Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com July 23, 2012 at 8:45 am 3,639 104 Comments

Pentagon City Elevator Contract Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a contract to design a second elevator for the busy Pentagon City Metro station. The estimated $5.1 million elevator construction project has already received $4.5 million in federal funding. [Arlington County]

Arlington’s Roads Rate ‘Poor’ — More than one third of Arlington County’s 974 mile street network is in “poor” condition, based on the county’s own assessment. The reason for the poor road conditions may lie with spending. The county has been spending significantly less on paving than the amount recommended by its top streets official. [Patch]

Board Considers Solar at Supermarkets — County Board members say they’ll consider a Green Party proposal to either force or encourage supermarkets to install solar power arrays on their roof. The solar power could help refrigerate food during power outages. [Sun Gazette]

Maywood Neighborhood Profiled — The historic Maywood neighborhood of Arlington is “endearing and peaceful” and “extremely friendly,” according to a radio profile. [WAMU]

Renovations Revealed at Crystal City Hotel — Last week the 343-room Crystal City Marriott officially unveiled its $7 million redesign, which included new common areas like a new bar/restaurant and a new fitness center. [Marriott]

Flickr pool photo by Lifeinthedistrict

  • Enough already

    Roads are poor because the Board wants to build a ridiculous street car and Tejada (of course) wants an indoor soccer field. Maybe when Fisette gets thrown from his bike after hitting a pothole, they’ll care enough to fix the roads

    • Just Like I Did

      Time to switch to decaf.

      • South Awwlington


    • ACDC Hack

      But we have Artisphere !!

      Our elected officials have their priorities.

      “Let them eat art” !!!

      • Garden City

        Music’s food ’til the art biz folds. Let them all eat culture.

      • Noonan

        Chairwoman Mary Hynes talked about a street that had deteriorated to the point of being a “washboard,” which had neighbors complaining — and then predicted those same people would complain once the street was paved because it would allow cars to speed through their neighborhood.

        Wow, Mary. Why don’t you stop predicting and start acting on what residents ask you to do?

        • TCE

          … she’s really proposing a new method of traffic calming that costs nothing… let the road fall apart… then no one can speed (let alone use it).

          I hope her comment was a joke (but the funny thing is she’s probably right…), just not a good comment from a board member about their own constituents.

          • Bender

            Almost exactly right. The only thing erroneous is that it is a “new” idea. Making driving inconvenient and onerous by any means necessary, including allowing, if not promoting, road deterioration is one of those means.

        • South Awwlington

          Agreed but that doesn’t mean she is wrong. Arlington loves to roll like that.

          • Noonan

            Sounds like she’s projecting, to me. Would not be surprised in the least if having slightly degraded roads is seen as a benefit by some board members if it makes cars slow down.

          • Ashton Heights

            She is actually absolutely correct. That is exactly what happened on my street. A street that hadn’t been paved forever had an NC project that added curbs and then was repaved to be nice and smooth and then everyone wanted to add speed humps because of the speeding.

    • The hatred; its palatable.

      • Tabby_TwoTone

        Do you mean palpable?

        • sunflower

          i like his way better–has a certain je ne sais quoi

          • Chimichanga

            its “yo no se cua cua cua cuaaaa”

      • Huh ??

        So you are saying, “Let them eat hate” ?

        It is very filling and low on carbs….

    • DeportEmAll


    • Mary-Austin

      Well get used to it. The roads are about to get a heck of a lot worse over the coming years with this streetcar fiasco.

    • I would love to have an underground metro instead of the trolley. have it run from the pentagon to the end of columbia pike. I’d go for a sky rail

      • DCBuff

        Oooh, sky rail! We can compete with Disneyworld!

    • Arlingtonian

      A lot of streets are bad because the County permits developers and cable companies to tear up its streets and hires inspectors that don’t bother to make the slobs clean up their messes and restore the streets to their original conditions.

  • Noonan

    Rhetorical question: Why solar?

    Realistic approach: gas-fed generators. If your goal is to provide refrigeration, generators are the most reliable method to do it.

    • Crystal City

      Because that wouldn’t be very green, now would it? 😀

      • soarlslacker

        The majority of businesses and the US government use diesel generators because of reliability factors and the ability to have a large tank of fuel to supply back up power for long periods of time. Examples: Sirius-XM Radio in DC and US embassies abroad.

        • Noonan

          Yeah, although I was actually talking about natural gas. Cleaner burning and no need to worry about running out of fuel. Also quieter and smaller than diesel sets.

          • Josh S

            “cleaner burning” may be true when compared to diesel fuel, but nothing compares to not burning at all. (Also, solar panels are quite a bit more quiet than any generator.)


            I frankly don’t understand why this isn’t issue #1 for all of us.

          • Noonan

            But it is not reliable enough to warrant the investment if the goal is preserving perishable food items. Solar does not work when the sun is not shining or at night. You need battery storage, and even then if you get more than 2 days without appreciable sunlight, you are going to be dead in the water.

            Not only that, but how do you manage this if the store doesn’t own its own roof?

          • Seriously?

            You cite an article from the Rolling Stone…are you serious?

            RS and progressives use the ‘fear factor’ and you bought it and pass it on to others? Seriously?

      • Roycroft

        The amount of solar power required to run the refrigeration at grocery stores would be astronomical and in most cases not feasible. I love the idea of solar power but when one starts running the numbers they add up quickly. I agree generators make much more since.

        • bman

          the green party doesn’t realize this.

          Some tree hugger who hasn’t done any realistic study of that.

          And what if the day is cloudy? lol

          What about night time?

          The batteries to store all that power would be cost ineffective too. But as long as their are solar panels on the roof. lol.

    • that’s what she said

      Solar as a back-up is a nonstarter. Demonstrates the Green Party candidate’s very thin depth on the topic.

      Yes, stand-by generators are the way to go. Solar is great for shaving the peak electric demand the 99.9% of the time the power grid is working. But when the power goes out, you want to know exactly how much you’re getting from your back-up, because the back-up source is tied into your electrical switchgear.

      To get significant amount from solar (and commercial refrigeration equipment uses A LOT of energy), you need a substantial battery reserve, which adds quite a bit to the cost (and takes up valuable space in the store).

      So much better to have conventional back-up generator, tied into refrigeration and essential lighting, and use the solar on the roof to cut electric costs year-round.

      • Josh S

        You are probably right. Why you would promote solar panels only for the purpose of back-up use is beyond me. The sun is there all the time, use the panels all the time to reduce your bill, reduce your reliance on the grid, etc. In the event of an emergency, they could be used to power lights in the store and maintain other electrical operations while the generators could be solely for refrigeration. That would reduce the size of the generator you required and perhaps save you money there.

  • daniel

    Poor? Ah yes…..as determined internally. I think they’re Good/OK compared to roads in the region, and most of the country. I’d like to see the County award to a bidder that can line street markings up from one side of an intersection to the next.

    • Crystal City


    • Dude Where’s My Car

      Failure to maintain horizontal road alignment across intersections is so commonplace in Arlington, I just assumed it was intentional. In the last 10 years, it seems like “shifting the centerline of the road across an intersection” is the norm, and not the exception.

      I am assuming that it is some kind of “traffic calming” method. The SUV next to you, about plow into your car because the driver didn’t see the lane shift… yeah, that’ll make you slow down.

      In my opinion the roads, on average, are poor. Potholes are patched, and then the patch is only marginally better to drive over than the pothole. Roads are freshly paved, leaving a bunch of manhole covers that aren’t flush with the road surface. Fancy brick crosswalks are put in and then fall apart, leaving holes in the road. Concrete medians are extended to absurd lengths. Old lane markings disappear in heavy rain, and nobody appears to have ever heard of a lane reflector.

      If the county were in dire financial straits, this 3rd-rate infrastructure would make more sense.

      • DCBuff

        Please, this is all part of living in a “world-class” community. Most of the world has poor roads, so we’re just fitting in.

  • JnA

    Large rooftop solar panel arrays are being installed on supermarket roofs throughout Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, typically providing 250 kilowatts of power. They can serve as emergency power generators during daylight hours, 6 AM to 8 PM during the Summer, to keep frozen food from thawing and refrigerated food from spoiling.

    Arlington is falling so far behind everywhere else when it comes to on site renewable energy it should be a matter of concern.

    • Noonan

      What if it’s cloudy?

      • TCE

        … or if the power failure is at night?

        • Peter

          More than enough power for emergency refrigeration-only. A lot of food could be saved.

      • Josh S

        What if it’s not cloudy?

        All systems have weaknesses. Pointing them out is certainly an important consideration, but not the only one.

        What if your generator runs out of fuel?
        What if the cost of fuel is high, especially compared to the zero cost of sunlight?

        • Noonan

          Do you think uptime is the primary consideration in this type of system?

          • Josh S

            If your mission is to provide emergency backup power, then yes, solar panels are not necessarily terribly wise except perhaps in the sunniest parts of the country / world.

            It’s obvioiusly a mistake to promote solar panels for this job. But that doesn’t mean that solar panels shouldn’t be promoted in general. They could even be part of a total solution to emergency generation, by handling less crtical electrical needs. Also, battery storage is improving all the time – I can easily imagine in a few years that batteries could be charged to fully energize a grocery store for 24 hours or more. I’m not sure what Dominion’s policies are, but some utilities allow you to sell them power during times that your solar panels are producing more than you need at home.

            And you can’t ever escape the fact that solar energy has zero pollution impacts. Which is something that we all should be concerned about. And zero fuel costs, which should be music to any businesses’ ears.

        • bman

          diesel is cheap and reliable compared to a solar panel/battery.

          what if the wind storm knocked over all your solar panels or 3″ ice took them out? your generator would still be there.

          • Noonan

            Plus, there are bio-diesel options too, these days.

            As someone else said, solar is fine for marginal savings by supplementing your power generation when you spread it out over a long time period. But when it comes to instant demand with the need for reliability and high uptimes, solar is not going to fit that performance spec.

    • JimPB

      The solar panels might be a cost-free acquisition for the supermarkets. At least one solar panel company is offering to install the panels with the price paid from savings the panels provide by reducing the amount of electricity bought from the grid.

      • that’s what she said

        Except our incumbent electric utility has written its regulations such that the arrangement you describe (a power purchase agreement with a 3rd party) is illegal in Virginia today.

        • Rick

          And if you let the solar try and soften the load on the grid, you will have less to store in the generator.

          • JDSmith

            It’s just a fact, we live at a marginal latitude for solar power generation. Small scale and residential supplemental, yes. Commercial scale, no.

          • that’s what she said

            No, that’s not true. Prices have plummeted and xommercial solar IS economical in Virgina today, as a peak-shaving and energy-reducing proposition. The mechanisms that best facilitate its deployment are banned here. Shoot, on a per capita basis, Vermont has MUCH more installed solar than Virginia. Maybe on an absolute basis, too.

  • LVGuy

    Roads are fine. The board is doing this just to get more money.

    • Rick

      Where do you live, if you don’t mind me asking?

  • B22201

    The roads are pretty bad. Too much patching, and not enough repaving. Especially on the exit from Rt50 getting to Rhodes Street. That’s a horrible rumble-strip of a road. It’s going to be even more fun when they shut down the Courthouse Road exit.

    Also, Columbia Pike is pretty bad. . . plans for a trolley or not, that road is horrible.

    • JamesE

      Wilson west of Glebe belongs in Fallujah

    • South Awwlington

      Yes, they are not a friend to the struts on my car. Several roads need to be ground to the foundation and resurfaced.

  • John Fontain

    How about the Green Party (which doesn’t represent anyone last time I checked) mind their own business and let the grocery stores decide for themselves whether solar is worthy of investment.

    • novasteve

      That’s not how nanny staters think. They know what’s best for everyone else, and that’s all they need.

    • Josh S

      Last time you checked? How did you check? By asking people? The Green Party has not won any seats locally, but plenty of people belong and believe in their platform more than they believe in the platform of Democrats, Republicans or any other party.
      No Green Party politicians have seats, but in the meantime, they have just as much right to promote an agenda as any other organization.
      I have almost nothing in common with the NRA, but I don’t claim that they don’t represent the views of lots and lots of people.
      Your attitude is curiously un-democratic.

