Coyote Spottings in Arlington? — Some residents in the Leeway Overlee area of Arlington have recently reported spotting a coyote in their neighborhood. While video has proven the presence of coyotes — or at least one coyote — in Arlington, naturalists question whether the animal spotted might actually be a fox or a mangy dog. [NBC Washington]
GOP AG Debate at GMU Law Tonight — The George Mason University School of Law in Arlington will host a debate between the two Republican candidates for Virginia Attorney General tonight. The event, which is open to the public, will start at 7:30 p.m. and will be moderated by former attorney general and governor Jim Gilmore. [Republican National Lawyers Association]
Arlington ‘Avoiding D.C.’s Traffic Nightmare’ — Arlington County has managed to avoid the “traffic nightmare” that’s facing nearby D.C. thanks to a “multifaceted effort to curb car-dependence” that serves as “a regional model,” according to WAMU. [WAMU]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Commuters are experiencing major backups on the GW Parkway due to a serious accident in Fairfax County.
The crash occurred on the GW Parkway near Route 123. According to an Arlington Alert email, traffic was shut down in both directions to allow a Medevac helicopter to land.
Backups on the northbound lanes of the Parkway reportedly extend down to the Memorial Bridge
School Boundary Meeting on Wednesday — Arlington Public Schools will hold its next school boundary meeting on Wednesday (February 6), at 7:00 p.m. in the Williamsburg Middle School auditorium. APS will share feedback gathered at the January 23 meeting, and present a smaller set of boundary options. After reviewing the options, meeting attendees will have the opportunity to offer feedback. The final set of options is expected to be offered to the School Board in late March.
Metro Region Worst for Traffic — The annual Texas A&M Transportation Institute survey lists the D.C. metro area as number one for the country’s worst traffic congestion, topping Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Boston. The average driver is said to spend 67 hours per year sitting in traffic. Analysts believe drivers will add seven hours to that number by 2020. [Washington Post]
Cuccinelli Backs Alternative Transportation Plan – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is not backing Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation plan, but rather a plan that’s considered the conservative alternative. Instead of eliminating the gas tax and increasing the sales tax as McDonnell’s plan proposed, the alternative plan would replace the current gas tax with a sales tax on gasoline. McDonnell’s plan has been controversial, including when the Arlington County Board bashed the proposal late last month. [Washington Examiner]
Free Pancakes at IHOP — Customers at IHOP can get a free short stack of pancakes today. Guests celebrating National Pancake Day are encouraged to leave a donation for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The offer is limited to one stack per customer while supplies last. Arlington’s lone IHOP is at 935 N. Stafford Street in Ballston.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Initial reports suggest the accident involved an off-duty police officer in his or her personal vehicle. The HOV lanes are partially blocked near Glebe Road as a result of the accident. HOV traffic is getting by on the shoulder.
At least one mainline southbound and northbound lane of I-395 is also blocked. Southbound traffic is currently slowing near the Pentagon.
Starting this week, the police department has assigned extra traffic patrols to the area during the morning rush hour, when gridlock gets especially bad on Lynn Street. (Although traffic is often heavy during the evening rush hour, as well.)
The officers will remind drivers that it’s illegal to block the box — to enter into an intersection during a green light when there is no room to clear the intersection. For now, the officers will not be issuing citations, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, who called morning congestion on Lynn Street a “disaster.”
“You should expect to see additional police presence in that area,” Sternbeck said. ”We’re hoping in the immediate future that this education campaign will get people to change their behavior. Hopefully we can make an impact there, because it’s been a concern for a long time.”
In support of the campaign, the Transportation Engineering and Operations Bureau of Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services will be installing “Do Not Block Intersection” signs at all of the intersections along N. Lynn Street between Wilson Boulevard and the Key Bridge. Existing Do Not Block Intersection signs at N. Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard, meanwhile, will be replaced with larger versions of the sign.
“The signs are currently being fabricated and should be installed within the next three (3) weeks,” said DES spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy. In addition to the signs, this coming spring DES will be installing pavement markings at the Wilson Boulevard and Lynn Street intersection which are intended to “help define the ‘box.’”
Lynn Street serves commuters heading to the GW Parkway, I-66 and D.C. via the Key Bridge.
A cyclist was struck by a vehicle at the dangerous intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway around 8:15 this morning. The cyclist was treated for a reported knee injury and transported to the hospital.
Although emergency activity from the accident blocked a right-hand lane of Lynn Street, the bigger traffic problem was the ramp to the northbound GW Parkway. According to scanner traffic, ongoing rock stabilization work on the parkway — which has blocked a left-hand lane — is causing traffic on the parkway to slow and, in turn, is causing major delays for traffic merging on to the parkway from Rosslyn.
