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County: No Plans to Reopen Abandoned Tunnel Under I-395

By ARLnow.com - ARLNow.com

Thursday - 5/30/2013, 3:30pm  ET

Pedestrian tunnel under I-395, along Army Navy Drive Pedestrian tunnel under I-395, along Army Navy Drive Pedestrian tunnel under I-395, along Army Navy Drive Pedestrian tunnel under I-395, along Army Navy Drive tunnel-map

Despite a lack of progress on another planned pedestrian route under I-395, Arlington County says it has no plans to reopen an abandoned pedestrian tunnel that connects Army Navy Drive and the Dolly Madison Towers apartment complex.

The mysterious tunnel was the subject of an ARLnow.com forum post earlier this month.

The tunnel connects Army Navy Drive near 25th Street S., south of I-395, to the grounds of the Dolly Madison Towers apartment complex, north of I-395. It was built in the mid-1960s but closed in the mid-1990s due to periodic flooding and frequent vandalism of the lighting fixtures, according to Arlington County spokeswoman Laura G. Smith. The tunnel was also deemed difficult to patrol by police.

Smith says the county does not have any plans to reopen the tunnel. According to a comment on GreaterGreaterWashington.org, the tunnel was once used by apartment dwellers who wanted to access the bus stops on Army Navy Drive.

The county has previously expressed interest in providing additional north-south access points across I-395 to pedestrians and cyclists. However, a plan to build an emergency access road and bike path from S. Queen Street to Army Navy Drive, by way of an easement on Army Navy Country Club property, remains on hold.

“There is… no news to report,” Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel said of the stalled plan.

Although the 1960s-era tunnel is officially closed, it can still be accessed and used by curious urban adventurers. A sign above the tunnel on the Army Navy Drive side reads: “Danger: Proceed at Your Own Risk.”

Other pedestrian and bike-accessible routes under or over I-395 in Arlington (from west to east) include the Shirlington pedestrian bridge, Four Mile Run Trail, S. Joyce Street, the Pentagon pedestrian tunnel, and the Mt. Vernon Trail.