Future Long Bridge Width Increased From 14 to 16 Feet

The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority sent a notification on November 1st that the planned Long Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge would be widened from 14 to 16 feet. Multiple advocacy organizations had requested that the bridge be widened to 20 feet to allow for growth of walking and biking over the expected 50-100 year lifetime of the bridge. The bridge will provide a new direct connection to the Mount Vernon Trail as well as Long Bridge Park in Arlington.

VRPA provided the following information as the basis for the decision to widen to 16 feet instead of 20 feet:

Widening beyond 16-feet is problematic for the following reasons. The tightest horizontal clearance constraints occur adjacent to the Mount Vernon Trail ramp near the Virginia shoreline and at the Ohio Drive SW landing in East Potomac Park, as these ramps down take up essentially as much space as the bike-ped bridge itself. See the diagram above.

Widening to 16-feet brings the bike-ped bridge ramps on either side of the bridge within 6-feet of the WMATA Yellow Line Bridge Air Rights.  We are not allowed to work within this Air Rights space without special accommodations, and the future contractor will need that 6-feet between the Air Rights space and the bike-ped bridge ramps to build the Long Bridge Project.

A few of the impacts if the bridge is widened more than to 16’:

  • Significant increase in pier and truss member sizes to accommodate much greater loads, increase impacts to Potomac River bottom and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation areas, affecting permitting and the size of any mitigation projects required to offset this impact;
  • Increase in construction cost of up to $20M-$25M, on top of the $5M to widen from 14’ to 16’;
  • Major re-work and delay to the engineering schedule;
  • Increase in construction schedule of the bridge as substructures and truss members require increased equipment sizes, materials, and durations while reducing workspace to access and construct the bridges between the WMATA Yellow Line Bridge and the bike-ped bridge;
  • The need for larger piers and ramps will result in a bulkier superstructure—the opposite effect from what aesthetic design review agencies have requested.

The public has shown great interest in this component of the Long Bridge Project and we greatly appreciate the continued engagement. We look forward to working with all stakeholders as the Long Bridge Project enters its next phase. We will be hosting public meeting in Spring 2023 and as always, members of the public are encouaged to contact us to share their input and ask questions.

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail needs your help to continue improving the trail. Sign up for a volunteer trail improvement event or donate to help us purchase tools and supplies.

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