Press Club
S. Abingdon Street bridge in Fairlington (via Google Maps)

A rehabilitation project and a potential lane reconfiguration are both in the works for the S. Abingdon Street bridge in Fairlington.

The bridge, which carries local vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood over I-395, was built in 1970 and last rehabilitated in 1994. It’s due for more work to improve safety and extend the bridge’s life, VDOT says.

A VDOT presentation noted that inspectors found crumbling concrete below the bridge span.

Abingdon Street bridge inspection photo (via VDOT)

The state transportation department is conducting a virtual public engagement process about the upcoming $10.5 million rehab project, for which it anticipates starting construction in the summer of 2023. At least one lane of vehicle and bike traffic will be maintained in each direction during construction, VDOT says.

More from VDOT’s website, below.

The project includes:

  • Resurfacing the concrete bridge deck and closing deck joints
  • Repairing concrete piers and abutments
  • Adding protective concrete barriers adjacent to piers
  • Extending and adding concrete in-fill walls between piers
  • Replacing bearings and reconstructing bearing seats

The existing sidewalks on both sides of the bridge will remain and the bridge bicycle lanes will be restriped as part of the project.

The bridge averages 8,300 vehicles a day based on 2019 data.

The project is financed with federal and state funding.

Get Involved

In lieu of an in-person meeting, VDOT invites residents and travelers to learn more, watch the virtual presentation and give feedback in the following ways through Wednesday, June 1:

  • Watch the virtual presentation (also available in Chinese and Spanish) at virginiadot.org/Abingdon395.
  • Provide comments via the online survey or by email to [email protected].
  • Mail comments to Mr. Sharif Ramsis, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

In addition to VDOT’s construction project, Arlington County is gearing up for a “Complete Streets” repaving and re-striping project on the bridge — from Fire Station 7 to 34th Street S. — this summer.

The project may involve removing the sparsely-used street parking on either side of the bridge, in favor of more robust and protected bike and pedestrian facilities, based on public comments and past history with the program.

Several comments note concerns about vehicles speeding on the bridge and the presence of students going to and from school.

An exact plan for the county’s Complete Streets project has yet to be published.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Sunset behind homes along 14th St. N. in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Road Improvement Project Discussion — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Tomorrow night: Virtual gabfest on the latest design for THE Ohio Street Safety Project at 12th Road North and 14th Street North.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Indecent Exposure in Shirlington — “4000 block of Campbell Avenue. At approximately 7:29 p.m. on March 17, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident. The investigation determined that approximately 20 minutes prior, the male suspect entered into the establishment and allegedly exposed himself to the female victims.” [ACPD]

Nearby: New Signs in F.C. — “Forty-two vehicular wayfinding signs have been installed to identify City boundaries for visitors driving into the City, and guide visitors driving to visitor-oriented destinations (City Hall, Downtown, Eden Center, State Theatre, etc.) and public parking. The City also plans to remove older signs that would conflict with the new signs within the next two weeks.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 62 and low of 46. Sunrise at 7:10 am and sunset at 7:23 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington County is applying for $15 million in federal funding to improve cycling and walking connections around Arlington National Cemetery.

The money would partially fund the construction of a long-proposed Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) Wall Trail along Washington Blvd, which would connect Columbia Pike and the Pentagon City area with Memorial Avenue and the Arlington Memorial Bridge into D.C.

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to review the application on Saturday.

“The ANC Wall Trail will provide a missing link in the County and regional non-motorized network that will complete a bicycle and pedestrian connection between all three of the County’s major development corridors,” the county says in a report.

Right now, the cemetery is an “effective barrier to demand for non-motorized travel to and across Memorial Bridge,” according to the county, as security concerns after 9/11 led the Department of Defense to prohibit travel through the burial grounds.

The trail would run along the western side of Washington Blvd from Columbia Pike to Memorial Drive. Currently, there is a trail on the other side of Washington Blvd, a highway also known as State Route 27, but it gets dicey near Memorial Circle for pedestrians and cyclists looking to access the nearby Mt. Vernon Trail or cross into D.C.

Renderings of Arlington National Cemetery expansion and Columbia Pike reconfiguration project (via National Capital Planning Commission)

The Columbia Pike interchange with Washington Blvd is set to be modified as part of the ANC Defense Access Roads Project, which will also move Columbia Pike closer to I-395, realign S. Joyce Street, build a new S. Nash Street connector road, and remove part of Southgate Road.

This work, funded by the federal government and managed by the Federal Highway Administration, will facilitate the addition of 70 acres to the southern portion of the cemetery, making room for 60,000 burial sites and space for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center.

Road work is underway, and early next year, road users can expect to be redirected from the Pike to side streets near Pentagon City. The new burial ground could open in late 2025.

New cycling and pedestrian facilities and grading for the connection to the future ANC Wall Trail are also included in the project. Part of its scope includes designing the trail, for which Arlington County agreed to pay $500,000.

The county expects final designs to be developed over the next year or so. The overall cost of the trail is estimated at $25 million.

Once the wall trail is built, cyclists and pedestrians will be able to connect to Pentagon City via S. Joyce Street at the southern end of the ANC Wall Trail. It will allow safer bike and pedestrian travel between Pentagon City and Columbia Pike to D.C. and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

North of Memorial Avenue, cyclists and pedestrians would be able to link up to the existing trail alongside Route 110, which provides a connection to the Iwo Jima Memorial, to Rosslyn, and to the larger network of bicycle and pedestrian trails along the R-B corridor, the county says.

The $15 million, if awarded, would come from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity” (RAISE) program, which has $1.5 billion earmarked to reimburse localities for surface transportation projects.

The Transportation Department caps awards at $25 million, and one state can receive no more than $225 million. Awards must be split evenly between urban and rural areas.

There is a “low likelihood of a funding award compared with other external transportation capital funding programs,” the county report notes.

Arlington applied last year and was denied funding — along with every other application from Virginia, according to the report. Staff will be meeting with federal transportation staff to understand why and plan to use that information for the new application.

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A portion of Columbia Pike near Pentagon City is set to be closed and re-routed to side streets early next year due to work to expand Arlington National Cemetery.

The work, which will add 60,000 burial sites and space for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center, will also involve moving Columbia Pike closer to I-395, so that gravesites can be placed where it currently curves around the Air Force Memorial.

Grading work along the new planned path of the Pike has already started, as have some occasional lane closures.

“Crews have implemented various, intermittent lane closures on the project to begin work,” Amber Vincent, Public Affairs Specialist at Arlington National Cemetery, told ARLnow. “In the next six months, longterm lanes closures/shifts will be implemented to access work areas within the project.”

Lane closures are planned on Southgate Road, which runs alongside the Pike next to the current cemetery border, the spokeswoman said. That will be followed by the construction of a new road connecting the Pike and Southgate, west of the Air Force Memorial, and then the closure of the Pike itself.

“Long term lane closures are roughly 1-2 months out and will take place on Southgate Road and Joyce Street in order to begin preparations for what will ultimately be a full closure of Columbia Pike,” said Vincent. “While these closures are in place, a new roadway (South Nash Street) will be constructed between Columbia Pike and Southgate Road one block east of Oak Street.”

“We anticipate South Nash Street to be complete and open late 2022 or early 2023,” she continued. “At that time, Columbia Pike will be closed and traffic will utilize the newly constructed South Nash Street and Southgate Road to bypass the closed section of Columbia Pike to Joyce Street.”

Known as the Arlington National Cemetery Defense Access Roads (DAR) Project, the work is being funded by the federal government and managed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as is part of the 70-acre southern expansion of the cemetery.

The detours will maintain pedestrian access, we’re told, while the project will add a new sidewalk and a shared-use trail, add street lighting, and put utility lines underground.

“Access to existing facilities, as well as pedestrian and vehicle will be maintained throughout construction,” Vincent said. “Arlington National Cemetery and our partners… recognize that pedestrian infrastructure is important to those living in the D.C.-Maryland-Northern Virginia area and we have made appropriate plans to incorporate adequate pedestrian access to and around the Southern Expansion area.”

In the fall, parking was permanently prohibited on Southgate Road between S. Oak Street and Columbia Pike. After its use as a detour, that portion of Southgate Road will eventually become part of the cemetery.

Officials are still eyeing a late 2025 opening for the new burial ground, Vincent said.

Arlington National Cemetery expansion and Columbia Pike realignment, set to be completed in 2025 (image via FHWA)
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Morning Notes

Sign Replacement Complete — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Update: Crews have now completed street sign replacement across the Arlington segments of the former (Old) Lee Highway.” [Twitter]

Crystal City Road Project Underway — “18th St S project ([protected bike lanes], realigning a bad intersection, shortening crossings) has broken ground. No eastbound bike lane during work I guess.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — Rain and windy in the morning. High of 66 in the early morning hours and low of 33 tonight. Sunny this afternoon. Sunrise at 6:57 am and sunset at 5:51 pm. [Weather.gov]

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GW Parkway between Spout Run and Chain Bridge (photo via Google Maps)

For the first time since it was built in the early 1960s, the northern section of the GW Parkway will be getting a major overhaul.

The National Park Service announced yesterday that it had awarded a $161 million contract to rehabilitate the Parkway from Spout Run in Arlington to the Capital Beltway in McLean. After a design process in 2022, construction is expected to take place between 2023 and 2025.

Drivers are being cautioned that there will be traffic impacts during construction.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) touted the project in a statement, saying such work is overdue. This stretch of the Parkway has had to close at least three times over the past seven years due to sinkholes.

“The contract to repair G.W. Parkway’s northern section is a huge infrastructure win for our region,” Beyer said. “Northern Virginians have been pleading for major repairs to this section of the G.W. Parkway for years, as potholes and other damage accumulated over the past six decades put the parkway in ever-worsening shape. Thanks to legislation we passed in Congress and the Department of the Interior under Secretary Haaland’s leadership, we are finally going to get that fixed.”

“I also deeply appreciate the ongoing efforts of the National Park Service to improve safety on G.W. Parkway’s southern stretch,”  Beyer added. “Together these projects deliver a top transportation objective for my constituents: making the historic G.W. Parkway as safe as it is scenic. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will lead to so many projects that will benefit Virginia and the rest of the country as we deliver on the promise to rebuild America’s infrastructure.”

The full press release from the National Park Service about the coming rehab project is below.

Read More

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(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) There’s a new temporary traffic circle along Military Road aimed at improving safety where it intersects with Nelly Custis Drive.

Where there used to be a stop sign for traffic on northbound Military Road, the county has added paint lines, bollards and raised temporary curbs, and partially demolished a median. The work was completed Saturday, according to a spokesman with the Arlington Department of Environmental Services.

The one-lane roundabout at the intersection in the Donaldson Run neighborhood was completed after the county resurfaced Nelly Custis Drive as part of its annual street maintenance program.

“This pilot project, in conjunction with the Vision Zero transportation safety program, will test the effectiveness of a roundabout for improving pedestrian safety and reducing vehicle speeding at the intersection,” according to the county. “It will be in place for one year to allow data collection of real-world conditions, and since it’s temporary, it can be adjusted as needed or removed easily if it doesn’t work.”

The county will study traffic patterns to determine whether to keep the roundabout or install a lighted intersection, per a county webpage on the project.

“Military Road and Nelly Custis Drive intersection safety improvements will focus on driver yield rates, shortening crossing distances for people walking through the intersection, providing predictable turning movements [and] reducing vehicle speeding,” the website says.

Some neighbors are displeased with the new traffic configuration. An October newsletter from the Old Glebe Civic Association called the changes “unwanted.”

The civic association said it has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the potential project for four years, and it would like to see the old traffic pattern restored after the study.

“OGCA pledges continued opposition to the roundabout,” it said. “Other civic associations have concurred with OGCA that the project is overly expensive, will not improve traffic safety, and will unnecessarily slow movement along Military Road.”

Per DES data, about 11,000 vehicles pass through the intersection daily. In a presentation this summer, county staff said conversions to roundabouts reduce pedestrian crashes by 27%, and conversions from stop-controlled intersection reduce injury crashes by 82%.

But OGCA argues that crash data for the intersection doesn’t merit the change.

“In August, OGCA argued that the… construction cost was unjustified given little evidence of any safety concerns,” the newsletter continues. “Only three accidents have occurred over the past eight years (two involving bicycles) out of the approximately 32 million vehicles that passed through the intersection during that period. Our letter also said removal of the stop sign and bike lane increases danger for pedestrians — particularly school children during morning rush hour — and also for bicyclists.”

Bike lanes were converted to “sharrows,” or arrows reminding drivers to share the road with cyclists, per a planning document.

The Military Road and Nelly Custis Road intersection roundabout (via Arlington County)

This is the last of three intersections — including those at Marcey Road and 36th Road N. — to be changed as part of a project aimed at improving safety along Military Road.

“These intersections were identified in a 2004 Arterial Transportation Management Study that suggested several recommendations to improve safety for all modes of transportation in the Military Road corridor,” according to DES.

Some local residents said in public comments that they supported the roundabout.

“As 25-year residents who live one block from this intersection and who walk, ride bikes, commute, and use the ART bus, we believe that a safer solution is needed due to excessive speed; drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians; and increased traffic volume,” said one couple.

The county website says the key takeaways for traveling through a roundabout are:

  • Always yield to pedestrians and cyclists at the crosswalks
  • When entering the roundabout, yield to vehicles and cyclists inside the roundabout
  • Signal when exiting the roundabout
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Morning Notes

Dave Grohl Rocks Local Studio — “Dave Grohl doesn’t seem terribly interested in taking a day off. Shortly after the 9:30 Club announced the Grohl-led Foo Fighters would play a surprise show Thursday, the former Nirvana drummer reunited with D.C.-based punk rockers, at Inner Ear Studio — the legendary and soon-to-close Arlington, Virginia, recording studio owned by Don Zientara.” [WTOP]

Fmr. Fire Chief on Arlington’s 9/11 Response — “‘It was truly an all-hands-on-deck endeavor,’ Schwartz said at the historical society’s annual banquet, held Sept. 9 at Washington Golf & Country Club. ‘We’re all in this together. There’s not a single agency or even a single jurisdiction that can handle this by themselves.’ Schwartz pointed to the county’s then-fire chief, Edward Plaugher, for his work building relationships with agencies like the FBI. Plaugher ‘was ahead of his time’ in being concerned about terrorism.” [Sun Gazette]

Night Paving at Busy Intersection — “Nighttime paving continues overnight this week at the Langston Boulevard (Lee Highway)-Glebe Road intersection improvements project… lasting into Friday, Sept. 17.” [Twitter]

Nicecream Hits Rocky Road — Nicecream, the handcrafted ice cream shop that expanded after finding success with its first location in Clarendon, is closing its Shaw store in the District. [PoPville]

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Map of the Arlington National Cemetery Expansion and Defense Access Road Project (Photo via US Federal Highway Administration)

Construction to realign the eastern end of Columbia Pike, which is part of the project to expand Arlington National Cemetery, is expected to start soon.

The Arlington National Cemetery Defense Access Roads (ANC DAR) Project will realign Columbia Pike from east of S. Oak Street to Washington Blvd (Route 27). It will also modify the S. Joyce Street intersection, change the Columbia Pike and Washington Blvd interchange, and replace Southgate Road with an added segment of S. Nash Street.

Because of this, and as of early last month, parking is now permanently prohibited on Southgate Road between S. Oak Street and Columbia Pike.

Construction is expected to start in the early fall and be completed within four years, by summer of 2025, a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) spokesperson tells ARLnow. This timeline is slightly pushed back from what’s listed on the FHWA project page.

The project will also add a new sidewalk and a shared-use trail, improve bicycle facilities, add street lighting, and put utility lines underground. FHWA’s project page also notes that the work done will be consistent with Arlington County Master Transportation Plan and Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements Project. No residents will be displaced, though construction may bring added noise and traffic disruptions to the nearby Foxcroft Heights neighborhood.

All of this is being done to accommodate a 70 acre southern expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. It will add about 60,00 burial sites, including an above-ground columbarium, which will allow the cemetery to continue burials through the 2050s. The expansion will also bring the Air Force Memorial within cemetery grounds.

This project, particularly the modification of the Columbia Pike and Washington Blvd interchange, will also provide space for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center. Construction on that is expected to start late 2023 with a completion set for two years later.

Rendering of the planned Columbia Pike realignment and the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center (Photo courtesy of Pentagon Memorial Fund, Inc./Fentress Architects)

While this realignment project has been long awaited, it hasn’t happened without some proverbial bumps in the road. Initially, the Army proposed a land exchange agreement with the county where the federal government would acquire the land from the county that was needed for the expansion. In exchange, the county would get “all land south of a realigned Columbia Pike to meet a variety of public facility needs.”

But, in 2017, the Army decided against the land exchange agreement, leaving the county “disappointed.”

Then, last summer, the federal government filed a civil suit to claim through eminent domain nine acres of land from Arlington County. The feds offered the county $10 for the land, but Arlington County Attorney Steve MacIsaac told DCist/WAMU in November 2020 that wasn’t going to cut it.

However, in January 2021, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved an agreement with the state, the Army, and the U.S. Department of Transportation that essentially provided the needed land in exchange for the feds paying for nearly all of the $60 million project. The county is only responsible for $500,000 to design a multi-use trail along Washington Blvd.

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Part of the proposed resurfacing changes for N. Lynn Street (via Arlington County)

Arlington County plans to resurface a stretch of N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn to improve the driving and cycling experience.

The project is part of the county’s annual effort to resurface about 100 lane miles of roadway, prioritizing those in the most need of upgrades and those adjacent to development, schools or county-led capital projects. It is the second of two “complete streets” resurfacing projects proposed for 2021, the other being changes to Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont neighborhood.