      • novasteve

        How is forcing people to do something democratic?You only seem to like democracy when it gets the results you want. If a bunch of greenie weenies forced people to to stop using air conditioning and put up solar panel’s you’d be saying “but that’s democracy” but if the people voted to limit marriage to opposite sexes, you’d be kicking and screaming throwing tantrums.

        • Josh S

          You, sir, are not worth arguing with.

          • novasteve

            Nice argument. Josh. Is that an admission you can’t argue? Anypersonal attacks you’d like to make to prove you can’t argue?

      • bman

        Your logic and reasoning is beyond belief.

        • Josh S

          OK. If you say so.

  • SamW

    Perhaps I’m not the only one that sees the recent repaving of N Glebe as a waste of money, when Columbia Pike is crumbling beneath our feet….

    • Rick

      That was at the direction of the Virginia Department of Transportation. Any road (except Columbia Pike) with a shield symbol (120, 309, 27, 237, 123, that weird elevated road from Reagan to Route 1 who’s number escapes me, 110) are State-maintained roads.

      • SamW

        Then where is all of Arl Co’s street maintenance money going? Seems to me that the Pike would be a Top 3 (though I can’t think of which roads would beat it for #1) major road in the county that doesn’t receive state funding. They should have plenty to maintain it.

        • Rick

          The money for that just got approved. The point of the article is that they don’t have the street maintenance money they need.

        • Southie

          Street money is going to 6 to 10 foot wide sidewalks and narrowing the streets to save money on asphalt in the future. Seems like the County must have their retirement money invested in a concrete factory somewhere!

  • novasteve

    I’m shocked, leftie liberals are proposing forcing people to do something, when they aren’t banning everything they don’t approve of? What next, a ban on Chick Fil A like the Mayor of Boston is proposing in violation of the US constitution?

    • jackson

      I love how you mention the constitution discussing Chick Fil A. This calls for an amendment!

      • novasteve

        Huh? The Mayor of Boston wants to ban Chick Fil A from the city of Boston due to the views expresed by the management of Chick Fil A. Clear violation of the first amendment. I wonder if these tolerant liberals are going to ban Halal restaurants as well given I doubt their owners support same sex marriage?

        • jackson

          Cities have the right to approve or deny businesses. And those businesses are free to build elsewhere.

          • Sandy

            You don’t really know what a “right” is. Cities would need “authority” to deny a business. Which means legislation needs to exist, or they need to start writing the legislation, which would create conditions that would prohibit an entity from conducting business. And that’s when the lawyers would eviscerate the legislation, in this case.

          • jackson

            And why doesn’t Clarendon have a Home Depot like what had been proposed at one point? Did the board have some say in whether or not they could open a business there? Under what “authority” did they block that?

          • novasteve

            Because of Zoning. If the Board denied Home Depot zoning because Home Depot supports Romney, then the board would be in violation of the first amendment. The Boston Mayor was stupid enough to admit his reasons.

          • nom de guerre

            You mean like what the County Board did last summer when they got wind that Walmart was interested in a site near Shirlington?


          • South Awwlington

            414 comments. That was legendary.

          • Sandy

            Right, through zoning and land use statutes, they can put conditions on a business opening here. Like the Home Depot case, where I think they refused to rezone the land and kept it mixed use.

            But that is not the same as approving or denying a business.

            Of course, Arlington can only make laws that Richmond says they can, so any law banning a business would be a non-starter. The city of Boston in this example is different, but not practically.

          • novasteve

            Cities cannot deny a restaurant the ability to operate due to speech made by their management, no more than NYC could block the ground zero mosque for the very same reason of the first amendment.

    • SteamboatWillie

      How’s that mandatory ultrasound program going? Or the new voter ID cards being required in numerous states?

      Yeah, “leftie liberals” have the market cornered for “forcing people to do something” as you say.

  • Tabby_TwoTone

    Where was that photo taken?

    • JohnB2

      Looks like Clarendon, because of the one-way sign. My bet is Clarendon Grill.

      • ArlRes

        On the side of Whitlow’s

      • Sam

        I was thinking it was Whitlows.

        • JohnB2

          Yes, Whitlows, got my place names confused.

    • sunflower

      looks like a new world renoir

  • Aaron

    The county’s top streets official thinks we should be spending more money on streets? Gasp!! That’s like the Affordable Housing Coalition presenting their study that shows more money should be spent on affordable housing.

    Let’s make all of these unbiased interests happy and just spend more money on everything!

  • Id

    Street car, elevators, the Artisphere — I cannot wait for the news article as to how the property taxes have to rise in January.

  • veeta

    Why don’t developers have to contribute to road maintenance? That is the reason the roads are so bad–whether it’s a huge condo or simply a house being remodeled.

    • Noonan

      The do contribute. The produce projects that greatly enhance the tax base of the county, lifting tax revenue. It’s not their fault the county diverts that money from basic maintenance services.

      • veeta

        What I’m saying is the money should not be allowed to be diverted. It could be part of the permit process that the money must be used to upgrade infrastructure and repair roads.

        • Noonan

          That is not something developers control.

  • Rick

    Rick’s favorite quotes from the Patch article:

    “County elected officials seemed caught off guard when they heard this. ”

    “Board member Chris Zimmerman expressed concern that talk of paving cycles and numerical grades of street conditions was more than the average resident cared about. Condition is subjective, he said, where one person may see a few cracks in a stretch of pavement and think that’s acceptable, and others, most definitely, do not.” <—He's never driven on Wilson Blvd, ever.

    Chairwoman Mary Hynes talked about a street that had deteriorated to the point of being a “washboard,” which had neighbors complaining — and then predicted those same people would complain once the street was paved because it would allow cars to speed through their neighborhood. <— Those damn constituents!

    “That looks like Fairfax.” <— Donnellan would know, she lives there.

    The problem with the car-free diet is you can't let a road go down to the dirt because bike lanes use asphalt too!

    • drax

      Bikes impose zero wear on the roads, unlike motor vehicles. Just a reminder for the future.

      • Rick

        A pothole can occur anywhere, drax. They are not inherntly caused by vehicles, but they do make them worse. Bad pavement, like the article states, “as streets age, they deteriorate more quickly”. These roads that haven’t seen an asphalt truck even tap their brakes on them, like Williamsburg Boulevard or Military Road, have terrible pavement curb-to-curb. Just a reminder for the future, you’d be hard-pressed to find a stretch of road with horrible travel lanes, and “good” or “excellent” bike/parking lanes. Save the snide remarks, please.

    • CW

      As a daily cycle commuter I will certainly confirm that I have a vested interest in increasing road maintenance. Bad roads annoy drivers, but they kill cyclists.

      • Rick

        CW and I don’t agree very often, but I’m glad we’re on the same page here.

  • South Awwlington

    Can we all agree on one thing? The over usage of the words a.) Vibrant and b.) Robust at County Board meetings.

    PLEASE – Someone pull out the thesaurus!


    • Mary-Austin

      I agree 100%. Vibrant has been their word of choice for everything since the late 90’s.

      I think one of them heard that q-tip song back then and adopted it cause they thought they were being hip.

  • YTK

    Solar panels for Soopahmarkets? Sure, fine, OK.
    And how about building a few more of these Soopahmarkets while you are at it too, hmmm?

    • Rick

      If you owned Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter, Shoppers, Wegmans etc… would you want to build in this county if you had to follow those rules? I wouldn’t..

      • Noonan

        It’s the new business friendly climate in Arlington.

  • Rick

    How bout the county identify commercial centers (Lee-Harrison, Pentagon Row, Penrose) and work on burying the lines around them so the county isn’t so crippled next time there’s a bad storm? Create a tax district in the centers to help pay for it or something, but it’s certainly more effective and will make the neighborhoods aesthetically pleasing in the future.

  • Alex

    $5.1 million for one elevator? And I thought transportation projects were expensive. Oh, that is vertical transportation, my bad.


Subscribe to our mailing list