Arlington Memorial Bridge Emergency Closures and Load Limits

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Date: May 28, 2015
Contact: Wayne Campbell, 202-619-7186
Contact: Aaron Larocca, 703-289-2508

WASHINGTON – Prior to morning rush hour on Friday, May 29, 2015, the National Park Service, at the recommendation of Federal Highway Administration, will close both curbside lanes and 4 feet of the adjoining sidewalks across the bascule (drawbridge) span of Arlington Memorial Bridge and will post a 10-ton load limit across the entire length of the bridge. The lane closures will remain in effect until emergency repairs are complete. The load restriction, which will eliminate most bus traffic, will remain in effect indefinitely.

During a routine annual inspection of Arlington Memorial Bridge, Federal Highway Administration engineers identified a corroded area that warranted further evaluation. The follow-up evaluation revealed that secondary load-bearing support beams, located at the bascule span, are corroding at a faster rate than anticipated and no longer meet load-bearing standards. Using the latest structural scanning technology and confirming the results with core samples of the deck, the inspection also revealed significant deterioration of the concrete deck. Instituting the load limit will help extend the life of the deck for passenger vehicles.

“With the precautionary measures in place, Arlington Memorial Bridge is safe to travel within the open lanes, sidewalks and posted load limits,” said Alexcy Romero, George Washington Memorial Parkway superintendent. “Federal Highway Administration engineers used the latest technology to locate the compromised areas and used an engineering-driven decision process to make their recommendations.”

The National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration are expediting temporary repairs originally scheduled for September 2015 to address the corrosion in the bascule span. The work includes strengthening and repairing portions of the sidewalk throughout the bridge, adding new support beams along portions of the bascule span and resurfacing the roadway with an ultrathin bonded material. Repair work is expected to begin in July and last 6-9 months.

Since 2012, the National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration have been conducting public outreach and developing a project for comprehensive long-term rehabilitation and repair of Arlington Memorial Bridge, currently estimated to cost approximately $250 million. The purpose of this project is to restore the structural integrity of the bridge while protecting and preserving the memorial and the historic characteristics. To learn more about the effort, visit

Arlington Memorial Bridge, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, spans the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Regarded as Washington’s most beautiful bridge, Arlington Memorial Bridge is not only an important part of our roadway transportation network, but also a national memorial symbolizing reunification of the North and the South following the Civil War. The bridge connects the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, at Arlington National Cemetery.

The 2,100-foot-long bridge was designed by the architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White. When it opened in 1932, it was the longest, heaviest and fastest opening drawbridge in the world. The drawbridge was last opened on Feb. 28, 1961.

Last updated: July 18, 2016

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703 289-2500

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