(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.”
WMATA says trains were single-tracking between Ballston and Clarendon due to a disabled train at Virginia Square. As of 9:35 a.m., WMATA says normal service has been restored.
Riders reported crowded station platforms and having to wait more than half an hour for an inbound train.
The $1 million Walter Reed “Super Stop” on Columbia Pike had its first big test of handing inclement winter weather over the weekend.
By at least one measure, it failed.
Part of the Super Stop’s bench was covered by snow Sunday, as a tweet from Arlington County Board candidate Peter Fallon showed.
“No, it doesn’t keep the snow out. :-(,” Fallon tweeted.
Photo via Twitter
(Updated at 5:50 p.m.) The three two-month old elevators at the Rosslyn Metro Station were all out of service this morning, leaving commuters to use the long escalators on the other side of N. Moore Street.
The problem, according to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet, was caused after Metro workers turned off power to the station after closing Thursday night. The new elevators failed to restart this morning when the power was turned back on.
“We apologize to Rosslyn Metro riders,” Balliet said in an email. “We’re working with [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] and our contractor to address unforeseen issues like this in the future.”
The elevators were designed and constructed by DES and opened Oct. 6. Friday morning was not the first time there have been problems with the high-speed elevators, which are designed to carry thousands of passengers a day. WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel said that the elevators are under a yearlong warranty with the manufacturer, meaning Metro is not responsible for maintaining and repairing the elevators.
Two of the elevators returned to normal operations around 10:30 a.m., Metro spokeswoman Morgan Dye said in an email. The third elevator has been out of service — and continues to be out of service — due to an unrelated issue.
“It is not uncommon for there to be a need for fine tuning during the initial ‘break-in period’ on any new machinery — whether it be elevators, escalators, railcars, buses, etc.,” Dye said. ”Working through the fine-tuning of this kind of equipment is routine and expected.”
Balliet echoed Dye’s words about the break-in period.
“Many of the problems experienced since opening are typical for an elevator break-in period,” he said. “In fact, the number of disruptions had been decreasing week by week until this power outage for track work. We’ll continue working with our contractors to ensure higher levels of reliability.”
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles’ budget calls for bus fares to increase by 15 cents, Metrorail fares to increase by 10 cents, and parking fees to increase by 25 cents. Will that lead to significantly more commuters hitting the road in cars? Probably not, says AAA Mid-Antic.”
“Even with a three percent average increase, area commuters will still save by using public transit after doing the math,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “After adding up the costs of driving and parking, commuters will often find that public transit is a more economical way to get to work and stick with Metro.”
For instance, AAA says a commuter who drives to work in downtown D.C. from Alexandria pays about $500 per month in vehicle costs, gas and parking. Someone who parks and rides from the Huntington Metro station will pay about $330 per month after the fare hike.
A portion of the trail near the junction with the Mt. Vernon Trail will close during the day in order to demolish a bridge overhead. Closures will be in place from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The trail will be open on Sundays.
The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) notes that a detour will be in place for ADA compliance, but it may not be the best option for some trail users, such as bikers. The detour diverts traffic off of the trail and onto the west sidewalk of Jefferson Davis Highway, then across the highway at the S. Glebe Road signal. Those using the detour can reconnect with the trail farther east via new switchback ramps.
Earlier: It’s been a rough morning for Metrorail. First, a dangling cable prompted major delays on the Red Line, and now a cracked rail is causing minor delays on the Orange Line.
The cracked rail is on the inbound track of the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Ballston. Repairs are underway and are expected to be completed before the evening rush hour.
While repairs continue, trains will be single tracking between East Falls Church and Ballston. According to WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel, right now there are only delays of about five minutes because trains are currently operating on an off-peak schedule.
The cracked rail is reportedly “almost certainly” the result of the recent temperature drop. Stessel explained that because metal expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, over time that can cause cracks in the rails.
Metrorail service on the Yellow Line will be suspended from 10:00 p.m. Friday through system closing on Sunday, to allow the annual safety inspection of the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River.
Yellow Line riders in Virginia are instead advised to take the Blue Line, which will run at normal weekend intervals.
Orange Line riders, meanwhile, will be subject to delays this weekend. Orange Line trains will run every 20 minutes, starting Friday night at 10:00, due to track work and platform reconstruction at the Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations.
Orange, Yellow and Blue Line trains will all arrive every 20 minutes, beginning at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 8, and continuing through closing on Monday, November 11. All Yellow Line trains will run only between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square.
The system opens at 5:00 a.m. on Monday and will close at midnight. Additional trains will operate on Monday between Vienna and Stadium-Armory from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Crews working on the Yellow and Blue Lines will improve track infrastructure, including installation of new ties, fasteners, insulators, grout pads and cover boards. Orange Line workers will reconstruct station platforms at Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations, as well as performing tie renewal, insulator renewal and structural improvements.
More information about weekend schedule alterations throughout the Metro system can be found on the WMATA website.
National Public Radio kicked off a nationwide series on commuting Thursday morning with a lengthy profile of Arlington’s transit system on Morning Edition, saying the county “sets the bar for suburban transit.”
Morning Edition host David Greene interviewed former Arlington County Board member Jay Ricks, who was on the Board when it decided to build the Orange and Blue Metro stations underground, spurring the eventual urban development around each station.
Greene, reporting from the Ballston Metro Station, interviewed commuters and Robert Brosnan, the director of the county Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
Greene noted that because of the Metro’s appeal, housing prices have skyrocketed — which is forcing out some of the county’s lower-income workers. Additionally, Greene reported, the county’s reliance on Metro means that a train or track malfunction during the commute affects thousands of Arlington residents simultaneously.
The north entrance to the station — the side that includes the skybridge escalator — will also be closed while WMATA starts Phase 1 of its renovation of the Rosslyn station.
“The bridges themselves are going to stay open, but the access to the escalator will be closed off,” said WMATA’s site supervisor, who declined to give his name.
One alternate way to reach the skybridges is via a staircase between N. Moore and Lynn Street, next to the new Rosslyn Metro elevator entrance.
The renovations are expected to take until April to complete. During that time the two up-and-down escalators will be replaced with staircase. Also, a connection to the new skyscraper next door, 1812 N. Moore Street, will be built, the official said.
The escalator removal is taking place despite earlier objections from the North Rosslyn Civic Association, which called the escalators “the only assistance provided to residents in negotiating the tremendous change in elevation between the center of Rosslyn and the adjacent community to the West.”
The removal of the escalators is necessary to make way for a new Arlington Commuter Store.
After Phase 1 is finished, the north side of the station will reopen and the south side will close for construction, the supervisor said. Phase 3 will be renovations to the N. Ft. Myer Drive entrance.
This weekend, the sidewalk that runs along the 1812 N. Moore project, north of the station, will reopen, and the temporary pedestrian walkway that juts into the street will close.
The new entrance and elevators to the Rosslyn Metro Station are now open.
Across N. Moore Street from the main entrance, three high-speed, high-capacity elevators are ready to take on passengers. This morning, as a rainstorm rolled in, Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada, County Board member and Metro Board member Mary Hynes, and Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) spoke at the project’s unveiling.
“What a wonderful improvement for the people who work here,” Hynes said. “It’s a big safety improvement, and it’s 20 seconds on the elevator compared to two and a half minutes on the escalator.”
Besides the elevators, the construction also includes a new station manager kiosk, new pay stations, an emergency stairwell and a connecting passageway. County officials say the changes will improve passenger flow. The county paid 42.2 percent of the project’s $49.9 million cost; the rest of the funding came from a mix of other governmental and private sources.
“It is a symbol of this community’s and our partners’ hard work, and another amenity for one of America’s preeminent places to live, visit and do business,” Tejada said.
The Rosslyn Metro Station serves almost 30,000 riders per day, according to WMATA, and ridership is expected to only increase when the Silver Line opens.
The project’s completion doesn’t mean the end of the daily construction activity Rosslyn residents and office dwellers have gotten used to. Construction will continue in the area around the Metro station as 1812 N. Moore Street, the new skyscraper being built adjacent to the Metro stop, nears completion.
The Metrorail Twitter account suggests several problems are plaguing the Orange Line this morning, including a switch problem at West Falls Church and disabled trains at Dunn Lorning and Metro Center. Inbound Orange Line trains were also offloaded at Clarendon and East Falls Church to return to Vienna for service, Metro said.
On Twitter, passengers have been reporting long waits on both the Orange and Blue lines.
With Metro’s Silver Line soon to open, WMATA is considering eliminating a Metrobus route that stops in Rosslyn on the way to Dulles International Airport.
The agency held a public hearing this week on changes to dozens of bus routes, during which it presented three options for the future of the 5A route: eliminating it completely, only running it between Dulles and the Wiehle-Reston East Metro stop (the end of the Silver Line when it opens in early 2014), or only running it before and after Metrorail’s hours.
Rob Stern, an Arlington-based vacation planner, spoke out against the proposed changes to bus service at the public hearing Tuesday night.
“Metrobus 5A provides fast, affordable transportation for local residents, visitors, students, airport employees and commuters,” he said in an email. “Alternatives like the Washington Flyer and the Fairfax Connector would require a change and paying an additional fare, as well as taking more travel time. This is a burden for those with heavy baggage, and in bad weather. Taxi service from the airport can cost $60, 10 times more than the 5A’s $6 one-way fare.”
“The heavy use of both the Orange line and Silver line rail service at evening rush hour would make the rail option difficult for many travelers, as Dulles Airport’s peak travel time is in the evenings,” he continued. “As a travel agent I mentioned that many of my clients choose the airport to fly from based on ease of access, and while Washington National Airport has direct rail service, and BWI Airport has both Marc Train and Express Metro Bus Service, on the B30, this change would put Dulles Airport at a competitive disadvantage. ”
Those interested in giving input to WMATA’s community outreach can fill out a survey by Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 5:00 p.m. After the public comment period closes, the WMATA Board Customer Service and Operations Committee will consider the feedback and proposed changes at their meeting in November, according to WMATA spokeswoman Morgan Dye.
If any of the options are approved, they would go into affect soon after the Silver Line opens, which is expected January or early February 2014. Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metro Rail Project, which will extend the Silver Line to the airport and beyond, is not expected to be completed until July 2018.
The changes to the 5A route were first proposed by the District Department of Transportation.
The delays, which begin at 10:00 p.m. Friday and continue until closing at midnight Sunday, are again results of platform work between at the Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue stations in Prince George’s County, Md., and track work between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly.
This will be the fourth consecutive weekend customers on the Orange Line will have their service affected. Last weekend, trains ran every 20 minutes from Friday night to Sunday on the Orange Line. The weekend before, all stations from Vienna to East Falls Church were closed entirely, with buses running in between. Labor Day Weekend before that saw the Orange Line run every 24 minutes, even on the holiday.
Riders should also expect delays the weekend of Sept. 27-29, according to WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel. The weekend of Oct. 4-6 is expected to be delay-free.
“This is the level of intensity that Red Line riders have been experiencing for the past two years,” Stessel wrote in an email. “The rebuilding effort on Orange/Blue is now ramping up. Green/Yellow will follow.”
The Blue and Yellow Lines will have normal service this weekend.