Ideally, the Four Mile Run Park Trail would connect the two sides of the Arlandria park. Since 2021 the bridge at the center of that trail has been shut down, but work is starting this month to change that.
An inspection in summer 2021 found a hole in the bridge and the city determined the bridge was not suitable for use. The bridge was closed in August 2021. A daytime detour runs just north of the bridge along the Four Mile Run Wetland Trail. The nighttime detour runs down to Reed Avenue
The City of Alexandria is starting work this month on a replacement bridge. Construction is scheduled to run until July 2024.
The city is also hosting an open house tonight (Wednesday) at the Leonard “Chick” Armstrong Recreation Center (25 W. Reed Avenue) from 7-8 p.m. to share more information about the bridge replacement project.
#ICYMI: Starting this month, construction work will begin on the Four Mile Park Trail bridge that connects Commonwealth Avenue to the main park.
— AlexandriaVAGov (@AlexandriaVAGov) September 18, 2023
Alexandria and Arlington officials celebrated the ribbon cutting for the renovated West Glebe Road bridge today.
“For nearly 70 years, this bridge has played a critical role linking people to jobs, to resources, to emergency services and their loved ones that exist across boundaries in this Arlandria region of the National Capital Area,” Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said.
Dorsey continued, “And now with these improvements, we can look forward to another seven decades of this bridge, serving as both a metaphorical and an actual connecting of our two communities. And they will do so in a way that is much safer, much more accommodating of all modes.”
Mayor Justin Wilson said that the jurisdictions will need to come together to finish another connecting bridge between Alexandria and Arlington over the course of the next year — the Arlington Ridge Road/Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge.
“We look forward to coming back in a little while and celebrating the next one (bridge),” Wilson said. “I live close to both of these bridges, so I feel the pain that everyone is feeling. But we look forward to celebrating both of the bridges when they’re both done and in this great partnership between the two jurisdictions.”
Artist Vicki Scuri designed the arc and bubble patterns on the bridge.
“Enjoy the crossing, enjoy the moment and celebrate your communities,” Scuri said.
Leaders from both the Arlington County Board and the Alexandria City Council are scheduled to meet tomorrow (Tuesday) at the Arlandria Pizza Hut (1049 W Glebe Road) to celebrate the West Glebe Road Bridge ribbon cutting.
The ribbon cutting is scheduled to kick off at 2 p.m.
The West Glebe Road Bridge started undergoing repairs on the superstructure in May 2022. The bridge partially reopened to vehicle traffic earlier this year and all lanes reopened in July with work continuing on the bridge’s underside.
This could be the start of something big.
In February, Alamgir Mia opened AJ Tobacco & Mini Mart at 1037 W. Glebe Road in the former Look Sharp Cleaners. It’s the first business for the Bangladeshi-born owner, who signed a 10-year lease and hopes to open more convenience stores in the future.
“The landlord gave me a very good deal,” Mia told ALXnow. “The plan is to open more, but first I need to hit my targets with this store.”
The mini-mart carries standard convenience store fare at slightly lower prices than the 7-Eleven next door. The store also sells a wide assortment of tobacco, hookah and vape products.
“You can find most of what you want cheaper than 7-Eleven,” Mia said. “Like a 20-ounce Coke will be 50 cents cheaper here. I can do that because this is my own company, and I can sell products for less.”
Married with two kids, Mia moved to the U.S. 16 years ago. He previously worked as a driver for Amazon, the U.S. Postal Service and Uber, in addition to 10 years working in customer service for United Airlines at Washington Dulles International Airport.
“I gained weight as an Uber driver” Mia said. “I picked up and dropped off more than 40,000 rides, and my stomach used to be flat. You do a lot of sitting and eating fast food with that job. Now I need to work that off.”
Mia’s move coincided with the March reopening of the West Glebe Road bridge, which borders Arlington. The bridge was closed for nearly two years, and all the establishments next to it — Pizza Hut, two Liberty gas stations and a 7-Eleven — saw declines in business.
“All of my jobs have been in customer service,” Mia said. “From USPS to Amazon and Uber driving, you need to be friendly with the customers and satisfy them. That’s what I’m doing with my shop.”
