Arlington County plans to make permanent repairs to a sinkhole on Williamsburg Blvd in the coming weeks.
The sinkhole first appeared in February due to a water main break which created a small geyser near the corner of Williamsburg Blvd and Sycamore Street.
The temporary repairs, now several months old, allowed the road to reopen but are not a permanent solution. A large indentation in the road is “still there and getting worse,” with some cars having to swerve onto the median to avoid the hazard, according to resident Joe Keeley.
Permanent patching is scheduled for the “trouble spot” sometime within the next two weeks, according to Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Baxter said that the repairs in February were indeed temporary, and that final repairs had not taken place yet partially because hot mix asphalt — the material needed for permanent repairs — is not typically available in the winter months.
Instead, Baxter said that road crews used cold mix asphalt to perform temporary repairs and planned to return for final repairs when the weather warmed up.
In this case, Baxter said the road requires a full-depth repair, which involves installing a new sub-base layer of gravel and replacing both the base and top base layers of the road. Repairs are expected to cost approximately $3,500.
Water Main Repairs Continue — Emergency water main repairs that started last night are continuing on Washington Blvd at N. Kensington Street. Drivers should expect traffic impacts, particularly during the morning rush hour. [Twitter]
Beyer Blasts Proposed Metro Cut — A U.S. House committee has released a plan to cut federal funding of Metro for maintenance and safety upgrades in half next year. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) blasted the plan, calling it “shortsighted” and saying it will “jeopardize rider safety [and] derail improvements to the system.” [NBC Washington]
Cherrydale Tea Shop Owner Profiled — Lyndsey DePalma, owner of House of Steep, is doing what she loves in running the Cherrydale tea shop. Despite the store exceeding financial expectations, however, DePalma is still “earning far less” than she did in her previous job as a human resources manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers. [Career 2.0]
County Manager Won’t Be Hired Until 2016 — The permanent successor for retiring Arlington County Board member Barbara Donnellan won’t be selected until 2016. The decision was made so that the two new, yet-to-be-elected County Board members replacing Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes have a chance to weigh in. In the meantime, Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz will serve as acting County Manager after Donnellan retires on June 30. [InsideNova]
Rothstein to Bisnow — ARLnow reporter Ethan Rothstein will be leaving the site to report on commercial real estate for Bisnow. Rothstein’s last day is May 15. [Washingtonian]
Endorsements in School Board Race — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — School Board candidate Sharon Dorsey has picked up endorsements from Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson, outgoing School Board member Abby Raphael and former School Board member Noah Simon. “Sharon Dorsey’s business and technology background along with her knowledge of education issues make her the right choice,” Ferguson said in a statement. Dorsey’s opponent in the race for the Democratic School Board endorsement, Reid Goldstein, has been endorsed by School Board member Nancy Van Doren, former state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple and County Board member Jay Fisette, among others.
Sephora Coming to Clarendon — Skincare and cosmetics retailer Sephora has signed a lease at Market Common Clarendon. The company plans to open a store at the shopping center later this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Contractor Causes Flood in Rosslyn — A contractor on a backhoe caused a mini flood on Wilson Blvd yesterday afternoon, after striking a fire hydrant line. The incident also caused several hours of water service disruptions in the area. It’s at least the second time in the past few months that someone at the construction site hit a water line and caused flooding. [WJLA]
New Website for Rep. Beyer — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) launched a newly redesigned website this week. The site features a background image of Rosslyn and the Potomac River. [U.S. House of Representatives]
Village Sweet Bakery Opens — Village Sweet, a new bakery in Westover, opened for business on Tuesday. Owner Dawn Hart decided to open the brick-and-mortar store as an expansion of Monster Cookie Co., her online, customized sugar cookie business. The bakery is located at 5872 Washington Blvd, next to Lost Dog Cafe. [Facebook, Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Auditor Bill — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed Del. Patrick Hope’s bill that will allow the Arlington County Board to hire an independent auditor. The bill will become law in July. Board members Jay Fisette, Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt say they support the hiring of an independent auditor. Board member Walter Tejada, who’s retiring at the end of the year, has expressed reservations about the position. [InsideNova]
