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dasgeh
10-17-2018, 09:55 AM
From the Memorial Bridge closures thread (http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showthread.php?13837-Memorial-Bridge-lane-closures-will-be-quot-permanent-quot-through-2021):


I think it's worth a discussion at ABAC: because of work by NPS, it's incredibly hard to bike from Arlington to DC right now. What is Arlington doing about it.

Anyone want to write a draft letter?

Yule
10-17-2018, 10:59 AM
Thanks for creating this. As this is a new thread, allow me to summarize the problem for those who may read this and be unaware:

As of October 2018, there are problems to varying degrees with all four main central-Arlington-to-DC bridge crossings (Key Bridge, Roosevelt Bridge, Memorial Bridge, 14th St Bridge; see here (http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showthread.php?13837-Memorial-Bridge-lane-closures-will-be-quot-permanent-quot-through-2021&p=181916#post181916) for some thoughts I had on the problems as I see them, from the other thread). In fact, it is precisely this problem that led me to register here after lurking a while.

The loss of Memorial Bridge, IMO formerly the best crossing, hurts more than the loss of one bridge-crossing implies because it means the already-existing problems with the other two crossings coming from North Arlington are going to get worse, both with bicycle traffic and car traffic. The 14th Street Bridge coming from South Arlington is also partially knocked out for months more [?] (subject to time delay at least; some added element of danger; carrying of bicycle up and down straits required on DC side), and anyway 14th St is a substantial detour if going to/from North Arlington and much of NW DC.

Yule
10-17-2018, 11:54 AM
What can Arlington County do. It's not clear to me that they can do much. Let me toss out an idea, because something is better than nothing:

- Erect a temporary ramp connecting the MVT to the upstream sidepath of Memorial Bridge with no need for the overly complex, dangerous, time-wasting detour. It would originate at a point just north of the narrow tunnel under Memorial Bridge. Perhaps there is a technical reason why this is impossible. For one thing, the land is owned by DC, which by quirk of history possesses Lady Bird Johnson Island in its entirety despite that island being, for practical purposes, part of the Virginia landmass (with so many bridgings it's easy to miss that it 'is' an island). Ayway it seems ideal in theory because it circumvents all the current headache.
.

As for Roosevelt Bridge's sidepath, which is not designed for heavy bicycle traffic, and which with the added bibycle traffic from the Memorial Bridge problem constitutes injuries-or-worse waiting to happen, forum member bentbike33 wrote this:

It's too bad the equivalent sidepath on the downstream side of TR Bridge ends on the Virginia side in the middle of a field surrounded by high-speed ramps and roadways.

I'd always thought the downstream sidewalk on the Roosevelt Bridge was totally inaccessible; in the times I have been across the upstream side, in small bouts of curiosity with no one approaching from the DC side I have glanced over, but never once have I seen anyone on the other side, walking or bicycling or in any other condition. It was hard to see for sure whether there even was a 'sidewalk'/path or not on that side. Google Maps suggests there is some kind of path--it shows a dashed line, letting out onto nowhere-friendly on both the DC and Arlington sides.

So to use that Roosevelt Bridge downstream-side path (as of now very,very seldom used, I presume): Dashing across highways, required; time savings even with highway-dashing, unclear; easy access to trail or even non-highway street network, no [?]; width of sidewalk passable for bicycles two abreast, unclear (have never been on this path so cannot say).

which leads me to one other idea, for whatever it may be worth, if the Memorial Bridge temporary ramp is a no-go:

- Temporary connection of the Roosevelt Bridge's now-inaccessible downstream-side sidepath with the MVT trail, similar to the above MVT-to-Memorial Bridge direct connection idea. Even if the Roosevelt downstream side path not very wide, ideally it could allow for one-direction bicycle flow anyway, in the direction of car traffic, with the downstream side going into DC and the upstream side coming to Arlington). The DC side would also need some kind of upgrade because it also seems to let out in a grass patch surrounded by moderate-to-high speed car traffic on that side, and I recognize this is all unlikely at very least because cross-jurisdiction cooperation required.

