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View Full Version : Lights out! in the Shirlington connector tunnel - who to contact?



JustinW
09-21-2011, 06:25 PM
Kids,

Who can I contact to report lights being out (burned out or smashed, it seems) on the Shirlington connector's underpass / tunnel under 395?

With increasing amounts of darkness, having good lighting in that long stretch would make a lot of people more comfortable.

Justin

Arlingtonrider
09-21-2011, 06:50 PM
On Monday, I contacted Arlington County about those at the trails contact that Tim Kelly posted. Arlington County sent me an acknowledgement that they received my note, but I haven't heard anything further. My cc: to Tim got bounced back. Only the lights on the west part of the underpass were out when I went through. The others were fine. I hope they check and fix them soon. Can one of our bikearlington folks follow up?

Tim Kelley
09-21-2011, 07:51 PM
On Monday, I contacted Arlington County about those at the trails contact that Tim Kelly posted. Arlington County sent me an acknowledgement that they received my note, but I haven't heard anything further. My cc: to Tim got bounced back. Only the lights on the west part of the underpass were out when I went through. The others were fine. I hope they check and fix them soon. Can one of our bikearlington folks follow up?

Yes, I'll look into it. If you contacted the trails folks they usually get back within a few days.

FYI--my last name has a second "E" in it. That might be why your email got bounced back.

Arlingtonrider
09-21-2011, 09:19 PM
Thanks, Tim! (I'm sure I missed that second "e", explaining the bounceback.) I just wanted to be sure that the information reached the right people. Thanks so much for all that you all do.

JustinW
09-28-2011, 07:07 PM
Any update on this? Arlingtonrider, did you get a pulse out of the County?

Arlingtonrider
09-28-2011, 08:38 PM
I did, but just a pulse at this point. I received an email today stating that they had received my message and had forwarded it to the appropriate unit, and that the writer was waiting to hear back. I plan to stay on top of this and will keep you posted. Check your messages if haven't posted anything further about this here by the end of the week. I also mentioned it to a couple of people at the WABA meeting last night.

consularrider
09-29-2011, 09:00 AM
Most of the lights under I-395 are not just out, but missing the covers and bulbs with exposed wiring. In the two and a half years this has been open, I really don't recall that it was ever well lit after dark or during the daytime.

Tim Kelley
10-03-2011, 09:50 AM
After Arlington County staff connected with VDOT on this topic, we were informed that this actually falls under the jurisdiction of Alexandria. I'm still looking into details on who to contact regarding this and will let you know.

KLizotte
10-03-2011, 11:51 AM
Most of the lights under I-395 are not just out, but missing the covers and bulbs with exposed wiring. In the two and a half years this has been open, I really don't recall that it was ever well lit after dark or during the daytime.

Wow, the tunnel is only 2.5 years old and the lighting is in that poor a condition?! I noticed the exposed wiring this weekend. What a shame.

DaveK
10-03-2011, 12:12 PM
Wow, the tunnel is only 2.5 years old and the lighting is in that poor a condition?! I noticed the exposed wiring this weekend. What a shame.

If I had to guess I'd say it's not natural wear-and-tear...

JustinW
10-03-2011, 01:32 PM
Ok, I just spoke with the person who deals with this stuff (in Alexandria, as that part of the trail is in Alexandria) and he says the lights were repaired last week. Must've been after Wednesday evening, as they were still out then. Has anyone been through there since to verify? I can check later today....

Tim Kelley
10-03-2011, 01:39 PM
I went through on Friday and they were not fixed. Must be talking about a different section of trail.

JustinW
10-03-2011, 02:36 PM
Well poop. I have left a message to that effect, asking that the lights be fixed soon, and asking for an ETA. Will post if anything comes out of this....

Overtone
10-03-2011, 03:12 PM
Went under 395 this morning on the four mile run trail (just being specific to make sure we're talking about the same place). It was pitch black.

Tim Kelley
10-04-2011, 10:58 AM
After Arlington County staff connected with VDOT on this topic, we were informed that this actually falls under the jurisdiction of Alexandria. I'm still looking into details on who to contact regarding this and will let you know.

The drama continues--the latest is that it isn't Alexandria who maintains this section...

I continue to pass along details as I find out more. This was a topic at the BAC meeting last night.

JustinW
10-04-2011, 01:05 PM
Spoke again with Alexandria's Facilities person who must be new to the area. He needed help locating the area of concern, but having now done so says he'll get out and inspect the lighting situation "within a few days," and he thinks that fixes should be doable. I've asked him to update me if anything should change. We'll see what happens....

