Two recently completed bridges along Route 50 — at 10th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road — now look more colorful, thanks to a public art installation. But if you want to catch a glimpse of the art in its full glory, you’ll have to wait until it’s dark.
Arlington Cultural Affairs partnered with VDOT on both the custom-designed concrete panels on the sides of the road and metal grillwork on the overpasses. Both were the work of artist Vicki Scuri, who also designed an LED light show that backlights the grillwork at night.
The light display is programmed as a 15 minute loop that fades and gradually transitions between sets of colors. The show contains intentional sequences and transitions with a “range of non-highway colors” that suggest stained glass, Scuri said. The new light programming went live Friday night.
“The lighting, the pattern elements and the landscape are site specific responses to inform place, creating a signature landmark promoting wayfinding for the Arlington entries at Courthouse Street [sic] and 10th Street,” said Scuri, adding that she designed the art installations to reflect Arlington’s “classical architecture.” She said wanted to make a clear entry to Arlington that complemented the county’s lively, refined streetscapes.
Scuri was in Arlington last week to collaborate with the VDOT contract lighting designer and Arlington’s Department of Transportation to balance the artist’s creative vision with practicality and safety for those areas. They worked on the color and intensity of the lighting, among other things.
“This is a collective effort to provide both beauty and safety. I think we’ve done it,” said Scuri. “The entire project is a response to the site, to the native landscape and to the classical ornamentation of Arlington and that of Washington, D.C.”
All of the ramps, lanes and bridges for the interchanges of Route 50, N. Courthouse Road and 10th Street N. are open and finished.
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, Del. Patrick Hope and local and state transportation officials were on hand to cut the ribbon on the $39 million project that has been more than a decade in the making.
“My first County Board meeting in January 1998, in the first Board packet, the design of this interchange was in that packet,” Fisette said. “Really good things take time and partnerships. Hopefully we will continue to get these types of outcomes.”
The new interchange includes two new bridges at Courthouse Road and 10th Street, each with LED-lit metal grillwork displays, although the LED lights aren’t ready to be turned on yet. It includes a left-exit from eastbound Route 50 onto N. Courthouse Road, and turning lanes from westbound Route 50 that are separated from the three lanes of fast-moving traffic.
“Everyone who drives on Arlington Blvd every single day is going to have a much better experience,” Hope said.
In addition to the new traffic patterns and LED lights, the sides of the new highway have custom-designed concrete panels. The grillwork and panels were both designed by artist Vicki Scuri. The LED lights and landscaping along the highway are the only two components of the project that are not yet finished.
The project also included new bicycle and pedestrian paths along either side of the highway, with striping for two-way travel, between N. Pershing Drive and Courthouse Road on the westbound side, and Pershing and N. Rolfe Street on the eastbound side.
“This project represents the values we hold in Arlington. it’s about safety, it’s about travel choices,” Arlington Director of Transportation Dennis Leach said. “What an incredible difference this is if you are walking or biking.”
The interchange of Route 50, N. Courthouse Road and 10th Street Road is on the verge of opening for good.
According to Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer McCord, the westbound Route 50 frontage road that gives drivers access to Courthouse Road and 10th Street is expected to open on Wednesday. The opening means all facets of the intersection — the ramps from Courthouse Road and 10th Street to Route 50 in both directions and the frontage road — will be open for traffic.
The $39 million project began construction in April 2011, and McCord said the last pieces, to be completed over the summer, will be “final punch list work that will require some daytime lane closures.” The project was originally projected to be finished by last fall, but the completion date was pushed back to this summer. Of the $39 million the project is said to have cost, Arlington County contributed $1 million and the rest came from state and federal sources.
In addition to the other changes, there will also be “a signalized ‘T’ intersection providing access from both directions of Fairfax Drive to the Courthouse Road ramp,” according to VDOT’s project page.
Update at 2:45 p.m. — The package has been determined to be safe and the scene is being cleared.
Police, firefighters and the Arlington County bomb squad are staging at the corner of N. Courthouse Road and 13th Street in response to a suspicious package.
According to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, a maid in the Arlington Court Suites hotel on Courthouse Road found a small canister labeled “explosives.” It was brought to the hotel parking lot, where the bomb squad is examining it now.
“They’re taking all precautions as necessary,” Sternbeck said. “Until the canister has been deemed a non-threat, the area will remain closed.”
Authorities believe the canister might have been used in a training exercise by the Dept. of Defense, which rented out the hotel over the weekend. Courthouse Road is currently shut down between 13th Street and Route 50.
The ramps from 10th Street to eastbound Route 50 and from N. Fairfax Drive to westbound Route 50, along with a new ramp from Courthouse Road to westbound Route 50, are scheduled to open Friday, April 25, according to Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer McCord.
The westbound frontage from Route 50 to 10th Street N. will still have barriers on it but will open a few weeks later, McCord said.
There will still be some intermittent lane closures on Route 50 until the project wraps up by July, McCord said. The $39 million interchange began construction in April 2011 and was originally scheduled to be completed by fall of 2013, but the project was delayed, apparently to make sure traffic could continue to flow on Route 50 during construction.
From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the ramp will be closed to traffic. It will be re-opened in time for the evening rush hour.
“Crews are completing a concrete median barrier here,” said VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord. “Keep in mind it’s weather permitting… although scheduled I doubt there will be any work on Thursday this week.”
These closures are happening about a month before the ramp from eastbound Route 50 to the 10th Street N. bridge is expected to open, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation project page.
The $39 million is still projected to be completed by the middle of this year. The entire interchange will look different, with ramps to 10th Street N. and Courthouse Road from both EB and WB Route 50, and a signalized “T” intersection at Fairfax Drive and the Courthouse Road ramp.
The bridge was rebuilt as part of the $39 million Route 50/Courthouse Road/10th Street interchange project, which is expected to be complete by mid-2014. The old bridge was torn down in January, but crews made quick work of the new bridge, erecting steel beams for the span in July.
For now, the bridge is only carrying traffic from Courthouse Road to eastbound Route 50. Eventually, it will also carry traffic from eastbound Route 50 to Courthouse Road, with a traffic signal regulating traffic entering and exiting the highway.
VDOT currently anticipates opening the bridge to two-way traffic around Christmas of this year, according to spokeswoman Jeanene Harris.
The Virginia Department of Transportation announced that a detour will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 27 and 28. Drivers will exit onto 14th Street, which becomes 15th Street, turn right at Courthouse Road, left at Wilson Boulevard, left at N. Barton Street, left at 10th Street back to westbound Route 50.
The road closure will allow VDOT crews to erect steel beams for the new Courthouse Road bridge. The old bridge was torn down in January as part of the $39 million Route 50/Courthouse Road/10th Street interchange project.
The project is expected to be completed in mid-2014, VDOT said.
The $39 million Route 50/Courthouse Road/10th Street interchange project is apparently running behind schedule.
The project was originally slated for completion this fall but, in a new county-produced video, Greg Emanuel, Director of Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, says the project is now slated to be complete by the summer of 2014.
“It’s a multi-phased project,” Emanuel said in the video (above.) “It takes some time, because while it’s going on we need to maintain traffic.”
Arlington is contributing $1 million to the $39 million cost of the VDOT-led project. Construction started in April 2011. Recent work includes a realignment of the ramp from Courthouse Road to westbound Route 50, and the January demolition of the bridge from eastbound Route 50 to Courthouse Road.
The Courthouse Road bridge, and the 10th Street bridge that was torn down last year, were both originally built in 1954. No word yet on when they’ll be rebuilt, given the change in the project timeline.
Emanuel says the project will make the interchange safer and will help traffic flow more smoothly.
“Right now traffic is kind of complicated at these intersections,” he said. “This is going to provide new acceleration and deceleration lanes, and make it much safer for the traveling public that’s coming on and off these intersections.”
So far representatives from VDOT and DES have not responded to a request for comment.
A pothole on N. Courthouse Road has been forcing some drivers to slow to a crawl and has been producing a big bumpy surprise for others.
The pothole is located in the northbound lanes of N. Courthouse Road, between Route 50 and 13th Street N, just a couple of blocks from County government headquarters.
The left side of the pothole is a big dip. The right side contains a portion of raised pavement. Drivers who hit the dip with their left tire and the bump with their right tire risk bottoming out and scraping the undercarriage of their car.
Most drivers we observed were able to see the pothole and slow down before hitting it. We first Tweeted about the pothole last Tuesday. As of this morning, it’s still there.
VDOT crews have started tearing down the bridge from Courthouse Road to eastbound Route 50, leading to numerous closures, detours and delays in the area.
Today through Sunday night, traffic on westbound Route 50 is being diverted onto 14th Street N., up to Wilson Boulevard, down Barton Street and back to Route 50 via 10th Street. This afternoon, a long line of traffic was observed before the detour, which is in place to allow for the two-day demolition of the bridge.
Through August, when construction of a new bridge is expected to be completed, eastbound Route 50 drivers heading to Courthouse will have to drive past Courthouse and take the Rhodes Street bridge to 14th Street.
Drivers in Courthouse seeking to get on to eastbound Route 50, who used to be able to use the Courthouse Road bridge, will now have to take the Rhodes Street bridge to the Arlington Boulevard service road that leads to the difficult blind merge with Route 50 near the U.S. Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) memorial. Temporary traffic lights have reportedly been placed at the Arlington Boulevard/N. Meade Street intersection, before the entrance ramp, to help with traffic flow.
The bridge demolition is part of the $39 million Route 50/Courthouse Road interchange project. The project is scheduled for completion in October.
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) The heavily-used Courthouse Road bridge, which connects Courthouse with eastbound Route 50, will be torn down in two weeks.
The bridge is expected to close on Friday, Jan. 25. VDOT is planning to block and reroute westbound I-50 in the Courthouse area from Jan. 26-27 to allow for the bridge demolition work. That weekend, westbound traffic will be directed around the closure via 14th Street, Wilson Boulevard, Washington Boulevard and 10th Street.
From Jan. 25 to late August, when construction of a new Courthouse Road bridge is expected to wrap up, drivers trying to get from eastbound Route 50 to Courthouse will have to drive past the former bridge and instead take the N. Queen/Rhodes Street bridge, turning left on 14th Street to eventually reach Courthouse Road.
The bridge demolition is part of the $39 million Route 50/Courthouse Road interchange project. The project is scheduled for completion in October.
Photo courtesy (bottom left) Keith Hall
(Updated at 10:05 a.m.) Workers are on the scene of a water main break that has shut down part of S. Courthouse Road in the Penrose neighborhood.
Buses and cars are being re-routed away from the work, which has closed S. Courthouse Road between 6th and 8th Streets.
As of 10:00 a.m., the break itself was repaired, but workers are now filling the hole and repairing the street.
The road is expected to be closed for about two more hours, so drivers should plan on finding alternate routes until around noon.
VDOT tells us the closure will last about 6-8 weeks while crews construct a new ramp as part of the Route 50/Courthouse Road interchange project.
As a detour, drivers are encouraged to take the Queen Street exit from WB Route 50, about a half mile before Courthouse Road. VDOT says exit signs will then direct drivers up 14th Street, to 15th Street, and finally to Courthouse Road.
Not every driver seems willing to abide the ramp closure, however. Today we spotted a minivan with diplomatic license plates that drove up to the closure, then reversed in traffic on Route 50, and weaved between a pair of orange barrels to get on to Courthouse Road.
Drivers coming to and going from Courthouse on eastbound Route 50 will have to find another route later this summer. VDOT is planning to demolish the busy Courthouse Road bridge as part of the ongoing Route 50/Courthouse Road interchange project.
VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord says the agency is currently planning on closing and tearing down the bridge either in late August or early September. She said the exact timing of the demolition is contingent on some other work, including the completion of new ramps to and from westbound Route 50 and Courthouse Road.
Once the closure is in place, eastbound Route 50 drivers will be directed to the next exit — Rhodes Street — and detour signs will point them back to Courthouse Road. McCord said engineers are still working on a detour for those trying to get on eastbound Route 50 from the Courthouse area.
A new Courthouse Road bridge is expected to be complete by Spring 2013, McCord said.
Another interchange project-related closure is planned for Monday. Workers are planning to close Fairfax Drive, which runs parallel to Route 50, from N. Taft Street to N. Scott Street. The closure is expected to remain in place until project completion in fall 2013.
Photo courtesy Keith Hall