The lane was built as part of a 18 month, $14 million VDOT “spot improvement” project. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is touting the lane opening as a relief for drivers who face frequent heavy delays on that stretch of highway.
From a press release, issued this afternoon:
By 7 p.m. tonight, motorists will have some much-needed congestion relief on westbound I-66 between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street in Arlington County with the opening a two-mile auxiliary lane. It is the first of three spot improvements designed to reduce congestion and increase safety on westbound Interstate 66 inside the Beltway, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“Our Administration is focused on helping Virginians spend more time at work and with their families, and less time stuck in traffic,” said Governor McDonnell. “This spot improvement is another step forward in that effort. When it opens this evening, all motorists heading west out of Arlington will find a slightly smoother commute, and hopefully gain a little more time off the road. Through improvements like this one we are continuing to make progress in getting traffic moving again in the Commonwealth.”
The westbound acceleration and deceleration lane between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street has been lengthened to form a continuous auxiliary lane between the two ramps. The improvement includes a new 12-foot wide shoulder constructed with full-strength pavement so that it is capable of carrying traffic during emergency situations. The $14 million improvement took 18 months to complete.
Future spot improvements, not part of this contract, are planned from Haycock Road to Westmoreland Street, and from Lee Highway to Glebe Road. These next phases of spot improvements will reduce congestion and travel times during peak periods, and increase safety by lengthening merge areas and reducing the risk of stop-and-go accidents.
The estimated cost for the second and third spot improvement projects is $49.6 million. These will be funded after the I-66 multimodal study is completed next year.
The Greene Turtle is hoping to open in Ballston by the end of the year.
The sports bar and restaurant, on the ground floor of the new Virginia Tech National Capital Region building at 900 N. Glebe Road, should open at some point between Christmas and New Year’s Day, The Greene Turtle’s Sattar Shaik tells ARLnow.com.
According to The Greene Turtle website, the restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to midnight Sunday though Wednesday, and from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
The Greene Turtle has more than two dozen locations around D.C./Baltimore region, including two locations along the Delaware shore.
The Arlington County School Board is scrambling to decide on permanent solutions to the school system’s current capacity crisis.
Facing a burgeoning school population that has grown by 15 percent since 2006 and is projected to balloon another 20+ percent by 2017, school leaders are examining numerous options for new buildings, additions and renovations. Sixteen options for buildings or additions on Arlington Public Schools property were presented at a public meeting last week, and more options are on the way.
At a joint work session last Wednesday, County Board and school board members signed an agreement that will open up county-owned properties for possible school use. In the coming months, the school system is expected to add proposals for building on or renovating county-owned properties to the existing 16 conceptual plans for school properties — although only a handful of plans will necessarily be acted upon.
Among the school properties where feasibility studies have been conducted are: Abingdon, Arlington Traditional, Ashlawn, Carlin Springs, Drew, Glebe, Hoffman-Boston, Jamestown, McKinley, Nottingham, Oakridge, Taylor, Jefferson, Kenmore, Williamsburg, Reed. Proposals for those sites include adding on to existing school buildings, renovating buildings for classroom use, or adding entire separate, new schools onto the properties.
Among the county properties expected to be studied for possible school use are community centers like the Madison Community Center, among others.
Arlington Public Schools officials say they expect to add about 25 “relocatable” trailer classrooms per year “for the foreseeable future” in order to meet growing demand at schools across the county. The school system has just about run out of other options for packing more students in — by converting computer labs to classrooms and other creative “repurposing” techniques — without adding more bricks-and-mortar or further increasing class sizes.
“We’ve pretty much exhausted all our avenues of repurposing space,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. “We’re going to be adding relocatables every year to alleviate some of that overcrowding, but those are just temporary solutions.”
Temporary solutions aren’t enough, administrators say, because the school system’s enrollment growth appears to be permanent. The recent growth in enrollment and the growth in the county’s birth rate point to a sustained rise in the student population that must be met with a permanent capacity increase, they say. By 2017, school enrollment is expected to surpass 26,000 students — nearly 3,500 seats over current capacity.
“This is not a bubble,” said Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy.”This is a realization… we need to go ahead and do it.”
Arlington ranks sixth in terms of average per-person monthly spending on electronics, according to consumer financial website Bundle.com. Arlington residents spend an average of $67.58 per month on electronics, compared to the national average of $48.00 per month.
The only cities that spend more on electronics, on average, are (in order of first to fifth): San Jose, Ca.; Austin, Tex.; Nashville, Tenn.; Madison, Wis. and Plano, Tex. Residents of San Jose — in the heart of Silicon Valley — spend an average of $91.08 per month.
District of Columbia residents were also on the top-spending list, but weren’t quite as big spenders as Arlington residents. D.C. came in 12th on the list at $61.42 per month. Arlington, we should note, is home to the Consumer Electronics Association — one of the primary trade groups for electronics manufacturers.
(Arlington is technically a county, but often gets included in ‘top city’ lists because it is considered a Census Designated Place.)
Hat tip to Steven S.
A taxi van caught fire last night in the middle of a Ballston-Virginia Square area intersection.
The fire broke out just before 7:30 p.m. in the intersection of 9th Street and N. Pollard Street. Firefighters quickly arrived on scene and extinguished the blaze.
Photos courtesy Justin C. and @zippychance
Linden Resources — formerly SOC Enterprises — held its annual ‘Miracle on 23rd Street’ tree-lighting ceremony Friday night.
Families from the surrounding Aurora Highlands community formed a sizable crowd outside the Linden Resources building at 750 S. 23rd Street. The ceremony featured a brass band playing Christmas songs, the much-anticipated tree lighting, and the arrival of Santa Claus via fire engine.
Linden Resources provides employment opportunities for adults with disabilities.
Worries Over Proposed Constitutional Amendment — A proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution, intended to strengthen protections against local government usage of eminent domain authority, could complicate plans for the Columbia Pike streetcar project. County officials also worry that the amendment could force the county to pay businesses restitution for lost business due to street repairs, snow plowing or even police activity. [Sun Gazette]
H-B Woodlawn Students Protest Parent Plan — H-B Woodlawn secondary program students, who famously create their own courses and spend much of their school time unsupervised, are up in arms over a plan to allow their parents to monitor their academic achievements (or failings) more carefully. [Washington Post]
New Arrival at Central Library: ‘Mein Kampf’ — Arlington Central Library just acquired a brand new version of the Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf.’ A library spokesman says an older version of the book had to be taken out of circulation due to wear and tear. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by wfyurasko