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Deterioration of an iconic bridge in the nation’s capital has progressed at a pace that brings one federal bureau to warn that it may need to close in the next five years.
The Arlington Memorial Bridge, which serves as a symbolic entry to Washington, D.C., recently underwent an inspection that showed wear and tear is worsening at an accelerated rate, the National Park Service announced Thursday (March 3).
Arlington Memorial Bridge, the symbolic entry to Washington, D.C., needs a major overhaul or it will have to be closed in 2021, according to the National Park Service.
“Memorial Bridge was built to symbolize the coming together and reunification of a fractured nation following the Civil War,” Rep. Don Beyer, D-VA, said in a statement reported by NBC Washington.
“Today, unfortunately, it also symbolizes the neglect of our nation’s transportation system.”
The NPS transportation portfolio includes about 5,500 miles of paved roads, the equivalent of 970 miles of paved parking areas, more than 4,500 miles of unpaved roads, and more than 1,400 bridges.
In last month’s Federal Highway Administration inspection, the agency found the structure to be in considerably worse condition since its 2015 assessment. The necessary repair and renovation costs needed to keep it functional are estimated at $250 million, the bureau said.
Without those repairs, “it’s a footbridge” by 2021, Jonathan B. Jarvis, NPS’s director, told The Washington Post.
During a public tour of the structure Wednesday (March 2), officials drew attention to decayed steel supports, corroded rivets, crumbling concrete and old peeling paint.
If the decking and support structure are not rebuilt, the bureau says, the bridge may close to traffic in 2021.
The NPS reports that it has spent nearly $10 million on temporary repairs since 2010, with another $5 million emergency repair due to start late this year.
The $5 million is expected to be used to shore up supports at the base of the former draw span, but this is only a temporary solution to keep the bridge open at least five years while funding is sought for the full reconstruction.