Arlington County has approved a permit for the 2014 Clarendon Halloween Crawl, making it the first such event approved under the county’s new pub crawl guidelines.
The Halloween Crawl is set to take place on Saturday (November 1). It’s the first bar crawl permit issued since the County Board decided in July that bar crawls will be classified as “special events” and require a permit.
“As the County Board has said, our goal is to manage these events in a way that ensures the safety of participants and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods and reimburses the County for crawl-related expenses,” said County Manager Barbara Donnellan in a written statement.
The county manager’s office confirmed that under the new regulations, Halloween Crawl organizer Project DC Events is required to reimburse the county for event-related personnel expenses, such as the need for extra police officers. The event organizers currently anticipate around 3,000 people will participate in the crawl, so the county assigned 30 police officers to the area. More police support will be requested should the number of event attendees increase. The county manager’s office estimates the police presence and potential EMT services will cost around $9,000-$15,000.
The county doesn’t foresee the need for additional trash collection services; instead, it’s moving up Clarendon’s regular Monday pickup to Sunday. Just like with the police estimate, more waste management services can be added if necessary.
It will likely take up to two weeks to calculate the final costs and then send Project DC Events a bill. Per the regulations, special events organizers must reimburse the county within 60 days of the issuance of an invoice.
“This is an Arlington-based company and we are very confident we will not have any issues with them,” said Assistant County Manager Wilfredo Calderon.
Here is Republican-endorsed Independent County Board member John Vihstadt’s unedited response:
Dear Fellow Arlingtonian:
Last April, Arlington voters had a real choice at the polls — for a change. Two major candidates; two futures.
Option One: Business as usual.
Option Two: A little balance; an Independent voice.
Thanks to our fusion campaign and unprecedented support from reform-minded Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and Independents, 57 percent of Arlington voters elected me as an Independent voice on the otherwise one party County Board. I now seek your vote for a full four year term.
I’m keeping my commitments to you pledged when I first announced my Independent candidacy:
Leveraging My Record. I’m leveraging my 30 years of community service and consensus-building in our public schools, our neighborhoods and across the County to work for everyone.
My record of leadership and alliances as a school bond co-chair, PTA president, in the Civic Federation, on County commissions and on nonprofit boards has provided a firm foundation for immediate effectiveness. I have spoken up where change is needed, while working cooperatively with my colleagues on both the County Board and School Board to build upon what is great about Arlington. I continue to approach every issue in a fair, nonpartisan, pragmatic fashion.
Stressing Shared Priorities. Arlington is at a crossroads. Yes, we must continue to invest in our communities for the long haul, but our tax dollars are not unlimited. There are costs and trade-offs. We cannot say yes to everything, especially all at once. When we try to make everything a priority, nothing is truly a priority.
My positive vision focuses on assigning priority to long-term, fiscally responsible, sustainable investments in our over-crowded public schools, public safety, infrastructure maintenance, Metro, bus rapid transit and neighborhood quality of life — the true measures of community success — not wasteful and extravagant projects like a $500 million dollar streetcar that will run largely in mixed traffic, million dollar bus stops, an over-budget aquatics center the County still wants to build, or another over-the-top dog park.
Despite the red flag of the DC streetcar fiasco on H Street, the County presses ahead with consulting and engineering contracts and a massive taxpayer-financed PR campaign designed to swing public opinion, while, at the same time, refusing to allow a public vote. Though my Democratic colleague Libby Garvey and I have not yet stopped the streetcar, it is far from a “done deal.” There will be more votes on more contracts and another election next year. Until then, my election is the only referendum available to speak out on this folly.
There has been recent debate about “public land for public good.” I believe that Arlington’s 149 parks and our many recreation centers are the very essence of “public land for public good.” It is counterproductive to locate housing, schools, or other non-parks and non-recreation-related development on increasingly precious parkland and recreational sites. We must better assess how our development decisions are impacting our parks and playing fields, as well as our schools, infrastructure and the diversity and character of our neighborhoods.
My Independent Advantage. I’m providing balance, accountability and a fresh perspective on a County Board that needs another voice, and that must listen to, and account for, a full range of community opinion. I’m asking questions at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, not just nodding my head.
