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Long Bridge Park
Long Bridge Park opened to the public November 5, 2011. The park occupies the west side of CSX’s RF&P Sub at CFP110, at the signals (and former tower) known as RO. The park has substantial railroad history, not the least of which is its name, a reference to the railroad bridge over the Potomac that has connected Washington with Northern Virginia since the mid-19th century. The property was once called “South Washington,” a railroad location that included industries such as Solite. Just to the north is a 4-acre plot where the Twin Bridges Marriott (1957-1990) once stood (the Marriott company’s first hotel), which the county now also owns and will develop in a Phase II expansion of the park. The location marks the northern extreme of the RF&P, where the Rosslyn Branch of the PRR once turned west on a routing that passed the Pentagon and terminated in a small yard in Rosslyn. Ten years ago, when the county began holding public meetings to get citizen input on the design of the park, Mike Schaller and this writer began attending and made a case for the county to accommodate the photographic interests of railfans, as RO was a choice spot, and we hoped the new park would not prevent railfans from track views with a chain link fence or other barrier. The result was a park designed with three athletic fields and “the esplanade,” a 15-foot high stone walkway next to the tracks that extends north and south about 300 yards. It’s fabulous for shooting trains in afternoon light, as well as watching wildlife in the nearby wetland (including eagles and ospreys), and planes landing and taking off from National Airport. But for the railfan, the big show is CSX freights, Amtrak, and VRE.
Town / City: Arlington, VA
Location Name: Long Bridge Park (475 Long Bridge Drive)
Railroads: CSX / Amtrak / Virginia Railway Express (commuter trains).
Rail Traffic: Expect 53 passenger trains (Amtrak & VRE) between 5am and 8:30pm, CSX runs around 20 freights on this line a day. After 8pm, the railroad gets very quiet until 5am the next morning. Weekdays are best for train watching, as VRE doesn't operate on weekends.
Site Details: A city park built with the railfan in mind. A 15-foot high walkway "the esplanade" was built spanning 300-feet along the railroad, with excellent views of passing trains. Afternoon sunlight is best for photographing passing trains.
Restrooms on site: YES
Food: Located in downtown Arlington, finding food shouldn't be an issue.
Picnic Area: YES
Parking: Long Bridge Park patrons can enjoy free parking all day on weekends at these nearby garages: 1350 S. Clark Street, 1350 Crystal Drive. The Crystal City parking map (PDF) lists all area garages and locations.
Lighted for eveing railfanning: Yes. Park hours are Sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset except on lighted facilities. Park closes at 11:00pm daily.
Scanner Frequencies: 161.550, trains call signals, a hot box detector at MP 106.4 (south of this park) will alert you to northbound trains.
Motels / Hotels: A DoubleTree Hotel is located on the south west side of the park. Half of the rooms in this high rise hotel overlook the park and the railroad. A high floor room on the north or east side of the building will offer great views of both the park and the railroad. There are other railfan motels in Arlington and nearby Alexandria, VA that offer great railroad views, though those hotels are not within walking distance to this park. Visit RailfanMotels.com for list of local railfan motels.