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.
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.
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:
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
VDOT is not turning back on its recommendation to lower the elevated parts of Route 1 in Crystal City, but it is considering new options for separated pedestrian and bike crossings near the Metro station.
The state transportation agency on Thursday provided an update on Phase 2 of its study, which is focused on how to make the “urban boulevard” vision for Route 1 from 12th Street S. to 23rd Street S. a reality.
VDOT unveiled concepts for alternatives to a street-level pedestrian crossing at 18th Street after its recommendation to lower elevated portions of Route 1 drew ire from the community for prioritizing cars over pedestrians.
Four alternatives to the at-grade pedestrian crosswalks at 18th Street S. were presented, including a pedestrian bridge; a more gradual, bicycle-friendly bridge; a tunnel; or an underpass.
While the options incorporate some public feedback, including the tunnel proposed by community group Livability 22202, the state is focused on finding a way to make the at-grade roadway work.
“Everything that happens in the Phase 2 study is really looking from that lens of having made that recommendation already and Phase 2 is really geared towards figuring out the details of how to make that recommendation from Phase 1 work,” said Dan Reinhard, VDOT’s lead project manager for the project.
The first phase of VDOT’s study recommended the elevated portions over 12th, 15th and 18th streets be lowered and Phase 2 examines the feasibility of doing that, what traffic in the area looks like and strategies to reduce vehicular traffic.
The first alternative to at-grade crossings is a 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge with stairs and an elevator option. VDOT estimates this would cost $15 million.
The second bridge alternative, at an estimated $32 million, would add more gradual entry points for cyclists on 18th Street S. This option could link with a multimodal trail that the county plans to build near the Crystal City Metro station, said John Martin, with engineering consulting firm Kimley-Horn.
The third concept, a tunnel under Route 1, was informed by Livability 22202, a coalition of the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City civic associations. The estimated $43 million tunnel would accommodate both bicyclists and pedestrians, connecting them to the Crystal City shops and the Metro.
The final alternative is a 12-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle underpass. In coordination with building owners of the plaza at the corner of Route 1 and 18th Street S., the tunnel could feature a public space at its east entry. An underpass is estimated to cost between $9 million and $14 million.
VDOT also presented two options to ease navigation of the sometimes chaotic 23rd Street S. intersection.
At 23rd Street S., VDOT imagines windening pedestrian spaces and medians, removing one southbound left turn lane and allowing through traffic in the northbound right turn lane. A second option would also add bike lanes on the west side of 23rd Street S.
A second public meeting is expected in mid to late June, which will workshop the curb elements of street design and discuss potential relocation of 18th Street bus stops.
A third will be held in September or October and discuss ways to reduce vehicle volumes through Transportation Demand Management strategies. A final meeting will review the findings and recommendations.
Another Vehicle Larceny Series — “28th Street S. at 26th Street S./28th Street S. at S. Lang Street. At approximately 9:05 a.m. on April 25, police were dispatched to multiple reports of destruction of property. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the unknown suspect(s) broke the windows to five vehicles and rummaged through them. One victim reported having electronics stolen from their vehicle. There is no suspect(s) description.” [ACPD]
Update on Route 1 ‘Urban Boulevard’ Plan — “The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will hold a virtual public information meeting Thursday, April 28 on a feasibility study identifying enhanced multimodal connectivity and accommodations along Route 1 (Richmond Highway) from 12th Street South to 23rd Street South to meet the changing transportation needs of the Crystal City and Pentagon City communities.” [VDOT]
More Wins for Yorktown Lax — “The defending state champion Yorktown High School boys lacrosse team improved to 7-2 with blowout victories over Herndon, 15-2, and Dominion, 17-5, for seven straight victories.” [Sun Gazette]
Regional Grant for Ballston Metro Entrance? — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “A new west entrance to the Ballston-MU Metrorail station is in the running. Let these fine folks know why their greenbacks would be well spent.” [Twitter, N. Va. Transportation Authority]
‘Empty the Shelters’ Event Next Week — “The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is participating in the Bissell Pet Foundation’s spring “Empty the Shelters” animal adoption event next week from May 2-8. More than 275 shelters in 45 states and Canada are participating in the week-long event. The Bissell Pet Foundation sponsors reduced adoption fees for $25 or less.” [Patch]
Warner Weighs in on Musk Buying Twitter — From Sen. Mark Warner: “Elon Musk must work in good faith to preserve Twitter’s necessary reforms to prevent the spread of misinformation.” [Twitter]
It’s Wednesday — Mostly sunny, with a few more clouds in the afternoon. High of 58 and low of 44. Sunrise at 6:16 am and sunset at 7:58 pm. [Weather.gov]
Locals can learn more about the planned bridge work next Tuesday evening during a virtual meeting hosted by VDOT, which is managing the project.
The bridge connects the southbound I-395 collector-distributor lanes and southbound Shirlington Road to N. Quaker Lane at the I-395 Exit 6 interchange.
First constructed in 1973, the bridge needs upgrades to improve safety for drivers and to extend its usable lifespan, says VDOT. Today, the bridge is crossed by about 7,400 vehicles daily.
According to the project webpage, VDOT will:
- Resurface the concrete bridge deck and closing deck joints
- Repair concrete piers and abutments
- Repair and repaint steel beams
- Add protective concrete barriers adjacent to piers
- Replace bearings
- Upgrade guardrails adjacent to the bridge
The $4.3-million project will be financed with federal and state funding, including State of Good Repair funds used for bridges.
Next Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. VDOT staff will make a short presentation and then answer questions from the public for an hour. Project materials, which are not yet available, will be posted on the meeting webpage before the meeting starts, the department says.
Through Friday, March 25, VDOT will accept feedback via email and U.S. mail, addressed to Vicente Valeza, Jr., P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.
As locals eat their lunch, all eyes are on the skies. Snow — likely heavy snow — is about to start falling in Arlington.
County and state crews say they’re ready to tackle what’s expected to be a messy mix of precipitation throughout the day: snow to start, freezing rain as the sun sets, and then plain rain as temperatures warm after nightfall, before perhaps a brief changeover back to soggy snow in the early morning hours.
The snowfall may start with a bit of a bang.
We are watching a heavy snow band progressing northwards as the storm is starting for many of us. Will lead to reduced visibility at times, especially in the DC Metro. pic.twitter.com/bZYe9l8Wxa
— Washingtonian Weather Geeks (@WashingtonianWx) January 16, 2022
In Arlington and across the region, main roads, bridges and highways have been pre-treated with brine ahead of the snowfall. VDOT says it has 3,800 pieces of equipment set to deploy in Northern Virginia during the storm.
“VDOT Northern Virginia crews are mobilizing for snow, freezing rain, and rain that is forecasted to significantly impact the region Sunday and Monday,” the state transportation agency said today. “Crews began the mobilization process Sunday morning. As always, residents are asked to monitor forecasts, plan ahead to avoid nonessential travel during winter weather, and to be aware of the potential for black ice and nightly refreeze as temperatures remain low.”
Arlington County is also encouraging residents to stay at home and off the roads as conditions deteriorate.
The county has about 40 trucks ready for its snow response. Typically, crews focus on primary and secondary routes to start, then start plowing neighborhood streets later.
First shift of County storm response begins at noon with some 40 trucks ready. For safety and effectiveness, plan to stay off roads until hours after the winter weather event has passed. #ArlWX https://t.co/DuInmBchJW pic.twitter.com/k7cItKR13N
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) January 16, 2022
This morning, in anticipation of the storm, Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation announced that community centers would be closed today, while the Long Bridge aquatics center would close early.
Arlington Mill, Lubber Run and Thomas Jefferson Community Centers, which were scheduled to open at 1 p.m. today, will remain closed. Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center, which opened at 8 a.m. today, will close at 1 p.m.
All virtual programs will continue as scheduled, including the 53rd Tribute to Rev. Dr., Martin Luther King Jr.
You can also stay engaged by enjoying the snow in one of our parks or trails. Want to stay inside? Check out our YouTube stations for options to be active and have fun for people of ages and interests.
Please stay safe.
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Arlington and the immediate D.C. area.
From the National Weather Service:
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 1 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 1 AM EST MONDAY…
* WHAT…Mixed precipitation. Additional snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches and ice accumulations of around one tenth of an inch. Winds gusting as high as 45 mph.
* WHERE…Portions of The District of Columbia, central, north central, northeast and northern Maryland and northern Virginia.
* WHEN…From 1 PM this afternoon to 1 AM EST Monday.
* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions.
Slow down and use caution while traveling.
When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury.
First County Board Meeting of 2022 — “Arlington County Board members will hold their annual organizational meeting on Monday, Jan. 3 at 6 p.m… At the meeting, board members will elect a chair for the coming year (almost assuredly Katie Cristol) and will lay out their own personal priorities for the coming year. A number of procedural votes will be held, but the real business of governance will not take place until the board’s formal January meeting later in the month.” [Sun Gazette]
Bridge Project Near Fairlington Complete — “The rehabilitation of the King Street (Route 7) bridge over I-395 and pedestrian improvements along a half-mile of King Street are complete, Virginia Department of Transportation officials said on Dec. 22, improving pedestrian mobility and safety, giving drivers a smoother ride and extending the overall life of the bridge. The $13 million project was financed with federal and state funding.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Monday — A chance of rain and snow flurries before 9 a.m. today, then rain likely through the afternoon. Otherwise cloudy, with a high near 44. Sunrise at 7:26 a.m. and sunset at 4:53 p.m. Tomorrow there’s a chance of rain after 1 p.m., but otherwise it will be cloudy with a low of 41 and a high of 52. [Weather.gov]
Nearly 40 years later, Rosslyn’s Gateway Park may finally officially become Arlington County’s responsibility.
This weekend, the County Board is set to vote on approving a land use permit between the Virginia Department of Transportation and the county formally allowing Arlington the use of Gateway Park. The agreement also pushes the responsibility of maintaining the park to the county.
Additionally, the permit grants the county the ability to change the park’s name.
An approval would mark the end of a decades-long period where there was no written agreement in place between VDOT and the county in regards to the operation and maintenance of the public park along Langston Blvd.
In 1984, VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration agreed to build an urban park between N. Nash Street and Lynn Street as a way to mitigate the impacts of constructing I-66 through Rosslyn.
At that time, an agreement was struck between VDOT and the county which called for the Commonwealth to construct the park and pedestrian bridge, with Arlington reimbursing VDOT for adding benches, bike racks, drinking fountains, and pay phones.
The county and VDOT also committed to signing a 99-year lease that put Arlington in charge of maintaining the park, including the pedestrian bridges, concrete structures, landscaping, facilities, and utilities. The remaining details were to be negotiated and it was expected the lease was going to be brought to the County Board for approval in 1986.
That never happened, according to last month’s county report, and it’s unclear why.
“Despite more than 20 years of on-again, off-again discussions and negotiations, the terms of a 99-year lease were never agreed to and no lease has ever been signed by VDOT and the County,” reads the report.
Despite this, over the last 37 years Arlington has continued to operate and perform routine maintenance at Gateway Park even without a signed, written agreement.
That’s expected to change come this weekend, but in a slightly different form than initially outlined back in the 1980s.
That’s because, in 2015, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring determined that VDOT didn’t have the authority to lease the park to the county. Rather, a land use permit was the only mechanism available to provide Arlington access and use of the public park.
Six years later, that agreement is finally ready to be approved by the County Board.
This summer, the Virginia Department of Transportation officially decided to turn Route 1, which is elevated over 12th, 15th and 18th Streets S., into an at-grade urban boulevard. It would feature wide buffered sidewalks on both sides, six to seven narrowed travel lanes, a 30-mph speed limit, wide crosswalks, landscaping and medians with pedestrian refuges.
The changes, which could cost $180 million, are aimed at making the corridor more pedestrian-friendly, but that may not actually be the case, according to the VDOT-commissioned report. Using Arlington County rush hour traffic forecasts, the report predicts pedestrian-involved crashes could increase.
Meanwhile, travel times could lengthen by up to 6 minutes for vehicles heading into Crystal City in the morning and heading out in the afternoon, due largely to delays for drivers turning left on Route 1 and several commuter bus stops getting rerouted.
Arlington County staff questioned how these negatives could square with VDOT’s preference for the concept, per a staff report. They suggested that the authors make the negative results of the traffic analysis clearer.
“An at-grade Route 1 has many operational challenges,” county staff said. “The short block lengths between parallel streets result in the need to coordinate signals and thus, the pedestrian delays will be increased on the minor parallel routes. The results point to negative impacts on the ability of transit to effectively serve the National Landing area. The at-grade scenario shown in the preferred alternative offers a more limited network connectivity while simultaneously introducing conflicts and sacrificing transit mobility.”
