Route 27/244 Interchange
|Washington Boulevard Bridge over Columbia Pike in Arlington|
Project at a Glance
About the Project
This design-build project replaces the Washington Boulevard bridge over Columbia Pike in Arlington. The new bridge will be wider, longer and a great deal more attractive than today’s structure. A light well will separate westbound and eastbound lanes, and an acceleration/deceleration lane will be added westbound between ramps to assist weaving.
The new bridge will accommodate Columbia Pike widening. Clearance under the bridge will be increased to 16'-8” to accommodate a future area streetcar. Columbia Pike will have 11-foot travel lanes, a left-turn lane, and raised median.
Several ramps will also be reconfigured to improve access, traffic flow and increase capacity.
The existing box culvert that conveys Long Branch through the center of the interchange will be replaced with a double-cell box culvert and extended to reduce erosion at the downstream end.
A 10-foot shared-use path on one side and a 7- to 8-foot sidewalk on the other side of Columbia Pike will run through the project area. The design provides enhanced safety, mobility and aesthetics for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.
A community working group of citizens, Arlington County and VDOT staff developed concepts for the bridge's architectural and aesthetic treatments, including:
• Decorative pylons in each corner
• Haunched steel fascia girders with a two-tone paint scheme to mimic the existing arch
• A relief pattern incorporated into the vertical outer surfaces of the bridge parapet to create shadows and visual interest.
• A concrete block pattern on retaining and abutment walls similar to Pentagon architecture
• Recessed, arched panels on the abutment walls
• Medallions with images reflecting the historical significance of the Freedmen’s Village, for which the bridge will be named
• Color and anti-graffiti application to concrete surfaces
During the project, drivers can expect single lane closures daily on Washington Boulevard in both directions from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Drivers can also expect periodic traffic shifts, the first this summer to new temporary pavement crews will construct over the next few months.
Periodic Columbia Pike closures – Up to five weekend closures per year of Columbia Pike are expected for work such as bridge demolition and erection of high beams. These closures will begin after rush hour Friday evening and reopen by rush hour on Monday morning. Traffic will be rerouted between S. Quinn Street and S. Orme Street around the north side of the intersection. Message signs will notify motorists of these closures in advance.
NOTE: A new traffic pattern on eastbound Columbia Pike at the Washington Boulevard bridge is in place through 2014. Read the traffic alert for details.
Potential traffic noise impacts associated with the interchange modifications were assessed in 2000 and 2007 (after changes to the interchange configuration). In both studies, three sound barriers were considered and found to be feasible (provided at least 5 decibels of noise reduction), but only one was found to be cost-effective in the latter study. The Noise Impact Analysis Technical Report and the Noise Abatement Committee Submittal Package details the analyses, findings, and general location of the proposed sound barrier based on the 2007 study. The approval for the sound barrier was provided by the Chief Engineer (letter) and Federal Highway Administration (letter). VDOT recently updated the State Noise Abatement Policy and created a Guidance Manual (see more information).Please note that the policy was not in effect at the time of the study for the Route 27/244 interchange project, and per an agreement with FHWA, the noise study is not being revisited.
The existing single-span bridge was built in the 1940s by the War Department as part of the Pentagon Roadway Network. It is a thick, solid structure that suffers from deteriorating concrete, corrosion, and heavy chloride contamination. It has also withstood many years of increasing traffic loads.
Currently, the interchange does not operate adequately or accommodate all users, and also prohibits widening Columbia Pike. A 2008 traffic analysis considered spot improvements and corridor-wide improvements to the interchange to address concerns raised by the community working group. Concerns included maintaining S. Queen Street access, adding signals along Columbia Pike, separating Ramp E from the S. Queen Street intersection to the extent possible, and eliminating time-of-day lane use on eastbound Columbia Pike. While all concerns could not be addressed through design, VDOT’s intent was to determine how best to meet the safety, operation, and access issues raised by the Bridge Working Group, while also ensuring that the interchange configuration will function adequately during the peak hours without queues spilling back onto the mainline of Washington Boulevard. View a copy of the traffic analysis report.
The bridge was rated as “poor” in recent structural inspections, meaning that the superficial concrete is in poor condition, but is still sufficiently capable of carrying traffic without further restriction or risk to the public. Note: Truck drivers are reminded of the bridge's posted weight restriction of 27 tons (single truck) and 40 tons (truck with trailer), which is Virginia's legal load for these types of vehicles.
Despite the bridge’s rating, with diligent inspections and maintenance, its rigid concrete frame will withstand current traffic loads for the foreseeable future, as it has for many years.
Washington Boulevard carries more than 80,000 vehicles each day over Columbia Pike.