As of 8:30 a.m., cars heading to the parkway were backed up all the way to Wilson Blvd on Lynn Street.
Supposedly, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the Tuesday after Labor Day was “Terrible Traffic Tuesday.”
But while traffic last Tuesday was actually fairly manageable, traffic today on this Tuesday seems a bit more terrible, at least on one local highway.
Traffic is heavy — moving slowly but steadily — for most of the stretch of northbound I-95/I-395 all the way from Newington to the 14th Street Bridge, according to traffic cameras.
Students Head Back to School — Today is the first day of school for nearly 23,000 Arlington Public School students. School start times vary in Arlington, from 7:50 a.m. for middle schools to 9:24 a.m. for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary program. Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy has created a back-to-school video for students and parents. Arlington County, meanwhile, is urging drivers to be especially cautious on the roads this morning.
AAA Warns of ‘Terrible Traffic Tuesday’ — AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning of “the mother of all gridlock” today, a day the organization has dubbed “Terrible Traffic Tuesday.” With students heading back to school and workers back from summer vacations, AAA expects traffic congestion to spike 26 percent compared to mid-summer. Adding to the congestion in Arlington will be the 146 yellow APS school buses on the roads. [AAA Mid-Atlantic, Bethesda Now]
Special Election Today — Voters in Virginia’s 45th House of Delegates District will head to the polls today in the special election to replace Del. David Englin, who resigned following the admission that he had an extramarital affair. The three candidates in the race are Tim McGhee (R), Rob Krupicka (D) and Justin Malkin (L). Only five electoral precincts in Arlington are included in the 45th District: Aurora Hills, Fairlington, Abingdon, Oakridge, and Shirlington. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
Despite quickly rising gas prices – jumping at least 40 cents in the past two months – AAA says this will be the busiest Labor Day weekend in terms of travel since 2008 and the start of the recession. It’s the third summer holiday travel period this year projected to set a post-recession record.
Some 799,900 Washington area residents are expected to travel more than 50 miles for Labor Day, up 3.5 percent from 2011. Of those travelers, 86.8 percent are expected to travel by car, 7.9 percent by air, and 5.3 percent by other means.
AAA is cautioning travelers to check weather forecasts before they leave, however, as Tropical Storm Isaac continues to head north from the Gulf coast
“As they prepare to embark on their Labor Day vacation trips, local residents are urged to stay abreast of local forecasts both at their departure city and at their points of destinations,” said Lon Anderson, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Managing Director of Public and Government Affairs. “While it is challenging to predict the impact that Hurricane Isaac may have on Labor Day travel plans, tropical storms and hurricanes, like this one, typically do not negatively influence travel at the national level.”
“It’s very encouraging that the total number of 2012 Labor Day holiday travelers across the nation and the Washington metro region is expected to reach a new post-recession high,” Anderson continued. “Even more encouraging, this is a travel ‘trifecta’ or the third such increase in holiday travel during this summertime. Clearly, Americans and Washingtonians are trying to put the recession behind them.”
The accident was reported between 7:00 and 7:30, and was said to be blocking several lanes. The lane closures have since been cleared, but as a result of residual delays traffic is crawling all the way back to Alexandria on I-395.
Other main routes that feed onto I-395 also seem to be affected. Eastbound traffic on Route 50, Washington Boulevard and Columbia Pike is very heavy, and delays have also been reported on the GW Parkway near Reagan National Airport.
Alternate streets, such as Route 110 and Route 50, have become jammed as well. Although parts of the George Washington Parkway seem to be moving, other areas are moving slowly, such as the area near the airport.
Drivers should expect significant delays for the morning commute, and should check alternate routes.
The car chase started in Tysons Corner, when Fairfax County began pursuing a vehicle after a reported grand larceny, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The chase took pursuing officers onto the George Washington Parkway, into the District and into Arlington National Cemetery, before ending in the wreck on Memorial Circle, according to television news reports.
A large contingent of Arlington fire trucks and medic units were dispatched to the scene of the crash, to treat six people injured in the SUV. A photo posted to Twitter depicts the SUV with severe front-end damage on a grassy area just off the circle.
Among the law enforcement agencies that played a role in the chase were Fairfax County Police, U.S. Park Police and Virginia State Police. Arlington County Police were not involved in the chase and only played a traffic control role following the accident.
Around 4:30 p.m., Metro reported that as a result of the accident, 7Y buses toward Federal Triangle were experiencing delays of 20-25 minutes due traffic on the Memorial Bridge.
Photo courtesy @CAPT258
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has launched a study, called the Super NoVA Transit/Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Vision Plan, examining transit in Northern Virginia. It evaluates issues such as commuting patterns and projected travel demand for what is considered one of the most congested areas in the entire state.
The study will look at possible enhancements for transit and provide a vision for improving mobility throughout the region without increasing the number of vehicles occupied by only one person. When completed in the fall, the study will lay out short-term strategies along with long-term solutions through 2040.
Meetings are being held throughout Northern Virginia to explain the study and collect public input. DRPT will hold an open house on Tuesday at the Crystal City Shops from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in front of the Rite Aid Pharmacy (1671 Crystal Square Arcade).
An online survey is also available until March 1 for those who cannot attend the open house but would like to give feedback.
Update at 7:30 p.m. on 2/9/12 — The victim, paramedic Joshua Weissman, has succumbed to his injuries.
(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) An Alexandria paramedic fell about 30 feet from I-395 into Four Mile Run while responding to a call near Shirlington tonight.
Just before 6:30 p.m. emergency crews were called to I-395 near Shirlington Circle for two separate incidents: a three-vehicle crash in the northbound lanes and a vehicle fire in the HOV lanes, according to Virginia State Police
An Alexandria paramedic responding to the call stopped in the northbound lanes, alongside the HOV lanes, in an effort to reach the burning vehicle. We’re told the paramedic somehow fell through a small gap between the guardrails, between the northbound lanes and the HOV lanes, and landed in the creek. The gap is visible in the photos above.
The medic has been identified by police as 33-year-old Joshua Weissman, a seven year veteran.
Rescuers from Arlington and Alexandria were able to reach Weissman and extricate him from the water. CPR was performed, according to fire radio traffic. He was taken downstream to S. Cleveland Street and then transported via ambulance to Washington Hospital Center with what Thiel described as critical injuries. Authorities initially wanted to airlift the Weissman to the hospital, but were not able to due to the rainy weather, we’re told.
The northbound HOV lanes of I-395 were shut down for an extended period of time during and after the incident. As of 10:30 p.m., three lanes of northbound I-395 remained closed and traffic before the scene was still heavy.
The vehicle fire, meanwhile severely snarled traffic on southbound I-395 during the latter part of the evening rush hour. All HOV lanes were closed for at least a half hour during the fire response.
As of Thursday afternoon, Weissman was still in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Virginia State Police say they’re continuing to investigate the accident.
Photo (above, right) via Google Maps
Efforts by residents to reduce traffic headaches in the Barcroft neighborhood appear to have paid off. Residents report that the increase in shuttle buses for government workers affected by BRAC has diminished the number of cars clogging the neighborhood.
In July, we reported about resident concerns over an additional 1,200 workers flooding the Barcroft neighborhood due to the Base Realignment and Closure Act. People living in the area were concerned about workers parking on the streets and dangerous traffic congestion on George Mason Drive. They appealed to Rep. Jim Moran for help.
Moran asked that the plan for shuttle buses between Arlington Hall and the Pentagon Center be expedited to ease the traffic burden, and shuttles started running on September 6. Now, residents report this action has helped improve traffic conditions and safety over the past few months.
“I believe the diligent work by Congressman Moran’s office and the determination of our neighbors to make clear boundaries really paid off,” said Barcroft School and Civic League President Pat Williamson.
Williamson says although there’s still some congestion along George Mason during the morning rush, the situation is much improved and she hasn’t received any new complaints from neighbors.
“The new Arlington Hall shuttle bus service is a testament to the impact of an engaged, active community,” Moran said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Barcroft residents, Arlington Hall employees and the Defense Department to smooth out any wrinkles caused by BRAC.”
Also being credited is the increase in Metrobus service along the route. WMATA had previously promised to increase the frequency of 22A buses, and as of this week, added additional stops to the route.
Mark Center Parking Capped — A roughly 2,000 spot parking cap is being put in place at the Mark Center in Alexandria, thanks to language placed in a federal appropriations bill. The cap should avert a feared traffic congestion nightmare around the Mark Center, located at the Seminary Road exit off of I-395. Thousands of Department of Defense jobs from Arlington and elsewhere are being transferred to the Mark Center, but transportation infrastructure improvement projects around the Center are still underway. [Rep. Jim Moran]
Ballston BID’s New Director — The new Ballston Business Improvement District formally announced last week that it has hired Tina Leone as its first executive director. Leone was previously president and CEO of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. [Ballston BID]
Cemetery Transfer May Not Be Necessary — A federal review of operations at Arlington National Cemetery concluded last week that a proposed transfer of the cemetery from the Army to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs may no longer be necessary. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief