ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — Late last year, Arlington County limited Columbia Pike to one lane each way instead of two to accommodate its new construction project. The county manager has since apologized that residents, businesses, and commuters weren’t adequately informed of the change.
In his apology, Mark Schwartz said the county failed to do what the board asked of them: To thoroughly communicate with community members and business owners.
“Starting without fully communicating the plans is a mistake that has understandably confused and infuriated many residents, visitors and business owners. For this I apologize,” Schwartz said. “With a project like this, before any work was done to affect the traffic pattern, we should have fully communicated the impact, street by street and building by building.”
Since his statement, the county has been distributing fliers and publishing more construction information on its website and on social media. Earlier this week, Arlington County published a video on YouTube, which shows drivers how to navigate Columbia Pike during construction. The county is asking drivers to avoid the area entirely.
The lanes will be blocked for the next year; even during rush hour.
The space is needed in the roadway to place the power lines and communication lines underground and space is also needed for equipment and workers to be able to safely maneuver in the project area and so that’s why the lane restrictions are being implemented,” said Engineering Bureau Chief Ramzi Awaad for the county’s Department of Environmental Services. “It’s the fastest way to get the job done safely.”
Without taking these measures, Awaad says the project may have taken more than twice the time.
Awaad says the project is supposed to give the half mile stretch of Columbia Pike a “main street feel” with wider sidewalks, landscaping, and “premium transit.”