I’m still pushing for a truly independent County auditor to ensure our money is well-spent, and I’ve asked why over 450 employees have a County credit card. I’ve asked why developers contribute to everything BUT to our schools to help handle the families they bring. I’ve made sure we actually debate the streetcar at the Board table, and I’m the only Board member who has spoken up for car sharing services like Uber to operate in Arlington. Finally, we must work with all communities earlier and more transparently on issues ranging from the location of schools and fire stations to neighborhood streets and sidewalks.
Raising issues and questioning authority is not divisive. Lively debate and the exchange of ideas is not wrong. It’s responsible government. And in my view, it’s essential to ensure that Arlington reaches its full potential — for everyone.
Your vote counts, and I need it once more to continue the discussion and results so critical to our collective future — now and after November 4. Please join people from every neighborhood and political party in casting it for me. Visit www.VoteForVihstadt.com to learn more.
Yours for an even better Arlington,
John Vihstadt – Independent
Arlington County Board
Here is Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze’s unedited response:
On November 4th, your vote will help define Arlington’s future. The election is about choosing a vision for our community and the leadership we need as we confront decisions that will affect our county for generations to come.
I am running to bring a new voice to the County Board and new ideas for how to move Arlington forward.
By many measures our community is thriving — with great schools, vibrant neighborhoods, high-quality transit that makes Arlington such an attractive place to live and work.
However, we also face challenges. We need to move quickly to address school overcrowding, strengthen our local economy, focus on affordability, and provide parks and recreational space for residents.
I will bring my experience in business and government to addressing these needs in a fiscally responsible manner that brings the community together without resorting to the politics of division or obstruction.
I represent a new generation of Democratic leadership and I bring a different perspective.
As we address school overcrowding, I would be the only County Board member with children in our schools.
In a county where 60% of all residents are between the ages of 20-50, I would be the only Board member under 55 years of age.
I would bring to the Board my business experience as we address our rising commercial vacancy rate.
Moreover, I am proud to run as a Democrat on a ticket with Senator Mark Warner, who I worked for when he was Governor of Virginia. Our team of Democratic candidates share a commitment to opportunity, equality and prosperity — and to progress, not obstruction.
In contrast, my opponent, who claims to be an Independent, is a lifelong Republican. He actively sought — and received — the endorsement of the Arlington GOP. He has been an active Republican volunteer and has given thousands to anti-choice and anti-environment Republican candidates. His campaign has been funded primarily by Republican donors. Republicans are not supporting an independent voice, but rather attempting to move Arlington away from its progressive principles.
To move our community forward, I am putting my Democratic values and my experience in business and government into action through specific proposals to address key issues in our community:
- Solving school overcrowding by working with the School Board and community to develop short-term solutions and a long-term plan
- Expanding pre-K access to ALL Arlington families
- Setting a target of ZERO pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths due to vehicle accidents
- Providing safe-routes to all our schools
- Saving money and improving services by sharing services between the County and Schools
- Reducing our carbon emissions and making Arlington more resilient to climate change
- Making critical improvements to Metro and creating a modern streetcar system that runs on renewable energy and minimizes construction disruption for neighborhoods and businesses
- Increasing community engagement in solving school overcrowding and through a streetcar referendum
Contrast these detailed plans with my opponent, who has offered no vision for addressing our community’s challenges and has engaged in obstruction instead. Putting politics ahead of the community’s best interests, he voted AGAINST funding to address school overcrowding, to maintain the Metro system, and for our parks.
He even proposes sending $150M in transportation funds back to Richmond rather than using it here in Arlington to improve our economy and quality of life. That is not the leadership we need.
I am ready to deliver innovative, community-based solutions that reflect all our community’s needs and interests. I will not always agree with my fellow Democrats, but I will push hard for real solutions and work to bring our community together without stoking divisiveness.
I will demand accountability and focus on fiscal responsibility, much as I did on the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission where I called in 2013 for a $6.4M tax cut and created a plan to maintain our parks and facilities. I will also support private sector innovation through public investments like ConnectArlington and market innovators such as Uber and Lyft.
I have spent months knocking on thousands of doors and listening to voters like you talk about the issues and the solutions that will help move Arlington forward.
If you are as impatient for solving Arlington’s challenges as I am, I ask for your vote on November 4th. Together we can fulfill a vision of a vibrant, safe, diverse and affordable community. Let’s get to work.
The group Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit (AST) is responding to the county’s stated benefits of the Arlington streetcar project with a set of ads claiming a streetcar “doesn’t make any sense.”
The four ads posted on the group’s “Myth Busters Page” focus on streetcar capacity, dedicated lanes and comparisons to buses and Metro. They feature a woman and man talking about why the county says residents would benefit from a streetcar, with most of the clips ending on the man stating, “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Streetcar supporters have tried to mislead the public into thinking that streetcars on Columbia Pike would be just like Metro, and that only streetcars have the capacity to handle ridership growth. Supporters also argue that bus rapid transit (BRT) cannot be a transit upgrade on the Pike because BRT requires a dedicated lane,” said Peter Rousselot, a leader of AST and an ARLnow.com opinion columnist. “AST’s new ads feature two AST supporters who explain succinctly why these claims by streetcar supporters are false and make no sense.”
Over the summer, the county released several videos explaining “Why Streetcar.” Last month, the County Board approved a $26 million preliminary design and engineering contract for the streetcar project. That’s 5.4 percent of the estimated $481 million total project cost.
County Board Race is Anyone’s Guess – The outcome of the Arlington County Board race between incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic challenger Alan Howze is far from certain. While Vihstadt is winning the fundraising battle, Howze is expected to benefit from far greater turnout than the 16 percent who voted in the special election this year. The last general election with a Senate race on the ballot saw a 55 percent turnout in Arlington. [Washington Post]
Vihstadt Peeved at ‘Pro-Streetcar Narrative’ — At yesterday’s County Board meeting, John Vihstadt complained about the county government’s pro-streetcar PR efforts. He suggested that he and fellow streetcar critic Libby Garvey, who make up 40 percent of the Board, should have their views heard through county government channels. Board Chair Jay Fisette slammed that idea, saying “it doesn’t make sense” for the county government to expend resources arguing against its own official policy. [InsideNova]
Cyclist Struck on Lynn Street — A bicyclist was struck by a vehicle on Lynn Street in Rosslyn, between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N., just before 9:00 this morning. The cyclist was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with an apparent dislocated collarbone.
Bank Robbery in Falls Church — The FBI is looking for a man who robbed a BB&T Bank on West Broad Street in Falls Church yesterday morning. [Federal Bureau of Investigation]
Zac Hanson’s Birthday — On this day 29 years ago, “MMMBop” singer Zac Hanson was born in Arlington. [Hello!]
The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the fee at its meeting Saturday. Earlier this year, the state General Assembly passed a provision to a state law this year that allows localities to levy up to a $5 fee on summons for traffic and criminal cases to fund the establishment of an electronic system for filing summons for traffic tickets.
According to the county staff report, the Arlington County Police Department issued 42,761 traffic citations and made 5,102 arrests from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. The county estimates the new fee would add $200,000 in annual revenue, and that the new system would cost $150,000 for equipment to implement.
“When motorists are stopped by police, it adds an element of danger as both the motorists and officers are exposed to passing traffic,” the staff report states. “An electronic summons system would lessen the chances of a road shoulder accident during the course of the officers’ traffic stop and also provide the motorist with a faster and more efficient transaction.
“An electronic summons system will also significantly improve efficiency and accuracy in the processing of issued citations,” the staff report continues. “With an electronic summons system, citation data would be automatically scanned and electronically entered at the point of activity. Personnel will no longer have to subsequently re-enter data from hand-written summons. Once the citation is completed, the transaction data is sent electronically to the court’s case management systems, usually within 24 hours. This will also allow violators to prepay their fines promptly and aid the courts in managing their dockets while tracking their caseloads. The utilization of the electronic summons system will help reduce data entry errors.”
The money that doesn’t go toward paying for the equipment will fund the summons system’s maintenance. Equipment for the system includes handheld devices for officers, driver’s license scanners, portable printers and and barcode readers. Once maintenance for the next three years is fully funded, the county says, it will consider removing the $5 fee.
Residents in Fairlington won’t have to go as far to get fresh produce, starting next year. On Saturday, Arlington County Board members unanimously approved allowing a an open-air farmers market in Fairlington.
The market will take place at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street) from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Sundays from April through November. The special use permit allows for 15 to 20 vendors and up to 29 tents on a pedestrian path behind the community center.
The use permit will allow the Arlington-based nonprofit Field to Table, Inc., to operate the market. That’s the same organization running the Westover farmers market. In order to accommodate concerns about noise, no amplified music or speakers of any kind will be allowed.
Nearly a dozen residents showed up to express their opinions of how the market may affect the community. With one exception, all the speakers supported the market.
“Farmers markets are intended to be neighborhood affairs,” said resident Douglas Penn. “It’s a natural enhancement to a community that already exists. It’s another jewel in the crown.”
Some residents previously had expressed concern that a farmers market at the community center would affect parking. County staff notes that the market is on several bus lines and there is ample free parking in the area. The special use permit will come up for renewal in October 2015, and Board members say at that time they would address any parking concerns that may still exist. The Board also has the authority to examine formal complaints before the permit comes up for renewal.
“I do think this is a good thing. I am aware that there are some folks that are upset. Which is part of the reason I’m going to look at the parking and try to reassure them. But we absolutely need to give it a try,” said Board member Libby Garvey, who is also a Fairlington resident. “I will kick up a fuss if there really is a problem for some folks who do not have the parking that they need.”
The Fairlington farmers market will be the ninth farmers market in Arlington. It is expected to open in April 2015.
The Arlington County Board will vote on Saturday to apply to the Virginia Department of Transportation for $4.2 million in funds to help complete seven transportation projects. In addition, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is ready to reimburse the county for four transportation projects worth a combined $18.8 million.
The Board is expected to request $4.215 million in matching funds from VDOT for the following projects:
- $1.45 million for rehabilitation of the Shirlington Road bridge over Four Mile Run
- $800,000 for reconfiguration of the Boundary Channel Drive/I-395 interchange
- $530,000 for sidewalks and bike lanes on S. Walter Reed Drive from Arlington Mill Drive to Four Mile Run Drive over Four Mile Run (with a $591,000 local match)
- $245,000 for sidewalks on N. Carlin Springs Road from Edison Street to Vermont Street
- $500,000 for reconstruction of the intersections of Arlington Ridge Road at S. Lang and S. Lynn Streets (with a $595,000 local match)
- $235,000 for sidewalk and crossing improvements to Pershing Drive between N. Barton and N. Piedmont Streets (with a $245,000 local match)
- $455,000 for sidewalk and crossing improvements to Military Road from Nellie Custis Drive to 38th Street N.
The NVTA, which manages the allocation of funds from last year’s HB2313 transportation funding bill, already approved the four projects for which Arlington will receive funding, but NVTA spokeswoman Kala Quintana that the project agreements have recently been reached, and the authority is finally reading to start “mailing some checks.”
The four projects: $12 million toward the Columbia Pike Multimodal Project; $4.3 million for the Boundary Channel Drive interchange; $1.5 million for significant improvements to the Crystal City Multimodal Center on 18th Street S. between Bell and Eads Streets; and $1 million to purchase four buses for the ART 43 route, to mitigate the impacts the Silver Line has had on Blue Line commuters.
“[Arlington] can submit bills for reimbursement once they start turning dirt, purchase the bus, etc.,” Quintana said. “The project list was approved last year but the Authority needed to work with the jurisdictions to create the funding agreements… We are now ready to distribute, or have distributed these dollars. All they have to do is send us the bill and we will send them the money.”
Quintana said the NVTA is beginning work on the next two years of its six-year funding plan, which will distribute an estimated $203 million in FY 2015 funds among all the jurisdictions in Northern Virginia: Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park.
