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.
The Mount Vernon Avenue bridge is a vital link between Alexandria and Arlington, but it’s in rough shape and in desperate need of a refit.
The Arlington Ridge Road/Mount Vernon Avenue bridge over Four Mile Run in rough shape and this morning (Friday) Senator Mark Warner and local leaders met with engineers to review the state of the bridge and advocate for the bridge to get a significant boost from federal funding. Federal funding for bridge infrastructure is currently in the hands of state leaders who will allocate funding to bridge projects around the state.
Greg Emanuel, director of the Department of Environmental Services for Arlington County, led Warner and other leaders on a tour of the bridge and highlighted where the issues are. On the Arlington side of the bridge, where the Four Mile Run trail runs beneath the bridge, Emanuel said the superstructure of the bridge will require replacement to the tune of around $28 million.
The nearby West Glebe Road Bridge is in a similar state of disrepair and Emanuel said Alexandria and Arlington are working together for bridge replacement over the course of this year and into 2023. Once that’s completed, Emanuel said Arlington and Alexandria will turn their attention to the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge in the 2024-2025 timeframe.
Emanuel said the current bridge is comprised of stacked slabs of concrete that are difficult to inspect without taking the bridge apart. While the piers and abutments holding up the bridge will remain, an inspection in 2018 found that parts of the roadway superstructure have deteriorated and need to be replaced with a steel bridge — which Emanuel noted will also be easier to inspect.
As part of a new infrastructure bill, Virginia is receiving $537 million for bridge repair. Of the bridge replacement’s $28 million estimated budget, up to 80% of that can be paid for from the federal funding that the state is currently divvying up.
“What we don’t want in Virginia is what happened in Pittsburgh a week ago,” said Warner. “Help is on its way for additional funding.”
Local leaders said more state and federal support for the bridge repair projects would be greatly appreciated.
“Bridges are about connecting communities,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “We do have a plan to address [the bridge repair] but could use federal support. This project will make a big difference and improve connectivity between low-income communities.”
Alexandria City Council member John Chapman said he grew up around the area and saw little difference as a local between the Alexandria and Arlington sides of Four Mile Run. Chapman said residents on both side of Four Mile Run need to be able to move seamlessly from one side to the other.
“This is a great opportunity to show we caught something before it became a problem,” said City Council member Sarah Bagley. “Inspections are vital.”
Emanuel said localities are currently waiting for more announcements from the state on how the federal funding will be allocated, but Emanuel said the bridges that are in poor condition — which the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge qualifies as — will be first in line for funding.
Despite Gov. Glenn Youngkin getting a less-than-warm reception in Alexandria yesterday, Jennifer Deci, Youngkin’s Deputy Secretary of Transportation, was a welcome presence at the tour and said that state leadership was eager to work with federal and local partners to fund bridge projects and seek more infrastructure funding from the federal government.
Deci said the timeline for allocating the bridge funding is still being worked out, but will likely be sometime in the first half of this year.
It’s been a busy week in Alexandria with City Council coming back into session for the first time in 2022.
With a majority of the Council being new, there are fresh names and perspectives stories about city decision-making. Highlights from this week’s City Council meeting included a first look at plans for the city to — kind of — invest in a luxury hotel and bids to develop broadband internet access citywide.
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The West Glebe Road Bridge connecting Arlington and Alexandria is dropping down to one lane in each direction after an inspection found deterioration under the bridge’s sidewalk.
According to a press release from Arlington County, one northbound lane and one southbound lane will be open, with one northbound lane being converted into a pedestrian and bicycle path after the closure of the west sidewalk.
“A recent inspection revealed additional deterioration under the west sidewalk and the temporary walking path, which necessitated the sidewalk being closed in this area,” the County said.
In April, the County Board approved a $9.89 million contract — funded jointly by Alexandria and Arlington — for a bridge replacement. Construction is expected to start next summer. The County said the closures will remain in place until the bridge replacement is completed.
The County noted that this isn’t the first time travel capacity on the bridge has been reduced.
“The routine inspection of the bridge in fall 2018 uncovered deterioration that prompted a vehicle weight restriction of 5 tons and closure of the sidewalks in both directions,” the County said. “The southbound lane across the bridge was converted for the exclusive use of people walking and biking.”
Photo (1) via Google Maps, photo (2) via Arlington County
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.
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.
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- Olympic boxer Troy Isley welcomed back to Alexandria
- Mayor Wilson talks flooding, vaccine requirements, and Arlington gondola with WAMU
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- Alexandria kicks off Restaurant Week
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- With high transmission levels, Alexandria says third COVID vaccine dose is available for severely immunocompromised residents
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- The Four Mile Run Bridge in Arlandria will not fully reopen until fall 2025
- Institute for Defense Analyses announces Potomac Yard move-in later this year
- Woman behind DrainALX campaign shares frustrations and hopes from locals after Sunday flood
- HUD Secretary Fudge visits Alexandria, says affordable housing is a Biden Administration priority
- New census shows Alexandria not majority-white
- Alexandria School Board to discuss mandatory vaccinations for staffers this week
- After rampant flooding over weekend, another Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Alexandria
- Poll: Have you gotten the infamous mite bite in Alexandria?
- Alexandria Fire Department struggling with staffing shortage and forced overtime
- Stuck in quandary, Del Ray flooding victim seeks therapy
Have a safe weekend!
(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.
The deteriorating West Glebe Road Bridge, on the Arlington border near I-395, will be the topic of an open house next week.
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
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
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