Tim Kelley
10-06-2011, 08:41 AM
While Arlington, VDOT and Alexandria are trying to figure out who is responsible for what along this section of trail, the Arlington County Bridge Engineering Program Coordinator has asked his team to fix these lights ASAP as it is a public safety issue.

I'm not sure what the timing will be, but please let me know if ride through there any things seem better. Thanks!

Arlingtonrider
10-06-2011, 08:54 AM
Thanks so much! Will keep you posted. There are a lot of people besides those of us on the forum (joggers, etc.) who will greatly appreciate this. Please thank the Coordinator for us. Arlington is awesome for getting this done.

Tim Kelley
10-25-2011, 08:09 AM
I had recently gotten word from a few regulars that the lights here hadn't gotten fixed yet. I did some poking around and found that the Arlington maintenance team has looked into it.

Here's the report: "The existing wall pack installed cannot be repaired and require replacement. These wall packs are no longer available and needs to be replaced with a different type. New mounting brackets need to be installed which means core drilling into the bridge structure. We need VDOT permission before we proceed with this work."

They are currently seeking permission from VDOT and hopefully we'll be back on track soon.

JustinW
10-25-2011, 11:16 AM
The good news: the issue of the lights being out is recognized.

The bad news: the "who got it" nature of this fix....urghh.

Thanks Tim for keeping the fires stoked regarding this issue. For the time being can we duct tape some BikeArlington blinkies to the walks to provide some semblance of light in that underpass? ;)

OneEighth
10-25-2011, 11:27 AM
Those fixtures aren't very old. Any word on what caused them to fail?

chris_s
10-25-2011, 12:19 PM
Those fixtures aren't very old. Any word on what caused them to fail?

It looks like vandalism to me - covers ripped off, wires torn out, etc.

Overtone
12-02-2011, 08:28 AM
All lights still out, completely black in there. Any update from the responsible officials?

I noticed because last night I became a honorary Ninja due to an unexpectedly drained battery. My apologies to any of you I enountered on the W&OD or 4 mile run trail. I was ringing my bell like mad hoping to be audible since I was invisible... Time to start carrying a backup light.

John

JustinW
12-02-2011, 11:01 AM
Sounds like a symbolic lights out in terms of responsible parties stepping up. Last we heard, VDOT actually has domain over this location, tho there was talk of some Arlington folks making a quick fix (which seemed to not happen in the end).

For their part, VDOT is having trouble figuring this out - there are mentions of paperwork and permit requirements (??) as well as statements along the lines of "How do you know we are responsible for that? Are you *sure* about that? Let me check and someone will get back to you..."

The closest VDOT office on Columbia Pike suggests that their office in Dale City (!) would cover this since they are in charge of I-395 up to the river's edge. That's my next call - (703) 580-8357 may be the right number - to see if they have anything close to a clue.

My offer to affix BikeArlington blinkies to the underpass walls still stands.....

zanna_leigh
12-02-2011, 11:19 AM
Tim was working hard on this issue...but it wouldn't hurt to call that number and see what happens. We'll follow up with it and get back to everyone soon hopefully!

Tim Kelley
12-05-2011, 08:04 AM
Yes, it's in VDOT's hands. Arlington was going to try to do a quick fix, but upon inspection discovered it wasn't just a matter of switching out bulbs, or fixtures. All of the wiring needs to be replaced and there is lots of drilling to be done. VDOT has permits into itself to get this taken care of. Feel free to check with them for updates.

I'll let you know if I hear anything else.

JustinW
12-05-2011, 11:50 AM
"VDOT has permits into itself..." -- ouch, sounds painful.

Any timetable offered?

Tim Kelley
12-05-2011, 11:53 AM
Any timetable offered?

Nothing that I've heard...I have tried impressing upon them the public safety that is at stake.

Tim Kelley
12-28-2011, 02:32 PM
I'm happy to report that this afternoon when I rode through this underpass all the lights had been fixed and were working! I'm not sure when this had happened as I haven't received any updates from VDOT on this project, but in any event they are up and running!

Arlingtonrider
12-28-2011, 03:06 PM
Santa???! That's great news, not only for cyclists, but also for many walkers and joggers. Thanks so much, Tim, Justin and any others, for all the following up!

dbb
12-28-2011, 07:12 PM
Just rode through the tunnel. All lights are operational! Covers are on all lights.

Thanks to all who contributed to this achievement.

Dana

535536

consularrider
12-31-2011, 04:57 PM
But it's still pretty dark under there, so be careful. We almost had a headon collision early this afternoon as one rider insisted on passing a large line of riders heading east while there were both pedestrians and cyclists coming west.

JustinW
01-28-2012, 04:03 PM
Hey kids,

Something is up. Either the lights in this tunnel / underpass are on a daylight-sensing timer thingie, or they are *all out again*. Urghh. Please tell me it is the former. If the latter, time to ring VDOT again and beg for their intervention....

dbb
01-28-2012, 07:58 PM
I just logged the following request on the VDOT website

http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/citizen.asp

"The lights in the ped/bike trail along Four Mile Run are inoperative. Although they should operate 24 hrs per day for tunnel safety, they were not operating today. This is a safety hazard for pedestrians using the route.

Some lights have been damaged and need to be repaired as well."

You can also call VDOT as their site provides:

"Report a Road Problem
Customer Service Center: 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623)
Call VDOT's Customer Service Center at 1-800-367-7623 around the clock. TTY users can call 711.
• Report all unsafe and hazardous road conditions
• Report work requests for state-maintained roads
• Other VDOT questions"

Good luck.

Given the length of the tunnel under 395, those lights should operate 24/7. I rode through there about 1 pm this afternoon and it was pitch black in the tunnel.

Tim Kelley
01-30-2012, 10:53 AM
Has anyone been back through since Saturday? I'm looking for confirmation that these are still out.

consularrider
01-30-2012, 11:34 AM
I rode through at 7:30 this morning and no lights were on.

dbb
01-31-2012, 04:43 PM
657658659660661

Just got a reply from VDOT..

"Thank you for contacting VDOT’s Customer Service Center. This location has been submitted to our Lighting Department; reference number 1871149. Should you have any additional concerns or questions, please let us know."

I rode over to the tunnel on the way home to check it out. All lights were dark. Thumbnail photos are from east to west and show every light in the tunnel (first five in this post)

dbb
01-31-2012, 04:48 PM
662663664665666

The next five lights in the Four Mile Run tunnel under 395

DismalScientist
01-31-2012, 04:49 PM
This is what happens when you connect lights in a series.:rolleyes:

dbb
01-31-2012, 04:56 PM
667668669670

Final batch of photos (ending on the west side of I-395)

Note the varying condition of the fixtures and the use of duct tape.

JustinW
01-31-2012, 07:11 PM
Doubt that all are controlled / connected to one switch or circuit, but the lights are out further east along the trail (in underpasses) as well....

Or, are they all controlled by that high tech device, the Clapper? I should have tested...

dbb
01-31-2012, 07:44 PM
Based on my past life as a facilities engineer, I'd expect they are all on a common circuit. The lights are connected with a single piece of EMT (electrical metallic tubing, AKA conduit) that runs from the eastern side of the tunnel out to some (yet undetermined) connection box with the likely switch (photocell or timer) and power source. One of the attached photos shows the conduit emerging from the eastern portal to the tunnel.

The lights were/are high pressure sodium, and they are generally pretty efficient. If the bulbs are just 100W (a reasonable assumption), the circuit would only pull 1100 watts. I could (caveat - I am not an electrician but can short out your TV) do that with a #10 wire fairly easily (accounting for the losses of the wire length).

Given the potential for damage to the light fixtures, it seems prudent to consider locating the fixtures somewhere where they were less accessible to potential vandals. There are some alternative approaches down Four Mile Run near the intersection with the MVT that could inform the discussion.

All that said, I think the rider community might want to occasionally ride over to the bridges over the trail with a broom that could brush off the spider webs and other crud from the lights. The photo shows one of the lights under Glebe that might benefit from such a cleaning.

Dana

671672

JustinW
02-07-2012, 06:30 PM
Huzzah - the lights in the underpass are on again! Thanks for the reporting of the issue, DBB - looks like you have the touch.

Interestingly, or really, sadly, 3 of the 11 lights are out at this point, with at least one missing its cover and possibly vandalized (I did not slow down to look). I wonder if there are any more resilient light fixtures that could be used there.

dbb
02-07-2012, 11:50 PM
Thanks for the reporting of the issue, DBB - looks like you have the touch.

Having the touch with electrical stuff often turns out badly!

It looks like the bridge belongs to VDOT but Arlington owns/maintains/pays the bill on the lights. That said, Arlington has to ask permission from VDOT to drill into the concrete bridge abutment.

JustinW
03-08-2012, 08:44 AM
Tim or others,

The now infamous I-395 underpass is now lit by about 5 of the 11 lights present. VDOT now says that they have no control over that, and that Arlington is in charge of the lighting fixes.

Does anyone know who in Arlington (a) is actually responsible for these lights, and (b) will admit to being responsible? I'm happy to contact whoever as long as I know who whoever should be.

