The construction of a new pedestrian bridge linking Ballston Quarter to the area’s Metro station is picking up steam.
Workers recently began installing supports for the bridge near the development’s entrances along Wilson Blvd, as well as near the “Ballston Exchange” development at 4201 Wilson Blvd, where the walkway will ultimately connect.
The frame for a new bridge is also taking shape in nearby Mosaic Park, where Ballston Quarter developer Forest City secured permission to start assembling the structure through a deal with county officials.
After tearing down the old bridge over Wilson Blvd last May, Forest City originally planned to have the new walkway ready by the time shops first started opening in the newly renovated Ballston Common mall.
But they reported to the county this summer that construction delays were hampering the process, targeting sometime in 2019 instead. As the new year approaches, a spokeswoman for Forest City says that the bridge is “still slated to deliver in the spring of 2019.”
Forest City has until the end of the month to wrap up work in Mosaic Park under the terms of its current deal with the county. However, the company does have the chance to secure a two-month extension for additional work through the end of February, though that’s contingent on the construction not disrupting the long-awaited overhaul of the park set to start this coming spring.
When the bridge is finished, it’s designed to connect the Ballston Metro station seamlessly to the Ballston Quarter development, helping pedestrians avoid crossing a bevy of busy streets.
Rosslyn Shooter Sentenced — “A man who worked as an investigator for conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman will serve nine years in prison for shooting and wounding his ex-boss” in a Rosslyn hotel parking garage. [Washington Post]
Marijuana Arrest Disparity — “African Americans were more than eight times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana crimes in Arlington from 2010-2016.” [Bacon’s Rebellion]
More on Long Bridge Plan — “New plans call to double the number of railroad tracks over the Potomac River between DC and Arlington, and to build a new pedestrian/bicycle bridge between Southwest Washington and Crystal City.” [Greater Greater Washington]
New Gym Coming to Arlington — “Blink Fitness is gearing up to expand into Northern Virginia with five new locations in Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax. Northern Virginia-based Cove Fitness LLC inked the 10-year agreement with the New York fitness chain to bring gyms to the region that will create about 70 jobs and occupy 90,000 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]
Crystal City Still in Spotlight — “I spent a day in Crystal City, Virginia — and it’s easy to see why Amazon picked it for its new HQ2 headquarters.” [Business Insider]
Most Elaborate Cubicle Xmas Decoration Ever? — At WJLA in Rosslyn, a TV director named Mason Herndon has converted his office cubicle into a log cabin complete with fake snow, a fake fireplace and Christmas lights. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler
Workers are gearing up to make some repairs on the S. George Mason Drive bridge over Four Mile Run, so be on the lookout for some lane closures.
The county kicked off work on the bridge on Monday (Nov. 26), and it will likely last through spring 2019.
Workers will reduce from two lanes in each direction down to one as construction proceeds, but only during “non-rush hours,” according to a county NextDoor post.
The work will primarily focus on “patching and sealing,” mainly on “good weather days” through early next year.
Then, the county plans to repaint the bridge in summer 2019.
Photo via Google Maps
Worker Rescued from Memorial Bridge — A man working on the Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project was injured this morning and transported to the hospital via fireboat and then ambulance. The injuries were reported to be non-life-threatening. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]
More Worries About Real Estate Prices Post-Amazon — “Amazon’s possible arrival in Northern Virginia and Queens, New York, has already sent shockwaves through surrounding real estate markets. Mara Gemond, a longtime Arlington, Virginia, realtor… Crystal City — until news broke that Amazon might be splitting its 50,000-employee second headquarters between there and Long Island City in New York. All of a sudden, the two-bedroom condo in a 1980s-era building that had been sitting on the market for nearly three months with no offers, even after a price cut, had a flood of interest.” [CNN, Washington Post, ARLnow]
Metro Closure Causes DCA Gridlock — The closure of the Crystal City and National Airport Metro stations prior to Friday’s evening rush hour, amid a rush to get out of town for the holiday weekend, caused gridlock around the airport, the GW Parkway, Route 1 and other nearby roads. Arlington County Police were dispatched to the area to help with traffic control. [NBC 4, Twitter, Greater Greater Washington]
Chamber Welcomes Amazon — Among those welcoming Amazon to Arlington is the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. “This addition to Arlington is a significant step toward enhancing and maintaining the strength of Arlington’s commercial sector and diversifying our economic base,” the Chamber said in a statement. [Arlington Chamber]
Restrictions for West Glebe Road Bridge Traffic — “A routine inspection of the bridge on West Glebe Road at South Four Mile Run has uncovered deterioration, which will require a vehicle weight restriction of 5-tons, and closure of the sidewalks in both directions. Because safety is the priority, the restrictions are effective immediately.” [Arlington County]
Marymount U Prez Dances with Local Stars — “Dr. Irma Becerra has many accomplishments to her name. Dancing is not one of them, but D.C.’s Dancing Stars Gala could soon change that. Marymount University’s new president is one of eight local celebrities who will vie for $10,000 [this past] Saturday when the annual fundraising competition is held at The Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner.” [Fairfax News]
Arlington Resident Buys Airline — Sanford Rederer, a resident of North Arlington and Sarasota, Florida, has purchased Florida-based Island Air Charters. [Business Observer]
Pictured above: Crystal City as it once was — building and wayfinding sign in 2011 (Flickr pool photo by Chris Reed)
A coalition of businesses, neighborhood groups and transportation advocates are urging planners to include a bike and pedestrian trail along the long-planned replacement for the Long Bridge, a key railroad connection from Virginia into D.C.
A total of 15 organizations from Arlington, the District and the rest of the metropolitan Washington region penned a new letter last Thursday (Nov. 1) to both local and federal transportation officials working on the project, calling the inclusion of a trail alongside the bridge part of “a once in a generation opportunity to transform our regional transportation network.”
Planners are still sorting out exactly what the new bridge might look like. The original structure, which runs from near the Pentagon in Arlington to Southwest D.C., was built back in 1904, and officials from around the region have viewed replacing it as a necessary step for improving freight and passenger rail service between D.C. and Northern Virginia.
However, the prospect of including a trail alongside the new Long Bridge was not formally included in the various assessments of potential designs of the project. Accordingly, the group penning the letter sought to emphasize the benefits such a trail could have for the region’s commuters, and its economy.
The organizations — which include the Crystal City Civic Association, Friends of Long Bridge Park, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and Greater Greater Washington — stressed that any new trail crossing the Potomac River would provide “crucial links to several important regional trails.” The current crossing along the 14th Street Bridge does not offer a connection to the regional trail network on the D.C. side. of the bridge, and the friends group supporting the Mt. Vernon Trail co-signed the letter.
The groups also stressed that such a trail would spur economic development “by linking two key activity nodes in Southwest D.C. and Crystal City.” That goes doubly so if officials also follow the groups’ recommendation that the trail “connect to the esplanade in Long Bridge Park” and “extend as far towards L’Enfant Plaza as physically possible” on the D.C. side.
Perhaps most importantly, the letter urges that the trail “be funded and constructed concurrently with the rail component of the Long Bridge project,” and that it “should be incorporated into the design of the broader project in a way that optimizes the achievability of the project with regard to cost and complexity.”
In a draft of an environmental impact statement prepared in late June, federal and local planners stress that any trail is “not part of the purpose and need” of the project. Even still, they agreed to include the study of four potential trail crossings in more detailed studies of the project to be completed over the coming months.
Planners have so far narrowed potential designs of the bridge replacement down to two options; both involve building a new, two-track bridge alongside the existing structure, but one alternative calls for the current bridge to stay in place and the other would involve fully replacing it.
Two of the trail designs call for building the crossing alongside the new bridge. Two others call for building the trail along its own, independent bridge: one proposal envisions it being upstream of the new two-track bridge, another would be downstream.
The transit advocates at Greater Greater Washington have expressed doubts about these proposals in the past, arguing that the designs “do the bare minimum” and represent a missed opportunity for planners. However, officials did agree to examine trail crossings over the Long Bridge Park side of the G.W. Parkway, “with an evaluation of connections to the Mount Vernon Trail and Ohio Drive S.W.,” two features that were previously championed by Greater Greater Washington.
Even still, there remains no guarantee that the trail will indeed be included in the project — the June report notes that Virginia rail officials noted “noted that the primary focus of the project is increasing rail capacity, and expressed significant concerns regarding safety and constructability of any combined-mode structure.”
Planners are still a long ways off from finalizing designs, however. The first step is settling on a single “preferred alternative” to examine in more detail, which planners hope to do within the next two months.
Officials then hope to have engineering and environmental analyses drawn up by summer 2019, and the project still needs additional funding. Virginia officials and the rail company CSX, which owns the bridge, have committed to chip in a total of $30 million for the effort, though there’s no telling just how much the bridge replacement might ultimately cost.
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
Plans are underway to address Arlington Memorial Bridge’s crumbling facade and deep structural issues, but over the next week it will mean extra traffic for morning commuters across the bridge.
