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by ARLnow.com — May 29, 2015 at 11:30 am 0

View of Memorial Bridge and Arlington House (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Arlington’s representatives on Capitol Hill are calling for action after additional restrictions were put in place on the structurally deficient Memorial Bridge.

Starting this morning, both outside lanes of the Memorial Bridge were closed to traffic and a 10-ton load limit put in place, closing the bridge to bus traffic. That follows an inspection that found corroding support beams and “significant deterioration” of the bridge’s concrete deck.

The 83-year-old, 2,100-foot-long bridge opened in 1932. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and — since it connects the Lincoln Memorial with Arlington National Cemetery and Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House — it is considered a national symbol of reunification of the North and the South following the Civil War.

The National Park Service, which oversees the bridge, is planning 6-9 months of emergency repairs starting next month. It says that with the restrictions, the bridge is safe for drivers and pedestrians. The load limit will “help extend the life of the deck for passenger vehicles,” NPS said.

The Park Service is currently seeking $250 million from Congress for permanent repairs and rehabilitation.

Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, along with Rep. Don Beyer, called the state of the historic bridge the “latest evidence of federal neglect.” In strong statements, the lawmakers said it’s time for Congress to fund crucial transportation infrastructure projects.

From a press release:

Senator Mark Warner (VA), Senator Tim Kaine (VA), Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC) and Congressman Don Beyer (VA-8) called for stronger federal infrastructure investment, citing the closure of a second lane on the iconic and congested Arlington Memorial Bridge as the latest evidence of federal neglect.

“There is nothing more emblematic of Congress’ failure to invest in our nation’s infrastructure than the bridge that brings people into our nation’s capital, a national memorial, falling apart. Memorial Bridge has already been labeled ‘structurally deficient’ and one lane was closed just last week due to safety and infrastructure concerns. Today, we have news that another lane will be shut down.  It’s time for Congress to stop kicking the can down the road and pass a federal transportation bill to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, starting right here in DC,” said Rep. Beyer.

The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that it will close a second lane of traffic on the bridge, which stretches from Arlington National Cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial and is a major artery across the Potomac.  The rush hour effects of the six-month closures will be dramatic.

“Unlike other infrastructure, NPS roads and bridges like the Arlington Memorial Bridge are 100 percent funded by the federal government, and there are almost no alternative sources of funds for maintenance and improvements other than federal funds. With a cost of up to $250 million to replace the Memorial Bridge, it is no wonder that NPS is unable to do this work when it only receives $15 to $20 million for its transportation projects in the National Capital Region and only $240 for the entire nation. Our region must offer leadership and work with Members of Congress as far away as the western states that are also deeply affected. Beginning with our region, we must create a coalition of Members of the House and Senate determined to begin the uphill climb of rescuing priceless and essential federal assets like the Memorial Bridge that bring millions to the states by providing everything from workplace corridors to tourist sites,” said Del. Norton.

Nearly 68,000 vehicles cross the 83-year-old bridge on a typical work day. The cost to fully repair the bridge is estimated at more than $250 million over several months. Memorial Bridge is just one of more than 70,000 US bridges deemed “structurally deficient.”

“Today’s announcement that we have to close yet another lane of the Memorial Bridge highlights the decrepit state of our infrastructure,” said Senator Kaine. “This additional lane closure will cause unbearable congestion and delays for the approximately 68,000 drivers who use theMemorial Bridge to travel between Virginia and Washington every day. Today’s frustrating news represents a nationwide issue. It’s estimated that there are 4,800 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges in Virginia alone. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road and address our nation’s crumbling infrastructure by passing a bipartisan, long-term transportation bill.”

“How can Congress fail to act while the Memorial Bridge – which is not only a vital artery for local commuters, but also the entrance to our nation’s capital ­- is literally falling apart? This is not just embarrassing – it’s outrageous,” said Sen. Warner. “We have to get serious about fixing and upgrading our roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure. Until that happens, Virginia commuters will be stuck sitting in even more traffic – and crumbling and inefficient infrastructure will remain a serious drag on our economic growth.”

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — May 29, 2015 at 10:05 am 717 0

One person was hurt this morning after an SUV flipped on its side on a neighborhood street just north of Route 50.

The single-vehicle crash happened around 7:30 a.m. on the 10 block of N. Irving Street, between the Ashton Heights and Lyon Park neighborhoods.

Officials say the driver of a Ford SUV lost control and struck a pole, which then caused the vehicle to flip on its side, trapping the driver inside.

Arlington County Fire Department rescue crews responded and extricated the trapped individual, who suffered minor injuries and was transported to Virginia Hospital Center as a precaution, according to ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.

Irving Street was closed in both directions while crews freed and treated the patient.

