A decades-long effort to build a boathouse along the banks of the Potomac River is lurching forward once more.
Officials with the National Park Service have wrapped up an environmental analysis of the project and settled on a preferred alternative near Rosslyn for its construction, in the latest bit of forward momentum for an initiative that has long bedeviled county leaders.
Local high schoolers have been particularly keen on seeing a new boathouse come to the fruition, as the closest access points for rowing teams have long been in Georgetown or Alexandria, but the project’s complexity has repeatedly stalled it.
NPS took control of Arlington’s portion of the Potomac shoreline after the construction of the GW Parkway, and the federal agency has spent years working off-and-on with the county to find a way to give local rowers easier access to the river. Arlington officials helped jump-start the process in 2014 by buying a parcel of land along Lee Highway just south of the Key Bridge, giving the NPS some added flexibility as it evaluated several options where the boathouse could be built.
Now, the agency is recommending a design that would involve building a 300-foot-long floating dock and 14,000 square feet of boat storage along the Potomac’s shoreline near Rosslyn, just across from Theodore Roosevelt Island. The plan also calls for building a support facility on the county-owned Lee Highway site with office space, locker rooms and handicapped parking.
NPS also evaluated plans to build the boathouse on the same site near the island without the support building, as well as an option that would involve building the boathouse on Gravelly Point near Reagan National Airport instead.
Yet the agency settled on its preferred alternative because the additional space off Lee Highway “allows for development of a smaller boat storage structure while providing additional support facilities outside the floodplain, off NPS property, and close to transit,” officials wrote in the environmental analysis.
They also noted that the Potomac is a bit calmer near the Rosslyn location, earning it higher marks than Gravelly Point. The close proximity of the Rosslyn Metro station and several local bus stops, in addition to the Custis bike trail, also won the option some praise.
While the agency found that any construction would have some limited impacts on the area’s wetlands and soil, it broadly didn’t foresee many stumbling blocks for the project to move forward. Nevertheless, any construction will require both federal and state permits to advance, and the county will need to work with federal officials to find funding for the effort.
In the meantime, however, NPS is accepting comments on the environmental analysis through July 30 on its website. The agency also plans to hold a July 12 open house at Washington-Lee High School on the project, starting at 6 p.m.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt
Arlington may get two new Capital Bikeshare stations, at Roosevelt Island and Gravelly Point.
The County Board is set to approve a “memorandum of understanding” with the National Park Service, which has to approve the bikeshare stations since they would be located on NPS land.
The approval would further the goal of an expansion of the bikeshare network along the Mt. Vernon Trail.
Responsibility for the installation and maintenance of the bikeshare facilities on NPS land would fall on the county, according to the memorandum. It also restricts any advertisements on the stations, and sets requirements for site preservation and, should the stations be removed in the future, restoration.
The office of the County Manager has recommended that the memorandum be approved at Saturday’s County Board meeting (April 21).
Rep. Don Beyer (D) criticized a bill that would rename Gravelly Point Park for former First Lady Nancy Reagan as it passed a U.S. House of Representatives committee earlier today.
The bill failed once in the House Natural Resources Committee, but then was brought up again and passed 18-16 on a party-line vote.
It now heads to the House floor for debate and a final vote, with similar actions required by the U.S. Senate before it can be signed into law by President Donald Trump.
But Beyer, a committee member whose district includes Arlington County, took exception to the efforts to rename the park near Reagan National Airport’s main runway as Nancy Reagan Memorial Park. The bill, H.R. 553, is sponsored by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and has 51 Republican co-sponsors.
In remarks to the committee today (Wednesday), Beyer criticized the bill for not taking sufficient public input from residents of Arlington and Alexandria, the communities closest to Gravelly Point.
“[This] bill is the equivalent of someone coming in and changing the furniture in your house without asking you,” he said. “First, you would have liked them to ask you, and even if you do like the furniture, you probably would have wanted input since it’s your house…Gravelly Point is not a national tourist attraction, it’s where local families go to have a picnic, throw a ball around, put a blanket down and watch the planes coming in and out, and it’s also where almost every Northern Virginia Uber driver sits to wait for a pickup.”