On the plus side for this case: The land involved is all owned by Virginia according to Google Map.

bentbike33
10-17-2018, 12:46 PM
- Erect a temporary ramp connecting the MVT to the upstream sidepath of Memorial Bridge with no need for the overly complex, dangerous, time-wasting detour. It would originate at a point just north of the narrow tunnel under Memorial Bridge. Perhaps there is a technical reason why this is impossible. For one thing, the land is owned by DC, which by quirk of history possesses Lady Bird Johnson Island in its entirety despite that island being, for practical purposes, part of the Virginia landmass (with so many bridgings it's easy to miss that it 'is' an island). Anyway it seems ideal in theory because it circumvents all the current headache.

The reason this won't happen is the same reason why no such ramps between Memorial Bridge and MVT were ever constructed in the first place: It would ruin the Historic Character of the Memorial Bridge. If a temporary ramp were put up, its popularity would be so great that the public would not permit its removal, and then what would we do?



I'd always thought the downstream sidewalk on the Roosevelt Bridge was totally inaccessible; in the times I have been across the upstream side, in small bouts of curiosity with no one approaching from the DC side I have glanced over, but never once have I seen anyone on the other side, walking or bicycling or in any other condition. It was hard to see for sure whether there even was a 'sidewalk'/path or not on that side. Google Maps suggests there is some kind of path--it shows a dashed line, letting out onto nowhere-friendly on both the DC and Arlington sides.

On the DC side, there is an elderly, sad, and neglected asphalt path from the downstream TR Bridge sidepath to a crosswalk that can eventually get you to the south side of Constitution Ave. You can see it on satellite view and zooming to street view on Google Maps (https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8921743,-77.0544707,460a,35y,348.33h/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en). From some directions, it is easier to get to than the upstream TR Bridge sidepath as I discovered one day trying to find the upstream sidepath from the south (I eventually had to cross the GWMP, including hoisting my bike over the fake stone wall in the median, to get to the MVT). It would be difficult to run a connection from the downstream sidepath to the MVT since there is no embankment to work with like on the upstream side and very little dry land in the vicinity (not to mention the inexplicably dangerous curve on the GWMP just north of the boundary channel bridge that periodically send cars careening across the MVT).

lordofthemark
10-17-2018, 12:50 PM
- Temporary connection of the Roosevelt Bridge's now-inaccessible downstream-side sidepath with the MVT trail, similar to the above MVT-to-Memorial Bridge direct connection idea. Even if the Roosevelt downstream side path not very wide, ideally it could allow for one-direction bicycle flow anyway, in the direction of car traffic, with the downstream side going into DC and the upstream side coming to Arlington). The DC side would also need some kind of upgrade because it also seems to let out in a grass patch surrounded by moderate-to-high speed car traffic on that side, and I recognize this is all unlikely at very least because cross-jurisdiction cooperation required.

On the plus side for this case: The land involved is all owned by Virginia according to Google Map.


http://www.thewashcycle.com/2015/08/connecting-the-tr-bridges-downstream-sidewalk-for-cheap.html

dasgeh
10-17-2018, 01:09 PM
What can Arlington County do.

They can talk to NPS and DC, and they can talk to their Congressional representation. ABAC advises the County Manager, so that would be the thrust of it. If individual citizens wanted to directly contact, say, Rep. Beyer, Sen. Kaine and Sen. Warner, well, that wouldn't be the BAC doing it. :-) If there were a public letter to the County Manager from the BAC outlining the issues, it may help individuals.

A couple clarifications to the rest of your post: while Columbia Island (the west side of Memorial Bridge) is in DC, it belongs to the National Park Service, specifically George Washington Memorial Park. The land on the west side of the TR Bridge is in Virginia, but also largely belongs to the National Park Service (same park). A bit of it belongs to VDOT. Arlington can't build something on NPS or VDOT land. It could potentially pay for something built on either, with appropriate permissions.

For the TR Bridge, I think a simple improvement would be to replace the low barrier between the path and the road, which now sits on the path's elevated bed, with a nice tall barrier that sits in the shoulder of the roadway. Seems like a relatively cheap way to get more protection and an extra foot for the path.

