Park Service asks for additional grant for Memorial Bridge

WASHINGTON — In an attempt to avoid a prolonged, costly rehabilitation of Arlington Memorial Bridge, the National Park Service this week submitted a second application for federal grant money. The bridge is in dire need of major repairs that are estimated to cost upward of $250 million.

The Park Service was awarded $90 million in grant money through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s FASTLANE grant program this summer. Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles with the Park Service says a second request for an additional $60 million was submitted earlier this week.

“We were very grateful to receive a $90 million grant with D.C. as our co-sponsor on that application and they’ve agreed to move forward with us again,” Anzelmo-Sarles said. She added that, in seeking additional funding, the agency aims to help travelers in the region by getting the work completed in one fell swoop.

“Right now we’re planning to move forward with a two-phased approach where in 2018 we would hope to award a contract to begin the approach span. That two-phased approach would prolong the project, increase delays, and increase the construction cost,” Anzelmo-Sarles said.

If the Park Service secured an additional $60 million, Anzelmo-Sarles said that cost overruns, prolonged lane closures and weight restrictions on the bridge could be averted.

The Park Service is on track to have the $171 million needed to begin a multiphase project, but that work doesn’t not include the costly repairs to the unused bascule span at the center of the bridge. This work would only extend the service life of the bridge through 2030, by which time the deferred work would be required.

“That drawbridge span would have to wait until we could secure additional funding and [that] would ultimately increase the project cost in the long run and the impacts to the public.”

The application for the FASTLANE grant was submitted before a Dec. 15 deadline. The program was established to as a mechanism to move critical local, state and federal infrastructure projects forward.

“I think everybody in this region sees the significance of this project not only in terms of Arlington Memorial Bridge being just that — a memorial — but as such a key link in the area’s transportation infrastructure,” Anzelmo-Sarles said.

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