Numerous reports of downed power lines, toppled trees, dislodged traffic signs and blowing debris are coming in.
Among the reports we’re following right now:
- Downed power line on Four Mile Run Drive at George Mason Drive. Traffic is being diverted. Dominion is on the scene.
- Large tree down at 3700 North Harrison Street
- Awnings dislodged and glass broken at 3100 Clarendon Boulevard
- Compromised roof at 1300 South Arlington Ridge Road
- Updated at 5:05 pm. — Large tree down at 17th Street and North Utah Street
- Updated at 5:05 pm. — Wires down at 23rd Street North and George Mason Drive
- Updated at 5:05 pm. — Tree down at George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run Drive
- Updated at 5:05 pm. — Dominion is reporting 1,368 customers without power in Arlington
- Updated at 5:10 pm. – Wires down at 18th Street and South Edgewood Street
High winds have blown off part of the roof of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles building at 4150 South Four Mile Run Drive.
Firefighters report that a large section of the building’s metal roof blew off. The building has been evacuated. No injuries are reported.
A building inspector has been requested at the scene.
We took a few photos around Arlington this afternoon, before the really strong winds started blowing. The contrast between the blue skies and the quick-moving rain storms that passed through the area was quite striking.
Whipple has represented Virginia’s 31st Senate district since 1996. Before being elected to the state Senate, Whipple served on the Arlington School Board, the Arlington County Board and the Metro Transit Board.
News of Whipple’s retirement seemingly came as a surprise to some.
“Wow – another one!” Del. David Englin said on Twitter. “[Sen. Whipple has] been a champion for Arlington, good government, and progress.”
Others had press releases ready for the announcement.
“Senator Mary Margaret Whipple’s retirement from the Virginia Senate will leave behind a void that will be difficult to fill,” said Del. Adam Ebbin, who is running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Patsy Ticer. Ticer announced her retirement last week.
Del. Patrick Hope had more praise for Whipple.
“Today, we honor the service of one of Arlington’s most dedicated and admired public servants,” he said in a statement. “I know I join Arlingtonians in thanking Senator Mary Margaret Whipple for over three decades of hard work, dedication, and service. She will surely be missed but her legacy will be long-lasting, not only to her constituents but to our entire great Commonwealth.”
As state political blogger Ben Tribbett points out on Twitter, Hope is thought to be considering a run for Whipple’s seat. Via an aide, Hope neither confirmed nor denied the rumors.
“Today is Mary Margaret’s day and we should honor her outstanding service,” Hope said.
Other names being floated as possible candidates for the seat are Tribbett, former lieutenant governor candidate Mike Signer, Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Mike Lieberman and county board member Barbara Favola.
“I applaud Sen. Whipple for her incredible insightful and thoughtful service,” Favola told ARLnow.com. “She has always been a wonderful role model and friend to me.”
“I think this is her day,” Favola said when asked whether she might run for Whipple’s seat. “I suspect over the weekend I’ll think about the next steps.”
Over the winter, crews narrowed the portion of Joyce Street from 15th Street to 16th Street. A sidewalk was added to the side of the road facing Virginia Highlands Park, and the width of the street was reduced from 40 feet to about 35 feet.
The changes were intended as traffic calming measures. Narrower streets, the county says, encourage drivers to slow down.
To slow traffic down even more, Arlington has added six car-length planters — three on either side of the street. Trees will be planted in the planters, which each take up what was once a parking space.
“They serve to visually narrow the roadway on a very long stretch that is not interrupted by intersections,” said Traffic Engineering and Operations Bureau Chief Wayne Wentz.
Wentz said that while one side of the street has cars parked on it throughout the day, the other side sometimes lacks parked cars. The empty parking spaces, in turn, make the street appear wider and result in people speeding up. The planters, Wentz said, will do the job of calming traffic even when parked cars aren’t present.
Wentz noted that the roadwork actually added two parking spots to South Joyce Street, so the net loss of parking is only four spots. But one resident worried that park-goers may soon be forced to leave their cars in the adjacent neighborhood.
“Those barriers on the side take up parking spots that fill up quickly during softball season!” said the resident. “I live at South Joyce and 20th and you can bet neighbors will be complaining about increased parking in their neighborhood.”
The construction was paid for by money set aside by the developer of the nearby Pentagon Row shops.
“The changes to Joyce Street were actually development conditions of Pentagon Row,” Wentz said.
Wentz expects the trees to be planted by mid-April. The county’s arborist will decide which type of tree will be planted. In addition to the six planters on the side of the road, road crews also added a planter in the middle of the road at a pedestrian crossing.
Dels. Bob Brink, Adam Ebbin, David Englin and Patrick Hope are all listed as members of the group.
“Progressive values are Virginia values,” Hope said in a press release announcing the caucus’ formation. “The Progressive Caucus serves to fight for the interests of the average citizen and to educate the public on Progressive issues.”
“While Virginia can be slow to change, we have to keep pace with the times when it comes to issues like stem cell research, global warming and society’s attitudes towards gays and lesbians,” said Ebbin. “As progressives, it is important that we stand together as we work to move Virginia forward.”
“It’s time for progressive legislators to organize and work together to advance the progressive values that we share, so we can keep our Commonwealth moving toward that day when every person – including the poor, the elderly, the week, the dispossessed – has a fair shake and an equal shot at the American dream,” Englin said.
Conspicuously absent from the group is Arlington’s state senator, Mary Margaret Whipple.
ECC Employees Overworked, Underpaid – Arlington’s emergency communications center is suffering from chronic understaffing and staff high turnover rates. The ECC, which handles 911 calls and police/fire/EMS dispatching, is hoping for a 10 percent boost in funding in this year’s county budget. [TBD]
Abortion Regulations Pass General Assembly — Gov. Bob McDonnell is promising to sign a bill that will impose new regulations on Virginia abortion clinics. The bill, which passed the General Assembly yesterday, would hold abortion clinics to some of the same stringent safety regulations as hospitals. Pro-choice groups are warning that the bill could force many clinics to close. [Washington Post]
Map Puts Arlington at Top of the Healthy Heap — Our congressional district, Virginia’s 8th, is the healthiest in the country, according to the American Human Development Project. As this map interactive shows, our residents are expected to live the longest of any other district in the country.
Hang On to Your Hats — Dangerously high winds are expected this afternoon.
Flickr pool photo by Reid Kasprowicz