Connecting Virginia and DC via the Long Bridge
2018 has been quite the year for mobility in the region. We’ve seen some highs and some lows — the rise of scooters and e-bikes (CaBi plus is fire…) has been pretty great for the region. For lows, well…Vision Zero hasn’t exactly gone super well and, of course, the all too frequent Metro shutdowns have really not been good. And yeah, there are too many cars doing terrible things. Like killing and maiming people. But, sneaking in during the last month is some surprising and absolutely necessary news — we are going to get a dedicated bike and pedestrian bridge from Long Bridge Park in Arlington east to DC. Make no mistake, the Long Bridge Project represents a once in a generation opportunity to transform our regional transportation network by adding freight and passenger rail capacity, connecting major regional bicycle and pedestrian trails and providing new, direct links to two of the fastest growing areas of our region. Regional density is increasing and roads are becoming more crowded. Demand for non-motorized modes of transportation that are safe, accessible and convenient to employment hubs is on the rise, too. Long Bridge could be an answer, resulting in a better connected regional trail network. So, what does this new crossing actually look like? Well, we don’t know yet. A few facts:
- The existing Long Bridge, built in 1904, requires significant upgrades in order to meet rail capacity projected in the coming years;
- It is significantly less expensive — both in dollars and environmentally — to keep the existing span and build another rail bridge upstream;
- To mitigate (called 4(f) mitigation) any existing impacts to National Park Service (NPS) land, the project team will have to design and build a bike/pedestrian bridge upstream of the proposed rail bridge (in between the existing rail bridge and WMATA’s yellow line);
- Current plans call for connecting Long Bridge Park to the south to East Potomac Park to the north — and we don’t know exactly what the connection will look like in DC;
- We still have a long way to go until this is built (current plans are shooting for 2025) and there is no project sponsor — so, we don’t know who will own this bridge.