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.
Starting in October, a construction project will close the Van Buren Bridge near the East Falls Church Metro until next spring.
The bridge expansion and replacement project is scheduled to begin the week of October 16, and all bridge access will end at that time. In a letter to residents, the City of Falls Church indicated that construction is expected to continue at least through March 2018.
During construction, Van Buren Street will be closed between 19th Street North in Arlington and East Columbia Street in Falls Church. Northbound vehicles will be rerouted from Columbia Street to Roosevelt Street and 19th Street North. Southbound vehicles will be rerouted from 19th Street North to Sycamore Street and 16th Street North. Cyclists and pedestrians will detour on an existing bridge along the W&OD trail in Benjamin Banneker Park.
Construction is expected to take place most weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and some weekend work may also be necessary. Residents in the affected area will still have access to their driveways and homes when the closure is in effect.
The project to remove and rebuild the existing Van Buren Bridge will repair structural deficiencies and add pedestrian access along the corridor to the East Falls Church Metro. The new bridge will have two lanes for vehicle traffic and cyclists in addition to a 12-foot wide pedestrian walkway.
(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A series of public meetings will be held next week to discuss a possible new pedestrian connection between Crystal City and Reagan National Airport.
The meetings are scheduled to take place Tuesday, September 5 on the 11th floor of 2011 Crystal Drive, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. Both meetings will have the same agenda, with staff from the Crystal City Business Improvement District looking to gather public feedback on the proposed pedestrian link.
RSVPs for either meeting are requested but not required.
“Imagine walking from Crystal City’s main street to the airport in just under 5 minutes,” the meetings’ event page says. “The CC2DCA Pedestrian Connection Feasibility Study that is investigating this possibility.”
Earlier this year, the BID issued a Request for Proposals asking for consultants to study a possible connection. The deadline for sending those proposals, which included the studying of optimal alignments, real estate, regulations, costs and necessary approvals, has since passed.
BID officials say a new pedestrian crossing would help leverage various transportation improvements in Crystal City, including the revamped VRE station and a proposed new Metro station entrance on Crystal Drive. Reagan National is also set for a $1 billion refresh, with construction there expected to conclude in 2021.
Map via Google Maps
The Crystal City Business Improvement District announced today (Monday) it is looking to study the feasibility of a new pedestrian link between Crystal City and Reagan National Airport.
In collaboration with other stakeholders in the neighborhood, the BID issued a Request for Proposals asking for consultants to study a possible connection.
Respondents will need to study optimal alignments, private and public real estate considerations, regulatory requirements, costs and financing and implementation, including the necessary agency and stakeholder approvals that would be required. Proposals are due August 4.
“Crystal City is the area’s most accessible neighborhood – with Metro, [Virginia Railway Express], connections to every major area highway, bike paths and an airport you can literally walk to,” said Angela Fox, Crystal City BID president and CEO, in a statement. “A new pedestrian connection will bring the airport even closer, from a 15-minute walk to a four-minute walk and transform the area into a unique multimodal transportation hub serving as a major economic development catalyst for Crystal City, Arlington County and the Commonwealth.”
In their announcement of the RFP, BID officials said the new pedestrian crossing would help leverage various upcoming enhancements to Crystal City’s transportation infrastructure, including the revamped VRE station and a proposed new Metro station entrance on Crystal Drive. Reagan National is also set for a $1 billion refresh, with construction there expected to conclude in 2021.
Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]
Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]
County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]
Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]
Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
The Board will consider a construction project that would remove the 65-foot-wide bridge and replace it with a 69-foot-wide structure. The bridge takes N. Carlin Springs Road over N. George Mason Drive near Barrett Elementary School and Lubber Run Park on the border of the Arlington Forest and Bluemont neighborhoods.
In a report on the project, county staff said that while still structurally sound, the bridge was built in 1961 and is the most deteriorated county-owned bridge.
The Rustler Construction company submitted the winning bid on the project, which would combine the bridge replacement with a new sewer line along N. Carlin Springs Road between N. Abingdon Street and N. George Mason Drive. The bridge will also receive the following additions:
- Wider sidewalks
- Bike lanes
- Four vehicular travel lanes
- A facade arch and decorative railing
- Enhanced lighting on and under the bridge
- The street name on the bridge facade
Staff estimates the entire project will cost just over $5.8 million, with another $1.1 million set aside in contingency funds. The project for the bridge will be funded from the county’s capital improvement program, as well as with bonds, grant funding and money from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
Additional bonds from the project to revamp the Shirlington Road Bridge will be used to make up a funding gap of $775,000, as that is progressing slower than expected, according to the staff report.
The sewer project will also be funded from the capital improvement program, and from funds carried over from another project in the Sanitary Sewer System improvement program that has been put on hold several times.