Judd
10-17-2018, 01:46 PM
A couple clarifications to the rest of your post: while Columbia Island (the west side of Memorial Bridge) is in DC, it belongs to the National Park Service, specifically George Washington Memorial Park. The land on the west side of the TR Bridge is in Virginia, but also largely belongs to the National Park Service (same park). A bit of it belongs to VDOT. Arlington can't build something on NPS or VDOT land. It could potentially pay for something built on either, with appropriate permissions.



A north ramp to the trail would be great. The three largest barriers to building one would be:
1. Money - The funding for the bridge work happened only through an act of Congress. NPS is critically underfunded and has massive backlogs of deferred maintenance much less funding for a capital improvement.
2. Preservation/Cultural Stuff - The Capital Viewshed is a thing that is considered part of the cultural heritage of the GWMP. If you want to build anything that will an anyway change the view of DC from the GWMP, there is massive bureaucratic process.
3. Environmental Assessments - Building anything on the GWMP requires an Environmental Assessment. It's costly, it's bureaucratic (in the worst sense of the word) This applies to even simple things. If NPS wants to put a 4 by 4 post in the ground to put a sign on the trail it requires an EA. This means that a lot of improvements to the Parkway just aren't bothered with because the time and money involved.

bentbike33
10-17-2018, 01:57 PM
I'm guessing this sign on the TR Bridge downstream sidepath (https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8916808,-77.0627075,3a,75y,260.25h,97.16t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBnUkA3_OOR3hwxzAJ56dsA!2e0!7i1 3312!8i6656?hl=en) is actually a practical joke.

honestmachinery
10-17-2018, 02:49 PM
I'm guessing this sign on the TR Bridge downstream sidepath (https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8916808,-77.0627075,3a,75y,260.25h,97.16t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBnUkA3_OOR3hwxzAJ56dsA!2e0!7i1 3312!8i6656?hl=en) is actually a practical joke.Platform 9 3/4. Just point it right between the begin and end signs and you'll pop out at the base of the Washington Monument.

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zsionakides
10-17-2018, 04:52 PM
For the TR Bridge, I think a simple improvement would be to replace the low barrier between the path and the road, which now sits on the path's elevated bed, with a nice tall barrier that sits in the shoulder of the roadway. Seems like a relatively cheap way to get more protection and an extra foot for the path.

If we're only fixing one of the barriers on the TR bridge, my vote is for the one on the water side. That's a long drop with little chance of survival. At least on the highway side, the cars might slam on their brakes to avoid or limit the impact.

Yule
10-17-2018, 09:38 PM
On the DC side, there is an elderly, sad, and neglected asphalt path from the downstream TR Bridge sidepath to a crosswalk that can eventually get you to the south side of Constitution Ave. You can see it on satellite view and zooming to street view on Google Maps (https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8921743,-77.0544707,460a,35y,348.33h/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en). From some directions, it is easier to get to than the upstream TR Bridge sidepath as I discovered one day trying to find the upstream sidepath from the south (I eventually had to cross the GWMP, including hoisting my bike over the fake stone wall in the median, to get to the MVT).
I sought out this bridge's seldom-seen downstream-side path from the DC side today, and saw that "elderly, sad, neglected asphalt path" first hand. It begins its tortured course from Constitution and 23rd and does make it to the bridge...but much is to be desired on the overall state of things. Improvements to both sides are needed if this is to be used to relieve bicycle-flow pressure on other crossings and not just be relegated to the hardiest of urban-explorer bike adventurers.

Improvements to both sides of the downstream-side path are needed if it is ever to be used to relieve bicycle-flow pressure on other crossings and not just be relegated to those with the hardiest of urban-explorer bike adventurer instincts and confidence. With so many stakeholders involved and the slow movement of bureaucracy, who knows when this might happen.

My impression of the downstream-side path: In a word, it appears to me the worst option of any Arlington-DC crossing, comparable in some ways but definitely inferior to the already-problematic upstream-side path. A shame, because as bentbike33 mentions, clearly someone at some point did put the effort to put in paved trail from 23rd and Constitution to the bridge's downstream-side path.

