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A proposed bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians between Crystal City and the Southwest Waterfront area of D.C. has received $20 million in federal funding to move forward.

When complete, the 16-foot-wide shared-use path will connect Long Bridge Park and East and West Potomac parks via the Mount Vernon Trail.

On the Virginia side, the bridge will be located behind the Long Bridge Park Aquatics & Fitness Center (333 Long Bridge Drive), which opened last year. It will eventually provide a connection to the expanded and relocated Virginia Railway Express (VRE) station set to open in 2024.

Several local elected officials, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Christian Dorsey and Alexandria Vice-Mayor Amy Jackson, gathered this morning (Friday) at the aquatics center to hold an oversized $20 million check and celebrate the project, which could be completed by 2030.

“This is going to be a major gateway for Arlington that allows residents and visitors who walk, bike or roll to come to this beautiful facility and the environs around Long Bridge Park, but then be able to move on to Crystal City and National Landing and points beyond via the Mount Vernon Trail and the robust bicycle infrastructure that we are developing that will go all the way through to the City of Alexandria,” Dorsey said. “This helps meet Arlington and our region’s goals of moving more people with less automobile traffic. ”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) secured the funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which was included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Warner co-wrote.

“I am thrilled to announce this new funding for the Long Bridge Pedestrian Crossing project. This $20 million investment was made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law I was proud to help write and will help the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VRPA) complete a new span across the Potomac dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians,” Warner said in a statement. “This project is a key component of the broader effort to fix a major rail chokepoint and expand commuter and passenger service over the Potomac River.”

The shared-use bridge serves as environmental mitigation for the Long Bridge Project to add a two-track rail bridge next to the existing two-track 117-year-old Long Bridge, owned by the freight railroad company CSX Transportation. Once completed, the expanded railway is projected to bring an annual $6 billion in benefits to the region by 2040, according to a press release.

“We would never even be in the running [for funding for this project] if it weren’t for the infrastructure bill,” Warner told reporters after the event. “That’s got $58 billion additional dollars for passenger rail. We intend to make sure the District and Virginia get its share and it’s our hope the passenger rail bridge would open before the end of the decade.”

The goal of the $2 billion Long Bridge Project, discussions for which began in 2010, is to alleviate rail congestion on the existing Long Bridge. Annually, up to 1.3 million Amtrak passengers and 4.5 million VRE commuters traverse the bridge, in addition to CSX freight trains, according to a project website.

Officials say that the aging bridge is heavily utilized and frequently experiences bottlenecks, and — as if to prove their point — a freight train and an Amtrak train sped by within five minutes of each other during the media event.

Meanwhile, pedestrians and cyclists looking to cross the Potomac at this point have to navigate crossings shared with vehicles and maneuver a 10-foot-wide shared-use path on the 14th Street Bridge.

The lead agency on the project will be the VPRA, which the Virginia General Assembly created in 2020 to “promote, sustain and expand the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the Commonwealth,” said VPRA Executive Director DJ Stadtler.

While elected officials heralded the new pathway over the Potomac, pedestrians and bicyclists in attendance told ARLnow that the 16-foot bridge is still too narrow to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Stadtler told ARLnow that VPRA’s initial 10% complete designs proposed a 14-foot bridge, but in response to feedback, is widening it to 16 feet for the 30% complete designs. The agency has “considered all options” and has determined the current proposal is an appropriate width, he added.

There will be opportunities for the public to weigh in next spring.

During the event, Dorsey joked about the bridge width.

“What did you say, a 20-foot bridge?” he said, to cheers from cyclists in attendance.

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Morning Notes

Rainy day at Amazon’s under-construction HQ2 in Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Local Chef Now in Poland — “Bayou Bakery’s David Guas started the day the way he starts many days — before dawn with a table full of biscuit dough. This Friday morning, though, the New Orleans-native stood in a kitchen in Poland — far from his Arlington, Virginia, cafe… working with José Andrés’s organization World Central Kitchen (WCK). Guas is spending two weeks volunteering in Poland with WCK, cooking and packaging food for the tens of thousands streaming in from Ukraine.” [Eater]

Cars Collide Multiple Times on Bridge — From Dave Statter: “Caught on camera… this was a pretty wild #crash on the 14th Street Bridge (I-395N) at 2:15 this morning. Looked like bumper cars… You’ll see one car slowing down almost to a stop in VA b4 the bridge waiting for the 2nd car. Was this a #DragRace that went bad or #RoadRage or a little of both?” [Twitter]

Signs Up for New Target — The new Target store in the former Bed, Bath and Beyond space in Pentagon City is set to open on Sunday. New Target signs were just put up in advance of the opening. [Twitter]

Marine Corps Marathon Returns, Sells Out — “You’ve missed your chance if you haven’t already signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon this year.The 47th-annual running of the famous marathon will be held in person this year, the first time since 2019, and nearly 20,000 runners from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and 47 countries are now set to run in the event. ‘We are thrilled to announce that the 47th MCM is officially sold out…’ said Rick Nealis, director of Marine Corps Marathon Organization.” [Potomac Local]

APS Announces Staff Award Winners — “Each year, Arlington Public Schools recognizes the hard work and dedication of our staff through our Principal, Teacher and Support Employee of the Year awards… We will be honoring the winners at our Celebration of Excellence reception and ceremony on May 4, 2022, starting at 5 p.m. at Washington-Liberty High School.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Local Barber Shop Moving — Rosslyn Metro Barber Shop said via social media last month that it will be moving to Foggy Bottom from its location at 1700 N. Moore Street. [Facebook]

It’s Thursday — Chances of rain throughout the day, with storms expected in the afternoon and evening. Some storms may be severe. High of 70 and low of 55. Sunrise at 6:55 am and sunset at 7:32 pm. [Weather.gov]

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14th Street Bridge in 2001 (via Wikipedia Creative Commons)

Today (Jan. 13) is the 40th anniversary of Air Florida Flight 90 crashing into the 14th Street Bridge, a tragedy that killed 78 people.

It was a snowy January day in 1982, with a number of flights being delayed by the winter weather and National Airport even closing for a period of time. After a nearly two-hour delay, Air Florida Flight 90 took off right before 4 p.m., but after only getting 350 feet in the air, it came right down — a victim of pilot error and ice buildup.

The aircraft carrying 79 people crashed into the barrier wall of the northbound span of the 14th Street Bridge, between Arlington and D.C. It struck seven occupied vehicles and plunged into the icy Potomac River below.

The crash killed 78 people in all, including four people on the ground, with another nine people injured. Five people onboard the plane survived.

Arlington firefighters were among the first on scene, navigating treacherous road conditions and heavy traffic en route to assist with the rescue operation.

There were heroes, like Gene Windsor, Lenny Skutnik and Roger Olian, onlookers who jumped into the cold waters to save drowning passengers.

Arland D. Williams Jr. was a passenger himself who survived the initial crash and needed saving, but kept handing the rope to others to save themselves before him. By the time, a rescue helicopter came back to save that one last person, Williams, he had fallen into the Potomac and drowned.

He, too, was hailed as a hero by President Ronald Reagan. When the northbound span of the 14th Street Bridge was repaired and reopened in 1985, the bridge connecting D.C. to Arlington was renamed the “Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge” in his honor.

https://twitter.com/VaDOTNOVA/status/1481671866767007745

WTOP spoke recently with one of its reporters who was covering the story that day, Dave Statter. Rhetorically, Statter questioned if a crash of this magnitude and in such a public setting happened today, would there have been heroes of this nature?

“Would people be so focused on getting those images, and so detached, that we wouldn’t have a Lenny Skutnik or Roger Olian, jumping in the river, trying to save those passengers?” Statter asked.

Some good did come out of unspeakable tragedy. The National Transportation Safety Board determined the crash was likely caused by bad anti-icing practices and operations. This led to dramatic improvement in how airplanes are operated in cold and icy weather, including new and innovative technology used to de-ice planes.

In an almost-unbelievable cruel twist, another terrible accident happened in D.C. that day. Less than 30 minutes after the Flight 90 crash and only a few miles away, a Metro train derailed killing three people and injuring 25 more.

The two incidents shared the front page of the Washington Post the next morning.

The front page of the Washington Post Jan. 14, 1982 with the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 (Image via Washington Post)
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(Updated on 1/17/21) A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. across the Potomac River are closing due to presidential inauguration security measures.

Virginia State Police is working with the United States Secret Service to close Roosevelt Bridge, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, the I-395 Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge starting Tuesday morning through Thursday at 6 a.m., according to a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers.

The Arlington Memorial Bridge closed Friday night but then reopened, according to news reports. The HOV span of the 14th Street Bridge was set to close Saturday morning until Thursday, according to the Secret Service, but was open as of noon on Saturday.

Those closures would leave the Key Bridge in Rosslyn and the Chain Bridge from N. Glebe Road as the main routes from Arlington into the District for two days.

“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history. We worked together to push for a response that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far,” reads the lawmakers’ statement.

It was issued by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, and Jennifer Wexton.

“It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum,” the lawmakers added. “All of us want the transfer of power to be as peaceful as possible, and we thank all of the men and women in uniform helping to make this historic occasion safe.”

Additionally, Metro announced this afternoon that the Pentagon Metro station will be closed, and bus service there suspended, on Inauguration Day.

“Blue and Yellow Line trains will continue to operate but will pass through the station without stopping,” Metro said. “The Pentagon Transit Center, served by six Metrobus lines, will also be closed. Buses will be relocated instead to Pentagon City, on the east side of Hayes Street S. and 12th Street S. for the day.”

Arlington Cemetery station is also closing, along with a number of D.C. stations, starting today.

Virginia Railway Express trains, meanwhile, will not be running Monday through Wednesday, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and “enhanced security measures” related to the presidential inauguration.

Arlington County Police Department recently announced an “increased police presence” on Inauguration Day in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

While Arlington Acting Police Chief Andy Penn didn’t commit to any road closures in Arlington as of yet, he did say discussions are ongoing.

Much of D.C. will be shut down, though, including many roads and the National Mall.

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With former Vice President Joe Biden being named president-elect this morning by the Associated Press and others, celebrations in D.C. area leading to traffic on the 14th Street Bridge.

“Expect traffic delays around [northbound I-395] at the 14th Street Bridge due to street closures in DC around the White House,” said an Arlington Alert. The closures were prompted by impromptu celebrations around D.C., including large gatherings outside the White House.

Around Arlington — which voted for the Biden/Harris ticket over Trump/Pence by a margin of 81%-17% — horns honked and people cheered after the race was called.

https://twitter.com/trilly__vanilly/status/1325116257063084032

https://twitter.com/JulieMalear/status/1325122833253425155

A number of local officials have released statements about Biden’s presumptive electoral victory.

From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.):

I extend my warmest congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on their massive victory in the presidential election. Though it is taking time to count, they are on track for major wins in every region of the country, with more votes than any candidate in history. When he is sworn as Commander in Chief in on January 20th, 2021, Joe Biden will have a strong governing mandate.

I recognize that this election has shown we are a divided nation, but we also have grave challenges that require immediate action. The time has come for President Trump to accept his defeat, pass the torch, and ensure an orderly transition of government for the Biden Administration. He has a unique power in this situation to promote national unity and to spare the country further dangerous civil strife by following the example of every American President, beginning with George Washington: the peaceful transfer of power.

We have been bitterly divided, but what unites us – including love of country, the Constitution, and our democratic ideals – must be stronger. Inflammatory rhetoric which undermines Americans’ faith in their national elections threatens lasting harm to our society, and it must stop. The country must come first.

“Our nation faces serious threats, including the pandemic and the stalling economic recovery. At this time of crisis, all leaders regardless of party must come together to support the President-Elect. He must be given the support he needs to take the helm of government, including swift consideration and confirmation of his team, so that he can take the country forward. We have no time to lose – there is serious work to be done.”

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(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) A large group of demonstrators blocked the outbound 14th Street Bridge between D.C. and Arlington during the evening rush hour.

Protesters were sitting down across the main southbound bridge span, according to D.C. police, but then started marching towards Arlington. The group — said to number in the hundreds — previously marched from the area around the Jefferson Memorial, according to scanner traffic.

Arlington County fire department medics were dispatched to the bridge at the request of Virginia State Police for a report of a protester who is dehydrated.

Drivers should expect delays in the area, though the outbound HOV lanes remained open. Police are on scene monitoring the demonstration.

Public safety watchdog Dave Statter broadcast live video of the protest, which as of 4:35 p.m. appeared to be winding down. Demonstrators, holding signs and flags, could be seen marching back toward D.C. Lanes reopened at 4:50 p.m.

The protest is related to the persecution of an ethnic group in Ethiopia, according to social media posts. It does not appear to be associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Morning Notes

Advocates Pushing for Less Parking at HQ2 — “Amazon wants employees at its new Northern Virginia headquarters to commute car-free to work… So why does the development’s current design include an underground parking garage with nearly 2,000 spaces — guaranteeing that a significant chunk of Amazon’s workforce will drive to work?” [Greater Greater Washington]

Express Lanes Causing 14th Street Bridge Slowdown? — Some commuters have been taking to social media to gripe about what they say is heavier traffic caused by the I-395 Express Lanes: “This morning the express lanes made 395N regular lanes undriveable. The problem is they closed off the 14th street bridge hov to regular traffic, which is creating a tremendous clog point. Its now taking 30 mins just to cross the 14th street bridge.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Northam in Arlington Today — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is scheduled to attend the Governor’s Transportation Conference this morning at a hotel in Crystal City. [Cvent]

