Fast forward to today and two of the bridges that suffered the worst damage in the July 2019 storm — at Glencarlyn and Lubber Run parks — are set be replaced over the next year, and should be ready by the summer and fall of 2022, respectively.
The work is a long time in coming for cyclists and the Bicycle Advisory Committee, which has been asking for regular updates since the flooding. Cycling advocate and former BAC President Gillian Burgess said while roads were quickly repaired for travel, cyclists missing the Glencarlyn bridge have spent the last two years taking long detours or wading through shallow portions of Four Mile Run to reach the other side.
“It’s still not clear to me why all these steps take so much longer for a pedestrian bridge than they would for a street,” Burgess said. She added that of all the bridges destroyed, the Glencarlyn bridge near 301 S. Harrison Street “is by far the most important bridge for connectivity.”
That’s because the bridge provides the most direct access to the Long Branch Nature Center from the W&OD Trail, she said. It also provides cyclists a crossing to get to the Lubber Run trails to the north.
A parks department spokeswoman said the county prioritizes projects based on factors like use and need.
“The County repairs and replaces pedestrian bridges within its park system using a systematic approach, strategically repairing or replacing the most heavily used or most heavily deteriorated bridges until the point is reached that all bridges are in good repair,” Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said.
According to Burgess, the department has cited finding funding and navigating the permitting and review processes as sources of delays between 2019 and 2021.
Kalish said progress is being made on two bridges, funding for which was included in the county’s 2022-2024 Capital Improvement Plan.
“The County is currently designing a new bridge to replace the one damaged near the dog park at Glencarlyn Park,” she said. The new bridge, in the same location as the last bridge, should be completed by summer 2022, she said.
For now, conditions are sub-optimal for trail users, Burgess said. The current detour adds about 20-30 minutes to those on foot. For cyclists, the problem with the detour is not necessarily the added time, but the fact that it’s along a trail that is badly paved with steep sections.
Most cyclists opt to descend into the stream and wade across at one of two fords to the north and south of the bridge. To the north, cyclists ascend near picnic shelters, where the trail is sometimes blocked by park cars. But the biggest problem for crossing via the north or south ford is the terrain.
“It’s a steep hill down and a steep hill up,” Burgess said. As for the trail itself, she said, “I don’t bike with kids on it. When I’m by myself, I worry about the bike not making it because of the blind curves and lots of hills.”
Cyclist and nearby resident Amanda Lowenberger said that for her and her family, “this is nothing more than a daily inconvenience, but one we can afford.”
She said she doesn’t mind occasionally wading through the stream but would like the bridge re-built soon.
“I do volunteer stream water monitoring for the county, and I have a 9-year-old who likes to splash around in the water, so I end up in the stream on a regular basis,” she said. “But still, it would be great to have that bridge as an option again.”
Update at 3:25 p.m. — The closure has been extended due to flooding at the construction site.
All lanes of N. Glebe Road between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road, in the northern tip of Arlington, will be closed for construction starting Friday.
The nine-day closure is the culmination of the $10 million rehabilitation project for the nearly 50-year-old bridge over Pimmit Run, just before Chain Bridge. Between Friday, Aug. 13 and Monday, Aug. 23, crews will work to replace the entire bridge deck and its underlying beams.
A winding detour around the closure, through parts of Arlington and McLean, will be put in place. Pedestrians and cyclists hoping to cross Pimmit Run will have an on-demand shuttle available to them during the closure, according to the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.
More from a VDOT press release:
North Glebe Road (Route 120) between Military Road and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) will be closed to traffic for about nine days beginning Friday night, Aug. 13 to efficiently replace the entire bridge deck and beams over Pimmit Run, just west of Route 123, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
North Glebe Road will close at 10 p.m. Aug. 13 and is scheduled to reopen to traffic by 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 23.
Vehicle traffic will be detoured via Route 123, Kirby Road (Route 695) and Chesterbrook Road (Route 689) back to North Glebe Road.
To help pedestrians get around the closure, a free shuttle for up to 12 passengers will be available Saturday, Aug. 14 through Sunday, Aug. 22 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Signs and posters with a phone number (240-300-3264) and shuttle information will be posted at both ends of the bridge over Pimmit Run, with the shuttle provided within ten minutes of a call (if needed, a free accessible shuttle will be provided within 30 minutes of a call). Each shuttle ride will last approximately five minutes.
The portion of the Potomac Heritage Trail under the Pimmit Run bridge will remain open, with trail access controlled by flaggers when needed.
Construction began in April on the overall project to rehabilitate North Glebe Road over Pimmit Run, which was originally built in 1973 and currently carries about 13,000 vehicles a day. The work includes improvements that will extend the overall life of the bridge and improve safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. They include:
- Replacing bridge beams, deck and barriers
- Repairing, waterproofing and providing corrosion protection to abutments and piers
- Replacing barriers and railings along bicycle and pedestrian connection to trails
- Upgrading guardrails and drainage
The $9.9 million project is financed with federal and state funds, including State of Good Repair funding used for bridges. The project is scheduled for completion this fall.
Learn more about the project at www.virginiadot.org/glebeoverpimmit.
And Arlington County Board Member Christian Dorsey, who sits on the regional board, was one of the leaders who flipped his vote from a ‘no’ to a ‘yes.’
Dorsey appeared on WAMU’s The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi on Friday to talk about why he flipped his vote. Dorsey also explained the powers and limitations of the newly created Community Oversight Board, which provides oversight over the conduct of officers in the Arlington County Police Department.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature project would add two high-occupancy toll lanes in each direction to part of its Beltway and lower I-270. The toll system would connect with Northern Virginia’s toll lanes on I-495 and 395.
Supporters say the project will relieve intense bottleneck, but in June, Dorsey said it was “not ready for prime time,” according to the show. In the interim month, the project was revised and Hogan’s team reportedly spent significant time lobbying those who voted ‘no.’ The board voted 28-10 in favor of the project.
Dorsey said his vote hinged on funding for public transit, as lower congestion could encourage more single-occupancy vehicle traffic. He denied being contacted by Hogan’s office, but said he was contacted by “targeted campaigns.”
“What was missing was a commitment to provide the funding to make sure locally-developed transit solutions could be developed, and could be constructed and operated in the long term,” he said.
The project now includes state funding to design bus lanes for the expanded highway, in addition to $300 million in private funding for transit projects. Dorsey said the revised project also outlines timelines and efforts for transit projects, he said.
“There was significant progress — at least enough progress for me to move it along in the regional planning process,” Dorsey said.
The Maryland Board of Public Works is set to vote on the project later this summer, according to the show.
Dorsey also clarified the roles of the Community Oversight Board, which has investigative and subpoena power. The board will have an independent policing auditor who can conduct an investigation alongside one being conducted internally by ACPD.
“If for some reason in that concurrent [model], which we think is artfully designed, records are withheld, it has ability to get them via subpoena,” he said. “We hope it’s rarely used, as that means the concurrent model not working.”
(The Arlington branch of the NAACP has criticized the County Board for not granting the oversight board the full powers recently granted by the state legislature.)
Since County Manager Mark Schwartz hires staff, including police officers, a Community Oversight Board with county staff would not be effectively independent, Dorsey said. The solution was to create an independent policing auditor who is accountable to the oversight board and who ensures investigations take place.
The Board voted against a provision setting aside three seats on the oversight board for people of color or people from marginalized groups.
“This is not about saying there shouldn’t be three people of color on the board, but that we shouldn’t send a signal that three is somehow an acceptable minimum,” Dorsey said. “Most [members] should be people of color, from my perspective.”
Dorsey said he does not deny that ACPD has had occasional issues worthy of scrutiny, but “overall, we’ve had a professional and effective and trustworthy police department.”
