved, improved crossings, added new signs and made the area easier and safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate, officials said.
Local members of Congress — including Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Reps. Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton — pushed for funding the project, after the discovery of corrosion led officials to close outer lanes and impose a weight limit.
In a joint statement issued Friday, the lawmakers said they worked to save the bridge because a closure would hurt their constituents.
“Memorial Bridge is now fully operational, and stands not only as a historic and functional monument, but also as a symbol of the kind of progress that is possible on rebuilding key transportation infrastructure through smart government investment,” they said in a statement.
Warner added that the project’s funding only came together as a result of a long-running, concerted effort among lawmakers and local officials.
“In 2015, we were warned that Memorial Bridge — a critical artery between Virginia and the nation’s capital — was literally falling apart,” said Sen. Warner. “Today’s reopening is a testament to years of work by the region’s congressional delegation, our local partners, and the National Park Service. Commuters can now rest easy knowing that this nearly 90-year-old landmark will carry them safely over the Potomac for years to come.”
The completed project preserves a national memorial to the sacrifices of veterans, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt said.
“The completion of this project marks one of the largest infrastructure projects in National Park Service history, which was done on time and on budget,” Bernhardt said. “I hope that all Americans are brought together to remember and honor our veterans every time they cross this bridge into the capital of our nation.”
Flickr pool photo (top) by Kevin Wolf, photo (bottom) courtesy of Office of Sen. Mark Warner