(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) A group of bystanders helped out a Metro rider last night (Tuesday) by tracking down and detaining three men who allegedly tried stealing a woman’s cell phone.
Springfield resident Jonathan Jackson says he was riding the Blue Line home around 7:00 p.m., when he noticed a man acting suspiciously. When the doors opened at Arlington Cemetery, the situation grew weirder.
“All of a sudden we saw this guy weaving in and out of the train cars,” Jackson said. “He ran into our car and then ran into the next car down.”
Just as the chimes were ringing for the doors to close, Jackson says a woman ran out of the train yelling that the man had stolen her phone. That’s when Jackson ran off the train and onto the platform trying to find the accused thief. He saw that farther down the platform, several people had tackled the man.
“At that point, I thought the best thing I can do is call the cops,” said Jackson.
Jackson called 911 while others detained the alleged thief.
“It really was a team effort, but nobody even knew each other,” said Jackson.
Jackson says for a while, two other men, who appeared to be the alleged thief’s friends, tried freeing him while he was being held on the ground. After a few minutes, however, they took off. Jackson believes bystanders followed the friends and pointed them out to police, because they were detained along with the accused thief.
Metro Transit Police were the arresting officers, and they were assisted by Arlington County Police. According to WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel, the accused thief is 17 -years-old, and has been charged with robbery. Police talked to the other two people who were detained because they matched witness descriptions, but both were released.
“We’ve had a few snatch robbery events this year where witnesses or victims chased after the criminal,” Stessel said. “But it’s not something we encourage because of the potential of injury. It’s always best to let the property go. This one has a happy ending, we’re certainly happy for that.”
Jackson believes the train driver must have seen what was going on, because he kept the doors open while bystanders ran down the platform to catch the alleged thief. The train reportedly ended up holding at the station for about 10 minutes, until police arrived and were able to make arrests.
Although he has heard of people having their electronic devices stolen on the Metro, Jackson said it was far different to witness it. While he obviously can’t say for certain, he said it didn’t seem like this was a one time incident.
“It seemed like it was pretty well coordinated,” Jackson said. “But they just didn’t anticipate a group of people stepping in.”
There are no reports of injuries from the incident.
A contract worth more than $760,000 to improve the Clarendon Metro Plaza is up for approval at the County Board meeting this Saturday, May 19. The board is scheduled to vote on granting the contract to Fort Myer Construction Corporation.
The revamp involves installing new landscaping, pavers, irrigation, seating, lighting, curbs and gutters. It’s designed to provide a larger public space where community functions, such as the farmers’ market, can be held.
The plaza’s fountain will stay, but will receive upgraded water lines. Additionally, the changes should improve drainage in the plaza.
The ADA-compliant design also includes new sidewalk ramps, a curb extension at the northwest corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Highland Street and new pedestrian crossings at Clarendon Blvd, N. Highland Street and Wilson Blvd.
The county has been coordinating with WMATA during the planning process. However, the site is, and will remain, county property up to the elevator and escalator landing areas. The Department of Parks and Recreation will continue its maintenance of the plaza.
Construction, which was expected to have begun already, is now anticipated to begin shortly after board approval. It will be completed in phases so pedestrians continue to have access to the Metro escalators and elevators.
Update on 5/16/12 — Project Manager Tom Hutchings says the county wants to avoid interfering with major events near the plaza this summer. Construction is expected to start after the Air Force Cycling Classic Clarendon Cup on Saturday, June 9. The goal is to have the plaza finished before Clarendon Day at the end of September.
Defibrillator’s Batteries Weren’t Charged — Metro General Manager Richard Sarles has ordered a review of the agency’s automated external defibrillator (AED) program after it was revealed that the AED used to try to revive a man suffering a heart attack at the Pentagon Metro station on Monday had “insufficient battery charge.” The man later died. [Dr. Gridlock]
Favola Gets Top Business Rating — State Sen. Barbara Favola was the most “business-friendly” member of the Arlington legislative delegation in 2012, according to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. During her recent campaign Favola was criticizing for taking big donations from real estate developers. [Sun Gazette]
Clock Ticking for River Place Owners — It may be 40 years away, but owners of the 1,720 co-ops and apartments at River Place in Rosslyn may no longer have a home after 2052. That’s because the sprawling residential complex sits on land that the River Place Owner’s Association doesn’t own, but rather leases from an estate. [UrbanTurf]
Man Chases iPad Thief at Airport Metro Station — An alleged 18-year-old thief was eventually apprehended after he reportedly stole an iPad from an auxiliary police officer on a Metro train at Reagan National Airport. The auxiliary cop, whose day job is at the Pentagon, chased the thief and was able to get his iPad back. [Washington Post]
Teen Job Fair This Weekend — The 16th annual Arlington Teen Summer Expo is being held from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. The event brings Arlington teens, businesses and non-profits together to help teens find ”the perfect summer job or volunteer experience.” [Arlington Teen Summer Expo]
(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) If the County Board approves the construction contract, work could start soon on a major road improvement project near the Pentagon City mall.
An agenda item is on the table to award a contract to Milani Construction LLC for the work along S. Hayes Street from S. 15th Street to Army Navy Drive. There will also be improvements made to the Pentagon City Metro station plazas. The contract is worth more than $9 million.
The project is designed to improve safety along the corridor for both pedestrians and drivers. Some of the changes in the area will include new bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks and lane markings, along with areas to cross the street mid-block. New ADA ramps and pedestrian crossing equipment will be installed at all intersections, as will upgraded traffic lights with new timing. Improved landscaping, including bioretention basins and rain gardens for stormwater runoff, will be installed, along with additional street trees and upgraded street furniture.
The two Pentagon City Metro stations will see some upgrades like new canopies, wider sidewalks and better lighting.
The county worked with members of the community, VDOT and WMATA to devise the design. As part of an agreement from 2006, VDOT will reimburse Arlington for 80 percent of the project costs, up to $5.9 million.
The County Board is scheduled to take up the issue at its meeting on Saturday.
“This purpose of this outreach is to let people know that it’s not okay to sexually harass people on Metro,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles on WMATA’s website. “We are encouraging anyone who may be harassed to report the incident to Metro Transit Police.”
Phase one included this week’s launch of an online reporting system. Victims have the option of remaining anonymous, but all reports will be sent directly to Metro Transit Police. An email address, email@example.com, has also been set up to allow customers to send photos or video to assist in an investigation.
According to the website, reportable behavior includes “extended leering, sexual comments, indecent exposure, stalking and groping.” Even if an incident doesn’t seem like a crime, victims are asked to still report what happened so Metro can spot trends and try to prevent future crimes from occurring. Right now, WMATA does not track such statistics.
“Prior to this initiative, we were not collecting data on reported harassment that did not rise to the level of a crime,” said WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel. “Over the next few months, we will track the data, develop a baseline for future comparisons, and report statistics publicly on a quarterly basis.”
A number of Arlington incidents of harassment on Metro have been made public over the last couple of years. An apparent repeat offender at the Courthouse station was reported to police by at least one woman whom he grabbed after taking a cell phone photo up her skirt. Another apparent repeat offender has been reported at the Pentagon stop in posts on the advocacy website Collective Action for Safe Spaces.
“The changes that Metro is making to address public sexual harassment and assault is a testament to the hundreds of stories we received on our site,” Collective Action for Safe Spaces Co-founder Chai Shenoy said on WMATA’s website. “We see this partnership as a step in the right direction and a model for other transit agencies around the world to follow.”
As part of the anti-harassment initiative, soon customers will see posters for the campaign displayed on buses and in train stations. Materials will be handed out throughout the system. Metro is also working on enhancing training for its employees on the front lines.
Update at 3:10 p.m. – WMATA reports the Foggy Bottom station has reopened.
Earlier: Metro riders should expect to experience delays on the Orange and Blue lines due to a person struck by a train at Foggy Bottom.
The Foggy Bottom station is currently closed. Orange lines are single tracking between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom. Blue lines are single tracking between Arlington Cemetery and Foggy Bottom.
Delays are expected to continue during the police investigation into the incident.
If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call away. Call CrisisLink at 703-527-4077.
Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes is warning that a transportation bill approved by the House Ways and Means committee on Friday could have significant reprocussions for the Metro transit system and, by extension, Arlington.
The transportation bill would eliminate the dedicated funding stream for federal transit programs and grants — 2.86 cents of the 18.4 cent federal gas tax — replacing it instead with one-time funding.
The federal government contributed about $150 million in dedicated funding to Metro’s budget in the current fiscal year, and more than 50 percent of its current capital improvement budget. Should federal funding be cut, which would be more likely without a dedicated source of revenue, Hynes warns that Metro and Arlington County could suffer greatly.
“Arlington relies on transit. Our whole region relies on transit to move hundreds of thousands of people off our already clogged roads,” Hynes said in a statement. “The gasoline tax supports Metro, the backbone of mass transit in our County and the region. If the House proposal were to become law, it would make budgeting and capital funding for Metro, and for transit systems across our nation, nearly impossible.”
As we reported earlier this week, riding Metro will be a challenge for users of the Orange and Blue lines this weekend. Major track work will force the closure of the Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations.
The closures will be in place starting at 10:00 tonight and continuing until the system closes on Sunday. WMATA says workers will renew rail fasteners, replace insulators and remove sludge from the tunnel beneath the Potomac River.
Orange Line trains will be split into two segments. One set of trains will run between Vienna and Court House every 20 minutes, and another between Foggy Bottom and New Carrollton at normal weekend service levels.
Blue Line trains will also operate in two segments. One set of trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Mt. Vernon Square via the Yellow Line bridge at normal weekend service levels, and the other between Foggy Bottom and Largo Town Center at normal weekend service levels.
Shuttle buses will be provided at affected stations along both lines. Metro says riders should expect to add 20-30 minutes to regular travel time — or reconsider their use of Metrorail altogether.
“While bus shuttle service is available, customers traveling between the District and Blue/Yellow stations in Virginia may wish to consider alternate travel options,” WMATA said on its web site.
More details about the buses and the service impacts, after the jump.
Arlington lost its long-held vote on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board this month, as an appointed representative of the state government was granted voting power on the Board in place of Arlington’s representative.
Now the Arlington representative, County Board Chair Mary Hynes, is limited to “alternate” status on the Metro Board. In response, Hynes released a statement expressing disappointment but also noting that the county “does still have a voice at Metro.”
For the first time since Metro was formed in the 1960s, Arlington does not have a principal voting seat on the Board of Directors for the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA). The seat that was previously Arlington’s is now filled by a Commonwealth of Virginia representative.
Of course we’re disappointed.
Arlington does still have a voice at Metro. As an alternate WMATA Board member, I continue to serve as a voting member of all Metro committees, where, under WMATA Board rules, all of the Board’s important work is performed. While the exact composition of the committees — Governance, Finance & Administration, Customer Service and Operations, Safety and Security , Planning, and Audits — has yet to be determined, the WMATA Board has agreed that all Board members will continue to be welcome at all Committee meetings. I pledge to you that I will continue to vigorously represent Arlington’s interests and ensure that our viewpoints are heard.
It’s also fair to say that we’re concerned about the role the Commonwealth will play in continuing strong support for WMATA‘s – and our region’s – future.
The eight principal voting members of the Board of Directors hold our region’s future in their hands. It is a funding and governance responsibility Arlington has taken very seriously for more than 35 years. No one in the region disputes that Arlington has nurtured a spirit of regionalism in its approach to critical challenges, even as we’ve been a leader in fully utilizing the tremendous opportunities that regional transit investment provides to local communities. It’s also fair to say that, to date, the Commonwealth of Virginia has had a far less keen interest in supporting vital transit services than have the founding Virginia WMATA jurisdictions – Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax.
This month, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission – the body which appoints WMATA Board members — unanimously passed a resolution PDF file I co-authored that calls on WMATA Board members to actively work together for the good of the agency, our local jurisdictions and our region. I am heartened by this agreement. The resolution also called on the Commonwealth to “provide sustainable and dedicated revenues to support WMATA, in order to ensure the safety and reliability of the Metro system and the economic sustainability of our region.”
Clearly, Metro is an invaluable asset in the region. And Arlington will continue to invest in Metro. Our Metro system is the largest urban transit system in the United States without dedicated funding. We will continue to advocate for long-term, dedicated funding for the system, which is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of WMATA. It is our hope that, as the Commonwealth assumes 50% of Virginia’s voting power on WMATA, the Governor and General Assembly will rise to meet the enormous, unavoidable challenge of vigorously supporting transit so that Northern Virginia can remain one of the Commonwealth’s strong economic engines – a role it has played for many decades.
While Arlington is losing some influence on the Metro Board, it is gaining some influence on another regional transportation body. County Board member Jay Fisette was just elected chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.
“NVTC plays a vital role in coordinating and managing transit in Northern Virginia,” Fisette said in a statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues from throughout the region to protect and improve the existing transit systems, and to ensure that we are meeting the growing demands of this region.”
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.
McDonnell Supports August Start for Va. Schools — A legislative priority of Arlington Public Schools may actually get some traction in the General Assembly this year. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has thrown his support behind the repeal of a state law that prevents Virginia schools from starting before Labor Day. Known as the “King’s Dominion law,” the law was originally intended to benefit the state’s tourism industry. Arlington has repeatedly applied for a waiver from the requirement, arguing that an August start to the school year would allow for more instruction time, but the request always been denied. [Washington Examiner]
Arlington Loses Vote on Metro Board — Arlington has been “demoted” on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board. County Board Chairman Mary Hynes, previously a voting member of the board, has been moved to alternate status in favor of voting status for a Fairfax County representative and a state government representative. [Sun Gazette]
Do Board Candidates Lack Conviction on Smart Growth? — Writing for Greater Greater Washington, environmental activist Miles Grant asks whether the Democratic candidates for County Board lack conviction when it comes to their support of traditional Arlington Democratic priorities like smart growth, affordable housing and transit. [Greater Greater Washington]
Emergency crews are on their way to the Rosslyn Metro station for reports of a sick person on board an Orange Line train. WMATA says the person is unresponsive.
There are delays on the Orange and Blue Lines in both directions as a result. Delays will continue until the situation is resolved.
Metro leadership and members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee will be on hand at the meeting to hear what customers believe could be improved or changed. The meeting runs from 6:30-8:00 p.m., with an informational open house beginning at 6:00 p.m.
MetroAccess is a door-to-door shuttle service for people who have a disability preventing them from using rail or buses. The current MetroAccess contract expires on June 30, 2013.
Anyone who can’t make the meeting but has constructive comments to share can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-962-1141.
Tens of thousands of runners will be hitting the streets for the 27th Annual Army Ten-Miler race.
The race begins at 8 a.m. on Route 110 and ends in the Pentagon South Parking Lot, but some roads will be shut down as early as 5 a.m. They should all be reopened by noon.
The road closures and times:
5 a.m. to 3 p.m.:
- There will be no access to Pentagon North Parking, Boundary Channel Drive, or the eastern portion of Pentagon South Parking (Pentagon employees will be able to access South Parking via Columbia Pike or South Fern Street).
5 a.m. to 12 p.m.:
- Route 110 (northbound and southbound) will be closed from Rosslyn to Crystal City. The George Washington Parkway will remain open.
7 a.m. to 10 a.m.:
- Access to Memorial Drive and the Memorial Bridge from Washington Boulevard (Route 27) will be closed.
7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- I-395 HOV lanes will close and open on a rolling schedule from the Eads Street ramp to DC
Parking is limited, so runners, spectators and support personnel are encouraged to use Metro. The Pentagon and Pentagon City stations on the Blue and Yellow Lines are located within walking distance of the start and finish lines. Metro will open early, at 6 a.m.
Photo via armytenmiler.com
Trains will not run between East Falls Church and West Falls Church while crews work on the Dulles rail extension project. Passengers will be able to use free shuttle buses between the two stations. Buses will run from tonight at 8 p.m. through closing on Monday.
The last train from Vienna will also depart 20 minutes earlier than usual–at 2:08 a.m. tonight and tomorrow night, and 11:08 p.m. on Sunday.
Riders who travel through the work zones should expect to add about 30 minutes to travel times until normal service resumes on Tuesday.
The Blue Line will also be undergoing major construction. Click here to see the full list of Metro changes this weekend.