70°Scattered Clouds

by ARLnow.com — July 18, 2012 at 9:40 am 2,038 16 Comments

Firefighters battled a basement fire in a duplex near Four Mile Run Drive this morning.

The fire was reported at 8:25 a.m. near the intersection of S. Oakland Street and the Four Mile Run access road. Firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County responded to the scene and were able to extinguish the fire within 20 minutes.

There was initially reported to be a person trapped in the burning house, but everybody ended up making it out safely. One occupant, described by a relative as a rising freshman at Wakefield High School, was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

No word yet on the cause of the fire, but a fire department spokesman pointed out that there were no working smoke detectors found in the house.

“The fire department would like to take the opportunity to remind everyone to check their smoke detectors,” said Battalion Chief Matt Herbert.

Damage was confined to one occupancy of the duplex, Herbert said.

Despite the call being relatively early in the morning, firefighters still had to deal with hot and humid conditions. To help out, a neighbor set up lawn chairs in her driveway for the sweat-soaked firefighters to relax and hydrate in after the flames were out.

by ARLnow.com — July 16, 2012 at 9:05 am 2,495 22 Comments

Four Mile Run Rapist Still on the Loose — Arlington County police are still looking for a man who raped a woman on the Four Mile Run Trail two weeks ago. Police are issuing warnings to women who use the trail, in English and in Spanish. Officers are also patrolling the trail on bike and motorcycles. [WJLA]

Marymount, O’Connell Teaming Up for Baseball Field — Marymount University will be adding a varsity baseball team to its athletic program after striking a deal with Bishop O’Connell High School to use the school’s baseball field. Marymount will fund the renovation of the O’Connell’s field to NCAA standards, in exchange for partial use of the field. Marymount hopes to have the baseball team ready for its first season by Spring 2014. [Sun Gazette]

N. Va. Critical to Obama Re-Election — The road to the White House runs through Northern Virginia, according to some political watchers. Experts say President Obama must score a big victory in Northern Virginia in order to capture the Commonwealth, one of three crucial, hotly-contested swing states. As a result, residents can expect a bombardment of political ads this fall. [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by Damiec

by ARLnow.com — July 4, 2012 at 9:45 am 17,832 165 Comments

(Update at 2:25 p.m.) A woman was raped on the side of one of the bike trails along Four Mile Run last night (Tuesday), according to police.

Investigators say the incident happened along the trail while it was still light outside – between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. The woman, 23, was jogging by trail mile marker 44, near Glencarlyn park, when a man, whom she had seen along the trail earlier, stopped her. He took out a 6-inch kitchen knife, dragged her into some tall vegetation, and took off her clothes and underwear, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

At one point the woman tried to run away but the attacker restrained her and threatened her with the knife, Sternbeck said. After the man was done sexually assaulting the victim, she ran home and drove herself to the hospital. Hospital staff called police at 8:49 p.m. In addition to the injuries from the sexual assault, the woman also sustained scratches to her wrists, Sternbeck said.

The man is described as a clean-shaven Hispanic male, between 5’5″ and 5’6″, 140 pounds, about 30 years of age. He had short black hair and brown eyes. The victim said he had a small head, a high-pitched voice, spoke limited English, and was wearing a green shirt that might have said George Mason University on it.

The victim has been an Arlington resident for 6 months, Sternbeck said.

Anyone with information about the suspect or the crime is encouraged to contact Detective Greg Sloan at 703-228-4198 or gsloan@arlingtonva.us.

by ARLnow.com — June 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm 18,343 209 Comments

(Updated at 9:25 a.m.) An 80-year-old woman has died after being hit by a bicyclist on the Four Mile Run Trail this morning.

The incident happened around 7:15 this morning (Monday) on the trail near the intersection of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive. According to police, an adult male cyclist was coming down a hill when he called out “on your left, on your left,” to the victim, who was walking on trail.

