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Park service: Memorial Bridge repairs to begin late this month

Federal Highway Administration structural engineer George Choubah leads a tour inside the Arlington Memorial Bridge on Monday in Washington. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Since the National Park Service shut some lanes and sidewalk space in the middle of Arlington Memorial Bridge, travelers have been asking what will happen next and when.

The restrictions at the draw span, plus a 10-ton load limit for vehicles using the bridge, were imposed out of concern about the deterioration of the Potomac River crossing. Michael Laris reported in The Washington Post on May 28 that Federal Highway Administration engineers had found that steel secondary support beams were corroding more quickly than expected and “no longer meet load-bearing standards,” according to the Park Service.

With the restrictions in place, the bridge is safe to use, said park service spokesman Wayne Campbell.

[Memorial Bridge in dire need of renovation]

Federal officials estimate a full repair of the bridge will cost about $250 million and take two to three years. But a first step in the repair program is likely to begin in late August. A contract was awarded in July for a $2.5 million repair project that would take about six months to complete.

“As of right now, we don’t have a specific start date for the construction other than late August,” Campbell said.

The contract, awarded to the Cianbro Corp., calls for repairs for steel and concrete  at the draw span, which hasn’t been opened since 1961, as well as concrete sidewalk repairs, drainage improvements and asphalt work.

“These repairs are expected to allow all lanes and sidewalk to reopen, but the 10-ton weight limit will remain in affect until a more comprehensive rehabilitation and repair to the bridge is completed,” Campbell said.

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Graphic: What’s to be fixed