Newsletter

What a week in Alexandria.

Public uproar over Sunday’s flooding spilled out throughout this week, which continued to be threatened by near-daily flash flood advisories from the National Weather Service.

Our top story was on Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, who criticized City Manager Mark Jinks on the city’s stormwater infrastructure. Mayor Justin Wilson says that multiple projects are underway and take time, and that the city is now looking into whether spot improvements and any other projects can be accelerated.

The group DrainALX has also gained popularity, as it continues to catalog stormwater issues and complaints. One Del Ray resident even told us that she’s turned to therapy after repeatedly spending thousands on a continually ruined basement.

Our weekly poll also found 55% of respondents (193 people) have experienced flood damage to their homes, 14% (74 people) have experienced other sorts of property damage and 31% (159 votes) have never had any property damaged by a storm in the city.

This weekend’s forecast is partly cloudy with a 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon, followed by a 40% chance of thunderstorms Sunday night.

School issues

The week before school starts, the School Board unanimously approved Thursday night the requirement that ACPS staffers get the coronavirus vaccine.

“We do have authority to require testing and require vaccinations,” Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said at the board meeting. “However, there have been no cases where someone has contested that requirement. That has not occurred as of yet, and I’m sure it’s going to begin soon…”

In the meantime, Alexandria is also prepping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. As Alexandria looks to accelerate stormwater projects, Sheriff gives city manager a D-
  2. The Four Mile Run Bridge in Arlandria will not fully reopen until fall 2025
  3. Institute for Defense Analyses announces Potomac Yard move-in later this year
  4. Woman behind DrainALX campaign shares frustrations and hopes from locals after Sunday flood
  5. HUD Secretary Fudge visits Alexandria, says affordable housing is a Biden Administration priority
  6. New census shows Alexandria not majority-white
  7. Alexandria School Board to discuss mandatory vaccinations for staffers this week
  8. After rampant flooding over weekend, another Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Alexandria
  9. Poll: Have you gotten the infamous mite bite in Alexandria?
  10. Alexandria Fire Department struggling with staffing shortage and forced overtime
  11. Stuck in quandary, Del Ray flooding victim seeks therapy

Have a safe weekend!

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(Updated 11:45 a.m. — The Arlington Ridge Road bridge referenced by the mayor in the article is the Four Mile Run Bridge.) Arlington County is planning on fully reopening the Four Mile Run Bridge in the fall of 2025, which will be more than six years after it closed due to structural problems.

The bridge is one of the five bridges that connect Alexandria to Arlington, and along with the West Glebe Road Bridge has been earmarked for repair since November 2018. The western portion of the Four Mile Run Bridge has been closed off to pedestrians since January 2019, and structural problems have restricted vehicles under five tons at the Arlington Ridge Road bridge.

“The sidewalk will reopen upon completion of the bridge reconstruction project anticipated in Fall 2025,” Arlington County said in an email. “The sidewalk was closed in 2019 after an independent inspection of the bridge discovered deterioration of the beams below the west sidewalk.”

The bridges were built in 1957, and the bridge decks were replaced in 1981, according to the city.

Arlington officials say there is no delay and work on the Four Mile Run Bridge will start after the reconstruction of the West Glebe Road Bridge to avoid two bridge construction projects at the same time.

Arlington County is the lead on the project, which is in the design phase, but the replacement is a joint partnership between Arlington County and Alexandria, which are paying 50/50 on the projects.

“With the West Glebe bridge requiring $10 million-$14 million of work and the Arlington Ridge bridge (the Four Mile Run Bridge) requiring $23 million-$28 million of work, these arrangements are not insignificant,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in a Nov. 2020 newsletter.

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The deteriorating West Glebe Road Bridge, on the Arlington border near I-395, will be the topic of an open house next week.

The bridge is currently closed to large vehicles weighing more than 5 tons due to structural deficiencies. It’s set for a major rehabilitation project, likely starting later this year.

The design of the new span, which will use the existing bridge’s piers, is still in progress. The new bridge is expected to “improve access for people walking, biking and driving,” according to Arlington County. (The bridge is technically located in Arlington, though it’s heavily used by Alexandria commuters.)

Arlington, in coordination with Alexandria, is hosting an open house about the project and the bridge design on Wednesday, Feb. 12 from 6-8 p.m., at Gunston Middle School (2700 S. Lang Street).

“Members of the public are encouraged to attend the drop-in style open house to learn more about the project, ask questions of staff, and provide feedback on bridge cross-sections and visual preferences,” the City of Alexandria said.

Photos via Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services

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The Woodrow Wilson Bridge is scheduled to open tonight to allow Nao Santa María — a replica of one of Christopher Columbus’ ships — to pass through.

Historically, welcoming the Santa María with open arms has turned out poorly, but the ship is nonetheless scheduled to dock at The Wharf in D.C. The ship will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Friday, Nov. 7, to Wednesday, Nov. 13, then again from Friday, Nov. 15 to Sunday, Nov. 17.

The ship will be open for self-guided tours through four decks, with informative panels about the history of the ship and chances to talk with the crew about what life was like for Spanish sailors 500 years ago.

Tours are $10 for adults or $5 for children under 10 years old. Families are $25.

The bridge is scheduled to open at 1 a.m. The Virginia Department of Transportation said via social media that drivers should expect delays and consider alternate routes during that time.

Photo via Nao Santa María/Facebook

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(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) Alexandria has closed a pedestrian bridge along Holmes Run after a safety inspection found the structure needed “immediate repair.”

The bridge that spans from Ben Brenman Park to Holmes Run Parkway was shut down late last week, according to city officials.

“During routine park amenity inspection by staff from the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, it was found that the bridge footings were unstable due to soft soil and loose rock below the footing,” the city said in a statement.

“An inspection by a civil engineer from the Department of Transportation & Environmental Services deemed the bridge to require immediate repair to ensure pedestrian safety,” city officials added.

For now, pedestrians will be able to follow signs for a detour route that crosses Holmes Run at the footbridge just south of the stream from the Holmes Run playground. This temporarily route links to back to Holmes Run Trail as it heads north towards Duke Street.

Image 1 via Google Maps

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