National Park Service completes Arlington Memorial Bridge emergency repair project

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Date: May 26, 2016
Contact: Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, 202-619-7177

WASHINGTON - The National Park Service (NPS), in its ongoing commitment to keep Arlington Memorial Bridge open and safe, has completed a year long, $4 million emergency repair project. At the recommendation of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) bridge engineers, the 10-ton weight restriction remains in effect but the curbside lanes are reopened.

The latest temporary repair project added support beams to reinforce the bridge's deck and help reduce vibration throughout the bridge's structure caused by vehicles traveling across the roadway. Vibration throughout the bridge has played a major role in the continued deterioration of the deck, sidewalks and concrete in the arch spans. The NPS also patched several sections of the concrete deck and sidewalk, to provide a safe means of transportation for everyone using Arlington Memorial Bridge - whether they drive, walk, jog or bike.

Despite these emergency repairs, the bridge is still in need of a $250 million rehabilitation to prevent a full closure as early as 2021. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments says a full bridge closure would have a negative economic effect on the region to the tune of $74.5 million/year in traffic delay cost alone. The project impacts the entire region, with an estimated 68,000 vehicles from Virginia (58 percent), Washington, D.C (21 percent), Maryland (14 percent) and external visitors (7 percent) crossing the Potomac River by way of Arlington Memorial Bridge daily.

The FHWA continues to provide the NPS technical engineering and bridge planning advice, and design and construction contract administration expertise. The NPS has invested nearly $10 million on temporary repairs for the bridge since 2010. Another multi-million dollar temporary stabilization project will begin next year to extend the life of the trunnion posts, which are the primary posts stabilizing the center span of the bridge.

At the continued recommendation of Federal Highway Administration bridge engineers, the 10-ton load limit across the entire length of the bridge will remain in effect until a full rehabilitation is complete. Vehicles in the Class 6 (trucks, school buses, etc.), Class 7 (city transit buses, tour buses, refuse trucks, etc.) and Class 8 (truck tractor, sleeper cabs, etc.) classification are prohibited from traveling across the bridge.

In April, the NPS and the District of Columbia submitted a strong application for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) FASTLANE Grant 2016 program to help fund the rehabilitation project. The NPS looks forward to DOT's full consideration of the application, and is actively pursuing available funding options to complete the required rehabilitation.

From April 15 - May 16, the NPS invited public comments on the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the bridge rehabilitation project. The EA is a required milestone before any long term repairs can begin, and was a critical step to ensure the project can proceed without delay once funding is secured.

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 the region's 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 bridge also serves as a key component of the Washington, D.C., emergency evacuation contingency plans.

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. The bridge was designed with a 50-year life span.

Last updated: July 18, 2016

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