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Drivers: New Pike Traffic Pattern is Causing Big Backups

by ARLnow.com | February 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm | 2,578 views | No Comments

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.

Traffic pattern change at the Columbia Pike/Washington Boulevard interchangeLast 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.”

Map of the planned Washington Boulevard/Columbia Pike interchangeDriscoll said it takes 10-15 minutes to get from the start of the backups to Washington Blvd.

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.

Courthouse Road Ramp Closure This Week

by Ethan Rothstein | February 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm | 1,050 views | No Comments

Courthouse Road bridge closure(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) The ramp from N. Courthouse Road to eastbound Route 50 is scheduled to be closed during the day today, tomorrow and Thursday.

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.

Is This the Biggest Pothole in Arlington?

by ARLnow.com | February 11, 2014 at 9:45 am | 4,343 views | No Comments

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.

No Paving Planned for Pockmarked Pike Stretch

by ARLnow.com | February 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 1,431 views | No Comments

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.

Arlington Ridge Road Closed Due to Water Main Break

by ARLnow.com | February 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm | 580 views | No Comments

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: WB Lee Hwy Closed Due to Water Main Break

by ARLnow.com | February 7, 2014 at 8:20 am | 650 views | No Comments

Lee Highway water main breakUpdated 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

Potholes Making Their Mark Across Arlington

by Ethan Rothstein | February 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm | 1,172 views | No Comments

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.

New Traffic Pattern on Columbia Pike Takes Effect Today

by Ethan Rothstein | January 30, 2014 at 11:30 am | 2,161 views | No Comments

Interchange of Columbia PIke and I-395 (via Google Maps)(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) Starting today, drivers heading eastbound on Columbia Pike toward I-395 will be following a new traffic pattern.

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

Car Flips on Roof on I-66 Near Rosslyn

by ARLnow.com | January 22, 2014 at 3:35 pm | 2,137 views | No Comments

(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.

Roads Become Covered As Snowstorm Ramps Up

by ARLnow.com | January 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 1,283 views | No Comments

(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Road conditions around Arlington are bad and are only expected to get worse as today’s snowstorm increases in intensity around rush hour.

Numerous crashes, involving cars, postal vehicles and buses, have been reported on Arlington’s roads and highways this afternoon. Other vehicles are getting stuck or spinning out of control on snow-covered hills. Sections of George Mason Drive and Carlin Springs Road are particularly treacherous, we hear.

ART buses are operating under a Severe Weather Policy, with limited service for ART 41, 51 and 77 routes and all other routes cancelled.

Via Twitter, Arlington residents report 1.5 to 3 inches of snow on the ground so far, with higher amounts generally to the north. The National Weather Service says 6-10 inches of snow will fall by the time the flakes tapers off tonight.

In addition to the snow, frigid temperatures and high winds are expected to bring additional wintry misery tonight. The predicted -5 to -15 degree wind chills prompted a plea from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).

“I urge every Virginian to make proper preparations as this storm moves in and brings snow, potentially life-threatening low temperatures and high winds,” Gov. McAuliffe said in a statement. “Unfortunately, injuries and even deaths from hypothermia, heart attack, stroke and traffic crashes are all too common during the winter storms of this type. Don’t travel unnecessarily, and be prepared to stay where you are until conditions improve.”

Photos: Boat Accidentally Sails Down Lee Highway

by Ethan Rothstein | December 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm | 4,590 views | No Comments

A boat fell off its trailer on Lee Highway in Cherrydale Saturday evening, requiring a 40-ton crane and several hours to remove it from the roadway.

The boat belongs to Tom McNulty, a Yorktown resident who took his 16-foot Bayliner power boat out on the Potomac to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather on Saturday. Driving back on Lee Highway, McNulty said he hit a big bump in front of the Dunkin Donuts at 3520 Lee Highway.

“We weren’t going fast, maybe 27 or 30 mph,” McNulty told ARLnow.com today. “We hit the bump and the trailer doesn’t have any suspension. We felt it slide, slowed down, and that’s when it drifted into the right lane and hit a street light.”

McNulty said multiple safety chains and other securing mechanisms snapped, allowing the boat to come completely off the trailer. Once it hit the pavement, it slid down the road “about 100 feet,” McNulty said, leaving fiberglass residue all over the pavement.

The incident happened around 4:45 p.m. McNulty said it took about three hours for the crane — which was called in after a flatbed tow truck operator took one look at the boat and realized he could not tow it — to finally lift it and take it to a yard, where it now sits awaiting an insurance claims adjuster.

“My brother was the one who called it in, and the 911 dispatcher thought we said a bird in a road,” McNulty said. “I’m sure dispatch thought some idiot called in a bird in the road, so when they sent a squad car they realized what was actually happening.”

McNulty said there’s only superficial damage to the boat, but said this isn’t the first time he’s had problems keeping his boat out of harm’s way.

“A tree fell on my first boat,” he said. “During the derecho storm last year. This massive tree just came right down on it. I’m getting my pilot’s license next year so I hope I have better luck with planes.”

AAA Predicts Increase in Holiday Travel

by Katie Pyzyk | December 19, 2013 at 4:30 pm | 325 views | No Comments

Heavy traffic on I-395 (file photo)If you’re preparing to travel during the holidays, you’re in good company. AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts nearly half of the residents in the D.C. metro region will leave the area in the next few days.

Nearly 2.4 million people, or about 41 percent of the metro region’s population, are expected to travel 50 miles or more during the time period from this Saturday, December 21, through Wednesday, January 1. That’s a small increase of 0.1 percent over last year. This will be the fifth consecutive year for such an increase, and the highest recorded travel volume for the winter holiday season.

“Unfortunately, a number of Washingtonians sat out three of the first four holiday travel periods of the year as an upshot of all the political drama in the nation’s capital and the economic stress it engendered. But they will not be denied nor deny themselves or their families during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel period,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.

Air travel is expected to slightly decline to 129,300 travelers, compared with 130,400 last year. The number of people traveling by train or bus is also down this year, by about two percent. Automobile travel, however, is expected to increase by 0.3 percent, to more than 2.1 million people.

D.C. metro area residents plan on traveling an average of 965 miles for the holidays. That’s up from 805 miles last year.

Route 1 Wreck Involves Metrobus, Overturned Vehicle

by ARLnow.com | December 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm | 1,135 views | No Comments

(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) An accident  involving a Metrobus and an overturned vehicle has shut down two lanes of northbound traffic on Route 1 in Crystal City.

Police and medics are on the scene at Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) near 23rd Street S. One person suffered an arm injury in the accident, according to police radio traffic, and was transported from the scene in an ambulance.

Drivers should expect some traffic impacts in the area.

New Traffic Pattern Coming to Pike Interchange

by ARLnow.com | December 17, 2013 at 3:40 pm | 2,264 views | No Comments

Traffic pattern change at the Columbia Pike/Washington Boulevard interchangeUpdate at 10:00 a.m. — VDOT says the change has been postponed: “Please note this new pattern has been postponed until January due to additional signal work. A new date for the shift will be announced soon.”

A new traffic pattern will be in effect at the under-construction Columbia Pike and Washington Boulevard interchange starting Thursday.

VDOT says drivers heading eastbound on the Pike will now have a different way of getting to northbound I-395 (toward the District). Now, instead of bearing right after the light at S. Quinn Street, drivers will need to wait to turn left at the light, onto a new ramp to Washington Boulevard.

Those heading to southbound I-395 will still bear right onto the ramp after S. Quinn Street.

“Work to complete the switch will take place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday,” VDOT said in a press release. “Message signs will be in place to notify drivers of the new traffic pattern.”

“This new access is part of the $51.5 million project to replace the Washington Boulevard bridge over Columbia Pike,” the press release continued. “The project will be complete in summer 2015.”

As part of the project, the new bridge over Columbia Pike opened last month.

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