The Arlington Memorial Bridge is in a dangerous state of disrepair and local leaders say without funds for crucial maintenance work, the busy commuter bridge may need to close by 2021.
The Memorial Bridge carries roughly 68,000 vehicles per-day, connecting the District to Virginia and doubling as an evacuation route during an emergency in the city. Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined Mayor Muriel Bowser for a safety tour of the bridge with the National Parks Service to see the deterioration of the bridge firsthand Monday. The group implored federal officials to grant the National Parks Service the necessary $250 million for repairs, reports Fox 5.
The funds would primarily come from a federal grant. Roughly $11 million has already been spent on temporary fixes to keep the Bridge in use.
“This bridge is evaluated as the most vulnerable bridge in the whole federal system,” Warner said after the tour. “You’re talking about rust on the major beams that hold up the bridge, and some of the rust is even at the point where a beam will join to provide structural support. You look at a tremendous amount of concrete that is crumbling. The grant is critical.”
The Federal Highway Administration said the bridge will no longer be safe come 2021 without the repairs. Bowser and Warner stressed the enormous impact a closure would have on the region and daily commutes. If funds for repair are granted soon officials said at least six lanes could be left open for traffic, reports WTOP.
“You think the challenges we’re going through with Metro is significant?” Warner said. “You close down the Memorial Bridge for an extended period of time and you’ve got total gridlock.”
The crumbling bridge was originally built to last 75 years and is currently 84-years-old.
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