The report, prepared by engineering consulting firm Kimley-Horn, specifically recommends one at-grade option that allows all turns at 15th Street S., eliminates left turns at 18th Street S., and possibly includes a pedestrian underpass or overpass at 18th Street.
The state initially agreed to the study and changes to Route 1 as part of its 2018 agreement with Amazon to invest in transportation in the region.
As progress ramped up on the study, locals and organizations following the Route 1 project have kept pedestrian safety front and center.
When VDOT initially considered a nine-lane highway, advocates said that would be unsafe for pedestrians and the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) created its own renderings for a tree-lined and pedestrian-friendly Route 1.
After VDOT revised its proposal and announced its intention to bring Route 1 at-grade, Livability 22202 — a coalition of three area civic associations — rejected the study for several reasons, chief among them that even the new six- to seven-lane highway would not, in their view, improve pedestrian safety.
Data in the report appears to bear that conclusion out. Over two decades, pedestrian traffic during peak afternoon hours could increase 2x to 5x current levels, and with that could come more crashes involving pedestrians.
Reckless drivers are regularly backing up on I-395 to get to the Express Lanes, despite bollards placed to prevent it.
Video has captured a number of drivers getting onto northbound I-395 from the Route 110 ramp, near the Pentagon, then driving in reverse to get around bollards that block access to the high-occupancy toll lanes. In return for driving the wrong way on a major highway, the drivers get to save a couple of minutes by avoiding minor traffic backups in the main lanes of the 14th Street Bridge.
Footage of the wrong-way drivers has been published by public safety watchdog Dave Statter over the past two years. The most recent jaw-dropping video — showing multiple drivers drive in reverse in traffic lanes — was posted last week.
This I-395 video from last night proves the end is near. The end of even any pretense that a somewhat orderly society exists & we believe in anything greater than ourselves @WTOPtraffic @ARLnowDOTcom @VaDOTNOVA @VSPPIO @drgridlock @DildineWTOP #traffic #vatraffic #drivers #395cam pic.twitter.com/qaX58D6GAc
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) October 28, 2021
It appears the scofflaws have upped their antics in response to the addition of the bollards near where the main lanes and the Express Lanes split, before the bridges.
“Last year, in close coordination with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and external engineering firms, we worked together to determine that adding bollards at that location was and continues to be the best solution,” said Pam Davila of the Australian company Transurban, which operates the 495/95/395 HOT lanes. “We’re confident that the bollards continue to serve their purpose and cannot stress enough that drivers should be mindful to practice safe driving at all times, on and off the Express Lanes.”
She said Transurban and VDOT discussed “other mitigation options” and talked extensively about issues such as the optimum length for the bollards.
After they went up, Statter observed an improvement, but 15 months later, people are out-maneuvering them.
Virginia State Police is “very aware of” this problem, spokeswoman Corinne Geller says, and is working with VDOT and Transurban to tackle it from both enforcement and engineering perspectives.
“As a preventative measure, state police has stepped up its enforcement and presence in that particular area,” she said. “But our troopers simply cannot be everywhere all the time, nor would permanently stationing a trooper at that one location be efficient or fair use of our limited resources across the Northern Virginia region. Our troopers are committed to doing everything we can to prevent such reckless behavior from occurring.”
Statter’s videos show what people did pre-bollards. Originally, defiant drivers crossed the highway at a nearly perpendicular angle to make the lane.
Here's a crazy Metrobus driver move. The bus, coming off SB Rt 110 ramp, crossed 3 lanes of NB I-395 traffic moving at speed, to get to the express lanes. I assume the driver saw the backup ahead on the main lanes. @WTOPtraffic @wtop @ARLnowDOTcom @luzcita @AdamTuss @petemuntean pic.twitter.com/SE68LCrPod
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) February 7, 2020
Orange barrels and cones didn’t deter some drivers. With surprising courtesy, one driver used the turn signal to cross three traffic lanes — blocking oncoming cars — and squeeze through an opening.
Did the driver of this vehicle endanger everyone on I-395 because they
a. have a true emergency & couldn't sit in the main lanes backup?
b. are lost?
c. are drunk?
d. want to keep alive the DC area stereotype of being more important than anyone else?@WTOPtraffic @DildineWTOP pic.twitter.com/JjrK64yNdV
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) June 19, 2020
More barrels went up in shorter intervals, which did not stop this intrepid driver from creating an opening.
