During its meeting on Saturday, the County Board voted unanimously to award the $1.9 million contract to Ardent Company, LLC. In addition to the street conversion, the three phase project will improve intersections along Crystal Drive with new traffic signals and ADA compliant ramps and crosswalks. A southbound bicycle lane will also be added.
The new design is expected to make the street safer and easier to navigate, as well as preparing the area for future development and a streetcar.
Construction for phase one is supposed to begin in June and is scheduled to finish by the end of this year. That covers the portion from 12th Street South to 15th Street South. Two other construction phases will follow — one from 23rd Street South to 26th Street South, and another from 26th Street South to 27th Street South.
The county will post notices about periodic lane closures before they happen. The goal is to only close down one lane at a time to minimize the impact to drivers.
Funding for the project was previously approved and appropriated in the Transportation Capital Fund.
Arlington County’s PAL pedestrian safety campaign — which reminds everyone on the road to be Predictable, Alert and Lawful — now has a video to go along with it.
The video makes the point that many drivers are also, at some point, walkers or bikers. Putting yourself in the shoes of the other guy — and behaving in a courteous, predictable manner — can help reduce conflicts on the road, the video suggests.
The clip was produced by the county’s Arlington Virginia Network.
Contractor B&B Signal Company won the contract to construct pedestrian-friendly improvements at the intersections of Glebe and Carlin Springs Road, Glebe and Wilson Boulevard, and Glebe and Fairfax Drive, and Fairfax Drive and N. Wakefield Street.
Among the planned changes: updated sidewalks and ramps, shortened distances for pedestrian crossing, wider center refuge medians, new signage and striping, upgraded traffic signals and street lighting, changes to intersection geometry and the elimination of slip lanes.
Construction is expected to begin in late spring and will wrap up in early 2013.
“This project will complete improvements that have evolved over time based on lessons we’ve learned about building enjoyable, interesting places to walk,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “These sorts of improvements also help foster safe communities, by managing vehicle speed to create safe crossing corridors for pedestrians. Both businesses and residents will benefit from the enhanced access and sense of place that these new features will bring to the area.”
Federal and state funds will pay for 80 percent of the contract. The remaining $700,000 will be paid by Arlington County.
(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) The long-awaited unveiling of the new traffic signals on Wilson Boulevard at N. Pollard Street should be happening soon. In fact, they should be working before the start of the weekend.
The lights were installed a couple of months ago, but have remained covered up. Concerned about pedestrian safety, some residents have been emailing ARLnow.com to ask when the lights would begin functioning. One reader compared crossing the intersection to maneuvering through a video game.
“Too many people play ‘Frogger’ at night trying to go to and from the Gold’s Gym,” the reader wrote.
Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel said the county’s installation of the lights has been completed, and Dominion Virginia Power just needs to supply electricity. Dominion tells us the lights should be turned on either today or tomorrow, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Today a crew was at the intersection repairing the sidewalk that had been torn up to install the lights.
Now that December is here, the Arlington County Fire Department is asking residents to keep safety in mind when they trim the tree or string the lights.
Every year, an average of 240 Christmas tree-related home fires in the United States result in an average of 13 deaths and 27 injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Those fires are usually caused by electrical problems, heat sources placed too close to the tree, decorative lights or candles.
ACFD released the following safety tips this afternoon.
Fire Safety and Your Tree
- Keep the trunk of the tree immersed in water at all times.
- Do not permit smoking near the tree.
- Use flame retardant trim/decorations.
- Use only lights that are UL approved.
- Inspect lights for frayed or cracked wiring, broken plugs and defective sockets.
- Unplug lights at night and when leaving home.
- Do not over load circuits or outlets.
- Do not run extension cords under carpets or across doorways.
- Remove the tree soon after the holidays, before the needles dry out.
- Check your smoke alarms; install new batteries if necessary.
- Use caution if hanging lights outside; be aware of power lines and hazards while using a ladder.
- Use caution with candles or open flame devices.
The Arlington County Fire Department wishes everybody a safe and happy holiday season.
The Arlington County Fire Department has issued a list of six simple tips for keeping safe while cooking your Thanksgiving dinner.
Spokesman Lt. Gregg Karl says these tips are in response to calls the department receives on a regular basis around this time of year.
Thanksgiving Cooking Safety Tips
- Be alert when cooking. Do not allow yourself to be distracted or walk away from food on the stove. Stove top fires can spread quickly to cabinets and areas surrounding the stove.
- Turn pot and pan handles inward so children and pets cannot pull these items from the stove.
- Wear clothing that has fitted or short sleeves. Loose fitting sleeves can contact hot surfaces and begin to burn.
- Use caution with open flame cooking devices. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for use of the device. Check county and state fire codes for safe distances and areas the devices can be used.
- Have a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed fire extinguisher and be familiar with the operation of the extinguisher in the event of a fire.
- Be certain all smoke alarms are tested and functioning properly.
The Arlington County Fire Department wishes everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
While some have expressed concern over recent attacks on female joggers, the police department insists that “there has not been an increase in crimes against pedestrians.” Nonetheless, ACPD is advising joggers and pedestrians to follow the following safety tips.
- Run with others if possible
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Know what route you are traveling, especially if walking or running during the dark
- Do not listen to music or talk on the phone while jogging, you cannot hear other people approach you.
- Carry a cell phone with you. If you are assaulted, calling police immediately increases the chance the suspect will be apprehended.
- Listen to your instincts. If a passerby makes you feel uncomfortable, walk or run to a well-lit area.
“If anyone has been the victim of an assault while walking or jogging, and has not reported it, please call the Police Department Non-Emergency line at (703) 558-2222,” the department said in a press release.
Last week, the county’s WalkArlington program published a series of safety tips for trick-or-treaters, parents and drivers alike.
For instance, drivers should anticipate children darting out from between parked cars, while kids should make sure their costume is visible to drivers.
The tips, from WalkArlington’s Pacer email newsletter, are below. Have a safe Halloween tonight!
Tips for Parents and Children
Do a costume check. Can the child walk easily in the outfit? Make sure the masks or head gear allow the children to see clearly what is around them.
Think visibility. Wear bright colors, use retro reflective materials. Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and to help others see you.
Choose the safest routes to walk. Pick places where there are sidewalks or paths separated from traffic, if possible. Look for well-lit streets with slow traffic. Remind children to watch for cars turning into or pulling out of driveways.
Plan how to cross streets. Avoid crossing busy, high-speed, or multi-lane roads. Limit the number of street crossings. Give children exiting the street room to enter the sidewalk area.
Review crossing safety rules with children. Tell kids: Always look for cars yourself – even when adults are also looking. Stop at the curb and look left, right and left again for traffic and turning cars. Wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing. Keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing. When crossing the street at an intersection, obey traffic signs and signals and double-check to see if cars are coming.
Walk, don’t run, across the street. Walk, don’t run, from house to house.
Choose homes that welcome Halloween visitors. Look for lights on, well-lit driveways, and walkways or paths to the front door.
Reminders for Motorists
Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on early in the day so you can spot children from greater distances.
Drive slowly through residential streets and areas where you might expect to see pedestrians trick-or-treating.
Watch for children in dark clothing. Remember that costumes can limit children’s visibility and that they may not be able to see your vehicle.
Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.
Watch for children walking on roadways, medians, and curbs.
Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
The Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee is recommending that the County Board approve five new street improvement projects when it meets this weekend.
The total cost of the projects — which are expected to improve the appearance and safety of the streetscape — is estimated at $2.8 million. Of the five projects, all but one are in North Arlington.
The Neighborhood Conservation program allows neighborhoods to compete with one another to receive funding for public improvements requested by residents. The five projects expected to receive funding over the weekend include:
- Beautification plus pedestrian safety improvements with raised medians on Yorktown Blvd between Little Falls Road and 30th Street N., near Yorktown High School. ($202,599)
- Street improvements including sidewalk, curb, gutter and street lighting in Glencarlyn, on 4th Street S. between Lexington and Kensington Streets and on Lexington Street between 3rd and 4th Streets. ($653,033)
- Street improvements including sidewalk, curb, gutter and street lighting in Ashton Heights, on N. Piedmont Street from 5th to 6th Streets. ($519,345)
- Beautification plus pedestrian safety improvements with curb and median extensions in Tara Leeway Heights, on N. Patrick Henry Drive from 18th to 20th Streets. ($717,897)
- Street improvements including sidewalk, curb, and gutter in Leeway, on N. Illinois Street from 22nd Street to Lee Highway. ($716,692)
The last round of Neighborhood Conservation projects included street, park and sign improvements in six different neighborhoods. This time around, the committee passed over proposed park projects in Penrose, Arlington Forest and Boulevard Manor; pedestrian safety projects in Westover Village, Waverly Hills and Claremont; and street improvement projects in Williamsburg and Maywood.
Crews are making progress on safety improvements to a steep portion of Walter Reed Drive. Currently, most of the construction is closer to S. Pollard Street, near the top of the hill, but changes will soon stretch down to Four Mile Run Drive.
Some curb extensions, which are being added at the intersections of Quincy, Quebec and Pollard Streets, have already been poured. Drivers in the area can eventually expect to see planted medians where only painted medians previously existed. Also, the right-hand turn lane onto the Four Mile Run Drive access road will be eliminated for drivers heading downhill on Walter Reed, in favor of traffic turning onto the road at the 90 degree intersection.
Several of the improvements are designed to slow down traffic, while others are intended to protect pedestrians. The construction covers the area, long considered dangerous, where a bicyclist was killed in May. Many cyclists use this stretch to travel to and from the W&OD Trail and Four Mile Run.
Other pedestrian safety improvements have recently been made on Shirlington Road and Arlington Ridge Road, also in South Arlington, and improvements are planned for a stretch of Glebe Road near Ballston.
Road work on Walter Reed could last up to two months.
Arlington may be the safest city in the U.S. when it comes to traffic fatalities, but we’re also some of the most accident-prone drivers in the country, according to new data from Allstate Insurance. The good news: we’re less accident-prone than drivers in Alexandria, Baltimore and the District.
Arlington ranks 180 out of 193 cities in Allstate’s “Best Driver” rankings. That’s a downgrade compared to last year, when Arlington drivers ranked 174th. According to the latest data, drivers in Arlington go an average of 6.8 years between accidents.
By comparison, drivers in the safest city on the list — Fort Collins, Colo. — go an average of 14 years between accidents.
The District ranked dead last on the list, at 193rd, thanks to an average of only 4.8 years between accidents. Baltimore was the second worst, at 192nd. Alexandria ranked 184th.
The intersections — Glebe and Carlin Springs Road, Glebe and Wilson Boulevard, and Glebe and Fairfax Drive — involve long crosswalks across numerous lanes of fast-moving traffic, as well as the occasional slip lane. The improvements are intended to make crossing the intersections safer by reducing crosswalk distances and “conflict points.”
At Glebe and Fairfax, crews will “regularize intersection geometry” — i.e. convert “suburban” slip lanes into “urban” 90-degree turns controlled by the stop light. Crews will also widen the mid-intersection pedestrian refuge.
At Glebe and Wilson, the plan is to eliminate and square up the existing slip lane at the southwest corner of the intersection, as well as to widen the median refuge, reduce crosswalk distances and to install a speed table on the northwest slip lane.
At Glebe and Carlin Springs, intersection corners will be rebuilt, median refuges will be enhanced, higher-visibility crosswalks will be installed and the driveway to and from the Ballston parking garage will be modified for safety.
The changes are being paid for primarily with federal funds, according to Arlington County Director of Transportation Dennis Leach. Even though Glebe Road is a state route, Virginia is not chipping in for the changes.
“They view this as an Arlington-requested betterment,” Leach said.
Leach expects bids for the project to come in this fall, with construction to start in the spring and to wrap up by the end of next year.
According to recent federal accident data compiled by CNBC, Arlington has only 0.48 traffic fatalities per 100,000 population. The data includes vehicle occupant and pedestrian fatalities, but does not factor in the raw number of accidents or non-fatal injuries.
The next-safest city has more than twice the fatality rate. Vancouver, Wash. has 1.23 traffic fatalities per 100,000 population. The “most dangerous” city in the country is Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where each year 22.39 people die in accidents for every 100,000 people.
(The accident pictured took place this morning on George Mason Drive near N. 10th Street. Two minor injuries were reported.)
Hat tip to Matt Leighton
Civil War ‘History Mobile’ Coming to Arlington — A tractor trailer turned mobile history museum will be visiting Arlington several times this summer, as part of commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The History Mobile’s exhibits “look at the war through the eyes of civilians, slaves and soldiers.” [Sun Gazette]
ART Contractor Wins Safety Award — The contractor that operates Arlington Transit (ART) buses won a top safety award on Sunday. The company, Forsythe Transportation, helped reduce safety complaints on ART by 58 percent in one year, according to a county press release. [Arlington County]
Pentagon City Casting Call for Kid Singers — Organizers of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic — held later this summer in D.C. — are looking for kids between the ages of 6 and 12 to sing the National Anthem prior to featured tennis matches. A casting call will be held at the Pentagon City mall from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 4. Multiple winners will be selected. [Legg Mason Tennis Classic]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
Changes are coming to the steep stretch of Walter Reed Drive where a bicyclist was killed over the weekend.
Arlington County plans to begin work this summer to add a number of safety improvements to Walter Reed between S. Pollard Street and Four Mile Run Drive. The changes, which were in the works before the accident, include:
- Replacing the painted asphalt medians with planted, landscaped medians
- Curb extensions, or “nubs,” and raised pedestrian islands at Quincy, Quebec and Pollard Streets
- Six foot curb extension on the east side of Walter Reed Drive at the W&OD Trail crosswalk
- Additional signage for drivers approaching the W&OD Trail crosswalk
- A parking lane stripe and “sharrow” markings to the downhill lanes (the uphill lanes already have a dedicated bike lane and a parking stripe)
- Bus shelters at Four Mile Run Drive and Randolph Street
The 45-60 day construction project will also eliminate the right turn lane from southbound Walter Reed Drive to the Four Mile Run Drive access road. (The bicyclist, who had been heading downhill on Walter Reed Drive, struck a car heading east on the access road just after the turn lane, according to police.)
Arlington Traffic Engineering and Operations Chief Wayne Wentz says that eliminating the turn lane and replacing it with landscaping will help slow down cars — which will now have to make a 90 degree right run at the intersection — and will make it easier for pedestrians to cross.
“People treat [such lanes] very much like ramps rather than just intersections,” Wentz said. “It just reinforces that you’re turning onto a neighborhood street, not on to some major arterial.”
Wentz said the overall goal of the project — which he says will cost about $180,000 — is to reduce the number of potential “conflict points” between pedestrians and vehicles. The project, he said, will not explicitly attempt to reduce the speed of cars or bicycles heading downhill on Walter Reed Drive.
The travel lanes on Walter Reed Drive will not be narrowed, Wentz said. The county also has no plans to add a speed limit sign to the downhill lane, even though the nearest speed limit sign for southbound drivers is at 19th Street, well before the hill.