The southbound lanes of S. Walter Reed Drive are expected to remain closed throughout Wednesday’s evening rush hour as crews work to repair a large water main break.
The 16-inch water main burst this morning on Walter Reed Drive near Pollard Street, causing a messy and slippery commute for some drivers as the water runoff turned to ice. Crews thought they had isolated the leak around 11:00 a.m., but we’re told that the leak reopened this afternoon, meaning the repairs will take longer than first hoped.
Police are on scene helping to control traffic. A detour has been set up for those heading southbound on Walter Reed Drive between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. One northbound lane of Walter Reed Drive remains open.
“At this point, lane closures and detours are expected to stay through rush hour,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.
(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Arlington has largely wrapped up its snowplowing effort following Monday’s snowstorm.
As of last night residential roads were “essentially plowed,” with the exception of some streets that were “packed down ice after the cold temperatures,” according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.
“Driving conditions are stable, and residents should drive with care,” Mincher said. “Several snowplows are out working this morning on reported requests or any issues with schools. Plows have ceased active street-to-street plowing, and we are applying salt or sand in areas with significant need such as hills.”
County crews — more than 40 trucks — were in “full snow mode,” plowing and treating Arlington’s nearly 1,000 lane miles of roadway, from midnight Sunday to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night, according to Mincher.
A high temperature in the mid-40s and plenty of sunshine today is expected to continue to melt the snow, slush and ice that remains on local streets.
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) A woman has died after being struck by a dump truck on N. Little Falls Road, in front of Nottingham Elementary School.
The incident happened around 11:30 a.m. as the woman was placing a young child in the rear seat of her minivan, which was parked on the side of the street, according to police. The force of the collision sheared off the van door but the child was uninjured.
The woman, identified as 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson, was reported to be unconscious when paramedics arrived. She was rushed to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital but died this afternoon, police said.
The child was not a student at the school, but Lawson does have other children who attend the school, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Michael Watson. The child, a little girl, could be seen being picked up from the school by a friend or family member about an hour after the incident.
Little Falls Road was shut down for most of the day as police investigated the accident. It as since reopened.
The truck belongs to Titan Erosion Control of Manassas. So far there’s no word on any pending charges against the driver.
“The investigation remains ongoing,” Watson told ARLnow.com around 5:00 p.m. Witnesses who have not yet talked to officers are being encouraged to call police.
“Police are asking that anyone with any information regarding this accident contact Arlington County Police Detective Mohammed Tabibi at (703) 228-4618, or at Mtabibi@arlingtonva.us,” ACPD said via a press release.
A monster pothole has been claiming hubcaps and testing the suspensions of unsuspecting drivers in Pentagon City.
The pothole is located on S. Joyce Street, across from Pentagon Row. As of last night, it measured approximately 4 feet by 4 feet, with a depth of 6 to 9 inches. That makes it even bigger than our previous contender for biggest pothole in Arlington, which was located on N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon.
The pothole was consistently being run over by the right tires of vehicles last night, occasionally producing a loud thud from those with smaller vehicles or tighter suspensions.
The pothole has been there for at least two weeks, and has been growing bigger by the day. Myllisa Kennedy, spokeswoman for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, suggested that the maintenance crews responsible for filling potholes have been slowed down by recent snowstorms.
“Crews have had to shift back and forth between pothole/other maintenance work and snow because of all the storms — doing as much as they can when the weather is cooperating,” she said via email.
Kennedy explained that Arlington County prefers to use a more durable method of pothole repair, which requires better weather conditions than the more temporary alternative.
“Crews fix the potholes using a longer lasting ‘hot’ mix – as opposed to a ‘cold’ mix used for temporary repairs in some places — whenever possible to reduce the likelihood we have to come back around and fix the same pothole,” she wrote.
The harsh winter is producing more potholes this year, Kennedy said. Maintenance crews are expected to be back out on the streets today trying to catch up on the pothole backlog.
“The severe weather fluctuations this winter are leading to more potholes earlier in the season and thus there is a need to for crews to start focusing on pothole repairs sooner than they would in milder winters,” said Kennedy. “Our plan is to get back out and continue filling the potholes County-wide. Our streets crews, which total about 35 employees, will be out on the roadways today, throughout this month, and well into the spring working to fix the potholes caused by this year’s extreme freeze and thaw weather. We will also bring in contractors to help with larger potholes and patches.”
The second act of today’s snowstorm has arrived, with a couple more inches of snow expected to accumulate.
The snow returned just as Arlington road crews were starting to tackle still snow-covered neighborhood streets. It could force the snow plows to continue focusing on primary and secondary arteries while the residential roads remain barely, if at all passable.
“Crews have moved into residential streets with a focus on school related routes,” Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services tweeted late this afternoon (Thursday). “Additional snow late could affect progress on residential/neighborhood streets.”
From DES, later: ”Big, heavy snow flakes falling again. Although many main roads are clear, please don’t drive so plows can continue to do job.”
DES said that it could take up to 36-48 hours to clear roads after a 10-inch snowfall, which Arlington is on the verge of reaching, depending where in the county you were measuring.
The snow caused other, unexpected problems on the roads in some parts of Arlington.
On Lee Highway, near Rosslyn, a nearly half-mile-long portion of the fence that runs along I-66 collapsed onto one of the still snow-covered travel lanes, according to police radio traffic.
In Courthouse, a gigantic mound of plowed snow was piled up in the median, blocking a crosswalk adjacent to the Metro station. That is creating a hazard for pedestrians and drivers alike.
VDOT said tonight, before the snow started falling again, that it was making progress clearing roads in Northern Virginia.
“Interstates are mostly clear and wet,” VDOT said. “Primary roads are partially clear with some lanes open and many secondary roads remain snow-covered.”
VDOT warned that a refreeze may make driving even more treacherous overnight.
“Roads that appear to be bare pavement may become slick from sleet and refreeze,” the agency warned.
Other transportation options were slowly returning Thursday night.
Reagan National Airport’s main runway was back open as of 5:05 p.m., allowing some flights in and out. Still, many flights were canceled as a result of the 7 inches of wet snow that fell, making it difficult for crew to clear runways and taxiways.
“There have been significant flight cancellations throughout the day,” the airport authority said on its website. “Check with your airline for flight information and do not drive to the airport before confirming the status of your flight.”
Metrorail continued to operate on a near-normal schedule. Metrobuses are now running on major arteries again.
ART bus service, however, is still suspended. Arlington Transit said it will wait until 10:00 tonight to post an update on planned ART and STAR service tomorrow.
The National Weather Service, meanwhile, says that the D.C. area could receive another 2-4 inches of snow tonight before the winter storm system finally moves out.
… HEAVY SNOW TO IMPACT AREAS EAST OF BLUE RIDGE INCLUDING THE GREATER METROPOLITAN AREAS OF WASHINGTON AND BALTIMORE THROUGH MIDNIGHT…
AREAS OF MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW WILL IMPACT THE REGION THROUGH MIDNIGHT… WHERE 2 TO 4 INCHES OF NEW SNOWFALL ACCUMULATION CAN BE EXPECTED AS AN UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCE MOVES THROUGH THE AREA. AT 600 PM… MOST LOCATIONS HAVE TRANSITIONED TO ALL SNOW AFTER THE SLEET AND RAIN FROM EARLIER IN THE AFTERNOON.
THE AREAS OF HEAVIEST SNOWFALL WILL OCCUR ALONG AND EAST OF INTERSTATE 95… AND ALSO IN HOWARD AND CARROLL COUNTIES IN MARYLAND.
THIS ADDITIONAL SNOWFALL WILL MAKE TRAVEL HAZARDOUS AS ROADS WILL ONCE AGAIN BECOME SNOW COVERED. VISIBILITIES WILL BE LOWERING TO BELOW 1/4 MILE AT TIMES… SO TRAVEL IS NOT ADVISED UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.
Morning rush hour traffic on Columbia Pike has gone from bad to worse thanks to a new traffic pattern at the Washington Boulevard interchange, drivers tell us.
Two weeks ago VDOT, as part of its Route 27/244 interchange project, altered the traffic pattern for vehicles heading eastbound on Columbia Pike. Drivers heading toward northbound I-395 now have to turn left at the traffic signal on S. Quinn Street, whereas before northbound and southbound traffic could both take the right-hand ramp that also leads to southbound I-395.
Last week, one reader told us the new traffic pattern was a “disaster,” with eastbound Pike traffic backed up to S. Courthouse Road at 7:45 a.m. Today (Wednesday), another reader said that traffic was backed up to S. Walter Reed Drive at 8:15 a.m.
“That is absolutely ridiculous,” said Thierry Driscoll, a Pike commuter who now uses S. Courthouse Road as a shortcut to Washington Boulevard. “There are cars backed up in the left lane of Columbia Pike waiting to take a left onto the Washington Blvd access ramp, but cannot because the access ramp is full.”
“There is no excuse for such a boneheaded design,” he continued. “This new pattern has inconvenienced a lot of people.”
VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord says the current traffic pattern is temporary and will be in place for another 8-12 months while new ramps are built.
“We realize it’s slower for drivers trying to get to I-395N since they have to yield to the oncoming traffic,” she said. “Our folks… added as much time as possible to the left-turn signal” to alleviate some of the traffic.
“No more significant changes” are planned, said McCord. She advised using S. Glebe Road as a possible alternate route to I-395 for those heading from western portions of Columbia Pike.
From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the ramp will be closed to traffic. It will be re-opened in time for the evening rush hour.
“Crews are completing a concrete median barrier here,” said VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord. “Keep in mind it’s weather permitting… although scheduled I doubt there will be any work on Thursday this week.”
These closures are happening about a month before the ramp from eastbound Route 50 to the 10th Street N. bridge is expected to open, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation project page.
The $39 million is still projected to be completed by the middle of this year. The entire interchange will look different, with ramps to 10th Street N. and Courthouse Road from both EB and WB Route 50, and a signalized “T” intersection at Fairfax Drive and the Courthouse Road ramp.
This pothole, on N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon, is one of the biggest we’ve seen in Arlington.
It’s about two feet across and several inches deep. But is it actually the biggest in Arlington, which is being plagued by potholes as a result of the especially cold and damp winter?
If you’ve seen one that might be bigger, let us know in the comments. And post a photo, if you have one.
Update at 3:40 p.m. — Two westbound lanes of Route 50 have reopened.
The westbound lanes of Route 50 are shut down just past Courthouse Road due to a vehicle fire.
The fire has been extinguished but smoke can still be seen coming from the vehicle.
There’s little relief in sight for drivers and bus riders traveling down some rough portions of Columbia Pike.
Arlington County is planning to finish repaving the section of the Pike from S. Wakefield Street to Four Mile Run Drive by April, but so far the county has no plans to repave the increasingly pockmarked eastern portion of the Pike, including the “Pike Town Center” business district, within the next six months. Potholes are expected to be filled by this spring, but a full repaving could be several years away.
“Over the next several years, Arlington County will continue with utility undergrounding and street improvement projects, which will include roadway paving in three areas on Columbia Pike: Four Mile Run Bridge to County Line, South Oakland Street to South Wakefield Street, and South Garfield Street to South Rolfe Street,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher tells ARLnow.com. As of last year, the streetscape improvement project was expected to run through 2018.
Apart from the Columbia Pike streetcar, which is a separate project, planned street improvements for the Pike include a repaved roadway, better pedestrian facilities, more street trees and planted medians. But for some Pike residents and business owners, those improvements are too slow in coming.
“I do believe that the delays they are having with the transportation issues will eventually halt all momentum the Pike has had with growth,” said Sybil Robinson, who owns Twisted Vines Wine Bar and Bottleshop (2803 Columbia Pike). ”Businesses that opened here with the promise of increased foot traffic and customer base may have to close since they’ve been just getting by for years now. We’re all trying to share the same small customer base that lives in the area. Once places start to close, you can forget new businesses coming here.”
Takis Karantonis, executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, says he appreciates the improvements but is worried about the “glacial pace” of some projects.
“While the driver’s experience on the Pike… is very challenging, it is the pedestrian realm what concerns us the most,” he said. ”Utility undergrounding and streetscape improvements have been taking more time than anybody would have had anticipated. This is a challenge for everybody, but especially for businesses along our corridor… reliable timelines are of essence.”
Robinson said she’s heard complaints specifically about the rough roadway, but doesn’t actually think that particular problemn has has much of a direct impact on her business.