The old Ballston pedestrian bridge is no more.
The bridge was torn down over the weekend, closing part of Wilson Blvd in front of the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall and prompting a new location for the Taste of Arlington festival. The demolition included the use of a large crane to lower sections of the bridge.
Today, a construction crew was working to clear leftover debris, while a large section of the bridge sat largely intact, fenced off along the sidewalk.
Via Twitter, one local resident called the dismantling of the bridge and its “Ballston” sign an “end of an era.” A new pedestrian bridge will be built nearby, however, with its opening set for the fall of 2018.
— Heather Plochman (@HeatherHoya) May 20, 2017
— Marisa (@maracasting) May 20, 2017
— Kristina Ingram (@KristinaIngram) May 22, 2017
The long-planned demolition of the pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston should begin soon, according to a spokeswoman for the developer.
An anonymous tipster reported seeing bricks being removed at the base of the bridge’s pillars where it connects to the mall, and wondered if demolition was beginning.
But a spokeswoman for developer Forest City, which is carrying out the mall’s revamp, said last week it is not doing any work on the bridge at this time. She added that demolition is scheduled to start soon.
“We are not doing any construction on the structural components that would affect the bridge,” the spokeswoman said. “The demolition should begin within the next 30 days, but we will notify the public once we have a solid date.”
The bridge is still on track to be reconstructed and reopened in time for the revamped mall’s opening in fall 2018.
Rosslyn is getting a new $1 million, developer-funded public art installation.
The County Board on Saturday awarded a contract $968,000 contract to California artist Cliff Garten to fabricate and install “four stainless steel, LED-lighted Luminous Body sculptures” that will be placed on the four corners of the Lynn Street bridge over I-66, near the entrance to the Key Bridge.
It’s the second phase in a larger public art project to create a “Corridor of Light” down N. Lynn Street.
“This is an exciting project that will help us achieve our vision for Rosslyn,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a press release. “The ‘Corridor of Light’ is a beautiful design that will create a memorable public space for all our residents, commuters and visitors who move through this heavily-travelled corridor.”
“Garten was selected by a panel of specialists and stakeholders and his design was unanimously approved by the Public Art Committee and the Arlington Arts Commission,” noted the press release. “The artwork will create an easily recognized and iconic entrance to the County from Key Bridge, Lee Highway and westbound I-66.”
The project is being paid for developers, via “public art contributions pooled from various site plan projects in Rosslyn,” said Arlington Public Art Marketing Director Jim Byers.
Though the installation approved Saturday is considered the project’s second phase, the first phase — to be built as part of JBG’s Central Place project along Lynn Street — is still under development. Early plans for some 60 light sculptures have since, apparently, been scaled back.
“The middle section of Corridor of Light was reconsidered in response to right-of-way engineering challenges along Lynn Street,” Byers said. “The plans for the Central Place portion of the project are still in development.”
The third phase of the project is to consist of four “Luminous Body sculptures,” like those just approved by the Board, on either corner of the Meade Street Bridge over Route 50. Those will be built as part of a bridge improvement project that’s currently in the design phase.
On Saturday the County Board also approved transferring construction work on its Lynn Street Esplanade Project to the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.
In addition to the light sculptures, the esplanade project includes a number of safety and traffic improvements for Lynn Street, including:
- Widened sidewalks
- Intersection improvements
- Upgraded traffic signals
- On-street bike lanes
- Street lights
- Signs and landscape areas
From the press release:
Under the transfer agreement, VDOT would use its state-wide procurement system to advertise, award and administer construction. Arlington has already completed the final engineering phase of work.
The transfer carries mutual benefits as the project is within state right-of-way and requires significant VDOT coordination and approvals. VDOT staff also has expertise in structural work required on Lynn Street over I-66.
VDOT will be providing construction management and inspection services that Arlington would otherwise have had to contract for separately.
Under the agreement, the state would be allowed to invoice Arlington for up to $5.7 million for construction services. Construction is anticipated to begin in fall 2017.
VDOT is expected to award a construction bid for the project this winter and begin construction in the fall of 2017. Construction is expected to last about two years and will include some traffic impacts along Lynn Street.
The pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston will be closing to the public on Wednesday, according to a sign at the bridge’s entrance.
The bridge, which connects Ballston Common Mall with the Ballston Metro station, is set for demolition as part of the mall’s ongoing renovation project.
There’s no word yet on a specific date for the demolition.
“No final date has been determined, but they are targeting the end of November or early December,” county spokesman Andrew Pribulka told ARLnow.com.
The bridge will be reconstructed with a new, modern design. The new bridge is expected to open by the fall of 2018.