‘Feuerwehrmann’ Joins ACFD for Three Weeks — “Two Arlington County Fire Department crews had a unique opportunity recently when they welcomed a fellow firefighter from the Aachen Fire Department in Germany.  Lieutenant Sebastian Ganser, a firefighter, paramedic, and fire instructor in Arlington’s sister city of Aachen, Germany, spent three weeks with Station 5C in Crystal City and Station 2B in Ballston — living and working alongside Arlington’s firefighters and paramedics.” [Arlington County]

Long-Distance Runners Arriving in Arlington Soon — “Josh and Brian will be running roughly 500 miles from Massachusetts National Cemetery to Arlington National Cemetery in VA for your donations. This journey will take between 10-14 days averaging 40-50 miles per day. They will start on November 11th, 2019 (Veterans Day) and will only stop to eat and sleep until they make it to Arlington, VA.” [Mission 22]

Road Closures for Annual 5K — “The 5th annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson Memorial 5K Race will take place on Saturday, November 23, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will implement several road closures from approximately 8:00 AM until 11:00 AM to accommodate this event.” [Arlington County]

Planetarium Boosters to Stay Active During Closure — “The Arlington school system’s lone planetarium will be closed for about a year and a half starting later this month, as construction takes place turning the nearby Arlington Education Center building into classroom space. But leaders with the Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium say they will fill the gap with programming elsewhere during the closure.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Seven Corners Suspicious DeathUpdated at 10:25 a.m. — Fairfax County Police are investigating a “suspicious death” on the 6100 block of Arlington Blvd in Seven Corners, near the Arlington border. That block is home to the Willston Centre shopping center, a McDonald’s, a hotel and a number of commercial offices. [Twitter, Twitter]

What’s Up With the ‘Psychedelic Tower?’ — “You’ve probably seen the tower if you’ve ever driven across the 14th Street Bridge… It’s a hexagonal, granite structure that sits about a third of the way down the bridge, closer to the Virginia side. By day, it doesn’t look like much. But by night, its windows light up like a gigantic kaleidoscope.” [WAMU]

New Pike Library Remains a Goal — “Arlington government leaders haven’t given up their quest to add a new library branch on the western end of Columbia Pike. But unless an unbeatable opportunity presents itself, a new facility is not going to happen immediately.” [InsideNova]

Arts Cuts Highlighted in TV ReportProposed budget cuts to the county’s scene shop, costume shop and technical services provided to local theater companies “would really destroy the arts community,” advocates told NBC 4 in a segment that aired last night. [NBC Washington]

Nearby: Seven Corners Office Buildings Purchased — “BoundTrain Real Estate has purchased the two commercial office towers located at 6400 and 6402 Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church for more than $38 million. The two 13-story buildings in the Seven Corners commercial district include more than 410,000 square feet of commercial space.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) All lanes of the HOV span of the 14th Street Bridge are blocked by a serious crash.

Four vehicles are involved, one person is trapped in their vehicle and four people are injured, D.C. Fire and EMS said via Twitter. Of the four injuries, one is considered serious while the other three are considered minor.

Firefighters are currently working to free the person trapped in a vehicle.

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The U.S. Coast Guard vessels will be on the Potomac River near Arlington this afternoon for a tactics training session.

The exercise will take place from approximately 3:30-7:30 p.m. today (Wednesday) between Memorial Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge. During the exercise, crews will simulate a secure zone around a valuable asset.

No live fire or blanks will be used, though anyone on the water at that time should be extra vigilant.

More from the U.S. Coast Guard:

On Wednesday, 06 DEC 2017, Coast Guard Station Washington will be conducting boat tactics training from approximately 1530 to 1930. Location for this training will be the Upper Potomac River between Arlington Memorial Bridge and 14th St. Bridge. We will be using orange Coast Guard boats, with flashing blue lights, simulating a security zone around a high value asset. There will be no live fire or blanks used during this training; this is only a tactics and maneuvering drill. There will be a broadcast to notify mariners to exercise caution in the area for the duration of the exercise.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Crash on 14th Street Bridge 11/21/14Traffic on NB I-395 is slow past the Arlington Ridge Road bridge due to a crash on the 14th Street Bridge.

All but one inbound lane is closed on the bridge due to the wreck, which occurred just before 4:00 p.m.

D.C. police are handling the incident. The department’s Twitter account said there’s no estimated time for when all lanes will reopen.

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