From today (Monday) until Friday (Aug. 17) two lanes of Arlington Memorial Bridge on the G.W. Parkway will be closed to prepare the bridge for full rehabilitation later this fall. The rightmost westbound lane will be closed from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. and the center eastbound lane will be closed from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The parkway will also see late evening closures over the coming week to prepare the bridge for rehabilitation later this fall. From Wednesday, Aug. 15 until Sunday, Aug. 19, one northbound lane of the parkway will be closed south of Memorial Circle, near the Potomac River. Closures will start at 7 p.m. and end at 5 a.m.
The plan is to move the construction equipment from the road to a fenced staging area on the river. Workers on-site will direct traffic as heavy equipment is moved into the construction site.
Cyclists and pedestrians on the Mount Vernon Trail may also experience delays during this process. While the trail won’t close, the equipment will be passing over the trail and workers onsite will be directing traffic on the trail.
The full bridge rehabilitation later this fall will reduce the bridge to three lanes of traffic: one eastbound, one westbound, and one that will shift to accommodate rush hour traffic.
In 2016, the Federal Highway Administration informed the National Park Service (NPS) that, without repairs, the bridge will require full closure in 2021. According to NPS, the current schedule of closures will help strengthen the bridge; adding new concrete to the roads, reinforcing the rusted steel drawbridge, and making repairs to the underside of the road. The full rehabilitation later this fall will replace the drawbridge span, replace most of the concrete across the bridge with prefabricated concrete panels.
The NPS is also closing lanes on the Windy Run Bridge to keep up with additional bridge rehab needs, with work running through the fall.
Photo via National Park Service
The National Park Service is warning drivers about severe traffic backups on the GW Parkway starting today (Monday) and running through the fall, as rehab work on the Windy Run Bridge gets going.
Workers have spent the last few weeks removing guard rails and center curbs, as well as doing some paving work, in order to prepare for work on the bridge, located in northeast Arlington near the Woodmont and Riverwood neighborhoods.
Starting today, the NPS plans to reduce the parkway from four lanes down to three, and expects to:
- Lower the work zone speed limit to 35 miles per hour
- Direct all traffic into three narrow travel lanes
- Shift travel lanes to accommodate rush hour traffic
The NPS plans to always keep one lane open in each direction, reversing the third lane as needed to match the direction of traffic in the morning and evening rush hours on weekdays.
That means the reversible lane will run northbound from noon to 8 p.m. and run southbound from 8 p,m. to noon. On Saturdays and Sundays, the reversible lane will only run southbound.
“Drivers should expect a lower speed limit, narrower lanes and a substantial police presence until this fall,” park superintendent Alexcy Romero wrote in a statement.”We need to shift traffic so that workers can safely rehabilitate the road surface of Windy Run Bridge.”
The bridge was built back in 1959, and the NPS plans to “restore the bridge deck by removing and replacing its top layer” in order to extend its life.
While work on Windy Run should wrap up before the year is out, the NPS also warns that “all of the bridges and roadway on the northern part of [the parkway] will also soon need maintenance work.” The NPS recently closed a public comment period on some of that planned work, and expects to release more details in the coming months.
Photo via the National Park Service
The Van Buren Bridge near the East Falls Church Metro station is back open after months of renovation work, complete with a new walkway for cyclists and pedestrians.
The city of Falls Church had been working since last fall to repair and widen the bridge, located near where N. Van Buren Street intersects with 18th Street N. and running over Benjamin Banneker Park.
The bridge previously lacked a sidewalk of any kind, forcing pedestrians into the roadway. Accordingly, the $300,000 construction project won some regional transportation funding for its potential to provide a smoother connection for people looking to reach the nearby Metro station with the new 12-f00t walkway.
Great news! The Van Buren Street bridge has now reopened to all traffic, including pedestrian & bicycle access! The new bridge has a dedicated walkway & improved access to the @WODTrail & the @ArlingtonVA Benjamin Banneker Park. #BikeDC #BikeVA pic.twitter.com/MqexG8vHTs
— City of Falls Church (@FallsChurchGov) July 24, 2018
With the W&OD Trail close by as well, planners also envision the bridge improving conditions for cyclists in the area.
The project’s conclusion also marks the end to detours on N. Van Buren Street, which previously routed drivers onto nearby roads like 19th Street N. and N. Sycamore Street.
The developer behind the renovated Ballston Quarter mall is pushing back its plans to open a new pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd, as part of a host of proposed changes to the project.
Forest City had originally hoped to open the overhauled bridge connecting the mall to 4201 Wilson Blvd and the Metro station in time for stores to begin opening this fall. Yet work on the bridge is “currently behind schedule and is now expected to be completed in the winter or early spring of 2019,” according to a report prepared for the County Board.
Accordingly, Forest City is asking the Board to tweak some of the planning documents governing the project to account for the delay, which county staff believe will allow for “additional time for public engagement” around changes to the bridge’s renovation. Staff are recommending that the Board push off any consideration of that request until next month, though Board members won’t get a chance to vote on that recommendation until Saturday (June 16).
County staff also suggest that the Board wait until its July 14 meeting to consider a request from Forest City to add “large media screens” to the development. The big TV screens would face Wilson Blvd as part of Ballston Quarter’s west plaza. A spokeswoman for Forest City said “nothing is yet confirmed” when it comes to the purpose of the screens.
The Board could take some action related to the development on Saturday, however. Forest City is hoping to open six “outdoor cafes” as the mall welcomes back patrons in September, though construction plans originally called for some additional landscaping and construction work to be completed before those restaurants could open.
Staff noted that Forest City’s plans are “not ideal,” but they also didn’t see any “public safety risk” in letting the cafes open first. They’re recommending that the Board approve the request, then consider individual permits for each restaurant over the course of the next month.
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Transportation planners have nearly finalized designs for a long-awaited effort to overhaul Virginia’s only railroad connection to D.C.
Officials from Virginia, D.C. and an alphabet soup’s worth of federal agencies have spent years working on plans to replace the Long Bridge — which runs roughly parallel to the 14th Street Bridge — and improve rail capacity over the Potomac River.
Officials say they are almost ready to commit to more concrete plans to guide the redesign. The project still needs millions of dollars in funding to move ahead, and construction wouldn’t start until 2020 at the earliest, yet planners are pushing to have engineering and environmental analyses drawn up by summer 2019.
State rail officials told the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission at a meeting last night (June 7) that they’ve managed to narrow down a long list of alternatives for replacing the bridge, which stretches from near the Pentagon in Arlington to Southwest D.C., to two final possibilities.
Both plans involve building a new, two-track bridge alongside the existing structure, which was first built back in 1904. One alternative calls for the current bridge to stay in place; the other would involve fully replacing it.
Either way, officials believe the project is critical for initiatives like ramping up Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak service between Virginia and the District.
“It is really a bridge of national significance,” Jennifer Mitchell, the director of the state’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation, told the commission. “It carries a tremendous amount of traffic with commuters that would otherwise be on I-66 or 395.”
Doug Allen, the CEO of VRE, stressed that increasing rail capacity across the Potomac will be particularly critical for his trains. Commercial freight trains from the company CSX, which owns the bridge, often have to compete with commuter trains for space on the tracks, and Mitchell suggested that running a second bridge alongside the Long Bridge would help avoid that sort of conflict.
“For us to be able to add more service to our trains, we need to add more tracks there,” Allen said.
But even with so many people invested in seeing the project finished, Mitchell was sure to note that the whole effort is “very complex.” The bridge stretches just past historic resources like the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, not to mention other, “sensitive areas dealing with security” in D.C. itself, Allen said.
The project will also require extensive conversations about how exactly officials can include bike and pedestrian options alongside the new bridge, a key point of concern for Arlington’s representatives on the commission.
Allen noted that officials are considering two options for bike and pedestrian crossings that would not be attached to the Long Bridge, running closer to the bridge for Metro trains nearby, but still included in the overall project. But he said planners could decide to add bike and pedestrian options on the new bridge itself, though he did note that could prompt some “security concerns.”
Whichever option officials choose, Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol urged Allen to keep bicyclists, walkers and runners in mind throughout the planning process, given the unique opportunity this project presents. After all, she noted, the current crossing along the 14th Street Bridge does not offer a connection to the regional trail network on the D.C. side.
“By tying the regional trail network together, this would allows hundreds or even thousands of commuters to get off our roads,” Cristol said. “Trying to come back and do this at a later date… would be incredibly difficult due to the sensitivity of the assets here.”
Mitchell says officials hope to have more public meetings on the project this fall, with cost estimates, preliminary engineering plans and an environmental impact analysis all ready by next summer.
Then, leaders will have to somehow find funding for the project. She says the state rail agency and CSX have committed to chip in a total of $30 million for the effort, and she fully plans to ask state lawmakers for more money by the General Assembly’s 2020 legislative sessions.
“We are trying very, very hard to get this schedule completed on time,” Mitchell said.
Workers are about to kick off construction on one of the most congested sections of eastbound I-66, and VDOT is rolling out its plans to widen the highway early next month.
State transportation officials are holding a community meeting to discuss the project on Tuesday, June 5 at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). The event will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m., with a presentation from VDOT set to start at 7 p.m.
VDOT is adding another lane to eastbound I-66 between the Dulles Connector Road and Fairfax Drive (Exit 71), which is routinely ranked as one of the most intensely jammed locations in all of Northern Virginia. The work is taking place within the existing I-66 right of way.
The $85.7 million project will also connect two existing ramps at the I-66 and Route 7 interchange to connect I-66 eastbound directly to the West Falls Church Metro station. Additionally, plans call for a new bridge for the W&OD Trail over Lee Highway.
VDOT is hoping to start construction this year and open the new lane on I-66 by the fall of 2020.
Photo (1) via Google Maps
Rehabilitation work on the I-66 bridge between the Rosslyn tunnel and D.C. has begun, according to the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.
Crews began setting out concrete barriers and pavement markings overnight on Wednesday, and will continue to do so through tonight (Thursday).
Lane closures on eastbound I-66 will be scheduled Monday-Friday from 9:30 p.m.-5 a.m., while westbound I-66 closures will be scheduled from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. on the same days.
VDOT expects traffic impacts to be minimal throughout the construction, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2019.
For the next day or two, VDOT will periodically close the ramp from the southbound GW Parkway to the Roosevelt Bridge and westbound Route 50. The closures will take place between midnight and 5 a.m. to “allow for the installation of concrete barriers under the I-66 bridge,” according to the National Park Service.
The $5.7 million construction project will resurface the bridge’s deck, repair piers and abutments, and repave I-66 approaching the bridge.
According to VDOT, the bridge averages 54,000 vehicles a day eastbound and 44,000 westbound.
Photo courtesy VDOT
Improvements are planned for a one-way bridge linking eastbound Route 50 to Wilson Boulevard in Seven Corners.
The bridge is blocks away from Arlington’s western border with Fairfax County.
A new concrete bridge deck, steel beams, and concrete end walls have been proposed for the bridge, which was built in 1958, as well as upgraded bridge railings.
A new sidewalk would be installed along the opposite side of the bridge’s existing sidewalk, which would be rehabbed.
A public information meeting with project displays and a presentation by Virginia Dept. of Transportation staff is planned for Tuesday (April 3) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School (3333 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church).
Public comments can be given at the meeting. Project financing comes from state and federal infrastructure funds.
The Carlin Springs Road Bridge will close on Friday for partial demolition as part of its planned replacement.
The bridge will be closed to all traffic from 7 p.m. on Friday, December 8 through 5 a.m. Monday, December 11 for demolition. The closure will also affect the section of N. George Mason Drive underneath.
Roadway ramps and sidewalks connecting N. George Mason Drive and N. Carlin Springs Road will stay open during demolition, but traffic will be temporarily detoured via adjacent streets during the weekend closure. Signs will be in place to assist drivers and pedestrians.
Staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services are encouraging motorists to use alternative routes, such as N. Glebe Road, Arlington Blvd and Wilson Blvd during the closure. Properties adjacent to the work site will still be accessible.
Detours will be as follows, per DES:
Detour for northbound traffic on N. George Mason Drive:
- Turn right at N. Park Drive
- Turn left at N. Carlin Springs Road
- Turn right onto ramp to N. George Mason Drive (northbound direction)
Detour for southbound traffic on N. George Mason Drive:
- Turn right at 6th Street N.
- Turn left at N. Edison Street
- Turn left at N. Carlin Springs Road
- Turn right onto ramp to N. George Mason Drive (southbound direction)
Detour for westbound traffic on N. Carlin Springs Road:
- Turn right onto ramp to N. George Mason Drive (northbound direction)
- Turn right onto N. Buchanan Street
- Turn left onto 7th Street N.
- Turn left onto N. George Mason Drive (southbound direction)
- Turn right onto ramp to N. Carlin Springs Road (westbound direction)
Detour for eastbound traffic on N. Carlin Springs Road:
- Turn right onto ramp to N. George Mason Drive (southbound direction)
- Turn left onto N. Park Drive
- Turn right onto N. Carlin Springs Road (eastbound direction)
When the bridge reopens on December 11, the rest of the bridge will be limited to one travel lane in each direction and a single sidewalk until the project is completed.
Completion of the project, which will add wider sidewalks, bike lanes, four travel lanes and other features, is scheduled for fall 2019.