Last Saturday there was a ribbon cutting ceremony opening the new Shirlington Underpass.
I rode it shortly after the opening and it's great - and it's really a big improvement - and since I last rode by they'd added landscaping, paint and other finishing touches. Oddly, I didn't see it mentioned by the MSM, despite what an important connection this is. This is like our new Wilson Bridge.
"But isn't the Wilson Bridge opening 'like our new Wilson Bridge?'", you might ask. No. We didn't even have a way to get across the Wilson Bridge, so our Wilson Bridge is way bigger than that. The Wilson Bridge opening on Saturday is more like the original Wilson Bridge opening.
Some people took the opportunity to check out the new covered bike parking at the Shirlington transit station.
Mark Kellogg with the Arlington DOT wrote this history of the underpass.
The underpass was included in Arlington's adopted comprehensive plan in 1986. Though this underpass is a key regional facility, serving much more than Arlington, funding from state and regional entities proved elusive. The ISTEA of 1991, and specifically the Transportation Enhancement (TE) category, provided Arlington with an opportunity to get started on this, and some other trail links. Now, there is growing recognition that transportation funding, rather than transportation-enhancement funding, is appropriate for bicycling but ISTEA and TE funding were instrumental in opening the door in the 1990s to multimodalism.
Personally this represents the first Christmas Wish List Item to be completed, and the first one that can be scratched off the list. The Wilson Bridge opening won't quite get it done (there are three missing pieces, though the connection from Water Street to Clay Drive is so tantalizing close, that you may be able to bunny hop it) - so the Met Branch Trail's new section may be next in line.