Last Friday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced a $227 million project to rehabilitate Arlington Memorial Bridge, a historic and critical transportation link in the nation’s capital. As awarded, the project will save American taxpayers $35 million and 1.5 years of estimated construction time.
Better yet, the rehab work will at from 85 to 100 years to the bridge's life span.
The bridge carries about 68,000 vehicles a day but because it was in such bad shape, having been deemed structurally deficient in 2015, officials stopped heavy trucks and buses from using it.
Secretary Zinke said, “The bridge is one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects in National Park Service history and is a major step in addressing the National Park Service’s $11.3 billion maintenance backlog.”
Over the past six years, the National Park Service (NPS) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have made emergency temporary repairs while planning the larger rehabilitation. Without a complete rehabilitation, the continued and accelerated deterioration of the bridge’s concrete deck would have required it be closed by 2021.
The NPS, with the District of Columbia as co-signer, received a $90 million FASTLANE grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) secured an amendment to the fiscal year 2017 Appropriations Act which directed $30 million to the project.
In order to complete the project in a single phase, the NPS will invest $107 million of its annual transportation and construction funds. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded and will manage the $192 million contract with Kiewit Infrastructure Co. of Hanover, Maryland. $35 million of the total project cost is for engineering, construction management, wetlands mitigation, and contingency, through the FHWA.
Major construction will start in fall 2018, beginning with replacing the drawbridge span, rehabilitating the concrete approach spans, and replacing the concrete deck. Target completion date is 2021 and officials say at least three lanes of traffic will remain open during construction.
Workers will employ accelerated bridge construction techniques, including using prefabricated concrete deck panels. They will reset the stone curbs and light posts and restore the historic stone and metal cladding. The structure of the existing bascule span will be replaced with variable depth steel girders, which will significantly extend the useful life of the bridge while significantly reducing maintenance costs.
By doing the project in one phase instead of two phases, NPS will save $35 million and 18 months of construction time.
“We are happy to play a role in rehabilitating this iconic American bridge,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. “Using state-of-the-art tools, techniques and engineering practices, we can improve the bridge’s safety and ensure it remains an active part of the nation’s capital.”
Regarded as Washington’s most beautiful bridge, Memorial Bridge symbolically links North and South in its alignment between the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial.
Designed by the prominent architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, the low, Neoclassical bridge is 2,163 feet long and 60 feet wide. Except for the bascule (drawbridge) span in the bridge’s center which is clad in metal, it is constructed from reinforced concrete faced with dressed North Carolina granite ashlar.