Starting at 10:00 p.m. Friday and continuing until closing Sunday, East Falls Church and points west will not have Metrorail service.
An express bus will travel from Ballston to Vienna and add approximately 25 minutes of travel time. Local buses will stop at East Falls Church, West Falls Church, Dunn Loring and Vienna, taking approximately 15 minutes between each stop.
The station closures will allow track maintenance and signal system testing in preparation for the opening of the Silver Line.
Trains on the Orange Line will run every 24 minutes from 10:00 p.m. tonight (Friday) through system closing on Monday. The normal interval is every 12-20 minutes.
WMATA says the delays are necessary in order to facilitate various improvement projects.
“Crews will continue platform reconstruction work at Deanwood and Minnesota Ave stations, as well as track maintenance, fastener renewal, and grout pad rehabilitation between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly,” the agency said. “In addition, signal system testing will continue for the new Silver Line.”
The altered schedule will begin Friday at 10:00 p.m. and continue until midnight on Sunday. According to Metro, the delays will be in place “to allow for NTSB-recommended track circuit replacement between Foggy Bottom and Smithsonian stations.”
Trains typically run every 12 to 20 minutes on weekend. Major track work on the Metro is expected to continue well into 2017.
The County Board approved an agreement with Fairfax County to move forward as partners in the Columbia Pike streetcar project Tuesday night, but the basic step with the already-approved transit system was again faced with opposition in the board room.
A number of speakers used the opportunity to again denounce the project. They were joined on the dais by Board member Libby Garvey, who made a motion to defer the vote until after a cost-benefit analysis could be done. Her motion died after it did not receive a second.
“This project feels so un-Arlington in its approach,” Garvey said. “We’re not quite sure what it’s going to need, what it’s going to cost… or where the money is coming from, but we’re determined to build it no matter what.”
The agreement passed Tuesday – which is expected to be approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors later this month — puts Arlington in line to pay for 80.4 percent of the planning and design phase of the project while Fairfax pays for 19.6 percent. The motion passed 4-to-1, with Garvey dissenting.
Board Chair Walter Tejada and Board member Chris Zimmerman reiterated that the streetcar project had already been approved following a public process, and the partnership agreement with Fairfax County was simply another in many steps the Board will need to approve before the streetcar can be built.
“This is essentially a routine matter to carry out a policy that’s already been established,” Zimmerman said. “Just saying a cost-benefit analysis hasn’t been done doesn’t make it true.”
The speakers came to the podium during the public comment portion of the meeting to air their grievances, which ranged from balking at the cost to accusing the County Board and County Manager Barbara Donnellan of “fraud.”
“We all know how congested Columbia Pike can get, and sadly, we remember tragedies that occurred there,” said Paul Watlington, a streetcar critic. “What I don’t understand is how we think we can have cars, bicycles, buses, school buses, and industrial vehicles all sharing lanes with a streetcar.”
Arlington was designated the lead partner in the agreement, and the Board also approved awarding a planning and design contract to AECOM for $999,131.
“I can think of several better things to spend $1,000,000 on than a trolley we don’t even know we have the money to build,” said Pike resident John Antonelli. We need to decide if we have the funds to build an expensive, maintenance intensive, and inflexible trolley system or if a rapid bus can fill the bill.”
In December, AECOM was the subject of some local intrigue after it was revealed that Zimmerman had done paid consulting work for the contractor’s Canadian division. In March he said he only made $510 from the arrangement.
Several speakers showed up in support of the streetcar project, with some saying they had bought houses along Columbia Pike once they heard of the streetcar.
“The streetcar is clearly the best option for the Pike,” Lander Allin said. “It will get the most people out of their cars and onto public transit, it will move the most people, it will do the most to spur the development that the community has decided that it wants.”
Update at 9:50 p.m. — WMATA has issued a statement apologizing for the “significant delays.” The disabled train was rendered inoperable by a brake malfunction, which also made it impossible to tow, WMATA said.
A train that became stuck just outside the Clarendon Metro station caused major delays on the Orange and Blue lines tonight.
The Vienna-bound train stopped outside the station between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. due to a mechanical problem. Immediately, commuters heading from D.C. to Virginia on the Orange and Blue lines started experiencing delays as Metro began single-tracking around the crippled train.
On Twitter, passengers reported overcrowded platforms, delays in excess of an hour, and a mad rush for buses, taxis and Uber cars outside stations. A compilation of some of the tweets can be found below, after the jump.
The disabled train was finally moved around 7:30 p.m. Riders were stranded on it for about 90 minutes.
“Passengers were transferred to a second train that was brought to the disabled train,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel told ARLnow.com. “They walked from the front car of the disabled train through the last door of the rescue train. Their total delay was quite significant due to train’s location on a grade.”
“Metro Transit Police boarded the train in the tunnel to make sure everyone was okay,” Stessel added. “Car maintenance techs also boarded while it was disabled.”
No medical issues were reported among the passengers.
Photo courtesy @afranz409
WMATA took to Twitter to inform passengers of the outage and that all of the station’s escalators and elevators are currently out of service. Buses have been requested to the station, the agency said.
Spokesman Dan Stessel said the localized power outage is “not a big deal” and the station is still open for business.
There have been no reports of delays from the outage.
In Virginia alone, nearly 72,000 DoD employees are affected by furloughs, which require one unpaid day off per week for 11 weeks. The state is expected to be particularly hard hit by the cuts due to the Pentagon being housed in Arlington.
It’s too early to definitively claim furloughs will ease traffic congestion, but AAA believes fewer people on the road could lead to less gridlock and fewer accidents. In fact, the organization suggests commutes could resemble those of July and August, when the region experiences its lowest traffic volume and rate of accidents.
“For all other workers, the morning and evening commutes to the daily grind could look like it does on any of the ten federal holidays in the Washington metro area or on Fridays, when federal workers use their flex-time schedules or compressed work weeks (AWS) to take time off,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.
AAA predicts Metrorail and Metrobus ridership may be affected as well. According to WMATA, nearly half of peak period commuters are federal employees and 35 Metrorail stations serve federal facilities, including the Pentagon in Arlington.
Rep. Jim Moran (D) took to Twitter earlier today to express his displeasure with the furloughs. He also sent the following statement to ARLnow.com:
“Due to sequestration, today marked the first of 11 furlough days for 650,000 DOD civilian employees. This 20 percent pay cut is the unfortunate and shameful result of Congress’ failure to work together to find an appropriate way to reduce the federal debt and deficit. I voted against the Budget Control Act that set up sequestration not only because it focused solely on cutting discretionary spending at the expense of increased revenues, but I feared that the Supercommittee could not find compromise. Congress must make tough choices, but we cannot balance the budget on the backs of our federal workers.”
The county pulled all three of its electric-natural gas hybrid buses from service after one of them suffered an apparent brake failure and rolled backward down N. Barton Street, directly into a car.
A statement from ART reads: “These three buses were thoroughly tested at the Altoona Bus Testing and Research Center before delivery to ART. Braking performance of all three buses was recently retested in varying conditions – and proved excellent… The knowledge acquired from recent testing and data has been applied in a retraining program for ART operators, to insure that safety, mechanical and operational aspects meet our expectations for service quality.”
The hybrids are manufactured by DesignLine and first appeared on Arlington streets last September.
Starting next week, some riders of the two major bus service providers in Arlington will notice schedule changes.
Metrobus will begin its service changes this Sunday, June 30. Different schedules will go into effect on various lines throughout the metro area, but the following are the major changes in Arlington:
16A, 16B, 16D, 16E, 16J, 16P Columbia Pike
- A new time-point will be created at Columbia Pike and Orme Street due to the demolition of Navy Annex. The westbound time-point for Columbia Pike and John Marr Drive will be moved one stop east to Columbia Pike & Evergreen Lane to allow for a common time-point for all lines. Scheduled times will be adjusted one minute earlier from the times shown for the John Marr Drive time-points.
16G, 16H, 16K Columbia Heights West-Pentagon City
- A new time-point will be created at Columbia Pike and Orme Street due to the demolition of Navy Annex.
16X MetroExtra Columbia Pike-Federal Triangle
- The westbound trip leaving 11th and E Street NW to Pentagon at 6:40 p.m. will be extended to Culmore arriving at 7:23 p.m. in response to customer requests for a later limited stop trip to Culmore.
- MetroExtra designated stops will be added at Columbia Pike and Oakland Street in response to customer requests. This location is halfway between existing MetroExtra stops at Glebe Road and George Mason Drive. Scheduled trips will be adjusted by one minute to accommodate the additional stop at Oakland Street.
- Weekday peak a.m. westbound and p.m. eastbound short trips between Pentagon and Federal Triangle will be adjusted to operate every 20-35 minutes. Trips leaving Federal Triangle at 9:24 a.m. and 9:44 a.m. and Pentagon Station at 6:40 p.m. will be discontinued.
16Y MetroExtra Columbia Pike-Farragut Square
- MetroExtra designated stops will be added at Columbia Pike and Oakland Street in response to requests from customers. This is approximately halfway between existing MetroExtra stops at Glebe Road and George Mason Drive. Scheduled times will be adjusted by one minute to accommodate the additional stop at Oakland Street.
