The Arlington Memorial Bridge across the Potomac has architecture by McKim, Mead and White, medallions and insignia on its pylons and supports, and sculpture by Leo Friedlander and James Earle Fraser. It links Virginia’s Arlington House, former home of Robert E. Lee, and Washington’s Lincoln Memorial. Right now, the symbolic nature of the beautiful structure is something of a liability.
As a memorial, the structure is under the charge of the National Park Service. The heavily used bridge, completed in 1932, is due for major rehabilitation, but the NPS budget is nowhere large enough to fund that. The agency warns that Memorial Bridge will be forced to shut down by 2021, five years from now, if a remedy isn’t found. A bridge that carries 68,000 vehicles daily would become a pedestrian route.
NPS is responsible for 5,500 miles of paved roads (including the B-W and GW Parkways), 4,500 miles of unpaved roads, more than 1,400 bridges, and just $268 million budgeted for transportation infrastructure. That’s about what it would cost to fix Memorial Bridge.
An application has been submitted to US DOT, but the project would need matching funds from the District and Virginia, an uneasy alliance. But among the many Northern Virginia residents with jobs in the District are Members of Congress and their staffers, who park for free near the Capitol. Expect a solution to be found.
“Norton Says Troubling Report Increases Urgency for Regional Strategy to Secure Funding for a New Arlington Memorial Bridge,” Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (press release)
“Virginia Members React to NPS Memorial Bridge Announcement,” Office of Senator Mark Warner (press release)
“Nearly 59,000 U.S. Bridges Still Structurally Deficient, New ARTBA Analysis Finds,” Mark Holan, Transportation Builder
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