Arlington Memorial Bridge lane closures to last 6 months for needed repairs

You will need to start getting used to having two fewer lanes to use on the Arlington Memorial Bridge. The reason? Inspectors found steel beams in the center of the span so deteriorated that they ordered lane and weight restrictions imposed immediately.

From a distance, the Arlington Memorial Bridge joining the north and south from Arlington National Cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial looks like it always has -- stately and majestic.

But inspectors found something monumentally very wrong with the bridge.

"The support beams being corroded underneath the bridge," said Aaron LaRocca of the National Park Service. "That is alarming."

He said inspectors immediately ordered both curb lanes closed to traffic and vehicles weighing over 10 tons are banned from crossing the bridge.

"The lane closures will probably last about six months or so," LaRocca said.

You might not realize it, but the Arlington Memorial Bridge is 83 years old. But up close, you don't have to be a structural engineer to see it is showing every bit of its age. FOX 5 found exposed rebar, cracks along seams, rust from interior steel and even the same kinds of stalagmites you would see in caves after water exposure.

Right now, repairs on the bridge deck will be first.

"We are scheduling to do a project that will reinforce the substructure of the bridge," said LaRocca.

That work will take six months and cost $3 million to fix the deteriorated steel beams that caused the lane closures.

But long term, federal officials told FOX 5 it could cost a quarter of a billion dollars for a total refurbishment.

The National Park Service said Friday's closure caused no major backups, but this was also a holiday week, meaning Monday's commute has the potential for monumentally unbearable delays.

If there are backups, the 14th Street, Roosevelt and Key bridges are your closest alternatives.

On Monday, members of Congress will unveil their plan to restore this bridge.