County Board Approves Projects — The Arlington County Board approved a number of projects at its Saturday meeting. Among the projects approved: Arlington’s portion of the $10.3 million Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway, a new half-million-dollar tot playground at Chestnut Hills Park, and six Neighborhood Conservation Projects in Waverly Hills, Arlington Ridge and elsewhere.
Two Rescued from I-66 Storm Sewer — Two people were rescued Saturday afternoon from a storm sewer on I-66. The confined space rescue tied up traffic on westbound I-66 near Sycamore Street. The individuals were not injured. [Twitter]
Blind ‘Dad’ Mentors Blind Triplets — Born blind and raised by a single mother, the Argel triplets are now 14-years-old and have a new outlook on life thanks to a man who has become like a father to them — so much so that he’s now in the process of formally adopting them. Ollie Cantos, a blind man who lived in the boys’ Arlington neighborhood, has changed the brothers’ lives for the better by helping with their homework, teaching them how to use their canes more effectively and providing moral support during tough times. [NPR]
Advocates Decry Arlington Mill, Langston Changes — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy will unveil his proposed FY 2015 budget this week, but before he does supporters of Arlington Mill High School and the Langston High School Continuation Program are speaking out against possible changes. The advocates are concerned that Murphy may merge the two programs or may do away with APS’ policy of providing education to immigrants after the age of 22. [Sun Gazette]
Del. Sickles: ‘I Am a Proud, Gay Man’ — Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax), one of the 11 Democrats vying to replace Rep. Jim Moran (D) in congress, has revealed that he is gay. That makes Sickles the second openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly. The first was state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who is also running for Moran’s seat. [Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The state Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships (OTP3) announced in July that it was reaching out to developers to gauge interest in leasing VDOT’s air space over I-66, east of N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn, and over the East Falls Church Metro station.
According to county staff, private developers have expressed enough interest that the county wants to further study the plan. An initial study will be rolled into an amended contract with a planning and preservation firm that is already working on the Realize Rosslyn sector plan update. Depending on the outcome of the initial study, the county could fund more study in the future before a decision is reached to lease the air rights.
The previous contract with the firm had been for $493,544, and the County Board is likely to approve an additional $290,706 for not only assisting county staff with the air rights study, but also for an increased role in Realize Rosslyn.
Realize Rosslyn, a planned update to the Rosslyn Sector Plan, has been in the planning stages since 2011. A Board-appointed panel has been charged with sorting through the community concerns and developing the framework for the future direction of Rosslyn development. The panel was initially supposed to meet six times annually, but it has increased its scope of work and has met closer to 22 times annually.
A framework of the sector plan is expected to go before the Board this April, and county staff hope a full new Rosslyn Sector Plan will be complete by November.
Image via OTP3
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) A car has flipped on its roof on I-66 near Rosslyn.
Police and firefighters are responded to the scene, on eastbound I-66 just before Route 110 and the Roosevelt Bridge. Units on the scene reported one person trapped inside the vehicle, but that individual was soon extricated and transported to the hospital.
All but one lane of traffic was blocked at the accident scene, but fire department units have since cleared the scene and traffic is flowing again.
Streetcar Support Remains High in Fairfax County — The McLean edition of the Sun Gazette newspaper reports that Fairfax County officials are not nearly as divided over the Columbia Pike streetcar project as their Arlington counterparts. “While some Republicans on [the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors] have expressed concerns, support among Fairfax officials remains high,” the paper reported. “And with good reason: Fairfax will be responsible for only about 20 percent of the local cost of the project, but plans to use the streetcar’s arrival to spur the redevelopment of Baileys Crossroads.” [Sun Gazette]
Dominion Reports Record Power Demand — Dominion Virginia Power met record demand for electricity during Tuesday’s frigid temperatures. Use of heaters during this week’s “polar vortex” helped push energy demand to 19,730 megawatts during the day on Tuesday. That’s well above the previous peak winter demand record of 18,079 megawatts, set in February 2007, but below the company’s summertime record of 20,061 megawatts, set in July 2011. [Dominion]
Malinosky Elected ACDC Chair — Kip Malinosky, a middle school civics teacher and well-respected Democratic organizer, was elected chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee last night. Malinosky, who succeeds outgoing chair Mike Lieberman, told the Democratic faithful that the local party will remain united despite contested primaries for County Board and School Board. “We’re all in this together,” he said. “When the caucus is over, we will rally behind our candidates.”
Bill Would Outlaw Sex Acts Among Minors — A new bill proposed in the Virginia General Assembly would make oral sex and other “consensual sodomy” legal for adults but illegal for minors. The bills was proposed several months after courts struck down Virginia’s “crimes against nature” law. [Think Progress]
Delegate Wants More I-66 Lanes Inside the Beltway — Del. Jim LeMunyon, a Republican representing part of Fairfax County, has introduced legislation requiring the state to plan a project that would “increase the lane capacity on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway to include at least two-non-high-occupancy vehicle lanes in each direction.” That idea, suggests reporter Michael Neibauer, will likely not sit well here in Arlington. “Arlington officials would probably chain themselves to highway signs before letting it happen,” he wrote. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder
The plan is to create a one mile long auxiliary lane by connecting the Washington Blvd on-ramp to the off-ramp at the Dulles Airport Access Road. Workers will also construct a new 12-foot wide shoulder with full-strength pavement capable of carrying traffic during emergencies. Today, VDOT awarded a $23 million contract for the project to The Lane Construction Corporation.
A similar project was completed in 2011, when the acceleration lane at the Fairfax Drive on-ramp was extended to the deceleration lane at the Sycamore Street off-ramp. That created a continuous lane that stretches for nearly two miles.
The improvements slated to begin next year are scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2015. A third, similar project is planned between Lee Highway and Glebe Road, but it is not yet fully funded.
VDOT will try to do most of the work overnight to minimize the impact on drivers. More details about lane closures and traffic impacts will be announced when the construction schedule is finalized.
Concrete Falling From Bridge — A local bike blog reports that chunks of concrete seem to be falling off the I-66 bridge over Lee Highway, near Lyon Village. Concrete chunks large and small have been accumulating on the sidewalk below the bridge. [Windy Run]
Orange, Blue Line Delays This Weekend — Due to track work and work to mitigate tunnel leaks, Metro trains on the Orange and Blue lines will run every 16 minutes this weekend, instead of the normal 12 minute intervals. [WMATA]
Arlington SAT Scores Rise — The Arlington Public Schools Class of 2o13 had an average SAT score of 1645 this year, up from the two previous years. The state average this year was 1528 while the national average was 1498. Among Arlington students, females averaged 1654 while males averaged 1635. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The incident happened around 2:00 a.m. An inbound Orange Line train struck the man on the aboveground portion of track along I-66, away from either station. The man, a 21-year-old Massachusetts resident, was pronounced dead on the scene, according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.
Eight passengers were aboard the train that struck the man. After an hour delay due to power being cut to the tracks, they were transferred to another train to continue their trip, Stessel said. Other trains were able to get around the incident with minimal delays.
Crime scene investigators from the Arlington County Police Department were called to the scene by WMATA, to assist Metro Transit Police. So far, there’s no word as to how or why the man managed to get on the tracks.
“It is unclear why he was on the tracks,” said Stessel. “The investigation is ongoing.”
Photo courtesy @dangerousashes
The annual America’s 9/11 Ride is passing through Arlington this afternoon.
The riders are expected to head eastbound on I-66 around 2:45 p.m., before motoring southbound on Route 110 and arriving at the Double Tree hotel in Pentagon City (300 Army Navy Drive) by 3:15 p.m. In past years, Arlington County police have set up rolling road closures to ensure safe passage of the convoy.
The bikers started the day at the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pa. They will spend the night in Pentagon City and will hold an event in the Pentagon parking lot early tomorrow morning, before departing for New York City around 7:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy edobson22207
The County Board may decide to decrease speed limits on a number of roads throughout Arlington, including the main thoroughfares from Rosslyn to Clarendon. Board members are scheduled to take up the issue at their meeting on Saturday (July 13).
The Department of Environmental Services conducted studies to examine the viability of changing speed limits on several streets. Information was gathered regarding factors such as vehicle speeds, collisions, traffic volumes, pedestrian and bicyclist activity and development patterns. Studies were performed in the following areas: N. Meade Street from Arlington Blvd to Marshall Drive (formerly Jackson Avenue), Clarendon Blvd from Washington Blvd to N. Oak Street, Wilson Blvd from Route 110 to Washington Blvd, and N. Sycamore Street from Washington Blvd to 17th Street N. and N. Roosevelt Street from 17th Street N. to the county line.
The studies indicated that speed limits along N. Meade Street, Clarendon Blvd and Wilson Blvd could be decreased from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. The N. Sycamore Street/N. Roosevelt Street studies indicated the speed limit could be lowered from 35 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour.
Arlington’s Master Transportation Plan includes a policy to design streets with lower vehicle speeds without impeding or diverting traffic. Part of that involves adopting a 25 mile per hour speed limit in the county’s “downtown” areas where pedestrian traffic is high, such as along Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd.
The Board also has been asked to authorize the correction of speed limit discrepancies along parts of I-395 and I-66. According to VDOT records, the speed in the regular lanes of I-395 from Alexandria to D.C. is 55 miles per hour. The county code, however, was recently discovered to list a portion of the segment as 35 miles per hour, and that the entire segment is 55 miles per hour. There is a similar discrepancy between county code and VDOT records regarding the HOV lanes. Additionally, the county code does not include speed limits for I-66, but VDOT lists the limits at 45 miles per hour and 55 miles per hour, depending on the section in question.
County staff members recommend Board approval for the speed limit discrepancy corrections and for decreasing the speeds along the four stretches of county roads.
The cost of installing new speed limit signs to reflect the changes is estimated to be $5,000. Funds are available in the Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Environmental Services Transportation Engineering and Operations operating budget.
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and County Board Chair Walter Tejada announced Wednesday that the state, county and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are looking into leasing the air rights above I-66 near the East Falls Church and Rosslyn Metro stations in order to generate additional revenues for transportation improvements.
“By leasing airspace above certain transportation facilities owned by the Commonwealth, we can better utilize our existing infrastructure to generate additional revenues to fund future transportation improvements, while at the same time attracting new jobs and economic development,” McDonnell said in a statement. “Additionally, by co-locating these potential developments around existing Metro stations and other major transportation facilities, we can reduce congestion and create more livable communities.”
From the press release:
Air rights development projects have proven a successful revenue generator in other parts of the United States. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, for example, generated $40 million in FY 2011 through leases, with long-term lease income projected at $868 million. Further, earlier this year MassDOT awarded a contract for an additional air rights project through a 99-year lease that will generate $18.5 million (net present value) in rental payments.
“Virginia has long been a leader in partnering with the private sector to advance innovative solutions to our transportation infrastructure needs,” said Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton. “The potential development of these air rights presents a unique opportunity to attract additional private sector investment to the Commonwealth and better utilize our existing assets to fund future transportation projects.”
Arlington County is currently undertaking a review of the Rosslyn Sector Plan. As part of that process, development over I-66 in the northern and eastern edges of the Rosslyn Metro Station area can be evaluated. While there are no existing mixed-use development rights over the I-66 right-of-way at either Rosslyn or the East Falls Church Metro Station location, the East Falls Church Area Plan currently supports mixed use development on VDOT and WMATA’s property next to I-66.
Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada emphasized, “It is important to involve our residents, businesses and developers in this conversation about air rights. We will ensure that any potential transit-orientated development using these air rights in Arlington County is consistent with our community’s vision and is consistent with the County’s land use and transportation plans.”
The state has issued a Request for Information to gauge private sector interest and feasibility. Following the RFI, the county, various state agencies and WMATA will weigh in on assessing how the air rights would match up with the planned development for the communities. The state will then issue a Request for Proposals in the fall, according to the governor’s office.
The Rosslyn project has a suggested location adjacent to the Lynn Street overpass, but staff of the state Office of Public-Private Partnerships said it would consider other areas of I-66 in Rosslyn if those were deemed feasible.
At East Falls Church, the area of I-66 between Sycamore Street and Route 29, including the Metro parking lot to the north, is the targeted area.
The vehicle rollover accident was reported around 11:30 a.m. The occupants of the vehicle were able to get out safely on their own and were unhurt, according to scanner traffic.
Paramedics and firefighters have cleared the scene, and police are awaiting a tow truck to haul away the wreckage.
(Updated at 2:05 p.m.) An SUV overturned on eastbound I-66 between Glebe Road and Quincy Street this afternoon.
The accident happened just after 1:00 p.m. Initial reports suggest the driver of the overturned vehicle got spooked by a merging vehicle and swerved into the median. The SUV then flipped on its side.
A second vehicle that was reported to have been involved in the wreck didn’t stay on scene, but stopped further down I-66, according to scanner traffic.
Only one lane of EB I-66 is getting by the wreck at this time. No word yet on any injuries, but an ambulance was called to the scene.
VDOT has lifted all rush hour HOV restrictions on I-66 inside the Beltway through Tuesday.
The agency says it made the decision to waive the HOV requirement today and tomorrow in order to “help ease delays on arterial routes due to signal outages.” Across Northern Virginia, VDOT says there are more than 80 traffic signals affected by power outages and about 50 roads closed due to downed power lines and trees.
Regular HOV restrictions will remain in effect on I-395 and on I-66 outside the Beltway. HOV rules on I-66 will also be waived on Wednesday due to the July 4 holiday.
Separately, the Office of Personnel Management announced today that it will extend its unscheduled leave/unscheduled telework policy through Tuesday for federal government employees affected by Friday’s storm.
I-66 HOV Restrictions Lifted — To ease congestion on arterial routes, which might be affected by traffic signal outages from Friday’s storm, VDOT lifted the HOV requirement for I-66 inside the Beltway during the morning rush hour.
Federal Gov’t Under Unscheduled Leave Policy — With nearly a quarter of all electricity customers in the D.C. area without power, the federal government is operating under a Unscheduled Leave/Unscheduled Telework Policy for today, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Tejada Still Thinking About Streetcar — Walter Tejada says he still hasn’t decided whether he supports the planned Columbia Pike streetcar line. Tejada says he’s concerned about the streetcar’s impact on affordable housing. ”Transit-oriented development has been cruel” to low income people in Arlington, Tejada is quoted as saying. [Arlington Mercury]
Bolivian Parade Held — Despite the sweltering heat and continuing storm cleanup, Saturday’s AGROBOL Bolivian heritage parade was held as scheduled on Four Mile Run Drive. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
An accident in the Rosslyn tunnel on eastbound I-66 is snarling traffic.
Police have re-opened eastbound I-66, after having shut it down at Spout Run for a while. Traffic is crawling past the accident via the left shoulder.
Initial reports suggest there are injuries, but so far there’s no word on how many people are involved or how severe the injuries.
Drivers are advised to avoid eastbound I-66 until the scene clears, which may take a while. There are also reports of traffic backups along Spout Run and Lee Highway, where traffic had been diverted earlier.