“We’ve definitely had customers complain about the road conditions, but as soon as they fix one problem spot, another pops up,” said Sybil Robinson, who owns Twisted Vines Wine Bar and Bottleshop (2803 Columbia Pike). “In terms of business impact, I don’t think it has hurt us too much. Most of our customers live on or near the Pike and the road conditions impact them on a daily basis going to and from work — so they know what to expect.”
Arlington County took responsibility for the maintenance of Columbia Pike from VDOT in 2010. John Antonelli, a Pike resident and an outspoken streetcar critic, says the county is shirking a neighborly duty by leaving the Pike in a state of disrepair.
“Arlington County has to understand that part of being a gateway community is to be a gateway,” he said. “Columbia Pike is a commuter road to the Pentagon and it behooves us as a good neighbor to ensure that our businesses and their employees and customers can get to and from as quickly as possible.”
“It’s a mess,” Antonelli added, about the Pike. “But it is more driveable now then it will be if they put the trolley in.”
One bit of good news for drivers is that VDOT is planning to repave Columbia Pike from S. Quinn Street to S. Orme Street next, as part of its Columbia Pike/Washington Blvd interchange project, according to VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord.
The evening drive has gotten a bit tougher for some commuters.
Arlington Ridge Road will be closed in both directions between the ramp to and from I-395 and 20th Street S. through the evening rush hour, according to an Arlington Alert. The closure is due to a water main break.
Drivers are advised to seek alternate routes.
Updated at 3:10 p.m. — Westbound Lee Highway will remain closed during the evening rush hour between N. Buchanan Street and N. Columbus Street as crews continue water main repairs. Seek alternate routes if possible.
The westbound lanes of Lee Highway are shut down near Glebe Road due to a reported water main break.
We’re told that both westbound lanes of Lee Highway are closed between N. Columbus and Buchanan Streets, just west of Glebe Road. Eastbound lanes remain open. Repairs are expected to take the better part of the day.
Businesses in the area are being impacted by the water main break.
“Businesses along Lee Hwy between N. Culpeper St and N. Glebe Rd will be without water for up to 5 hours as repairs are underway,” Arlington County said.
One possible detour for drivers would be to go north on Glebe Road, turn left on 25th Street N., then left on George Mason Drive, before returning to Lee Highway.
Image via Google Maps
With rapid changes in temperature and various types of liquid and frozen precipitation falling, potholes are beginning to appear with increased frequency around Arlington.
One such pothole, on Lorcom Lane just west of the intersection with Spout Run Parkway, is 3 inches deep at its lowest point. This afternoon it announced itself to passersby with a “thunk” each time an unsuspecting driver rolled over it.
Police radio traffic indicates there are several other significant potholes causing minor traffic problems in other parts of the county. Arlington officials say they’re trying to stay on top of such reports and fill in the pesky potholes as quickly as they can.
“The county has already tried to start our push on pothole work, beginning with two or three full days including work over a weekend,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher said. “Temperatures in the teens and inclement weather have slowed down this effort. We will devote additional resources to potholes as we can in the next week or two, and then continue filling work through the winter and into spring when many potholes appear.”
Residents who observe potholes in Arlington can report it online directly to county staff.
Drivers heading toward northbound I-395 will now turn left at the traffic signal on S. Quinn Street and bear right to merge onto the interstate, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Those going south will drive through the intersection with S. Quinn Street and use the ramp on the right.
That’s a change from before, when northbound and southbound traffic could both take the ramp. VDOT workers will be on the road today making the switch, which is expected to be complete by 5:00 p.m.
VDOT also announced that Columbia Pike will be closed to drivers between S. Queen Street and Orme Street each of the next three weekends as workers demolish the old Washington Blvd overpass. The closure will begin at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow night until 4:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 3, and it will be closed again at the same times Feb. 7-10 and Feb. 14-17.
The demolition is the next phase in the $51.5 million Washington Blvd improvement project, still slated to be finished in the summer of 2015.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) A car has flipped on its roof on I-66 near Rosslyn.
Police and firefighters are responded to the scene, on eastbound I-66 just before Route 110 and the Roosevelt Bridge. Units on the scene reported one person trapped inside the vehicle, but that individual was soon extricated and transported to the hospital.
All but one lane of traffic was blocked at the accident scene, but fire department units have since cleared the scene and traffic is flowing again.