Arlington, VA

by Vernon Miles July 6, 2020 at 11:00 am 0

Speakers at an Arlington County Board meeting on the county’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan hammered the plan’s perceived failure to live up to earlier talk of promoting equity.

The main target of most of the ire was the allegation that single-family home owners in North Arlington would receive outsized investment in stormwater protections under the plan, compared to proposed capital spending in the rest of the county.

Rather than the usual 10-year CIP cycle, County Manager Mark Schwartz proposed a one-year CIP focused on pausing and focusing on what the county describes as funding the bare necessities. Given the dramatic storms that wreaked major flooding across Arlington last year, Schwartz recommended a $50.8 million stormwater bond and millions in funding for initial projects.

“This year’s CIP also begins the County’s increased investment in stormwater infrastructure,” the County said in a press release. “The $14.6 million included in the FY 2021 plan will advance several current key projects and lays the foundation of what is expected to be a $189 million investment over 10 years.”

“For the first time, there will be a bond referendum for investments ($50.8 million) in stormwater infrastructure,” the County said. “The County is undertaking a comprehensive review to mitigate flood risks and design work is underway for significant investments in watershed-scale solutions in high-risk areas prone to flooding.”

Several speakers at last week’s online hearing, however, said that the stormwater projects disproportionately aim to protect higher-income areas of the county. Speaker Benjamin Nichols particularly targeted investments made in the Spout Run and Lubber Run watersheds.

“Making huge investments in affluent, low-density areas seems like a step in the wrong direction and seems perverse, given that single-family home development is the majority contributor to the growth of impermeable surface in Arlington County,” Nichols said. “If we’re going to make large investments in these areas on the idea that flooding is unacceptable anywhere in Arlington, we should make sure the benefits should be accrued to a broad constituency beyond the privileged few that can afford to buy a single-family house in North Arlington. Perhaps a significant upzoning would be in order.”

Nichols and other Arlingtonians have argued for funding to be restored to bicycle and pedestrian improvements cut as part of scaled-back CIP.

The criticism of the stormwater investment contrasts with sentiment in the aftermath of the flooding, which caused significant damage to homes and businesses in parts of the county like Westover.

“Do not let Arlington government off hook on flooding,” was the headline of one letter to the editor in the Sun Gazette newspaper. Another letter to the editor from last July similarly called for more county action:

“After years of study and inaction about what to do about the inadequate stormwater system, board members have been spinning rather than trying to assure residents that the problems will be solved,” the letter said. “The time to wait and sit on your hands is over — it is past time to take action.”

The CIP dedicates $26.89 million of the $50.8 million bond to the Spout Run watershed — an area north of Wilson Blvd. centered around Lee Highway communities. The first major investment in the stormwater plan is $1.2 million towards “relining of a 3,000-foot section of 33-inch Spout Run sewer main, which runs under the North Highlands neighborhood.”

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by ARLnow.com January 28, 2020 at 7:30 am 0

Lane Closures Near Ballston — Sewer relining work is closing the right-hand lane of portions of Fairfax Drive and Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont neighborhood, near Ballston. [Twitter]

Arlington’s Young Population Drives Trends — “One of the reasons Virginia’s Arlington County is consistently rated highest for health and fitness is because of its young demographic. Take Ballston, for example, where 47.7% of the adult population is between 25 and 44 years old.” [WTOP]

Courthouse Metro Rescue Makes National News — “We would like to thank @ABCWorldNews for broadcasting our rescue of a @wmata rider last Friday. The patient is in stable condition. If you find yourself on the tracks and are unable to exit, roll towards the platform side to the area of refuge.” [Twitter, ABC News]

Fort Myer Gate Temporarily Closed — “Attention DoD ID card holders: @JBMHH’s Old Post Chapel Gate that provides entry onto the base from Arlington National Cemetery will be temporarily closed beginning today through the end of April for construction.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Nearby: Proposed Arlandria Redevelopment — A “D.C. developer filed preliminary plans with Alexandria earlier this month for the project, looking to completely overhaul a Mount Vernon Avenue shopping center near Four Mile Run Park, now called Del Ray North. It’s currently home to a MOM’s Organic Market, but has seen a variety of retail vacancies recently.” [Washington Business Journal]

by Airey March 7, 2019 at 2:30 pm 0

Have you seen Arlington utility workers feeding what looks like a giant flat worm into your neighborhood manhole?

The process is part of a project to repair sewers countywide. This week, you’ll spot workers on the 6000 block of 2nd Street N., and between W. Glebe Road and S. Fern Street on S. Glebe Road, according to Peter Golkin, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Services.

Above is a video that takes you down the sewer to see the process for yourself. The February video shows work on the four-mile “relief” sewer line along S. Glebe Road, which failed an inspection in 2015 because the pipe’s eroded interior. Digging up and replacing even 75 percent of the pipe could take up to a year and cost millions of dollars, workers said, which is why the county reuses pipes like this one by fixing the inside.

Workers feed a giant, flat polyester and fiber glass bag into sections of the pipe via the manholes. Then they heat up the so-called “cured in place pipe” with steam or hot water to cook resin in the bag. As the beat is “cured” for several hours it begins inflate around the interior of the pipe and harden.

The whole process takes about a day from start to finish and the newly outfitted pipes have an estimated lifespan of 50 years, per the county’s website. Relined pipes also have a better “flow capacity,” meaning they can move more sewage. But best of all, they prevent utility workers from having to rip up the streets.

“As you’d imagine, the savings in terms of money and time are substantial with relining,” Golkin told ARLnow. “At least half the cost, not to mention fewer months and traffic disruptions.”

Arlington hires contractors every year as part of a $16-million-dollar Capital Improvement Program to reline about seven miles of the county’s sewers.

by Chris Teale August 1, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

A method of repairing water pipes, utilized by Arlington County, could be exposing residents and workers to health risks, according to new research.

A report out of Purdue University in Indiana found that the procedure, called cured-in-place pipe repair (CIPP), can emit harmful chemicals into the air, which sometimes are visible as plumes of smoke. Those nearby could then be exposed.

The research found evidence of hazardous air pollutants — chemicals that disrupt the body’s endocrine system and can cause tumors, birth defects and other developmental disorders.

Arlington uses CIPP, also known as pipe relining, to fix sanitary sewer pipes. It involves inserting a fabric tube filled with resin into a damaged pipe and curing it in place with hot water, pressurized steam, or sometimes with ultraviolet light. The result is a new plastic pipe manufactured inside the damaged one that is just as strong.

There have been several reported instances of the odors produced by the relining work prompting calls to the Arlington County Fire Department. Last year ACFD’s hazmat team responded to a Chinese restaurant in Falls Church after reports of an “unusual odor in the bathroom,” which was later determined to have been caused by relining work. In 2010, “numerous” residents of a North Arlington neighborhood called to report “a pervasive chemical odor,” also during relining work.

Andrew Whelton, an assistant professor in Purdue University’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the Environmental and Ecological Engineering program, led a team of researchers who conducted a study at seven steam-cured CIPP installations in Indiana and California.

“CIPP is the most popular water-pipe rehabilitation technology in the United States,” Whelton said in a statement. “Short- and long-term health impacts caused by chemical mixture exposures should be immediately investigated. Workers are a vulnerable population, and understanding exposures and health impacts to the general public is also needed.”

A spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said in an email that staff stays up to date on new research about its repair methods.

“The County is committed to ensuring the safety of its residents, workers and contractors,” spokeswoman Jessica Baxter wrote in an email. “CIPP (Cured-in-place pipe) is a national industry practice that is performed throughout the country and world to reline pipes. As new studies and findings come to light, the industry and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety will need to determine if additional protection mitigation steps are needed — and we, as well as our contractors, will monitor this for any needed changes.”

Researchers said workers must better protect themselves from any harmful chemicals that are emitted, and local health officials must conduct full investigations when they receive reports of unusual odors or illnesses near CIPP sites. Baxter said the county already provides plenty of information to residents near such work.

“When the County plans work to reline a section of sanitary sewer pipe, residents whose homes are directly connected to the pipe receive a notice prior to the work explaining the process and how to prevent fumes from entering their homes,” Baxter said. “The County also has a list of recommendations for homeowners on our website.”

by ARLnow.com May 5, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

Arlington responds to suspected hazmat at Crystal Plaza Apartments, Dec. 8, 2014An Arlington County Fire Department hazmat team has been called to a Chinese restaurant in Falls Church for a report of an “unusual odor in the bathroom,” according to scanner traffic.

The incident was reported just after 11:30 a.m. at the Happy Family restaurant at 301 S. Washington Street.

Initial reports suggest that the odor is the result of pipe relining in the area.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein September 23, 2013 at 9:30 am 0

Sewer relining work in North ArlingtonThe Arlington County Board approved $3.7 million worth of contracts to reline three sewer mains.

The Board unanimously approved the contracts at its meeting Saturday, funding the renovations to 10,000 linear feet of sewer in three areas: Ballston Pond, at Washington Blvd to Fairfax Drive, S. Eads Street and Army Navy Drive and S. Walter Reed Drive to Shirlington Road.

County staff recommended the new lining to add an estimated 50 years of life to the system, much of which was put in place before 1950s, and to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“This is a serious investment in critical infrastructure that we must make on a regular basis,” said County Board Chair Walter Tejada. “Maintaining our system will help to ensure that we can continue to serve Arlington’s growing population while protecting our environment.”

Alexandria and Fairfax County will also contribute funds to the system repairs. From the county press release:

Approximately 60 percent of the County’s sanitary sewer system was placed before the 1950s. As the system ages, pipes begin to corrode and cause sewer backups. The relining process will add another 50+ years to the existing infrastructure.

The contractor, AM-Liner East, Inc. will use the Cured-In-Place-Pipe (CIPP) relining method to rehabilitate this portion of the sewer system. This cost-effective, trenchless technology involves inserting a resin-impregnated felt liner similar to a sock into an existing sanitary sewer main and curing it using hot water or steam. Once complete, the new cured pipe renews the old sewer by providing a smooth channel.

As part of the Potomac Interceptor Project, Arlington County is evaluating and repairing manholes throughout the sewer system. These efforts will reduce the potential for water seeping into the sanitary sewer system, especially during storm events when excess water could overwhelm the water treatment plant and force a discharge of partially-treated sewage into Four Mile Run.

by ARLnow.com May 20, 2013 at 11:15 am 0

Sewer relining work in North ArlingtonThe Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $1.8 million project to rehabilitate aging water mains.

The work will take place throughout Arlington, and is intended to extend the life of the county’s water infrastructure while forgoing the expense of a complete replacement.

From a county press release:

The Arlington County Board today authorized $1.8 million for the rehabilitation of water mains, many of which have been in service for more than 60 years. The work will take place in neighborhoods across the County and includes the cleaning and relining of aging distribution pipes using a process called Mechanical Cleaning and Cement-Mortar Lining.

“These rehabilitation projects help the County extend the life of water mains and lines, stretch tax dollars, and prevent expensive and disruptive main breaks,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada.

Rehabilitation at fraction of replacement cost

Instead of replacing an aging water main, it is possible to rehabilitate the pipe if it is still in good enough condition. 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.

Trenchless rehabilitation means less disruption

Corrosion deposits, known as tubercles, build up naturally over time in older unlined, water main pipes made of iron. The build-up does not normally affect the quality of the water, but it does decrease the capacity of the pipes and can affect water pressure. The trenchless pipe rehabilitation method that Arlington uses involves opening the road at the ends of the pipe segment, instead of cutting the road open along the entire length of the water main, making it less disruptive to traffic near the work area.

Arlington County runs many maintenance programs, such as the water main lining project, to prolong the life and productivity of our infrastructure and facilities. Some other maintenance programs include a distribution valve maintenance program, large valve maintenance program, fire hydrant maintenance program, fire hydrant painting, and annual water main flushing.

The project the Board acted on is part of the Water Main Rehabilitation and Replacement program, which is included in Utilities portion of the FY 2013 – FY 2022 CIP, (Capital Investment Program). D.H.C. Corporation has been selected for the cleaning and cement-mortar lining of Arlington water mains.

When crews work in your neighborhood, you will receive a notice in advance of the project. Temporary service lines are put in service during the work, and flushing is performed to make sure that all water lines are free from any debris that may have entered the system. If you have any questions about your water service in general or as related to one of our maintenance programs, please call 703-228-6555.

Ashlawn Elementary School addition site planAlso on Saturday, the Board approved a new 12-room addition to Ashlawn Elementary School. The total cost of the project is budgeted at about $15 million.

The Ashlawn addition proved controversial thanks to opposition to a plan to create a loop road for student drop-off. In the end, the Board approved the addition with the loop road plan, but not before considerable debate and abstentions from Board members Chris Zimmerman and Mary Hynes, according to the Sun Gazette.

Separately, the Board also approved a technical update to reorganize the county’s Zoning Ordinance, as well as an amendment to the ordinance to allow outdoor cafes on private property to operate year-round.

by Katie Pyzyk April 23, 2012 at 11:45 am 3,698 7 Comments

Arlington’s aging sewer lines will be getting some updating in the coming months.

The County Board has awarded a $1.92 million contract to AM-Liner East, Inc., to reline sewer pipes throughout the county. That contract includes work to a main line that runs along Four Mile Run Drive, from Columbia Pike to Walter Reed Drive.

A second contract, worth $360,000, was awarded to AM-Liner East, Inc., to rehabilitate sewer manholes. The work prevents water from seeping into the system and overwhelming the treatment plant, which could force a release of partially treated sewage into Four Mile Run.

The county has 13,000 manholes, and the ones receiving first attention are located in Crystal City. Evaluations and repairs on others will follow.

Arlington’s sewer system is made up of 465 miles of mains. Each year, the county’s Capital Improvement Program funds rehabilitation on about 1.5 percent of the system, which typically covers seven miles of pipe.

by ARLnow.com May 17, 2011 at 8:16 am 3,950 27 Comments

Police Search for Suspects Near Shirlington — While you were (probably) sleeping, Arlington police were trying to track down two suspects who fled on foot near Shirlington. Just before 1:30 a.m., an officer spotted a car that had been reported stolen out of Prince George’s County, Md. traveling on I-395. Due to department regulations, they did not pursue the car after it refused to stop. A short time later, the car was found crashed into the Four Mile Run creek bed at Shirlington Road. Police K-9 units and the U.S. Park Police helicopter were brought in to search for the suspects. As of 2:30 a.m., they were still on the loose.

Four Mile Run Trail Detour — The Four Mile Run trail will be detoured near 3rd and Harrison Streets in Glencarlyn Park due to storm/sewer system relining in the area. [Bike Arlington]

Woman Celebrates 30 Years at Retirement Community — Helen Crossley first moved into Arlington’s Culpepper Garden retirement community in 1981. Now at age 102, she’s being honored for her 30 year tenure at the facility. [Sun Gazette]

Forum Changes — We listened to your suggestions and made some changes to our discussion forums overnight. Unfortunately, the changes resulted in the deletion of some posts. We apologize for the inconvenience.

by ARLnow.com December 22, 2010 at 9:04 am 1,953 8 Comments

Arlington’s Water, Sewer and Streets bureau is experiencing an especially busy December.

Overnight, water crews responded to several small water main breaks around the county. The pace of the breaks was similar to a span of nine days earlier this month when, partially thanks to last week’s frigid temperatures, the bureau responded to 18 separate water main breaks.

Dave Hundelt, WSS’s Chief Operating Engineer, says the “rash” of ruptures is notable, but not particularly unusual this time of year. Most water main breaks happen when there are significant variations in temperature, or when it gets so cold that the ground around the pipes starts to freeze.

That makes the transition to winter and the transition to spring prime time for water main breaks.

Arlington, like other localities around the county, is considering ways to upgrade its water infrastructure. The county’s cast iron water main pipes date as far back as 1927. Most of the piping currently in place is from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. While it has some time to go until it hits its 100 year expected lifecycle, older pipes are more prone to breaking, increasing maintenance costs.

“It is a problem that is national,” said Hundelt. “If we don’t reinvest in the system… we’ll just be paying for it in more unplanned breaks and reactive maintenance.”

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by ARLnow.com November 23, 2010 at 2:51 pm 10,454 2 Comments

A pervasive chemical odor has prompted some residents in the neighborhood just north of the Washington Golf and Country Club and east of Glebe Road to call the fire department, thinking something was amiss, when in fact the odor is actually a byproduct of scheduled sewer work in the area.

Contractors working for the county’s Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau are relining the sewer pipes along the 4700 block of 34th Road North until about 8:30 p.m. tonight. Water service has been cut to a number of homes in the area to facilitate the work, which is being done without any excavation.

The sewer bureau’s contractors using “a trenchless technology known as Cured-In-Place Pipe,” according to county Department of Environmental Services spokesperson Myllisa Kennedy.

The odor is the result of the styrene resin that’s used to reline the pipes. Kennedy says the resin “is not harmful to pets or people.”

Here’s how she explained the process:

The process involves inserting a resin-impregnated felt liner similar to a sock into an existing sanitary sewer main through the manhole. Once the liner is in place, hot water is injected into the sock, and the heated water activates the resin material which is impregnated in the liner. As the resin is activated, it cures and forms into a solid plastic material which transforms the flexible liner into a rigid pipe which exhibits structural strength equivalent to a new sewer. Additionally, the new cured pipe provides a smooth and efficient flow channel which thoroughly renews the sewer without excavating the pipe.

Once the pipe liner has cured, a robotic tool is inserted into the new pipe and is remotely directed through the pipe to cut out the lateral service connections, and the new pipe is placed back into service. The entire process typically requires 6-12 hours. The County’s Capital Improvement Program funds the relining program to replace approximately 1.5 percent of the sewer system annually, about 7 miles of pipe.

Similar work will be performed on the 4700 blocks of 34th Street and Dittmar Road between Nov. 29 and Dec. 3 next week. Sewer bureau staff will hand-deliver notices to affected homes.

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