Wilson Boulevard west of George Mason Drive will go from a four-lane road to two through lanes with a center turn lane this spring, and it’s a plan many residents who live nearby are happy with.
The plan will result in increased travel times for the stretch of Wilson that will be affected, from N. Manchester to N. Frederick Street. In addition to the lane reduction, the reconfiguration will also add bike lanes on either side of the road, which will serve a dual purpose as a buffer between the sidewalks and motor vehicles.
“Wilson Blvd is unacceptable and we all deserve better,” Chris Healey, the co-chair of the Bluemont Civic Association sidewalk safety task force, told the attendees. “That’s what we’re here to try and accomplish.”
The road restriping will occur in the spring, when that stretch of road is up in Arlington’s repaving schedule. The reconfiguration doesn’t make an impact on the county budget, but it also won’t help the state of the sidewalks, which residents and staff agreed are too narrow and too dangerous.
What will one day become Phase II of the reconfiguration will include sidewalk widening and other improvements, but Arlington Bureau Chief for Transportation and Operations Engineering Larry Marcus told ARLnow.com that those improvements are currently unfunded and have no timeline for construction.
“This isn’t a total solution, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Marcus said. “Phase II is why we’re here, to hear from people and to look over the winter and what needs to improve.”
Arlington Department of Environmental Services engineers predict that travel time will increase on the road, but only between five and 20 seconds between N. Manchester and Edison Streets each way during rush hour. The greatest concern about the change for some residents was turning off onto the cross streets. Staff predicts that those maneuvers will take as much as 35 seconds longer on some cross streets.
One resident who said he lived on N. Manchester Street, which is where the lane reduction will begin, said it will only make his street more dangerous.
“My opinion is you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he said. “You’re adding a choke point to [Manchester] which is already a cut-through. My biggest concern is already having to worry about my kids because I’ve got cars screaming back and forth between 50 and Wilson. We’re putting higher-density living spaces on Wilson Blvd and we’re trying to increase businesses in Wilson Blvd, and we’re operating on the assumption that none of those people are going to drive, which is ridiculous.
Gillian Burgess, the chair of the county’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, attended the meeting and said she was still concerned about the bike lanes, since they will have no protection from cars, and since buses will be expected to pull into them when they pick up and drop off passengers.
“The entire Wilson Blvd corridor is a huge gap in the current bicycle network,” she said. “We appreciate that that’s being recognized. As we go forward, we appreciate that there will be more bicycling accommodations, but we really need to make sure that they’re safe.”
Ed Fendley, the other co-chair on the sidewalk task force, said after all of the residents were able to talk to staff individually, the reaction was generally positive.
“The report-outs from the tables highlighted that the great majority of the comments received were in the form of positive support and constructive suggestions for improvements,” he told ARLnow.com.
From this Thursday, Nov. 6, to Nov. 24, officers will be assigned to special safety details at the intersections of Wilson Blvd and Lee Highway with N. Lynn Street.
The Wilson-Lynn intersection has been a source of major headaches during rush hours thanks to the ongoing construction along N. Lynn Street with the Central Place project. The backups have led to some drivers not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, and the ACPD is responding with the new enforcement campaign.
The Lynn Street and Lee Highway intersection, nicknamed the “Intersection of Doom,” has for years been a dangerous place for pedestrians and bicyclists because of vehicles exiting from I-66 to the Key Bridge intermingling with users of the Custis and Mount Vernon trails.
Police say they plan to ticket pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers who violate traffic and jaywalking laws.
“Officers will ticket motorists who violate traffic laws or do not yield for pedestrians in crosswalks,” according to a police press release. “In addition, pedestrians will be cited for jaywalking. Public Service Aides will hand out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who commute through these busy intersections.”
The enforcement campaign will begin from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and noon to 1:00 p.m. on Thursday and continue on weekdays until the Nov. 24, the Monday before Thanksgiving. The pedestrian safety campaign, part of the region’s Street Smart campaign, is designed to inform motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians that 25 percent of traffic deaths in the D.C. region are bikers and walkers, nearly 90 deaths per year.
The change has been advocated by the Bluemont Civic Association (BCA) for years, and the neighborhood’s representatives have posited that the lane reduction, coupled with sidewalk expansion, will make the corridor more walkable without increasing traffic congestion.
The project, which Arlington County says is in design phase with reconfiguration set for spring 2015, will reduce westbound and eastbound traffic to one lane each, while adding a center lane for left turns and bike lanes on either side of the street. The plan also calls for consolidating bus stops in this stretch to reduce possible congestion.
Currently, there are no funded plans to expand the sidewalks.
County staff is holding a general community meeting on Nov. 20, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at Arlington Traditional School (855 N. Edison Street), to discuss the plans. The county also plans for a “robust community notification process throughout the corridor,” before the restriping and repaving work begins.
The plans to reduce the lanes on Wilson Blvd was initially recommended by the BCA’s Sidewalk Safety Task Force and supported by the BCA in October 2012. Arlington decided to incorporate the plans when it made its restriping and repaving calendar for this year.
“We are grateful that Arlington County is listening to us and working to make our ‘Main Street’ a safer and more pleasant place for all residents and visitors,” BCA President John Lau said in a press release. “Working together, the efforts of neighborhood residents and county officials have led us to this long-awaited first step for improving our neighborhood and an important Arlington corridor.”
While the county approved the requested changes to Wilson Blvd’s lane configuration, the BCA’s requests to have the power lines — with poles located on Wilson Blvd’s sidewalks — moved underground was deemed prohibitively expensive by the county. The BCA is also hoping that the improvements be extended for all of Wilson Blvd west of N. Glebe Road, something county staff said it will continue to explore.
“This is a demonstration project that will be monitored further by the County to determine whether a complete streets project — currently unfunded — is viable along the entire section of Wilson Boulevard, west of North Glebe Road,” the project website reads. “If successful, staff will continue to work with the community to develop this future potential project.”
The plan, when it was being discussed last June, received some concern for businesses located along the corridor. The sidewalk task force reported businesses were “extremely concerned” that reducing the number of lanes would “gum up traffic to the point where they would lose business.”
The BCA cited the stretch of Washington Blvd west of N. Glebe Road, which goes from four lanes to two and has higher peak traffic volume, as an example of why the Wilson Blvd proposal won’t significantly worsen traffic.
Images via Arlington County
Lucky Pot opened last Thursday with its storefront on the Wilson Blvd side of the building, across the street from the Colonial Village condominiums. It’s owner Zhong Lin’s first restaurant after working in Chinese restaurants for more than 20 years, he said.
“I always liked to cook,” Lin said with a smile. “My friends were always very happy to come over to eat.”
In the first week of business, he’s sent out 12,000 menus to try to draw attention to his business, the second to open in the building, after a nail salon a few doors down.
The restaurant delivers and encourages online ordering (with a $15 minimum and $1 delivery charge). Lin said the Thai dishes, like Pad Thai and curry shrimp, are the most popular things on the menu, but he doesn’t have a specialty. “Everything’s good,” he said.
Lucky Pot opens at 11:00 a.m. Monday-Saturday and closes at 10:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Traffic is a nightmarish in Rosslyn tonight (Friday) — at least for those heading through the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Lynn Street.
Due to lane closures from utility work and the on-going Central Place construction project, Lynn Street — which is often traffic-clogged even without construction – is down to one lane just before 19th Street. That led to major backups on Lynn Street, which led to backups on Wilson Blvd due to cars repeatedly “blocking the bock” in the intersection.
There was at least one minor accident at the intersection, reports of drivers getting in fights and frequent sounds of horns blaring.
At one point, a Arlington County police officer showed up and parked in the intersection, stopping traffic from blocking the box. However, the officer left after less than 15 minutes, allowing the bad driver behavior to continue unabated. Police were dispatched again to the intersection a half hour later, after receiving “multiple calls” from citizens.
Though especially bad tonight, the traffic problems in the intersection are frequent. Central Place construction has had Lynn Street traffic down to two lanes during most rush hours the past couple of weeks, leading to frequent backups and flared tempers.
Three people were hurt in a rollover accident in Bluemont Monday night.
The two-vehicle crash happened around 10:00 p.m., at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive.
According to a witness, an elderly man in a Chevy Impala on Wilson Blvd ran a red light, broadsiding an SUV that was heading north on George Mason. The SUV flipped on its side and came to rest next to a street sign.
The SUV’s three occupants were able to get out of the vehicle on their own, we’re told.
Two children were taken to the hospital, according to the witness. Their injuries were reported to be minor.
The adult male driver was shaken but did not require medical treatment. He was driving the children home from a basketball practice at Kenmore Middle School, we’re told.
A passenger in the Impala was also taken to the hospital with apparently minor injuries, the witness said. The driver was evaluated by paramedics. Charges were “likely,” a police officer on the scene said.
A third vehicle was nearly involved in the accident. We’re told a convertible — whose driver was also returning from the basketball practice — was driving next to but just behind the SUV. The driver slammed on the brakes at the last second and managed to barely avoid the wreck.
Wilson Blvd Sidewalk Improvements Delayed — Arlington County Board members were apologetic on Saturday after a resident complained about the state of sidewalks along Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont area. The first phase of an improvement project, which will only consist of repaving and restriping the road, is now not slated to take place until the spring. County leaders promised to try to implement the second phase, which will actually improve the sidewalks, sooner rather than later. [InsideNova]
Bar to the Rescue in Crystal City? — Crystal City property owner Vornado hopes Highline, a new bar coming to the neighborhood, will help its growing tech community there after work. Vornado is trying to restyle Crystal City — which has lost government tenants for millions of square feet of office space, as a result of BRAC — as a tech hub. [Washington Post]
Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — A $2.5 million slate of four neighborhood improvement projects was approved by the County Board on Saturday. The projects include three in north Arlington and one in south Arlington. [Arlington County]
Bank Robber Sentenced — A D.C. man who robbed two Wells Fargo banks in Arlington has been sentenced to 35 years in prison, federal prosecutors announced. James Link, 57, was accused of robbing a Wells Fargo branch on Nov. 25, 2013, injuring an elderly woman in the process, and a branch on Dec. 31, after which he and an alleged accomplice were arrested by FBI agents who were waiting outside. [U.S. Dept. of Justice]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Wilson Tavern, a Courthouse bar that has developed a following for theme nights like “Condoms and Candy Necklaces,” is throwing one last party tonight before it closes its 2403 Wilson Blvd location.
The demolition of Wilson Tavern is expected to begin soon, and construction of the hotel, slated to be an eight-story Hyatt Place, is expected to start this summer. The hotel includes a ground floor retail space for a restaurant.
Wilson Tavern opened in December 2011, replacing the former Kitty O’Shea’s.
Photo via Facebook
Signs reading “Marine Corps Marathon Drive” will adorn street poles on Wilson Blvd. from N. Lynn Street to N. Moore Street in honor of Sunday’s annual marathon.
The signs will remain through race day to signify how much the Marine Corps Marathon has become a part of the Arlington community.
“It is fitting that we rename part of Wilson Boulevard ‘Marine Corps Marathon Drive.’ The renaming anticipates a day that inspires and energizes us all, while also paying tribute to our heroic U.S. Marines,” said Mary-Claire Burick, the new president of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.
“On MCM day, Rosslyn is eager to welcome runners and celebrate their accomplishments as the host of the Marine Corps Marathon Finish Festival,” Burick said.
The Marine Corps Marathon route starts near the Pentagon and runs through Rosslyn, up Lee Highway, down Spout Run and into the District, before crossing the 14th Street Bridge into Crystal City and ending near the Marine Corps War Memorial in Rosslyn. The race, which draws more than 30,000 runners, starts just before 8:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Photo courtesy of @StayArlington
Wilson Blvd between N. Rhodes Street and Courthouse Road was closed this weekend to remove a crane from the “superblock” construction site, and at least one business owner says he’s out thousands of dollars as a result.
Wilson Whitney, co-owner of Rhodeside Grill at the corner of Wilson and Rhodes, estimates he lost as much as $3,000 during the closure, largely because he wasn’t given proper notification of the closure.
“I was given no notice or warning this was going to take place,” Whitney wrote in an email. “This has virtually closed down our restaurant… I could have at least staffed and stocked accordingly or maybe even closed for some of our own improvements.”
Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Laura G. Smith said the county granted a transportation right-of-way permit to Crane Rental Company to close that section of Wilson Blvd from 9:00 p.m. Friday to 5:00 p.m. Sunday.
“All permits are granted with the understanding that the company will notify all affected property owners in the adjacent work area,” Smith said. Crane Rental Company president Michael Scott told ARLnow.com that he was unfamiliar with the specific notification process undertaken.
Work on one of the under-construction apartment buildings on the “superblock” is expected to wrap up by year’s end. The other is expected to be complete by the spring of 2014.
Photo courtesy of Wilson Whitney
The armed men approached the victim on the 6000 block of Wilson Blvd around 11:20 p.m. Sunday. Wearing ski masks, the men took the victim’s cell phone and a bible, then fled on foot into a wooded area, according to Arlington County police.
Police K-9 units, along with Fairfax County and U.S. Park Police helicopters, were brought in to try to find the suspects, who were described only as Hispanic males. The men were not located and remain at large.
A cement truck accidentally dumped a small load of cement in the left lane of westbound Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn this morning.
The cement lay on the street for about an hour and a half before crews came to clean it up at approximately 10:30 a.m., according to a police officer at the scene. The cement was still wet when it was removed, avoiding a much longer, more laborious cleanup process had it dried.
The lane of traffic — in front of Artisphere between N. Lynn and Kent Streets — was closed for about 100 feet as the crew worked to clean up the spill.
Earlier this summer, county road crews reconfigured the eastbound (downhill) lanes on Wilson Blvd approaching N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn.
Instead of having one lefthand turn lane and two straight through lanes, the middle lane was converted to a second lefthand turn lane.
The impacts of the reconfiguration are most noticeable at rush hour. Whereas a big traffic impediment was once drivers trying to merge from the middle lane into the single turn lane, now the single through lane is backed up, at points causing jams at intersections.
Some drivers cheered the move.
“Finally… a solution to the rush hour commute,” said local resident Eric Hagerstrom, in an email to ARLnow.com. Other drivers, however, complained about the new backups.
If you’ve driven through it, what do you think of the lane change?
The County Board unanimously approved lowering the speed limits on key stretches of Wilson Blvd, Clarendon Blvd, N. Sycamore Street and N. Meade Street Tuesday evening.
The Board acted in line with its Master Transportation Plan in lowering the speed limits on the key local arteries.
The speed limit on Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd was lowered from 30 to 25 mph between Rosslyn and Washington Blvd.
Meanwhile, the speed limit on N. Meade Street was lowered from 30 to 25 mph between Arlington Blvd and Marshall Drive., while N. Sycamore Street from Washington Blvd. to 17th Street N. will see its speed limit drop from 35 to 30 mph.
The change in speed limit is effective immediately, and county staff said they expect the signs reflecting the change to be installed Wednesday.
“The county’s actions to lower speed limits on segments of some key roads are in keeping with the Master Transportation plan, and are intended to make these roads safer for everyone — drivers, pedestrians and cyclists,” said Board Chair Walter Tejada.
The Board also put a public hearing on the agenda for its Sept. 21 meeting to hear public feedback for lowering the speed limits on N. Lynn and Fort Myer Drive between the Key Bridge and Arlington Blvd. from 30 to 25 mph.
As part of the same resolution, the Board changed the County Code to reflect Virginia Department of Transportation’s imposed speed limits on I-66 and I-395. The speed limits of the roads were not changed but, for instance, the code will now officially reflect that I-66 is a 45 mph road between the Virginia state line and N. Lynn Street and 55 mph between N. Lynn Street and Fairfax County.
The County Board may decide to decrease speed limits on a number of roads throughout Arlington, including the main thoroughfares from Rosslyn to Clarendon. Board members are scheduled to take up the issue at their meeting on Saturday (July 13).
The Department of Environmental Services conducted studies to examine the viability of changing speed limits on several streets. Information was gathered regarding factors such as vehicle speeds, collisions, traffic volumes, pedestrian and bicyclist activity and development patterns. Studies were performed in the following areas: N. Meade Street from Arlington Blvd to Marshall Drive (formerly Jackson Avenue), Clarendon Blvd from Washington Blvd to N. Oak Street, Wilson Blvd from Route 110 to Washington Blvd, and N. Sycamore Street from Washington Blvd to 17th Street N. and N. Roosevelt Street from 17th Street N. to the county line.
The studies indicated that speed limits along N. Meade Street, Clarendon Blvd and Wilson Blvd could be decreased from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. The N. Sycamore Street/N. Roosevelt Street studies indicated the speed limit could be lowered from 35 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour.
Arlington’s Master Transportation Plan includes a policy to design streets with lower vehicle speeds without impeding or diverting traffic. Part of that involves adopting a 25 mile per hour speed limit in the county’s “downtown” areas where pedestrian traffic is high, such as along Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd.
The Board also has been asked to authorize the correction of speed limit discrepancies along parts of I-395 and I-66. According to VDOT records, the speed in the regular lanes of I-395 from Alexandria to D.C. is 55 miles per hour. The county code, however, was recently discovered to list a portion of the segment as 35 miles per hour, and that the entire segment is 55 miles per hour. There is a similar discrepancy between county code and VDOT records regarding the HOV lanes. Additionally, the county code does not include speed limits for I-66, but VDOT lists the limits at 45 miles per hour and 55 miles per hour, depending on the section in question.
County staff members recommend Board approval for the speed limit discrepancy corrections and for decreasing the speeds along the four stretches of county roads.
The cost of installing new speed limit signs to reflect the changes is estimated to be $5,000. Funds are available in the Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Environmental Services Transportation Engineering and Operations operating budget.