“This is what some call Washington at its worst — when we ignore the will of the local community to appease the desire of a moneyed, special interest,” Beyer said.
In response, Hice said there was “no better way” to honor Reagan by naming the park after her.
Beyer’s full remarks on the bill, including a video clip, are after the jump.
“Mr. Chairman, with true regret I rise to speak in opposition to this bill.
I have great respect for Nancy Reagan, and my opposition to this bill must not be interpreted as my having any personal animus towards our former First Lady.
But this bill is the equivalent of someone coming in and changing the furniture in your house without asking you. First, you would have liked them to ask you, and even if you do like the furniture, you probably would have wanted input since it’s your house.
First and foremost, this bill does not have local support and did not have any local input.
Gravelly Point is not a national tourist attraction, it’s where local families go to have a picnic, throw a ball around, put a blanket down and watch the planes coming in and out, and it’s also where almost every Northern Virginia Uber driver sits to wait for a pickup.
In this committee I constantly hear from my Republican friends that local communities know how to manage their land better, and that the feds should stay out of local decisions. I hope that this doesn’t only apply to Republican districts. This bill is Congress unilaterally forcing a decision on a local community — Arlington and Alexandria — without any local say or input.
And why? Because this bill is the pet project of Americans for Tax Reform, a special interest group. This is what some call Washington at its worst — when we ignore the will of the local community to appease the desire of a moneyed, special interest.
While I understand the desire to honor political figures, something like this should not be done without involving the local community. This would be the equivalent of my offering a bill in Mr. Hice’s district to rename the Oconee National Forest’s campground the Hillary Clinton campground or the Michelle Obama campground. I’m sure Mr. Hice would like his constituents to be able to weigh in on a decision like that.
The other reason this is concerning is the process with which it was handled. My understanding typically is that when offering legislation that impacts another Member’s district you either work with them or at least notify them. That respect was not extended to my office.
When we discovered it was Americans for Tax Reform and not our constituents that wanted the bill, we asked the sponsor’s office to not move forward, and my requests via staff were ignored. I was deeply surprised to find this bill before us here in markup. I asked the committee if they would remove it from markup, but that request was also denied.
This also [gets to] the process of how we consider bills. This bill had no legislative hearing. This is the first time that I have an opportunity to formally speak expressing my concerns.
And the other reason we needed a legislative hearing is because there is a potential technical impediment to the bill that needs airing.
Memorials, monuments and other commemorative works in Washington DC and its environs are governed by the Commemorative Works Act, which lays out a series of guidelines for the establishment of memorials and requires consultation with the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission. The Commission reviewed H.R. 5457 – the identical bill [introduced] in the 114th Congress – and determined that the proposal to establish Nancy Reagan Memorial Park potentially violates several guidelines established by the CWA.
First, Congressional authorization for memorials to individuals is not supposed to occur until the 25th anniversary of the death of the individual. Since space is limited and memorials should not be established without careful consideration, this provides time for reflection on the individual’s contributions. Since Mrs. Reagan passed away less than three years ago, the designation of a memorial park in her name violates the CWA.
Second, the CWA requires a comprehensive evaluation of site locations to determine suitability. The commission noted that this hasn’t happened for this proposal and that the designation of this site after the Former First Lady could prevent the establishment of other memorials in the area, since CWA states that no new memorial shall encroach upon an existing memorial.
So as one of my constituents wrote on ARLNow.com, I ask my colleagues to “just say no.” We cannot allow a pet project of a special interest group to override local consideration or input. Just as I respect my colleagues to know what’s best in their districts, I’d ask the same curtesy be extended. Let’s allow for public comment and local input and follow the Congressionally mandated process.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.”
[After further debate]
“I would humbly suggest that if we want to rename the park from Gravelly Point, that we engage the Arlington County Board, the Alexandria City Council, the jurisdictions that are there with all the constituents that are using this on a regular basis, and rename it after a vigorous public discussion about which of our many former First Ladies or just American leaders who should be honored in that way, rather than just unilaterally deciding that former First Lady Reagan – whom I admire very much – that this park should be named after her.”