Instead of making these dangerous moves, the Transurban spokeswoman says drivers can access the Express Lanes at a different juncture.
“There is an option for drivers coming from the Pentagon City to safely get on the Express Lanes by taking the Pentagon/Eads Street ramp, and we encourage drivers to use that route, especially during rush hour when there is heavy traffic on the general-purpose lanes,” she said.
While enforcement plays a role in stopping the antics, Geller reminded drivers it is their job to follow the basic rules of the road.
“There is still a responsibility on the driver to make safe, legal and logical decisions when behind the wheel,” she said. “Backing up and/or driving the wrong way on an interstate ramp and/or in a travel lane put that driver and countless other motorists at risk of a crash and serious injury. The safety of our highways is a collaborative responsibility and one we hope the motoring public will help us improve, especially at this particular location.”
A minor typo along Route 50 in the Rosslyn area has been fixed, to the relief of local pedants.
A directional sign along westbound Route 50 (Arlington Blvd), as one travels through the Rosslyn and Courthouse areas, has long read “14Th Street.” Just days after the error was pointed out to VDOT on social media, the erroneous capital-T was finally replaced late last week.
“The letter was replaced on the sign on Friday, September 10!” confirmed VDOT spokeswoman Ellen Kamilakis, who runs the celebrated VDOT Northern Virginia Twitter account. She said tips from the public help the agency correct minor problems across its expansive transportation network.
“Our Transportation Field Operations (TFO) group handles the maintenance of all signs, signals, and pavement markings in our District,” said Kamilakis. “We have more than 250,000 signs and 1,400 signalized intersections, so [while] crews always keep a look out for items that need to be fixed, we always encourage residents to reach out to us if they see an issue somewhere. People can let our Customer Service Center know via https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/ or 800-FOR-ROAD.”
Social media — Twitter, specifically — is a popular means of reporting issues, but unlike the VDOT website and hotline it’s more of an informal channel.
“We try to be as helpful as possible on social media,” said Kamilakis, who regularly provides safety tips and general, lighthearted life advice in the form of a “Morning MeeMaw Nag.”
“We answer all of the questions that can be reasonably answered on social media,” Kamilakis added. “Our Twitter community mainly reports downed signs, potholes, signals on flash, debris in the road, drainage issues, etc. As these aren’t formal customer service requests through the system, I simply reach out to those in charge of said areas and they are always happy to help.”
Morning MeeMaw Nag™️:
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) September 14, 2021
Arlington Paralympian Competing in Tokyo — “Sydney Barta of Arlington is competing in four track and field events this week and next at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Barta, a 17-year-old student at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., will be competing in the 100-meter, 200-meter, discus throw, and shot put throw.” [Patch]
Pedestrians Peeved About Pushing Buttons — “Last Wednesday, Arlington County officials announced plans to roll back 78 automatic pedestrian phase activations, also known as ‘beg buttons,’ throughout the county… The chair of Arlington’s volunteer transportation commission, Chris Slatt, had choice words… ‘To use the start of school to justify this change and to claim it is to ‘improve walkway safety’ is, frankly, gross and unacceptable.'” [GGWash]
Police Investigate Saturday Robbery — “At approximately 11:42 p.m. on August 21, police were dispatched to the late report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that approximately 40 minutes prior, the male victim met with the suspect for the prearranged sale of sneakers. The suspect brought the victim down a residential hallway where the second suspect was waiting. The suspects then grabbed the victim, assaulted him and stole an undisclosed amount of cash from his person before fleeing into the building.” [ACPD]
Local Rookie Cop Saves Nine Lives — “From a rookie to a pro, a Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC) patrol officer, Taylor Brandt, is being hailed a hero amongst fellow colleagues and community members after saving 9 lives within one year of working on the streets. Brandt joined DC police in December 2019 as a resident from Arlington, Virginia.” [WJLA]
Historical Society Planning 9/11 Event — “The Arlington Historical Society annual banquet commemorates the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. We will hear about the events of the day and learn about how the Arlington community responded to the crisis. Eyewitnesses and first responders will recount their experiences as we honor the resilience of our community.” [Arlington Historical Society]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf