Four Arlington transportation projects were approved for funding in Fiscal Year 2014 last night by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
The authority approved funding for the Columbia Pike Multimodal Improvement Project, the Crystal City Multimodal Center, four additional ART buses and improvements to the Boundary Channel Drive/I-395 interchange; a total of $18.835 million.
In addition, the NVTA approved $5 million for the design of WMATA traction power improvements on the Orange Line, and $7 million for 10 new buses on Virginia Metrobus routes.
The package approved was the first to be directly allocated funding from the controversial transportation bill, HB 2313, passed by the General Assembly in the spring. About $270 million is estimated to come to Northern Virginia in funding this fiscal year, $190 million of which was available to be allocated by the NVTA.
The other $80 million will be distributed directly to localities. Arlington is projected to receive $11 million in direct funding, which it expects to direct to its Transportation Capital Fund.
The NVTA voted unanimously to approve $116 million in pay-as-you-go funding and more than $93 million in bond funding, pending a bond validation. Of Arlington’s approved projects, only $4.3 million for the Boundary Channel Drive/I-395 interchange will go through the bond process.
The state began collecting funds for the projects July 1 when a series of tax increases and other funding measures took effect. Over the next six years, HB 2313 is expected to raise more than $1.5 billion total for the region and close to $200 million for Arlington alone.
Other projects that were approved for funding that could have an impact for Arlington residents include $838,000 to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for the study of transit alternatives on the Route 7 corridor between King Street and Tysons Corner and five new DASH buses in Alexandria.
Two projects that impact Arlington — a $4 million VRE Crystal City platform extension and $5 million for upgrades to interlocking and platform girders at the Reagan National Airport Metro stop — were denied funding by unanimous vote.
One project that did not come up in the discussion was the Columbia Pike Streetcar project. Critics of the streetcar were calling the lack of funding another loss for the controversial project, but Arlington officials did not submit it for consideration.
West Nile Detected at Fort McNair — West Nile Virus have been detected in mosquitoes across the river from Arlington at Fort McNair. Fort McNair is part of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall; West Nile was not found in the Fort Myer portion of the base. [U.S. Army]
Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven — Today, 7/11/13, customers can get a free small Slurpee from 7-Eleven stores from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. This year, instead of 7.11 ounces, the free Slurpees have increased in size to 12 ounces. [USA Today]
ART Now on Google Maps – Google Maps now allows you to plan trips and get additional information on Arlington Transit (ART) bus routes. [Arlington Transit]
Favola Calls on McDonnell to Resign — Arlington state Senator Barbara Favola (D) is calling on Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to resign in the wake of accusations that he and his family received a series on undisclosed gifts while in the governor’s mansion. [WAMU]
Median Sale Prices Dropping in Arlington — According to numbers from Rockville-based data firm RealEstate Business Intelligence, the median home sales price in Arlington was $535,000 in June, down 2.7 percent from one year prior. The drop comes while prices in Fairfax and Alexandria were up significantly. Meanwhile, Arlington’s median sales price is also down 0.1 percent year-to-date. Possible explanations for the drop, other than potential weakness in the real estate market, include a preponderance of condo sales this year or a raft of high-end sales last year. [Washington Post, RBI]
Flickr pool photo by Eschweik
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.
The Columbia Pike Multimodal Improvement Project, the purchase of four additional ART buses, the Crystal City Multimodal Center, and Boundary Channel Drive- I-395 interchange improvements — which include construction of two roundabouts as well as safety and aesthetic improvements — are under consideration by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to receive funding under the bill, HB2313.
In Fiscal Year 2014, the NVTA is expected to have $190 million to spend, and the authority is considering 32 projects across the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. Arlington’s four projects on the list that cost a combined $18.835 million.
County Board member Chris Zimmerman is Arlington’s representative on the NVTA, which is responsible for allocating 70 percent of the expected $1.6 billion in funds the region will receive from HB2313. The remaining 30 percent will be given directly to the localities.
The proposed list, culled by the Project Implementation working group that Zimmerman chairs, costs a total of $186.99 million. The NVTA has indicated in its recent meetings that it will decide to allocate significantly less than that because the $190 million is a projection and no actual revenues have been raised. Even if all four Arlington projects make the final cut, however, the money Arlington is expected to raise will be less than it receives in regional funding, Zimmerman said.
Arlington’s return on investment “is meant to [even out] over time,” Zimmerman clarified when reached by phone earlier this week. “I think all four projects for Arlington are strong regional projects.”
The statute dictates that each locality must receive approximately equal benefit to what it puts in, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a dollar in and a dollar out, said Regional Transportation Planning Coordinator Jennifer Fioretti, who has worked closely with Zimmerman for the NVTA.
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.
Arlington residents are being asked to pick the winner of a student design contest.
The “ARTists for PAL Bus Design Contest” challenged Arlington middle and high school students to create a design to be wrapped around an ART bus later this year. The theme of the design is based around Arlington’s “Share Our Streets — Be a PAL” pedestrian and driving safety initiative.
Three finalists (below) were chosen from the 26 entries received by the county. Residents can vote for their favorite online. Voting ends on July 4 and the winner will be announced later this summer.
The winning design will adorn one ART bus for “about a year.”
Clarendon Center Wins Architectural Award — The Clarendon Center development has won a 2013 Charter Award, which is a global architectural award for excellence in urban design. The building straddles the 3000 block of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd. Clarendon Center was highlighted for being an example of walkable urban density in a suburban context and for its use of Art Deco styling. [Congress for the New Urbanism]
Arlington Transit Bus Survey — Arlington Transit is asking residents to fill out an online survey regarding the county’s bus service. Survey respondents are asked to suggest improvements for ART and Metrobus service. The information will help shape updates to the county’s six-year Transit Development Plan. The survey closes on Friday, June 28. [Arlington Transit]
Dream Scholarship Award Ceremony on Friday — Twenty-nine students from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax will be honored at Friday’s Dream Scholarship award ceremony. Undocumented students in good academic standing qualify for the scholarship if they or one of their parents were born outside of the United States, and the student will attend an accredited college or university. The ceremony takes place on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at the Arlington Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street). [Facebook]
The driver of an Arlington Transit bus has been cited for a crash involving an ambulance this morning.
The accident happened near the intersection of Walter Reed Drive and Four Mile Run Drive. The ambulance, Arlington medic unit No. 101, was en route to a call at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall around 7:45 a.m., when the ART bus pulled out in front of it, causing a crash, according to Arlington County Fire Battalion Chief Daniel Fitch.
The ambulance, which had its lights and sirens on, slammed into the bus, causing the bus to roll into a small ditch adjacent to the W&OD bike trail.
One of the firefighters in the ambulance was transported to the hospital for observation, Fitch said. No other injuries were reported.
The driver of the bus, who was the only person on the bus at the time of the crash, was cited for failure to yield.
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) An Arlington Transit bus suffered an apparent brake malfunction and rolled down a steep hill on N. Barton Street this morning, coming to a stop half-way down the hill after it ran into a car.
The crash closed N. Barton Street between Fairfax Drive and 14th Street N. in the Courthouse area for more than an hour, as a heavy-duty tow truck was brought in to haul away the bus.
According the driver of one of the vehicles damaged in the crash, the natural gas-powered ART 45 bus started rolling back toward Fairfax Drive as it neared the crest of the hill. It rolled at least 10 feet before slamming into a black Lexus, which in turn rolled back into a Volkswagen minivan and a Reston Limousine bus.
The driver of the Lexus was transported to the hospital for evaluation, we’re told. The driver of the ART bus was shaken but not hurt. So far, no other injuries have been reported.
The crash may have prevented an even more catastrophic incident; had the other vehicles not stopped it, the bus could have gained speed as it rolled all the way down the steep hill.
Arlington County said late Monday afternoon that the bus “experienced a braking systems failure” and that it would pull three all three natural gas-powered ART buses from service while it investigates the cause of the malfunction. The county press release about the wreck, after the jump.
Man Struck by Car in Clarendon Runs Race — Michael Sizemore, 28, is making a remarkable recovery after being struck by a car in Clarendon and nearly dying this past fall. Sizemore, who suffered a fractured skull and two broken legs in the accident, among other injuries, ran a 5K race in Martinsville, Va., near his hometown of Collinsville, this past Saturday. Sizemore’s father, girlfriend, friends and other families were on hand to cheer him on. [Martinsville Bulletin, Facebook]
Residents Speak Out at Tax Rate Hearing — It was a much shorter affair than Tuesday’s nearly four hour public budget hearing, but a public hearing on Arlington County’s proposed tax rate drew a small crowd of activists Thursday night. Those advocating for more affordable housing and social services asked the County Board to raise taxes up to the legal maximum of 5 cents, while budget hawks asked for no tax increase or, at minimum, following the County Manager’s recommendation for a 3.2 cent tax increase. [Sun Gazette]
County to Hold Student ‘ART’ Contest — The county is challenging budding middle school and high school artists in Arlington to design a pedestrian safety-themed “wrap” for buses. The winning entry will be used to wrap one ART bus. The submission deadline is June 3. [Arlington County]
The first of 24 planned “Super Stop” bus stops on Columbia Pike opened this morning.
The stop, on Columbia Pike at the intersection with Walter Reed Drive, offers riders a brighter, more open and attractive take on the traditional sheltered bus stop. The stop features lighting, an electronic display that shows when the next buses are coming, and a number of unbranded newspaper boxes (not yet filled).
At any given time some 15 passengers can use the stop, which serves Metro 16 and ART 45 buses.
Completion of the stop was long delayed, hampered by “a number of unexpected issues regarding construction and new materials,” according to a project rep. The project was first approved in 2011.
Crews are expected to begin work this spring on a “Barton West” Super Stop near Penrose Square, followed by work on new stops at Columbus and Dinwiddie Streets later this summer.
Also called Presidents Day, the holiday marks the end of a string of winter federal holidays. The next federal holiday is Memorial Day, on May 27.
In Arlington, all courts, schools, libraries and county offices will be closed. All community centers will be closed, with the exception of the Barcroft Community Center, which will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown pools will be open on a holiday schedule. Monday marks the last day before the pools start their spring schedule.
Trash and recycling collection will proceed as normal.
Around 4:30 p.m. on Friday (January 18), police say a woman was riding the ART bus when a man got on at the Ballston Metro station and sat across the aisle from her. He allegedly began speaking to the woman in a vulgar manner and she asked him to stop. The woman became nervous and also asked the man to move away from her.
Around the area of Washington Blvd and N. Pershing Drive the suspect allegedly leaned over and grabbed the victim’s breast. The victim yelled and told the man to stop, to which he reportedly responded, “F— you.” The bus driver pulled over and called police upon hearing the commotion, and the suspect took off on foot.
Police quickly found a man in the area meeting the suspect description, and the woman was able to identify him. Police arrested 28-year-old Aaron Darnell Alexander, of no fixed address.
Alexander was transported to Virginia Hospital Center for a laceration on his hand, which he said he received when he was robbed and stabbed the previous evening. Alexander has been charged with sexual battery and is being held on a $3,500 bond.
Legislators Holding Public Meeting Tonight — Arlington County’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly will hold their annual public legislative hearing tonight (Friday). The public is invited to address the delegation at the meeting, which starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Arlington County Board room on the third floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd. The delegation includes three state Senators and four members of the House of Delegates. [Arlington County]
Changes to ART 42 Schedule — Minor schedule changes to the ART 42 bus route will take effect starting Monday, Jan. 7. The changes in scheduled arrival times are designed to “improve on-time performance.” [Arlington Transit]
Camel to Visit Arlington Church — A live camel will be visiting an Arlington church this weekend in celebration of Epiphany. Chewy the Camel is scheduled to show up at the Church of the Covenant (2666 Military Road) around 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 6, and the public is invited to the event. “Join everyone that morning at 10:45 a.m. for a celebration and parade, as well as the Spanish and English telling of the Wise Men’s visit, accompanied by goodies and crafts for children in Fellowship Hall,” the church said on its website. [Church of the Covenant]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Individual residents or groups can sign up to adopt and perform light maintenance at one of the ART bus stops. At first, the program will focus on stops along the ART 51, 52, 53 and 61 routes. Additional routes and stops will be added soon.
Participants enter into a one year agreement, during which time they will maintain the stop at least once a week. They’ll perform duties such as picking up trash, reporting vandalism or safety hazards, clearing the area of snow and reporting items left at the stop.
The county will perform necessary heavier maintenance once it’s requested by the participant. Those tasks include removing graffiti, cutting tall grass and repairing bus stops. Should the participant request it, the county will also install a trash receptacle at the bus stop.
Transit Bureau Chief Stephen Del Giudice said although Arlington fared well in the recent recession, there was a reduction in the ability to commit resources to these types of maintenance projects. The county’s efforts mainly have focused on heavily used commercial corridors.
“We’re not always able to get to some of the residential areas. We see this as filling a need as far as our ability to commit resources to residential areas,” said Del Giudice. “We thought it would be a good idea to get community involvement in our transit program.”
Since the program began on May 16, three individuals each adopted a stop, and one group adopted two stops. Those who take part will get a certificate of participation, a mention on Arlington Transit’s website and a sign of recognition at the designated stop.
Sign up can be done online. Participants must be at least 18 years old, unless they are part of a group led by a person at least 18 years old.