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State, County Celebrate Renewed 'Gateway' Between North, South Arlington

Officials formally marked the completion of a $6 million bridge replacement project on Glebe Road over Arlington Boulevard on Wednesday.

Virginia Department of Transportation and Arlington County officials on Wednesday formally celebrated the completion of a $6 million bridge replacement on Glebe Road over Arlington Boulevard.

The entire bridge, about 100 feet long, was replaced over a 15-month construction window. The new bridge is 27 feet wider, according to VDOT.

The state agency worked with the county and community to implement improvements such as:

  • A northbound left turn lane to Route 50 designed to help transit;
  • A 17-foot shared-use path on one side and an 11-foot sidewalk on the other to replace two stretches of crumbling 5-foot sidewalks;
  • New signals;
  • And decorative fencing, medians and lighting.

"All of this is an enormous enhancement to the way this community works," Arlington County Board Chairwoman Mary Hynes said.

In March 2009, concrete fell from the bridge into a travel lane on Arlington Boulevard.

Nick Roper, VDOT district bridge engineer, said he was answering phones all morning in Richmond the day that happened. The incident served as a "catalyst for innovation," he said. It forced the state agency and the county to work within the existing right-of-way and community standards — and to keep traffic moving, making "compromise and consensus" imperative.

Garrett Moore, the Transportation Department's district administrator for Northern Virginia, said 15 months was "a good, tight schedule in traffic like this."

Tuesday, Arlington County Transportation Director Dennis Leach said the bridge had been among the most structurally deficient in Virginia.

"We were all worried about it," Moore told Patch, adding that even with temporary measures, the bridge was "on its last legs." VDOT installed shielding to protect people below, he said, which usually doesn't happen until demolition.

Glebe Road carries about 35,000 vehicles over Arlington Boulevard each day, including about 300 bus trips carrying more than 8,500 people, according to VDOT.

State Sen. Barbara Favola, who was on the county board before being elected to her current post, said VDOT deserves kudos for its efforts.

"They actually get criticized a lot," Favola said. "It's not always their fault. They're one of the scapegoat agencies. If you ever want to see a group that does more with less, it's the folks at VDOT."

State Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, said he drives under the bridge every day and called it the "gateway" between North Arlington and South Arlington.

"This is a beautifully constructed project that will serve Arlingtonians for generations to come," he said.

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