Chamber Wants State Control of Energy Plan — One of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s legislative goals this year is to have the state take control of energy efficiency and green building standards. The Chamber’s call for statewide objectives and policies comes as Arlington is in the latter stages of developing its own Community Energy Plan. “The Chamber does not support the delegation of authority to localities to establish green-building codes and requirements on a locality-by-locality basis,” the group wrote. [Sun Gazette]
VSP Responds to Crashes During Storm — Yesterday’s snow, ice and rain storm resulted in dozens of crashes on Northern Virginia highways. Virginia State Police’s Fairfax division (which includes Arlington) responded to 69 crashes, 46 disabled vehicles and a total of 328 calls for service yesterday, according to VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller. Statewide, VSP responded to 686 crashes, including one fatal wreck in Campbell County, near Lynchburg.
Population Decline Coming? — Updated at 12:55 p.m. — A projection by researchers at the University of Virginia suggests that Arlington’s population will, against all conventional wisdom, actually decline in coming years. In the 2010 census Arlington had a population of 207,627; by 2040, the projection suggest the population will shrink to 197,065. The researchers cautioned against putting too much faith in the Arlington numbers. As a whole, Virginia is projected to grow, with some 2 million additional residents statewide by 2040. Arlington’s planning division projects a population of 252,400 in 2040. [Sun Gazette]
Metrorail and Metrobus service will not resume service Tuesday morning. An announcement on when service may be restored will be made after Metro is able to assess damage and weather conditions in the morning. Metro personnel will need to perform a comprehensive damage assessment, including inspections of track, bridges, aerial structures, stations and facilities. Metrorail service restoration is also contingent on adequate commercial power to support operations and repair of any storm-related damage. For Metrobus, service restoration will vary by route and depend on road conditions.
MetroAccess service will remain suspended all day Tuesday.
Metro will restore service only when it is safe to do so.
Also this afternoon, the Office of Personnel Management announced that federal government offices would once again be closed to the public on Tuesday.
Non-emergency employees (including employees on pre-approved paid leave) will be granted excused absence (administrative leave) for the number of hours they were scheduled to work unless they are:
- required to telework,
- on official travel outside of the Washington, DC, area,
- on leave without pay, or
- on an alternative work schedule (AWS) day off.
Telework-Ready Employees who are scheduled to perform telework on the day of the announcement or who are required to perform unscheduled telework on a day when Federal offices are closed to the public must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their agencies’ policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements.
Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksites unless otherwise directed by their agencies.
Virginia State Police, meanwhile, asked media outlets to help correct a rumor that the agency is telling drivers to stay off the roads. VSP is only asking drivers to limit their travel. Earlier today, however, Arlington County asked residents to “stay where you are.”
Virginia State Police are advising motorists to limit their travels and avoid being on the roads, if/when possible, as Hurricane Sandy continues to make its inland path. NO ONE is being told they have to be off the roads by 3 p.m. Monday, as is incorrectly circulating on social media.
Virginia State Police were pursuing a vehicle on eastbound I-66 around 1:15 a.m. when it exited onto Glebe Road in Arlington. The fleeing driver was then involved in a collision with another vehicle near the intersection of Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive, according to scanner traffic.
The chase ended when the driver apparently tried to bail out near the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Monroe Street, in front of the Virginia Square Metro station. Police apprehended the man in front of the station’s elevator entrance, according to a witness. Arlington County police were not involved in the chase, ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said, but did arrive on the scene after the driver bailed out.
No injuries were reported as a result of the crash at Glebe and Fairfax. So far there’s no word on charges against the driver, nor what prompted him to flee.
Photo courtesy Drew Murray
The incident started around 5:30 a.m., when police were called for a man spotted banging on a vehicle in a parking garage on the 1900 block of N. Lynn Street, in Rosslyn. The man fled on foot before police arrived, and building security witnessed him heading in the direction of I-66, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Minutes later, police received a call for a pedestrian struck on I-66 near Route 110.
“A male subject was in the eastbound I-66 travel lane when he was struck by an eastbound van,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told ARLnow.com. “The van was coming through the curve and was unable to avoid striking the pedestrian in the lane.”
“The driver of the van, 68-yr-old Linden, Va. male, was not charged in this incident,” Geller said. “The pedestrian, Nicholas F. Brizzi, 26, of Arlington, remains in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.”
Arlington County police helped to direct traffic on I-66 for an hour while Virginia State Police investigated the accident, according to Sternbeck.
Virginia Department of Transportation officials say they’re waiting for the results of a state police investigation into the death of Alexandria paramedic Joshua Weissman before deciding what to do about the gaps. As of today the investigation is “still ongoing,” according to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.
Weissman fell through one of the gaps while trying to reach a burning vehicle in the HOV lanes of I-395 on Feb. 8. He fell some 20 to 30 feet into the creek and was knocked unconscious, authorities said at the time. Weissman later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.
From below, the two gaps are clearly visible between the mainline of northbound I-395, an HOV ramp, and the HOV lanes themselves. Beneath the gaps are the Four Mile Run bike trail, a rocky berm littered with debris from the homeless individuals who sleep under the bike trail, and a shallow section of Four Mile Run with a jagged concrete structure in the middle.
The gaps pose the biggest danger to police and firefighters, who often will reach an incident in the HOV lanes via the mainline of I-395. If the incident happens to be on the bridge, as it was in the case of the Feb. 8 car fire, those public safety personnel will have to either hurdle over the gap or walk around it, in order to reach the scene and come to the aid of the victims.
One police official tells ARLnow.com said the gaps are “really not a problem in daylight” but can be especially dangerous at night. There are other gaps between lanes along I-395, including in the area of S. Joyce Street in Pentagon City, the official said, adding that he’s personally aware of at least two close calls involving officers nearly falling through the gaps.
Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz says that placing a grate between the spans may help eliminate the danger.
“It seemed to me that something like a grating… might be a cheap and adequate solution to that problem,” Schwartz said. He added, though, that it “makes sense” for state police to conclude the investigation before ”rushing out to do something that in the end might not be a complete solution.”
Parks Department Shortens Name — The Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources is now just the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. The “Cultural Resources” part of the name was dropped after the Cultural Affairs Division (and Artisphere) was moved over to the county’s Arlington Economic Development department.
Doctor Threatens Suit Against VSP for ‘Racial Slurs’ — A Florida doctor is contemplating a lawsuit against Virginia State Police for alleged civil rights violations following an accident. The incident started on July 3, 2011, when Dr. Maria Ferrer crashed her car into an HOV gate on I-395 in Arlington. Dr. Ferrer says two VSP troopers arrived on scene and, at one point, used racial slurs before citing her for traffic violations. [NBC Washington]
ARLnow.com Reaches 100,000 Comments — At some point yesterday afternoon, ARLnow.com recorded its 100,000th published comment. That’s an average of about 137 comments per day since ARLnow.com first launched on Jan. 29, 2010.
(Updated at 9:35 a.m.) A Virginia State Police motorcycle officer was struck by an SUV this morning on the ramp from eastbound Columbia Pike to Washington Boulevard.
The extent of the officer’s injuries are unknown at this time, but initial reports suggested he was conscious and alert after the accident. The officer was quickly loaded onto an ambulance and taken to the hospital.
Police shut down Columbia Pike at the accident scene, diverting traffic onto other roads. All lanes were opened back up at 9:10 a.m., about a half hour after the accident, but not before heavy delays formed on eastbound Columbia Pike. Some ART bus routes were also delayed as a result of the accident.
We’re riding along with Virginia State Police this morning as law enforcement agencies region-wide conduct a “Capitol Region HOV Awareness Day” mass enforcement operation.
So far drivers on I-395 have been well-behaved — we’ve only seen two HOV violators in the past hour and a half.
That will likely change, we’re told, as the commute goes on. Typically, more drivers will try to test their luck near the end of the morning rush hour.
The most surprising observation so far? The number of hybrid and clean fuel vehicles on the road. Such vehicles, with clean special fuel license plates issued before July 1, 2006, are exempt from HOV rules on I-395 and I-95. Hybrid drivers, it seems, take full advantage of that exemption.
The Arlington County Police Department is partnering with Virginia State Police and other local law enforcement agencies to conduct a “Capitol Region HOV Awareness Day.” Officers will be conducting “saturation patrols” during the morning and evening rush hours in an effort to boost enforcement of High Occupancy Vehicle laws on I-395, I-66 and other local highways.
Two HOV Awareness Day operations last year resulted in police issuing more than 2,300 summonses and arresting two fugitives.
Authorities released the following press release about the operation this evening.
Virginia and Maryland law enforcement agencies are partnering June 14, 2011, to conduct another “Capitol Region HOV Awareness Day.”
The comprehensive traffic-safety enforcement operation will involve High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) saturation patrols by Maryland State Police, Virginia State Police, Alexandria Police, Arlington County Police,
Fairfax County Police and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police (MWAA PD).
Virginia law enforcement will be targeting HOV violators on Interstates 66, 95, 395, and the Dulles Toll Road. Maryland State Police will be conducting its HOV enforcement efforts on Interstate 270 and Route 50.
During both morning and evening rush hours, law enforcement will be utilizing moving and stationary enforcement methods to detect and deter HOV violators. Police will be adjusting their enforcement methods throughout the operation in order to prevent traffic backups and added congestion.
With the increased presence of troopers and officers on the highways, motorists are reminded of Virginia’s “Move Over” law. The “Move Over” law requires motorists to change to another travel lane or, when not able to, to cautiously passing emergency personnel stopped out on the road.
Two multi-state HOV enforcement operations were conducted in May and July of 2010 and yielded a combined total of 1,669 HOV violations. The one-day initiatives also resulted in more than 2,300 summonses and arrests for other violations and offenses, to include the arrests of two fugitives.
Arlington has one of the lowest rates of sex offenders per capita in the region, according to local sex offender registries.
Arlington County has 70 resident sex offenders registered with Virginia State Police. When compared to the county’s population (approximately 210,000), that means that Arlington has one sex offender for every 3,000 residents. Compared to a selection of other local jurisdictions, that’s the lowest rate in the area.
- Arlington Co. — 1 : 3,000
- Loudoun Co. — 1 : 2,600
- Fairfax Co. — 1 : 2,500
- Prince William Co. — 1 : 2,000
- District of Columbia — 1 : 675
Of Arlington’s 70 registered sex offenders, 48 have South Arlington addresses and 22 have North Arlington addresses.
Virginia State Police have issued a statement regarding the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. forces.
VSP is urging Virginia residents to “remain vigilant in their awareness to suspicious activity within their communities and workplaces.” Specifically, the agency is asking Virginians to be on the lookout for terrorist fundraising, surveillance and “dry runs.”
RICHMOND – As the nation heralds the capture and death of the founder and leader of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Virginians are reminded to remain vigilant in their awareness to suspicious activity within their communities and workplaces. Over the past nine months, Virginia state and local law enforcement have been working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to spread awareness of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign and the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (http://www.dhs.gov/files/reportincidents/see-something-say-something.shtm). The national campaign is designed to help America’s businesses, communities and citizens remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping our country and commonwealth safe.
“At this time, there is no known direct threat against Virginia or its infrastructure as a result of these recent events,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We simply want to remind our citizens to stay attune to their surroundings and environment, and to always report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”
Virginians have numerous ways of reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement:
- Call 911 to reach your local police or sheriff’s office
- Dial #77 on your cell to reach your nearest Virginia State Police Office
- Call 1-877-4VA-TIPS to reach Virginia’s Terrorist Tip Hotline
- Email Virginia State Police/Virginia Fusion Center at firstname.lastname@example.org
See the rest of the press release after the jump.
With the federal government getting out only two hours early, the roadways were already jammed with traffic as heavy snow started to fall around 4:00 p.m.
“Instead of having a staggered rush hour, like you typically do, you had everybody leaving at the same time… right as the storm hit,” said state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. “Roads started deteriorating rapidly, and the vehicles started sliding into one another.”
Then, as gridlock set in, a new problem cropped up.
“The greatest challenge for clearing the interstates Wednesday evening in Northern Virginia was the sheer volume of abandoned vehicles,” Geller said. “Motorists were simply walking away from their vehicles – many of them being left still in the travel lane.”
Dominion Power, VDOT and Arlington County have all said that their efforts to restore power and clear streets were hampered by traffic and abandoned vehicles. In other words, if there were fewer vehicles on the streets, the streets would have been cleared earlier and not as many of the 16,700 Dominion customers without power last night would have been in the dark.
So should employers, including the federal and county governments, have let employees out earlier, given the early predictions of heavy snow around rush hour?
One Arlington County employee wrote to tell us that keeping county offices open until 5:00 placed county employees “in life threatening conditions.”
I think the decision by County officials to keep employees at work until 5 p.m. should be seriously questioned. Our department sent most of our out of county employees home early, but a core of Arlington residents remained. By the time the County closed its offices those employees were placed in life threatening conditions.
The storm was not a surprise. I can understand not closing early on a forecast alone. But once “whiteout conditions” are verified in Sterling and heading our way, employee safety should take precedence over previously announced plans.
Some of our employees required 7 hours to get home IN THE SAME COUNTY. Many are single women without somebody to assist them in an emergency.
The County manager is very lucky that today’s headlines did not feature employee deaths. It was a very bad decision to ignore facts on the ground for the sake of public relations. After 4:00 almost no citizens even ventured into the County building anyway. And employees were forced to sit and watch their situation become more and more desperate.
Flickr pool photo (top) by BrianMKA.
A-SPAN Holds Holiday Gala — The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network held its 5th annual Help the Homeless Holiday Gala last night at Artisphere in Rosslyn. Party-goers were treated to food from Lebanese Taverna, Santa Fe Cafe and Sushi Rock, music from BMT and a performance by BalletNova. An auction held to benefit A-SPAN proved that deep down, there is something people care about more than politics in Washington. Tickets to a Capitals / Tampa Bay Lightning game fetched a higher price than a private lunch for four with Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va).
VSP Busy During Snowstorm — Virginia State Police responded to a total of 555 calls for service during yesterday’s snowstorm. Of those calls, 109 were for crashes and 135 were for disabled vehicles.
PenPlace Planning Hearing Postponed — Due to the snow, a scheduled planning meeting about the proposed PenPlace development in Pentagon City has been postponed. The current proposal is to build a five-building office and hotel complex located on a large swatch of undeveloped land between Eads and Fern Streets, adjacent to Army Navy Drive. If approved, concessions from developers (including land owner Vornado) would help to fund the construction of nearby Long Bridge Park. More from TBD.
It’s July — After the hottest June on record in DC, we have finally reached the temperate month of July.
Virginia/WMATA Deal Imminent? — The Metro board of directors is holding an emergency phone meeting this morning to approve a last-minute funding deal with Virginia’s state government. Two weeks ago Gov. Bob McDonnell threatened to withhold $50 million in funding for the agency unless the state could get two seats on the Metro board. More from the Washington Examiner.
Lawmakers Blast Arlington Cemetery Mistakes – At a hearing on mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) told Army Secretary John McHugh that he was “downright angry” about the mistakes that led to hundreds of misidentified or unmarked graves. “Management ineptitude and neglect has resulted in a web of errors,” Skelton said. “How in the world could this tragedy be allowed to happen?” More from NPR.
State Police Cracking Down for the Fourth — Virginia State Police will step up enforcement this weekend, Dr. Gridlock reports. Officers will be on the lookout for speeders, drunk drivers and people not wearing their seat belts.
Miss Virginia Overcame Speech Impediment — Caitlin Uze, the new Miss Virginia and a Washington-Lee High School grad, still has a bit of a lisp. But as a kid in Arlington’s public schools, her speech impeach impediment was much more noticeable, and it led to her being teased mercilessly by a bully. During her reign as Miss Virginia, Uze will use her experience to encourage kids to build self-confidence. More from the Arlington Connection.
Murray Relishes Moran-Limbaugh Spat — To the delight of underdog Republican challenger Patrick Murray, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has taken aim at his opponent, congressman Jim Moran (D-Va). Limbaugh called Moran a “left-wing hatemonger” after Moran suggested that Limbaugh may be partially responsible for inciting violence against census workers. In an email, Murray’s campaign called Limbaugh’s on-air rant “a huge breakthrough.”
Statewide, Virginia State Police responded to calls for 1,713 traffic accidents and 1,699 stranded vehicle. According to the Washington Post:
The state police’s Fairfax Division alone responded to 681 calls for service, including 435 disabled vehicles and 121 traffic crashes.
Meanwhile, the State Police are warning people driving to bars and parties for the Super Bowl to be careful on the roads.
“Drivers need to weigh the risks when deciding if attending a Super Bowl party is really worth a crash or getting stuck,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Our greatest concern is what road conditions will be like following the game as temperatures drop and wet, slushy roadways turn icy.”
“No matter what road and weather conditions may be like Sunday, the most important decision individuals must make is to not drink and drive,” said Colonel Flaherty. “Driving impaired with slick road conditions is not just dangerous, but deadly for everyone.”
Some Super Bowls do’s and don’ts from the VSP after the jump.