(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) The N. Glebe Road bridge over Pimmit Run has been serving drivers, cyclists and pedestrians since 1973 but is due for some major maintenance.
At a public meeting tonight (Tuesday) at Williamsburg Middle School (3600 N. Harrison Street), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is scheduled to unveil new plans for the bridge. The improvements are aimed at improving safety and extending the overall life of the bridge.
According to a press release, improvements will include:
- Repairing and resurfacing the bridge deck
- Repairing, waterproofing and providing corrosion protection to abutments and piers
- Repairing, cleaning and painting beams
- Replacing railings along bicycle and pedestrian connection to trails
- Upgrading guardrails and drainage
The bridge feeds into nearby Chain Bridge and sees an average of 12,000 vehicles each day.
The press release says the event will be an open house running from 6:30-8:30 p.m., with displays and information about the project’s design. A presentation will be made at 7 p.m.
The project is estimated to cost $7.5 million and will be financed by the State of Good Repair fund, a state and federal program used to address repairs on bridges considered structurally deficient on the National Bridge Inventory, according to the press release.
Construction is expected to start in fall 2020.
Today, Chain Bridge is a sleepy three-lane crossing between Virginia and D.C., but the bridge and its predecessors have played a prominent — if curious — role in the nation’s history.
“Most modern-day Arlington commuters who use Chain Bridge in their daily trek to and from the District would be astonished to learn how prominent the area at Pimmit Run at the Virginia end of the bridge was in the early days of our fledgling country,” Jim Fearson wrote in his “Chain Bridge: A History of the Bridge and Its Surrounding Territory from 1608-1991.”
Long before ferries ran from Virginia to the budding village of Georgetown, there was reportedly an American Indian village at the mouth of the Pimmit Run near Chain Bridge. It was also the furthest point up the river reached by explorer and Disney hero John Smith on his 1608 journey up the Potomac.
A town was planned in 1772 on 100 acres of land on the Virginia side of where the bridge is today. It was to be named Philee after Philip Ludwell Lee, the owner, but the town never materialized.
After the American Revolution, the removal of restraints on trade between states led to an increase in traffic across the Potomac and made a bridge necessary. The first bridge, built in 1797, was tolled — from 3 cents for pedestrians to 25-50 cents for horses and wagons — but ultimately collapsed in 1804 under the weight of a heavy load of cattle.
Another succession of bridges appeared in the 10 years that followed, including a short-lived, single-span suspension bridge from which the bridge derived the name it still holds today.
It was across one of these bridges that, on Aug. 2, 1814, the Declaration of Independence and other national relics were smuggled out of Washington, D.C. during the burning of Washington. They were reportedly hidden in an unoccupied grist-mill on the Virginia side of the river, according to documents in Arlington’s Center for Local History.
Later that month, the papers were moved to Leesburg, where they remained until being brought back to the city following the departure of the British navy.
The Virginia side of the bridge was also a popular dueling ground in the early 1800s. A historical marker commemorates the spot where a duel between Secretary of State Henry Clay and Senator John Randolph took place at the Virginia side of the bridge.
Control of the bridge was critical during the Civil War, during which a Union outpost was established on the Virginia side. After the war, the foundations of the outpost would be used as the basis for a casino, beginning the criminal descent of the Virginia side of the Potomac.
During the prohibition era, Fearson said the Virginia side of the bridge became something of a red-light district.
“Local lore had it that the tavern at the end of the bridge was a drop-off point for rum-runners during prohibition,” Fearson said in his history of Chain Bridge. “Supposedly they came up the river and put into Pimmit Run which joins the river directly behind the tavern.”
The bridge was rebuilt a few times throughout the mid-1800s, but by the 1920s heavy auto and truck traffic was starting to put a strain on a bridge built for carriages. Severe weight and speed limits were put into place. Eventually, the strain became too much. Following a flood, in 1939 the bridge as it mostly exists today was built on top of stone piers constructed for the 1850 bridge.
The last building at the Virginia side of the bridge was a service station, which last appeared in a 1955 Arlington County directory. In the early 1980s, the deck of the bridge was rebuilt to increase the width of the roadway by 10 feet, creating the final form of the bridge that is there today.
“A walking trip along the banks of Pimmit Run reveals little of what was there; a few possible foundation stones near the bridge, the early abutment,” Fearson said. “Further upstream the abutment of an early bridge that used to carry Glebe Road over the Pimmit, a large depression and stones that may have been a building site… nothing of substance to indicate more than 200 years of man’s involvement.”
(Updated at 9:45 p.m.) Traffic throughout Arlington has reached apocalyptic levels as the closure of the Beltway’s Inner Loop continues well into the night.
Shortly before 2 p.m., a tanker truck overturned as part of a multi-vehicle crash just prior the American Legion Bridge. The cleanup from the crash and the hazmat response from a fuel spill prompted the complete closure of I-495 northbound before the bridge, sending tens of thousands of drivers bound for Maryland and D.C. into Arlington to try to make it across the remaining Potomac bridges.
In Fairfax County, that has meant gridlock on main eastbound arteries like Chain Bridge Road and Georgetown Pike. In Arlington, it has resulted in the following almost unthinkable traffic scenarios as of 9 p.m. on an otherwise clear and calm day:
- Both directions of I-66 are jammed between Glebe Road and the Roosevelt Bridge.
- Northbound N. Glebe Road is a virtual parking lot for more than two miles from just past Washington Golf and Country Club to Chain Bridge. The backups have been getting longer as the night goes on.
- Northbound Military Road is a solid line of traffic from Zachary Taylor Park to the Glebe Road on-ramp. Police have shut down access to the road at Nelly Custis Drive, according to a tipster.
- Side streets in the Old Glebe neighborhood are filled with cars attempting to find shortcuts.
- Eastbound Route 50 is “in gridlock from Pershing Drive.”
- Numerous highway on-ramps throughout Arlington have been closed by police to try to control traffic.
- Eastbound Lee Highway is backed up to the MOM’s Organic Market.
- Multiple intersections in Rosslyn are reported to be near-gridlock near Key Bridge, with police on scene directing traffic.
- Northbound I-395 is crawling past Pentagon City.
The Inner Loop remains completely closed and is expected to remain closed until midnight or later.
The nightmare traffic has led to hours in the car for commuters and some frayed nerves. Police have responded to numerous reports of road rage incidents, as well as crashes on traffic-clogged streets.
More from social media:
#FCFRD and @mcfrs HazMat crews currently working to transfer gasoline from overturned trailer. They have successfully offloaded one pod (1/4 of product), they have 3 pods left. Anticipate completing operation in next 2 hours after which @VaDOTNOVA will work to upright tanker. pic.twitter.com/CL3wIeDO6H
— Fairfax Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) March 29, 2019
— ladytotteringhall (@LadyMRG) March 29, 2019
just came down Washington Drive by Ft Myer, crazy traffic all over! Did one tanker truck do this? Imagine if a determined foe tried something??
— EdwardPernotto (@Edward_Pernotto) March 29, 2019
16th St has a line of red tail lights too by Rhodes. Never seen that before.
— Emily S. Miller (@mlymllr) March 28, 2019
— Ned Wharton (@NPRNedWharton) March 28, 2019
I have moved possibly 2 miles in 2 hrs and am nowhere near Chain Bridge. I’m not even at CIA. I ate all of my snacks, drank all of my water, am watching my gas tank diminish & most importantly missing @VanessaVanjie on @RuPaulsDragRace. Someone save me!
— Sandy Rosenblatt (@sandybeach28) March 29, 2019
Good news: the residual traffic is finally clearing out. 14th Street, Memorial and Roosevelt bridges are clear. Key Bridge has traffic but the approaches are clear. Traffic on N. Glebe and Rt 123 is slowly trickling out over Chain Bridge. pic.twitter.com/2r2C64uqCI
— Arlington Now (@ARLnowDOTcom) March 29, 2019
Maps via Google Maps
APS on Two Hour Delay — Arlington Public Schools are opening today on a two hour delay. “The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled,” APS said. [Twitter]
Chain Bridge Closes Due to Ice — Chain Bridge was closed for much of the morning rush hour this morning due to icy conditions on the bridge. Multiple crashes were reported, though the bridge has since reopened. [Twitter, Twitter]
Amazon News Roundup — Per the Washington Business Journal: The neighborhoods around the Rosslyn area might have been rebranded as “Capital View” had it been chosen for Amazon’s HQ2. The retro Americana hotel in Crystal City is hoping to stay put and revamp a bit as Amazon moves in. The Crystal City BID is working to expand its boundaries and, if successful, may be renamed the National Landing BID. Finally, while Virginia is mostly welcoming Amazon with open arms, in the other half of the HQ2 equation, New York City, Amazon is facing protests and opposition from local lawmakers.
