Morning rush hour traffic on Columbia Pike has gone from bad to worse thanks to a new traffic pattern at the Washington Boulevard interchange, drivers tell us.
Two weeks ago VDOT, as part of its Route 27/244 interchange project, altered the traffic pattern for vehicles heading eastbound on Columbia Pike. Drivers heading toward northbound I-395 now have to turn left at the traffic signal on S. Quinn Street, whereas before northbound and southbound traffic could both take the right-hand ramp that also leads to southbound I-395.
Last week, one reader told us the new traffic pattern was a “disaster,” with eastbound Pike traffic backed up to S. Courthouse Road at 7:45 a.m. Today (Wednesday), another reader said that traffic was backed up to S. Walter Reed Drive at 8:15 a.m.
“That is absolutely ridiculous,” said Thierry Driscoll, a Pike commuter who now uses S. Courthouse Road as a shortcut to Washington Boulevard. “There are cars backed up in the left lane of Columbia Pike waiting to take a left onto the Washington Blvd access ramp, but cannot because the access ramp is full.”
“There is no excuse for such a boneheaded design,” he continued. “This new pattern has inconvenienced a lot of people.”
VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord says the current traffic pattern is temporary and will be in place for another 8-12 months while new ramps are built.
“We realize it’s slower for drivers trying to get to I-395N since they have to yield to the oncoming traffic,” she said. “Our folks… added as much time as possible to the left-turn signal” to alleviate some of the traffic.
“No more significant changes” are planned, said McCord. She advised using S. Glebe Road as a possible alternate route to I-395 for those heading from western portions of Columbia Pike.
Updated at 4:08 p.m. — All lanes of Washington Blvd are now open to traffic.
The southbound lanes of Washington Blvd are temporarily closed near the Arlington Blvd overpass due to an accident involving a bicyclist.
Initial reports suggest the cyclist was struck by a vehicle and suffered a broken left leg. The southbound lanes are closed due to the emergency response.
Drivers should avoid the area if possible.
(Updated at 5:05 p.m. on 11/12/13) Nearly 10 months ago, workers excavated land at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive to make way for a new subdivision called Lacey Lane. Shortly after the land was readied, however, the project stalled out and currently appears to be little more than a vacant lot.
In February, brothers Taylor and Milton Chamberlin of The Barrett Companies said they expected work to begin on the first model home at the site in March, with work on the second beginning shortly thereafter. They anticipated the two models would take about seven months each to build and would be ready by autumn. So far, no housing construction is visible at the site.
The land is divided into nine properties. Each plot will have a house with a base price of $1.4 million.
Calls and emails to Milton Chamberlin over the past few weeks were not returned. But Arlington County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) explained where things stand from the county’s point of view.
According to CPHD, there has not been any trouble with The Barrett Companies, the delay revolves around fulfilling safety regulations in order to get a building permit. County staff found outstanding “life safety regulations” that the developer needs to fulfill before a building permit can be granted. Once the developer makes some clarifications and revisions to the permit documents, the permit can be approved.
“To say it plainly, life safety is really about making sure the buildings are safe for people to occupy,” said CPHD spokeswoman Helen Duong. “For this project, the outstanding items on this permit have more to do with the documentation of the design than concerns about the adequacy of the design itself.”
Basically, it appears the designer believed certain safety features were implied in the building plans, but they need to be explicitly included. Revisions must continue until county staff can see all the necessary safety features drawn in.
According to the CPHD permit records, The Barrett Companies first applied for a Lacey Lane building permit in January, but the plans were sent back for revision in February. This process was repeated a few times in the following months, and CPHD’s Inspection Services last rejected a version of the plan in April. No further revisions have been submitted since then.
Permit applications stay active for six months but expire if no action has been taken after that time. The current permit application for Lacey Lane has an expiration date of March 15, 2014. That date can move back another six months, however, if further actions occur, such as submitting another round of revisions.
Once CPHD Inspection Services staff approves the plan’s revisions, the developer must also get the permit approved by the Department of Environmental Services. We’re told that process typically takes place in just a few minutes.
Neighbors of an under-construction Lyon Park home are worried about who might be moving in when the renovations are complete.
The “Metal House,” at 2797 Washington Blvd, is named as such because of its modern wood-and-steel exterior. While the home’s appearance is unconventional, neighbors seem more concerned about the way the house is being marketed to potential renters.
The home features a “kegger, flip cup, corn hole-friendly yard,” according to its rental listing, below. It’s a “short stumble home from [Mister] Day’s, Spider Kelly’s, Clarendon Ballroom, Clarendon Grill, Ri Ra, etc.,” the ad continues.
Asking price for the home, which features five bedroom suites, each with its own bathroom: $7,500 per month.
“Ouch,” the ad says simply, after listing the price.
In emails, neighbors alternately called the ad “disturbing” and “rather epic,” expressing concern about the kind of tenants such a listing might attract.
“There are a lot of concerns about the legality of the renovation — neighbors don’t understand how and why the county approved a house that was formerly a single-family home be renovated in this way,” one neighbor, who didn’t want her name used, told ARLnow.com.
