By Mary Ann Barton (Arlington Patch)
(Patch.com) If you take the Arlington Memorial Bridge to and from work, heads up: The National Park Service (NPS) announced late Thursday they will shut down two lanes of traffic on the bridge beginning Friday morning. The change will be in place indefinitely until the bridge is repaired.
The bridge stretches from Arlington National Cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial and is a major artery across the Potomac.
Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Tim Kaine, Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D.C.) and Congressman Don Beyer (D-8th) are calling for stronger federal infrastructure investment, citing the closure of the lanes on the iconic and congested Arlington Memorial Bridge as the latest evidence of federal neglect.
Prior to morning rush hour on Friday, the National Park Service, at the recommendation of Federal Highway Administration, will close both curbside lanes and 4 feet of the 13-foot 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 National Park Service announced late Thursday. Bicycles and pedestrians will still be able to use the nine-foot wide sidewalks, a spokesman said.
The lane closures will remain in effect until emergency repairs are complete, the NPS says. The load restriction, which will eliminate most bus traffic, will remain in effect indefinitely.
“There is nothing more emblematic of Congress’ failure to invest in our nation’s infrastructure than the bridge that brings people into our nation’s capital, a national memorial, falling apart,” Beyer said in a statement.
“Memorial Bridge has already been labeled ‘structurally deficient’ and one lane was closed just last week due to safety and infrastructure concerns. Today, we have news that another lane will be shut down. It’s time for Congress to stop kicking the can down the road and pass a federal transportation bill to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, starting right here in DC,” he said.
Nearly 68,000 vehicles cross the 83-year-old bridge on a typical work day. The cost to fully repair the bridge is estimated at more than $250 million over several months. Memorial Bridge is just one of more than 70,000 US bridges deemed “structurally deficient.”
“Today’s announcement that we have to close yet another lane of the Memorial Bridge highlights the decrepit state of our infrastructure,” said Sen. Kaine. “This additional lane closure will cause unbearable congestion and delays for the approximately 68,000 drivers who use the Memorial Bridge to travel between Virginia and Washington every day. Today’s frustrating news represents a nationwide issue. It’s estimated that there are 4,800 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges in Virginia alone. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road and address our nation’s crumbling infrastructure by passing a bipartisan, long-term transportation bill.”
“How can Congress fail to act while the Memorial Bridge – which is not only a vital artery for local commuters, but also the entrance to our nation’s capital – is literally falling apart? This is not just embarrassing – it’s outrageous,” said Sen. Warner. “We have to get serious about fixing and upgrading our roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure. Until that happens, Virginia commuters will be stuck sitting in even more traffic – and crumbling and inefficient infrastructure will remain a serious drag on our economic growth.”
"Accreditation solidifies our commitment to the preservation of our natural and cultural landscape resources and provides the opportunity to tell the stories behind the magnificent trees found here," said Stephen Van Hoven, horticulture division chief.
To commemorate this achievement and celebrate Arbor Day, Arlington hosted a free guided walking tour of its grounds and a tree planting.
The peaceful and beautiful grounds of Arlington honor the service and sacrifice of the more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families who rest here. The Arboretum includes a blend of formal and informal landscapes, dotted with more than 8,600 trees comprised of more than 300 species, cultivar or variety. The collection includes trees that pre-date the establishment of the cemetery, estimated to be between 200 and 250 years old; two state champions; a substantial set of Memorial Trees; and trees that honor Medal of Honor recipients.
To commemorate the cemetery's 150th anniversary in 2014, the historic landscape was established as the Memorial Arboretum, serving as a living memorial to those who have sacrificed their lives for the nation and connecting visitors to the rich tapestry of the cemetery's living history and natural beauty.
Video about Arlington's Arboretum is available on the cemetery's YouTube page:
Arlington National Cemetery's hours of operation change today. From April 1 to September 30, the cemetery is open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and the Changing of the Guard will occur every half hour.
As part of the 100th anniversary of the USS Maine Memorial dedication at Arlington National Cemetery, we have created a Spanish-American War exhibit and walking tour.