AJ Tobacco & Mini Mart is open every day from 10 a.m. to midnight.
The West Glebe Road bridge partially reopened yesterday, though pedestrian and bicycle traffic will have to wait to make use of the bridge.
The bridge partially reopened yesterday (Wednesday) with one lane open in each direction.
According to the Arlington County website:
As of March 8, 2023, the West Glebe Road bridge is open to motor vehicle traffic, with one lane open in each direction. Pedestrian and bike traffic will continue to detour on the temporary bridge to the east of the main bridge.
The bridge is expected to fully open in summer of 2023, after completion of work on parapets, substructure, and streetlights.
The Arlington County website said the next phase of construction will see the bike lane, curb and sidewalk put into place.
The Four Mile Run Trail underpass on the north end of the bridge remains closed until reconstruction is completed.
Some breaking news on the West Glebe Bridge: pic.twitter.com/QQV38teGd2
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) March 9, 2023
A new authority responsible for promoting railways in Virginia said the only real solution to a degraded bridge over King Street is full replacement.
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) made its recommendation to the Transportation Commission earlier this month. The CSX bridge over King Street is nearly 120 years old and is notorious for causing closures and shutdowns.
The bridge has repeatedly closed after issues ranging from rail debris falling onto the street to repeated strikes by trucks and other vehicles.
At the Transportation Commission, Todd Hopkins — part of a group from the VPRA — said the bridge is also subject to occasional crashes with trucks and that the bridge does not meet current height requirements.
“Bridge strikes do occur by high trucks that try to pass through there,” Hopkins said. “When a bridge strike takes place, a safety inspection has to occur. All traffic gets shut down for at least a couple of hours. That leads to operational delays.”
Hopkins said a study weighed four options, ranging from various types of repairs and lifts to the bridge to full replacement.
The presentation noted that there are five criteria for screening bridge repair or replacement options, which include: adding 50 years of functional life to the bridge, minimizing rail operations, and meeting current railroad requirements and roadway clearance requirements. A full replacement was the only option that hit all five criteria.
VPRA Planning Manager Naomi Klein said bridge replacement met all criteria and is the recommended design option.
A report from the VPRA said the replacement would include increasing the bridge height and possible width under the bridge. Replacement would also reduce maintenance requirements and minimize rail service interruptions.
Klein said a feasibility study is scheduled to be completed sometime in the next month to be published early next year. After that, the VPRA will review public feedback and complete the environmental clearance process before progressing with a preferred design option.
Once a design is chosen, construction is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2024 and continue until midway through 2026.
The Transportation Commission also voted to include a note along with the report saying the city should add more signage to the bridge in the meantime with more visible warnings to truck drivers about the bridge height.
For years, local first responders have been dispatched for worrying signs of decay at the CSX bridges over King Street and Commonwealth Avenue. Streets have been closed for emergency fixes and rail debris can regularly be found on the nearby streets and sidewalks. Finally, Mayor Justin Wilson said a new organization could help Alexandria address this problem.
In a newsletter where Wilson also addressed Holmes Run issues, Wilson also said there may be a way of getting the bridges back on track.
“For decades, the City has expressed concerns regarding the condition of the railroad bridges owned by CSX that cross King Street and Commonwealth Avenue near Alexandria’s Union Station,” Wilson wrote. “These bridges form part of a critical rail link for freight and passenger service through our City. Under the auspices of the new Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA), it is possible that these bridges may finally get a new look.”
The VPRA was created in 2020 is responsible for promoting, sustaining, and expanding the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the Commonwealth, according to the VPRA website.
“The VPRA is a new entity that was created by the Commonwealth to preside over a massive expansion of rail infrastructure and service for the state,” Wilson wrote. “Earlier this year, the VPRA began a feasibility study to look at the future of these two rail bridges. This study is now on an accelerated timeline that assumes construction beginning as soon as 2024.”
Wilson said the VPRA’s study is currently soliciting input from the community, which could be Alexandria’s chance to make a ruckus about the crumbling bridges.
“The VPRA is seeking input from our community,” Wilson wrote. “Tomorrow evening at 6 p.m., VPRA is hosting a virtual meeting to provide more information on this study. Sign-up online to participate in this meeting. These railroad bridges are critical infrastructure for our community, but I am hopeful that this project will lead to aesthetic and functional improvements in support of our City.”
After months of being closed, much of West Glebe Road Bridge has finally been torn down ahead of eventual reconstruction.
Demolition started earlier this week and is expected to finish by the week of Sept. 5. Demolition work is expected to continue Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Detours were put in place earlier this year that diverted vehicular traffic either over the Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge to the east or Shirlington Circle bridge to the west. Both of those bridges, coincidentally, are also aging and set for repairs over the next couple of years. The Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge received funding from the federal infrastructure bill early this year.
Alexandrians will only have until early next year to celebrate being a little less connected to neighboring localities though: Arlington County said two vehicle lanes on West Glebe Road Bridge are expected to reopen in early 2023. Bridge work will continue through summer 2023.
Photo via Arlington County Department of Environmental Services/Facebook
Like a parachute, a bridge is one of those things you want to be able to rely on, but some of the crossings between Alexandria and Arlington have gotten to such a rough shape that one is now closed to vehicles for at least a year.
The poor state of the West Glebe Road bridge is so well known that federal and state officials from different political parties came together to tour the scene and marvel at the disrepair.
The West Glebe Road bridge isn’t alone, either. Portions of the Four Mile Run Bridge has also had closures, notably closing the sidewalk entirely, with the reconstruction of the bridge not scheduled to start until after work is done on the West Glebe Road bridge.
The West Glebe Road bridge over Four Mile Run will be closing completely in two weeks, and will remain closed to vehicles for nearly a year.
The circa-1956 bridge connects Arlington and Alexandria near the I-395/S. Glebe Road interchange. It has been deemed “structurally deficient” since 2018. A $10 million project to replace its deck and beams was approved by the Arlington County Board last April as part of a joint project with Alexandria. The project was slated to start this year, but in the meantime engineers have found “continued degradation of the bridge beams.”
As a result, the bridge is closing to all traffic on Monday, May 9, the county announced today. That’s after southbound bridge traffic was detoured for the same reason in March.
New detours will be put into place that will divert vehicular traffic either over the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge to the east or Shirlington Circle to the west. Both of those bridges, coincidentally, are also aging and set for repairs over the next couple of years; the former received funding from the recent federal infrastructure bill.
Arlington County expects two vehicle lanes on the West Glebe Road bridge to reopen in early 2023, while it’s still under construction. Work is expected to start shortly after the May closure and last until the summer of 2023.
Pedestrians and cyclists who formerly used the bridge will also be detoured, though a temporary pedestrian path across Four Mile Run is expected to open in July. Four Mile Run Trail users, meanwhile, will re-routed to a parallel path, as the portion of trail under the bridge will be closed.
More from a county press release, below.
Because of continued degradation of the bridge beams, engineers will close the West Glebe Road Bridge to all motor vehicle traffic beginning on Monday, May 9, 2022, for construction of a planned replacement superstructure (road deck and beams). Two motor vehicle lanes on the renovated bridge are expected to reopen in early 2023 along with one of two widened sidewalks.
The current structure connecting Arlington and Alexandria over Four Mile Run was built in 1956. Elements have experienced noted deterioration in recent years.
In 2018, a 5-ton weight restriction was placed on all user vehicles. In March 2022, all southbound traffic was detoured away from the bridge amid signs of continued structural beam degradation.
Allowing continued motor vehicle traffic with the additional stress of construction has now been ruled out. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to use the bridge through June, after which they will be directed to a temporary crossing, independent of the superstructure, to be built along the bridge, expected to open in July.
The Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge further east over Four Mile Run will continue to handle vehicular traffic detouring from the West Glebe bridge.
The bridge’s original piers are stable and will be used to support the new superstructure, reducing project costs, construction time, and impact on the watershed.
The project is set for completion by summer 2023.
Arlington County and the City of Alexandria continue continue to coordinate closely on the bridge replacement project. Crews will mobilize for the job later this month.