Arlington Getting Hipper Restaurants? — “Clarkson said the Clarendon-Courthouse area is drawing some bar and restaurant operators from the District who previously haven’t had any locations in Virginia. He said he has seen this type of interest as his team has begun to lease the 17,500 SF of retail in the Landmark Block project. ‘You’re starting to see good retail from D.C., Shaw-type retailers, plant flags in the R-B corridor in Clarendon,’ Clarkson said. ‘Folks I never thought would consider the R-B corridor are now interested… Hopefully there will be some names that haven’t necessarily been seen in Virginia yet, especially on the [food and beverage] and bar side.'” [Bisnow]
Committee Critiques HQ2 Phase 2 Plan — “‘I am still seeing three — on the bulky side, seems to me from the rendering I’ve seen – office buildings at 22 stories high,’ Siegel said. ‘I think the community — certainly, speaking for myself — had hoped for more of a varied skyline.’ James Schroll, the committee chair, said he agreed with Siegel’s concerns. ‘While we appreciate the modifications, I don’t think they achieve what folks were after in our last discussion,’ he said.” [Washington Business Journal]
Environmental Review for ‘CC2DCA’ Bridge — “Arlington County, in coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), has initiated a study to explore the possibility of providing a multimodal connection between Crystal City and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). An online community meeting on July 15 will serve as the public kick-off for the study, which is anticipated to take approximately three years to complete.” [Arlington County]
Va. Lauded for Business Climate — “A year of pandemic and social reckoning has changed the nation in countless ways. But one thing has stayed the same: America’s Top State for Business is Virginia. The Old Dominion captures top honors in CNBC’s 2021 competitiveness rankings, just as it did in the previous study published in 2019. It is Virginia’s fifth win since the study began in 2007, more than any other state.” [CNBC]
If you’re heading to or from Chain Bridge on N. Glebe Road today or tomorrow, expect delays.
VDOT’s ongoing rehabilitation work on the Pimmit Run bridge — west of Chain Bridge and Chain Bridge Road — is prompting lane closures from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Flaggers will alternate the traffic flow between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road during that time, likely causing delays.
Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians will all be “under flagging direction,” the state transportation agency noted.
The bridge work is expected to wrap up this fall.
More from a VDOT press release:
North Glebe Road (Route 120) between Military Road and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) will have single-lane closures, weather permitting, Wednesday, June 23 and Thursday, June 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day to place temporary support beams on the bridge over Pimmit Run as part of the North Glebe Road over Pimmit Run bridge rehabilitation project, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
North Glebe Road will have one lane of alternating traffic via flagging along the bridge over Pimmit Run. The traffic signal at North Glebe Road and Route 123 will be turned off during the work and traffic will be controlled via flagging through the intersection. Also under flagging direction will be pedestrians and bicyclists using the path along the bridge over Pimmit Run, and pedestrians using the Potomac Heritage Trail under the bridge.
Drivers should expect delays and are advised to use alternate routes.
The work is part of the North Glebe Road over Pimmit Run bridge rehabilitation project that includes:
- Replacing bridge beams, deck and barriers
- Repairing, waterproofing and providing corrosion protection to abutments and piers
- Replacing barriers and railings along bicycle and pedestrian connection to trails
- Upgrading guardrails and drainage
The project is scheduled for completion this fall.
Photo (3) via Google Maps
Cherry Trees Planted in Pentagon City — “We are so excited to be celebrating with @CherryBlossFest and @amazon the planting of 12 Japanese Cherry Trees in #NationalLanding! Thank you for these beautiful new additions to the area!” [Twitter]
Renderings of Possible DCA Bridge — “JBG Smith Properties isn’t waiting to envision the future. In a video released to investors this month, the company showed off some 3D renderings of what a pedestrian bridge could look like, complete with some features that have not yet been showcased publicly for the project. There’s a small set of amphitheater-like steps for lounging on the bridge, for instance, plus some futuristic-looking coverings for people walking along the structure. There even appear to be bike lanes and greenery pictured at points along the bridge.” [Washington Business Journal, Vimeo]
Arrests in Malicious Wounding Case — “Officers located the vehicle the suspects were traveling in and conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of eastbound Route 50 and N. Courthouse Road… Inside the vehicle, officers recovered three loaded firearms including a black handgun with extended magazine, AR-15 style rifle and a shotgun.” [ACPD]
County 911 Center Administrator Honored — “The Virginia Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (VA APCO) has honored Arlington’s Emergency Communications Center (ECC) Deputy Administrator Jeffrey Horwitz with its Public-Safety Communications Information Technologist of the Year award.” [Arlington County]
Feds May Permanently Expand Telework — “As the Biden administration contemplates how to return the massive federal workforce to the office, government officials are moving to make a pandemic experiment permanent by allowing more employees than ever to work from home — a sweeping cultural change that would have been unthinkable a year ago.” [Washington Post, Washingtonian]
Virtual Chamber Ensemble Performance — “The National Chamber Ensemble will present a virtual performance of Vivaldi’s masterpiece The Four Seasons on May 29, 2021. The 2020-21 NCE season has been keeping the audience and artists safe as well as connected. Each concert is paired with a live virtual event/conversation with the artists. Taped May 22, the concert links will go out on May 29.” [Event Calendar]
Local Teacher Finalist in TV Contest — From Stacey Finkel, Kenmore Middle School PTA President: “Eurith Bowen, Functional Life Skills teacher at Kenmore Middle School, has been named a finalist for LIVE with Kelly and Ryan’s Top Teacher search. Eurith Bowen is a phenomenal educator who teaches from her heart, and has inspired an entire community to embrace students in a very special way. Eurith teaches students who are identified as having disabilities.” [Live with Kelly and Ryan]
Bridge Repair Work Underway — “Work is underway to rehabilitate the North Glebe Road (Route 120) bridge over Pimmit Run, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation… This summer, North Glebe Road between Military Road and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) will be closed for about nine days to efficiently replace the bridge deck and beams.” [VDOT]
Most Choosing In-Person Learning in Fall — From Superintendent Francisco Durán: “Based on preliminary results from the family selection process, an overwhelming number of families are choosing to return in person in the fall… Previous communications stated that we are planning for both normal capacities as well as developing contingency plans should 3-foot distancing be recommended; however, we want to be transparent that 3-foot distancing is not feasible with the enrollment we are anticipating.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Masks for Youth Sports Questioned — “An Arlington County softball dad created a petition to take on the county’s school system on sports and mask mandates. The school system’s spokesperson sent FOX 5 an emailed response on Tuesday, affirming student athletes will be required to wear masks during competition until the end of the school year… Nearly 300 people have signed the petition made for 500 signatures, calling for the Arlington County Public School’s Superintendent to drop the youth sport mask mandate.” [Fox 5]
Milk Spills into Stream from I-395 — “If you see a white substance in Long Branch Creek, don’t have a cow – it’s just spilled milk, according to the Arlington Fire Department. The department said an incident on Interstate 395 led to a milk truck leaking ‘approximately 50 gallons.’ According to a tweet, that milk has made it into Long Branch Creek near South Troy Street.” [WJLA, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Work could begin soon on the 65-year-old W. Glebe Road Bridge, which Arlington County says is “structurally deficient.”
This Saturday, the Arlington County Board is set to approve a $9.9 million contract that would kickstart the project. Improvements include replacing the top of the bridge, repairing its supports and making it more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.
According to the county, the bridge is in poor condition and requires attention soon. The bridge has been restricted to vehicles weighing fewer than five tons since a routine inspection in November 2018 uncovered structural problems.
The bridge “needs immediate superstructure replacement as further deterioration of the beams may result in bridge closure for [an] extended period,” a staff report said.
W. Glebe Road Bridge will remain open to vehicles and pedestrians during construction, which is expected to last 18 months, the county said, adding that extra time is needed to move underground utilities.
“The project includes removing the existing prestressed concrete superstructure and constructing a new superstructure with steel girders and a concrete deck,” the report said. “The project also includes repairing the existing substructures, and installing new,
wider sidewalks, bike lanes, architectural features and enhanced lighting.”
This bridge is the first to be rebuilt as part of an agreement between Arlington and Alexandria to share the costs of rehabilitating and maintaining five bridges across Four Mile Run which connect the two jurisdictions. Once the repairs are complete, Arlington will be fully responsible for inspecting and maintaining the W. Glebe Road Bridge.
The next bridge slated for attention is Arlington Ridge Road, which needs to be repaired in two to five years, according to the county. Other bridges in the agreement are at Shirlington Road, Route 1 and Potomac Avenue.
The county said it has received community feedback in favor of replacing the bridge, adding separate areas for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and incorporating art.
Such art elements would “connect the design of the bridge to Four Mile Run and the communities that live in the area,” the report said.
According to the county, some people voiced concerns about the length of the project. A shorter build time would require closing the bridge, staff said.
“The public prefers the bridge remain open during the construction period,” the county said.
Photo (1) via Google Maps, (2-3) via Arlington County
Pandemic Doesn’t Change Amazon’s Plans — “Schoettler, who oversees Amazon’s global portfolio of office space, said the past year hasn’t changed the way the company thinks about its office strategy… Amazon still views the office as the best place for work because of the ability for employees to collaborate, and it still envisions its footprint centered around large corporate campuses like its Seattle headquarters and its HQ2 development in Northern Virginia. ” [Bisnow, Twitter]
Sheriff’s Deputy Charged with Fraud — “India Middleton, a deputy sheriff with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, was indicted in Georgia by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Middleton was one of 10 defendants indicted in a multi-state scheme to submit fraudulent loan applications for non-[existent] businesses as part of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.” [Patch, Arlington County]
New Irish Pub Opening Soon — From the social media account of Mattie & Eddie’s, Chef Cathal Armstrong’s new Irish restaurant and bar in Pentagon City: “Practice test! All your grand Irish pints coming soon!” [Facebook]
APS May Cut Magnet High School from Budget — “As part of his proposed budget for the 2022 Arlington Public Schools (APS) fiscal year, Superintendent Francisco Dúran has suggested cutting funding for Arlington students to attend [Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology]. Should the proposed cut pass, current Arlington students at Jefferson will be allowed to remain, but all future classes — including this year’s rising 9th graders — will be barred from attending the school.” [TJ Today]
Lopez’s Gun Loophole Bill Signed — “Introduced by House Majority Whip Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), HB 2128 was one of the first pieces of legislation signed into law by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam before the end of the session. The bill expands the amount of time state police and agencies have to conduct a background check on a ‘default proceed’ gun sale, from 3 days to 5 days.” [Press Release]
As Arlington County prepares to build a new pedestrian and bike bridge in Shirlington — two decades in the making — some continue to express concerns about safety.
Late last week, the county brought advanced concept designs to the community for a new pedestrian and bike span between the Shirlington and Green Valley neighborhoods, and for maintenance to the existing bridge, which has only a narrow pedestrian sidewalk.
While incorporating previous public feedback into the design, questions still cropped up about safety and convenience, particularly regarding the crosswalks across busy S. Arlington Mill Drive and Shirlington Road, which provide access to the W&OD and Four Mile Run trails. Both are heavily-traveled by cyclists.
The first part of the project will be to improve and update the existing bridge. The bridge is in need of routine maintenance and resurfacing, and this project provides a chance for other needed renovations, the county says.
Based on public feedback, staff said they will widen the sidewalk to about 7 feet from a previous 3-5 feet. They will also coordinate the design aesthetic with the renovations to Jennie Dean Park, while adding new guardrails.
