Vihstadt Outraising Howze — County Board member John Vihstadt is outraising Democratic challenger Alan Howze ahead of the upcoming November election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has raised $33,773 to Howze’s $6,801. [InsideNova]
‘Revenge of the Understudies’ at Signature — They prepare for roles that they rarely get to actually play, at least in front of a paying audience. On Saturday, however, the understudies at Signature Theatre will take center stage for the annual “Revenge of the Understudies” cabaret. Tickets to either of the show’s two performances — at 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. — are $25. [Washington Post]
Ben’s Chili Bowl Opening at DCA — Ben’s Chili Bowl will be holding a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new Reagan National Airport location this morning. Bill Cosby won’t be there, but the Chuck Brown Band will be performing. The restaurant is located before the security checkpoints in the B/C terminal.
Some big changes are in store for Terminal A at Reagan National Airport.
The 40+ year old terminal will be getting the airport’s first full-service spa, plus new restaurants and stores, as part of a “comprehensive physical upgrade to the facility,” the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced last night.
The “sweeping” changes also include publicly-accessible iPads and charging stations, plus a renovated lobby and an expansion of the security checkpoints.
“It has long been the Airports Authority’s desire to modernize and optimize the passenger experience in Terminal A at Reagan National,” said Paul Malandrino, airport manager at Reagan National, in a press release.
The Airports Authority plans to have some of the new restaurants and stores open this spring. The rest of the changes are expected by the spring of 2015. Last year Reagan National Airport served a record 20.4 million passengers, which represents a year-over-year increase of nearly 4 percent.
The full press release from the Airports Authority, after the jump.
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.
Air Force Officer Found Not Guilty – Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, accused of groping a woman on a Crystal City sidewalk earlier this year, has been found not guilty by an Arlington County jury. Krusinski was the chief of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch of the U.S. Air Force, and his arrest sparked a national conversation about sexual assault in the military. The charge against Krusinski was eventually changed to assault and battery, and Thursday afternoon, after a two-day trial, the jury found that prosecutors “did not present evidence to meet the threshold of reasonable doubt.” [NBC Washington, Washington Post]
Arlington Employees Playing Games on the Job? — An “ABC7 Watchdog investigation” found that employees of several Northern Virginia counties, including Arlington, are doing quite a bit of web browsing and gaming on the job. Arlington employees registered 13,106 hits on gaming sites — including 3,813 for the game Candy Crush and 2,593 for Words With Friends — on a single day in August. Arlington employees also visited YouTube about 3,800 times that day. [WJLA]
Wardian to Run Two Marathons in One Day — Prolific local marathon runner Michael Wardian is aiming to run two marathons in two different states in one day this weekend. Wardian plans on running the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio marathon Sunday morning and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon Sunday afternoon. What’s more, his goal is to run each in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. [Competitor]
Fees May Climb for DCA Taxi Pickups — It may cost a bit more to take a taxi from Reagan National Airport next year. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering a plan to raise the fees collected from taxi drivers that pick up passengers from DCA. The fee hike would raise about $1 million. If approved, the new rates could be in place by next summer. [Washington Post]
Photo courtesy Melissa Shoemaker
From 8:30 a.m. until around noon, the simulation will test the airport’s emergency response teams. Airport and airline staff, hospital staff and other emergency personnel will receive hands-on training during the aircraft accident simulation.
Emergency personnel will perform the exercise in the secured airfield operations section of the airport, so normal passenger flights will not be affected.
Staff will respond as if the simulation is a real emergency, including using sirens and firefighting equipment. To add realism to the simulation, a training aircraft will be ignited, boats will deploy, helicopters will respond and nearly 150 volunteers will play patients who need to be rescued from a U.S. Airways aircraft and transported to the hospital.
Some parts of the exercise might be seen or heard from areas near the airport, such as Route 1, George Washington Memorial Parkway, I-395 and along the Potomac River.
Food and retail options at Reagan National Airport will soon take on a new look. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has launched a wide ranging food and retail development program for DCA and Dulles International Airport.
MWAA plans to redevelop about 95 percent of DCA’s concessions over a 30 month period. The revamp will occur in five phases, with construction on the first kicking off in the next few weeks. Customers can expect to see changes both before and after passing through security checkpoints.
“This allows us to take advantage of broader trends and designs in the industry to provide enhanced offerings for our passengers,” said MWAA spokesman Chris Paolino. “This is something that’s been in the works for quite some time.”
During the planning process, Paolino said MWAA researched airports around to the world to determine the best practices in the concessions industry, noting what works well at an airport and what does not. It also took into consideration feedback about what existing concessions customers like and what they would like to see added in the future.
As mentioned yesterday, well-known restaurants and stores such as Ben’s Chili Bowl, Legal Sea Foods, Pinkberry and Spanx will be added. Those phase one additions will be joined by others such as Brighton Collectibles, Lacoste and Vineyard Vines. Some existing restaurants and stores, such as Five Guys and Brooks Brothers, will remodel and/or expand. The 34 phase one offerings at DCA are expected to open sometime in the spring of 2014.
The redevelopment plan released today estimates each restaurant will be under construction for about four months and stores will take a little more than two months. MWAA will do its best to stagger construction so not all of the food and retail will be under construction at the same time.
“We want to maintain as many dining and shopping opportunities as possible for passengers while this is being done,” Paolino said. “We’ll try to limit the inconvenience as much as possible.”
MWAA plans to put out regular updates about which concessions are under construction and which will open soon. Customers can get updates on the Reagan Food and Shops website or via the DCA Twitter feed.
Single Family Home Prices Rise — The average sale price of a single family home in Arlington rose above $850,000 in July, to $853,572, a 5.1 percent increase from one year prior. Townhouse and condominium prices, meanwhile, dropped 0.6 and 3.3 percent respectively. [Sun Gazette]
‘Boot Camp’ for Dogs, Owners — An Arlington-based business, the Thank Dog Bootcamp, was featured on ABC7′s Good Morning Washington program. The bootcamps, which take place in Bluemont and Quincy parks, are for both dogs and their owners, offering “a grueling workout for you… and an obedience lesson for your dog.” [WJLA]
Feds, Va. Sue Over US Airways-American Merger — Virginia has joined a federal lawsuit to block the merger of US Airways and American Airlines. The merger would create the world’s largest airline, and would have implications for those flying out of Reagan National Airport. Together, US Airways and American hold 69 percent of terminal slots at DCA. [Washington Business Journal]
Photo courtesy Anthony Russo
DCA’s passenger traffic increased 4.1 percent to 19.7 million passengers. The growth came during a year when industry-wide airport passenger growth was less than 1 percent. It also comes a year after Reagan National hit a then-record 18.8 million passengers in 2011.
A new construction project this year will help ease some of the crowding at Reagan National, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
“The airport continues to be a popular choice because of its proximity to downtown Washington,” MWAA said in a press release. “A construction project in 2013 will address some of the increased demand at Reagan National, expanding security screening areas in Terminal A to provide improved access for passengers using the terminal’s nine gates.”
While international travel grew by 2 percent at Dulles, MWAA says domestic travel was hurt by competition from DCA.
“Dulles saw domestic service declines mainly resulting from the transfer of some airline routes to Reagan National and reduced capacity on other routes,” the authority said.
Clarendon’s own Remy Munasifi, of Arlington Rap fame, is continuing his comedy campaign against the Transportation Security Administration with a new holiday-themed video.
The video features plenty of suggestive gags at the TSA’s expense, including Remy holding a nutcracker with a sign reading “Only the TSA May Handle Nuts” in the background, and Remy holding a candy cane next to a sign reading “Only TSA may handle kids’ junk (food).” At one point Remy also fondles Jolly Old St. Nick’s groin region.
Reason has been critical of the TSA’s heavy-handed approach to airport security.
Amidst the mad scramble to buy last minute presents or make New Year’s Eve plans, local residents have apparently been making a lot of travel plans. In fact, AAA predicts the region will experience “the greatest exodus from the Washington metro area in the 21st Century.”
More than 41 percent of local residents report travel plans of 50 miles or more during the holiday travel period from Saturday, December 22, 2012 to Tuesday, January 1, 2013. That’s a 2.3 percent increase over last year.
“During Christmas and New Year’s we will experience the highest travel volume this decade, especially by the roadways, the railways, and the waterways,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “The one exception is the airways, and this year, even that is making a comeback.”
90 percent of the travelers, or more than 2 million people, are expected to make their treks via automobile. About 130,000 people will fly out of D.C. area airports, which is about 5 percent higher than last Christmas.
AAA gives some credit for the travel boost to residents’ increased financial stability, along with lower gas and airfare prices.
People around the country and here in Arlington have already begun heading to their Thanksgiving destinations. In the D.C. metro area, the number of travelers is expected to be slightly higher than last year.
More than 1 million local residents are anticipated to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, according to AAA. That’s a 1.3 percent increase over last year.
“The consistently solid travel numbers since the 2008 drop, despite high gas prices and a struggling economy, is impressive and reassuring,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The ‘recovery’ rate of the number of holiday travelers has out-paced the economic recovery and, as Thanksgiving is primarily a family holiday, speaks to the importance of family in good times and bad.”
Meade noted that travelers should plan accordingly if driving to areas such as New York or New Jersey, which have been hurting for gasoline due to Superstorm Sandy. She spoke with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office and was informed that gas rationing was supposed to end yesterday (Sunday), but might need to be re-evaluated today.
“If gas rationing is going on, if there’s not enough gas for the people who live there, certainly bringing in other people who need gas will only make the situation worse,” Meade said.
AAA predicts air travel in the metro area will decrease by a little more than 1 percent, even though it shows air fare is about 11 percent lower than last year.
According to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the Thanksgiving travel rush began on Friday (November 16) and will continue through Monday, November 26. The busiest days are anticipated to be tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday, in addition to the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving.
Peak travel times are typically in the early morning from 5:30-8:00 a.m. and late afternoon from 3:30-5:30 p.m. There could also be a mid-day peak from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Travelers are advised to arrive at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight, especially during these peak times.
Student Ambassadors and Travelers Aid volunteers will be at Reagan National Airport to offer directions and answer traveler questions. The Student Ambassadors will be wearing distinctive yellow shirts and the Travelers Aid volunteers will be wearing blue blazers.
MWAA offers the following tips for travelers:
- Confirm the status of your flight directly with your airline before coming to the airport. Weather here or in other parts of the country can affect airline schedules across the route network.
- Print out your boarding pass in advance. Some airlines also offer electronic boarding passes.
- Bring government issued photo ID to the airport for all adult passengers.
- Expect full flights and full luggage bins on board.
- Pack wisely – no prohibited items in carry-on luggage; and no valuable items in checked luggage. Label your luggage so your name is plainly visible.
- Reagan National customers can check parking availability on the airport’s website or at 703-417-PARK. Economy tends to fill during holiday periods.
- For travelers not familiar with the airport, a printable one-page information sheets is available in the “Travel Tips” section at the airport website. Travelers can also follow MWAA on Twitter for updated information.
Update at 5:55 p.m. — All Arlington Public Schools (except Barcroft Elementary) will open on time tomorrow (Wednesday). “Parents are asked to be patient as buses may need to work around road closures in some parts of the county, causing delays on some routes,” said school spokesman Frank Bellavia.
All county government offices, libraries, courts, community centers, and nature centers will also be open.
Roads are gradually being cleared, dark homes are lighting up and residents are attempting to return to a sense of normalcy following Superstorm Sandy.
Currently, Dominion’s outage map shows 14,645 Arlington customers without power. The company promises to have crews working around the clock until power is restored. It’s hoping to complete its restoration efforts by Thursday night.
The federal government will be open for business tomorrow, according to the Office of Personnel Management, which will mean increased traffic on neighborhood streets that are still littered with storm debris.
Metro has resumed bus and train service and is slowly getting all lines back up to normal operation. Trains are running on a Sunday schedule. ART buses also resumed service this afternoon on routes 41 and 51. There may be delays if there is debris in the roads along the routes.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reports that Reagan National Airport fared well and didn’t experience any damage or flooding. Most flights are still cancelled today but there are a few taking off and arriving. Travelers are urged to check with their airlines directly for information about flights before going to the airport. MWAA will provide updates via Twitter as more flights begin to take off.
Early voters can go to Courthouse Plaza until 7:00 p.m. for in-person absentee voting. For now, the Barcroft and Madison locations remain closed, but the county hopes they can open tomorrow in addition to the Courthouse location. More information about absentee voting can be found online.
Trash and recycling services, including brush and leaf collection, will resume Wednesday. Monday/Tuesday pickups have been rescheduled for Wednesday, and Wednesday/Thursday pickups have been rescheduled for Friday. Storm debris removal can be requested online or by calling 703-228-6570. The normal requirement for brush to be less than 18 inches in diameter will be waived.
The county notes that an additional 2,000 people signed up for the Arlington Alert system during the storm, bringing the number of total subscribers to more than 50,000. The system provides emergency information updates via email or text message. Anyone interested in receiving alerts during the storm cleanup and for future public safety events can sign up online.
The airport served a record-breaking 18.8 million passengers in 2011, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. That’s a nearly 4 percent increase over 2010, which compares favorably to the national passenger growth average of 1.5 percent.
The growth may continue in 2012, thanks to new and expanded service that’s coming to DCA starting on March 25.
US Airways is in the process of adding non-stop service to 11 new cities via Reagan National. And JetBlue is increasing service to its existing destination, while providing new daily service to Tampa.
“Even during these challenging times for the aviation industry, we are very pleased that in 2011 we were able to not only continue to provide excellent air service for the region but also to attract new airlines and service,” MWAA President and CEO Jack Potter said in a statement.
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department has cleared the scene at Reagan National Airport, where it had been assisting Airport Police with a suspicious package.
The bomb squad took x-rays of the package to determine its contents, but nothing dangerous was found.
The package turned up near the economy parking lot, and that lot closed down during the investigation. Most other airport roads and lots remained open, and no flights or terminal operations were affected. There were also no reported traffic backups due to the lot closure.
There’s a silver lining for Caren Merrick, the one-time Republican candidate for state Senate who was soundly defeated by Democratic Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) has appointed Merrick, a successful businesswoman, to the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. If the appointment survives a potential legal challenge, Merrick will be one of 17 members of the MWAA board.
The Authority has been facing scrutiny recently amid accusations of mismanagement, according to the Washington Post.