Death Sentence Recommended for Torrez — A federal jury on Thursday recommended that former Marine Jorge Torrez be put to death for the 2009 murder of Navy Petty Officer Amanda Jean Snell on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. A judge is scheduled to formally sentence Torrez on May 30. [Washington Post]
Van Doren Picks Up Endorsements — Arlington School Board candidate Nancy Van Doren announced over the weekend that she has picked up the endorsements of the Arlington Education Association PAC, which represents Arlington teachers, and of current School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez.
Republicans Pick Congressional Nominee — Marine Corps veteran and former congressional staffer Micah Edmund has captured the GOP nomination for congress in the race to replace the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D). Edmund won 51 percent of the vote in a party convention held Saturday at Bishop O’Connell High School. [InsideNoVa]
Autistic Boy Punished at Randolph Elementary — The mother of a 7-year-old Randolph Elementary student is crying foul after a teacher moved his desk as punishment for bad behavior. The boy has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and his mom is trying to get him transferred to a different elementary school. [WUSA 9]
Wardian Wins Big Sur Marathon — Six days after his impressive Boston Marathon performance, elite distance runner and Arlington resident Michael Wardian has won the Big Sur International Marathon with a time of 2:27:45. Wardian’s time set a record for the 40-and-over age group in the Big Sur marathon and he also set a record for best combined time in the Boston and Big Sur marathons, with 4:51:17. [Santa Cruz Sentinel]
Problems for Potomac Yard Metro — The location of a future Potomac Yard Metro station is in doubt after the National Park Service raised concerns about the station’s visibility from the George Washington Parkway. Changes to the station’s location are expected to cost more than $50 million and delay the project by three years. [WAMU]
Route 50 Courthouse Interchange Update — Several long-term closures associated with the Route 50 Courthouse interchange project have been lifted. Among the routes that have reopened by VDOT are: 10th Street to eastbound Route 50, and Courthouse Road and N. Fairfax Drive to westbound Route 50.
During the Feb. 12 evening rush hour commute, while on an Orange Line train near the Ballston Metro station, the man “allegedly rubbed the inner thigh of a patron as she sat next to him,” according to police. The crime is being described as “assault and battery.”
“Anyone who is able to identify the individual pictured below is asked to call Metro Transit Police Detectives at (202) 962-2121 and reference case #2014-07734,” MTPD said in a press release.
The incident happened just past 8:00 p.m. According to Metro, the man was “apparently trespassing” on the tracks when he was struck by an inbound train approaching Arlington Cemetery.
“Security camera footage shows [the] subject intentionally walk onto the trackbed,” Metro Transit Police said via Twitter.
The man is dead and his body is between the tracks and a fence, according to scanner traffic. The striking train is still on scene with 80-100 people on board, firefighters reported.
The Blue Line is single-tracking and trains are running every 20 minutes as a result of the incident, Metro says. The agency is advising riders to use the Yellow Line as an alternate between D.C. and Virginia.
APS Announces New Make-Up Plan — After losing two additional school days this week due to snow, Arlington Public Schools plans to make March 31 — previously a teacher grade preparation day — a full make-up day. If there are no additional school closures due to weather, APS will maintain its Memorial Day holiday and spring break plans. [Arlington Public Schools]
Delays on Blue, Orange Lines This Weekend — Orange and Blue Line trains will run every 20 minutes this weekend, starting at 10:00 tonight, due to track work between Foggy Bottom and Clarendon on the Orange Line and Arlington Cemetery on the Blue Line. Also, the Metro Center stop will be closed to allow for Silver Line sign installations. [WMATA]
Reminder: Home Show This Weekend — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday at Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.).
Flickr pool photo by @ddimick
Former Sheriff Sentenced for Shooting — Former Arlington County sheriff’s deputy Craig Patterson has been sentenced to six years in prison for a fatal shooting in Alexandria. Patterson shot and killed 22-year-old Julian Dawkins, a driver for the Shirlington-based PBS NewsHour, during a late-night confrontation in May 2013. Patterson was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in December. [Washington Post]
Metro Track Work This Weekend — Track work on the Blue and Orange lines this weekend will result in trains running every 16 minutes, instead of the normal daytime service of a train every 12 minutes. [WMATA]
Yorktown Defensive End Signs with Citadel — Star Yorktown High School defensive end Logan Robinson will be playing football for The Citadel this fall. Robinson signed a national letter of intent for the military school on Wednesday. [Sun Gazette]
Pacers to Host ‘Cupid 5K Run’ — The Pentagon Row Pacers store (1101 S. Joyce Street) will host a Valentine’s Day-themed “fun run” next week. The run will start at the store at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, and will end at Crystal City Sports Pub (529 23rd Street S.), which will offer discounts to runners wearing white clothing or cupid wings. [Facebook]
Art Show at House of Steep — House of Steep (3800 Lee Highway) is hosting a collection of watercolors by Howard C. Smith, co-owner of Clarendon-based Beth Singer Design, through March 31. The company designed the current ARLnow logo. [Beth Singer Design]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Arlington will play a pivotal role in the regional economy with the coming of the Silver Line, suggests Metro planning director Shyam Kannan.
