WASHINGTON — Part of the Arlington Memorial Bridge is closed Friday for emergency repairs.
The curbside lanes and 4-feet of the adjoining sidewalks across the drawbridge span of the bridge are closed. Additionally, there is a 10-ton load limit for the length of the bridge, which carries nearly 68,000 vehicles daily.
The load restriction, which eliminates most bus traffic, will be in effect indefinitely. The closure will be in place until the repairs are completed.
“This is going to be a major headache for the region,” says Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.
The bus restrictions and lane closures will not only affect daily commuters but also tourists who come to visit the Arlington National Cemetery and National Mall.
Metro says it is trying to determine its evening service plan for the 7Y bus that travels across the bridge.
“You ought to be real mad when you can’t get across that bridge to get to work. You’re going to be late, later than ever,” Norton says.
“Cutting down lanes on the Memorial Bridge in this region is like taking out one of our subway lines.”
During an inspection of the bridge the Federal Highway Administration found secondary load-bearing support beams that no longer met standards. Scans also found that the concrete deck had significant deterioration.
The bridge’s weight-bearing beams are corroding and the concrete deck is weakening.
Norton calls its condition “decrepit” and blames Congress for neglecting critical infrastructure by underfunding the National Park Service, which has a deferred maintenance backlog of $11.5 billion.
“Sites like the Memorial Bridge must be 100 percent funded by the federal government and not part of any state’s allocation. The federal government, the Congress of the United States to be specific, has been shameful in simply not allocating funds,” Norton says.
NPS currently receives $240 million for transportation projects nationwide.
Repairs originally slotted for September 2015 are being moved up to July. The updates will add new support beams, resurface the roadway and strengthen the sidewalk. That repair work will last six to nine months.
On Monday, Norton will introduce the Save Our National Parks Transportation Act which would increase funding to the NPS federal lands transportation program to $460 million a year for fiscal years 2016 to 2021.
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