Specific issues with the downstream side, as viewed from an approach from DC:

[1] Safety: The same issues the upstream side has low railings and narrow path -- narrower even that the upstream side at certain chokepoints around streetlamps; [2] Multiple highway crossings once you descend onto the DC side; I think about three; [3] Some pothole issues all along the neglected connecting trail, including a major pothole right as the DC 'over land' portion begins, just as the path it begins its descent -- this pothole is situated such that it may not be visible from someone incoming from Virginia, and seems sure to cause injury at an unacceptably high rate as is; [4] No connection to the Rock Creek Park trail right below despite that being, it seems to me, a potentially better cheap drop-off than forcing the cyclist to make three slow highway crossings, loop around all over the place, and inch the way to 23rd and Constitution.

I did not follow the bridge to the Virginia side because I already knew the most significant problem of all from bentbike33: [5] It dead ends on the Virginia side and does not connect to the MVT or streets without more dashing across highway.

Yule
10-17-2018, 09:42 PM
I'm guessing this sign on the TR Bridge downstream sidepath (https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8916808,-77.0627075,3a,75y,260.25h,97.16t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBnUkA3_OOR3hwxzAJ56dsA!2e0!7i1 3312!8i6656?hl=en) is actually a practical joke.
Hah, so it actually says "End" in the middle of the bridge. Implied: "You're on your own after this; lotsa luck." Thanks a lot, guys!

Yule
10-17-2018, 10:19 PM
http://www.thewashcycle.com/2015/08/connecting-the-tr-bridges-downstream-sidewalk-for-cheap.html
Nice ideas. No surprise that astute people have been making this observation for years. How many years? I see from Wiki that the Roosevelt Bridge opened in 1964; Anyone know how the long the (highly inadequate) sidepaths have existed as is? Can it be they are original, vintage 1964, highly-user-unfriendly paths?

____________________

Dream scenario :

A nice and wide, pedestrian- and bicycle-only permanent connection of the Arlington street network with Roosevelt Bridge's downstream sidepath, along with comparable DC-side upgrades to finesse an easy cross to Constitution and 23rd St intersection via a bicycle-oriented overpass (no highway crossings), and for good measure a finessing of medians or whatever on the bridge itself to give a few more feet of sidepath -- and decent guardrails.

Google Map seems to show a straight shot, short crow-fly distance from the Netherlands Carillon area to the terminus of the now-disused (sadly wasted potential) downstream side of the bridge. A short 750 feet from the low-traffic Iwo Jima access road to the point Google Map thinks is the Virginia-side terminus of the path, now a dead-end to nowhere in a field surrounded by highway. That is a tantalizingly short distance. As things are today, there might as well be a fifty-foot wall there now what with the jumble of high-speed roads mashed up in that area.

This dream scenario means: A quick (direct), safe (no car dodging at all between Netherland Carillon area and Constitution and 23rd), commuting-oriented (relieving pressure on the theoretically-recreational Mount Vernon Trail) connection from North Arlington to NW DC at last. Build it and they will come, as that one movie said. I would guess that perceived difficult crossing the river is the primary deterrent to thousands more from bicycle commuting.

(I see this was apparently proposed by a commenter at that WashCycle post from 2015, to which the site owner said there is something in the works for the sidepaths circa 2021, but he isn't sure what it may be.)

I can see a 'veto' on this dream-scenario proposal, even if a magic wand could be waved to put it in tomorrow at no cost, for several predictable reasons. it would put more DC-commuter bicycle traffic through the Iwo Jima Memorial area and potentially past Arlington Cemetery, and for the historic views issue others have raised (which I honestly don't really understand; there are noisy and wide highways everywhere around these so-caled historic zones, do they not detract from all the historicness?). Then there is the strong belief, from some corners -- not from the Arlington side but from federal people seems more likely -- that bicycles are best dealt with by segregating them off onto relatively limited-access trails. (Finally, there is the potential NIMBY-type fear that criminally inclined from that side of the river could use such an easy walkable crossing to target people or homes in the high-rent residential area behind Iwo Jima and beyond in Arlington, an area that is, as of now, cocooned off to an extent by the GW Parkway as a natural wall)

accordioneur
10-18-2018, 11:38 AM
Dream scenario

Here's a bigger dream. They call off the major work on the Memorial Bridge, ban cars and turn it into a pedestrian/cyclist bridge the way Nashville did with the Shelby Street Bridge. :D