The plans for N. Lynn Street extend from the exit ramp for Arlington Blvd (Route 50) to Wilson Blvd. Proposed changes include adding “sharrows” — encouraging drivers to share the road with cyclists — connecting with existing bike lanes, plus buffering existing bike lanes, improving markings for a bus stop, and adding markings where drivers have to cross a bike lane to turn right.

This concept design accommodates the existing traffic by maintaining the same vehicular lane configurations, it adds additional separation between people driving and biking with protected and buffered bike lanes, it enhances the network connectivity with improved bike markings, and it improves visibility of right turn conflicts with the application of green markings,” said county transportation planner Catherine Seebauer during a recorded presentation.

A segment of N. Lynn Street that will be resurfaced (via Arlington County)

Right after the Arlington Blvd exit ramp, the county proposes adding northbound bike “sharrows” — markings indicating where cyclists and vehicles have to share the road — that will link up to the existing bike lane after the intersection with Fairfax Drive.

“That exit ramp is a VDOT-controlled road, so Arlington County is somewhat limited in what changes we can make there, but a reconfiguration of those on-off ramps is being looked at as part of [Core of Rosslyn Transportation Study], so long-term changes are in development for that intersection,” Seebauer said.

The vehicle lanes will be narrowed after Fairfax Drive, though they will still meet the county’s standard width of 11 feet, she said.

“The extra room allows us to provide more room for other facilities,” she said, including upgrading the existing bike lanes to be protected bike lanes. “They will be separated from vehicle lanes by parked vehicles and a small buffer strip.”

A segment of N. Lynn Street that will be resurfaced (via Arlington County)

Where the bike lane merges with an existing bus stop, the bus stop markings will be improved. Further up, close to the intersection with Wilson Blvd, green paint and bollards will alert drivers and cyclists about a conflict point, where drivers have to cross the bike lane to make a right turn.

From the exit ramp to Wilson Blvd, four parking spaces will be removed to improve sightlines, Seebauer said.

An online comment period for the project closed yesterday (Tuesday). The resurfacing work will be done later this summer and fall.

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Update at 3:25 p.m. — The closure has been extended due to flooding at the construction site.

All lanes of N. Glebe Road between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road, in the northern tip of Arlington, will be closed for construction starting Friday.

The nine-day closure is the culmination of the $10 million rehabilitation project for the nearly 50-year-old bridge over Pimmit Run, just before Chain Bridge. Between Friday, Aug. 13 and Monday, Aug. 23, crews will work to replace the entire bridge deck and its underlying beams.

A winding detour around the closure, through parts of Arlington and McLean, will be put in place. Pedestrians and cyclists hoping to cross Pimmit Run will have an on-demand shuttle available to them during the closure, according to the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.

More from a VDOT press release:

North Glebe Road (Route 120) between Military Road and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) will be closed to traffic for about nine days beginning Friday night, Aug. 13 to efficiently replace the entire bridge deck and beams over Pimmit Run, just west of Route 123, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

North Glebe Road will close at 10 p.m. Aug. 13 and is scheduled to reopen to traffic by 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 23.

Vehicle traffic will be detoured via Route 123, Kirby Road (Route 695) and Chesterbrook Road (Route 689) back to North Glebe Road.

To help pedestrians get around the closure, a free shuttle for up to 12 passengers will be available Saturday, Aug. 14 through Sunday, Aug. 22 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Signs and posters with a phone number (240-300-3264) and shuttle information will be posted at both ends of the bridge over Pimmit Run, with the shuttle provided within ten minutes of a call (if needed, a free accessible shuttle will be provided within 30 minutes of a call). Each shuttle ride will last approximately five minutes.

The portion of the Potomac Heritage Trail under the Pimmit Run bridge will remain open, with trail access controlled by flaggers when needed.

Construction began in April on the overall project to rehabilitate North Glebe Road over Pimmit Run, which was originally built in 1973 and currently carries about 13,000 vehicles a day. The work includes improvements that will extend the overall life of the bridge and improve safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. They include:

  • Replacing bridge beams, deck and barriers
  • Repairing, waterproofing and providing corrosion protection to abutments and piers
  • Replacing barriers and railings along bicycle and pedestrian connection to trails
  • Upgrading guardrails and drainage

The $9.9 million project is financed with federal and state funds, including State of Good Repair funding used for bridges. The project is scheduled for completion this fall.

Learn more about the project at www.virginiadot.org/glebeoverpimmit.

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