State Dept. Office Consolidation — The GSA is working with the State Department on a plan for consolidating its two offices in Rosslyn into one office in either Rosslyn, Ballston, Pentagon City or Crystal City. [Washington Business Journal]
Ohio Woman Charged in Arlington Boy’s Death — A 62-year-old woman has been charged in the death of 8-year-old Ashlawn Elementary student Eli Sachar. Police in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, have charged Christine Gregory with aggravated vehicular homicide, reckless operation and failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, after she struck Eli and his family with her car as they were crossing a street while visiting the town. [WKYC]
ACFD Training for Active Shooter at the Pentagon – The Arlington County Fire Department is training with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency on active shooter scenarios at the Pentagon. During an actual active shooter situation, under newly-updated plans, armed Pentagon Force Protection officers would escort unarmed Arlington medics into the area where the shooting was happening so they can begin medically treating the victims. [Washington Times]
Library Sends Erroneous Overdue Emails — Arlington Public Library sent erroneous emails yesterday incorrectly stating that patrons had overdue books. “We apologize for the inconvenience, and are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,” the library said on its website. “If you have any questions about what materials are actually checked out to you, you can check by logging in to your account online or at any Library location.” [Arlington Public Library]
Metro: Eight-Car Trains More Effective Than I-66 Widening — Metro says adding all-eight-car trains to the Orange Line is the capacity equivalent of widening I-66 by two lanes. “Plus, it’d likely be cheaper and faster for commuters, too,” Metro planners say. [PlanItMetro]
Fireball Seen Across Mid-Atlantic — Arlington residents and those across the mid-Atlantic saw a fireball streak across the sky last night around 10:15 p.m. Wrote one reader to ARLnow.com: “Was out on my back porch [in Lyon Park] looking west and at exactly 10:15 p.m. I saw a crazy, bright shooting star fall from North Arlington over Columbia Pike and towards the ground near Shirlington. Totally time from sighting to out of sight behind the trees was 4 seconds tops.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
According to a spokeswoman for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, a suspicious package was discovered in a mail facility adjacent to the Pentagon. Several workers there reported feeling dizzy after the package was opened, were told, but were later evaluated and cleared by medical personnel.
The packaged has been deemed “not a chemical or biological threat,” but is still being investigated, according to the spokeswoman. It’s unclear whether the facility was evacuated following the discovery of the suspicious package — we’re only told that “certain procedures” were followed in order to ensure the safety of the mail workers.
The USS Arlington, which was commissioned last year in Norfolk, has opened a tribute room in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The room was funded in part by donations from Arlington County and local residents and organizations. It includes a quilt with the names of the 184 victims of the attack on the Pentagon, sewn by 8th grade students at Arlington’s Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the tribute room was held late last week.
The coordinated flyover of more than 30 World War II-era planes has been pushed back until this weekend due to rain.
The National Air Trainer Association, which organized the “North American Texan” 75th anniversary flight, delayed it until approximately 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, weather permitting.
If the visibility is not good enough tomorrow, NATA’s Tom Malone said, they will fly on Sunday.
The decision will be made at about 7:00 a.m.
There is a 40 percent chance of rain Saturday, and a 30 percent chance of rain Sunday, according to Weather.com.
Friday’s ceremony will celebrate the “North American Texan” plane’s 75th anniversary. Friday afternoon at approximately 12:30 p.m., the planes will reach Arlington by way of a flight path that follows the Potomac River, according to the North American Trainer Association, which is coordinating the event.
More than 15,000 Texans were built between 1938 and 1947, according to the NATA, and more than 400 of them are privately owned and still in flight. They were the most popular plane used in American fighter-pilot training in the 1940s and 1950s.
The formation is expected to be visible from much of Arlington and Alexandria. The forecast for Friday as of Tuesday afternoon is a 60 percent chance of showers.
Photo courtesy of NATA
The Department of Defense announced Tuesday that the number of civilian furlough days in Fiscal Year 2013, which ends Sept. 30, has been reduced from 11 to 6.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a memo to defense staff that the savings were accomplished thanks to Congress approving a reprogramming request, allowing the department to shift budgeted funds across accounts. Hagel also said more funds would be available for training and other military programs.
Many civilian defense employees are expected to have taken six furlough days by Aug. 17, in which case those employees wouldn’t need to take any additional furlough days.
The Pentagon’s budget is still on thin ice, however, because Congress still must pass a FY2014 budget. Currently, sequestration is slated to cut the FY2014 DoD budget by $52 billion, 44 percent more than FY2013.
“You can’t understate the impact these furloughs, originally set to eliminate an entire months paycheck, are having on the morale of our federal workforce,” Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said in a statement. “Thankfully, by virtue of this decision, DoD employees and their families now face a little less hardship. Congress must step up and deal with these budget issues in a responsible manner, so that sequestration ends and we stop furloughing our federal workforce.”
DCA Runway to Move — The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has hired a contractor to fill in part of the Potomac River and move a runway at Reagan National Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration requires the improvements because the runway does not meet FAA safety standards. The project is scheduled to begin next week and continue through 2015. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Man Finishes Run for Boston Victims — Arlington resident Frank Fumich completed his run from the Pentagon to the Boston Marathon finish line on Saturday. Fumich and a running partner from Florida raised more than $78,000 for the Boston bombing victims during the four day, 450 mile journey. During the final 19 miles, they were joined by a woman who was unable to finish the race when the bombs exploded. She gave her Boston Marathon medal to Fumich. [Washington Post]
Orange Line has Most Metrorail Weekend Work — In a tally of the areas most affected by Metrorail weekend track work from May 1, 2012 through April 30, 2013, the Orange Line section from East Falls Church to West Falls Church ranks as number one. That portion registered 23 weekends of work. It has been closed 10 times and single tracked 13 times in the one year period due to work linking the Silver Line to the rest of the system. [Greater Greater Washington]
Update — Krusinski was acquitted by an Arlington County jury on Nov. 13, 2013.
FIRST REPORTED BY ARLNOW.COM: The chief of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch of the U.S. Air Force was arrested and charged with sexual battery in Arlington over the weekend.
Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski is accused of fondling a woman in a Crystal City parking lot early Sunday morning.
“A drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks,” according to a Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police.”
“Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with sexual battery,” police said. “He was held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.”
An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed Krusinski’s rank, job title and the fact that he works at the Pentagon to ARLnow.com, but had no further comment.
The victim did not know Krusinski, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police were unable to say how Krusinski sustained cuts on his face that appeared in his booking photo. He did not require medical treatment.
Update at 5:05 p.m. — Lt. Col. Krusinski has been removed from his position pending an investigation, NBC News reports.
The Arlington, which will carry an expeditionary force of Marines and vehicles to hot spots around the world, arrived in port to the sound of sirens. Arlington and Pentagon first responders were on hand for the event, and sounded their sirens in tribute to the 184 people who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
Three new San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships — the USS Arlington, USS New York and USS Somerset — were named in honor of the victims of 9/11.
“The newest addition to the fleet, Arlington and its crew are a tangible tribute to honor the victims, heroes, and survivors,” the Navy said in a press release. “Her strength and fortitude are not only reflected in the ship’s crest and motto, but in the fact that her crew of 400 Sailors and Marines have worked diligently to ensure she is ready to execute the mission of the Navy, representing America, and Arlington County, around the world.”
The Arlington is “designed to be the most survivable amphibious vessel ever put to sea,” the Navy said.
“The ship combines 21st century amphibious shipbuilding and warfighting technologies to support current and future Marine Corps aircraft and landing craft, and will be capable of taking nearly 1,200 Sailors and Marines into harm’s way,” the Navy said.
Numerous Arlington first responders and elected officials are expected to attend the ship’s commissioning on April 6.
Photos courtesy U.S. Navy and Frank O’Leary. Video courtesy U.S. Navy.
The hearing will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the VDOT Arlington headquarters at 1426 Columbia Pike. The project manager, Edwin Woo, is also soliciting comments via email for the next three weeks.
The bridge, which was built in 1941 and carries 3 lanes of traffic in each direction, is structurally deficient, according to VDOT. The replacement will be widened by 9 feet, to 105 feet, to accommodate an 14-foot shared use path and an 8-foot sidewalk on either side of the bridge — an improvement over the existing, narrow concrete sidewalks.
The bridge will also be lengthened, to 485 feet, and will also allow a slightly higher clearance: 16 feet 6 inches compared to 15 feet 4 inches. It will still carry three vehicle travel lanes in each direction.
Construction on the $20 million project is tentatively expected to start in 2014 and wrap up in 2015. At least two traffic lanes will be maintained on Washington Boulevard and Route 110 during the duration of the project, with the exception of some temporary nighttime closures, according to VDOT.
The bridge carries more than 100,000 vehicles per day, VDOT figures suggest.
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.
Pentagon Shooter Sentenced — Yonathan Melaku, the ex-Marine who pleaded guilty last year to firing bullets at the Pentagon, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. Melaku had planned a terror campaign that included spray painting Arabic statements on gravestones and leaving explosives in Arlington National Cemetery, according to prosecutors. [Washington Post]
Bad Reviews for Rosslyn Safeway — While getting high marks for friendly cashiers, the Safeway supermarket in Rosslyn has earned a dismal 1.5 out of 5 stars in 53 reviews on Yelp. Customers have called the store “disgusting,” “gross,” “cavernous” and the “worst grocery store ever.” [Ode Street Tribune]
Gala Celebration for Wakefield High — The Wakefield Alumni Foundation will be hosting a celebration in May to celebrate the high school’s 60th anniversary. A new Wakefield High School building is expected to open this summer, and the present 1950s-era building will eventually be torn down. [Sun Gazette]
Wakefield Routs Yorktown — The Wakefield Warriors boys basketball team defeated the Yorktown Patriots by the lopsided score of 74-41 on Jan. 11. Wakefield improved to a record of 10-4 overall, while Yorktown fell to 5-8. [Sun Gazette]
Photo by Katie Pyzyk
According to a picket schedule on its website, the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, will send members to Arlington on Monday, November 12. They’re slated to protest at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) starting at 7:40 a.m., the Pentagon starting at 8:50 a.m. and Arlington National Cemetery at 10:00 a.m.
The group has made stops in Arlington before, in part to perform protests of military funerals. Such protests have been fodder for lawsuits around the country, but the group’s right to protest at the funerals was upheld by the Supreme Court last year. The church has also made headlines for its prominent anti-gay message, for lauding the 9/11 attacks and for using controversial slogans such as “Thank God for breast cancer” on picket signs.
Although the church’s protests of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery may not seem surprising, some question why it is targeting Yorktown. The church offered the following explanation on its website:
“Westboro will picket Yorktown High School because we know that Doomed america has turned the school systems into institutions to teach rebellion against God. Every adult that touches the lives of your children hate them, including parents, teachers, coaches, preachers. No truth to be found on the landscape. So you will all land in hell together, and there you will remain, bitter cursing and wailing and gnashing of teeth. How sad is that?! Not to worry, WBC brings HOPE! The Bread of Life. If you loath it, too bad, it is all you get.”
Currently, there have been no reports of plans for increased security or police presence at any of the three sites where protests are scheduled. Arlington County Public Schools Spokesman Frank Bellavia did note, however, that November 12 is Veterans Day, and school is therefore not in session.
Officials Prepare for USS Arlington Commissioning — Arlington County Board Chairman Mary Hynes, county treasurer Frank O’Leary and other local leaders traveled to Norfolk on Wednesday to meet with Navy officials to plan for the commissioning of the USS Arlington, a new amphibious transport ship named after the county. The commissioning ceremony is currently planned for April 2013. [Sun Gazette]
José Andrés Food Truck Coming to Arlington — Famed local chef José Andrés (of Jaleo fame) is bringing his new food truck venture in Arlington. The “Pepe” food truck is expanding its service area from the District to Montgomery County and Arlington. The truck serves a rotating selection of flautas — a type of Spanish sandwich. [Huff Post DC]
Arlington Scores Above Average, Below Fairfax on SATs — Arlington Public Schools students in the class of 2012 scored an average of 1641 (out of 2400) on the SATs. That score is above the national average of 1498 and above the state average of 1517, but slightly below the Fairfax County average of 1654. [Patch]
Pentagon Exhibit Seeking Veteran Artists — An organization called the Veteran Artist Program is seeking art submissions from military veterans for a new veteran art exhibit at the Pentagon. Organizers told ARLnow.com that they’ve received numerous submissions from around the county, but not many from the Northern Virginia area. The entry deadline is Oct. 30. [Veteran Artist Program]
Clarendon Salon to Hold Grand Opening — Casal’s de Spa and Salon has been open at 3033 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon since June, but the business will be holding its official “grand opening” ceremony this weekend. The non-tipping salon will be offering food, libations, and music from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Art from 9/11 Children Displayed at Pentagon — Art created by the children of those who lost their life on Sept. 11, 2001 is now on display at the Pentagon. It’s the first large-scale exhibit of the art, which was created by more than 500 children at a summer camp for the children of 9/11 victims. [WJLA]
Long-Form Article Examines Torrez Case — The Washington Examiner’s Harry Jaffe takes a close look at the case of former Marine Jorge Torrez, who is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for the abduction of two Arlington women and the abduction and brutal rape of another in February 2010. Torrez will face a death penalty trial next year for the murder of Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell. [Washingtonian]
Book Dating Returns to Shirlington Library — The Shirlington Branch Library (4200 Campbell Avenue) is calling all single bookworms for a “speed book dating” event. Participants are encouraged to bring a couple books they found interesting, and will then be given 3 minutes to discuss them with each potential date. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Affordable Housing Complex Reopens — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has reopened the 111-unit Buchanan Gardens apartment complex on Columbia Pike following major renovations. [Washington Post]
Arlington Foundation Raises Millions — The Arlington Community Foudnation has so far raised $4 million on its way to a goal of raising $15 million. The foundation “raises capital for grants and scholarships to address community needs now and in the future.” [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Gamble