However, despite some urging it, the county won’t be removing the slip lane from the I-395 ramp. While admitting that it’s not bike or pedestrian-friendly, county officials say there isn’t much that can be done at present.
The lane is owned and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Adding a crosswalk there would also increase risk for an incident due to traffic taking the right turn with speed, while the lane it could lead to traffic backing-up on the I-395 ramp.
“We, at the county, are very much interested in [removing the lane],” said Jason Widstrom, Arlington County Transportation Capital Program Manager. “Unfortunately… it is not within our authority to remove it.”
Construction for these renovations should begin in the late summer or early fall of this year and be completed prior to the end of the year.
Then, at the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022, construction will begin on a prefabricated, 15-foot pedestrian and bike bridge located 20 feet to the west of the existing bridge. It will parallel the existing bridge, will be multi-use, and have “enhanced pedestrian treatments.”
Additionally, improvements are being made to those crosswalks at Arlington Mill Drive and near the Four Mile Run Trail.
Based on feedback, the county is widening pedestrian ramps and the refuge median, redesigning curbs and the crossing to allow for better sightlines, and adding new rapid flashing beacons to improve visibility of the crosswalk. There’s also thought of trimming trees to further help sightlines.
Crosswalk safety, particularly near the Four Mile Trail, has long been a concern for residents.
“County staff is well aware of the history of the crosswalk and the troubles of trying to cross at this location,” says Widstrom.
Funding for these projects are coming from a state grant and will cost just over $1 million.
County officials said they would like to do a longer term study about adding a bridge that goes over Shirlington Road and thus separates vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
That study remains “down the road,” however, and costs to add that bridge could exceed $8 million.
In the meantime, said Widstrom, “we are trying to make the situation a bit better.”
Photo (1) via Google Maps, (2) via Arlington County
The County Board approved safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists on Columbia Pike over Four Mile Run, as well as other changes, during its regular meeting on Saturday.
The approved $1 million Four Mile Run bridge project includes widening the northern sidewalk next to westbound traffic from five feet to 10 feet and narrowing the traffic lanes. Lighting will also be added to the northern side of the bridge.
Sturdy guardrails will be installed at the approaches to the bridge, but not on the bridge, county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet previously told ARLnow. The expanded sidewalk will remain 9 inches above street level, to help protect pedestrians.
County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said during the meeting that he was pleased to approve the project, which makes the bridge more accessible.
“It is part of a big investment that we’ve been working on for multiple years, the Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements project,” he said.
Board member Takis Karantonis said the changes are significant and a long time in coming.
“This has always been a big problem for pedestrians,” he said. “It’s really scary sometimes, with traffic going both ways, very fast.”
Community feedback has also been positive, notes a county staff report.
“The widening is a welcome change that many in the community have asked for during the outreach and engagement on the Columbia Pike Multimodal Project,” the report said. “The addition of lighting has also been received positively, as the community members shared that this section of the Pike often feels dark and unsafe.”
Some community members requested a barrier between the sidewalk and road. The suggestion was ultimately not included, as the bridge cannot fit one along with a widened sidewalk and four travel lanes, according to the report.
Implementation was anticipated to begin last fall, but the timeline changed because the County decided to combine the updates to the sidewalk with other scheduled maintenance on the bridge, hiring one contractor to do both, Balliet said in an email.
Separately, the Board also gave its stamp of approval to the proposed realignment of the eastern end of Columbia Pike, part of a project that adds 70 acres to Arlington National Cemetery near the Air Force Memorial.
The federal government is paying for the $60 million road project, after acquiring county-owned land for the expansion via an eminent domain suit last summer.
The project realigns segments of Columbia Pike, S. Joyce Street and Washington Blvd, constructs a new S. Nash Street, partially eliminates Southgate Road and designs a new portion of trail, according to a staff report.
Images via Arlington County