Friday, August 22, 2008

Cleremont Dr bike route to close Sept. 1

As part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project, the bridge over the Eisenhower Ave Connector will be reconstructed. VDOT plans to route Beltway traffic on the exit/entrance ramps at exit 174, Eisenhauer Ave Connector, to avoid the bridge. This was expected to happen this summer as we noted earlier. The bridge work was delayed until 2009.

There is an important connection for bicyclists at this location, the Clermont Drive bike route leading to Eisenhower Ave (see the Fairfax Co bike map, Back side). There is a break in the sound barrier where Cleremont Dr ends, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to travel north to Eisenhower Ave and connections to Alexandria bike routes.

On Wednesday we learned that the bike connection will be closed for 5 days starting Sept. 1 or 2. Work will be done on the Beltway bridge forcing closure of the roads in the area. The closure is supposed to be limited to 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. so it should not impact many cyclists. However, some cyclists do travel during that period, and for them there will be no detours provided, despite assurances from VDOT that if the bike route is closed there would be a detour. Signs will be posted in advance. We've requested that the signs be posted that overcome any language barriers, such as using graphics showing the closure. Here is the proposed detour that was discussed earlier.

We also heard that in 2009 the bike route will be closed for a much longer period. Fairfax County and Alexandria are working on getting permanent improvements for bicyclists in this area that can also be used as a detour during construction.

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I don't understand the proposed "detour". It's no detour at all; just a suggestion to use the existing sidepath along S Van Dorn St. However, I believe a shorter bicycling connection exists from S Van Dorn St through the Oakwood, Brookland Estates, and Bush Hill Woods neighborhoods.

Until about a decade ago, a roadway bridge crossed over the Capital Beltway from the end of Bush Hill Rd. VDOT should be asked to build a new bicycle/pedestrian bridge across the Beltway at that location, including a viable connection to Eisenhower Ave.

When VDOT was designing the Eisenhower Ave Connector exit of the Capital Beltway, I asked for a grade-separated pedestrian and bicycle Beltway-crossing facility, from Clermont Drive to or beyond the Beltway underpass, but there was no staff support from Fairfax County or the City of Alexandria. Such a request may find more support now that both localities have more robust pedestrian and bicycle programs. While VDOT would undoubtedly oppose the added cost, the cost should be minor compared to the cost of widening the Beltway.

Our elected officials must understand that closing the Clermont Dr bike/ped connection across the Beltway for more than a few days is simply unacceptable.
Originally VDOT planned to have a signed detour for cyclists when they thought that the Cleremont connection would be closed for a long period of time. What I discussed was that proposed detour. If it were implemented, it would be signed as would any road detour.

Is the route you mentioned through the Oakwood, Brookland Estates, and Bush Hill Woods neighborhoods paved? I think a route through that area was investigated but it was determined that it would be on private land and couldn't be signed as an official detour route.

A bridge over the Beltway at Cleremont Dr would be the best solution and you're right, there may be more support now.

Today I as told by the Woodrow Wilson project team that the planned nighttime closure on Sept. 1-5 will be delayed until around Sept. 15. I'll post any updates as I receive them.


Why is VDOT communicating the closure of Clermont Dr Connector only to you? It's outrageous that this information isn't posted anywhere on VDOT's website.

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