Reporter Verbally Assaulted, Mooned While Investigating Arlington Arrest — A WJLA reporter was met with hostility while looking into the case of two daycare workers arrested near Weenie Beenie for reckless endangerment of children. The two women are accused of driving seven children in a vehicle without securing them in safety restraints. The reporter discovered notices posted on the daycare’s door informing parents that it had been shut down. A woman who said she was a neighbor took down the notices with the cameras rolling, engaged in a verbal assault on the crew and then mooned the camera. [WJLA]
Trash and Hazardous Material Recycling Event on Saturday — The biannual Arlington Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) will take place this Saturday, April 20, at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road) from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Residents are able to bring items such as hazardous materials, metals, bicycles and electronics to be recycled or disposed of. The full list of accepted items is available online.
Man Rescued After Falling onto Metro Tracks — A man fell onto the tracks at the Pentagon City Metro station last week and was rescued by two bystanders. The man reportedly walked right off the train platform while texting on his cell phone as a train was approaching. A bystander in his 70s, along with his daughter, pulled the man to safety before the train arrived. [Washington Post]
Rosslyn ABC Store Closes — The Virginia ABC store at 1731 Wilson Blvd. has closed. A Virginia ABC spokeswoman told ARLnow.com last month that the store would not be renewing its lease, which expires April 30.
Streetcar Critics Keep Watch on Financing — The Arlington County Republican Committee vows to keep watch on county officials to make sure they follow the rules when finalizing the project’s financing package. The group opposes the streetcar plan and contends the County Board will go to any lengths to secure financing in order to avoid a voter referendum on the issue. Last week, the federal government declined the joint funding application from Arlington and Fairfax counties for the project. [Sun Gazette]
(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Metro Transit Police have stepped up patrols in response to this afternoon’s deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon.
“Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald Pavlik has ordered all day-shift patrol officers to remain on duty through this evening’s rush hour to increase the security posture of the transit system,” Metro said in a press release. “Metro is taking this step in an abundance of caution. There is no specific or credible threat against the Metro system at this time.”
“Customers are urged to report suspicious activity or unattended packages by calling Metro Transit Police at (202) 962-2121,” Metro said. “Metro Transit Police continue to monitor events in Boston and will take appropriate measures to heighten security.”
Outside the Pentagon City Metro this afternoon, two Metro Transit Police officers watched riders enter and exit the station. One had military-style rifle and the other had a police dog.
So far, Arlington County Police do not have specific plans to step up staffing levels or patrols, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Arlington’s bomb squad also has not made any staffing changes, according to fire department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
Local residents who have friends and loved ones at the Boston Marathon, meanwhile, have been using the Facebook pages of local running stores like Pacers and Potomac River Running to keep track of their whereabouts and well-being.
Metro is organizing the event in advance of the Silver Line’s expected completion and opening late this year. The public is invited to learn about changes to Orange and Blue Line service that will accompany the Silver Line’s opening, and to speak with and ask questions of Metro officials.
The open house is taking place at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel (1800 Jefferson Davis Highway) from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. this coming Saturday, March 16.
In addition to the informational portion of the event, there will be children’s activities, free snacks and and a raffle. The Arlington open house is one of three planned this week.
The Silver Line will at first run to Tysons Corner and Reston. A second phase of the project, which will take several more additional years to build, will connect with Dulles International Airport.
World Gym Now ‘Exercise Nation’ — The poorly-reviewed World Gym at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive has changed hands and is now “Exercise Nation,” a small low-cost gym chain with existing locations near Baltimore. Memberships start at $10/month. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Ramps Up Anti-Harassment Campaign — This month Metro began tracking all forms of sexual harassment, one additional step in the agency’s ongoing anti-harassment campaign. [Greater Greater Washington]
Four Mile Run Watershed Cleanup — Arlington County is organizing a watershed cleanup for Four Mile Run on Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will be asked to help clean up at one of several sites along Four Mile Run, Arlington’s largest watershed. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Forum to Feature Streetcar Supporters, Opponents — On April 10, the Arlington Committee of 100 will hold a forum about the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar. A streetcar supporter, Arlington Chamber of Commerce chairman David DeCamp, will face off against a streetcar opponent, “Peter’s Take” columnist and former Arlington County Democratic Committee chairman Peter Rousselot. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Metro is planning to launch a new bus line, the 9X line, to run in dedicated transit lanes between parts of south Arlington and Alexandria. The Alexandria portion — to run from the Braddock Road Metro station to Potomac Yard via Route 1 — is expected to open in spring 2014. The Arlington portion — from the Pentagon City Metro station to the Crystal City Metro station to Potomac Yard — is expected to open in summer or fall 2014, according to Arlington County Senior Transit Engineer Matthew Huston.
At first, the line will travel in mixed traffic on 15th Street Pentagon City and Crystal City. Eventually it will utilize the extended and contiguous 12th Street. The line will travel south in new dedicated bus lanes along S. Clark and S. Bell Street, and north along Crystal Drive.
The bus lanes will take the place of an existing, standard travel lane. They will be reserved for buses and emergency vehicles only during the morning and evening rush hours, but will be open to mixed traffic during all other times. Street parking will not be impacted by the changes.
As part of the still-evolving plan for what’s called the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway, the existing 9S bus line will be extended to Potomac Yard and will run along the new dedicated lanes. The 9X and 9S will provide frequent service — every 6 minutes — and will serve a consolidated list of stops.
There will be seven new stops built in Arlington between Crystal City and Potomac Yard. Those stops will feature electronic information displays and other enhanced features. The buses will still serve on-street stops between the Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations.
The dedicated bus lanes will eventually be used as the right-of-way for the new Crystal City streetcar, though so far county officials aren’t providing a timeline for its eventual construction.
Planning, design and construction of Arlington’s portion of the transitway, which will also include the construction of new dedicated lanes between 26th Street and Glebe Road, is expected to cost the county about $17.5 million. Metro will pick up the tab for 13 new BRT-style buses, at a cost of about $650,000 apiece.
Metro is currently conducting an online survey about the design and branding of the buses. Possible names for the bus service include “Metro Beat” and “Metro Way.” It also asks about possible nicknames for the bus line, with options like: Crystal to Brad Line, Power House Corridor, City to the Yard Corridor, Potomac Yard Corridor, Tower Corridor, and Jeff Davis Corridor.
In an introduction, the survey emphasized that this would be Metro’s first BRT service.
Metro, in conjunction with Arlington County and the City of Alexandria will be introducing a new unique bus service to the region. Special stops and bus-only lanes will be introduced that will allow the bus to run on a very tight schedule. This corridor will be the first such service in the Washington region. Below is a map that shows the new route. The new service (sometimes called Bus Rapid Transit) will be different than anything the Washington region has seen before.
Also called Presidents Day, the holiday marks the end of a string of winter federal holidays. The next federal holiday is Memorial Day, on May 27.
In Arlington, all courts, schools, libraries and county offices will be closed. All community centers will be closed, with the exception of the Barcroft Community Center, which will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown pools will be open on a holiday schedule. Monday marks the last day before the pools start their spring schedule.
Trash and recycling collection will proceed as normal.
A long-range strategic plan for Metro, released today, includes the possibility of two new stations in Arlington, a new tunnel from Rosslyn to Georgetown, and a new streetcar bridge from Arlington to D.C.
The “next generation” plan, dubbed “Momentum,” would expand the Metro system to “help ensure the long-term competitiveness of the National Capital Region and keep pace with demand from expected population growth,” according to WMATA.
The plan calls for the following to be completed by 2025:
- Upgrade of Metro’s electrical system to allow the system to operate 100% 8-car trains. (Cost: $2 billion)
- New connection from the Orange/Silver Line to the Blue Line, bypassing Rosslyn station. Alternatively, the plan calls for a new Rosslyn Metro station. (Cost: $1 billion)
The plan calls for the following to be completed by 2040:
- New Pentagon Metro station that would allow Orange/Silver Line trains to reach D.C. via the Yellow Line bridge. (Cost: $600 million)
- Orange/Silver Line “express track” from West Falls Church to a second Rosslyn Metro station. (Cost: $2.3 billion)
- Extending the Orange Line to Centreville and Bowie, and the Blue Line to Potomac Mills. (Cost: $6.8 billion)
- New Yellow Line alignment from Pentagon to Thomas Circle via tunnel under 10th Street. (Cost: $2.7 billion)
- New Blue Line tunnel from Rosslyn to Georgetown, new tunnel from Georgetown to Thomas Circle via M Street. (Cost: $3.3 billion)
- MARC commuter rail extension from Union Station to Crystal City. (Cost: TBD)
- Connection between Columbia Pike/Crystal City streetcar and D.C., across the Potomac. (Cost: $200 million)
WMATA, which is funded by contributions from the federal government and D.C. area localities like Arlington, says it would need an addition $500 million in funding per year to accomplish its 2025 goals, and an additional $740 million per year for the 2040 projects. That’s on top of the $1 billion per year it needs just to maintain the existing system.
Without the pricey improvements, Metro officials say the system will soon run out of ridership capacity.
“Our customers know that many trains, stations and buses are already crowded and we need to begin planning now to prevent that from worsening and prepare for more riders,” Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles said in a statement. “As the jurisdictions plan various expansion projects, we also need to make sure that we have a seamless, multimodal, transit network and Metro is in a unique position to serve as the transit planner for the national capital region.”
The Washington Post has additional details about the Metro Momentum plan, including D.C. improvements to Metrorail and regional improvements to Metrobus.
Metro Closing Several Pentagon Escalators — Metro will begin its third major escalator replacement at the Pentagon station on February 4. Three of the six “southside escalators” at the station entrance will be shut down for replacement with new, more reliable units. Customers will still be able to use the three other escalators on the north side. [WMATA]
Proposal to Extend Voting Hours Fails — The proposal by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) to extend voting times in Virginia has failed in committee. The measure would have pushed poll closing time from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. [Sun Gazette]
Claremont Elementary School Earns Health Award — The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) and Sodexo presented Claremont Elementary School with the Healthy Schools Award for being one of five schools having the most participants in the MCM-organized Healthy Kids Fun Run in October. The Claremont P.E. department received $1,000 and each student received a healthy snack pack from Sodexo. [Arlington Public Schools]
Emergency Winter Shelter Open — Because of the extreme cold, the county’s Emergency Winter Shelter, which is usually only open at night, will be open all day today. If you see someone in Arlington needing shelter from the cold, call 703-228-7395.
A tipster sent a photo showing smoke flowing from the grate over Metro at Fairfax Drive and N. Utah Street.
According to Metro’s Twitter activity, debris inside a vent shaft began smoldering but there was no fire inside the station. The Arlington County Fire Department confirmed the smoke came from leaves that had ignited in a ventilation grate. Capt. Gregg Karl said that sometimes occurs if a passerby tosses a cigarette through the grates and debris below ignites.
The trouble started just before 4:00 p.m., and for about 15 minutes trains skipped the Ballston station while the smoldering debris was extinguished. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the brief incident affected two trains in each direction. Fans were brought in to clear the smoke and trains are again running on a normal schedule.
Photo courtesy @CAPT258
Metro is performing “NTSB-recommended track circuit replacement, fastener replacement and joint elimination,” according to the agency’s website. Buses will replaces trains between Pentagon and Rosslyn from about 10 p.m. Friday to system closing on Sunday.
Trains will run from Rosslyn to Largo Town Center at regular weekend intervals, Metro said. The other segment of the Blue Line — starting at Franconia-Springfield — will take the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac to Mount Vernon Square.
Those using the free shuttle bus between Pentagon and Rosslyn should allow 20 minutes of additional travel time, Metro said.
Photo by BrianMKA
The above photo on the left shows the Clarendon Metro station under construction, before it opened in December 1979. Clarendon first became part of a streetcar line in 1896, as a transfer point between the Rosslyn-Clarendon line and the D.C.-Falls Church line. The current Metro Orange Line closely follows the old Rosslyn-Clarendon route.
In 1920, the same year the Virginia legislature officially named Arlington (previously known as Alexandria County) to avoid confusion with the City of Alexandria, there was an effort to incorporate Clarendon as a town. The courts eventually prevented it from going through. Under current Virginia law, counties that have population densities greater than 1,000 people per square mile cannot create a new municipality within the county.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Clarendon affectionately became known as “Little Saigon” due to a number of Vietnamese restaurants opening in the neighborhood. Queen Bee is one of those restaurants, pictured in the late 1980s photo on the above right.
Below is a photo of how that section of Clarendon looks today. Spider Kelly’s now occupies 3181 Wilson Blvd, which is where Queen Bee was located until it closed in 2006.
Historic photos courtesy Arlington Public Library’s Virginia Room
Rosslyn Lights Up Tonight — The 19th annual Light Up Rosslyn night is tonight. The holiday event is taking place from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. in front of the WJLA building (1100 Wilson Blvd). Local officials will flip a big switch to “light up” the Rosslyn skyline. In addition, there will be musical groups performing and free hot cocoa, chili, cider and cookies. [Rosslyn BID]
Reduction in Blue Line Service Planned — Metro plans to further reduce service on the Blue Line when the Silver Line to Tysons Corner opens. With the Silver Line in operation, perhaps by the end of 2013, Blue Line trains will run every 12 minutes between Franconia-Springfield and Largo, during both peak and off-peak hours. [Washington Post]
More Commuters Are Using Transit – Updated at 10:10 a.m. — There has been a significant jump in the number of Arlington residents using mass transit as their primary means of commuting to work, according to U.S. Census figures. In 2011, 28.4 percent of residents used transit, compared to 23.3 percent in 2000. [Sun Gazette]
Winter is Coming – This week is Winter Preparedness Week. Though the weather might have been warm over the past few days, Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management is advising residents to take steps to prepare for winter weather. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Update at 5:55 p.m. — All Arlington Public Schools (except Barcroft Elementary) will open on time tomorrow (Wednesday). “Parents are asked to be patient as buses may need to work around road closures in some parts of the county, causing delays on some routes,” said school spokesman Frank Bellavia.
All county government offices, libraries, courts, community centers, and nature centers will also be open.
Roads are gradually being cleared, dark homes are lighting up and residents are attempting to return to a sense of normalcy following Superstorm Sandy.
Currently, Dominion’s outage map shows 14,645 Arlington customers without power. The company promises to have crews working around the clock until power is restored. It’s hoping to complete its restoration efforts by Thursday night.
The federal government will be open for business tomorrow, according to the Office of Personnel Management, which will mean increased traffic on neighborhood streets that are still littered with storm debris.
Metro has resumed bus and train service and is slowly getting all lines back up to normal operation. Trains are running on a Sunday schedule. ART buses also resumed service this afternoon on routes 41 and 51. There may be delays if there is debris in the roads along the routes.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reports that Reagan National Airport fared well and didn’t experience any damage or flooding. Most flights are still cancelled today but there are a few taking off and arriving. Travelers are urged to check with their airlines directly for information about flights before going to the airport. MWAA will provide updates via Twitter as more flights begin to take off.
Early voters can go to Courthouse Plaza until 7:00 p.m. for in-person absentee voting. For now, the Barcroft and Madison locations remain closed, but the county hopes they can open tomorrow in addition to the Courthouse location. More information about absentee voting can be found online.
Trash and recycling services, including brush and leaf collection, will resume Wednesday. Monday/Tuesday pickups have been rescheduled for Wednesday, and Wednesday/Thursday pickups have been rescheduled for Friday. Storm debris removal can be requested online or by calling 703-228-6570. The normal requirement for brush to be less than 18 inches in diameter will be waived.
The county notes that an additional 2,000 people signed up for the Arlington Alert system during the storm, bringing the number of total subscribers to more than 50,000. The system provides emergency information updates via email or text message. Anyone interested in receiving alerts during the storm cleanup and for future public safety events can sign up online.
The project’s groundbreaking ceremony will take place next Tuesday, September 4, and construction is expected to last six weeks. The overhaul includes upgrading lighting, landscaping, pedestrian walkways, seating and a visitor information kiosk.
“We’re really excited about this, about the transformation coming to Crystal City,” said Crystal City BID President Angela Fox.
Fox added that many people will benefit from the facelift, considering the Metro Gateway area receives even more foot traffic than the other areas — Southern Gateway and Northern Gateway (Long Bridge Park area) — that were recently renovated. An estimated 26,000 riders use that Metro station daily.
The Metro entrance will remain open throughout the renovating period, although at times pedestrians may have to take detours around some construction in the plaza. If everything goes well, the project should be completed by mid-October.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
(Updated at 10:00 p.m.) The suspect in a shooting at the Family Research Council in D.C. might have parked at the East Falls Church Metro station, ARLnow.com has learned.
FBI agents and Metro Police officers blocked off part of the parking lot at the East Falls Church Metro station with crime tape this afternoon. When we photographed the scene, investigators were still in the process of obtaining a warrant to search a car in the parking lot that they believe belongs to the shooting suspect, according to FBI Washington Field Office spokeswoman Rebecca Callahan. Later, news footage showed a silver Dodge Neon being searched and photographed.
The shooting happened around 10:45 this morning at the Family Research Council building at 801 G Street NW, in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood. A guard was shot in the arm while confronting a gunman in the building’s lobby, according to various news reports. The gunman was arrested, placed in FBI custody, and charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon.
In a statement, the FBI has identified the suspect as Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, of Herndon, Va.
The Family Research Council is a conservative Christian lobbying organization that opposes gay rights, abortion, pornography and stem cell research.
Photos by Katie Pyzyk