Arlington: Retaining wall collapses, traffic blocked, apt. bldg. evacuated

In Arlington, traffic has been shut down at Clarendon Blvd. and Pierce Street because a temporary retaining wall at a construction site has collapsed.

Arlington County Fire are securing the scene and have evacuated a small apartment building near where the retaining wall has given way.

Residents of a nearby apartment building said they heard a loud popping and felt a jolt like a small earthquake.

“It was traumatic and I'm still shaking,” said Wilberta Jones, who was evacuated.

Jones was evacuated from her building, leaving behind her purse and medication and carrying only the clothes on her back. She rushed to move her car when she heard the wall give way and saw part of the parking lot disappear into a sinkhole.

Dump trucks from other construction projects brought dirt to stabilize the excavation area closest to the apartment building.

Clark construction company says its number 1 concern is the safety of the building and its residents. They are trying to figure out how this happened.

“We do these walls all the time and never have problems like this. That's why we really don't know and have called in people to assist us in that,” Brian Abt of the company said.

Some have speculated that the wall may have slipped from rain-saturated soil that was just too powerful to hold back. It could be weeks before there are definite answers.

A contractor observing the efforts Monday said that structural engineers will be putting steel straps on the apartment building to keep it in place. There's concern about it settling than anything falling.

Clark construction is putting up all of the residents in the hotel across the street until it's safe for them to go home.

Streets closed, expect delays

Clarendon Boulevard - both lanes are closed from N Pierce to N Oak St.

Rt 110 - Rosslyn exit (via Wilson Blvd) closed

Ft. Myer Drive - open, but no westbound access at the N 19th/ Nash Stree and Wilson Blvd intersections

N 16th Rd. - closed from N Pierce to N Oak St.

Drivers are encouraged to use Lee Highway or Arlington Boulevard as alternative routes.
Transit, pedestrian and bicycle routes also are affected. ART bus 45 and Metro bus 38b routes are detoured.