Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com February 24, 2011 at 6:00 am 3,493 51 Comments

Lee Highway McDonald’s Remains Closed — The McDonald’s at 4834 Lee Highway was still closed yesterday. An electrical fire broke out in the restaurant’s basement Saturday morning.

Arlington’s Most Accident-Prone Intersections — Following up on our Arlington’s Most Dangerous On-Ramps article, TBD has come out with a list of Arlington’s Most Dangerous Intersections, courtesy of data from the police department. The most dangerous intersection? Route 50 and Southbound Washington Boulevard, with 113 accidents. [TBD]

Brink Wins Passage of Inspector General Bill — An anti-fraud bill co-sponsored by Arlington Del. Bob Brink has won final approval in the Virginia legislature. The bill, HB 2076, will establish a statewide Office of Inspector General “to combat fraud, waste, abuse or corruption in state-funded agencies.” It must now be signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell. [Richmond Sunlight]

Cuccinelli Examines Fraud Case Against Donor — A man who gave $55,000 to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s 2009 campaign may be prosecuted by Cuccinelli for fraud. An investigation by Virginia’s consumer services department determined that the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which has been accused of diverting money intended for veterans charities, solicited $2 million from Virginians under false pretenses. The head of the group, who donated to Cuccinelli’s campaign, is currently at large. Retiring state Sen. Patsy Ticer sponsored legislation intended to help the group last year, then urged Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto it after she read about the fraud allegations.  [Washington Post]

Courtesy photo

  • North Cherrydaler

    Not surprising about that intersection–I’m frequently amazed by how many people don’t understand the meaning of the word “yield.”

    • OX4

      I got into an accident myself there. The problem is that there a 3 roads converging and diverging in a span of about 100 yards. Whoever designed that “intersection” should be thrown in jail.

    • SoCo Resident

      Yes, “Yield” means nothing to those coming off 50 to SB Wash Blvd. However, I am not sure what the new “No Merge” sign means there as everyone has to “merge” to get on or get off 50. There is plenty of land there to easily fix this very dangerous intersection; when the bridge was replaced, it could have been corrected. (and, now Arlington County runs a bike path across this to make matters worse.) Are the state highway staff of low IQ?

      • mehoo

        I think “No Merge” means “there is no merge lane.”

      • Westover

        Actually there are a LOT of utilities buried there, it would not be as easy as just taking a bulldozer to make a lane in the side of the hill.

  • charlie

    re; McDonalds fire. some helpful person noted that George Mason McDonalds was really close and people should go there — but today’s Health Code Violations indicates that it too was closed for violations. now reopen.

  • Lacy Forest

    Maybe you should skip McDonald’s altogether. There’s really nothing there you ought to be eating. Supersize Me!

  • Arlwhenever

    Interesting how the top six dangerous intersections are in the South or connect North and South. Chris Zimmerman’s solution to this mess is to further complicate traffic patterns and conflict usage by putting a streetcar down Columbia Pike (referred to a death trap by TBD), to paint sharrows, to narrow roads and to squeeze in bike lanes. I hope the sheeple enjoy their rides.

    • mehoo

      Can’t wait for the trolley and bike lanes. It will make Columbia Pike a much better place. And all those people on the trolley or on bikes will be not in cars too.

      • Burger

        You believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, too.

        • mehoo

          We shall see.

          • Creebs

            Bike lanes are for the elitist. God, I wish that I had the means to ride my bike to work. That would be great – however I need to get in at a reasonable amount of time, don’t have showers at work, need to get home quickly to releive the nanny and 2 of 3 times I need to pick up something on the way home. I love the idea of bikes, but it is eutopian – maybe it works for a few, but not the many. And many pay taxes (hopefully). It reminds me of Cypress Creek.

          • Overgrown Bush

            This guy needed some water for his wife on the way home from work, and he managed.

          • Overgrown Bush

            helps to have the pic…

          • Josh S

            Basically, Creebs, life is what you make it. If you can’t figure out how to bike to/from work, that’s your issue and it makes no sense to then criticize others who can. Since there are societal benefits from encouraging biking, society should then take steps to do so.

          • local

            I’m sorry you can’t bike to work, but by making it easier for others to, you get them off the roads and out of your way. Did you think about that, genius?

      • Arlwhenever

        Yeah, sure. Columbia Pike is going to be a really safe place with tracks lurking to grab bicycle wheels. And safety will be further enhanced by the greater stopping distances of streetcar vs bus, not to mention the inability of streetcars to swerve in order to avoid collisions. Like I say, enjoy the ride.

        • mehoo

          I will.

