A large truck caught fire on Route 50 tonight.
The incident happened around 8:30 p.m., in the westbound lanes near George Mason Drive. Westbound traffic was diverted prior to the fire.
According to a witness who captured a Vine video of the fire, the truck was a snow plow.
— Kelly (@idontlooksick) February 22, 2015
The two large mounds of dirt at the Route 50-Washington Blvd interchange “aren’t going anywhere,” the Virginia Department of Transportation says.
Ellen Vogel, VDOT’s district landscape architect, told the Arlington Civic Federation last night at its monthly meeting that the twin mounds of dirt are too expensive to move.
The mounds are made up of construction debris covered in 4 feet of soil at the minimum. The debris is from the recently completed Route 50-Courthouse Road-10th Street N. interchange project. As for why the mounds never appeared in the plans for the interchange — and residents weren’t told the mounds were to become their new neighbors — Vogel said “nobody knew about it except for the construction folks on site.”
“They cost millions of dollars to move,” she said. VDOT tried to find a suitable location to dump the debris in Maryland but “they didn’t want it.”
With a dearth of landfills accepting that much dirt and debris in Northern Virginia, there are no viable options to transport the mounds, we’re told. It will stay where it is, next to the ramps from Washington Blvd to westbound Route 50 and from eastbound Route 50 to northbound Washington Blvd.
“I guess we have a new mountain in Arlington,” one Civic Federation member said. Many of the dozens in attendance laughed at Vogel’s honest answers about the new mountains’ origins and future. Some expressed concerned over environmental hazards, which Vogel dismissed.
“Most of it is fill dirt and concrete from the bridge,” Vogel said. “There are no toxins, it’s all inert material. It’s unsuitable for road construction, but it’s not unsuitable to plant in.”
The two mounds take up almost 100,000 square feet of surface area between them, and, starting in the spring, VDOT is committing to planting hundreds of trees on the site, including 24 red maples, 47 scarlet oaks and 52 Jefferson elms.
Vogel said there would be no such mounds around the under-construction Washington Blvd bridge over Columbia Pike, another VDOT project. Most of the major excavation work has been done, she said, so there’s no dirt to be piled.
Route 50 Trail Proposed — The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has proposed connecting existing trail infrastructure along Route 50 to create a contiguous trail between the National Mall and Fairfax City. The potential project faces a number of challenges, including its estimated $40 million price tag. [Greater Greater Washington]
‘Arlington Archive’ to Be Studied — Arlington County will assemble a task force that will spend all of 2015 trying to figure out a plan for the county to preserve its history with a digital “Arlington Archive.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Chris
Two recently completed bridges along Route 50 — at 10th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road — now look more colorful, thanks to a public art installation. But if you want to catch a glimpse of the art in its full glory, you’ll have to wait until it’s dark.
Arlington Cultural Affairs partnered with VDOT on both the custom-designed concrete panels on the sides of the road and metal grillwork on the overpasses. Both were the work of artist Vicki Scuri, who also designed an LED light show that backlights the grillwork at night.
The light display is programmed as a 15 minute loop that fades and gradually transitions between sets of colors. The show contains intentional sequences and transitions with a “range of non-highway colors” that suggest stained glass, Scuri said. The new light programming went live Friday night.
“The lighting, the pattern elements and the landscape are site specific responses to inform place, creating a signature landmark promoting wayfinding for the Arlington entries at Courthouse Street [sic] and 10th Street,” said Scuri, adding that she designed the art installations to reflect Arlington’s “classical architecture.” She said wanted to make a clear entry to Arlington that complemented the county’s lively, refined streetscapes.
Scuri was in Arlington last week to collaborate with the VDOT contract lighting designer and Arlington’s Department of Transportation to balance the artist’s creative vision with practicality and safety for those areas. They worked on the color and intensity of the lighting, among other things.
“This is a collective effort to provide both beauty and safety. I think we’ve done it,” said Scuri. “The entire project is a response to the site, to the native landscape and to the classical ornamentation of Arlington and that of Washington, D.C.”
The 26-year-old woman was crossing Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) at N. Irving Street just after 6:00 p.m. when a driver in a westbound Honda Accord blew through the red light, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The woman was struck and thrown a distance, landing on the westbound lanes, Sternbeck said. She was transported to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital with “significant and critical injuries.”
The driver, identified only as a 46-year-old Arlington man, remained on scene. He’s facing several charges, Sternbeck said.
Rush hour traffic was “significantly impacted” during the accident investigation. All but one lane in each direction was closed for about two hours, according to Arlington Alerts.
File photo via Google Maps
All of the ramps, lanes and bridges for the interchanges of Route 50, N. Courthouse Road and 10th Street N. are open and finished.
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, Del. Patrick Hope and local and state transportation officials were on hand to cut the ribbon on the $39 million project that has been more than a decade in the making.
“My first County Board meeting in January 1998, in the first Board packet, the design of this interchange was in that packet,” Fisette said. “Really good things take time and partnerships. Hopefully we will continue to get these types of outcomes.”
The new interchange includes two new bridges at Courthouse Road and 10th Street, each with LED-lit metal grillwork displays, although the LED lights aren’t ready to be turned on yet. It includes a left-exit from eastbound Route 50 onto N. Courthouse Road, and turning lanes from westbound Route 50 that are separated from the three lanes of fast-moving traffic.
“Everyone who drives on Arlington Blvd every single day is going to have a much better experience,” Hope said.
In addition to the new traffic patterns and LED lights, the sides of the new highway have custom-designed concrete panels. The grillwork and panels were both designed by artist Vicki Scuri. The LED lights and landscaping along the highway are the only two components of the project that are not yet finished.
The project also included new bicycle and pedestrian paths along either side of the highway, with striping for two-way travel, between N. Pershing Drive and Courthouse Road on the westbound side, and Pershing and N. Rolfe Street on the eastbound side.
“This project represents the values we hold in Arlington. it’s about safety, it’s about travel choices,” Arlington Director of Transportation Dennis Leach said. “What an incredible difference this is if you are walking or biking.”
The eastbound lanes of Route 50 were temporarily closed around 1:30 this afternoon due to a three-vehicle accident.
Two people were transported to the hospital as a result of the wreck, which occurred at the intersection with N. Fillmore Street.
The eastbound lanes have since reopened.
‘Blog Comment Sections’ Hurting Arlington Way? — The “Arlington Way,” Arlington’s unique system of civic engagement and participation, needs to be revamped, suggests a contributor to the county’s Mobility Lab blog. The Arlington Way is “falling short,” resulting in “the drumbeat of criticism and opposition to all manner of needed investments,” writes urban planner Lisa Nisenson. She argues that the downfall of the Arlington Way is fueled by, among other factors, “the rise of unfiltered blogs” and “blog comment sections.” [Mobility Lab]
Route 50 Bike Path Now Open — A new bike path along Route 50, between Pershing Drive and Queen Street, is now open. However, riders should be cautious since “the path currently has a fair amount of debris on it.” [Ode Street Tribune]
Arlington Hosts Capital Bikeshare ‘Fiestas’ — In August, Arlington County launched a series of five special events dubbed the Capital Bikeshare Fiesta. The events allowed Capital Bikeshare representatives to reach out to Spanish speakers in Arlington with information and promotional giveaways. [Car-Free Diet Blog]
Photo courtesy Danielle Newcombe Horvath
An Arlington County Sheriff’s Office vehicle struck a bicyclist this morning on the ramp from Washington Blvd to westbound Route 50.
The cyclist, named Victoria, said she was waiting to cross the ramp at the crosswalk — at which there’s a stop sign for traffic turning right onto Washington Blvd — when she and the deputy’s vehicle went at the same time. The front wheel of her bike was bent in the minor collision, but she was not transported and there was no discernible damage to the squad car.
Victoria, who works as a lifeguard at several pools in the area, said she has cycled along Washington Blvd every day for the last two-and-a-half months. Tuesday morning, she and a friend were cycling together before the accident.
“It’s always dangerous in this spot,” she told ARLnow.com. “It’s scary every time I do it.”
The intersection is routinely one of the most accident-prone in the county; in 2010, it had 113 calls for accidents in the county, almost double the second-most dangerous intersection.
Two parents and a small child are at Inova Fairfax Hospital this afternoon after a two-car collision at the intersection of Route 50 and N. Park Drive.
The two adults were transported in “serious, but non-life-threatening condition,” according to a police officer on the scene, and a small child, with them in the car, was taken with them as a precaution, although the child appeared healthy.
The accident was reportedly caused when a Dodge sedan turned left from eastbound Route 50 into N. Park Drive, but “misjudged how much space there was.” The family’s Mazda sedan, going straight westbound on a green light, crashed into the side of the Dodge, causing both to spin out.
Only one lane of westbound Route 50 and the left turn lane from eastbound Route 50 were closed while police and rescue crews responded to the scene. All lanes have since re-opened.
Update at 1:15 p.m. — The tree has been cleared and only one westbound lane of Route 50 remains closed. All other lanes are open to traffic.
Earlier: All westbound lanes of Route 50 are blocked near Garfield Street due to a tree that fell across the road.
Nobody was hurt and no cars were hit when the tree fell.
VDOT is on the scene and police are re-routing traffic in the area. Workers are heading there with equipment to move the tree.
Crews currently have not determined if the tree fell due to the heavy rain over the area.
The interchange of Route 50, N. Courthouse Road and 10th Street Road is on the verge of opening for good.
According to Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer McCord, the westbound Route 50 frontage road that gives drivers access to Courthouse Road and 10th Street is expected to open on Wednesday. The opening means all facets of the intersection — the ramps from Courthouse Road and 10th Street to Route 50 in both directions and the frontage road — will be open for traffic.
The $39 million project began construction in April 2011, and McCord said the last pieces, to be completed over the summer, will be “final punch list work that will require some daytime lane closures.” The project was originally projected to be finished by last fall, but the completion date was pushed back to this summer. Of the $39 million the project is said to have cost, Arlington County contributed $1 million and the rest came from state and federal sources.
In addition to the other changes, there will also be “a signalized ‘T’ intersection providing access from both directions of Fairfax Drive to the Courthouse Road ramp,” according to VDOT’s project page.
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.
The ramps from 10th Street to eastbound Route 50 and from N. Fairfax Drive to westbound Route 50, along with a new ramp from Courthouse Road to westbound Route 50, are scheduled to open Friday, April 25, according to Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer McCord.
The westbound frontage from Route 50 to 10th Street N. will still have barriers on it but will open a few weeks later, McCord said.
There will still be some intermittent lane closures on Route 50 until the project wraps up by July, McCord said. The $39 million interchange began construction in April 2011 and was originally scheduled to be completed by fall of 2013, but the project was delayed, apparently to make sure traffic could continue to flow on Route 50 during construction.
From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the ramp will be closed to traffic. It will be re-opened in time for the evening rush hour.
“Crews are completing a concrete median barrier here,” said VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord. “Keep in mind it’s weather permitting… although scheduled I doubt there will be any work on Thursday this week.”
These closures are happening about a month before the ramp from eastbound Route 50 to the 10th Street N. bridge is expected to open, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation project page.
The $39 million is still projected to be completed by the middle of this year. The entire interchange will look different, with ramps to 10th Street N. and Courthouse Road from both EB and WB Route 50, and a signalized “T” intersection at Fairfax Drive and the Courthouse Road ramp.