Friday, March 27, 2009

County Board Looking to Stimulus Money to Fix Bridge

The full project will still have to wait until 2012 or later.

The Sun Gazette reported about a week ago that the Arlington County board plans to write a letter to Gov. Tim Kaine asking that he use some of the federal stimulus money to fix the Glebe Road bridge over Arlington Blvd., pieces of which broke off and disrupted traffic earlier in the month.

The letter, which is not finished, will only ask that the state fix the bridge, not that the state fully redevelop the bridge, as has been planned for almost a decade. Nor did the county include a request to redevelop the bridge when they submitted a more formal request to the state for stimulus package monies.

A widened bridge and exit ramp at Arlington Blvd. and Glebe Road would displace First Class Auto. (File photo. Click to enlarge the image.)

According to county federal liaison Brian Stout via email, “The short answer is no, we did not include the [full] project in our submissions online for stimulus funding. As currently designed, the project would not be eligible for stimulus funding.”

The project is not far enough along to be eligible for the funding said the county’s Pat Carrol, adding that projects have to be ready to go at the time of funding.

“The project is currently planned as a replacement and enhancement project, has an estimated cost of $14 million, and is likely to go to construction in 2012. The full project will improve auto, transit, pedestrian and bicycle access the area – an important point for Arlington,” Mr. Stout’s email said.

The redevelopment of that bridge and the intersection has been in the plans since 2000. The plan is to widen the bridge and the exit ramps from westbound Arlington Blvd. In an earlier plan the First Class Auto used car lot at that intersection (across N. Glebe Road from the McDonald’s) was scheduled to be taken over and torn down to allow the ramp to expand.

In 2002, the county planned $25 million for improvements along Arlington Boulevard and Columbia Pike, “including bridges on...Glebe Road at Arlington Boulevard,” a release at the time said.

A February 2007 VDOT inspection gave the bridge a 5 of 9 “fair” rating, which despite the bad sound of that did not concern professional inspectors.

“Five is normal, very, very ordinary,” said a federal official in October 2007.

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