          I’m wondering, do you have any actual data showing that streetcars are less safe, and by how much?

          • david
          • mehoo

            That’s not evidence that streetcars are less safe. The article specifically says that this particular line is having alot more accidents than most streetcars, in other words, most streetcars are indeed safe.

            You need to have statistics showing the RATE of accidents/injuries/deaths of ALL streetcar lines compared to the RATE of accidents/injuries/deaths for cars and buses.

          • mehoo

            Oh, and the rate needs to be per passenger-mile.

          • david

            Honestly I don’t have the time or the interest to go and dig that information up. When they put in the Houston line there were a ton of accidents but much of that was probably due to the newness of the system. I don’t know if things have declined or gotten better. But as you can see in the article, San Francisco is having the same safety problems with their trolley light-rail and it has been around for much longer.

          • mehoo

            David (and Arlwhenever),

            No problem. Just don’t make claims about safety that can’t be backed up, that’s all. Until someone does the research, we really don’t know if streetcars are any less, or more, safe.

          • Arlwhenever

            When I dug through the Federal Transit Administration’s Safety and Security Statistics and Analysis a couple of years back the fatality rate (per passenger mile) for light rail was about three times the fatality rate for buses. If my memory serves me right, I had to merge mileage and fatality data from different reports to get rates. I took a multi-year average to smooth out variations caused by unusually large accidents.

            But not to worry, Zimmerman wants the Streetcars and we all know what a spotless record of leadership he has in ensuring the safe operation of mass transit. Just ask, if you could, the 17 poor souls who lost their lives in recent years as a result of safety mismanagement at WMATA.

            So, one and all, enjoy the ride.

          • local


            Thanks. I’d like to see the numbers for myself though.

          • mehoo

            Me too.

            I looked up some basic figures for 2007 (latest year with data) and calculated this.

            Death rate per 100,000 passenger miles for light rail: 0.0017

            Death rate per 100,000 vehicle miles for motor vehicles: 0.0013

            Not a huge difference.

          • Lou

            30% is a pretty big difference.

        • CW

          Number of streetcars on H St. NE: 0.

          Number of times I’ve gotten my bike wheel stuck in an H St. streetcar track: 1.

          Won’t make that mistake again though.

        • GMo

          Tell that to the thriving cycling community in San Francisco.

        • Josh S

          You act as if streetcars were just invented. Are you worried about them newfangled flying contraptions, too?

    • OX4

      I didn’t realize the concept of sharing the roads with bikes and trollies would be so confusing. Seems to me a great way to reduce car accidents would be to reduce the number of cars.

      • CW

        I’ve never really gotten too deep into the whole streetcar issue just because it seems to be in such a constant state of flux and the subject of so much speculation and so little fact. Thus I’ve not recently read any official plans. But I am wondering, especially given the conversation here and on other venues – upon implementation of the streetcar lines, is there intent for there to be any sort of commeasurate reduction in bus service along these routes? In my mind, doing so would make sense, and taking some buses off of those thoroughfares would certainly ease congestion a bit, no?

        • OX4

          I’m only assuming here…but I would hope that once the trolley is in place they could remove at least some of the buses! But the same argument could be made for the R-B corridor built around the Orange Line. We’re already too familiar with the Orange Crush, but as far as I know, that has in no way limited Arlington’s lust for packing in more and more residents along the corridor.

          • OX4

            Whoops, sorry mixed up my reply. The “same argument” refers to Bush’s argument below.

          • mehoo

            If Arlington didn’t put them in the corridor, they’d live out in Fairfax and ride the Orange line or drive on I-66 anyway.

          • Arlwhenever

            My recollection is that less than half of the Columbia Pike mass ridership goes to the trolley, including all the rides that go to the Pentagon. One of the absurdities of the trolley, bottom line, with its enormous expense, is it doesn’t come close to eliminating the need for bus routes along Columbia Pike. The trolley isn’t a public transportation solution, it’s about enticing development and increasing density.

          • mehoo

            But increasing density is a transportation solution!

          • Overgrown Bush

            You have hit the nail on the head. Remember, the trolley goes up Columbia Pike through Arlington, into Fairfax County in the Skyline & Baileys area, and over to the Alexexandria campus of NVCC. Fairfax County has a huge redevelopment plan in the Baileys area planned that is very high density. Penny Gross, the Mason District Super, hangs her urban redevelopment hat on the trolley. The amount of people who will be around to ride that line will overwhelm it quickly. Arlington folks will be stuck just like on the Orange Line, with full trolleys at rush hour. And, the folks in Fairfax who work anywhere but the Pentagon will have to drive. King Street is already a HUGE mess at rush hour, and I can’t imagine what it will be like with added higher density regardless of having a trolley available or not.

          • Overgrown Bush

            The Post article on the redevelopment, which includes some good info on how Skyline came about with regards to a planned Metrorail line….


          • mehoo

            As if new roads aren’t quickly overwhelmed with traffic. Difference is, at least transit options will be feasible.

          • Overgrown Bush

            Of course they are. They don’t build any transit solution to the level of density they allow and propose. If everyone could walk and bike to work, that would be great. But, we can’t.

            If you’ve ever been to Reston Town Center at evening rush hour, and waited 30 minutes to go a mile to the Toll Road, you know what King Street will be like with that redevelopment plan. But King Street will be worse.

          • Arlwhenever

            Agreed Overgrown. It’s silly to believe that putting a trolley on an already over-burdened road is going to have any kind of a positive material impact. Zimmerman’s consultants put out artist renderings and the faithful follow — anywhere there’s a trolley they just know it’s going to work out.

            There will be one-hour backups emanating from the Jefferson St/Columbia Pike intersection, gridlocking cars, buses and trolleys alike. The look and feel of that area already reminds me a bit of Beijing — can’t imagine what it will be like 10, 15 years from now. The 500 acre plus intensive development plan on the Fairfax County side of the county line will overwhelm all transportation modes on Columbia Pike.

            Same kind of development with ensuing gridlock is planned for the Alexandria area just south of Arlington in Potomac Yards. Alexandria has adopted a plan to tear down the entire shopping center and replace it with high rises and mid rises. Expect the same ultimately from Falls Church City for its land just west of the East Falls Church Metro Station.

            We are going to be surrounded, choked off and gridlocked by density. We, through the person of Chris Zimmerman working with his next door neighbor political pals are asking for it. Ugh!

            Mehoo, the only answer is to say no — to get off the density train.

          • mehoo

            Fercrissakes, get off the density train? What, like you’re going to avoid all development and all congestion by doing nothing?

            Change is coming whether you like it or not. Density will allow more people to walk, bike, take transit, and stay off the roads. You live in a city. You have to act like one if you’re going to function.

            As for “can’t imagine what it will be like 10, 15 years from now” – exactly. Somebody has to.

          • Overgrown Bush

            mehoo, Arlington had a plan way back when to put the Orange Line in place and develop around it. I agree with that decision, and that was smart planning. The problem we run into is we tend to overdevelop the transportation infrastructure. This has happened on the Orange Line. This has happened around every major highway that has gone in over the last 60 years. We build it, they come, but we don’t limit the growth. We just keep piling on. Smart growth may be dense, but it does not exceed to transportation infrastructure. Whether dense or not, the correct sized infrastructure needs to be in place. As a region, we fail miserably. As a country, we are beginning to fail miserably. The solution? Build more roads, trains, bike paths, and limit the growth to match the infrastructure in place! Ah, but the tax base is so tempting for the greedy politicians…..

          • mehoo

            Good points, OG. There are two answers to this problem:

            1. Limit the new growth on the Pike, to the extent that’s possible.

            2. The fact that transit has encouraged dense growth on the Orange Line corridor makes it much easier to mitigate it with new transit and other modes.

    • Josh S

      What’s with the “Zimmerman’s solution” business? Did I sleep through his installation as dictator? Wasn’t he, and the rest of the board elected and re-elected by the voters?
      If you don’t like the trolley, great, argue against the trolley. But calling out individual politicians is just smoke and mirrors.

  • Overgrown Bush

    The problem with the streetcar, like it or not, is that the density is also increasing with urban development in the area. Even if the streetcar does take some people out of their cars, more people are just moving in with more cars that now have to share the road with an electrofied limited-movement bus. It is a band-aid to a failing transportation and urband development system; a joke. I was told personally by one of the trolly planners (to be unnamed) that a new subway line and added metrorail infrastructure is the only real solution, but it just costs too much money. I don’t buy it. After all, we see one being built all the way to Ashburn. Yet they won’t address South Arlington?

    • mehoo

      Interesting. I don’t think trolleys are worthless at all, but I’d agree that a track that doesn’t share road space would be better.

      As for money, yeah, the Metro expansion is going to be the last big project you’ll see in a long time. The money really isn’t there.

  • Sunny617

    I got rear-ended at the Westbound-50-onto-South-Was-Blvd intersection…rolled forward a bit to see better and the guy behind me thought I was going, I guess. I guess I’m not the only one. Oncoming cars are really hard to see there, particularly when all the parking spots on SB Wash are full. I wish they’d add one more car-length of no-parking along there. I avoid that intersection now.


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