Sunday, October 24, 2010

new power line to cross major transit thoroughfare

Dominion Virginia Power will construct a new Radnor Heights power substation and power line beginning in the first quarter of 2011 and finishing in the second quarter of 2012.  Dominion will construct the power substation on Joint Base Myer-Henderson just across Rt. 50 from the Courthouse Rd. intersection.  The new power line is a 3.7 mile, 230 kilo-volt underground electric transmission line that will connect the recently refurbished power substation at 3245 Wilson Blvd to the new Radnor Heights substation, and the Radnor Heights substation to a power substation near the crossing of Rt. 110 and I-395.  The underground power line will follow 10th St., then cross Rt. 50, then follow Marshall Dr. and Rt. 110.  Here's a map of the new power line's path.

The power line will be installed using open-cut trenching.  In areas where open-cut trenching would be particularly disruptive or infeasible, boring or tunneling can be used.  I suspect that the power line will be installed across Rt. 50 by boring under that road.

The new power line will also cross the major, human-powered transit thoroughfare in front of the North Gate of Arlington Cemetery along Marshall Dr.  Cyclists, skateboarders, runners, walkers, roller-bladers, stroller-pushers, and others traverse this thoroughfare in relatively high numbers.  In the area's transit network, this thoroughfare provides a vital link to major paths to Washington, DC, Alexandria, and Georgetown.   

Plans for constructing the new power line should seriously consider the effects on the major transit thoroughfare in front of the North Gate.  Dominion's Radnor Heights project page declares:
Installation of the underground lines will require lane closures in some areas. We will work with the County of Arlington and the Virginia Department of Transportation to create traffic control plans. Construction will be limited to certain times during the day to reduce traffic congestion. In nonresidential areas, it may be possible to work at night to avoid traffic. Proper flagging and signage will be used to minimize delays and make it as easy as possible for you to get where you're going.
What does this imply for human-power traffic through the North Gate thoroughfare?  If Dominion digs an open trench along Marshall Dr. without regard for human-powered traffic, it could seriously disrupt or shut-down traffic through this major transit artery.  

Reasonable accommodation for human-powered traffic requires attention to the issue and appropriate construction planning.[*]  Open-cut trenching segmented to accommodate human-powered traffic would imply only a short, safe detour at the North Gate thoroughfare.

The Ode Street Tribune pledges to do what it can to help ensure that the power line construction does not unnecessarily disrupt traffic.

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[*] While DC recently adopted a complete streets policy, Arlington's Master Transportation Plan adopted in 2007 explicitly requires a "complete streets" perspective.   Goal 1, Strategy 2 of that Plan declared:
Construct and manage streets to be “Complete Streets.” Streets should be safe and comfortable for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, motorists, and other users.

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