Weather Damages Soapstone Directly Over RA Underpass

by Karen Goff March 12, 2015 at 4:30 pm 1,161 11 Comments

Now that the ice and snow of the last few weeks have melted, the usual potholes and other road damage can be seen on Reston streets.

A reader pointed out that Soapstone Drive between Ridge Heights Road and South Lakes Drive has a large bump in the road. The bump goes directly over an underpass on Reston Association paths.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is aware of the issue and has put a “bump” sign to alert drivers.

A VDOT rep said staff is closely monitoring and, since the bump is over a pedestrian underpass, the bridge and infrastructure sections are also inspecting the structure.

Larry Butler, RA’s Senior Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources, said he is aware of the issue and that that RA has not seen structural problems with the underpasses in his more than 30 years with the association.

“We do not maintain roads, so I can’t comment on the challenges of those over underpasses or many of the other culverts below roads for drainage etc.,” he said. “The underpasses are typically 12-inch thick concrete boxes, and other than some minor seepage in the box or at the wing walls outside the underpasses we have never had structural problems with any of them.”

  • Scott H

    hmmm…This issue existed for at least 5-10 years before it was fixed when Soapstone was redone to accommodate bike lanes. Now it is worse than it ever was before. There is obviously some systemic issue in relation to the RA underpass.

  • John Farrell

    There is an imminent threat to the safety of RA’s members, both those using the underpass and those traveling on Soapstone, and Butler’s response is basically “I dunno. It’s never happened before.”

    Hey Larry here’s a clue: get a structural engineer out there “stat” before someone gets killed in a cave-in or driving into a sinkhole.

    Or are you too busy trying to get the rest of RA to take on $2.5 million in debt to buy a derelict building and a parking lot over which RA already holds an easement?

    • Joe Heflin

      On Tuesday I went to VDOT in Fairfax and met Todd Robson who allowed me to show video and photos of the Soapstone hump. It was a good meeting and I thought he was quite responsive-he was going to send a supervisor and perhaps a soils engineer out to evaluate what was going on. He also had me e-mail a number of photos to him that he could use. That afternoon the hump on South Lakes heightened and lengthened and I forwarded photos of this to him. Yesterday an orange sign appeared telling drivers to slow down there.

      I also started a topic on here in Forums which no one has responded to.

      I have lived here since 1988 and have never seen anything like this. My concern are the tunnels below these humps and their stability. Considering the number of school children who walk through the tunnels under Soapstone and under South Lakes I believe we urgently need to be reassured that it is safe to do this.

      Reading in this thread that there is now a THIRD hump on Baron Cameron I wonder if there is a tunnel and pathway under this too?

      Re: the post below that says this existed on Soapstone before the introduction of the bike lanes. That is not true. There may have been a “dip” or cracks in the pavement but nothing as extreme as this. There have never been humps like this in that road. I have driven over it daily for 27 years.

      • John Farrell

        Joe Everyone who walks or travels over that underpass owes you a great deal of gratitude for taking the initiative to get VDOT to pay attention to this situation. You may well have save lives.

        When is RA going to act with an equivalent level of concern?

        • Joe Heflin

          Thank you, John. Much appreciated.

      • Rational Reston

        I’d like to direct my annual RA assessment to Joe, he’s done more in one afternoon for the greater Reston good than RA has done in years!

  • Ed M

    There is a new nasty dip on Baron Cameron between Village Road and Wiehle Avenue, eastbound in the right hand lane. It is new since the last snow fall or two. It also feels like the base below the road has eroded out in a matter of weeks.


    I agree with Ed M and John Farrell and Joe. Please get these situations inspected by a structural engineer right away. RA Board of Directors need to use every bit of their influence w/ Hudgins to get this done. No excuses. Whatever it takes. Thank you to these gentlemen for bringing this to our attention.

  • guest

    I also remember there being such a hump on Soapstone before it was repaved. It’s true that it didn’t stretch across the entire width of the road, but it was a fairly large bump to drive over and not one that you would want to speed over.

  • Mason

    There is a similar bump on South Lakes Drive at the tunnel that runs under South Lakes at the intersection with Ridge Heights.

    • chuck

      Note there is also a bump on glade between charter(something) and the Safeway… Directly over a pedestrian walkway.

      Could this be frost heaves and associated impacting by cars during the prolonged cold spells?


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