Speaking at GMU’s Va. Square campus last week, Kannan said that the Silver Line and development around Tysons Corner will make the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor the economic “fulcrum” of the D.C. area. Development pressure — particularly demand for new apartments and condos — “only becomes more pronounced” with the Silver Line, he said, thanks to our central location between the “downtowns” of the District and Tysons Corner.
That should come as a welcome bit of prognostication for Arlington County, which has been fretting about economic competition with a newly Metro-accessible Tysons Corner.
The Silver Line, however, will hasten the necessity to build a second Potomac River crossing between Rosslyn and the District. Already, service adjustments are putting a squeeze on the Blue Line through Rosslyn, reducing train frequency and increasing crowding. Metro envisions building a second Rosslyn Metro station, which will connect with a new Metro line through Georgetown via a second Potomac River tunnel. That will help alleviate the increasingly problematic “bottleneck” between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
Kannan acknowledged that overcrowding and frequent equipment breakdowns are a problem, but said Metro is working to solve both.
“For those of you who have experienced the service disruptions… you’ve seen that there are impacts to our daily lives,” he said. “Metro needs to continuously invest in its resources.”
Another “long, long range plan” is to build an express line on the Orange Line which will bypass the R-B corridor, Kannan said. And South Arlington was not left out of Metro’s plans: a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station is being proposed.
All of this will come at a cost. Kannan made sure to emphasize, for the Arlington officials in the audience, that Arlington and other local jurisdictions will either need to increase their contributions to Metro in order to fund its long-range capital plans, or help the agency obtain a dedicated funding stream — i.e. some sort of a regional tax.
“The question as a region we have to ask ourselves is, ‘are we okay going into the middle of the 21st century with a transit system that functions the same way it functioned in 1976?” he asked. “I don’t think that really spells economic strength or prosperity or livability.”
“Arlington has been a great partner,” Kannan said. “Metro is hitching its wagon to Arlington County. What bet are you willing to make now?”
The plans discussed by Kannan are a long way off, likely a decade or much longer. In the meantime, Kannan says Metro hopes to increase the capacity of its increasingly crowded rail system — which is “busting at the seams” — by switching from a combination of 6- and 8-car trains to all 8-car trains. But even that seemingly simple solution is proving to be an expensive uphill battle.
“We’re fighting hand to hand combat right now to make sure we just have the funding to keep the system going and to get to 8-car trains,” he said.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in ARLbiz, our weekly local business e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Real Estate ‘Bull Market’ in December — Arlington’s residential real estate market soared in December, reaching a deal volume of $134.4 million, up almost 40 percent over a year prior. The average sales price rose 12.8 percent. [Sun Gazette]
Yorktown Nominated for a GRAMMY — Yorktown High Schools is one of 123 schools nationwide selected as a semifinalist for the 2014 GRAMMY Signature Schools Award. “Created in 1998, the GRAMMY Signature Schools program recognizes top U.S. public high schools that are making an outstanding commitment to music education during an academic school year,” the school system said in a press release. [Arlington Public Schools]
MLK Weekend Metro Track Work — Track work will reduce Metro service on the Orange and Blue lines to one train every 20 minutes this weekend. The track work will not be performed on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Metro will instead operate on a normal Saturday schedule systemwide. [WMATA]
Flickr pool by Lawrence Cheng Photography
Orange, Blue and Yellow Line Work This Weekend — Getting anywhere on Metro this weekend will take longer than usual. Trains will run every 20 minutes on the Orange, Blue and Yellow lines due to track work. The Yellow Line, meanwhile, will end at Mt. Vernon Square rather than Fort Totten. The changes will be in effect from 10:00 p.m. Friday through system closing on Sunday. [WMATA]
Superintendent Hopes to Avoid Class Size Increase — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy says he’ll try to avoid an increase in class sizes in the school system’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget. It’s unclear how Murphy plans to close a projected $8.8 million budget gap. [Sun Gazette]
Howze Wins Teacher Endorsement — Arlington County Board hopeful Alan Howze has won the endorsement of the Arlington Education Association Political Action Committee. The political arm of the teachers’ association said Howze “recognizes that investing in our schools is one of the very best ways to make our community even stronger.”
Brink Proposes Under 15 Tanning Salon Ban — Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) has proposed legislation that would ban children under the age of 15 from Virginia tanning salons and would require teens ages 15 to 17 to obtain written parental permission to use such facilities. [Sun Gazette]
Ballston Burger Shop Renames RG III Burger — The RG III burger at Big Buns in Ballston has received an alternate name, “The Kirk Cousins.” The $15 burger contains a beef, a chicken and a turkey patty. Dan Steinberg writes: “No word on what the sandwich will be called next fall.” [DC Sports Bog]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
In addition to the Arlington County Police Department, WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel says Transit Police were on the scene investigating the report of a suspicious male subject aboard an inbound train.
Few details are being released right now, but police scanner traffic first indicated the suspect may have lit WD-40 on fire inside the Ballston Metro station or inside a Metrorail car. Scanner traffic also indicates police are interviewing Metro employees at the East Falls Church station, where reports suggest the suspect may have gotten off the train.
Orange Line trains had been single tracking between Ballston and East Falls Church while police searched the station and the train, but the train in question has been released and was taken out of service. Normal service has resumed but some delays remain.
Photo courtesy @SRod17
Home Prices Fall — Arlington was the only jurisdiction in the D.C. metro area to see a drop in home prices last month. The median Arlington sales price in November was $498,500, down 2.1 percent from last year. [Washington Business Journal]
Big Difference Between ‘Near’ and ‘Next To’ Metro Stations – It’s no surprise that real estate closer to Metro stations is more valuable, but what may be surprising is for how high a price such properties can be sold. Looking at the five stations along the Orange Line’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor — which is deemed one of the hot areas for development — researchers found that properties one-twentieth of a mile from a station (264 feet) can fetch more than a 30 percent premium over those just a quarter mile away. [Washington Post]
Winter Class Registration Begins — Online registration for the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Enjoy Arlington winter classes began today at 7:00 a.m. Available class schedules can be viewed online. Call the Registration Office at 703-228-4747 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with any questions. [Arlington County]
Photo by Matt Henneman
Metro Proposes Loop Line — Metro officials are considering a proposal for establishing a loop line between Arlington and the District. The line would include a new cross-Potomac River connection between Arlington and Georgetown in D.C., plus new stations near Rosslyn and the Pentagon in Arlington, and in Georgetown, Logan Circle and East Potomac Park in D.C. However, the plan also eliminates the direct Yellow Line connection between Arlington and downtown D.C. [Greater Greater Washington]
Unemployment Rises in Arlington — The unemployment rate in Arlington rose from 3.7 percent in August to 3.9 percent in October. However, Arlington’s unemployment rate remains the lowest in the Commonwealth of Virginia. [Sun Gazette]
Man Attacks Officer Across From Police Station — A 48-year-old homeless man is accused of assaulting a police officer across from Arlington County police headquarters in Courthouse. Police say the man was “shouting profanity” and “chasing after people” before the alleged scuffle with police. [Patch]
Starting at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, the Blue line from Franconia-Springfield will travel across the Yellow Line bridge to Mt. Vernon Square. Meanwhile, a second Blue Line segment will run from Rosslyn to Largo Town Center.
Buses will run between the Pentagon and Rosslyn stations, and between Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.
The closure is due to “NTSB-recommended track circuit module replacement and improvements to third-rail infrastructure and track conditions,” according to WMATA.
Meanwhile, on the Orange Line, trains will run every 20 minutes due to station platform work in D.C. Yellow Line trains will run every 15 minutes as a result of work on the Blue and Green Lines.
Normal service will return Monday.
Metro Weekend Service Adjustments — Due to work on the Metrorail system, trains on the Orange and Blue Lines will run every 24 minutes this weekend. The altered schedule begins at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 22, and runs through closing on Sunday, November 24. [WMATA]
Metro Sign Upgrades on the Way — By the end of the winter, Metrorail riders should notice a number of upgrades to the electronic signs announcing train arrivals. Some improvements include making the display crisper so it’s easier to read from a distance and temporarily stopping service advisories from scrolling on the screens when trains are arriving. [Washington Post]
ART System Expansion — At its meeting on Tuesday (November 19), the County Board approved a plan to expand the ART bus system within the next year. Two lines will be added and one line will have service later into the evening. [Sun Gazette]
Students Place First in Video Contest — Six students at Arlington Career Center won first place for the video they submitted to the Virginia School Boards Association student video contest. High school students were challenged to create a 30 second video for the theme “What’s Super About Public Schools.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Earlier: It’s been a rough morning for Metrorail. First, a dangling cable prompted major delays on the Red Line, and now a cracked rail is causing minor delays on the Orange Line.
The cracked rail is on the inbound track of the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Ballston. Repairs are underway and are expected to be completed before the evening rush hour.
While repairs continue, trains will be single tracking between East Falls Church and Ballston. According to WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel, right now there are only delays of about five minutes because trains are currently operating on an off-peak schedule.
The cracked rail is reportedly “almost certainly” the result of the recent temperature drop. Stessel explained that because metal expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, over time that can cause cracks in the rails.
Metrorail service on the Yellow Line will be suspended from 10:00 p.m. Friday through system closing on Sunday, to allow the annual safety inspection of the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River.
Yellow Line riders in Virginia are instead advised to take the Blue Line, which will run at normal weekend intervals.
Orange Line riders, meanwhile, will be subject to delays this weekend. Orange Line trains will run every 20 minutes, starting Friday night at 10:00, due to track work and platform reconstruction at the Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations.