Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com January 28, 2011 at 9:03 am 2,360 42 Comments

Power Outage Update — There are more than 2,100 Dominion customers still without power in Arlington. That’s down from 16,700 at the height of the storm. Dominion is receiving some favorable comparisons to Pepco from the Washington Post. The Post notes that Dominion called in out of town power crews early, while Pepco did not.

Arlington Delegates Have Bills Killed in House — Bills that would increase Virginia’s cigarette tax, lower the mandatory retirement age for judges and impose a 5-cent tax on plastic bags have all been killed in the House of Delegates, after being proposed by Arlington-based lawmakers. [Sun Gazette]

Library to Get Solar Panels — Thanks to a $300,000 federal grant, the Arlington Central Library will be getting 60-kilowatts worth of solar panels installed on its roof by this summer. [TBD]

Counting of Pedestrians Continues — Arlington is counting pedestrians and cyclists on local trails using an automated, database-driven system. Check out the sneak peak of some of the data that’s being recorded. [Commuter Page Blog]

Photo courtesy Lindsay W.

  • ArlBlueSky

    $300,000 for a $10,000 annual savings, by their estimates.

    What’s the useful life of these solar panels anyway? Other than supporting Chinese PV makers, this will accomplish anything.

    • ArlBlueSky

      anything should read nothing.

    • South Arlington

      Considering the Federal grant was going to go to someone anyways, I’m glad they found a way to get it sent Arlington’s way. Seems to me the county gets the $10K savings after no county investment.

      • Bender

        Yeah, we should all be able to get some of that free Obama money. After all, it’s not like anybody has to pay for that money — it all comes from Obama’s stash.

        • South Arlington

          Regardless of the utility of the money being used (I don’t think library solar panels are really a priority), it’s been spent and appropriated. If Arlington didn’t get it, Fairfax or Manassas or some other city would have gotten it. I’m glad Arlington got it instead of someone else.

          But keep blustering about appropriations law that you know nothing of.

    • John Fontain

      Everytime I see one of those Arlington County Priuses driving around, I wonder what the cost/benefit is on those. They could have bought a non-battery compact car for probably about $10,000 less than a Prius, so will the County get a $10,000 savings in gas over each Prius’s expected useful life to the County? I’m guessing the answer is no.

    • Arlwhenever

      It’s Federal money so Chinese bankers get a cut as well, and our children and grandchildren get stuck with the bill. That’s the essence of progressivism, passing the bill along to somebody else. Who is better to assume responsibility than our progeny?

  • KArlington

    Peek. Peeking is looking at something, a peak is on a mountaintop.

    • mehoo

      I thought Peeking wuz the capital of China.

      • I love their ducks

    • charlie

      i’m peaking right now as i type this.

      • mehoo


  • 4Arl

    When the county was borrowing at below 3 percent this probably looked better. If electricity rates go up, the savings will increase, though.

  • OX4

    Okay, we’ll have counts of pedestrians and bicyclists on the trails. Then what?

    • Lou

      2. ?????
      3. Profit!!!!

    • MB

      Then we’ll know whether the County’s ongoing efforts to support pedestrians and cycling have been successful; whether or not the County can justify the resources it puts into those efforts (or whether it doesn’t put enough in); etc. For example, the count numbers from last year’s snow storm showed that, because of a lack of clearing on the Custis trail, there were ~20,000 less trips on the trail over that time period. To me, that sounds like a good reason to invest a bit of time and effort in clearing the trail. In short, the counters are a good way to measure the success (or failure) of any number of efforts.

      • Cause and correlation. Lack of clearing of the trails is not evidence for 20K fewer trips in last years freak snows, because lack of access to the trails in the first place (sidewalks, etc) wouldn’t have permitted trail users to get there in the first place.

        • mehoo

          Possibly. But sometimes the roads are clear long before trails, giving easy access for cyclists.

          • MB

            Roads are always clear before the trails – Arlington County devotes practically no resources to clearing the trails while it concentrates on getting every last bit of street plowed. Obviously it would be silly to look for parity in resources, but a little more attention to trails could have a very big impact.

  • Greg

    I’m all for the environment, but this far north investing in solar isn’t the most cost-effective use of funds. Not yet, anyway. At least they get the other infrastructure (wiring, inverters, etc.) in place so that if the price of panels comes down they can expand. But I’m sure the County could have seen a much bigger “return” on investment by going green in some other way.

  • MB

    Another Del. Ebbin-sponsored bill that was killed was one requiring motor vehicles to give cyclists at least three feet of room when passing them (bringing us in line with DC and MD). Currently, the law require two feet. Seems as if the folks in the transportation subcommittee just can’t be bothered with that extra foot.

    • Bender

      Apparently neither can the County Board be concerned with that extra foot or increased bicyclist safety given the Board’s road narrowing policies.

      • mehoo

        Road narrowing slows down cars. They’d be passing too close anyway.

      • MB

        Narrowing roads, as Mehoo points out, is generally a plus for cyclists in an environment like Arlington. In any event, regardless of the width of the road, anyone can still give a cyclist an arms length of passing room.

    • MC

      Are cyclists required to give motorists three feet of passing room? I’m all in favor of keeping cyclists and motorist apart, but it seems cyclists are free to block motorists as they please, and not be bound by the lovely cyclist lanes the County generously funds for their use.

  • Why can’t they use these funds to restore library hours instead?

    You can bet your last dollar that Zimmie will be pointing those solar panels out to visitors while neglecting to mention the fact that he never paid for them in the first place.

    • Lou

      They have no plans to restore library hours at this time. The County Manager has been very clear in her refusal to do that.

  • Ballston

    Is anyone elses COMCAST cable and internet out in Arlington?

    Ours is out but we can still see the Guide on the screen but have no internet or cable coming through….Waited on phone with comcast for 2 hours last night to no avail….

    • SB

      Comcast also out for me in Ballston since about 10 p.m. Wednesday night.

      • It’s Comcraptic!

        Got this from Comcast a short while ago…..

        Dear Comcraptic,

        Thank you for your message.

        There appears to be an outage affecting all services in your area at this time. This is currently being addressed by our high level technical support staff so that this issue can be resolved. The outage is currently classified as a major outage and has the highest priority available for a fix. At this time, however, no estimated time of repair is available.

        We apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding.

        Thank you for choosing Comcast.


        Comcast Customer Care Specialist

        • mehoo

          Wow, Comcraptic is your real name. What are the odds?

  • JimPB

    The grant of $300,000 that will enable the purchase and installation of solar panels for Arlington County’s Central Building building was not a gift from the heavens but consists of about $180,000 from U.S. taxpayers and $120,000 borrowed primarily from our gleeful Chinese bankers. What will the U.S. taxpayers get for their money. Very likely, the bulk of the money will go to gleeful Chinese manufacturers for the panels, so the only jobs from this grant will be the installation of the panels. There should also be benefits from the electricity the panels will generate. What are the anticipated cost savings? How many years (decades) will be required for the savings to exceed the cost?

    Best if ArlCo taxpayer money was used in that this would make much more likely that the purchase would be made only if the cost savings would pay the costs within the life of the panels.

  • It’s Comcraptic!

    They seem to be out all over the place. I’m not sure if it is regiional or what, but folks in other counties in NOVA are also without Comcrap. I know I am down, and I can’t even get to a person on the phone. I just logged an online trouble email via my phone. I sure that will speed things up….. NOT!

    • mehoo

      Why don’t you go find someone with no power and complain to them?

  • Going Green

    How can they consider themselves green if they vote down the plastic shopping bag bill?

  • John Fontain

    As of the this morning, it had been 24 hours since snow stopped falling. I noticed that despite a law requiring snow removal from sidewalks, that Arlington County itself didn’t remove snow from the sidewalks around the County-owned property at N. Monroe and N. 8th Street (the tennis courts and Arlington Arts Center).

    There is no practical benefit of the County ticketing itself. Since County residents take a financial hit (via a citation) if they don’t follow the law, maybe to be fair, the County should have it’s current budget cut for each violation of the law that it commits.

    Anyone else see examples this morning of where the County violated it’s own law?

    • bob

      $50 fine for each violation, spread among board members and county manager.

    • G

      The snow adjacent to all the county parks along S George Mason Dr. are never cleared. With cars parked there and snow still on the ground, I used an entire lane all the way to work this morning… it was actually quite nice, but I’m sure the drivers didn’t appreciate it…

      • G

        I used an entire lane biking in this morning**

  • TLC

    Why are they counting pedestrians and cyclists in the middle of winter???

    • mehoo

      Why not?

    • MB

      If you read the article, you’ll see that it’s a year round count. There are thousands of people who walk and ride to work (and, believe it or not, other places) during the winter.


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