Steve O
10-18-2018, 03:28 PM
I'm guessing this sign on the TR Bridge downstream sidepath (https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8916808,-77.0627075,3a,75y,260.25h,97.16t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBnUkA3_OOR3hwxzAJ56dsA!2e0!7i1 3312!8i6656?hl=en) is actually a practical joke.

I dunno. Here's its companion:
18485


(FYI - this was taken walking to Obama's first inauguration. The TR Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, making it possible for me to take this photo of the sign that I had been noticing for years.)

dasgeh
10-18-2018, 03:41 PM
If we're only fixing one of the barriers on the TR bridge, my vote is for the one on the water side. That's a long drop with little chance of survival. At least on the highway side, the cars might slam on their brakes to avoid or limit the impact.

But the one on the water side comes up to one's torso. Less chance of falling over it.

bentbike33
10-18-2018, 03:41 PM
I dunno. Here's its companion:
18485


(FYI - this was taken walking to Obama's first inauguration. The TR Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, making it possible for me to take this photo of the sign that I had been noticing for years.)

That one is on the same light pole as the "END" sign, but the Google Street View picture of it is obscured by something on the camera lens. An elaborate, but unfunny, practical joke.

dasgeh
10-18-2018, 03:46 PM
Google Map seems to show a straight shot, short crow-fly distance from the Netherlands Carillon area to the terminus of the now-disused (sadly wasted potential) downstream side of the bridge.
Yes, this is what WABA has been calling for, and what will (hopefully) make it into Arlington's Bike Element.


I can see a 'veto' on this dream-scenario proposal, even if a magic wand could be waved to put it in tomorrow at no cost, for several predictable reasons. it would put more DC-commuter bicycle traffic through the Iwo Jima Memorial area and potentially past Arlington Cemetery, and for the historic views issue others have raised (which I honestly don't really understand; there are noisy and wide highways everywhere around these so-caled historic zones, do they not detract from all the historicness?). Then there is the strong belief, from some corners -- not from the Arlington side but from federal people seems more likely -- that bicycles are best dealt with by segregating them off onto relatively limited-access trails. (Finally, there is the potential NIMBY-type fear that criminally inclined from that side of the river could use such an easy walkable crossing to target people or homes in the high-rent residential area behind Iwo Jima and beyond in Arlington, an area that is, as of now, cocooned off to an extent by the GW Parkway as a natural wall)

These are not reasons that folks in Arlington resist bridges like this. In fact, TONS of people bike past Iwo Jima to use the 110 trail to get to Memorial Bridge. I did it last night.

The main reasons this won't happen quickly are:
1) Cost.
2) "Viewshed."
3) Cost.

zsionakides
10-18-2018, 07:31 PM
But the one on the water side comes up to one's torso. Less chance of falling over it.

Maybe if your on a recumbent or BMX bike it comes up to your torso. On most bikes your waist is going to be above that railing.

Steve O
10-19-2018, 03:23 PM
Maybe if you're on a recumbent or BMX bike it comes up to your torso. On most bikes your waist is going to be above that railing.

As much as that railing feels uncomfortable, no one has ever been blown off their bike into the river--even on the windiest of days. One would have to actually leap off to get high enough to clear the railing.
I am not arguing that it's good, just that the perception of the danger is higher than the reality.

I would love to see either or both side railings moved off the horizontal surface to widen the walkway/bikeway.

Starduster
10-20-2018, 09:06 AM
I dunno. Here's its companion:
18485


(FYI - this was taken walking to Obama's first inauguration. The TR Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, making it possible for me to take this photo of the sign that I had been noticing for years.)

To be realistic and simple about it- wide enough for 2 pedestrians = comfortably wide enough for 1 bike only. Explain to power accordingly.