At a Wednesday night townhall meeting, residents joined the County Board in a sometimes heated discussion about bringing streetcars to Crystal City and Columbia Pike. Two opposing local organizations are also sounding off on the issue.
Following the townhall, John Snyder, president of the pro-streetcar group Arlington Streetcar Now, issued the following statement:
“Arlingtonians strongly support moving forward with the streetcar which neighborhoods and
businesses have been working to bring about for a decade. The streetcar represents a next-generation transit solution that will increase capacity, improve ridership, and spark new investment that will enhance and revitalize our community.
“Arlingtonians acknowledge the foresight of those who supported Metro over the naysayers, and know that this generation has a similar choice to make. Tonight Arlingtonians demonstrated that they know the streetcar is an extraordinary opportunity to support an transportation investment in our future that will pay dividends for South Arlington neighborhoods and the well being of the county as a whole.”
Peter Rousselot, spokesman for Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit, issued a statement presenting an opposing viewpoint:
“We continue to be deeply concerned about the unwillingness of the County Board to fairly consider transit options for Columbia Pike, other than the fixed-rail streetcar. There is much evidence that rational and viable alternatives exist.
“Unfortunately, as the County Board has done on other occasions, it used most of the Town Hall merely to restate the same claims in favor of the streetcar proposal without allowing a full discussion of other options. As we have said, there is at least one highly attractive alternative – modern bus rapid transit (BRT) – which:
- Produces virtually the same increase in transit capacity,
- Would have the same positive impact on commercial development,
- Would have far less adverse impact on small business,
- Is far less expensive,
- And thus would preserve more scarce financial resources to support affordable housing and many other priorities.”
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has launched a study, called the Super NoVA Transit/Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Vision Plan, examining transit in Northern Virginia. It evaluates issues such as commuting patterns and projected travel demand for what is considered one of the most congested areas in the entire state.
The study will look at possible enhancements for transit and provide a vision for improving mobility throughout the region without increasing the number of vehicles occupied by only one person. When completed in the fall, the study will lay out short-term strategies along with long-term solutions through 2040.
Meetings are being held throughout Northern Virginia to explain the study and collect public input. DRPT will hold an open house on Tuesday at the Crystal City Shops from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in front of the Rite Aid Pharmacy (1671 Crystal Square Arcade).
An online survey is also available until March 1 for those who cannot attend the open house but would like to give feedback.
Visitors to Java Shack (2507 Franklin Rd.) in Courthouse can now pick up more than just a coffee and bakery item. A transit screen fixed near the register lets them pick up a better idea of what transit options are available in the neighborhood.
The pilot project came about when Arlington County Commuter Services offered to put up funding for creating systems that help people better understand their transit options. They collaborated with Mobility Lab to come up with some ideas, and the transit screens were born.
David Alpert is Mobility Lab’s Project Manager for the Transit Tech Initiative, and was a bit surprised by the request. He says it’s fairly unusual for a local government to push for this kind of research and development.
“We wanted to push the envelope with this technology,” Alpert says. “It’s really great that Arlington is able to provide that.”
The screens display constantly updated times and availability for a variety of transit options, including Metrobus, Metrorail, ART Bus and Capital Bikeshare. Alpert believes more people would use public transit if they realized how many options are readily available in real time. He said public transit not only helps people get around, but improves the quality of their lives.
“Arlington has had so much growth in the Rosslyn to Ballston corridor, but not a ton of traffic growth, because so many options are out there,” Alpert said. “Buses, metro, biking. It improves, of course, the environment but people’s happiness as well.”
So far the only other location to be included in the pilot program is The Red Palace in Washington, DC. Java Shack owner Dale Roberts was approached due to his previous work with ACCS. Roberts says the screen, which hangs unobtrusively from the ceiling near the cash register, doesn’t interfere with his business at all. In fact, customers are asking about it and have given a lot of positive feedback.
“The idea is to get people to be aware that there are lots of options besides just using their own car,” Roberts said. “Seeing that screen lets me know how many options are right there at the corner of the coffee shop.”
Mobility Lab is still working out how it will fund the project in order to expand it. The equipment costs about $400, and businesses will likely have to foot the bill. Alpert says the pricing structure hasn’t been formulated yet and many different ideas have been floated.
The project will enhance bus service to accommodate recent and upcoming developments in the area. Dedicated bus lanes are planned along Crystal Drive, S. Clark Street and S. Bell Street. During the first phase, seven new stops will be added along the route, in addition to the existing one at the Crystal City Metro station. Eventually, the plan is for the project to expand to the Pentagon City Metro station and south to the Braddock Road Metro station in Alexandria.
The locations of the new stations are already set, but you can help name them. The survey allows you to vote for suggested names or fill in your own ideas. To participate in the survey, click here. It will be available until November 10.
The opening of an affordable housing community in Ballston was welcomed with much fanfare on Tuesday evening. Numerous county officials joined new residents at The Jordan (801 N. Wakefield St.) for a grand opening ceremony.
The apartments are aimed at individuals or families earning 50-60% of the area’s mean income. A key selling point of the apartments is their proximity to local businesses and public transportation. They’re about one block from Ballston Commons Mall and about four blocks from the Ballston Metro. County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman pointed out that this is important because the people who typically need public transit the most are those with lower incomes. Residents at The Jordan are also eligible for a public transit subsidy.
Zimmerman said because Arlington is becoming a more expensive place to live, it’s vital to be creative and innovative in providing housing options. He said the county is at risk of losing its diversity without such options.
“We need to make sure this is a place in which everyone can live,” Zimmerman said. “Not just those who are privileged with a high income.”
The property is owned and managed by AHC Inc., a nonprofit developer of low and moderate-income housing. They acquired the property through a land swap with The JBG Companies. It’s part of the larger mixed-use development under construction at the corner of Glebe Rd. and Wilson Blvd.
The Jordan replaces the previous affordable housing complex nearby, Jordan Manor, which was demolished nearly three years ago. Residents at Jordan Manor who wished to move into The Jordan received first pick on the apartments. The Jordan houses 90 apartments, whereas Jordan Manor had only 24.
Five of the building’s units have three bedrooms and can accomodate larger families. Nine of the units are fully accessible to residents with disabilities. Amenities include a library, business center, courtyard with fountain and community room.
The first residents moved into The Jordan about a month ago, and the building is currently two-thirds occupied.
Originally scheduled for Feb. 13 but postponed due to snow, the drill will simulate an explosion on a Metrorail train in the tunnel between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom stations. Arlington police and firefighters — along with emergency personnel from Metro and other jurisdictions — will test out new Mobile Emergency Response Vehicles (left), the first motorized rescue carts used by a U.S. transit organization.
The exercise will begin at 1:00 a.m. Sunday, but first responders and volunteer “victims” should arrive at the Rosslyn station around 11:00 p.m. Saturday. The exercise is expected to run until 5:00 a.m.
The Rosslyn station will remain open until the normal closing time, but after 11:00 p.m. Blue Line trains will share one track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery and Orange Line trains will share one track between Foggy Bottom and Courthouse.
A provocative series of photographs are on display at six Washington-area Metro stations, including Rosslyn and Pentagon City.
The photographs, displayed in frames usually reserved for advertisements, show the faces of nine American soldiers photographed between tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The photograph at the Rosslyn Metro, above, went on display Thursday. It will remain there until April 4th.
It’s officially Girl Scout cookie time. Cookies will be on sale outside the following Metro stations from 3:00 to 7:00 tonight.
- Ballston Metro (Troop 2448)
- Courthouse Metro (Troop 3994)
- Crystal City Metro (Troop 3450)
- East Falls Church Metro (Troop 1245)
- Pentagon City Metro (Troop 486)
- Virginia Square/GMU Metro (Troop 5221)
More locations around Arlington can be found here.
In a stark reversal of a recent trend, the snow has caused something that was supposed to be closed to instead remain open.
The Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery Metro stations were supposed to be closed all weekend due to track work and an emergency exercise. Instead, the exercise and the maintenance have been postponed indefinitely, and both stations will be open throughout President’s Day Weekend.
The emergency exercise was to involve 150 Arlington police officers and firefighters. It would have simulated a terrorist bombing of a Metrorail train in the tunnel between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom Metro stations.
“Priority number one this week is to dig out from this record snowfall and resume operations on Metrobus, Metrorail and MetroAccess,” said Dave Kubicek, Metro’s Acting Deputy General Manager of Operations, in a press release. “With additional snow in the forecast… we must focus all of our efforts on safe operations and continuing to help get people where they need to go.”
The entire Metro system is closing at 11:00 PM tonight.
Metro is suspending above-ground Metrorail service at 11:00 PM.
WMATA has announced that aboveground Metrorail service will shut down when snow accumulation reaches eight inches, as it did on Dec. 19. Don’t try to use Metrorail when the accumulation totals are nearing 8″ — there’s a real likelihood of the system shutting down as you’re in transit, stranding you halfway to your destination.
Some hardy souls may try to drive this weekend, despite pleas from local governments for drivers to stay off the road. If you absolutely, positively must drive, you’re likely to encounter a few salt trucks along the way. For many drivers, the exact rules of engagement around slow-moving salt trucks is unclear. Do you pass? How close to you get? To help shed some light, here are some salt truck safety tips, as emailed to arlnow.com from the county’s Department of Environmental Services:
Snow Operations Tips: Roadway Safety
- If you are behind a snow plow, stay at least 100 feet back to allow the truck adequate room to maneuver and see you in the rearview and side mirrors.
- Do not attempt to pass snow plows working in tandem on major roadways. Working together in a staggered pattern allows the plows to quickly clear more of the roadway.
- A snowplow needs a minimum roadway width of 15 feet to maneuver safely, and on many streets a snowplow cannot operate when cars are parked on both sides of the street.
- If you see a plow on a narrow, two-way road, consider an alternate route or wait for the plow to pass to ensure that both vehicles can safely navigate the road.
- Prior to a storm, work with neighbors to move as many cars off the street and into garages or driveways. Park all remaining vehicles on one side of the street – the ODD numbered side, if possible. With fewer parked cars, streets can be cleared more completely, safely and quickly. Your car is also less likely to be covered with salt and sand.
- Use extra caution when driving during, and shortly after, winter weather events. Roads can remain slippery for some time after trucks have plowed and treated them, especially when the temperatures remain low.
As if it wasn’t hard enough to get around already, WMATA is reporting a “major delay” on the Orange Line at Ballston, heading towards New Carrollton. WMATA says the delays are due to a “door malfunction.”