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) The Iwo Jima memorial is set to get a new visitor center as part of the National Defense Authorization Act that was just signed by President Trump.
It instructs the Secretary of the Interior to build a “structure for visitor services to include a public restroom facility.” It does not specify where the center will be built, but the text says it will be “in the area” of the memorial, the formal name of which is the Marine Corps War Memorial. A Beyer spokesman said this was the “final hurdle” to getting the visitor center built.
Beyer, whose district includes Arlington County, introduced a bill authorizing construction of the restrooms last year, funded by a gift from local philanthropist David Rubenstein.
Work began earlier this year to revamp the memorial, including washing and waxing the memorial and re-gilding its lettering; repairing any parts of the granite plaza that have become damaged; improving lighting; repaving roads and footpaths; and installing new signs, shrubs and trees.
Rubenstein pledged more than $5 million for the entire project and new visitor center.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) The National Park Service has approved more than $200 million in funding to repair and rehabilitate Arlington Memorial Bridge.
NPS announced today (Friday) it will spend $227 million on the repair contract. U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) helped secure the funding, alongside U.S. Reps. Don Beyer (D-8) and Gerry Connolly (D-11) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).
Construction will begin next fall on the 85-year-old bridge, with the project set for completion in 2021. At least three lanes of traffic will remain open at all times during construction, which — thanks to the project now being fully funded — NPS will finish in one phase rather than two, to save $35 million.
Officials estimate the repairs will increase the bridge’s lifespan by 85 to 100 years. Last year, the bridge won a $90 million federal transportation grant to help with repairs, matched by $60 million from NPS, after years of deterioration and neglect led to worries it could close by 2021.
Beyer, who represents Arlington in the House of Representatives, said earlier this year he would push hard for federal money to fund repairs on a bridge that carries 68,000 vehicles each day from the county into D.C.
“After years of work to secure funding to fix Arlington Memorial Bridge, today’s announcement gives us hope that the bridge will remain safe and serviceable into the 22nd century,” Beyer said in a statement. “Our tour of the bridge and press conference in 2015 crystalized the dire need for this funding. Since then I have worked together with my colleagues in Congress, leaders from Virginia and the District, and two Administrations to secure the money for these structural repairs. This truly is great news, and I thank everyone whose efforts brought us here.”
Federal officials are scheduled to discuss the project during a press conference in the District at 3 p.m. this afternoon.
The full press release is after the jump:
Virginia’s two Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Reps. Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly (both D-VA) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) , today announced that after years of effort by the Senators and House members, the National Park Service (NPS) has approved $227 million to initiate a long-awaited contract to fully repair and rehabilitate Arlington Memorial Bridge. The 85-year-old bridge, owned and maintained by NPS, is a vital daily route connecting Arlington, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
The Virginia and D.C. delegations, with support of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, played a decisive role in successfully advocating for a federal FASTLANE project grant, as well as secured additional appropriations to launch the Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project in January. Construction will begin in the fall of 2018, with the project being completed in 2021, giving the bridge a lifespan of an additional 85 to 100 years. During construction, at least three lanes of traffic will remain open at all times to allow for continued use of the span. Identifying the remaining required funds allows the NPS to save $35 million in costs by completing the project in one phase rather than two, and will allow the project to be finished 18 months sooner than previously estimated.
“It is hard to overstate the importance of this progress on a key transportation project for this region,” Sen. Warner said. “It required the combined efforts of all of us from the national capital region – those of us serving in both houses of Congress, as well as the District government, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Transportation Department. These partnerships allowed the Park Service to design an innovative project that will save money and time for the region’s commuters and visitors.”
“Arlington Memorial Bridge is among the nation’s most deteriorated bridges, and I’m extremely proud that after years of hard work, the National Park Service has committed full funding for rehabilitation of the bridge. This is a huge win for Northern Virginia commuters, as well as visitors to the nation’s capital,” Sen. Kaine said.”As we celebrate this good news, we should also redouble our efforts to pass a major infrastructure bill so other aging bridges don’t degrade to such a terrible condition in the first place.”
“After years of work to secure funding to fix Arlington Memorial Bridge, today’s announcement gives us hope that the bridge will remain safe and serviceable into the 22nd century,” Rep. Beyer said. “Our tour of the bridge and press conference in 2015 crystalized the dire need for this funding. Since then I have worked together with my colleagues in Congress, leaders from Virginia and the District, and two Administrations to secure the money for these structural repairs. This truly is great news, and I thank everyone whose efforts brought us here.”
“This is a victory for Northern Virginia commuters and the effort to improve our nation’s ailing infrastructure,” Rep. Connolly said. “I am pleased the National Park Service stepped up to the plate to address this uniquely federal transportation challenge. Communities across the country deserve this kind of good news about their old and failing infrastructure.”
“As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, I could not be more delighted that the National Park Service has secured full funding to repair a critical priority, the iconic Memorial Bridge, with significant cost and time savings,” Rep. Norton said. “When I visited the bridge before construction, I saw firsthand how it was barely standing, and why traffic has to be rerouted, bringing even more traffic congestion on both sides of the river. With full funding rather than the phased dollars we already secured, we can finally break ground.”
The Memorial Bridge, which carries 68,000 vehicles daily between Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Va., was originally opened in 1932 with a 75-year design life. It is now structurally deficient, having never undergone a major rehabilitation. As a result a 10-ton load limit remains in effect, and large vehicles, including trucks and buses, are prohibited from crossing. Without a major overhaul, it has been expected that the Bridge would have to be closed to vehicular traffic beginning in 2021. However, NPS has an annual budget of just $20 million for transportation projects across all its assets in the National Capital Region.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has previously estimated that closing the Memorial Bridge could cost local governments $75 million per year in transportation outlays alone. Moreover, transit studies suggest that traffic from the bridge would spill over onto other area bridges, particularly the 14th Street Bridge and Roosevelt Bridge, further exacerbating congested roadways in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC.
Last year, the region’s congressional delegation was instrumental in securing $90 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for Phase 1 of the reconstruction of the Arlington Memorial Bridge, with NPS providing an additional $60 million in matching funds. At the time, NPS estimated that more than $100 million in additional funding would be needed in order to bring the Memorial Bridge into a state of good repair.
Due to years of chronic underfunding, NPS has been forced to defer billions of dollars in necessary maintenance on transportation infrastructure such as Memorial Bridge, as well as other facilities it operates, like visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds. In March, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced legislation, the National Park Service Legacy Act, to address the maintenance backlog at the National Park Service, which is currently more than $11 billion, and Sen. Kaine is one of a dozen bipartisan co-sponsors who have signed on to support the effort.
The National Park Service has denied a permit to erect a 45-foot statue of a naked, meditating woman on the National Mall near the Washington Monument.
The group behind the upcoming Catharsis on the Mall festival planned to transport R-Evolution, the statue created by artist Marco Cochrane, from San Francisco to the Mall at a cost of around $100,000.
The event is being held from Nov. 10-12.
Not that anyone has proposed it, but we were wondering whether Arlington might be a more welcoming place for the statue. If it were an option, would you support the statue being erected somewhere in Arlington?
Sixteenth 9/11 Anniversary — A flag was unfurled at the Pentagon this morning as the nation marked the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford were among those expected to attend a ceremony at the Pentagon, honoring the 184 people killed in the attack there. Arlington County also hosted its own remembrance ceremony and is posting recollections from Sept. 11, 2001 on social media. [ABC News, Twitter, Twitter]
Another Police-Impersonation Phone Scam — Local residents are again getting calls from a scammer claiming to be a law enforcement officer, demanding a fine be paid over the phone. As a reminder, police never call on the phone to collect fines. [Twitter]
Arlington 9/11 5K Recap — The 2017 Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K was held in Pentagon City on Saturday evening amid perfect September weather. Among those on hand to address the crowd were Police Chief Jay Farr, County Board Chair Jay Fisette and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. Spotted among the runners: former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who was wearing a Navy t-shirt and was all smiles after the race as the occasional group of fellow runners asked to take a photo with him. [Facebook, Chronotrack]
Park Service May Revamp MVT Boardwalk — As part of a larger improvement project for Theodore Roosevelt Island and the TR Bridge, the National Park Service is considering rehabilitating the nearby, aging boardwalk bridge along the Mount Vernon Trail, which carries bike and pedestrian traffic. [The Wash Cycle]
County Holds Transportation ‘Pop Up’ Event — “Arlington Transportation Partners, the County’s business-to-business transportation outreach organization, held its very first ‘Our Shared Street’ Pop Up festival recently at Arlington Mill Community Center. The late August gathering brought together residents of Columbia Pike with local businesses to highlight Arlingtonians’ many transportation options.” [Arlington County]
GW Parkway Crash — Earlier this morning, northbound traffic on the George Washington Memorial Parkway was temporarily blocked near the TR Bridge following a multi-vehicle crash. [Washington Post]
Rep. Don Beyer (D) announced Wednesday he will use the coming weeks in Congress to push for safety at two roadways that run through Arlington County.
Beyer said he will introduce appropriations amendments related to repairs for Memorial Bridge and safety on the George Washington Memorial Parkway as Congress debates legislation to fund the federal government’s operations past the deadline of September 30. Beyer’s district includes Arlington and a portion of Fairfax County as well as Alexandria and Falls Church Cities.
But Beyer said he wants to require President Donald Trump’s administration to submit a report to Congress outlining a plan to fully fund repairs, as the project could cost up to a quarter-billion dollars.
And for the GW Parkway, Beyer submitted an amendment requiring the Secretaries of Interior and Transportation to carry out a study on how to improve safety in its sections south of Alexandria in Fairfax County. The parkway, which like the Memorial Bridge is controlled by the National Park Service, has been the site of several serious crashes in recent times, sending motorists to the hospital and snarling traffic.
“Arlington Memorial Bridge and the George Washington Parkway are essential hubs for my constituents in Northern Virginia,” Beyer said in a statement. “Unfortunately, like much of the country’s infrastructure, these historic roadways have not been maintained sufficiently. We need prompt action by the federal government to guarantee the continued safety and reliability of these key transportation arteries.”
Meanwhile, after Congress’ return from its summer recess, Beyer will host two town hall-style events in Arlington in the next two months, one on the future of social security and another focusing on women’s issues.
On Sunday September 10 from 3-5 p.m. at Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.), Beyer hosts “A Forum on Social Security in the 21st Century,” alongside Connecticut Rep. John Larson (D). A flyer for the event said the pair will discuss what they are doing to protect Social Security today and protect it in the future.
And on Saturday, October 14 from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Beyer will host his third annual Women’s Conference and Forum at George Mason University’s Arlington campus (3351 Fairfax Drive), entitled, “Moving Forward, Together – Impact & Influence.”
Crews started moving in this morning (Tuesday, August 15) to begin work to give the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial — also known as the Iwo Jima memorial — a facelift.
The work will limit public access to the memorial and surrounding parkland until next year. In signs posted near the memorial and the Netherlands Carillon, the National Park Service said the revamp includes washing and waxing the memorial and re-gilding its lettering, repairing any parts of the granite plaza that have become damaged, improving lighting, and installing new signs, shrubs and trees.
The roadway and footpath around the memorial will also be repaved.
“The road will be rebuilt in its current configuration, but with materials to better support the heavy weight of the many tour buses that use the road daily,” NPS said in a press release.
As of Tuesday morning, crews were putting up detour signs for road and trail users, as the access road to the memorial’s parking lot will be closed. In an announcement of the work, NPS said the memorial will be surrounded by scaffolding for much of the project, but pedestrians can still access the memorial plaza from N. Meade Street. Buses will have a small area for pick-up and drop-off on N. Meade Street also.
The $5.37 million project is funded by a donation from local philanthropist David Rubenstein, who has also used some of his multi-billion dollar fortune to fund the Washington Monument’s post-earthquake repairs, enrich the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ endowment and gave $12.35 million to the Arlington House Robert E. Lee museum in Arlington National Cemetery.
NPS said public access will be limited until February 2018. The memorial was dedicated in 1954 by President Dwight Eisenhower and receives 1.5 million visitors per year.
The National Park Service is studying several improvements to Roosevelt Island, including a proposal to combat the invasive emerald ash borer that killed trees at the site earlier this year.
Among a number of issues being examined by NPS for the island, located off the George Washington Memorial Parkway near Rosslyn, is a plan for the future of the hundreds of ash trees.
NPS closed the island in June to remove diseased trees after the ash borer came through, and is now considering if the trees should be replaced with more ash trees or another species.
“As a result of [the ash borer], one of the things we’re going to be looking at is what do we do after the borer has come through, and those ash trees have either died off or been removed,” said Simone Monteleone, chief of resource management at the GW Parkway, in a talk on Facebook Live Monday morning. “Do we replant? What type of species do we go back with?”
To help the Park Service decide how to make improvements while preserving the history of the island, which has been occupied in some form since the 17th century, it is in the early stages of producing a Cultural Landscape Report and Environmental Assessment.
Monteleone said both documents will help NPS balance the need to respect the island’s history with any improvements that are made. She added that rehabilitating what is already there will help do that.
“Rehabilitation gives us both the flexibility to preserve those historic features and make compatible uses possible for enhancement of visitor experiences,” she said.
Other improvements proposed by NPS include:
- Rehabilitating the bridge to the island
- Improving bridge safety to reduce conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists
- Restarting water access to the island for kayaks, paddleboards and other water transport without an engine
- Making the island’s comfort stations usable year-round
- Building another comfort station off the island by the trail
NPS will host another Facebook Live presentation on the project at 1 p.m. today (August 14), and the talk will then be archived on its page for viewing afterwards.
The Park Service is taking public comment on the plans until September 8. The project is expected to be completed in February 2018.
Theodore Roosevelt Island closed for up to three weeks starting Monday while crews remove diseased trees from the nearby trails.
The National Park Service said the closures, which began yesterday, come after a survey found damage from the invasive emerald ash borer.
Sections of the island’s trails will reopen on a rolling basis as diseased trees are removed. NPS announced last week the island would close as the storms that hit the area could have brought down some of the diseased trees.
From a National Park Service press release:
Starting Monday, June 26, 2017, Theodore Roosevelt Island will be closed for the removal of diseased trees from along the maintained trails. As diseased trees are removed from sections of maintained trails, those sections will be reopened. Work is weather dependent and should last about three weeks.
A recent tree survey on Theodore Roosevelt Island found extensive damage to trees along the island’s trails from the invasive and deadly emerald ash borer. To facilitate the removal of these hazardous trees and reopen sections of the island more quickly, contracted services as well as park staff, will be working throughout the island.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is one of many parks in the Greater Washington Area hit hard by emerald ash borer. The island has many ash trees throughout its 88 acres that have been infected with the exotic beetle. The pest is highly destructive, killing ash trees within two to three years once infected. Dead ash trees rapidly become dry, brittle and hazardous. There is no known cure; once a tree is infected, it will die. Emerald ash borer is almost always fatal.
We are now more than 10 years into the emerald ash borer invasion of the National Capital Region. White ash was the tenth most common tree species in the region based on data collected between 2006 and 2009. In some areas of the region, the number of white ash trees decrease by a quarter between 2009 and 2016.
Rangers remind you to that you can do your part! To help prevent the spread of emerald ash borer and other pests, buy firewood where you intend to burn it, and do not take firewood or logs from home when you travel. Invasive species like the emerald ash borer cost the United States billions of dollars in damages every year.
Roosevelt Island near Rosslyn is closed today due to tree damage from insects and today’s impending storms.
The National Park Service made the announcement this morning.
The park service says numerous trees have been severely weakened by the invasive emerald ash borer and will be removed in the coming weeks. More from NPS:
Theodore Roosevelt Island is closed for safety in advance of expected thunderstorms, some severe with high winds, this afternoon though this evening. The island will remain closed until tree crews can assess and address damage or new hazards.
A recent tree survey on Theodore Roosevelt Island found extensive damage to trees along the island’s trails from the invasive and deadly emerald ash borer. These diseased and dead ash trees are at an increased risk of falling, especially during storms.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is one of many parks in the Greater Washington Area hit hard by emerald ash borer. The island has many ash trees throughout its 88 acres that have been infected with the exotic beetle. The pest is highly destructive, killing ash trees within two to three years once infected. Dead ash trees rapidly become dry, brittle and hazardous. There is no known cure; once a tree is infected, it will die.
In the coming weeks, crews are expected to begin the removal of the affected trees. More information will be provided in the coming days.
A project to repave the Theodore Roosevelt Island parking lot and realign a nearby section of the Mount Vernon Trail is slated to begin later this week.
The parking lot will be closed from this Wednesday, March 1, until the project is completed, which should take until late spring, the National Park Service said.
Workers will slightly raise and widen the trail in places, while the parking lot gets new curbs and gutters for better water drainage. Roosevelt Island will remain open during the work and cyclists can take a short detour on the trail to bypass construction.
With the parking lot closed, NPS said those accessing the trail should park at Daingerfield Island or Columbia Island, or use the public parking in Rosslyn, a 15-minute walk away.
NPS began the planning process to improve safety on this section of the Mount Vernon Trail in 2014, in a project it said would seek to “reduce visitor conflict and improve visitor experience.”
More from NPS:
On March 1, the National Park Service (NPS) will begin a project to repave the parking lot and realign the Mount Vernon Trail at Theodore Roosevelt Island. To ensure visitor safety, the parking lot will be closed until the project’s completion, expected to be late spring. Pedestrians will have access to the island throughout the project, and cyclists can bypass construction via a short detour on the Mount Vernon Trail.
In addition to realigning the Mount Vernon Trail, the NPS will raise the trail slightly and widen it in places. The parking lot will have new curbs and gutters for better water drainage.
Mount Vernon Trail users accessing the trail by car should use the parking lots at Daingerfield Island and Columbia Island, or consider nearby public parking options. The closest parking to Theodore Roosevelt Island is in Rosslyn, a 15-minnute walk from the Island.
Mount Vernon Trail is an 18-mile paved multi-use trail stretching from George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate to Theodore Roosevelt Island. The trail is a hub for recreational activity and connects with regional trails including the Potomac Heritage, Custis, Rock Creek, Four Mile Run, and Woodrow Wilson Bridge trails.
National parks in the national capital region provide exceptional outdoor trail experiences that help people enjoy nature and history, while providing safe and enjoyable opportunities for people to walk, run, bike, commute and have fun with friends and family.
Photo via Google Street View
(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) The National Park Service now has a plan to rehabilitate the deteriorating Memorial Bridge.
Officials announced today the selection of a comprehensive plan that would replace and refurbish some of the bridge’s components to keep it from closing by 2021. The plan was one of several others considered for the project.
The plan calls for “the repair of the concrete arches and stone facades on the 10 approach spans, the replacement of the bascule span’s steel superstructure, the reconstruction of the bridge deck and sidewalks and the resurfacing of all travel lanes,” according to a release from NPS.
The rehabilitation project was awarded a $90 million federal transportation grant for repairs last July. Virginia’s U.S. senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, are working on securing additional funding needed to complete the project.
Built in 1932, Memorial Bridge has far exceeded its 75-year life expectancy. Still, many people use the bridge each day to travel between the District and Virginia.
More on the plan, from an NPS press release, after the jump.
The National Park Service (NPS) has completed the planning process for the rehabilitation of the Arlington Memorial Bridge. The NPS will next design and implement the rehabilitation of this important element of the regional transportation network and the monumental core of Washington, D.C.
After carefully reviewing a number of rehabilitation options, the NPS has selected Alternative 1B, a comprehensive plan to preserve the character and defining features of the bridge by replacing and refurbishing the original bridge components. The plan includes the repair of the concrete arches and stone facades on the 10 approach spans, the replacement of the bascule span’s steel superstructure, the reconstruction of the bridge deck and sidewalks and the resurfacing of all travel lanes.
NPS National Capital Region Director, Bob Vogel, yesterday formalized the selection of the plan by signing a Finding of No Significant Impact at the conclusion of an environmental analysis and interagency review that determined that the project will have no significant adverse impacts on the historic nature of the iconic bridge. The signed Finding of No Significant Impact statement may be viewed here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/
The rehabilitation of Arlington Memorial Bridge is one of the largest transportation projects in NPS history. For the past six years, the NPS has made emergency temporary repairs to the bridge while planning a full long-term rehabilitation. In February 2016, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) informed the NPS that despite these emergency repairs, without a complete rehabilitation the continued and accelerated deterioration of the concrete deck would require a full bridge closure in 2021.
The NPS was recently awarded a Fiscal Year 2016 $90 million matching grant through the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program to contribute towards the $250 million estimated cost of a full rehabilitation. The NPS has also committed $50 million of its Federal Lands Transportation Program funding to this project. In December 2016, the NPS and the District of Columbia submitted a strong application for an additional $60 million grant through the Fiscal Year 2017 FASTLANE program.
The NPS is actively working to secure the remaining funding needed to complete the bridge rehabilitation project in an expeditious manner as possible. At the recommendation of FHWA bridge engineers, the 10-ton load limit on Arlington Memorial Bridge will remain in effect until a full rehabilitation is complete.
There’s a renewed push for action on the decades-old plan to build a boathouse in the Rosslyn area.
County and federal officials want the public to know that although the project has stopped and restarted several times, it definitely hasn’t been scrapped.
Arlington County has been working on various forms of the boathouse project since the 1990s. It has collaborated with the National Park Service because the county’s shoreline along the Potomac River technically is NPS property.
In October, the county requested that the Commonwealth of Virginia quitclaim any interest it has in the street that fronts the property at 1101 Lee Highway. The county had purchased the Lee Highway land parcel in 2014 for $2.4 million with the listed intent of using the land for possible boathouse-related purposes.
The county requested the quitclaim because it’s unclear exactly who owns and maintains this small portion of the land along the former Lee Highway right of way. VDOT now has to approve the quitclaim — which has no fiscal impact to either party — and the county believes that should happen by or shortly after the new year.
The county points out that this section of land also is the only service vehicle access point if a boathouse is built. Public parking and drop-offs would be located in a safer area further away from the busy intersection with N. Lynn Street and the I-66 off-ramp.
Any progress on the boathouse plan is theoretical until NPS completes an environmental study — as required by law — showing how such a project would impact the area’s natural and cultural resources.
NPS launched an environmental impact statement (EIS) in 2012, with funding secured by former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The study involved getting community feedback on locations for a potential boathouse.
But the EIS was put on hold and NPS is investigating whether it can instead do an environmental assessment, which is a similar but less intensive study that takes less time to produce. The EA would incorporate the information already gathered during the now-stalled EIS.
NPS launched a transportation study last year to determine what impact a boathouse would have on the area’s existing transportation network. The agency has been collaborating with Arlington County and VDOT for that study and in compiling a final report on the transportation impacts.
Although 1101 Lee Highway was intended to be a location for a boathouse facility, that’s actually not set in stone. That parcel of land is called an “upper site” and cannot effectively host a boathouse on its own without a nearby “lower site” near Theodore Roosevelt Island where boats could be stored and launched. If NPS deems another site better suited for a boathouse, Arlington County could use the Lee Highway land for something else.
“In addition, or as an alternative use, the county may put other passive or recreational uses on the parcel,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “We need to wait until a final determination is made by the National Park Service on the parcel, so other uses aren’t actively being pursued.”
A study for another hot project — the Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola — in relatively the same area was released last month, but Baxter says it’s far too early to consider that an option for the land parcel. In fact, she said it’s premature to even comment on the feasibility of a possible gondola project because the study hasn’t even been reviewed or vetted by county staff.
As far as the next steps for moving forward with the boathouse, NPS hopes to announce a decision about the environmental study and its possible transition to an environmental assessment by early 2017.
If the agency announces it is able to go forward with an EA instead of an EIS, it could potentially reveal a preferred boathouse site at that time as well, although the location decision is not required until the final environmental study results are released.