The Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project is halfway complete.
The bridge is back open today after a total closure over the weekend (delayed from earlier this month) that allowed crews to replace concrete support structures and panels, along with other work, on the southern side of the span.
The National Park Service released a new video (above) highlighting work so far on the $227 million project, which kicked off last fall. The video notes that the bridge is “a symbolic link between north and south” and “a symbolic entrance to our nation’s capital.”
It took years to secure federal funding for the project, as warnings of the bridge crumbling and becoming unusable grew more dire.
More on the construction progress so far, from NPS:
Over the weekend, workers finished preparing the southside of the bridge for users and made changes to transition to the next phase of the rehabilitation project. The work included:
- Moving the bridge’s center barrier.
- Striping the southside of the bridge for drivers.
- Moving the poles that support overhead lights guiding drivers in three reversible lanes.
- Installing or uncovering new detour signs for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The total rehabilitation of Arlington Memorial Bridge began in fall 2018 and is on schedule. So far, workers have:
- Replaced the concrete structures that support the southside of the bridge.
- Installed new pre-cast concrete panels to replace half of the bridge deck.
- Placed new steel beams on the southside of the bridge.
- Cleaned, repaired and reinstalled the bridge’s historic granite balustrade.
“Since its dedication in 1932, Arlington Memorial Bridge has served as a monument to national sacrifice and valor — a symbol of reunification, spanning the historic divisions of the North and South,” NPS said of the bridge, which connects Arlington and D.C. across the Potomac River. “As one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects in National Park Service history, the rehabilitation of Arlington Memorial Bridge will give new life to our Capital’s ceremonial entrance while respecting its character, history and national significance.”
The Arlington Memorial Bridge will be completely closed during the first weekend of November as part of its multi-year, $227 million rehabilitation project.
The National Park Service said in a press release today (Monday) that the bridge will be closed to all traffic — including cars, pedestrians, and cyclists — to make space for repair work on the southern side of the bridge.
The closure will be in effect from 10 p.m. on Friday, November 1, to 5 a.m. on Monday, November 4.
The current, temporary lane configuration on the bridge is expected to remain the same following the re-opening of the bridge, with one lane open for eastbound travel to D.C., another lane open for westbound travel to Virginia, and one lane kept reversible for rush hour traffic.
“Drivers and cyclists should exercise caution and expect to see construction workers in the road 30 minutes before and after the scheduled times for traffic shifts,” said NPS spokesman Jonathan Shafer in a statement. “Detours for pedestrians and cyclists will be signed.”
Shafer also warned pedestrians and cyclists to stick to crosswalks and “refrain from taking shortcuts across these busy roads.”
Since kicking off repairs last year on the bridge’s facade and structure, Shafter said crews have reached the halfway point, after finishing the following steps:
- Replacing the concrete structures that support the south side of the bridge.
- Installing new precast concrete panels to replace half of the bridge deck.
- Placing new steel beams on the south side of the bridge.
- Cleaning, repairing and reinstalling the bridge’s historic granite balustrade.
Earlier this year, NPS also announced plans to redesign Memorial Circle in front of the bridge, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.
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Friday Fire Call at Ballston Harris Teeter — “ACFD on scene of the Ballston Harris Teeter for reports of flames coming from a seafood display. Firefighters on scene say it’s a malfunctioning refrigerator, per scanner. Expect emergency activity on N. Glebe Road.” [Twitter]
Broadband Provider Opens Office in Clarendon — “Boston-based Starry Internet, a new internet service provider deploying fixed wireless broadband, announced that it has expanded to Arlington, Virginia, with a new office space. The company’s 8,300-square-foot Virginia office is owned by Rooney Properties, and is located in the Clarendon neighborhood… Starry offers an internet-only product costing $50 a month with a 200Mbps download speed.” [Technically DC]
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Arlington Tech Company Raises $2.5 Million — “Shift5, Inc. a cybersecurity company that builds hardware and software products to defend weapon systems, air platforms, and commercial transportation systems raised an additional $2.5 million in venture funding.” [PRNewswire via Potomac Tech Wire]
Memorial Bridge Construction Update — “Arlington Memorial Bridge is getting a makeover and some much needed structural support during its repairs… Adam Tuss got an exclusive look at the construction project on the Potomac.” [NBC 4]
ACFD Welcomes Retired Firefighter on 1,000 Mile Run — “On Saturday, September 14th, retired firefighter Justin Rowe will completed his 1,000 mile run from Maine to the Iwo Jima site (USMC Memorial) in Arlington. Tower 104 flew a flag to help welcome and congratulate him on this amazing achievement.” [Twitter]
Incubator Leaving Crystal City — “Startup incubator 1776 plans to open its new D.C. location this year and will ultimately shut down its Crystal City location. 1776 spokesman Lucas McCanna said the company will relocate to ‘the general McPherson Square area,’ but declined to give a specific address.” [Washington Business Journal]
AAA: Worst Times for Independence Day Travel — “Holiday travelers hailing from the area will face absolute gridlock along key freeway segments starting [today], July 3. Topping the list of the worst corridors for those departing Wednesday, July 3, is Interstate 270 northbound.” [Press Release]
Arlington County Holiday Closures — All Arlington County government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be closed Thursday for the Independence Day holiday, though trash and recycling will still be collected. Also, “metered parking is not enforced but street parking near the US Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima), Long Bridge Park, and the Air Force Memorial will be restricted. Motorists should look for temporary ‘No Parking’ signs.” [Arlington County]
Memorial Bridge Closed to Pedestrians — In addition to other July 4 road closures around Arlington, Memorial Bridge will be closed to both vehicles and pedestrians throughout the day Thursday. [Twitter, National Park Service]
ART Bus Holiday Schedule — “ART will operate holiday service on Thursday, July 4, 2019, in observance of Independence Day. ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 will operate on Sunday schedules. All other ART routes will not operate and the ART customer call center will be closed.” [Arlington Transit]
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Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) The National Park Service is ready to move ahead with plans to make Memorial Circle safer and easier to navigate.