Amazonians May Invade Dating Scene — DCist asks: “Will Amazon Bring A Bunch Of Rude Workaholics To The D.C. Dating Scene?” [DCist]
Money Diary of a Local Parent — As part of a money diary feature, Slate asks: “How Much Does a Dad of Two Spend on His Kids During One Week in Arlington, Virginia?” [Slate]
E-CARE This Weekend — The Arlington Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE), “a biannual event at which residents can safely dispose of household hazardous materials (HHM), bikes, small metal items and other recyclable items,” is set to happen this weekend at 1425 N. Quincy Street. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17 from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Jenn Vogel
Simple Greek Now Open — Fast-casual restaurant chain The Simple Greek has opened its new Rosslyn location in the Colonial Plaza shopping center. A ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday was followed by long lines at lunchtime. [Twitter, Twitter]
WiFi Available in Underground Metro Stations — As of today, free wireless internet service should be available in every underground Metro station. Per yesterday’s announcement from Metro: “Customers can log-in by selecting the ‘Metro-Public’ network in their device’s Wi-Fi settings.” [WMATA]
Signs Up for Sfoglina — “Coming soon” signs are up for the new Rosslyn outpost of the acclaimed Fabio and Maria Trabocchi restaurant Sfoglina Pasta House. The restaurant is located on the street level of the office building at 11oo Wilson Boulevard. [Twitter]
Water Rescue Near Chain Bridge — D.C. police and firefighters rescued two people whose kayak overturned in the Potomac River near Chain Bridge last night. Both were evaluated by medics but “neither have physical injuries,” per DCFEMS. [Twitter, Twitter]
Fox News Coming to Iwo Jima Memorial — On Sunday, Fox News Channel will broadcast a portion of its America’s News Headquarters program (noon-2 p.m.) from the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn. Elizabeth Prann will co-anchor “ANHQ” from the Memorial, “where the nation will be preparing for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration,” according to a Fox press release.
Arlington Has Millions in Prepaid Taxes — “The Arlington treasurer’s office still has about $8 million sitting untouched in its coffers, waiting to be applied to future tax payments. But that’s less than half the $17.2 million in total prepayments submitted by Arlington taxpayers in the waning days of 2017, hoping to beat changes to federal tax law that made some mortgage-interest payments non-deductible in 2018.” [InsideNova]
Both lanes of Chain Bridge Road at N. Glebe Road are currently closed.
Arlington Police say a tree fell on power lines in the area, and they’re warning drivers near the D.C. limits to find another route.
TRAFFIC ALERT ⚠️: All lanes of Chain Bridge Road at N. Glebe Road are closed for a fallen tree. @DomEnergyVA is responding due to the tree having made contact with power lines. Seek alternate routes in the area.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) May 17, 2018
There’s no word yet on when the road may reopen, and Arlington’s traffic management systems already show heavy backups in the area.
Lost Hikers Found Near Chain Bridge — Two men who had apparently been hiking along the Potomac River got lost and had to call emergency dispatchers after one of them fell and hurt himself. The call came in around 2:30 a.m. this morning. Arlington, Fairfax County, D.C. and U.S. Park Police units helped to search for the men — Fairfax used its police helicopter — and eventually they were found and transported to the hospital. [WUSA 9]
Video: ACFD Responds to FC Vehicle Fire — A minivan caught on fire in Falls Church over the weekend and a camera was rolling as Arlington County firefighters arrived to extinguish the blaze. [Twitter]
Holiday Decorations Going Up — Around Clarendon yesterday — and perhaps in other parts of the county as well — lights, window paintings and other festive decorations were being put up in anticipation of the holiday season. [Instagram]
Arlington Mill Gym Floor Installed — The new gym floor has been installed and is ready to use at the Arlington Mill Community Center. The gym’s previous floor had to be removed due to water damage stemming from a March snow storm. [Twitter]
County Announces Human Rights Award Winners — Among the recipients of Arlington County’s 2017 James B. Hunter Award winners are: Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer; the Building Bridges community initiative; Saint George’s Episcopal Church and its refugee advocacy; Café Sazón and its support of immigrant rights; and Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City, which is considered the only gay bar in Northern Virginia. [Arlington County]
Reporter Accused of Unwanted Advances in Local Bar — New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush has been suspended following accusations that during his time at Arlington-based Politico, he made unwanted sexual advances at young, female colleagues while drinking at a Rosslyn bar. [Vox]
Arlington County firefighters helped to rescue a woman who fell down an embankment near Chain Bridge this afternoon.
