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Thread: Getting from Arlington to DC

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    dasgeh's Avatar
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    Default Getting from Arlington to DC

    From the Memorial Bridge closures thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    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?

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    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 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.

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    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:
    Quote Originally Posted by bentbike33 View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yule View Post
    - 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?


    Quote Originally Posted by Yule View Post
    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. 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).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yule View Post
    - 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/...for-cheap.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yule View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post

    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.

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    I'm guessing this sign on the TR Bridge downstream sidepath is actually a practical joke.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bentbike33 View Post
    I'm guessing this sign on the TR Bridge downstream sidepath 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.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post

    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.

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