Information about all the schedule changes throughout the system can be found on WMATA’s website.
Changes to ART 45, 53 and 75 schedules will go into effect on Monday, July 1. They are as follows:
- Will no longer serve S. Greenbrier Street. Instead, from Carlin Springs Road, the route will remain on 8th Road past Greenbrier, turn right onto S. Dinwiddie St. and then turn left onto Columbia Pike. The schedule will remain the same. ART 41 will continue to serve S. Greenbrier Street.
- The following bus stops will no longer be served by ART 45: Columbia Pike EB at S. Frederick St (#75106), S. Greenbrier St SB at #835 (#45015)
- The following bus stops will be added to the ART 45 route: 8th Road S. EB at #5100 (#15041), S. Dinwiddie Street SB at 8th Road S. (#41233), S. Dinwiddie Street SB at Columbia Pike, NS (#41001)
- A new extension to Westover will be added to the route during morning and evening rush hours. The extension will go from East Falls Church Metro, down Washington Blvd. to Westover and then loop back to Washington Blvd. via Patrick Henry Drive and 16th St. N./N. Longfellow St. The extension will serve the shops at Westover, Swanson Middle School and the Westover Library.
- New eastbound bus stops will be located at: Washington Blvd and N. Quantico Street, Washington Blvd and N. Ohio Street, Washington Blvd. and N. McKinley Street
- New westbound bus stops will be located at: Patrick Henry Drive and Washington Blvd., N. Longfellow Street and Washington Blvd., Washington Blvd. and N. McKinley Road, Washington Blvd. and N. Ohio Street, Washington Blvd. and N. Quantico Street.
- Schedule frequency will be changed to every 30 minutes during morning and evening rush hours and every 45 minutes between 9:00 a.m.-2:15 p.m. and after 8:00 p.m.
More information about the ART changes, including route maps and full schedules, can be found on the Arlington Transit website.
(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Arlington County has launched an independent review of the $1 million Walter Reed Super Stop on Columbia Pike.
One topic that’s likely to come up during the review: the electronic information board that displays bus arrivals times.
The display is undoubtedly useful, but is it accurate? At least one tipster says no.
“The ‘Next Bus’ information that is posted is often incorrect,” we were told. “You may wish to look into that.”
A brief point-in-time test of bus arrival times, however, showed that the display was actually fairly accurate. Over the course of an hour and a half during an evening rush hour last week, ARLnow.com wrote down predicted bus arrival times and compared it to actual arrival times.
We kept track of 15 buses, noting posted arrival times an average of 25 minutes ahead of the projected arrival. The result: an average variance of just 2 minutes and 40 seconds between projected arrival and actual arrival. The biggest gap between projection and arrival: 9 minutes.
If you catch the bus at the Walter Reed stop, how has your experience been with the electronic display and its bus arrival times?
In a press release, the county says contractors will be conducting a “comprehensive review of the performance, cost, design and construction” of the bus stop. The review will include three primary components: interviews with bus stop users, a design review, and a financial and performance assessment.
Clarendon-based NeoNiche Strategies has been tapped to survey Super Stop users, per a $7,500 contract, while Arlington is still in negotiations with firms for the other two contracts, according to county spokeswoman Laura G. Smith. She declined to estimate the cost of the remaining two contracts, citing the ongoing negotiations.
“The goal of the review… is to facilitate the construction of the remaining planned stops faster, at lower cost and with improved functionality where necessary,” said the press release.
Completed in March, the bus stop features shelter for some 15 passengers, lighting, heating, and an electronic display that shows when the next buses are coming, but at a construction cost of more than $1 million.
The cost of the stop, and some of its perceived shortfalls — like lack of shelter from the elements — sparked a controversy that became national news and prompted the county to announce a “reassessment” of its design and cost within just two weeks of its opening. Twenty-three other planned Super Stops on the Pike, expected to cost around $900,000 apiece, were put on hold.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan says the project will proceed once the review is complete and an acceptable, lower-cost alternative is found.
“Arlington is committed to investing in the Columbia Pike corridor and providing quality transportation options to meet the community’s current and future transit needs,” Donnellan said in a statement. “We look forward to the findings of these reviews and will take steps necessary to ensure the construction of future stops at a significantly lower cost while maintaining functionality and the amenities needed for a high-capacity station.”
The review process is expected to wrap up in late fall 2013.
“The County Manager, after consulting with Arlington County Board Members and WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority), will announce her decision later this year,” according to the press release, which blamed the high cost of the first stop on a number of factors.
The Walter Reed Super Stop was a first-of-its-kind, high capacity transit stop. The Super Stop was designed to serve the growing number of riders along this heavily utilized transit corridor and to handle the projected increase in future riders expected with Columbia Pike streetcar. The completed prototype features a design to attract new riders, and includes expanded shelter and seating, lights, real-time electronic arrival displays, level boarding for bus passengers, transit maps, signage and more.
Over the course of the construction of Walter Reed Drive prototype stop, set-up costs, construction challenges and delays, and design refinements increased the total cost of the project. Due to the higher-than-expected cost and functionality concerns, the County Manager placed construction of the future 23 Super Stops on hold pending completion of the review.
Earlier this year, county officials directed blame for the extra costs and delays on WMATA, which managed the construction of the first stop.
It seems like nearly every weekend there’s track work impacting Arlington Metro riders. Not this weekend, though — the only track work causing delays is on the Red Line.
In case you want to plan for future weekend Metro delays and closures, the agency has released a schedule of major track work planned through the end of the year. The work includes Silver Line testing and track maintenance.
The weekend projects impacting Arlington riders:
- July 27-28 and Aug. 24-25 – Ballston is the western end of the Orange Line, with East Falls Church and other stations closed.
- Sept. 7-8 — East Falls Church station closed, buses replace trains between Ballston and West Falls Church.
- Oct. 26-27 — L’Enfant Plaza station closed, buses replace trains between the Pentagon and Archives.
- Dec. 7-8 — Reagan National Airport and Crystal City stations closed, buses replace trains between Braddock Road and Pentagon City.
- Dec. 14-15 — Pentagon station closed, buses replace trains between Pentagon City and Arlington Cemetery/L’Enfant Plaza.
- Dec. 21-22 — Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations closed, buses replace trains between Court House/Pentagon and Foggy Bottom.
The schedule may change, Metro said, depending on weather and construction delays.
Closing stations and doing major work on weekends “allows Metro to complete rebuilding work faster and safer, while allowing trains outside of the work zones to operate with fewer delays,” the agency said. “While there will be delays and inconvenience associated with the critical work we’re undertaking, please be assured that we will take all possible steps to minimize your inconvenience.”
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
Around 9:45 a.m., transit police responded to the Arlington Cemetery station for a report of a suspicious man seen urinating on a Blue Line train and walking between the cars. The train was held at the station as a transit police officer attempted to deal with the suspect.
From Metro spokesman Dan Stessel:
The officer directed the subject to exit the train. He refused to comply. She then asked the other passengers to clear the car for their safety, at which point the male moved past the officer, exited the train and ran toward the end of the platform, pushing other patrons as he attempted to enter the track area.
When confronted again on the platform, the subject attempted to push past the officer, and the officer used her department-issued [pepper] spray to gain control of the situation. The adult male was arrested for Assault on Police Officer. The railcar was isolated and passengers were moved to other cars of the train. Other charges may follow.
An Arlington paramedic unit responded to treat the suspect and the officer for pepper spray-related symptoms. Neither required transport to the hospital, Stessel said.
The 22-year-old suspect was arrested and processed at the Arlington County Detention Center.
A noted streetcar critic will address a meeting of the Northern Virginia Tea Party on Tuesday.
The event is scheduled from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road). Randal O’Toole, a transportation expert at the libertarian CATO Institute, will “speak about current transportation policy issues, including the Columbia Pike streetcar.”
O’Toole wrote the book The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths: How Smart Growth Will Harm American Cities in 2001, and published a policy analysis entitled “The Great Streetcar Conspiracy” last year. The analysis says municipal streetcar systems are being encouraged by the federal government and by “engineering firms that stand to earn millions of dollars planning, designing, and building streetcar lines.”
“Streetcars are the latest urban planning fad, stimulated partly by the Obama administration’s preference for funding transportation projects that promote ‘livability’ (meaning living without automobiles) rather than mobility or cost-effective transportation,” O’Toole wrote.
“Based on 19th-century technology, the streetcar has no place in American cities today except when it functions as part of a completely self-supporting tourist line. Instead of subsidizing streetcars, cities should concentrate on basic — and modern — services such as fixing streets, coordinating traffic signals, and improving roadway safety.”
(Supporters argue that a modern streetcar system is a clean and efficient transportation solution that reduces traffic congestion and promotes economic development.)
Tuesday’s event is free and open to the public. “Extensive free parking in the evening is available at the rear of the adjacent elementary school,” according to the event invitation.
Photo via CATO Institute
The intoxicated man was sitting on a wall and fell backwards, according to Arlington County Fire Battalion Chief Daniel Fitch. He became wedged between the platform wall and the station wall.
About a dozen firefighters and medics are attempting to render assistance to the man. Due to his large size, however, the man has thus far been unable to get back up to the platform, Fitch said.
So far, no disruptions to Metro service have been reported as a result of the incident.