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West Glebe Road bridge demolition (image via Arlington County Department of Environmental Services/Facebook)

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.

The bridge was deemed “structurally deficient” in 2018 and continued degradation forced Arlington and Alexandria to reconsider earlier bridge repair plans.

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

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West Glebe Road Bridge (photo via Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services)

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.

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West Glebe Road Bridge (photo via Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services)

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.

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Morning Notes

A view from Shipyard Park along South Union Street (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

Mayor Asks Metro for Support During Closure — “Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson urged Metro in a Thursday letter to commit to city rail and bus service amid an announcement of extended closures, particularly on the transit agency’s Yellow Line.” [WTOP]

West Glebe Road Bridge Lane Closed — “Engineers have identified a structural issue with a bridge connecting Arlington County and Alexandria, prompting a lane closure.” [Patch]

Art Installation Opens at Waterfront Park — “The ‘I Love You’ art installation opened Friday morning at Waterfront Park, 1A Prince Street.” [Patch]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 36 and low of 28. Sunrise at 7:00 am and sunset at 7:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A 26-year-old man was shot in the leg in the 200 block of W. Glebe Road in Arlandria on Wednesday night.

The incident, characterized as a felonious assault, occurred at around 11:30 p.m., and was reported by Alexandria police just after midnight via Twitter.

“The victim was transported to the hospital,” Alexandria police said in a release. “His injuries are not life-threatening.”

No suspect information was released.

The area where the incident occurred has a lot of traffic and commerce. It’s located near the intersection of Mount Vernon Avenue and Glebe Road.

Police said that the investigation is active and ongoing, and that anyone with information should call the police non-emergency line at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Map via Google Maps

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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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