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Memorial Bridge Construction Creates Big Headaches for Monday Morning Commuters

Major construction work on the Arlington Memorial Bridge kicked off late last night (Sunday), snarling traffic for thousands of commuters headed into D.C. this morning.

Traffic cameras and maps showed heavy backups along both I-395 and Washington Blvd approaching the bridge for the morning rush hour. Other nearby roads, like the G.W. Parkway and Arlington Blvd, also saw heavy delays, no doubt worsened by the morning’s dreary conditions.

The National Park Service has closed three of the bridge’s six lanes to allow for the $227 million rehab project, which planners say is needed to avoid a full shutdown of the bridge in the coming years.

The NPS plans to keep one eastbound lane and one westbound lane open at all times, then reverse one lane to match the direction of traffic in the morning and afternoon rush hours. One of the bridge’s sidewalks will also be closed at all times as the work continues.

AAA is warning commuters to avoid the bridge if at all possible between now and the expected end of construction in 2021, reasoning that the delays for the 24.8 million vehicles to cross the bridge each year are too substantial to be ignored.

“If possible, avoid the Arlington Memorial Bridge altogether. Seek alternate routes and try other modes of transportation, if you can, while construction is underway,” John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, wrote in a statement. “Plan your trips across and around the Memorial Bridge. If you must use the bridge, do the right thing, drive carefully and slowly through the construction site, watch for construction workers, expect changing travel patterns and possible delays, exercise extreme caution, and minimize distractions.”

The NPS has details about the bridge’s new traffic pattern, and suggestions for commuters looking to avoid the bridge, available on its website.

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DCA Construction Shuts Down Cell Phone Waiting Lot for Arrival Pick-Ups

The lengthy construction work at Reagan National Airport has now shut down the cell phone waiting lot for drivers picking up arrivals, with rolling lane closures in place as part of the latest headache for travelers.

The cell phone lot shut down Monday (Oct. 8) to clear the way for the construction work, and will be closed indefinitely, airport officials announced last week. As a concession, drivers will now be able to park for free for up to an hour in any of the airport’s three terminal parking garages.

Segments of lanes along the upper-level Terminal B/C ticketing road will also be shut down 24 hours-per-day through mid-November. Officials plan to maintain at least two travel lanes at all times.

These latest closures have also forced Reagan to change the pick-up locations for shuttle buses at Terminals B/C. Anyone arriving at gates 10 through 45 should head upstairs to ticketing on level three, then look for the new stops near the JetBlue/Alaska Air entrance. Pick-up spots for taxis and rideshare drivers won’t be impacted by the work.

Over the past few months, the construction has irked taxi drivers at the airport, who claim that Reagan officials have poorly managed the construction to give preference to Uber and Lyft drivers and hurt their business.

Neighbors have complained about the work as well, after the airport set aside a staging lot for rideshare drivers that snarled traffic in the area — Arlington officials ultimately agreed to re-open an exit to a street adjacent to the lot in a bid to address the issue.

Airport leaders expect that work on the construction, dubbed “Project Journey” and primarily designed to replace the three security checkpoints at Terminal B/C with two new buildings, will run through 2021. However, they plan to wrap up most of the work on the arrival lanes by the middle of next year, when construction will focus on the airport’s interior.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Medical Emergency Shuts Down Two Lanes of SB I-395

Two left-hand lanes of southbound I-395 are blocked due to a driver suffering a medical emergency.

The incident happened on the main line of the highway between Arlington Ridge Road and S. Glebe Road, around 2:15 p.m.

More via Twitter:

Update at 3 p.m. — Lanes have reopened.

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Carlin Springs Road Bridge Halfway Built, More Road Closures Set for This Weekend

The Carlin Springs Road Bridge construction has passed the halfway point, and some more road closures are on the way as work wraps up.

The southern half of the replacement bridge is now in use with one lane of traffic open in each direction. Pedestrians are directed to use the walkway on the southern side of the bridge.

Work has begun on rehabilitating the north side of the bridge. Starting tomorrow (Saturday), the contractor is scheduled to install steel beams to allow construction on the remainder of the new bridge deck. During this time, N. George Mason Drive will be closed where it passes under the bridge.

The current traffic pattern will remain in place until the rest of the bridge deck is completed. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2019.

Meanwhile, the new sanitary sewer main at the N. Carlin Springs Road and N. Abington Street intersection has been completed. Street pavement and other restoration work is expected to be completed by late fall 2018.

The original Carlin Springs Road Bridge was demolished in December 2017 after it was found to be substantially deteriorated. The new bridge will feature wider sidewalks, bike lanes, and four vehicle travel lanes.

Photo via Arlington Department of Environmental Services

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Lane of Wilson Blvd Blocked for Sinkhole Repair

The left-hand lane of westbound Wilson Blvd is blocked at N. Nelson Street in Virginia Square due to a sinkhole in the roadway.

The sinkhole is relatively shallow, but large enough to cause concern of it deepening. Crews were on scene as of 10:30 a.m., investigating the cause of the roadway indentation.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services encourages residents to report potholes and other road issues on its website.

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Crash Closes Lanes on SB I-395

A crash on southbound I-395 near Arlington Ridge Road temporarily closed the highway.

The crash happened in the usual rainy weather spot — as traffic rounds a curve en route to the Glebe Road and Shirlington exits. All southbound lanes were closed for a period of time, but three lanes have since reopened, with the crash moved over to the right-hand side.

Separately, a crash has been reported on the northbound GW Parkway near Key Bridge and is currently causing “traffic issues,” according to scanner traffic.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Vehicle Overturns in Crash on Army Navy Drive

At the height of the evening rush hour, only one lane of westbound Army Navy Drive is open at S. Fern Street due to a two-vehicle crash.

The crash happened at the intersection shortly after 6 p.m. An SUV involved in the crash overturned as a result of the impact. Another vehicle suffered heavy front-end damage.

The occupants of the vehicle were able to get out on their own power and no one has been transported to the hospital.

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Lane Conversion and Speed Decrease May Be Coming to Crystal Drive

If approved at tomorrow’s (Saturday) County Board meeting, a portion of one of Crystal City’s thoroughfares will receive a substantial upgrade and a speed limit downgrade.

Crystal Drive is currently a one-way street between 26th and 27th streets, but as part of an ongoing conversion project it will be turned into a two-lane roadway. The project will also add a right turn lane at the northbound intersection of Crystal Drive and 26th Street S., a left turn lane at the westbound intersection of Crystal Drive and 27th Street S., and bike lanes and sidewalk improvements.

The two-lane expansion in other sections of Crystal Drive occurred in 2013. The two-lane conversion between 26th and 27th Streets S. will be the third and final phase of the street’s conversion to an almost entirely two-way road.

At tomorrow’s meeting, the County Board will vote on a contract for the $1.2 million project.

At the same meeting, the Board will also vote on whether to authorize a public hearing on lowering the speed limit along Crystal Drive from 30 to 25 mph.

The county’s Transportation Master Plan recommends 25 mph as the standard speed limit on arterial streets in Arlington’s downtown districts where there are high volumes of pedestrians and high density land development. A study of the local traffic was conducted at the request of the Crystal City Business Improvement District and determined that Crystal Drive qualified for a speed limit reduction.

If approved, the speed limit reduction will be considered at the Board’s Oct. 20 meeting.

Photo and map via Arlington County

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Paving Kicks Off on Clarendon Blvd, As Courthouse Intersection Work Wraps Up

Work is wrapping up on improvements to one of Courthouse’s trickiest intersections, with some night paving set to close a few streets this week.

The county is putting the finishing touches on some changes to sidewalks and bus stops around the intersection of Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards, near the Courthouse Metro station. Starting last night (Tuesday), workers began paving the area and the county expects the work to last through Friday (Sept. 7).

Arlington officials are advising drivers to avoid the area where Clarendon Blvd meets N. Veitch Street and 15th Street N. during the paving, set to run from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. through the rest of the week.

Workers permanently closed the lane turning from Clarendon Blvd. to 15th Street N. in March, and have spent the ensuing months widening the sidewalks in the area and adding a new bus stop to accommodate additional Arlington Transit service in the area. The county hopes the project “will improve pedestrian safety, circulation and access in and around Courthouse Plaza,” per its website.

Construction was originally set to wrap up sometime this winter, but the county says it’s now “nearing completion, ahead of schedule.”

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Commuter Incentives Suspended for APS Employees

(Updated at 10 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools is indefinitely suspending its incentive program to push employees out of their cars, after the effort proved to be a bit too successful — and expensive.

The school system’s Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Commuter Program provides stipends to employees for turning to public transit, walking, bicycling, carpooling and other options to limit the number of cars going to and from schools.

It was budgeted for $222,600 last year, but School Board spokeswoman Linda Erdos said actual expenses were over $389,000. While the difference was covered in last year’s budget, Erdos said the budget for the program remained the same for FY 2019 without the same flexibility.

“No one wanted to make any changes, but we also had to find a way to reduce the growing deficit,” said Erdos in an email. “Carpoolers and transit users also receive stipends, and staff believed that maintaining those programs was important because it immediately reduces an employee’s direct costs for commuting (fares, toll fees and fuel) and keeps the number of cars in school parking lots lower.”

