Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said federal agencies have put together $227 million for a project to rehabilitate the iconic Arlington Memorial Bridge that spans the Potomac River and links Arlington, Va., with Washington, D.C.
Major construction will begin next autumn, the DOI said, but minor repairs will begin soon on the weight-restricted bridge owned by the National Park Service that is a major commuter route and runs between Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.
The DOI said the bridge that opened in 1932 carries 68,000 passenger vehicles a day, but engineers in 2015 found it to be so “structurally deficient” that the NPS barred heavy commercial trucks and buses from using it.
Officials said the NPS and Federal Highway Administration have made emergency temporary repairs for six years while planning the larger rehabilitation. Without it, the announcement said, “the continued and accelerated deterioration of the bridge’s concrete deck would have required it be closed by 2021.”
Zinke said the repair plan “is a major step in addressing the National Park Service’s $11.3 billion maintenance backlog” and that this will be “one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects” in the Park Service’s history.
The FHWA has already awarded and will manage a $192 million repair contract, the DOI said, while also overseeing another $35 million of the total project cost for engineering, construction management, wetlands mitigation and contingencies.
“We are happy to play a role in rehabilitating this iconic American bridge,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye 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.”
The DOI said the repair plan uses a “design-build” contract – meaning the contractor will both design the work and conduct the repairs – and project-accelerated methods that will save an estimated $35 million and 1.5 years of construction time compared with traditional methods.
The work will replace an existing drawbridge span that is no longer used, rehabilitate concrete approach spans and replace the concrete deck.
“Workers will employ accelerated bridge construction techniques, including using prefabricated concrete deck panels,” the DOI said. “They will reset the stone curbs and light posts and restore the historic stone and metal cladding,” and install steel girders to “significantly extend the useful life of the bridge while significantly reducing maintenance costs.”
It has taken time and use of various funding options to line up the money for the project.
The Park Service receives a yearly allocation out of the Highway Trust Fund as part of the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which was $276 million in fiscal 2017 and is scheduled to rise to $284 million once Congress finalizes a full-year budget for fiscal 2018.
For this project the NPS, with the District of Columbia as co-signer, received a $90 million Fastlane grant in 2016 from the U.S. Department of Transportation, plus a $30 million federal appropriation in 2017. “In order to complete the project in a single phase, the NPS will invest $107 million of its annual transportation and construction funds,” the agency said.