NPS finalized a study last week, stating its plans did not negatively impact the surrounding environment or historical character of the area. The agency can now move forward on making the nexus of roadways safer for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
“The National Park Service is very pleased this project has advanced to a stage where we’ll be able to implement these improvements as soon as funds are available,” a spokesman for the federal agency told ARLnow.
NPS chose the most aggressive of three proposed plans to modify Memorial Circle and the roads around it, S. Arlington Blvd and Washington Blvd.
The plan chosen, Alternative C, calls for changes like re-striping Memorial Circle down to one lane of traffic instead of two, thus reducing conflicts between drivers in the circle and approaching the circle.
The plan also includes a proposal to enlarge and shorten the text on signs in the circle, making them easier to read. Additionally, new yield signs would give vehicles inside the circle the right of way.
NPS also proposed adding walk signals for pedestrians and flashing beacons for drivers at six intersections where the study notes near-misses are common. Officials estimated 600 crashes occurred near Memorial Circle between 2005 and 2012.
The agency would also re-stripe S. Arlington Blvd down to two lanes before it approaches the crosswalk just north of the circle to make crossing safer for pedestrians.
To help reduce weaving between lanes and merging traffic north of the circle, NPS would:
- Re-stripe Washington Blvd, reducing it to one lane
- Re-stripe S. Arlington Blvd to two lanes and Washington Blvd to one lane where the roadways merge, allowing traffic to continue without changing lanes
- Remove the S. Arlington Blvd exit ramp and far left exit lane to S. Washington Blvd
- Widen the northern ramp off of S. Arlington Blvd up to 12 feet to allow two lanes of traffic to exit, making the left lane exit-only and the right lane a shared exit/through lane
- Possibly remove one or two trees along the exit of the S. Arlington Blvd ramp
The plan also calls for widening northbound Washington Blvd to fit a third lane as it merges into the circle.
The widened road would make room for a concrete island, directing two of Washington Blvd’s three northbound lanes onto Memorial Bridge and one lefthand lane into the circle. NPS said Washington Blvd could be widened up to 20 feet, pending design specifications.
The existing concrete island where the Memorial Bridge meets the circle’s east side would be split into two. These two new concrete islands would direct the left westbound lane coming off Arlington Memorial Bridge into the circle and syphon the other westbound lanes onto S. Arlington Blvd.
Other changes include:
- Adding rumble strips and raised pavement markings to avoid “last-minute weaving” and provide more guidance to drivers
- Installing more speed limit signs and increased police presence to crack down on speeding
NPS has implemented traffic improvements to the area before. In 2012, the agency moved a sidewalk and installed rumble strips, among other changes, on the GW Parkway in a bid to make the roadway safer.
“Whether you are a frequent commuter, visitor to Washington, D.C. or someone recreating, we want the Memorial Circle area to be a safe and accessible experience for everyone,” said Charles Cuvelier, the Parkway’s superintendent, in a statement about the latest round of improvements.
Work continues nearby on structural repairs to Memorial Bridge, a project NPS started last year.