The home was renovated by local builder Mickey Simpson after being purchased for $460,000 in 2012. The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
CLARENDON (North Arlington): The METAL HOUSE. Coolest rental house in Clarendon. Construction is close to being finished. New 5 Bedroom house available from September 15 – October 1 in Clarendon. Four floors of NEW silly shiny metal contemporary/modern style. Top floor is kitchen/bar Great Room with half bath and ROOFTOP party deck. Two full-sized stainless steel refrigerators. Granite counters. 5 Bedroom Suites — * each BR Suite has a private full bath with an awesome shower* each BR Suite has a walk-in closet* each BR Suite has a full sized washer and dryer (yes, 5 washers and 5 dryers in this house). Kegger, flip cup, corn hole-friendly yard. Parking for at least 5 cars off-street. Short stumble home from Day’s, Spider Kelly’s, Clarendon Ballroom, Clarendon Grill, Ri Ra, etc. You get the idea. Oh, and its only a few blocks from the Clarendon Metro. Absolutely no pets. This is a brand new house. Rent is $7500/month. Ouch. Seeing is believing… Please email for appointment.
The developer behind the upcoming Lacey Lane subdivision in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood is giving peek at what the new area will look like once it’s developed.
The Barrett Companies, which is a business run by the Chamberlin family since the 1980s, bought the vacant property on the corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive and had it excavated last month. The Chamberlins had been working to acquire the land for about a decade.
According to brothers Taylor and Milton Chamberlin, the goal for the Georgian style homes is for them to be an alternative to “McMansions.”
“We really take our time to design the homes to fit in the neighborhood. We’re not builders that come in and put this huge McMansion in a small neighborhood where it doesn’t fit. That’s not what we do,” said Taylor. “All of this is really thought through and it’s really livable, usable space. It’s not those McMansions where you walk in and wonder, ‘What do you do in this room?’”
The base model runs around $1.4 million and features four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, with the possibility of another bedroom and bathroom on an additional level. Costs will vary based on the different lot sizes and individual add-ons the purchasers want in their homes.
“We’re pretty enthusiastic about what we’re giving back to the community and what we’re providing for people who want to live there,” Taylor said. “They’re neat homes, they’re going to be well built.”
Another goal is to foster a 1950s sense of community among the owners of the nine properties, in which everybody knows and interacts with their neighbors. The homes will only be accessible via a private road and there will be a small fence around the subdivision.
“There’s a sense of community where people can interact a little bit more, but not lose their privacy,” said Milton.
The homes feature outdoor living area options — such as screened in “sleeping porches” off the second floor bedrooms or fireplaces exposed to the outdoors — which are supposed to add to the sense of community.
“While one neighbor is out grilling, you can see a couple of other neighbors hanging out on their patios,” Milton said. “You can sit and hang out and watch the kids in the backyard. It’s a very functional space.”
The brothers noted The Barrett Companies’ effort toward green building and energy efficiency. From better insulation and caulking to installing appropriate outlets in the detached garages for plugging in an electric car, the Chamberlins believe small touches make their properties stand out.
“It’s the little things that are very time consuming that a lot of builders wouldn’t want to do,” Taylor said. “All those little things add up. It makes it so much more efficient.”
A few neighbors had voiced concerns about last month’s removal of around 150 trees on the property to make way for the subdivision. But Taylor said the trees that were removed weren’t of high quality; many of them will be replaced with new trees that are native to Virginia.
“The trees that were on this site were very low quality trees per Arlington County’s grading scale. A lot had just grown wild over the years,” said Taylor. “In the process of coming back in here, we’re putting in a lot of newer, higher quality trees to grow up around the homes. I do understand the concern of neighbors around it. They’re going to see that it will be beautiful and lush and green again.”
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.
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) An excavating crew has begun clearing land in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood where a new subdivision will be built. The space at the northeast corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive is private property and was one of the few remaining undeveloped pieces of land in the county.
The Department of Environmental Services recently reviewed and approved dividing the property into nine residential lots. This was done as a matter of right, which means the County Board does not have to give approval if the applicant meets all requirements.
During the preliminary review and approval of the subdivision proposal, the applicant, Lacey Lane Land Company, L.C., had to send notification to all adjacent property owners as well as those across the street. The president of the neighborhood’s civic association also had to be notified, along with the neighborhood conservation representative. The notification was to inform neighbors of a possible new development in their area, and to give them a chance to speak with county staff about the proposal.
The developer had to submit design plans for the site to ensure all the development’s infrastructure would be adequately designed and built. As with any public infrastructure to be built and be turned over to the county for operation and maintenance, this one had to be guaranteed by a public improvement performance bond and agreement. The applicant also had to meet requirements in the Zoning Ordinance regarding landscaping regulations and tree removal.
Arlington County Urban Forester Vincent Verweij says the developer was sent a letter suggesting preservation for many of the 150 trees on the land. However, Verweij noted it was only a suggestion because private land owners can cut down whichever trees they choose on their own property once receiving the initial land disturbance permit for the site. He believes the excavators left about five trees on the property.
Verweij believes the remaining trees are too exposed and may be unstable in storms or on windy days.
“I fear they may fall into houses now, because a forest is much stronger than individual trees,” said Verweij. “Most of the support and strength comes from being rooted outward and that’s going to be cut significantly by these houses.”
Under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance, the developer must preserve, or in this case re-plant, 20 percent of the trees that stood on the site. The county will not award certificates of occupancy for the homes until those standards are met.
Lacey Lane Land Company, L.C. recently applied for a construction permit for one of the homes, which will be built at 1312 N. Evergreen Street. That permit could be approved in about 30 days. The developer will have to apply for individual permits for every additional home and each will have to be reviewed by the county. Currently, there is no estimate on when the subdivision will be completed; it will depend on the developer’s timing for submitting the additional eight permits and beginning construction those houses.
Update at 4:35 p.m. — One westbound lane is now slowly getting by the scene of the water main break.
A water main break in Virginia Square is snarling traffic on Washington Blvd, and will continue to do so through the evening rush hour.
Westbound lanes of Washington Blvd have been closed between N. Kirkwood Road and N. Lincoln Street. Traffic heading eastbound has been reduced to one lane.
There’s no word when the road will re-open, but a crew will remain on the scene making repairs at least through rush hour.
(Update at 2:40 p.m.) A vehicle flipped on its side on westbound Washington Boulevard this afternoon.
The accident occurred just past noon between I-395 and Columbia Pike, near the scene of a wreck that happened last week. A red vehicle — a Ford minivan or SUV with D.C. tags — somehow flipped on its side on a downhill stretch of Washington Boulevard near the VDOT maintenance yard. Temporary jersey barriers were in place near where the accident took place, apparently for the Washington Blvd/Columbia Pike bridge project.
One occupant suffered a shoulder injury as a result of the single-vehicle accident, according to scanner traffic. A tractor trailer was stopped near the wreck, but had no apparent damage.
The stretch of Washington Boulevard was closed for about an hour but reopened around 1:15 p.m.
A D.C. taxicab somehow went up a steep embankment, ran into and partially went over a guardrail on Washington Boulevard this afternoon.
The accident happened around 1:00 p.m. on the section of Washington Boulevard between I-395 and Columbia Pike. Initial reports suggest the taxi was heading northbound from I-395 to Washington Boulevard when it ran up an embankment and into the guardrail along the southbound lanes of Washington Boulevard.
It’s unclear how the accident happened, although initial reports suggest another vehicle might have been involved in the accident; that vehicle suffered only minor damage.
The driver of the Ford Crown Victoria cab was extricated by firefighters and taken to a local hospital, according to scanner traffic. Traffic on Washington Boulevard was backed up as crews worked to remove the cab from the guardrail.
The outage has been reported in the Westover and Bluemont neighborhoods, as well as in the area around Virginia Hospital Center. Traffic lights are out along parts of George Mason Drive and Washington Blvd, according to several Twitter users. The outage was first reported just before 12:30 p.m.
Dominion is telling customers the outage is the result of “a circuit breaker issue,” according to a tipster.
According to Dominion’s outage map, 4,070 customers have lost power in Arlington. The power is expected to be restored some time between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m.
The call for an accident involving a motorcycle and a vehicle near the intersection of Washington Blvd and Pershing Drive came in around 8:25 a.m. Washington Boulevard has been shut down for at least an hour while police took photos and investigated the accident. Those lane closures are expected to be lifted shortly.
No word yet on the condition of any of the victims.
Photo courtesy @jghazi
Undocumented W-L Valedictorian “Still Kind of Scared” — This year’s Washington-Lee High School valedictorian, 17-year-old Nataly Montano, is one of the young people impacted by President Obama’s recent policy decision to pull back on the deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Montano, a 4.3 GPA student, says she is “still kind of scared sometimes because things could happen to get me deported.” [Sun Gazette]
New Washington Blvd Trail to Impact Trees — A new trail extension planned for Washington Boulevard between Columbia Pike and Route 50 will result in the removal of “about 350 trees.” The plan has, on some level, pitted bicycle advocates against tree huggers, according to a blog post. [Commuter Page Blog]
‘Tapping Party’ Tonight in Shirlington — Capital City Brewing Company in Shirlington Village is hosting a “tapping party” tonight (Tuesday) for one of its newest beers, a Rye IPA. “Medium to full bodied, the Rye IPA (6.5% ABV) is an American style IPA made with the addition of Rye malt that lends a spice to the flavor profile and then dry hopped with American style hops,” according to a press release. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. and will include a question and answer session with the brewmasters, a free appetizer buffet and a trivia contest. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
A bomb squad investigation has shut down part of Washington Blvd and is causing significant traffic backups.
Washington Blvd in the eastbound/southbound direction has been shut at S. 2nd St, near Route 50. While the investigation continues, there will be various closings in the area, including on S. 2nd St.
Drivers are advised to avoid the area altogether if possible.
The investigation involves a pipe wrapped in some sort of packaging found lying in the bushes.
Traffic heading toward I-395 on southbound Washington Boulevard is slow due to an accident.
The accident involves at least two cars and two injuries, according to scanner traffic.
Emergency activity is on the right-hand side of Washington Boulevard between Columbia Pike and the ramp to I-395.