A free blues concert will be held Thursday evening (May 16) at Penrose Square on Columbia Pike. The event is being held to promote the upcoming Columbia Pike Blues Festival.
Thursday’s concert will take place starting at 6:30 p.m. and will feature Karl Stoll and the Danger Zone and the Chris Polk Band. The concert, at Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike), is free and open to the public.
The 18th annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival will take place on June 15 and feature legendary guitarist G.E. Smith, who’s best known for being the musical director for Saturday Night Live and for being lead guitarist for Hall & Oates, Bob Dylan and other major musical acts.
As always, the Blues Festival will be held on S. Walter Reed Drive just north of Columbia Pike. The performance schedule on June 15 includes:
- 1:00 p.m. — BG and the Mojo Hands
- 2:00 p.m. — Clarence “Bluesman” Turner
- 3:30 p.m. — Chris Polk [Sound Check]
- 5:00 p.m. — Cathy Ponton King
- 6:30 p.m. — G.E. Smith
File photo. Disclosure: Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, organizer of the Blues Festival, is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
A new Arlington County profile has been released for 2013, and it shows a significant uptick in projected population growth, thanks in part to development along Columbia Pike.
Arlington’s population, currently estimated at 212,900, is projected to surpass 250,000 by 2030. The population will hit 258,800 in 2030, according to the latest projection from Arlington’s planning division. That’s up 5 percent from last year’s projection of 246,500.
The increase, according to county demographer Elizabeth Rodgers, is largely due to the fact that the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan, approved in July 2012, was incorporated into the projection. The plan calls for the Pike to be transformed into a more populated, urban and walkable community, with 10,000 new housing units added by 2040.
With the Columbia Pike plan incorporated into the projection, the county’s population is expected to hit 276,100 by 2040.
Employment in Arlington, meanwhile, is projected to increase to 308,000 jobs in 2040, up from the current level of 228,700 jobs.
According to the profile, 40,671 Arlington residents live and work in Arlington. Another 47,226 residents work in the District of Columbia. But that’s less than the number of Fairfax County residents who work in Arlington, which stands at 48,242.
Other vital statistics can be found in the 2013 Arlington County Profile.
Graph via Arlington County
A new t-shirt pokes fun at the $1 million bus stop on Columbia Pike and the often tongue-in-cheek rivalry between north and south Arlington.
The t-shirt was created by PikeBuzz.com, a new website that offers deals and events at Columbia Pike “town center” businesses, and will be given away at the site’s launch party Wednesday night. The first 100 attendees at the event will receive the shirt for free.
(Disclosure: PikeBuzz is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)
“We were looking for something funny to put on a shirt,” he said. “The national level attention that the bus stop got in our neighborhood made for an easy target. We also see the Columbia Pike neighborhood changing significantly for the better and thought it would be funny to use the bus stop as a silly measurement of that improvement.”
The shirt takes a jab at the northern half of the county with a scoreboard that shows “South Arlington 1, North Arlington 0.”
“The reference to the scoreboard is to make light of the home grown competitiveness between the two sections of Arlington,” Godbout explained. He continued:
Prior to moving to South Arlington 13 years ago, I would not have been able to tell you the difference between North Arlington and South Arlington, except that one is south of Rt. 50 and the other north of Rt. 50. But after meeting people in the neighborhood, the general belief shared by some is that “North Arlington” has it better… better schools, more funding, more representation on the County Board, etc. So for some in South Arlington, the feeling is that we don’t have it as good. The reality is quite the opposite. I live in the Penrose neighborhood of South Arlington and love it here. My daughter goes to Patrick Henry which is exceptional. My business is in South Arlington and has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. I love the advantages that South Arlington offers.
Godbout described PikeBuzz as a site that “promotes local businesses and allows us to increase the number of events offered on the Pike” by bringing more people to the area.
The site’s launch party will be held Wednesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike). In addition to the free t-shirt, the event will feature free food, Karaoke and live acoustic music.
The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. yesterday (Thursday) night. Police say German Cruz-Coreas, 49, entered Miguel’s Q-Mart on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike and demanded money from a store employee.
“When the employee refused, the subject proceeded to light coffee filters on fire and announced that no one could leave the store,” according to the Arlington County Police crime report.
The man started throwing mangoes and avocados at store employees and a 16-month-old child, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. He tipped over the store’s shelves, destroyed merchandise, broke the store’s slushie machine, and partially melted a television with the flaming coffee filters, Sternbeck said.
