Update on 6/21/12 at 11:35 a.m. – Police report the driver of the SUV has been charged with reckless driving. They have also updated the number of vehicles involved to be 10. In addition to the woman who was trapped in her car, one other driver and one other passenger were also transported to Inova Fairfax hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
(Updated at 7:25 p.m.) A driver may be charged after a serious accident Wednesday evening on Washington Boulevard in Ballston.
Around 6:00 p.m. police received the call of an accident with injuries on Washington Boulevard between Glebe Road and Vernon Street. Nine vehicles were involved in the crash.
During their investigation, police say they discovered that the driver of an SUV was spotted driving recklessly. As he approached the red light, he allegedly made no effort to stop and rear-ended the driver of a convertible. The SUV ended up on top of the convertible, and the woman inside became trapped. The woman was extricated and transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Police are still speaking with the driver of the SUV. It’s likely that he will be charged with reckless driving, we’re told.
As of 7:25 p.m., traffic was getting by slowly on Glebe Road, but Washington Blvd was still shut down through Stafford Street.
Potomac Harmony Chorus, and all-female a capella group, was scheduled to perform.
The decision to cancel was made in consultation with the group, both for their health and safety, and for that of the audience.
As of now, Friday’s performance by The U.S. Army Blues is still on for 8:00 p.m.
The unanimous approval set one public hearing on the Zoning Ordinance changes for July 9, and another for July 24. Both will be in the third-floor Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
One issue residents consistently raised at public workshops last year, and continue to contact the county about, is that of signs in the public right away — on road medians and the like. Currently, only two types of signs are allowed in the right of way — political and directional real estate signs. The real estate signs are allowed on weekends, typically to identify open houses, and political signs can remain for 31 days prior to an election.
A proposed amendment would allow non-commercial signs to remain in areas like medians for seven days at a time. Examples of those signs include lost pets, civic association meetings and community fundraisers. Directional commercial signs would be allowed on weekends for events in residential districts, such as yard sales and open houses. The signs would all have to be within half a mile of the events they are advertising.
A number of residents have suggested permitting volunteers to enforce the signs ordinance, and to remove non-compliant signs in the public right of way. Although citizen enforcement originally offered some appeal due to citizens being able to respond more quickly to offending signs, county staff says complications arose upon further examination. For instance, injuries or property damage during sign removal could be a liability to the county, and citizens may make mistakes if they don’t have an extensive knowledge of the zoning ordinance. Thus, that idea was scrapped.
Other proposed changes to the ordinance came up at a county work session in January, and include standards for lighted signs as well as provisions that would reduce the number of sign issues that need to go before the County Board for approval.
Work on the revised sign regulations has been ongoing since December 2010, and has involved “intensive” participation from County Commissions, residents and business owners.
“This proposed overhaul of our sign regulations will make it easier for everyone — both residents and business owners — to understand and follow the rules,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “The proposed regulations also set the stage for businesses to put up creative signs that enliven our commercial areas and meet residents’ expectations.”
Individual residents or groups can sign up to adopt and perform light maintenance at one of the ART bus stops. At first, the program will focus on stops along the ART 51, 52, 53 and 61 routes. Additional routes and stops will be added soon.
Participants enter into a one year agreement, during which time they will maintain the stop at least once a week. They’ll perform duties such as picking up trash, reporting vandalism or safety hazards, clearing the area of snow and reporting items left at the stop.
The county will perform necessary heavier maintenance once it’s requested by the participant. Those tasks include removing graffiti, cutting tall grass and repairing bus stops. Should the participant request it, the county will also install a trash receptacle at the bus stop.
Transit Bureau Chief Stephen Del Giudice said although Arlington fared well in the recent recession, there was a reduction in the ability to commit resources to these types of maintenance projects. The county’s efforts mainly have focused on heavily used commercial corridors.
“We’re not always able to get to some of the residential areas. We see this as filling a need as far as our ability to commit resources to residential areas,” said Del Giudice. “We thought it would be a good idea to get community involvement in our transit program.”
Since the program began on May 16, three individuals each adopted a stop, and one group adopted two stops. Those who take part will get a certificate of participation, a mention on Arlington Transit’s website and a sign of recognition at the designated stop.
Sign up can be done online. Participants must be at least 18 years old, unless they are part of a group led by a person at least 18 years old.
During her 2012 State of the County address yesterday (see video, above), Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes took time to point out the county’s stability, and to soothe fears about negative effects Arlington may experience due to federal budget cuts.
She said even in light of America’s recent recession, the county remains financially strong, as evidenced by the retention of its AAA bond rating.
“It’s a true measure of managing our money well and making great investments,” said Hynes. ”Arlington is economically vibrant. We’ve weathered this recent recession rather well when you look across the country.”
Despite the current stability, Hynes recognized that uncertainty with the federal government could have an impact on Arlington in the future.
“We have depended on a growing federal government to create opportunities,” Hynes said. “This formula has worked to date, but we all know it could change as Congress grapples and comes to terms with the federal deficit.”
Arlington recently has felt the pinch from the federal government due to a loss of workers from the Defense Department’s recent round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) moves.
“We know that our office buildings’ largest tenant is the federal government,” Hynes said. “BRAC taught us that we need to be prepared for potentially fewer federal tenants and more vacant space.”
Hynes noted that moves were made to counteract the loss of workers through BRAC. For example, plans to strengthen Crystal City with new investments, and securing headquarters for big names like Deloitte, Boeing and DARPA.
“Unfortunately, assuming the future will be like the past doesn’t prepare us to address all the challenges that we’re going to face in the next few years,” said Hynes. “We need to take stock, anticipate the continuing and new challenges that will confront us, and make them opportunities rather than the threats they could become if we didn’t attend to them.”
In addition to the possibility of a shrinking federal government, Hynes listed terror threats and population growth as the other issues rounding out Arlington’s top three challenges. But she stressed that even with such significant trials, the county consistently takes charge of its assets and pulls through.
“None of it is easy, but it is doable,” Hynes said. “We’re blessed to live in this community with all of its challenges. It is still one of the very best places to live in America.”
During the State of the County speech, Hynes also touched on hot-button topics like Artisphere — the County Board is monitoring the cultural center’s quarterly financial reports, she said — and the Columbia Pike streetcar. It’s unlikely that the public will get to vote on the streetcar plan via a bond referendum in the fall, Hynes said.
A plan for changing the way the county’s middle schools do class scheduling appears to be on the chopping block, at least for now. The Arlington Public Schools proposal to implement block scheduling at middle schools will not happen in the 2013-2014 school year, after all.
The change would have extended core class times for subjects like English, math, social studies, science and world languages, but would have reduced the number of classes per day. Longer “block” periods for sixth graders would have been 76 minutes, and would increase to 93 minutes for seventh and eighth graders. Electives like music and arts would have remained at the current, shorter length.
Many parents fought the change, raising concerns with children of that age having to concentrate for such long periods of time, and about eliminating electives.
At last night’s School Board meeting, there was a presentation laying out what APS has learned about public reception to block scheduling and how it plans to go forward. Through means like community forums, staff meetings, online surveys and individual feedback forms, APS discovered that block scheduling largely isn’t something middle school parents are interested in. APS said it heard that parents prefer focusing on issues like providing more languages for students, maintaining electives and ensuring appropriate reading instruction.
The change has been in the works for five years, but consideration of the plan had been delayed earlier this year, due to outcry from parents. At the time, APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy said postponing a decision would allow for more time to adequately discuss the issue with families.
Although block scheduling will no longer begin in 2013, it’s not permanently off the table. The board is examining ways to make it work in the future. Of particular interest is finding alternative ways to increase the amount of time spent on core content areas. The length of schools days and start times will also come under review.
Even though the plan was nixed for middle schools system-wide, individual schools have the option of exploring their own flexible block schedules. Block scheduling is already in place at Yorktown, Wakefield and Washington-Lee high schools.
(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) About two dozen firefighters battled a fire at the Lucky Seven Food Mart at 2406 Shirlington Road in the Nauck neighborhood this morning.
The original call for smoke and flames coming from the store’s roof came in around 9:30 a.m., and drew firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria, Ft. Myer and Fairfax County.
Firefighters used picks and chainsaws to cut holes in the roof in an effort to extinguish the flames. Other firefighters inside the store used thermal imagers to find hotspots in the ceiling.
The spectacle attracted a crowd of nearly three dozen neighbors. Shirlington Road was closed in both directions during the fire, forcing cars and buses to find alternate routes.
No injuries were reported.
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Today’s heat advisory has been extended through 10:00 p.m. on Thursday. From the National Weather Service:
… HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM EDT THURSDAY…
* HEAT INDEX VALUES… 100 TO 105 DEGREES TODAY AND AROUND 105 DEGREES THURSDAY. OVERNIGHT HEAT INDEX REMAINING ABOVE 80 DEGREES IN THE SUBURBS AND NEAR 90 DEGREES IN THE URBAN CENTERS.
* TEMPERATURES… HIGH TEMPERATURES TODAY AND THURSDAY IN THE UPPER 90S TO AROUND 100. LOW TEMPERATURES TONIGHT IN THE MID 70S AND LOWER 80S.
* IMPACT… THOSE OUTDOORS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME AS WELL AS THOSE PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE TO THE HEAT WILL BE AT RISK FOR HEAT EXHAUSTION AND OTHER HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS.
Arlington County has a list of “hot tips for keeping cool” on its website.
WMATA announced this morning that it is making an exception to its “no drinking” policy to allow customers to drink water on the Metro system.
Building Boom in D.C., Arlington — In 2011, an otherwise slow year for residential construction, Arlington and the District of Columbia captured a disproportionately large portion of local building projects. According to the Washington Post: “… while the District and Arlington County have historically accounted for only about 8 percent of the region’s residential building permits over the past two decades, these two jurisdictions accounted for 36 percent of the building activity in 2011.” [Washington Post]
Moran Horse Slaughter Ban Passes Committee — A bill championed by Rep. Jim Moran (D), which would effectively ban the slaughter of horses for food, has passed the House Appropriations Committee. Moran tried to insert language banning horse slaughter in an agriculture bill last year, but the provision was ultimately removed. [Office of Rep. Jim Moran]
Mid-Week Movie at Westover Library — Looking for a way to beat the heat today? The Westover branch library (1644 N. McKinley Road) will be screening the film Pride as part of its summer mid-week movie series. The series features movies with “sporting themes,” in honor of the Summer Olympics. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick