After decades of building bridges of cooperation between the two jurisdictions, city officials in Alexandria are telling their Arlington County counterparts they won't meet them halfway if Arlington builds a connector over Four Mile Run.
For 44 years, Arlington officials have talked about connecting South Eads Street in Crystal City with Commonwealth Avenue in Alexandria, via a bridge over the creek whose center is a boundary between the two jurisdictions.
Arlington views the bridge connector as a means of easing the commuter traffic that clogs South Arlington residential streets such as Arlington Ridge Road and upper South 23rd Street. The streets are used as shortcuts to and from Rte. 1 in Crystal City and Shirley Highway (I-395).
Alexandria once thought the connector was a good idea, but it dropped the proposal from its master transportation plan 15 years ago and wants Arlington to do the same when the County Board adopts a revised master road plan in January.
"We've asked that they take it off their plan," said Dayton L. Cook, Alexandria's transportation chief. "Unless they want to build a bridge to the middle of the creek and dump everybody in the creek, they're wasting their time."
The plan, said Alexandria City Council member Robert L. Calhoun, serves little purpose other than to "create a sense of great anxiety" for the residents of the city's Del Ray neighborhood, who oppose the plan because it would bring extra traffic to their residential streets.
"It's just another pathway into the city, and we've got enough of those," Cook said. "It upsets the citizens, and we have to keep running around putting out fires" each time Arlington officials discuss the plan.
"It's a matter of considerable concern," said Calhoun, who wrote a letter to Arlington County Board member Mary Margaret Whipple calling the connector "a petty and unnecessary point of contention" between the two communities.
Mark H. Kellogg, an Arlington public works planner who is supervising the county staff review of the road plan, said it is unlikely that the bridge will be built anytime soon, if at all, because of Alexandria's opposition.
But, Kellogg said, county policy requires that road proposals be noted on the master transportation plan to preserve the county's options should those roads ever become desirable. It puts developers and homeowners on notice that a road may be built, he said.
Arlington's Whipple said she is awaiting a staff response before answering Calhoun's letter regarding the bridge. "If it's been this way for over 40 years, maybe it's time to do something different," she said.