(And no, I won't mention "The Arlington Loop" when submitting a lights out report -- too much controversy....) ;)

Tim Kelley
03-08-2012, 08:51 AM
Thanks for the heads up. I've contacted the team of people I was corresponding with a few months ago. I'll let you know what the response is.

chris_s
03-12-2012, 02:22 PM
All lights were on when I went through this morning!

consularrider
03-13-2012, 07:49 AM
Just two are missing their covers. Any bets on how long it will be until those exposed bulbs are broken.

Signed,

Mr Negativity ;)

chris_s
03-13-2012, 08:03 AM
Also - incandescent bulbs? Seriously?

mstone
03-13-2012, 08:47 AM
Also - incandescent bulbs? Seriously?

Given the level of vandalism, I wouldn't expect expensive bulbs to be a good investment...

JustinW
03-13-2012, 11:24 AM
And at least two have covers now held on by what looks like duct tape. Technology!

chris_s
05-02-2012, 07:18 AM
Four lights out when I rode through yesterday - should we keep funneling this through you Tim or is their somewhere more direct we should be reporting to?

Tim Kelley
05-02-2012, 08:28 AM
Got it! I suspect the rainy weather has something to do with them blowing out...

Tim Kelley
05-10-2012, 10:55 AM
This was taken care of yesterday!

dbb
05-10-2012, 02:08 PM
I went through this morning and the bulbs were all burning brightly.

Thanks to the folks at Arlington County!

chris_s
06-06-2012, 09:14 AM
Four Mile Run Trail Status Update:

4 lights out in the Shirlington Connector
2 lights out (which is all of them) in the West Glebe Road Underpass
2 lights out (which is half of them) in the Mt Vernon Ave Underpass

The button-activated pedestrian signal in front of the Weenie Beenie has been out for several weeks. I reported it to the traffic signal hotline a while back to no avail.

chris_s
06-06-2012, 10:32 AM
Almost forgot - there is also some sort of water pipe leaking onto the trail under 395.

consularrider
06-06-2012, 12:32 PM
Almost forgot - there is also some sort of water pipe leaking onto the trail under 395.
This is a badly rusted pipe, it's almost always dripping from one of its connections, worse during the rain. It's not as bad as the I-395 drains that dump on the MVT or those from the Roosevelt Bridge.

Tim Kelley
06-07-2012, 09:35 AM
On it!

chris_s
07-25-2012, 10:04 AM
7 Weeks Later, no improvement:

4 lights still out in the Shirlington Connector
ALL lights still out in the West Glebe Road Underpass
2 lights still out in the Mt Vernon Ave Underpass

Not sure about the button signal; after a couple weeks of it not working I've given up on it.


Four Mile Run Trail Status Update:

4 lights out in the Shirlington Connector
2 lights out (which is all of them) in the West Glebe Road Underpass
2 lights out (which is half of them) in the Mt Vernon Ave Underpass

The button-activated pedestrian signal in front of the Weenie Beenie has been out for several weeks. I reported it to the traffic signal hotline a while back to no avail.

Tim Kelley
07-25-2012, 10:14 AM
Thanks for the poke. I'll see what I can find out.

Tim Kelley
09-11-2012, 01:26 PM
Not much of an update here, other than several staff members have poked the maintenance crews without a long term resolution. We'll keep working on it.

chris_s
06-18-2014, 09:34 AM
If anyone contacts Arlington about the Shirlington Connector lights, feel free to reference this report which has been sitting open for two weeks (unless someone has one that has been open longer). Also might help to vote for that issue.

https://www.publicstuff.com/va/arlington-va/park-lights-damaged-out/park-lights-damaged-out-380658

chris_s
07-17-2014, 10:47 PM
Word from inside DES is that progress is being made in moving forward with a fix for the Shirlington Connector lighting that "addresses the underlying problem" rather than being a quick fix. Apparently water inflitration is the source of the constant lights out problems in the connector. I'll pass along any additional information as I get it.

Vicegrip
07-18-2014, 07:26 AM
Well duh. As a building engineer I could have told them that. Not hard to wire and install wall pack lights so the water does not get in. Even on an existing structure such as this the issues are not hard for a non governmental group to correct. If this was in a parking garage under a condo or office building in Tyson's corner it would have been noted and repaired without any handwringing

Fingers are better used to grasp tools and pens than for pointing at "the other guy" in a round and round do nothing

mstone
07-18-2014, 07:44 AM
Not hard to wire and install wall pack lights so the water does not get in.

Hell, pools even have lights underwater. If they had only mentioned this sooner we could have all chipped in for some caulk for them.