“He literally destroyed the entire store,” said Sternbeck.
Store employees barricaded themselves in a room inside the store during the incident, but the store’s manager was eventually able to subdue the man and hold him to the ground until police arrived and placed him under arrest.
Cruz-Coreas was charged with arson, attempted robbery, four counts of abduction, felony destruction of property, and three counts of assault and battery. He is currently being held without bond.
The store employees suffered minor injuries, Sternbeck said, but the baby was unharmed.
Photo courtesy ACPD
Va. Sq. Giant Celebrates Changes – The Virginia Square Giant grocery store (3450 Washington Blvd) is celebrating its “grand reopening” following recent renovations. A representative for Giant says new features include a redesigned produce department with a better fruit and vegetable assortment, a new gourmet cheese case, a new bakery and an expanded natural foods section. Customers at that location will have the opportunity to take part in tastings, raffles and prize giveaways over the next four weekends.
Event Examines Seniors’ Transportation Needs — A Mobility Lab regional symposium held at George Mason University yesterday focused on the transportation needs of residents aged 65 and older. Speakers voiced the need for better coordination of senior transportation programs that would keep seniors mobile in their communities. Suggestions for improvement included better marketing and promotion, using volunteers and issuing performance surveys. [Mobility Lab]
Streetcar Debate Focuses on Types of Riders — At the Arlington Committee of 100 streetcar forum on Wednesday, speakers addressed which riders prefer different modes of transit. Speakers debated whether the Columbia Pike streetcar or a bus rapid transit system would better draw in “choice riders” — those who have access to a car but could be persuaded to take transit under the right circumstances. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4
(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) While the planned Columbia Pike streetcar has been making local headlines, Arlington County has been quietly moving forward with a project that’s bringing significant infrastructure improvements to the busy thoroughfare.
Arlington County’s Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements Project seeks to implement “streetscape and related improvements for pedestrians, bicycles, transit, and vehicles along Arlington’s 3.5 mile Columbia Pike corridor.” The improvements include a completely reconstructed roadway, new left-turn lanes, planted medians, additional street trees, enhanced pedestrian crossings and so-called bicycle boulevards.
The $80 million project is currently in progress, and expected to run through 2018. About $72 million of the $80 million price tag coming from the county’s commercial tax-funded Transportation Capital Fund.
The turn lanes in particular are expected to “lessen delays and improve traffic flow,” said Bill Roberts, Transportation Program Manager for Arlington County. Meanwhile, the bike boulevards, which will run parallel to Pike along 9th and 12th Streets, will combine with planned 10-foot-wide shared bike and pedestrian sidewalks to make it easier for cyclists to traverse the Pike away from traffic. But residents might be happiest to learn about the roadway reconstruction.
The project will ultimately result in the reconstruction of the entire stretch of Columbia Pike from the Pentagon to Fairfax County. That should be welcome news for road users, who have been grumbling about the pockmarked state of portions of the Pike.
Currently, road crews are working on the stretch of Columbia Pike between S. Wakefield Street and Four Mile Run Drive. That work is expected to wrap up this fall, according to Roberts.
The stretch of road is in especially bad shape, Roberts said, thanks to runoff from multiple water main breaks, which seeped into the project area, and heavy bus traffic, which has caused depressions in the roadway, particularly around bus stops. Even with plans to reconstruct the roadway, Roberts said crews will be doing some temporary repaving in the westbound lanes in the next 2-3 weeks.
Following that work, the county expects to start road reconstruction between the Fairfax County line and Four Mile Run Drive. That portion of the project is slated to start in the spring of 2014 and end 24 months later, in the spring of 2016.
Next up after that is S. Wakefield Street to S. Oakland Street, and Walter Reed Drive to S. Scott Street. Those projects will happen concurrently between early 2015 and early 2017.
Project work has already been completed between S. Oakland Street and Walter Reed Drive.
The work is necessary, Roberts says, because the underlying roadbed has become uneven due to its age and the patchwork nature of previous roadwork. Some of the existing infrastructure along the Pike dates back to the 1920s and 1930s, while the Pike itself was first built in 1810.
“What we’re going to be doing is installing a consistent sub-base and a thicker layer of asphalt,” Roberts said. “We’re completely reconstructing the roadbed.”
While the road improvements will be the most visible part of the project, much of the funding will actually going to work well below the roadway. Aging and leak-prone 8-inch water and sewer pipes under the road will be replaced by new 12-inch pipes, and existing overhead utilities will be placed underground. The utilities are all being placed in the middle of the roadway, so that water main breaks or other utility work doesn’t disrupt the future streetcar.
The timeline for the final piece of the multimodal project — from Washington Boulevard to S. Joyce Street — is still up in the air. The county is currently in talks with the federal government about a land swap that would allow the county to “realign” Columbia Pike to make a straighter, more direct connection with S. Joyce Street. If all goes well, Roberts says that work could be completed in 2018.
The Multimodal Improvements are a necessary warm-up act for the ultimate construction of the planned Pike streetcar, but the project is being run independently of the streetcar project. County Board member Chris Zimmerman, who lives along the Pike, said that improvements to the Pike are necessary regardless of whether the streetcar gets built.
“We’re going to have big traffic challenges in the next few years on the Pike, streetcar or no,” he told ARLnow.com late last year. “It’s been a good road for a long time but it’s really old now. The street itself has to be upgraded.”
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
At last week’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, party leaders stressed the importance of giving voters a positive reason to come out and support gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe in November.
You might question the sincerity of that plea since the meeting took place immediately after a “dramatic reading” of excerpts from Attorney General Cuccinelli’s book. Based on Mr. McAuliffe’s ongoing resume problems, they may actually spend a lot of time talking about the Attorney General instead.
But, what about a little farther down the ticket? What does County Board Vice Chairman Jay Fisette offer to inspire Arlingtonians to vote in 2013?
Mr. Fisette stands firmly behind the Columbia Pike trolley boondoggle. And, he has offered no indication that he would support a straight up or down vote on the issue. Yes, a vote is possible if the Board adjusts the funding mix to include a small amount from general obligation bonds.
It follows that Mr. Fisette is squarely in favor of building the 24 super bus stops on Columbia Pike as well. Yet, the first one took so long, cost so much, and was subject to such intense public ridicule, that the project has now been stopped pending review.
ARLnow ran a story on Monday on the black hole of spending known as the Artisphere. Mr. Fisette recently admitted the arts center did not meet expectations. It should not have surprised him as the Board ignored those who predicted the Artisphere’s shortcomings at the time the Board approved the project.
The Board will raise taxes yet again this year and still may not be able to fully fund our police and fire departments. Remarkably enough, fiscal responsibility and public safety are the top two issues listed on Mr. Fisette’s campaign website.
Website issues list aside, Mr. Fisette has made a “crusade” against single use water bottles — his number one pet project for the year. He announced it at the Board’s kick-off meeting January 1st and has followed through by scheduling a public forum on the topic.
Any effort to legislate on water bottles at the County level will likely go the way of efforts to regulate single use plastic bags, single use styrofoam, or even energy use in private homes — another Fisette idea. The Virginia General Assembly is unlikely to lift the Dillon Rule for Arlington to regulate these items any time soon.
However, it might make you wonder if a water bottle “crusade” was what the local Democratic leaders had in mind to inspire voter turnout.
It might be time to schedule another dramatic reading.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
Streetcar Forum Tonight — The Arlington Committee of 100 will be holding a forum tonight entitled “Streetcar for Columbia Pike: Are the Benefits Worth the Costs?” The forum will be moderated by Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey and the scheduled speakers are Arlington Chamber of Commerce Chairman David Decamp (speaking in favor of the streetcar) and ARLnow.com columnist Peter Rousselot (speaking against the streetcar). The event will take place at 8:00 p.m. at Marymount University (2807 N. Glebe Road). [Arlington Committee of 100]
Pricey Streetcar FOIA Request — Local fiscal watchdog Tim Wise is decrying the price tag attached to a Freedom of Information Act request he made regarding the Columbia Pike streetcar project. The county says Wise’s wide-ranging request will cost $2,858 to process. More than 80 percent of that cost would go to AECOM, a consultant working on the county’s transit program. [Sun Gazette]
Record Temperature Possible Today — The official high temperature at Reagan National Airport might be tied or even broken today. The high temperature at DCA for today, April 10, is 89 degrees, set in 1922. [Capital Weather Gang]
Mary Marshall Scholarship Applications – The Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women is now accepting applications for the 2013 Mary Marshall Memorial Scholarships. The $1,500-2,000 scholarships are intended for Arlington high school graduates who intend to attend Northern Virginia Community College and pursue careers in public service. [Arlington County]
Casa Furniture, a local discount furniture chain, has opened a new location in the former Capital Jewelers storefront on Columbia Pike.
Casa Furniture opened at 3219 Columbia Pike about two weeks ago, an employee told us. It’s the chain’s fourth location; other stores are located in Alexandria and D.C.
On its website, Casa Furniture says it “has become known for the lowest prices in town, quick, efficient “no frills” delivery, and customer service that redefines the word, ‘smile.’” The store has a small showroom but also offers a catalog of furniture that’s available for delivery.
Capital Jewelers owner Tommy Wong was gunned down during a robbery at the store on the afternoon of July 27, 2012. D.C. resident James Sylvester Caroline was later arrested and charged with Wong’s murder. A hearing in the case is scheduled for April 17.
Arlington County and WMATA are launching a “full independent review” of the process and the expenses that led to the $1 million Walter Reed “Super Stop” on Columbia Pike.
The county announced the review in a press release this afternoon, after announcing last week that it was “reassessing” the design and cost of the controversial new bus stop. The stop was designed by Arlington after a two-year community process, then built by WMATA at a cost of more than $1 million.
The county and WMATA have not yet determined who will conduct the independent review of the stop, according to Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius. The findings will be released to the public.
The county press release, after the jump.
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Stockton, California is proceeding in bankruptcy. It is a cautionary tale of a local government who thought the goose would continue to lay golden eggs and allowed themselves to spend more than prudence dictated.
Stockton is about 50 percent larger in population than Arlington and it is the largest city to go bankrupt. Stockton’s debt at the time of filing for Chapter 9 protection was $500 million, approximately half of Arlington’s current debt load. Jefferson County, Alabama is already working through the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in history with approximately $4.2 billion in debt.
What Arlington has compared to other municipalities is the seat of the federal government as its next door neighbor. Arlington was therefore largely shielded from the effects felt in many places during the recession. While the County is not increasing spending at the rate of the last decade, our county officials have actually plowed full speed ahead on capital expenditures and show no desire to slow down.
The County spent $1 million on one dog park while harassing a business owner who wanted to beautify another one for free. The County spent millions on the Artisphere which has not lived up to any of the promises made when the Board agreed to fund the project. Voters approved a parks bond that funded an aquatics center which may cost taxpayers $79 million to construct. And, the boondoggle trolley project, which will almost certainly cost well over the current $250 million price tag, is coming to the Pike.
The current symbol of spending excess in Arlington is the $1 million bus stop on Columbia Pike — a precursor to the trolley project. The price tag is so outrageous that even CNN ran a story on it this week. The County Manager said they would “reassess” these “super stops” before moving forward, but the plan all along was for each of the 24 stops to cost over $850,000 on average.
The County Board should reassess the need for an independent office of Inspector General to audit all county expenditures. The Board has resisted the idea raised first by the Civic Federation consistently, but do we really believe the same county staff that oversaw the projects to begin with will produce an independent analysis? With a billion dollars and climbing in debt, it is time for the Board to embrace this measure of transparency and accountability.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Like so many spring flowers, the post-winter warm-up brings a multitude of potholes to local streets. While there’s no shortage of bumps, holes and cracks along local roads, two road hazards in particular are frustrating drivers and residents in Arlington right now.
On Wilson Boulevard in Ballston, in the westbound lanes just past N. Randolph Street, a steel utility vault cover continues to produce a bumpy ride and plenty of noise.
We reported about the vault cover last month, after complaints from local residents. The steel plates produced jarring bumps for vehicles, and the booming sound of cars running over the plates annoyed those who lived nearby. Since our report, which suggested that repairs would be made by the end of March, the steel plates were lowered “to create a more even roadway for drivers,” according to Arlington County spokeswoman Laura G. Smith.
The problem is by no means fixed, however. An anonymous local apartment dweller complained that the noise is still “incredibly loud,” and now there are several large screws protruding from the vault.
To fix the issues once and for all, Avalon Bay, the apartment owner that’s responsible for the upkeep of the utility vault, will replace the plates with new concrete vault covers. The covers are expected to be installed “within the next few weeks, depending material delivery time,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, two sets of concrete vault covers adjacent to the cover that’s being replaced are falling into disrepair. Those “may be replaced at some point,” Smith said.
The vault cover in Ballston is not the only road hazard that’s drawing the ire of motorists. On eastbound Columbia Pike near the Sheraton hotel, a sharp change in pavement height in the righthand lane is giving drivers a rude awakening.
It might not look like much, but the tail end of a patched-up section of road produces a sudden, jarring bump for drivers, especially those driving smaller cars. Luckily, the hazard is set to be fixed soon.
“Our Water Sewer Streets team confirmed that the pavement issue in this location was a result of work done to repair a water main break or leak,” said Arlington County Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy. “A crew is heading out today to make a temporary patch to smooth out the site and is scheduling work on a more permanent patch for the very near future.”
Arlington residents can report potholes using this form.
The wreck happened just before 7:00 p.m. at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Queen Street. According to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel, a driver in a white Kia pulled out from Queen Street in front of a 16G Metrobus heading eastbound on the Pike. The bus and the car collided head-on, police said. The Kia then spun around and made contact with another vehicle heading westbound on the Pike, causing minor damage.
Firefighters had to extricate the adult female driver and adult male passenger from the Kia. They were transported to George Washington University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The driver of the Metrobus was transported to Virginia Hospital Center, complaining of back pain, Stessel said.
As of 7:50 p.m., westbound Columbia Pike was still shut down and traffic was being diverted onto Washington Boulevard. The lanes were expected to reopen shortly after 8:00 p.m.
Update on 4/2/13 — The CNN video is now online.
A CNN crew was on Columbia Pike today, shooting a news report on the controversial “Super Stop” bus stop at Walter Reed Drive.
The enhanced bus stop, one of 24 planned along the Pike, has attracted scrutiny since ARLnow.com first reported that its construction cost exceeded $1 million. On Friday, Arlington County said it was putting construction of additional Super Stops on hold pending a review of the project’s design and cost.
The bus stop features amenities like lighting, heating and an electronic display that shows when the next buses are coming, though some have complained that it does not offer adequate shelter from the elements.
The CNN report on the Super Stop is expected to air in the network’s 5:00 p.m. hour today (Monday), we’re told. It will be reported by CNN National Correspondent Rene Marsh.
The announcement comes following a public outcry about the cost of the first Super Stop, at the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive. As first reported by ARLnow.com, the prototype bus stop — which offers amenities like lighting, heating and an electronic display that shows when the next buses are coming — cost more than $1 million to build.
While county officials blamed the high cost and construction delays on various factors — it was the first of its kind, its construction was managed by WMATA, etc. — the amount budgeted for the remaining 23 stops in the planned Columbia Pike Super Stop network suggests a still-high per-stop cost of around $900,000.
Other criticism of the stops, which will eventually serve the Columbia Pike streetcar system, includes the lack of shelter from wind and rain.
In a press release, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan calls the Super Stops a “key long-term transit investment.” But the county says it has cancelled bidding for the next planned Super Stop, in front of Penrose Square, pending a review of the design, timing and cost of the stops.
Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said today that the County is reassessing the design and timing of the roll out of its planned Columbia Pike Super Stops in the wake of public concern about the recently opened Walter Reed Super Stop.
“Super Stops are a key long-term transit investment for our County,” Donnellan said. “They are integral to our efforts to transform Columbia Pike to a more transit-oriented Main Street. We have to get them right. Although our Walter Reed Super Stop is a prototype, and has only been operating for about a week, I’ve heard the community’s concerns about its design and cost. I have asked staff to pause the program while we look for ways to improve the design and reduce costs of future Super Stops.”
“This project took longer and cost more than it should have,” Donnellan said. “We have an obligation to the taxpayers of Arlington, the Commonwealth and the nation to ensure that our infrastructure projects are delivered in a timely, cost-effective manner. We will do better.”
Arlington built the Walter Reed prototype Super Stop under a project agreement with the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) that put Metro in charge of the stop’s construction. More than six months ago, the County deleted two other planned stops from its agreement with WMATA and will build all future Super Stops on its own. This week, the County rescinded an invitation to bid on the planned Penrose Square Super Stop pending the Super Stop design and cost reassessment.
“I ask riders to keep in touch with us about their experiences with the Walter Reed Super Stop,” Donnellan said. “Our goal is to build stops that are safe, comfortable and encourage more people to use transit.” Comments and suggestions should be emailed to email@example.com, with “Super Stop” in the subject line.
Long-term transit investment
Arlington plans to build 24 Super Stops along Columbia Pike, one of the most heavily travelled corridors in Northern Virginia. Each stop is meant to last for 30 years or more. Much more than a traditional bus stop, the Super Stops will shelter up to 15 riders and will serve both buses and the planned streetcar. Arlington’s Super Stops were designed with extensive input from riders and other community members during a multi-year public design process.