The incident happened around 3 p.m. Initial reports suggest a 72-year-old woman fell 100-150 feet down an embankment along the Potomac Heritage Trail.
A fire department technical rescue team was dispatched to the scene, but rescuers were able to eventually walk the patient up the hill and to an ambulance, where she was evaluated for injuries, according to scanner traffic.
Police blocked the inbound lane of N. Glebe Road near the bridge during the rescue, due to a large number of fire department vehicles in the roadway.
Image via Google Maps
The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office served an eviction at 201 Chain Bridge Road, the palatial former home of former multimillionaire Rodney Hunt, on Monday.
Also known as the the RPH Mansion, the 20,000 square foot estate has, over the past couple of years, hosted wild “mansion parties,” one of which led to a drive-by shooting in nearby McLean this past summer. It is also a frequent destination for police, with numerous robbery, burglary and disturbance calls during that time span.
The Washington Post reported in September that Hunt was fighting eviction after the property, which overlooks the Potomac River and was once valued at $24 million, was sold to at a foreclosure auction for $7.3 million. In December, Hunt lost his legal battle to keep the home. On Jan. 11, a Writ of Possession was issued, according to court records, marking the last legal step before Monday’s eviction.
Two unmarked moving vans and several people could be seen inside the gates of the property Monday afternoon. A number of Sheriff’s Office vehicles were parked outside. At one point, a black Lincoln Town Car was towed out of an underground garage.
Hunt’s case, meanwhile, continues to be a source of fascination and intrigue. He went from having an estimated net worth of $265 million in 2007 to foreclosure in 2012, bankruptcy in 2015 and then spending part of last year in jail for a parole violation. Two fines from his August court appearance — for $236 and $91 — are marked past due in court records.
Last year ARLnow.com received an anonymous letter, sent via the mail, raising questions about Hunt’s path to bankruptcy. The letter suggested there was a conspiracy against Hunt; the accusations were similar in tone to Hunt’s own assertions in court papers, as reported by the Post.
The crash happened around 10 a.m. The driver was able to “self-extricate” from the vehicle, which was flipped on its roof, according to scanner traffic.
Glebe Road is closed while a tow crew works to remove the flipped vehicle and clean debris from the roadway.
The driver’s injuries are believed to be minor.
There are more than 80 historical markers scattered throughout Arlington County’s 26 square miles, but if you’re like many locals, you probably haven’t visited all of them.
A recently launched video series from Arlington Public Schools will let you learn about some of those sites without leaving your computer.
The program, hosted in part by APS Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy, highlights 11 of the county’s most significant historic sites.
Since the series debuted earlier this summer, it’s already uncovered some interesting tidbits about the area, such as:
- An Arlington resident’s medical research led to a breakthrough in blood transfusions.
- A community campaign turned an old school into a museum.
- The first flight of an aircraft on a military installation happened at an Arlington fort.
- The first federal building constructed in the county was a post office in Clarendon.
- Arlington once had a community for newly freed slaves.
- There used to be three massive radio towers in Arlington that were, at the time, the second-tallest manmade structures in the world.
- The county’s first fire company consisted of 10 leather buckets, a ladder and some volunteers.
- Chain Bridge got its name from a chain suspension bridge built over the Potomac River in 1808.
And there’s more history on the way. Next up, the series will tackle historical sites such as the Necostin Indian Site at the Roosevelt Island Parking Lot, Stratford Junior High School (which currently houses the H-B Woodlawn secondary program) and the Reevesland farmhouse.
Screenshot via Arlington Historical Markers video