The NVTA estimates Arlington will receive an additional $11.2 million in direct funding through the transportation package, which is likely to be allocated to its Transportation Capital Fund.
A house in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood in North Arlington will be considered for a historic designation by the County Board at its Saturday meeting.
The house, at 5151 14th Street N., just a few blocks south of Virginia Hospital Center, is a Queen Anne-style dwelling and was built, according to county staff, in 1881 and called Broadview. It was constructed by Robert Stinson Lacey, a Civil War veteran who “operated one of the County’s large market farms at and surrounding Broadview, and played an active role in local political and social affairs,” the staff report states.
Currently, the home and property is owned by Alex Deucher and Angela Guzman, who moved in about three years ago. Deucher contacted the county earlier this year to have a “local historic district” designation placed on the house, because the two “just wanted to see it protected.”
“This house is just so cool,” he said this afternoon while giving this reporter a tour of the exterior. “It’s got a lot of neat features that you don’t really see in newer houses. It’s got about 12-foot ceilings on the lower level, big parlors and a big porch. A lot of nights we sit out here and eat dinner.”
The house is painted yellow with blue trim, and many of the original features are still in existence and, according to Deucher, use.
“It represents the evolution of a simple I-house into an ornate Queen Anne-styled dwelling corresponding to the architectural trends of the late-19th century,” the staff report states. “[It] possesses integrity of design, materials, form, plan, and workmanship to convey its various periods of construction; and remains one of the best examples of Queen Anne-styled architecture in Arlington County.”
If the historic district status is approved, all renovations and major work on the house will have to be approved by the county. After Deucher called the county to apply for the status, he said the staff was able to pull the history of the house “all the way back to the land grant from King George.”
County staff recommends the approval of the farmers market, proposed by the Arlington-based nonprofit Field to Table, citing a positive response from the community. The market would be held in the parking lot and on the pedestrian path of the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).
The market, if approved, would be held on Sundays from April to November, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., according to the county’s staff report. The first market would be held in April 2015.
The Fairlington market would be the county’s ninth farmers market. Currently, the closest market for Fairlington and Shirlington residents is the new Arlington Mill farmers market.
Field to Table, in its proposal, anticipates between 15 and 20 vendors for the market, with up to 29 tents under which goods and produce would be sold.
Some in the community expressed concern about the market’s impacts, but county staff said those potential impacts will be mitigated thanks to proper planning.
“Staff received correspondence from area residents who are concerned about impacts to parking, traffic, safety, and trash/environmental impacts related to the proposed use,” according to the report. “The recommended conditions of approval will mitigate any potential adverse impacts to the site.”
Staff said there is ample parking in the community center’s parking lot, but the market is designed with intent of having Fairlington residents walk to the center. The community center, which has been open since 1940 and used to be Fairlington Elementary School, is closed on Sundays, staff said, so the market wouldn’t conflict with any of its regular programming.
If approved, the County Board will review Field to Table’s permit to operate the market next October.
The Rosslyn intersection where cyclists and pedestrians face drivers exiting I-66 has received safety modifications in the past two weeks and more changes are on the way, county officials said on a tour of the site Tuesday morning.
In advance of a $5 million overhaul slated to be complete in summer 2016, Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation changed the timing of the traffic lights and walk signals at Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street last week, said Larry Marcus, the county’s head of transportation engineering.
“Pedestrians and cyclists are the priority at this location, period,” Marcus said as county officials and police watched people navigate the corner some locals call the “Intersection of Doom.”
One change is minor in cost but should be significant in impact: A no-turn-on-red sign is being installed at N. Lynn Street for those exiting I-66. That’s being done “as soon as possible,” Marcus said.
Additionally, cyclists and pedestrians crossing N. Lynn Street using the Custis Trail previously had a walk signal when all traffic lights were red — known as a “leading interval” — for just 2 seconds; the length of that signal was increased last week to 5 seconds, Marcus said. The county plans to increase the leading interval time to 15 to 20 seconds in the next six months, once new signal technology is installed.
“We’re giving more time for pedestrians and bikes to go first,” Marcus said, adding that new caution signs for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists will be added to the intersection.
Drivers headed west on Lee Highway, meanwhile, now have an additional 10 seconds of biker- and pedestrian-free time to clear the intersection.
To pair with engineering changes, the Arlington County Police Department has ramped up traffic enforcement and educational efforts at the corner where numerous car-on-bike accidents have occurred, Capt. James Wasem said.
“People can expect to see uniformed police officers out here flagging cars over, directing traffic, handing out some brochures and citing violations,” he said about the measures enacted about two weeks ago.
Police issued 228 citations at the intersection from Sept. 15, 2013 through the same date this year: 133 for failure to obey traffic signals, 32 for improper turning and 1 for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Fifteen car crashes occurred at the intersection within that period, police said; just two crashes on record involved pedestrians.
The ACPD assigns an officer to direct traffic at the intersection on weekdays from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. but must spread officers between that corner, schools and other frequent crash sites. The department began sending an officer to the location “as often as possible” following recommendations from a traffic analyst the county hired this year, Wasem said.
ACPD is seeking funding to assign two officers to Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street every weekday morning, plus an additional two officers at Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard, Wasem said. The latter intersection has been facing a chronic problem of drivers “blocking the box” during rush hour since construction began on the Central Place project, blocking lanes of Lynn Street.
The additional staffing would cost $180,000 through next year.
The pedestrian was crossing Lee Highway at a corner locals have called the “Intersection of Doom” about 8:20 a.m. when the driver of a black SUV plowed into her, officers and a witness said. The driver was headed north on N. Lynn Street and was making a left turn onto Lee Highway when she hit a northbound pedestrian who was using the crosswalk and had the walk signal, according to officers and witness David Clark.
Clark, a 56-year-old Rosslyn resident, was doing his daily exercise routine in Arlington Gateway Park near the intersection when he heard a yell.
“I was coming up from my pushup when I saw a lady crossing the street, and then I heard her holler,” he said. “The lady was in the crosswalk when she got hit.”
An ACPD officer was directing traffic when the crash occurred but momentarily had his back turned to that corner, officers said. An officer is posted weekday mornings from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at the intersection packed with drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, an officer said.
The pedestrian was taken to a hospital and thought to have a broken ankle, according to police scanner traffic. Officers on the scene said the driver could be ticketed, pending an investigation.
In May, the Arlington County Board approved spending an additional $75,000 on safety improvements to the intersection where cyclists have been hit by drivers several times. The upgrades will extend curbs at the intersection’s corners, modify traffic signals, add on-street bike lanes and remove a travel lane from Lee Highway. Construction was set to start in the spring and be complete in summer 2016.
The Arlington County Board passed a resolution asking the General Assembly to rename the bridge in Vernon’s honor. Vernon was killed Aug. 4, 1988, after pulling over an HOV violator on a nearby stretch of I-395 when, while speaking to the driver, a Metrobus struck and killed her.
Vernon, who was born in West Virginia during segregation in 1955, was the first woman and first African American Virginia state trooper to be killed in the line of duty.
The resolution erroneously calls for “the Glebe Road bridge over I-395″ to renamed, but there is no such bridge. According to the county’s legislative liaison to the General Assembly, Pat Carroll, there was a mistake in the resolution, and the I-395 bridge over Glebe Road is what’s actually expected to be renamed.
Vernon’s family was in attendance during the resolution on Tuesday afternoon, and County Board Chair Jay Fisette read a letter written by Vernon’s brother, Ron, transcribed after the jump.
Vernon’s family had been trying for years to get a bridge or stretch of road named after her, and their efforts appear likely to pay off. Fisette said he “can’t imagine” the General Assembly wouldn’t approve of naming the bridge after her during their 2015 session.
After the jump is Ron Vernon’s letter, “Sacrifice.”
APS Graduation Rate Rises to 92 Percent — Arlington Public Schools’ graduation rate rose to 92 percent for the Class of 2014, up from 85.2 percent in 2010. The dropout rate declined to 3.8 percent this year and the graduation rate for Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools reached 98.7 percent. “This steady improvement is a reflection of the teamwork of everyone working together to ensure that our students succeed,” said Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, in a statement. [Arlington Public Schools]
Company Promises In-N-Out Delivery — As a publicity stunt, food delivery service OrderAhead is offering to deliver frozen In-N-Out Double Double burgers from California today to addresses Arlington and D.C. Even though In-N-Out is famous for food that’s never frozen or pre-packaged, the offer is apparently proving popular for those with a craving for the west coast chain. Currently, a website set up to provide more information about the promotion is down. [Eater]
County Board Supports Nonpartisan Redistricting — The Arlington County Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to support nonpartisan redistricting of state legislative boundaries. Democratic Board Chairman Jay Fisette said partisan redistricting leads to “stagnation and gridlock,” while independent Board member John Vihstadt said it produces “toxic partisanship in Washington and Richmond.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Last night, after a two-hour discussion, the Arlington County Board voted 3-2 to approve a contract with HDR Engineering for $26 million for preliminary design and engineering work on the project. Fairfax County has committed to paying $3.2 million of the contract for their segment of the streetcar, from Bailey’s Crossroads to the Skyline neighborhood. The $26 million is 5.4 percent of the projected $481 million streetcar project.
The contract is the first step to Arlington’s goal of the system becoming operational in 2020. While the county has spent millions funding studies and surveys to prove the streetcar is the best transit system for the Pike’s future, this contract is the first going to actually laying the groundwork for the system itself.
“I believe that this decision is a major milestone to keeping us on track to start streetcar service in 2020,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said at the meeting. “We think long-term. We make long-term decisions, we don’t think just about the next month or next election. We created a Columbia Pike plan over many years. Think about the Clarendon Sector Plan or the Rosslyn Sector Plan. How would you feel if you went through those years and years of meetings and then have someone change that plan? I think we need to have some integrity and recognize the engagement that we’ve had.”
HDR is the firm that designed the streetcar in the District’s H Street NE corridor, but has also designed streetcar or lightrail systems in New Orleans, Phoenix and is designing a 122-mile rail system in Denver, Colo. As part of the contract, there’s a $5 million clause for “optional work,” which includes helping the county with deciding how to actually construct the streetcar. The preliminary engineering and design is expected to take 18 months.
According to the staff presentation, the contract stipulated HDR provide:
- Studies of area surveys, traffic, utilities, soils, structures, environmental conditions and mitigation
- Achieving 30 percent design status for roadway work, track alignment, power, signals, stations and facilities
- Vehicle specifications
- Plans for property acquisition
- Updated construction cost estimates
- Technical support for outreach and coordination
Thirteen speakers addressed the County Board on the issue — 11 in favor, and two opposed — a somewhat muted turnout considering the divide the streetcar has generated in the Arlington community.
“We have waited for a very long time for this project,” said Juliet Hiznay, an Arlington Heights resident. “It occurs to me that sometimes one of the worst things government can do is delay decisions. I think we’ve seen that play out on the school side with the lack of comprehensive planning, and we’re really paying for it now.”
David DeCamp, a real estate developer and former Arlington Chamber of Commerce chairman, spoke in favor of the streetcar, saying it will fund future investments in schools and will be “great for all of Arlington.”
“Frankly,” he said, “it’s something that’s been promised to the developers who have built three or four beautiful properties on the Pike so far.”
Penrose resident Stefanie Pryor opposes the streetcar, but in acknowledging that it was likely to pass, said she hoped for an auditor to be included in the contract and direct stipulations to ensure the materials and cars used for the project are appropriate and functional.
“You get some nasty surprises with commercial off-the-shelf [vehicles] unless you put it explicitly in the contract,” she said.
Board members John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey, elected largely on platforms opposing the streetcar, both railed against the contract and the streetcar in general, with Garvey positing that the streetcar system would move fewer people and deliver a worse return on investment than an enhanced bus system.
“I would maintain that we are plunging ahead on something we are not really ready for that I don’t think is really justified,” she said. “We are spending all this time and effort and money on seven and a half miles of tracks and wires that can take us to where we can go now, but slower.” (more…)