In September, the county is expected to award a design/build contract for a new elevator that will run directly into the station from the southwestern corner of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street, near the Pentagon City mall.
The elevator will complement an existing elevator on the southeast corner of the intersection.
About 95 percent of the $5 million project will be funded with state and federal funds. The county is hoping that the elevator will be open by Nov. 2014.
Also this year, the county is hoping to award a contract to refurbish and reopen an abandoned pedestrian tunnel that connects the northeast corner of the Hayes/12th intersection to the Metro station’s mezzanine.
The county is hoping to finalize the design of the refurbished tunnel — the design process has been on-going for nearly a decade — and to put the project out for bid by the end of the year.
The tunnel could reopen by the winter of 2014.
Arlington County Transportation Director Dennis Leach suggested that the project has been made more complicated thanks to the tunnel’s proximity to the headquarters of the Transportation Security Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“We’re still working through a few remaining design issues and we have to conclude some property-related negotiations,” he said. “It is a very complicated small project. That tunnel was built as part of a site plan development. We have to work with the adjacent property owner and the adjacent tenants.”
With nearly 35,000 combined entries and exits on an average weekday, the Pentagon City Metro station is the second-busiest Metro station in Arlington — second only to Rosslyn.
Prince Harry Visits Arlington Nat’l Cemetery – Britain’s Prince Harry is visiting Arlington National Cemetery this morning as part of his two-day visit to the Washington area. The prince is expected to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and to visit the burial area for military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. [NBC Washington]
Now Official: Whole Foods to Pentagon City — Whole Foods has made it official and signed a deal with Vornado to open a 37,000 square foot store in on the ground floor of a planned 700-unit apartment building in Pentagon City. The store will be the company’s second in Arlington, and is expected to open in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]
Wieners Added to Testicle Festival – The Fairfax County-based Top Dog food truck has been recruited to serve hot dogs at next weekend’s Montana State Society Testicle Festival in Virginia Square. Jed Link, an organizer of the event, called the combination of Rocky Mountain Oysters and hot dogs “a culinary reunion that’s guaranteed to entertain.”
Flickr pool photo by Martin Humm
The new Modell’s Sporting Goods store in Pentagon City is expected to open for business tomorrow morning.
The store, in the former Borders book store space at the Pentagon Centre shopping center (1201 S. Hayes Street), says it will open its doors at 9:00 a.m. and offer “great prizes,” “exciting giveaways for early bird shoppers,” and “crazy deals.”
As part of a four-day grand opening event, Modell’s will host “meet and greets” with two local professional athletes. Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez is scheduled to be at the store on Thursday from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., and Washington Nationals linebacker Brian Orakpo is scheduled from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.
As we reported last month, this will be the first Arlington location for New York City-based Modell’s, which was founded in 1889. The company operates more than 150 stores along the East Coast, including existing locations in Fairfax County, Montgomery County and the District of Columbia.
The package — described as a duffel bag or a backpack — was found on the 600 block of 12th Street S. around 6:15 a.m. The bomb squad carefully inspected the package and set up charges to “disrupt” it.
The “all clear” was given by a bomb technician just past 8:15 a.m. The road is now being reopened, as is the east entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station.
“There’s a lot of construction in the area — a lot of laborers and construction workers bringing their stuff to that area, and with the heightened alert and the TSA headquarters there” authorities are taking every precaution, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “We take every suspicious package call seriously, and it’s our duty and job to go out there and investigate and assume that it’s potentially hazardous.”
Photo courtesy Patrick McNeil
Update at 12:50 a.m. — Police have given the “all clear” and roads are being reopened. The package was disrupted “without incident” and no hazards were found, according to Arlington County Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Fitch.
Earlier: Arlington County police and the county’s bomb squad are investigating a suspicious package in the area of the Transportation Security Administration headquarters in Pentagon City.
Police are shutting down roads within a one block radius of the package, including S. Hayes Street and S. Fern Street between Army Navy Drive and 15th Street S. They have also closed off access to one of the Pentagon City Metro entrances.
According to scanner traffic, a witness told police that the package was dropped off on 12th Street S. by individuals in a white box truck, which then left the scene.
At around 12:35 a.m., the bomb squad conducted a controlled blast to “disrupt” the package. A loud boom could be heard in surrounding neighborhoods. (See video, below)
This was the second suspicious package in the area in the past week.
Update at 3:20 p.m. — The package has been determined to be non-hazardous and the all-clear has been given.
Earlier: Arlington County’s bomb squad is on the scene of a suspicious package outside the Pentagon City Metro station.
Police have established a perimeter around the package, located behind a fence adjacent to a pedestrian sidewalk, near the intersection of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street. A bomb squad member in protective gear has walked over to the package and it is now apparently being inspected or analyzed remotely.
The east entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station, next to the Pentagon Centre shopping center, is closed.
Interior construction is currently underway on the store, which is located in the Pentagon Centre shopping center (1201 S. Hayes Street), next to the CVS Pharmacy that opened last year. No word yet on when Modell’s plans to open.
This will be the first Arlington location for New York City-based Modell’s, which was founded in 1889. The company operates more than 150 stores along the East Coast, including existing locations in Fairfax County, Montgomery County and the District of Columbia.
Hat tip to Desiree Lomer-Clarke
Due to the way the street moves drivers onto, off of and around I-395, it’s considered “inhospitable” for pedestrians and cyclists. A plan has been in the works for years to create a separate track for cyclists and to reconfigure the street to improve travel between the Pentagon, Pentagon City and Crystal City.
According to the county staff report, the project would reconfigure 3,300 feet of Army Navy Drive from S. Joyce Street to 12th Street. It would provide shorter and safer pedestrian crossings, improve pedestrian space and construct a separate two-way bicycle track. The redesign is also intended to make room for the future streetcar line.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2006, Arlington County was granted Public Lands Highway Funds to make trail improvements. In FY 2012, the county was awarded a grant by the Federal Highway Administration to transform Army Navy Drive into a Complete Street. Designing the project is expected use the $706,000 of grants, and the County Board will vote on whether or not to accept and appropriate the funding for the project. It will then require additional funding for construction.
“This project aligns with the goals of Arlington County’s Complete Streets program to expand safe travel options for all modes of transportation along our roadways,” said the county staff report. “The proposed cycle track will be one of the first in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
County staff did not report any issues with the plan and recommends the County Board approve it on Saturday.
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]
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.
The incident started at around 4:00 p.m. near Costco. Police say two cars were turning left on 15th Street S. from S. Fern Street when, for some unknown reason, tempers flared and horns started beeping. The two vehicles, a 2008 Chevrolet Impala and a 2004 Mercedes-Benz S450, made the turn and pulled to the side of the 500 block of 15th Street S.
A 16-year-old juvenile and an adult got out of the Impala and started arguing with a man who got out of the Mercedes, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The juvenile punched the Mercedes driver in the face, then both parties returned to the Impala, he said.
Before the they could drive off, the Mercedes driver pulled a wooden 2×4 post from the ground and smashed the back window of the Impala, Sternbeck said. At that time all five occupants of the Impala jumped out of the car and allegedly assailed the Mercedes driver.
They punched the man, dragged him to the sidewalk, struck him with the 2×4 multiple times, smashed the front windshield of his car, and then dragged him into some bushes, according to Sternbeck. The victim reportedly suffered severe cuts to his hands, requiring stitches; a fractured right elbow; bruising to his upper body, including his arms and face; and large welt on top of his head.
During the fracas, a neighbor came out and tried to break up the fight. The neighbor’s efforts were rebuffed and he or she maintained a safe distance from the fight due to fear, Sternbeck said.
The four adults in the Impala — Lavell Jeffries, Bernard Payton, Larry Johnson and Jeremiah Greer, all from D.C. and between the ages of 18 and 19 — were charged with malicious wounding by mob and held on a $2,000 bond. The juvenile was charged with malicious wounding by mob and destruction of property, and was released into the custody of his mother.
The driver of the Mercedes, 34-year-old Maurice Cox of Arlington, was charged with DUI and destruction of property.
Update at 10:55 a.m. — Metro reports the Yellow Line is no longer single tracking, but there may be residual delays in both directions. The crowding issue at the Pentagon City and Pentagon stations has ended.
(Updated at 9:45 a.m.) Metro riders reported severe crowding at the Pentagon City and Pentagon stations this morning. It’s a trickle down effect of a person being struck and killed on a Yellow/Green Line track at Gallery Place in the District.
Twitter has been abuzz with customers reporting potentially dangerous crowding conditions and sending photos like those above. Passengers report train drivers saying that due to back-ups and delays from the situation, trains are skipping certain stations or turning around. Other passengers reported not being allowed to enter the crowded Pentagon City station.
WMATA released the following information on its website:
Green and Yellow line trains are single tracking between Mt Vernon Sq and Archives with delays in both directions due to a person struck by train at Gallery Place.
The incident occurred at approximately 8:00 a.m. when an adult male placed himself in the path of an arriving northbound train. The incident appears to be intentional.
Customers should expect delays in both directions on Green & Yellow Line. Yellow Line customers in Virginia should consider using Blue Line as alternate.
Photos via @dingramdc and @ferresej
The large-scale PenPlace development proposed for Pentagon City is now going on its 10th Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) meeting, but the project is expected to reach the Arlington County Board for a vote as soon as May.
Developer Vornado is proposing five buildings for the project: two secure office buildings, two standard office buildings, and one 300-room hotel, on a currently vacant parcel of land along Army Navy Drive, near the Pentagon. The 9.2 acre parcel is large enough that it was once considered as a possible site for the Nationals baseball stadium.
The buildings would be between 16 and 22 stories, and in all, the project would consist of 1.8 million square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet of retail space, mostly along the future extension of 12th Street S. between Eads and Fern Streets.
It appears likely that there will be more SPRC meetings on PenPlace even beyond the 10th meeting, scheduled for Feb. 4. The SPRC will eventually make non-binding recommendations to the Planning Commission, which will then consider and vote on whether to recommend the project for County Board approval. We’re told the Board is likely to take up the matter in May or June.
While actual Pentagon City residents have been relatively quiet about PenPlace, members of the nearby Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA) are among the project’s biggest critics. The project is not within the civic association’s boundaries, but residents there have circulated petitions, held meetings and posted flyers listing various objections to the project.
ARCA’s compaints include building height (nearly 300 feet); the proposed number of parking spaces (2,235) and the potential for increased traffic; a lack of public open space and insufficient community benefits; and the security measures necessary for the secure office buildings.
“Build a community not a compound,” said an ARCA presentation given on Nov. 15, 2012. Project critics say the secure office buildings will prevent full “activation” of the area for public use. They call for reducing the number of secure office buildings in the project to one, and placing that building along Army Navy Drive instead of the middle of the parcel.
ARCA has also proposed shorter buildings (<200 feet), replacing an office building with a residential building, and limiting parking. The association is also calling on Vornado to include an acre of contiguous public open space on the site, including a play area for children, recreation ares for adults and a dog park.
Molly Watson, who has been leading ARCA’s opposition to PenPlace, said jokingly at a SPRC meeting in December that she would prefer a baseball stadium to PenPlace as proposed. ARCA fought a proposal in 2003 to build the new Nationals baseball stadium on the current PenPlace parcel, which was vacant at the time and has remained so since.
“I would take the baseball stadium with only 80 games per year” over the traffic PenPlace would generate on a daily basis, she said.
The new Tutti Frutti store is located in Pentagon City on the 1300 block of S. Fern Street, near the U.S. Post Office and Epic Smokehouse. The store is the second Tutti Frutti in Arlington, after a location at 2439 N. Harrison Street, in the Lee Harrison Shops.
“I feel very confident in the product,” owner Geoff Trout told ARLnow.com. “I don’t think Pentagon Row is close enough.”
Tutti Frutti serves dairy- and gluten-free, soy-based frozen yogurt made with no artificial sweeteners. The stores typically have a rotating menu of flavors and 35 to 40 fruit and candy topping options.
A sign in the window says the store is “now hiring.”
Va. to Consider Tougher Texting Laws — In January, state lawmakers will consider bills that would stiffen the penalties for texting while driving in Virginia. Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense — you can only be charged with it if pulled over for another violation — and the penalty is a $20 fine for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. Del. Scott Surovell (D-Mt. Vernon) wants drivers to be charged with reckless driving if they get in an accident while texting. [Lynchburg News & Advance, Daily Press, WTOP]
Road Closures for ‘Jingle Bell Run’ — Parts of S. Joyce Street and Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City will be closed from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis. Race attendees are encouraged to take Metro. [Arlington County Police]
Hynes Lauds Animal Welfare Efforts — Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes has issued a proclamation praising the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and The Humane Society of the United States “for working together to improve the treatment of animals, including farm animals in the food industry.” [Humane Society]
PG Lawmaker Called ‘Too Arlington’ — Prince George’s County Council member Eric Olson, a progressive Democrat and noted environmentalist, recently lost his bid to become chairman of the Council. One lawyer who represents developers in Prince George’s County said of Olson: “Some people think he is too ‘Arlington.’” [Washington Post]