The victim turned around, moving into the path of the cyclist, and said “what? — at which time she and the cyclist collided, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The woman fell backwards and her head hit the pavement, causing significant trauma.

The woman was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital with life-threatening injuries, Sternbeck said. She was pronounced dead in the hospital later in the day. Police originally reported the woman’s age as 70, then as 81, but later said it was actually 80.

The cyclist, a 62-year-old man, suffered only minor injuries and did not require transport to the hospital. He was riding a NEXT Power Climber mountain bike at the time of the accident, according to Sternbeck. No charges have been filed against the cyclist, he said.

The trail is eight feet wide at the point of the collision, Sternbeck noted. Arlington does not have speed limits on its bike trails, according to county officials.

On Tuesday morning, police issued the following press release about the incident.

A 80 year old Arlington resident was pronounced dead late yesterday afternoon at Fairfax Hospital after being struck by a bicyclist.

The Arlington County Emergency Communications Center received the initial 9-1-1 report at 7:11 a.m. on June 11, 2012, regarding a collision between a bicyclist and pedestrian on the Four Mile Run Bike Path in the area of the 4900 block of Columbia Pike. The victim sustained significant head trauma after falling backwards, striking the back of her head on the pavement. The 62 year old bicyclist remained on scene and received treatment for a minor knee injury. He did not require transport to a hospital.

According to a witness and the bicyclist, the 62 year old man was heading downhill on his Next Powerclimber bike when he saw the victim ahead of him and attempted to warn her by yelling “to your left” and ringing a bell. This is when the 80 year old woman stepped to her left and turned around to be struck head-on, causing her to fall backwards to the ground.

Ita Lapina, 80, of Arlington, VA, succumbed to the injuries she sustained during the June 11 incident. She was pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:20 p.m.

For information related to bicycle and pedestrian safety, please visit the Prevention and Safety section on the Arlington County Police Department homepage at http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/Police/PoliceMain.aspx

by ARLnow.com — April 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm 1,715 7 Comments

Arlington County has lifted an advisory for Four Mile Run, three days after several thousand gallons of raw sewage reportedly spilled into the stream.

The advisory, issued on Tuesday, called for people and pets to avoid contact with Four Mile Run from Columbia Pike to the Potomac River. From a county press release:

Arlington County has lifted the advisory it issued on Tuesday April 3, 2012 to avoid the water in Four Mile Run, near S. Dinwiddie St. and Columbia Pike. The advisory was issued following the discovery of a sewage release resulting from a blocked sewage pipe. The precaution was meant to allow the effect of the discharge to be diminished by the natural flushing of the streams.

Following several days of stream flow Arlington County is lifting the advisory. Residents may resume adherence to the normal precautions for safe use of its urban streams.

by ARLnow.com — April 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm 3,141 52 Comments

Update on 4/6/12 — The advisory for Four Mile Run has been lifted.

Arlington County is reporting a sewage spill near Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street, next to Four Mile Run.

The spill came from an overflowing sewage pipe and was not the result of construction activity, according to Arlington County Department of Environmental Services (DES) spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy. Workers from the nearby Arlington Mill Community Center construction site spotted an overflowing manhole cover and helped to contain the spill, Kennedy said.

DES estimates that about 6,000 gallons of sewage spilled from the manhole over the course of an hour. The spill was first spotted at 11:00 a.m. and was largely contained by noon, we’re told.

Officials are advising residents to avoid contact with Four Mile Run from Columbia Pike to the Potomac River until further notice. From an Arlington County press release:

Residents are advised to stay away from the affected waters and to keep their pets away until further notice, to eliminate the risk of exposure to untreated sewage. Residents should not fish in the streams or have any contact with the waters – including wading or swimming – until further notice from the County. The advisory to avoid all contact is considered an extra precaution to allow the effect of the discharge to be diminished by natural flushing of the streams. The recreational areas affected include the following parks adjacent to the streams: Barcroft, Shirlington, Jennie Dean, Allie Freed and Bicentennial Gardens.

The County has posted flyers along the affected areas of Four Mile Run.

It will take about a week for the sewage to work its way out of the stream to the point where the county will declare it safe for humans and pets, Kennedy said. That process would be sped up by any rain the area receives over the next week.

by ARLnow.com — March 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm 2,473 25 Comments

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Dangerous gaps still remain between the I-395 bridges that run over Four Mile Run, near Shirlington.

Virginia Department of Transportation officials say they’re waiting for the results of a state police investigation into the death of Alexandria paramedic Joshua Weissman before deciding what to do about the gaps. As of today the investigation is “still ongoing,” according to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

Weissman fell through one of the gaps while trying to reach a burning vehicle in the HOV lanes of I-395 on Feb. 8. He fell some 20 to 30 feet into the creek and was knocked unconscious, authorities said at the time. Weissman later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.

From below, the two gaps are clearly visible between the mainline of northbound I-395, an HOV ramp, and the HOV lanes themselves. Beneath the gaps are the Four Mile Run bike trail, a rocky berm littered with debris from the homeless individuals who sleep under the bike trail, and a shallow section of Four Mile Run with a jagged concrete structure in the middle.

The gaps pose the biggest danger to police and firefighters, who often will reach an incident in the HOV lanes via the mainline of I-395. If the incident happens to be on the bridge, as it was in the case of the Feb. 8 car fire, those public safety personnel will have to either hurdle over the gap or walk around it, in order to reach the scene and come to the aid of the victims.

One police official tells ARLnow.com said the gaps are “really not a problem in daylight” but can be especially dangerous at night. There are other gaps between lanes along I-395, including in the area of S. Joyce Street in Pentagon City, the official said, adding that he’s personally aware of at least two close calls involving officers nearly falling through the gaps.

Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz says that placing a grate between the spans may help eliminate the danger.

“It seemed to me that something like a grating… might be a cheap and adequate solution to that problem,” Schwartz said. He added, though, that it “makes sense” for state police to conclude the investigation before “rushing out to do something that in the end might not be a complete solution.”

by ARLnow.com — February 10, 2012 at 5:00 am 2,420 0

An Alexandria paramedic has succumbed to his injuries following a 30 foot fall off a highway bridge Wednesday night.

Joshua Weissman, 33, was on the scene of a vehicle fire on I-395 near Shirlington when he fell through a small gap between the northbound and HOV lanes, on the bridges over Four Mile Run. The Bristow resident, a seven-year veteran of the Alexandria Fire Department, fell into the creek below and was knocked unconscious.

Weissman was extricated from the water by rescuers from Arlington and Alexandria, and was rushed via ambulance to Washington Hospital Center. In the end, however, Weissman’s severe head injury was proved to be fatal.

The Alexandria Fire Department is providing counseling for its personnel and for the Weissman family, including his wife. The couple did not have children. Weissman was based out of Alexandria’s Seminary Road fire station.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm 1,857 50 Comments

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is on Monday, and Arlington has plans to honor the civil rights leader. Here is a short list of some of the events in the area.

The county’s big event is on Sunday at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford St) from 7:00-9:00 p.m. The tribute includes a variety of performances, including a keynote address from Howard University’s Dr. Wilmer Leon, gospel music from Larry Bland and the Volunteer Choir, and a dance tribute by Urban Artistry. The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) will be accepting non-perishable food donations at the program.

Monday is a nationwide Day of Service to honor Dr. King’s call to serve. AFAC is looking for volunteers to help with food drives at the Giant grocery stores on Columbia Pike (2501 9th Rd S.), at Virginia Square (3450 Washington Blvd), at Lyon Village (3115 Lee Hwy) and at Bailey’s Crossroads in Falls Church (3480 S. Jefferson St). Anyone interested can sign up on the AFAC website.

Volunteer Emergency Support Team (VEST) members will host an event on Monday outside the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center (4200 S. Four Mile Run) from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. to distribute emergency preparedness information. Volunteers can sign up on the VEST website.

Also as part of the Day of Service, volunteers are invited to spend Monday afternoon at Long Branch Nature Center to remove invasive plant species. Participants must be at least 10 years old and are encouraged to wear rugged clothes and work gloves. For more information, contact Steve Young at 703-578-4419.

Individuals and families are invited to help in the neighborhood and stream clean-up near Barcroft Park on Monday from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Volunteers will clean up portions of Four Mile Run Road and stream. Due to the popularity of this event, volunteers must register.

Arlington government offices, schools and libraries will be closed on Monday. Metro and ART will be running on a holiday schedule. Metro will also be doing major work on the Orange and Blue lines during the long weekend, starting at 10:00 p.m. on Friday.

by ARLnow.com — December 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm 2,021 12 Comments

Arlington County is warning residents to avoid human or pet contact with the water from Four Mile Run. A petroleum product has reportedly been found in the water.

From a county news release:

Arlington County today advised residents to avoid the water in Four Mile Run, downstream from highway 395 to the Potomac River.

The County issued the warning after the Arlington County Fire Department discovered the petroleum release, from an unknown source, at about 8 a.m. Thursday morning. ACFD was responding to a business owner’s report of a “fuel odor” in Four Mile Run stream. County staff are investigating the source of the release and have placed booms in the stream to collect the petroleum.

To eliminate the risk of exposure to the petroleum, until further notice, residents should:

  • Stay away from the affected waters
  • Keep your pets away
  • Avoid recreational use of Four Mile Run downstream of 395
  • Do not fish, wade or swim in the stream

The advisory to avoid all contact is an extra precaution to allow the effect of the discharge to be diminished by natural flushing of the stream.

NOTE: Residents are reminded that stream water can contain microorganisms that can make people sick, whether the stream is located in an urban area or in the middle of a forest. Even after the discharge is naturally flushed from the stream, the County’s normal precautions for safe use of streams apply. You can find information and safety tips on Arlington streams, including information on reporting stream pollution incidents, on the Department of Environmental Service website.

by Katie Pyzyk — October 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm 3,369 27 Comments

A mysterious green dye has been spotted in the water along Four Mile Run Dr. near S. George Mason Dr.

Arlington County Fire Department’s Hazmat team is on the scene. They say the dye is a non-hazardous drainage detection substance. Bags of this type of dye are sometimes released into a building’s drainage system to make sure there are no leaks or breaks. A nearby building performed this type of test today, and it drains into the creek at Four Mile Run.

The dye does appear to be moving downstream, so other areas may soon see a green hue in the water.

Courtesy photo

by ARLnow.com — September 9, 2011 at 10:00 am 6,377 25 Comments

Despite dozens of flooded basements and a couple of thousand Dominion customers without power, Arlington was largely spared the flooded roads and swift water rescues that took place elsewhere in Northern Virginia.

In fact, Arlington firefighters were able to help out neighboring jurisdictions like Falls Church, Fairfax County and Alexandria during the worst of flooding last night.

That’s not to say, however, that there was no flooding in Arlington. These photos, many of which were taken along Four Mile Run and the W&OD Trail, show just how bad things got.

Photos courtesy Brendan L. and Anonymous

by ARLnow.com — September 2, 2011 at 5:05 pm 2,436 55 Comments

Crews are making progress on safety improvements to a steep portion of Walter Reed Drive. Currently, most of the construction is closer to S. Pollard Street, near the top of the hill, but changes will soon stretch down to Four Mile Run Drive.

Some curb extensions, which are being added at the intersections of Quincy, Quebec and Pollard Streets, have already been poured. Drivers in the area can eventually expect to see planted medians where only painted medians previously existed. Also, the right-hand turn lane onto the Four Mile Run Drive access road will be eliminated for drivers heading downhill on Walter Reed, in favor of traffic turning onto the road at the 90 degree intersection.

Several of the improvements are designed to slow down traffic, while others are intended to protect pedestrians. The construction covers the area, long considered dangerous, where a bicyclist was killed in May.  Many cyclists use this stretch to travel to and from the W&OD Trail and Four Mile Run.

Other pedestrian safety improvements have recently been made on Shirlington Road and Arlington Ridge Road, also in South Arlington, and improvements are planned for a stretch of Glebe Road near Ballston.

Road work on Walter Reed could last up to two months.

by ARLnow.com — July 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm 2,846 82 Comments

Two area civic associations are weighing in on the potential for ‘big box’ retail development on the industrial areas near Shirlington.

Last week the County Board voted to advertise a change in its zoning rules that would require planned commercial buildings over a certain size to seek a ‘Special Exception Use Permit’ from the Board. As we exclusively reported, the move was in response to interest in the industrial sites along Four Mile Run — near Shirlington — by large-format retailers like Walmart.

After our article ran, we asked the leaders of two nearby civic associations what they thought of the Board’s action and the potential for large-format retail development in the area.

Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr., president of the Nauck Civic Association, said he was happy that the Board took the first step to ensuring that large-scale development in the area is given due consideration by the community.

The Nauck Civic Association participated in the decision to seek a Special General Land Use Permit for the Rosenthal [car lot] site and two additional sites in the designated Shirlington Crescent/Four Mile Run Drive area. The community had undertaken years of study of the area, but the study was curtailed a couple of years ago due to budgetary restraints and never adopted. The Association supports the action of the County Board in that it will bring back a continuation of the study previously worked on for a number of years and especially the results of a traffic study that is not binding if the by-right option is exercised under the present zoning. A change in the GLUP will allow the residents of Nauck have a say in the future development of the area.

John Breyault, president of the Long Branch Creek Civic Association, echoed Dr. Taylor’s support of the Board’s action.

Given that property’s proximity to the Long Branch Creek Civic Association, I am very glad to see that the County short-circuited any attempt by Wal-Mart to develop the property “by right” without Board approval (and, presumably, community input).

A big-box retailer like Wal-Mart has a big impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.  We are glad that the County Board has ensured that there is an opportunity for robust community input into the planning process for this property.  We look forward to participating in that process.

We reached out to two entities that represent business and developer interests in Northern Virginia, but both declined to comment on the record.

by ARLnow.com — July 14, 2011 at 11:25 am 38,107 414 Comments

Arlington is taking action to fend off potential by-right development by big box retailers, like Walmart, in the county’s industrial areas.

Just before adjourning for the summer, the County Board quickly and unanimously passed an item that did not appear on the board agenda. The item, a request to advertise public hearings, is the first step to passing a zoning amendment that would effectively prevent Walmart, Target and other large-format retailers (including certain supermarkets) from building stores without the Board’s prior approval.

The Board took the action as Walmart eyes an industrial site near Shirlington, adjacent to I-395 and the former Washington Golf store, for potential development. A source tells ARLnow.com that the retail giant is in the very early stages of a plan to build one of its new, multi-story urban-style stores, like those proposed for the District and Tysons Corner, at the site, which is currently occupied by a large car storage lot. The store, according to the source, would be two to three stories high with a smaller footprint than the typical, suburban Walmart store.

The proposed zoning amendment advertised Tuesday night specifies that any building in a “C-1″ or “C-2″ commercial zone, with a “gross floor area of 50,000 square feet or more on any level” would be subject to prior approval by the County Board under a Special Exception Use Permit. The exception would also apply to buildings with 200 or more parking spaces. Under the current zoning ordinance, Walmart would be able to build a store on the Shirlington site “by right” — without Board approval — a source with knowledge of zoning issues tells us.

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