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Work kicks off on major changes to Army Navy Drive through Pentagon City

Work to rebuild Army Navy Drive through Pentagon City and improve safety and transit along the corridor is officially underway.

This morning, Arlington County and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority ceremonially broke ground on the long-planned Army Navy Drive “Complete Street” Project, which is intended to make the current multi-lane expanse of Army Navy Drive between S. Joyce Street and 12th Street S. more friendly to pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.

The project includes shortened pedestrian crossings, dedicated transit lanes between S. Joyce Street and S. Hayes Street, planted medians, new traffic signals at five intersections, and in some places, narrowed or reduced vehicle travel lanes. There will be a protected, two-way bicycle lane along the south side of Army Navy Drive.

Work kicks off as the number of workers and residents in the area is projected to significantly increase in the coming years. Amazon is preparing to build the second phase of its HQ2 — known as PenPlace, and which includes the iconic “Helix” building — at the corner of Army Navy Drive and S. Eads Street, while continuing to hire toward its goal of 25,000 employees. Meanwhile, JBG Smith has filed plans to add 1,668 residential units to surface parking lots at the nearby RiverHouse complex.

For the next three weeks, road users will see signs of crews setting up for the Army Navy Drive project, like cones and a construction management trailer, says Mark Dennis, project manager for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. In mid-November, people will start to see demolition work.

“Both sides of the corridors will have markings and indicators that the entire area is a working construction zone,” Dennis told ARLnow. “There will be slight changes in traffic patterns to accommodate lane shifts that are needed.”

He said drivers will need to pay extra attention to navigate these changes.

“Complete Streets” project plan for portion of Army Navy Drive (via Arlington County)

Before scooping ceremonial dirt with gold-colored shovels, local and regional dignitaries celebrated the expected benefits of the project.

Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said the project will make Army Navy Drive safer for pedestrians and cyclists and more convenient for bus riders. It will also slow down drivers, improve air quality and reduce stormwater runoff, she said.

“It’s better for all of us because providing safe, accessible and multimodal transportation is a key part of the economic competitiveness of Pentagon City and Arlington overall,” said Cristol.

NVTA CEO Monica Backmon celebrated the project for “getting people out of their single-occupancy vehicles and giving people options.”

https://twitter.com/NVTAuthority/status/1584554450823544832

The transportation authority said in a press release that it has invested more than $227 million into transportation projects located in Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard, known collectively as National Landing.

National Landing Business Improvement District President and Executive Director Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a speech that the new amenities will attract more residents.

“Top talent prefers to be in locations with they have great public transit, where there is exceptional connectivity, where there are alternative transportation choices,” she said. “We are going to be the ideal location for top talent throughout our region.”

The project will connect to transit and road changes along Columbia Pike and the forthcoming pedestrian and cycling bridge over the Potomac River from Long Bridge Park. It will also add dedicated lanes for buses and bikes.

The addition of dedicated bus lanes along Army Navy Drive between S. Joyce Street and S. Hayes Street will extend the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway — a network of bus-only lanes between Arlington and the City of Alexandria — according to the Arlington County’s project webpage.

A two-way bicycle lane on the south side of Army Navy Drive will link a planned bicycle track from Army Navy Drive to a planned multi-use path along S. Bell Street that will eventually go to the Crystal City Metro station.

“This project connects these places and these activities in a very impactful way, making it better to walk, bike and transit,” said Arlington County Director of Transportation Dennis Leach. “If you’re driving, you’re going to be asked to drive slowly and be respectful of all those other users.”

Additionally, the project will establish a stronger connection between nearby businesses and Pentagon workers, officials said.

About 70% of Pentagon employees are in-person (as opposed to full-time remote work) and most are driving, a Pentagon spokesperson told ARLnow. The military complex and the adjacent neighborhood are bisected by I-395 and large parking lots for Pentagon workers, some of whom drive in from as far away as Richmond and the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, the spokesperson said.

The county website says construction on the Army Navy Drive Complete Street project is expected to wrap up in the summer of 2025, around the same time as PenPlace, the second phase of Amazon’s HQ2.

“Complete Streets” project plan for portion of Army Navy Drive (via Arlington County)

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