Erdos said the school system looked at reducing the stipend for walkers and bicyclists, but were still left with a $50,000 deficit.

At last Thursday’s School Board meeting (Aug. 30), Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations John Chadwick stated that part of the reason the bicyclists’ and pedestrians’ incentives were targeted was because the data showed they’d be more likely to continue using those methods to get to school.

“Looking at numbers and usage, those members of staff who used to bike and walk would be most likely to continue using walking and biking to school,” said Chadwick. “If we applied the benefit to users of the carpool, we would likely get more people returning to single use cars and have more cars around our schools, more congestion, which causes safety concerns and issues of air quality. Faced with a difficult decision, we determined it would be most useful to suspend bike [and] walk benefits.”

Teachers at the Aug. 30 meeting said they dismayed by the decision.

“Two years ago, the incentive program helped me change my habits,” said Aaron Schuetz, a physics teacher at Yorktown High School. “Now, biking to work is my primary mode of transportation… [it was] disappointing to get email that it was cancelled.”

The suspension of the motor-free benefits was effective Sept. 1, which some teachers noted was an abrupt change.

“I was surprised to see benefits eliminated with three days notice,” said Jeffrey Bunting, an english teacher at Yorktown High School. “I found the process maybe a little cynical how it was eliminated… I fully agree there are probably improvements that can be done, but I encourage the Board and Mr. Chadwick not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Erdos said the Office of Multimodal Transportation Planning in the Department of Facilities & Operations will continue to work on reorganizing the program and will release more information later this year about the changes.

Photo via Arlington Public Schools

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TRAFFIC ALERT: I-395 Ramp Blocked Due to Crash With Overturned Vehicle

(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) The ramp from northbound I-395 to the northbound GW Parkway, just prior to the 14th Street Bridge, is blocked due to a crash.

Initial reports suggest the crash involves an overturned vehicle. Police and firefighters are on the scene.

No word yet on injuries.

Several lanes of northbound I-395 are also closed due to the emergency activity. Traffic on I-395 is heavy approaching the bridge and the crash.

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More Memorial Bridge Lane Closures Possible in Coming Days

Prep work for major construction on the Memorial Bridge is prompting some lane closures and other travel disruptions in the area over the next few days.

Workers are planning to set up “staging areas” just south of Memorial Circle to prepare for a full rehab effort on the bridge later this fall, which will include a full weekend shutdown of the bridge in mid-September.

That means drivers in the area can expect “temporary lane closures as trucks deliver material there,” largely during the day. The closures could also impact the Mount Vernon Trail, with the National Park Service warning that the trail likely won’t close entirely but “users may have to wait while workers move material over it.”

The NPS recently had to schedule overnight lane closures on the G.W. Parkway and Washington Blvd to pave roads leading up to the stage area, but it expects that today (Friday) was the last day of those disruptions.

Labor Day should also mark the end of work on the Windy Run Bridge along the G.W. Parkway. Workers are hoping to do away with the lane closures and shifts that have marked that section of the parkway for the last few weeks sometime after the holiday.

Photo via National Park Service

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Construction Underway on Old Dominion Sidewalk Completion

Construction is underway on an extension of the sidewalk along the south side of Old Dominion Drive to connect the Cherrydale Firehouse to N. Thomas Street.

Along with the new sidewalk, a series of storm drainage improvements are being constructed.

Construction will close the curbside travel lane along the eastbound Old Dominion Drive during work hours; Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until 2 p.m. on Fridays.

Undergrounding of the utilities was completed in June. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2019.

Photos via Arlington County

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Car Overturned on I-395

A vehicle overturned in the southbound HOV lanes of I-395 during Tuesday’s evening rush hour.

The crash was reported shortly before 6:45 p.m. near Shirlington. It left one vehicle on its side, completely blocking the HOV lanes.

The driver of the vehicle was reportedly able to get out and was not seriously injured. Traffic is being diverted onto Shirlington Circle.

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Overnight Eastbound I-66 Closures Start Sunday

Starting Sunday (Aug. 26), I-66 will be hit with overnight lane closures. Over the next two months, lane closures will occur between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. on the eastbound lanes.

The first lane closures will close the outside lane to allow crews to strengthen and repave the shoulder. Once this work is completed, the lanes will shift to allow crews to work on widening the median. 

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) warned that late-night travellers to expect delays and urged drivers to use caution near road work.

The repairs are part of the broader I-66 Eastbound Widening Project expected to add a new lane along four miles of I-66 by fall 2020.

The project comes with several local improvements, including new sound barriers, a new bridge over Lee Highway for the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, and constructing a new direct access ramp from I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro Station.

File photo

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