Five “Complete Streets” roadway project designs are ready for community feedback.
As part of Arlington County’s Complete Streets program, the projects aim to improve safety and access on local roads. The changes are usually made in conjunction with repaving projects and mostly involve re-striping the roadway, sometimes at the expense of parking or through lanes.
According to the project website, the five stretches of roadway that are up for improvements this year are:
- Wilson Boulevard — N. George Mason Drive to N. Vermont Street (Bluemont)
- Clarendon Boulevard — N. Garfield Street to N. Adams Street (Clarendon / Courthouse)
- Clarendon Boulevard — Courthouse Road to N. Scott Street (Courthouse / Rosslyn)
- S. Abingdon Street / 34th Street S. — Bridge over I-395 (Fairlington)
- N. Ohio Street — 12th Road N. to Washington Boulevard (Madison Manor / Highland Park-Overlee Knolls / Dominion Hills)
Those interested in giving feedback on the designs can fill out an online form on the project website through Wednesday, July 6. The final plans are expected to be released in late summer or fall.
S. Abingdon Street bridge
The county’s Department of Environmental Services plans to remove under-utilized parking from the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington.
The project would add buffer zones to the bike lanes to improve access for cyclists and safety for those using the sidewalks, while narrowing the travel lanes for speed control, according to its concept design summary.
Residents previously expressed concern about drivers speeding on the bridge while students walk to and from school.
The bridge is also part of a planned VDOT rehabilitation project, which will include adding concrete protective barriers and replacing bearings.
Wilson Blvd between N. George Mason Drive to N. Vermont Street
The segment of Wilson Blvd in Bluemont between N. George Mason Drive and N. Vermont Street, near Ballston, could see additional high contrast markings at high conflict crosswalks, according to the designs.
The plan is to reduce Wilson Blvd to one travel lane in each direction, with a center turn lane into N. George Mason Drive to better control vehicle speed.
The design plan also includes modifying markings to extend the left turn lane near N. George Mason Drive. The project would also add bike lanes and a continuous center turn lane east of the fire station.
The section of Wilson Blvd between George Mason and the Safeway grocery store saw similar changes last year.
Clarendon Blvd from N. Garfield Street to N. Adams Street
A segment of Clarendon Blvd is set for changes between N. Garfield Street and N. Adams Street, in the Clarendon and Courthouse area, including the removal of nine parking spots.
Apart from reducing parking spaces, the project team also plans to add high contrast markings at high conflict crosswalks. A bike box is set to be added at Clarendon Boulevard’s intersection with N. Garfield Street to make turning easier for cyclists.
The plan will also add parking protection to the bike lane between N. Garfield Street and N. Edgewood Street. A county summary says residents in the area expressed concern about speeding, unsafe pedestrian crossings and double parking in the bike lane.
The Gold’s Gym in Courthouse could soon be on the move, though its staff is hopeful it will stay put.
The gym’s space, located in an office building at 1310 N. Courthouse Road, is now be listed for lease by the real estate firm Colliers International.
A listing describes a 19,000-square-foot space on the building’s lower level as an “ideal gym, training center, conference center, or classroom space,” and says it will be available for lease by March 1, 2019. The realtor marketing the property did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
However, Mustafa Saifee, a district manager for Gold’s, told ARLnow that the gym is “currently in lease negotiations with [the] landlord” ahead of its current lease expiring in March.
“We are optimistic that we will be able to work out a deal that will allow us to stay and we absolutely plan on staying there for the foreseeable future,” Saifee said.
The entire lobby of the office building itself is currently under renovation, and some construction fencing currently blocks off entrances to the Gold’s.
The fitness chain also operates nearby locations in Rosslyn, Ballston, Clarendon and near Bailey’s Crossroads.
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.