The Ashburn Monolith, explained. (Still available for parties, ’2001′ sequels)

August 27, 2013
The Ashburn Monolith, on the Dulles Greenway. Suitable for parties, handball, science fiction films. (John Kelly/The Washington Post)
The Ashburn Monolith, on the Dulles Greenway. Suitable for parties, handball, science fiction films. (John Kelly/The Washington Post)

I was just about to go investigate and photograph The Ashburn Monolith when my non-vacationing colleague, The Answer Man (John Kelly), beat me to it Saturday. But I just had to share the explanation with all the State of NoVa residents who have been freaked out by this bizarre, (previously) unexplained giant concrete slab in the middle of the road.

As you can see, this thing is 15 or 20 feet high, in the median of the Dulles Greenway shortly after you go through the toll booth as you’re headed west, or just before the final tool booth headed east. It’s connected to nothing. There’s nothing nearby. No sign. No road. No sign of a road. You half-expect the apes from Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” to start bounding around in the median. Which would be dangerous, but nothing like texting while driving.

It didn’t appear magically though. You can see it being built on Google Maps’ satellite view from earlier this year (below). There is really nothing else there except the exit for the Loudoun County Parkway. And no further construction. It’s done.

So Greenway chief executive Tom Sines told The Answer Man (John Kelly) that it was a pier for a bridge for a road that may someday be built. Barrister Street. And they wanted to get the pier in now, before the rest of the Silver Line Metro comes out, because it’ll be too hard to put in later. That’s it. So there it stands, likened to a handball court by Sines. If you didn’t mind playing handball where the speed limit is 70 mph. It might serve as a good advertising platform actually — which would be dangerous, but nothing like monkeys in the median.


The Ashburn Monolith under construction earlier this year. For the road from nowhere, to nowhere. (Commonwealth of Virginia, DigitalGlobe, USGS via Google)
Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read
Next Story
Mark Berman · August 23, 2013