Press Release Jul 6, 2016

National Park Service to Receive $90 Million Grant for Most Urgent Memorial Bridge Repairs

$250 Million Estimated Needed to Complete Repairs

WASHINGTON – The National Park Service (NPS) will receive a $90 million grant from the Department of Transportation to make critical repairs to the Arlington Memorial Bridge. NPS estimates that it will cost upwards of $250 million to completely repair the bridge, just one of nearly a dozen NPS road repair projects in excess of $20 million for which the agency is responsible. NPS receives less than $350 million annually to maintain its 10,000 miles of roads, 1,400+ bridges and 80+ transit systems.

Below is a statement by Laura Loomis, Deputy Vice President of Government Affairs at National Parks Conservation Association:

“This grant to make urgent repairs to the Memorial Bridge is a crucial first step, but at $90 million, even this hefty investment is not enough to completely fix this quarter-billion-dollar problem. The government will need to invest far more to restore the safety of this 84-year-old bridge, a vital route for the 68,000 commuter and tourism vehicles that travel across it every day.

“The Memorial Bridge is indicative of the larger problem facing national park roads, and a cautionary tale about what happens when we do not make the investments necessary to maintain them. If Congress does not find a way to adequately fund regular maintenance for national parks roads, we’ll again and again find ourselves in the dire situation of scrambling to come up with quick fixes to multimillion dollar problems.”

Background: The Arlington Memorial Bridge is a critical link for several memorials in the Washington area, spanning between the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Cemetery and feeding into the George Washington Memorial Parkway. However, the 84-year-old bridge is reaching the end of its design life and is need of extensive rehabilitation. Last year, NPS closed the two outside lanes to traffic and set a weight restriction that prohibits tour buses and freight vehicles from using it. Recently, NPS warned that if the bridge is not repaired by 2021 it will be shut down.

The $90 million grant will go toward completing the first phase of the bridge’s reconstruction. The first phase will focus on the bridge’s approach spans, which are the most critical repair needs, and will cost a total $166 million to complete. Completing the first phase will allow the bridge to remain open until 2030 while the reconstruction’s second phase, which will focus on the bridge’s main bascule span, is completed.

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About National Parks Conservation Association

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.