Photos via @ACFDPIO

by ARLnow.com — May 29, 2015 at 9:25 am 703 0

Aerial view of D.C. and the monuments from a flight departing from DCA

Arlington Considering Gondola Study — Arlington officials are trying to find $35,000 in funding to contribute to a feasibility study for a gondola system between Rosslyn and Georgetown. The gondola is being championed by the Georgetown Business Improvement District and just received a $35,000 funding allocation from the D.C. government. [Washington Post]

Vihstadt: Community Involvement Key for GOP — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt, who was elected as an independent, has some electoral advice for Arlington Republicans. Vihstadt said Republicans hoping to get elected in Arlington should have a robust record of participation in Arlington civic life. So far, no Republican candidates have stepped forward to run for County Board, although former Republican candidate Michael McMenamin, like John Vihstadt before him, is running for Board as an independent. [InsideNova]

Arlington Firm Has Golf Ringer — Deloitte in Arlington has a ringer for its next golf tournament. Danny Hathway, a former Georgetown University men’s golfer who works in the consulting firm’s Rosslyn office, scored not one but two holes in one while playing a friendly round at Bethesda Country Club last weekend. [Georgetown University]

by ARLnow.com — May 29, 2015 at 8:00 am 0

Just Listed banner

Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

The Arlington real estate market has downshifted into summer mode this week.

As expected, the market has clearly slowed following the Memorial Day weekend holiday with 73 new listings this week and 64 ratified contracts. It’s still a healthy pace, but it appears the spring market is now behind us.

There were so many excellent new listings this week it was difficult picking just eight. Feel free to click on the Team Cathell link below and peruse all the new listings in MRIS this week. Prices range from $135,000 to $1.9 million.

The average days on market jumped this week to 45, primarily due to six properties which sold but had been on the market for 6-12 months. National data indicates we are on track for 5% increase in home values. Arlington usually trends 1% – 3% higher than national average. Mortgage rates this week held steady at what may be the new norm for a while right at about 4% for a 30-yr fixed rate.

You can access all active listings in Arlington on the Cathell Team website.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm 735 0

Rental Report header

Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Finding a roommate is hard. Living with a roommate can be even harder. In the D.C. market, roommates are a must for many renters. In this three part series, we will share our tips to make the roommate relationship a little easier.

If you are moving to the area blind, you’ll either want to find a roommate first, or an apartment first. At a minimum, figure out what neighborhoods you like, set your budget, and determine your must-have amenities, and then you and your new roommate can apartment hunt together. (Check out: Apartment Hunting with a Roommate.)

You can use websites such as Roomster, Roommates.com and Craigslist to search for potential roommates. Or if you are starting at a new company, sometimes the HR department can connect you with other people moving to the area. Lastly, ask friends or family. They may either know someone looking for a roommate, or know someone you could ask about potential roommates.

If you do go the website route, make sure when reviewing listings you look for specific traits and qualities you will or won’t accept. Sometimes this involves reading between the lines. “Friendly, outgoing grad student” may mean exactly that, but it could mean they like to have a lot of friends over, or they want to be social with you on a regular basis. This works for some, but not others. “Loves to cook,” may sound spectacular if you don’t. But what do they cook? If they only cook fish and sauerkraut and that isn’t your thing, you might have a problem.

Some listings may include pictures. It might be a good idea to check those photos like a CSI detective. They can tell you a lot about the person. Cleanliness, hobbies, pets etc might be right there for you to see.

After you’ve selected a few you are ready to contact, you’ll want to come up with a list of questions or things to discuss. You may also want to sit down and really think about what they should know about you. What are your quirks they should know about? Are you really private, or are you allergic to dust? Those are important things to share with someone you may live with.

Safety Tip: Make sure if you are doing an in-person meetup, do it somewhere public and safe for the first time. If you are going to look at a place where they are just looking to add a roommate, take somebody with you not just for safety, but a friend may pick up on something you don’t.

The search is probably the hardest part. So once you narrow it down, hopefully the next steps go faster and easier for you. In the next article, we will cover questions to ask potential roommates.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Heather Mongilio — May 28, 2015 at 2:15 pm 1,612 0

Israel Fest logoThe Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia is bringing its annual Israel Fest to Arlington this weekend.

The free event — dubbed Israel@67 — is billed as a celebration of Israel and Israeli culture. It will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Village in Shirlington.

The event will include live entertainment, Israeli dancing and hands-on activities. There will be food to purchase and an Israeli-styled market.

While the festival has been held in the past in other Northern Virginia locations, this is the first time it has come to Arlington, said Laurie Albert, the center’s Director of Community Engagement.

“The location is wonderful,” she said.

The JCC decided to bring the festival to Arlington because it is a family-friendly area and the organization would reach a community it had not previously, Albert said.

The event will feature nine live musical acts, including Israeli pop singer Hadar and singer-songwriter Yoni Jahasi. There will also be a teen area with a live DJ.

More than 10 synagogues and community partners will have booths for visitors to stop by, and there will also be a moon bounce and balloon artists for children.

To accommodate the festival, Arlington County Police will shut down Campbell Avenue in Shirlington from S. Quincy Street to S. Randolph Street between 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

by ARLnow.com — May 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm 776 0

Arlington logoArlington has launched a new hotline for its employees to report fraud, waste and abuse in county government.

The hotline was announced today by outgoing Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan. It will be run by an “experienced third-party provider” and will be “a confidential and secure way” to report suspected financial malfeasance, via phone or a secure website, the county said today.

Employees calling in or logging on to the 24/7 hotline may include their name or remain anonymous when reporting.

“By putting in place whistleblower protection and a fraud, waste, and abuse hotline, we are reinforcing County government’s deep commitment to good and ethical government,” Donnellan said in a press release.

The press release says the hotline is “part of the emphasis [Donnellan] has placed on high ethical standards during her tenure as County Manager.” Each report will be reviewed by a “County Review Committee, composed of staff appointed by the County Manager.”

Employees who do identify themselves in their reports will be protected by a new administrative whistleblower policy, the county said.

by Mark Kelly — May 28, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,010 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyThe County Board’s last minute decision to sell the Reevesland house has caused quite a stir.

The neighborhood objected because the County was abandoning its promise to find a way to open it up for public use. Others objected because it was yet another example of a tin ear method of operation by the Board.

This decision very well may make financial sense. But driving by the million dollar bus stop on Columbia Pike again the other day, I could not help but think of all the money wasted over the years by our elected officials. So newfound urgent fiscal concerns, particularly by our current Board Chair, ring a little bit hollow.

A four month delay to proceed with the sale may not have been in order, but clearly the Board’s intent to consider decision could have been noticed for the June meeting at little additional cost to the taxpayer. It would have given the community ample time to plead their case.

Hopefully, the public pushback is a reminder to Board members of why they should always do things in a more transparent manner. It is not the first time little notice was given before a controversial Board decision, but it should be the last.

The story making even bigger headlines is the lease for a gun store in Cherrydale.

What do we know?

Nova Firearms has signed a lease for the storefront. The Constitution protects our right to own or not own a firearm while the Supreme Court allows the government to impose some restrictions on sales and possession. And from all indications, Nova Firearms is a legitimate business that obeys all relevant laws governing the sale of firearms.

The Constitution also protects our right to free speech. Those protesting the store’s opening have every right to express their opinions. Those supporting the store can do the same.

What will happen?

Ultimately, we are still, and should always remain, a nation of laws. And in this matter, the law seems pretty clear.

Despite news reports that the shopping center owner may be trying to break the lease, it appears to be a legally binding contract between the two parties. Unless the owner finds a legal loophole or talks Nova Firearms into pulling out of the lease voluntarily, the store is almost certainly going to open as planned.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by Peter Rousselot — May 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm 1,098 0

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter Rousselotnew report by the Schools Committee of the Arlington Civic Federation challenges APS’ enrollment growth plans. The report demonstrates that APS has failed to take into account adequately the possibility that current enrollment forecasts are significantly understated.

Our capital improvement program (CIP) must do a much better job taking into account the possibility that enrollment, and therefore the cost of additional seats, will be significantly higher than now estimated.

Hundreds of millions of our tax dollars are involved.

Enrollment Forecast Issues

The vast preponderance of data points to significantly higher enrollment growth than now forecast by APS:

  • APS enrollment grew 5.2% from 2013 to 2014,
  • From 2015 through 2021, APS forecasts no increase in kindergarten enrollment, despite a 4.5% compound annual growth rate over the past 7 years. The last 6 kindergarten classes have been at least 25% larger than the classes over the prior six years,
  • The APS forecast removes up to 11.1% of students in its forecast between 5th and 6th grade when the recent average loss is only 1.3%, and other factors may understate middle school projections by as many as 700 students in 2024,
  • Sudden changes in medium term projections of cohort progressions are not justified. This disappearance of rising 5th graders masks the need for far more high school capacity to be completed by 2024,
  • APS grew 5.2% last year and averaged 3.7% growth for 4 years, but overall growth rates in the current forecast drop significantly year over year, creating future risk.

Major Implications

Among the major implications of significantly underestimating enrollment growth are these:

  • Building too small, too late is the most costly and disruptive way to expand,
  • We must lower the cost per seat,
  • The CIP must plan much better for higher enrollment growth and attendant costs within financial and space constraints:
    • We need designs that can expand or scale back cost effectively with shorter or longer wings, fewer or additional floors, and gyms and cafeterias on outside walls that can be expanded,
    • We must do the basic math regarding on how many sites APS can build, and the maximum size of cost-effective school additions, before sizing schools and then realizing we need to add 10-20% to the capacity of every school because there is no place left for new schools.

CONCLUSION

The vast majority of enrollment drivers point towards significantly higher enrollment growth and related capital expenditures than currently forecast. APS must make revisions now to take this into account. The County Board must begin now seriously to discuss options such as:

  • developer contributions (proffers),
  • deferral of County capital projects, and/or
  • providing APS with a higher share of overall debt service limits.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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