Signature Casts Wesley Taylor — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has cast Wesley Taylor — who has held prominent roles on NBC’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” — in its upcoming production of “Cabaret.” The show will run from May 12 to June 28. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Reward Paid for Bank Robbery Tip — Arlington County Crime Solvers has paid a reward for a tip received that led to the arrest of a bank robbery suspect. The tipster called a 1-800 number to leave a tip after seeing a press release about the Dec. 6 robbery at Capital One Bank in Ballston Common Mall. [Arlington County]
Williamsburg Middle School Closed Monday — Williamsburg Middle School was closed Monday due to a pipe that burst over the weekend, damaging part of the school. [WUSA 9]
‘CoworkCafe’ Launches in Clarendon — A new coworking space concept called CoworkCafe has launched in the lounge next to Boccato Gelato in Clarendon. For $150-200 per month, those seeking to get work done can access the lounge as often as they like. They also get a $50 credit toward food and beverage. [Washington Business Journal]
Solar Co-Op Launching in Arlington — A group of Arlington residents is banding together to form a solar co-op, which will allow members to obtain bulk discounts on the purchase and installation of home solar power equipment. [Sun Gazette, Virginia Sun]
‘Soulless’ Tweeter Spotted in Arlington — Byron Tau, the Wall Street Journal reporter who asked last week if Arlington was the “most soulless place in the United States,” was photographed over the weekend smiling widely at Courthouse’s Fire Works Pizza. “No comment on the record,” Tau tweeted in response to the photo. [Twitter]
Reminder: Pothole, Water Main Break Reporting — As the freeze, thaw, refreeze cycle continues during the month of February, numerous water main breaks and large potholes have been reported around Arlington. If you spot one that needs to be fixed, you can quickly file a report about it via the following “report a problem” online form. [Arlington County]
(Updated at 11:00 a.m.) A sizable sinkhole has formed on Williamsburg Blvd due to a water main break.
The sinkhole is located in a crosswalk, in a southbound lane of Williamsburg Blvd just off of Sycamore Street and the Williamsburg Circle.
A photo tweeted by Arlington County Police shows a small geyser of water inside a deep crater in the roadway.
“We usually recommend using a crosswalk…but maybe not this one at Williamsburg & Sycamore Street,” the police department said via Twitter.
Drivers should expect limited access to Williamsburg Blvd near the sinkhole and a lengthy repair process, according to Arlington County. A second possible sinkhole was also reported this morning, near road work at Washington Blvd and N. Ohio Street.
Photo via ACPD
Residents in various parts of South Arlington have reported low or no water pressure following a significant water main break.
The water pressure problems appear to stem from a large water main break on S. Dinwiddie Street at 9th Street, near Columbia Pike and the Arlington Mill Community Center.
Via Twitter, Arlington County reports that emergency repairs are underway, but may take until midnight tonight to complete.
Residents in the Fairlington, Shirlington, Barcroft, Columbia Forest and Claremont neighborhoods all reported water pressure problems this morning.
— Christopher Anderson (@05ChrisAnderson) January 25, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom There appears to be a water main break in south Arlington. Locations in north and south Fairlington have no water right now.
— Debby Bowman (@bowmandj626) January 25, 2015
— Dennis Dimick (@ddimick) January 25, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom water out in Claremont. Any information about this?
— Tom Przystawik (@cheftomsays) January 25, 2015
— Dharma George (@DharmaDG) January 25, 2015
The road closure is expected to last until around midnight, as crews complete repairs, according to an Arlington alert.
Authorities are also concerned that the water on the roadway may turn to ice as the temperature dips below freezing overnight.
(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) A broken water main has filled a section of Four Mile Run Drive with water, causing emergency crews to shut down the road while it is undergoing repair.
The break is near the intersection of Four Mile Run Drive and S. Cleveland Street, near the intersection of S. Glebe Road and W. Glebe Road, I-395 and the Alexandria border.
Arlington County Police Department and fire crews are responding to the area. According to scanner traffic, there may be “multiple” breaks in a “pretty big line,” and it may affect water service in the area.
County Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said the line is 12 inches big and the break has affected about 150 customers in the area.
“Repairs will continue through the late evening and commuters are advised to avoid the area and seek alternate routes,” Baxter said.
Last winter, a 16-inch water main burst on S. Arlington Mill Drive in Shirlington, causing water pressure to be significantly affected in large swaths of the area, and causing Abingdon Elementary School and the Fairlington Community Center to close. Repairs to that line took more than 48 hours to complete.
As of noon, water was continuing to flow out of the break, but traffic on Glebe Road is moving through. The section of Four Mile Run Drive that is closed is not connected to the one that runs from Columbia Pike to the Weenie Beenie near Shirlington.
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) The snow has stopped and the sun came out this afternoon, but the bad weather news might not be over yet with below-freezing temperatures expected tonight and tomorrow.
Arlington is continuing its efforts to clear the roads and is on Phase 3 of its snow removal process, clearing residential side streets, county staff said this afternoon.
Crews will monitor temperatures and conditions and will be “handling any re-freeze that is expected overnight and early tomorrow morning,” according to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Despite the end of the snowfall and the fallen snow beginning to melt, roads are still slick in places. According to scanner traffic, a Metrobus hit a fire hydrant near Fairlington at around 3:45 p.m.
The county pre-treated roads with brine yesterday afternoon and early this morning, but according to DES Chief Operations Engineer Dave Hundelt, via a county press release, “the pre-treatment was not enough for Tuesday’s heavier-than-
“Based on the weather forecasts, our crews anticipated a much milder snow event today,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “By the time it was clear that frigid temperatures were causing hazardous conditions, thousands of commuters and parents driving kids to school were already on the move. As our crews worked hard to treat and plow roads, we urged people to stay off the roads as much as possible.”
Baxter confirmed that some county vehicles were involved in traffic accidents today, but said DES wouldn’t have a final incident summary for several days. The Arlington County Police Department answered 203 calls during the storm, including 96 for traffic accidents and 65 for traffic complaints.
The Virginia Department of Transportation, which is responsible for maintaining Route 50, I-66, Washington Blvd and I-395, said road conditions are “improving” but asked drivers to exercise caution for the evening commute.
“Commuters should see some improvement on their trip home after a long and difficult commute this morning,” Branco Vlacich, VDOT assistant district administrator for maintenance in northern Virginia, said in a press release. “However, with these very cold temperatures, the salt and chemicals used are much less effective. We ask drivers to use extra caution tonight and tomorrow morning and allow extra time for their commute.”
High-use trails in the county were cleared of snow this morning, according to county Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Roberta Korzen, and crews are making a second pass-through to prevent freezing.
“Our teams were scheduled to work eight-hour shifts, but we are now changing to 12-hour shifts to remove as much snow as possible before freezing temperatures occur,” Kurt Louis, Parks and Natural Resources Division Chief, said in an email.
As if the snow itself wasn’t enough for drivers to contend with, a water main broke at around 3:00 p.m. on N. Pershing Drive and N. Oakland Street, and repairs are expected to last through the evening rush hour. Cars can still get through, but motorists should avoid the area if possible.
Water from the break and any snow melting could create serious problems if the crews can’t treat the roads, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang warns. “Given the risk for refreezing, slow speeds and plenty of room is advised for the morning commute on Wednesday,” CWG wrote this afternoon.
In response to the frigid temperatures, Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter is open all day today and will be open all day tomorrow, the county says.
ART bus service has also been altered to avoid troublesome roads. From the county, here are the routes affected:
- ART Route 61 will not service 12 street and Queen and will use Arlington Boulevard/Route 50 instead.
- ART Routes 75 will not service Fredrick Street and will use Columbus instead.
- ART Routes 42, 45, and 77 will not service Courthouse Road, and will take Walter Reed instead.
Arlington Ridge Road is closed between I-395 and 20th Street S. tonight due to a water main break.
Crews are currently digging up a portion of the road near the Hume School in an effort to repair the water main. The closure is expected to remain in effect through the evening rush hour.
Traffic is backed up on I-395 approaching the Ridge Road exit. Drivers attempting to head south on Arlington Ridge Road from Army Navy Drive are being directed onto I-395.
The southbound lanes of S. Walter Reed Drive are expected to remain closed throughout Wednesday’s evening rush hour as crews work to repair a large water main break.
The 16-inch water main burst this morning on Walter Reed Drive near Pollard Street, causing a messy and slippery commute for some drivers as the water runoff turned to ice. Crews thought they had isolated the leak around 11:00 a.m., but we’re told that the leak reopened this afternoon, meaning the repairs will take longer than first hoped.
Police are on scene helping to control traffic. A detour has been set up for those heading southbound on Walter Reed Drive between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. One northbound lane of Walter Reed Drive remains open.
“At this point, lane closures and detours are expected to stay through rush hour,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.
Walter Reed Drive Water Main Break — Drivers should expect traffic impacts and slippery conditions when driving on Walter Reed Drive in the area of S. Pollard Street, between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. The water from a 16-inch water main break has frozen and the southbound lanes of Walter Reed Drive are reportedly blocked. [Twitter]
School Board Candidates Critical of Budget Proposal — The three candidates running for the Democratic endorsement in the Arlington School Board race have qualms with Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s proposed $539.4 million budget. Specifically, the candidates were concerned about Murphy’s proposed cuts to diploma programs for students over the age of 22. [Sun Gazette]
Opower Prepares for IPO — Courthouse-based energy efficiency tech firm Opower is preparing for a $100 million Initial Public Offering. The company, which has been losing millions every year as it focuses on growth, will go public under the New York Stock Exchange OPWR. [InTheCapital]
Registration Open for Phoenix Derby — Registration is now open for the inaugural Phoenix Derby. The urban cyclocross bicycle race will be held on May 17 in a Crystal City parking garage. The event will benefit local bike education nonprofit Phoenix Bikes, which is in the process of raising funds for construction of a new headquarters along the W&OD Trail. [Crystal City]
Peak Bloom Date Predicted — The National Park Service revealed its cherry blossom peak bloom prediction yesterday. The famous blossoms are expected to be at their peak from April 8-12. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Those roads fall below 60 percent on the Pavement Condition Index scale, which is an indicator that those roads are susceptible to “more rapidly” developing potholes. On average, Arlington’s roads sit at 69.8 percent, according to county Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau Chief Harry Wang.
Wang cautioned against categorizing Arlington’s roads as above-average or below-average nationally. But he said Arlington’s recent resident survey that cited road conditions as a main concern was evidence that the county should not be satisfied.
“That means that 70 percent [PCI] is not good enough,” Wang told the Arlington County Board yesterday. “There are many lane miles and surface areas that need great attention.”
The county plans to pave 72 miles of roads this year, a jump from 49 miles each of the last two years. County Manager Barbara Donnellan said they plan to increase that number next year — and discuss road conditions in more detail — during Capital Improvement Program discussions.
Wang said county streets maintenance staff is currently driving on main and arterial roads replacing potholes. About 80 percent of the county’s main roads have had their potholes repaired, he said, and the rest should be completed by the end of this week.
“We’re not waiting for complaints to come in,” he said. “We just drive zone by zone and see whatever needs to be fixed.”
Wang also said that between Jan. 8 and Feb. 20, the county has had to perform 89 repairs on water mains, and average of 2.1 breaks per day. The average age of the county’s water mains is 55 years, and he said 90 percent of the mains that have broken or cracked are older than 55 years.
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
These two water main breaks illustrate yet another respect in which the County Board’s budget priorities are badly out of whack. The County Board has spent, or is proposing to spend, millions of dollars on extravagant design elements at a dog park in Clarendon and an Aquatics Center at Long Bridge Park, while Arlington’s water mains and classrooms are bursting.
On Jan. 28, ARLnow.com posted another story on water main breaks. That story highlighted the fact that “Arlington has 500 miles of water mains, 60 percent of which are 55 years or older”, with the oldest dating to 1927.
A county video accompanying the Jan. 28 story sometimes strikes a condescending tone. It proceeds from the faulty premise that water main breaks are “unavoidable.” The video’s message: learn to live with them. The video explains why old water mains break. Surprise: it’s because they’re old and decaying!
What Arlington County needs is a much more aggressive program of water main replacement, not the Que Será, Será attitude displayed in this county video. Of course, some water mains would still break even with a more aggressive replacement program. But, we would avoid many other breaks. The County Board knows this. The Board simply is devoting far too little of our money to replace water mains, while devoting far too much of our money to its vanity projects.
In May 2013, the County Board approved a $1.8 million project for water main “rehabilitation.” “These rehabilitation projects help the County extend the life of water mains and lines, stretch tax dollars and prevent expensive and disruptive main breaks,” Walter Tejada boasted.
The county’s press release went on to explain that “every year, the County selects water mains based on age, frequency of main breaks, and reduction in flow capacity for rehabilitation at a fraction of the cost of new construction and with minimal disruption to the community.”
Translation: we are putting lipstick on a pig because we are squandering your money elsewhere. We are adopting this rehabilitation program because we don’t have enough money left over to replace our aging water mains as fast as we should.
“Rehabilitating” water mains and providing more “relocatable” classrooms is a cop out. Arlington County needs to get back to basics by prioritizing the needs of its core services like water mains and schools.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
The evening drive has gotten a bit tougher for some commuters.
Arlington Ridge Road will be closed in both directions between the ramp to and from I-395 and 20th Street S. through the evening rush hour, according to an Arlington Alert. The closure is due to a water main break.
Drivers are advised to seek alternate routes.