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Inside Look at Memorial Bridge Work — Workers are laboring to restore the Arlington Memorial Bridge to its former glory, one piece of 90-year-old granite at a time. [NBC Washington]
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Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler
USPS Decides to Relocate Rosslyn Post Office — “The U.S. Postal Service will relocate the Rosslyn Station Post Office, located at 1101 Wilson Blvd, to a yet-to-be-determined location as close as reasonably possible to the current site.” [USPS]
Netherlands Carillon to Go Quiet, Temporarily — “Bells that have been ringing high atop an Arlington hill for nearly 60 years will soon go temporarily silent as they embark on a journey thousands of miles long… The 50 bells will be taken down by crane and sent by ship to a foundry in the Netherlands, where they will be cleaned and retuned.” [WJLA]
New Memorial Bridge Lane Closures — “Work is moving ahead on the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which means that the overnight traffic pattern will change to accommodate construction lanes. Starting on Monday, March 11, the National Park Service will reduce the number of lanes that drivers can access from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m.” [WTOP]
Ballston Tech Company Acquired — “Comcast today announced it has acquired BluVector, a company that uses advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide cybersecurity protection to companies and government agencies.” [BluVector]
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Amazon VP Tweets from Crystal City — “Delicious lunch at Federico Ristorante Italiano in #CrystalCity! It was fun to hang out with @FreddieFlamingo and see one of the great local restaurants that the future #AmazonHQ2 employees will be able to enjoy very soon!” [Twitter]
A driver struck a woman with their car while she was crossing the G.W. Parkway just south of the Arlington Memorial Bridge yesterday (Thursday), in what’s long been a troublesome stretch of road for pedestrians.
The woman was in the middle of a crosswalk just south of the bridge at the time of the incident, according to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado.
The crash happened around 11 a.m. yesterday, and the woman suffered “non-life threatening injuries,” Delgado said.
Police believe that the right lane of traffic had stopped for the woman, but a vehicle in the left lane didn’t, Delgado added. Arlington Fire Department spokesman Ben O’Bryant said the woman was conscious when first responders arrived, and she was transported to a local hospital “in good condition.”
The stretch of the parkway leading up to the bridge has often been the scene of dangerous crashes involving pedestrians. Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012 alone.
Park officials are even in the process of weighing a variety of changes along the parkway and the nearby Memorial Circle to make them a bit safer for pedestrians.
In fact, some of the potential improvements would target crosswalks on the parkway south of the bridge, like making them a bit more visible for drivers or even narrowing the parkway to one lane as it approaches crosswalks.
Photo via Google Maps
Memorial Bridge Potholes — Large potholes made for dangerous driving on the under-construction Memorial Bridge over the weekend, but crews started repairing the bridge’s pockmarked surface Tuesday. [Twitter, Twitter]
Poke Restaurant Coming to Ballston — Local restaurant Poke It Up is expanding with a second location. The restaurant, which first opened in the Pentagon City mall food court, is now planning to open this summer at 4401 N. Fairfax Drive in Ballston, next to a new soup shop, Zoup. [Eater]
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Overturned Vehicle in Crystal City — A driver managed to flip his or her vehicle in a crash last night on 18th Street S., near the Crystal City Metro station. [Twitter]
Board Set to Endorse VRE Funding — “Arlington County Board members on Jan. 26 are expected to endorse a request by Virginia Railway Express (VRE) for state funding to support construction of a new Crystal City station. The transit agency will seek grant funding from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, which if approved could cover up to 70 percent of the cost of construction. VRE will fund the rest.” [InsideNova]
Changes to State Inspection Stickers — “The stickers are smaller, in response to complaints that the new sticker placement on the bottom left of the windshield, which started in 2018, resulted in reduced visibility for drivers.” [Tysons Reporter]
Nearby: Alexandria Warns About Opioids — “The City of Alexandria has responded to four suspected opioid overdoses in the last 72 hours, including two fatalities. While recreational use of opioids is always dangerous and illegal, City officials are urging residents to be aware of the medical safety of the drugs, including heroin, that could be extremely concentrated or mixed with something unusual that is resulting in life-threatening situations.” [City of Alexandria]
Flickr pool photo by Eschweik
Transportation officials are proposing a host of safety improvements for Memorial Circle, a confusing confluence of roads connecting Arlington National Cemetery to the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
The circle has long been the site of all manner of dangerous crashes, particularly those involving cyclists and pedestrians looking to access the nearby Mt. Vernon Trail or cross into D.C. But the National Park Service has drawn up a series of changes for the roads in the area designed to address the issue, including traffic pattern changes to transform the circle into something more like a traditional roundabout.
“The project area is at a major convergence of regional roadways and modes that interact through a complex series of roadway merges (on-ramps), weaves, diverges (off-ramps), and intersections, resulting in traffic congestion and crashes,” NPS planners wrote in a November environmental assessment. “The proposed action would change the way area users access and circulate through the area by car, bicycle, or foot.”
Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012. Lawmakers previously secured some safety improvements for the G.W. Parkway and the circle to try to address the issue. The new NPS proposal would address not only the circle itself, but also the roads approaching the area from both the north and south: S. Arlington Blvd and Washington Blvd.
Perhaps the most substantial change park officials are proposing would be cutting back on one lane of traffic in the circle, in order to “allow the circle to function more like a modern roundabout,” the NPS wrote. That means that drivers in the circle would have the right of way, and anyone entering the circle would need to yield to them.
The NPS also plans to split up an island on the east side of the circle, near where it meets the Memorial Bridge, allowing two westbound lanes coming from the bridge to “bypass the circle and head north onto S. Arlington Boulevard” and one lane of traffic to proceed and enter the circle.
For roads north of the circle, officials are proposing some improved signage at the various intersections, including “fluorescent yellow advance pedestrian crossing warning signs” at some and “rapid flashing beacon” signs at others.
But they’re also envisioning more dramatic improvements, like reducing Washington Blvd down to one lane, and removing both the “existing southern exit ramp connecting S. Arlington Blvd and S. Washington Blvd” and “the existing far left exit lane of S. Arlington Blvd.”
As S. Arlington Blvd exits the circle, the NPS also envisions reducing the road from three lanes down to two leading up to the crosswalk. The existing far left lane leading onto a ramp to S. Washington Blvd is slated to be removed, as is the exit ramp itself.
The NPS is planning similar pedestrian sign improvements for intersections south of the circle, as well as other lane reductions.
One major change would be the construction of a new concrete island where Washington Blvd enters the circle to its south, allowing two lanes of the road to bypass the circle and reach the Memorial Bridge, and one lane to enter the circle. That would require a slightly widening of the road in the area, the NPS wrote.
The plans also call for Washington Blvd to be reduced from four lanes to three south of the circle “in order to simplify merging patterns,” while the G.W. Parkway would be widened “to add an acceleration lane allowing traffic from Arlington Blvd to enter the parkway in its own dedicated lane before merging onto the two-lane parkway.”
Additionally, the NPS envisions relocating two bike and pedestrians crossings south of the circle. One, located as a trail crossing Washington Blvd, “would be relocated closer to the Circle, to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross where vehicle speeds are slower and where drivers are anticipating conflicts.” The other, designed to help people cross the parkway to the southeast of the circle, would be moved slightly further north of the parkway.
The NPS traffic analysis of these proposed changes suggest they’d generate “an overall improvement” in congestion on the roads, in addition to substantial safety upgrades.
People in the bicycling community are pretty skeptical of the latter assertion, however.
Surprise! @NPSGWMP has proposed a few half-assed safety improvements to Memorial Circle. Read about 'em here and decide if you think they'll keep you safe in the crosswalk: #bikedc #bikearlington https://t.co/MZAdUCONY4
— Chris Slatt (@alongthepike) November 29, 2018
Thought 2 – If this were implemented tomorrow, I'd still insist that nobody walk or bike anywhere near it because the crossings aren't safe
— Garrett Hennigan (@gwhennigan) November 29, 2018
The NPS is accepting comments on the plans through Dec. 29.
The Arlington Memorial Bridge is now set for a second full shutdown next weekend, as the lengthy rehab work on the aging structure inches forward.
The National Park Service announced today (Tuesday) that the bridge will be completely closed to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians starting at 9 p.m. next Friday (Dec. 7) through 5 a.m. the following Monday (Dec. 10). The NPS commissioned a similar shutdown in late September, and says another could be on the way in January.
Workers recently reduced the bridge down to three traffic lanes from its original six to allow for construction work as part of a $227 million effort to shore up the Potomac River crossing. Planners believe the work is necessary to avoid a complete shutdown of the Memorial Bridge in the coming years, and they expect work to continue through 2021.
“We’re closing the bridge to keep everyone safe,” Acting NPS Superintendent Blanca Alvarez Stransky wrote in a statement. “We need your cooperation in observing these closures. If anyone enters the work area during the closure, it will increase the amount of time we need to complete the work.”
The NPS is advising anyone who normally relies on the bridge to seek alternate routes next weekend, and even suggesting that boaters “approach the bridge with caution and avoid the area near its center span.” According to a release, workers plan to use the shutdown as a chance to “install a temporary support structure under the middle arch of the bridge” and “begin to remove steel from the center span of the bridge.”
Once the closure is over, the NPS says the bridge will return to its current, three-lane traffic pattern, with one eastbound lane, one westbound lane and a reversible third lane to match the direction of rush hour traffic.
The park service expects that traffic pattern will last until construction is over, and is also warning of an additional “limited number of full bridge closures on weekends and occasional, short full closures of the bridge at night.”
Photo via @NPSjennyas