Press Club
SoberRide initiative press conference at Don Tito in Clarendon on Cinco de Mayo (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Pack your umbrella. It looks like Mother’s Day weekend will be wet.

With a Flood Watch in effect through Saturday morning, and rain expected through Sunday, you may want to make indoor plans.

But we hope the weather won’t put a damper on your plans to celebrate mom. Stay Arlington, the county’s tourism promotion agency, recently offered ideas on what to do from where to pamper mom or buy her a gift.

Now, here are the most-read Arlington articles of the past week.

  1. Arlington landing Boeing corporate headquarters
  2. Police on scene of a reported bank robbery in Ballston
  3. Pickleball pop peeves particular people, prompting park pilot program
  4. ‘Missing middle’ draft calls for legalizing multifamily housing countywide
  5. Tesla is cutting the ribbon on its first Arlington store today
  6. Sick fox found along Washington Blvd tests positive for rabies
  7. Arlington’s park system is now ranked No. 3 in the U.S.
  8. Expansive outdoor cafe and bar in Clarendon is looking to open this month
  9. Covid continues to rise in Arlington, with nearly 200 new cases reported today
  10. Lost Dog Cafe staying on the Pike as parking situation improves

Feel free to discuss these stories or anything else of local interest in the comments. Enjoy the weekend, Arlington!

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Voting stickers (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Early voting kicks off today (Friday) for the June 21 primary, with only one race on the ballot in Arlington.

In the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, incumbent Rep. Don Beyer faces political newcomer, Arlingtonian Victoria Virasingh.

Virasingh, a daughter of immigrants, was born and raised in Arlington and is active with the Arlington County Democratic Committee. She was previously part of Communities in Schools at Barcroft Elementary School. Her professional resume includes work for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, and tech company Palantir.

Virasingh’s website lists some campaign priorities as housing for all, equity in education, securing a living wage and Medicare for all.

Beyer has held onto the 8th District, which also includes Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County, since he won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.

The winner will face any non-Democratic candidates in November. A convention to decide the Republican Party’s nominee — open to all Republicans in the 8th District — is set to be held on May 21. There is a slate of Republicans looking to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

How to vote early

Any voter can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, regardless of party affiliation, because Virginia is an open primary state. Voters can also go to any early voting location.

Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd, Ste 311, will be open for early voting every weekday except for Memorial Day through June 18. Its hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Additional hours on Saturdays and in the evenings are scheduled as follows:

  • Madison Community Center, 3829 N. Stafford Street. Saturday, June 11, and Saturday, June 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday, June 14, and Thursday, June 16, 2-7 p.m.
  • Walter Reed Community Center, 2909 16th Street S. Saturday, June 11, and Saturday, June 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday, June 14, and Thursday, June 16, 2-7 p.m.

Early voting for the primary runs to June 18. The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration is May 31.

Voters can also cast an absentee ballot by mail. Mailed ballots will start to be sent out starting tomorrow. Requests for mailed ballots can be made through June 10, according to the Arlington County elections website.

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Arlington School Board candidate Brandon Clark (left) and the Clark family (right) (courtesy of Brandon Clark)

A candidate for the Arlington School Board has withdrawn his name from the Democratic endorsement process.

Brandon Clark, a teacher at Gunston Middle School, said he decided to remove himself from consideration this week so he could run independent of party affiliation. He realized the partisan process did not align with his beliefs, he said.

“The more I thought about it, the more I was like, wait, this shouldn’t be part of the process,” he told ARLnow. “Education shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”

The caucus “represents a small microcosm of Arlington County,” Clark said. ‘It’s not up to the Arlington Democrats to decide who the School Board member’s going to be.”

The Arlington County Democratic Committee will now vote in June on whether to endorse Bethany Sutton, the only remaining candidate seeking the party’s endorsement, ACDC Chair Steve Baker said.

Clark had been steered in the direction of going through the Democratic Committee’s voting process when he decided to run in the otherwise nonpartisan election, he said.

“Because as a family, both of us being teachers, we don’t have a lot of disposable income to spend on a campaign, so I was told this is the only way you’re going to win,” he said. “It shouldn’t have this air of like, ‘this is the process where you win the race.’ No, the people need to decide and that happens on Election Day.”

Clark thanked the volunteers who began to lay the groundwork for the four-day caucus that will no longer take place.

James Vell Rives IV is also running without a party affiliation. Rives and Clark are the only two candidates who have qualified to be on the ballot so far, according to the Arlington elections office.

The Democratic endorsement process has been scrutinized for its overrepresentation of white, affluent Arlington residents, and discouraging participation in the general election while potentially making nonpartisan officials beholden to a political party, among other concerns. Calls for reform were ultimately defeated.

Clark said he hadn’t realized there were groups criticizing the caucus until he started going through the process.

“But I’m seeing now why these organizations have the grievances that they do,” he said. “In my opinion, it seems like a very insider kind of process.

This past weekend, before he pulled his name from endorsement consideration, he criticized local Democrats for selling a “Russian named vodka” at their Blue Victory Dinner, saying it “speaks to being out of touch on what our community might regard as tasteless and, although seemingly insignificant to others, [and] represents tacit support for Russia.”

He said as a teacher, he encourages his students to look at all sides of an issue to make well-informed decisions, so he didn’t think it was appropriate to align himself with a political party.

“In the future, I hope this process is more inclusive and more open and that there is a support for individuals who are trying to run,” Clark said.

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A basement fire in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood drew firefighters to a house near Tuckahoe Park this afternoon (Wednesday).

The fire was extinguished within 10 minutes of firefighters arriving at the two-story home on the 6400 block of 24th Street N., ACFD Battalion Chief Robert Eversburg said. The fire was contained to the room it started in.

There were no occupants home at the time of the fire, he said. One firefighter was injured, cutting his hand during the response.

Neighbors called 911 after seeing smoke coming from the roof, according to scanner traffic. When firefighters arrived, they forced entry into the home and found it filled with smoke.

The county fire marshal is now investigating the cause of the blaze.

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Rendering of the proposed Arlington Career Center project (via Arlington Public Schools)

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Arlington Career Center plans remain on track after a contentious School Board vote late last week.

Two concepts that were presented will move to the schematic design phase after a 3-1 vote at Thursday’s meeting, which also cemented the project in the superintendent’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan, to be presented May 12.

The concepts are a $174.6 million “base” plan with 1,795 seats and a $158.3 million “alternative” plan with 1,345 seats.

Options for new Arlington Career Center (via APS)

The project, which could be the most expensive the school system has undertaken, will provide a new home to the county’s only career and technical education center, while potentially relieving some capacity pressure on Arlington’s comprehensive high schools.

Plans haven’t been solidified for the existing, aging Career Center building.

School Board member Mary Kadera casted the only dissenting vote, wanting to delay the project from moving forward until after the CIP passes.

She pointed to the unknown cost of repurposing or demolishing the existing Career Center and pressed the Board to carefully consider the project’s effect on debt service and ability to fund other projects — concerns also expressed by some nearby residents.

“We owe it to ourselves and the community to make decisions about its future within the context of our overall needs,” she said. “What are the down sides to the delay I requested?”

The layout of the proposed Arlington Career Center project (via Arlington County)

Chair Barbara Kanninen, the most senior member of the School Board, later appeared to admonish Kadera, who is in her first year on the board.

“I want my board colleagues to recognize that when you join the School Board, you’re not a candidate anymore. You’re not a commenter on social media or on ARLnow,” Kanninen said. “You’re heard when you speak and when you take action… And we need to be so aware of that. When we take action, that school communities hear us not supporting them, it’s heartbreaking.”

The Career Project project has been delayed in the past after the board pushed forward with ideas that proved too costly.

“We mustn’t make the same mistake again,” Kadera said.

Kanninen said the project is affordable and will not affect the school system’s other priorities.

“Everything that we had slated… everything we have on our list, infrastructure projects, HVAC, it is all already in this current three-year CIP,” Kanninen said. “We got this project in and there is still debt capacity and there is still $34 million in capital reserves.”

Kanninen added that if a more urgent project was introduced during the CIP process, APS can always adjust.

“The bottom line is we have this doubly verified number, we’ve never had this before, for this Career Center project going into the CIP,” she said. “We are solid with this number. We know what it is. We can work with it.”

Kanninen and the other two “yes” votes on the board — Vice Chair Reid Goldstein was not at the meeting — emphasized their commitment to building a new Career Center.

“For us to suddenly come back now and decide that we’re not going to do that would be irresponsible,” said Cristina Diaz-Torres.

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A slide from a county presentation showing where a trail would connect Arlington View to Army Navy Drive (via Arlington County)

Nearly 30 years in the making, the Army Navy Country Club Trail Connector is closer to becoming a reality.

Construction on the long-proposed trail, a design for which has not yet been finalized, is expected to begin in spring 2024, officials say. Work could be completed the following spring, according to a recent county presentation.

The path for cyclists and pedestrians would run from a point near Hoffman-Boston Elementary and 13th Road S., in the Arlington View neighborhood, to Army Navy Drive near the I-395 overpass and the entrance to the club. It would provide a new way to get from Columbia Pike to Pentagon City.

The county is seeking community feedback on two preliminary concepts for the trail, which can be provided through the project’s website.

Final design will be completed in spring 2023, then there will be another opportunity for public feedback. By winter 2023, a contract should be awarded and an official construction timeline will be released, Project Manager Mark Dennis said.

Two preliminary concepts are being considered. One features high walls and a steep trail, which could cost $11 million. The other is defined by stairs and a runnel, and could cost $5 million.

A slide depicting one Army Navy Country Club connector trail concept under consideration, featuring high walls and a steep trail (via Arlington County)

This first concept includes a 10-foot-wide, multi-use trail with a steep, 12% slope centered between retaining walls. The walls would run approximately 16 feet apart, and could be up to 16 feet in height.

Further design of Concept 1 would have to address the transition at Memorial Drive — the connector road leading to the club — where cyclists would have limited visibility to react to vehicular traffic.

Dennis compared the high walls and steep trail concept to the Custis Trail, which also has a 12% slope in some sections, he said.

“Any users out there who have taken the Custis Trail, you know what this feels like, it’s a great workout for those who are up to it,” he said. “It can be a little bit of a challenge for people who are just out for a simple walk or just want to get from A to B and not have such a vigorous bike ride.”

The second concept is a series of stairs and landings to manage the steep slope, and would feature a runnel, or wheel channel, for bicycles that could also accommodate strollers or carts.

A slide showing the concept for the Army Navy Country Club trail that features stairs and a runnel (via Arlington County)

Several people raised concerns about accessibility for both concepts. Neither design features a winding, gradual slope, but the county has to work with what it’s got, Dennis said.

“The country club has very carefully considered our previous requests to expand the easement to grant more easement and they have respectfully declined,” Dennis said. “We are limited by the easement that we have and we have sufficient easement to accommodate concepts like the two I’ve presented.”

Those who have followed the project’s iterations may notice the easement’s shape has changed. After Arlington public safety officials rejected the emergency access road idea that was originally part of the project, the path’s endpoint near Hoffman-Boston shifted from S. Queen Street to the other side of the school, near the tennis and basketball courts, Dennis said.

Dennis said the project won’t be “all things to all people,” but the narrow, steep property will probably draw a “sort of self-selecting group of users,” he said.

“We hope it’ll be accessible for anyone who can climb stairs, we hope to be accessible for anyone who rides most kinds of bikes,” he said. “But we’re going to look at that very carefully in design and try our best to accommodate the broadest range of potential users.”

The project has been discussed since the early 90s and overcome many hurdles, including obtaining an easement from the country club, a resulting lawsuit from club members, the elimination of the emergency service road, and delays due to funding constraints.

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The Arlington School Board during its April 7, 2022 meeting (via Arlington Public Schools)

(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Arlington’s School Board race is starting to take shape.

With School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen’s seat up for grabs, a few hats have been tossed in the ring so far.

Wednesday marked the end of the filing date for the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s endorsement process, which has a few changes this year in light of calls for a broader reform that were ultimately defeated.

Two candidates are seeking the Democratic endorsement in the otherwise non-partisan November school board election. A four-day voting process to determine the endorsee will be held in June.

Bethany Sutton is hoping to get the endorsement over Brandon Clark, the first person to qualify to run for school board through the Voter Registration and Elections Office. And James Vell Rives IV has also qualified for the November ballot.

Sutton is a certified leadership coach, executive search consultant and a former PTA president. She has lived in Arlington for more than 20 years and has a background in governance, strategic planning, staff and leadership development, and nonprofit management, according to her profile in the ACDC announcement of candidates.

Sutton served on Randolph Elementary School’s PTA board for seven years, three of which she was president of the board. Since spring 2020, she has led the Randolph Food Pantry, a community-based volunteer effort to support families affected by the pandemic.

Bethany Sutton, who is running for School Board (via Arlington Democrats)

For her work at Randolph Elementary, she was awarded the APS Honored Citizen Award in 2021 and the Distinguished County Service Award in 2020 from Volunteer Arlington and the Leadership Center for Excellence.

She also serves on the Arlington County Food Security Task Force and is chair of the APS Advisory Council on Teaching and Learning, which she has been on since 2018.

“She has a passion for excellence in student learning and a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” according to the ACDC writeup.

Sutton grew up in the Philadelphia area, attended college at the University of Mary Washington and graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also completed a graduate program in leadership coaching at Georgetown University.

Arlington School Board candidate Brandon Clark (left) and the Clark family (right) (courtesy of Brandon Clark)

Clark, a Gunston Middle School teacher, says he wants to bring a needed employee perspective to the school board, while pushing to improve the school system’s communication and engagement efforts.

While Clark is seeking the Democratic endorsement, he expressed displeasure with the party over the weekend. He told ARLnow via email that he left ACDC’s Blue Victory Dinner, held at a Ballston hotel Saturday night, miffed at the choice of vodka offered given the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“I briefly attended an event hosted by Arlington Democrats as a school board candidate… I left early and before the event started, when I saw that Russian named vodka, originally started in Moscow, was being offered for purchase,” he wrote. “I am confused and appalled by this and would like to say that this is an oversight and greater symptom of a larger problem in Arlington politics.”

A day after the initial publication of this article, Clark clarified that the vodka issue was not the only reason he left the event early, while adding that it “speaks to being out of touch on what our community might regard as tasteless and, although seemingly insignificant to others, [and] represents tacit support for Russia.”

Rives, meanwhile, is not seeking the Democratic endorsement, and is running as an independent. He is a psychiatrist and serves as co-chair of Arlington Public Schools’ School Health Advisory Board.

Rives has lived in Fairlington with his wife Carmen since 2003, and their children attend Wakefield High School and Claremont Elementary.

As a physician with a background in mental health, he said he can bring a unique perspective to the board. He particularly wants to help as schools recover from the effects of the pandemic, keeping schools open so students can catch up on lost skills and ensuring the school system retains its teachers.

“Restarting has been bumpy,” he said. “I want to help get back on track.”

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Assistant County Manager Bryna Helfer talks to the County Board during a meeting (via Arlington County)

Arlington County doesn’t always get public engagement right — but officials say the county is doing better than it did a few years ago.

The pandemic has served as an impetus for accelerating changes already in progress, including a move away from exclusively in-person engagement to more virtual and hybrid community outreach options.

Mark Schwartz said one of his top priorities when he was named County Manager in 2016 was to enhance engagement and communications. This was on the heels of the completion of the county’s community facilities study, which looked at public facilities given a growing population; Schwartz said the group had challenges engaging residents.

“And since then, we’ve learned a lot about communicating and public engagement, especially over the last two years with Covid,” Schwartz said during an update to the County Board last week.

“And I will be the first to admit, I’ve admitted it here, we don’t always get it right,” he continued. “But we’ve come a long way in weaving not just the old style corporate communications but true engagement into our efforts as we develop and implement policies.”

Engaging the community

While the county developed a six-step guide to public engagement in 2018 for capital projects, it’s also applied to planning, policy-making and programs, said Bryna Helfer, an Assistant County Manager who oversees the Office of Communication and Public Engagement.

“One of the things that we still have to work on is getting those folks that are highly impacted but have really low awareness,” Helfer said. “We spend a lot of energy on people with high awareness and low impact and so really [we have to be] intentional.”

A graphic depicting the public engagement guide the county said they use (via Arlington County)

The level of public engagement intensifies with the size of a project, Helfer said. The higher the level of impact, positive or negative, the more engagement and outreach.

“We’re not showing up to do charrettes if we’re just painting the bench,” she said. “We’re really aligning the tools and strategies with the level of engagement and training all of us to use the right tools.”

The county has used roundtable discussions with civic associations and other organizations to inform them how to ease the groups’ pain points. After some of those conversations, the county created the Civic Association President Toolkit, which includes a county staffer sitting down with every new association’s president and reviewing a list of county resources.

The county also developed a multifamily complex directory to help engage those residents, which make up 60% of the county’s population, Director of Public Engagement Jerry Solomon said.

“That’s an example of a big win that helps us to that greater capacity building that we know our community needs,” she said.

Demographic dashboards give officials an idea on how to strategize and recognize gaps in participation, Solomon said. While planning engagement, they apply an equity lens, asking questions like: who benefits, who’s burdened and who’s missing?

Past criticism

Arlington’s community engagement ethos is commonly referred to as the “Arlington Way,” a vaguely defined term for the local ideal of an open conversation between county government and residents.

But the Arlington Way has taken some barbs over the years, as Arlington’s equity ideals clashed with the reality that effectively participating in the county’s decision-making processes often required hours of in-person engagement — nearly impossible for many shift workers, young parents and people struggling to make ends meet.

Last year the “Arlington Way” was a point of conversation at the Board after controversy over the start time of a north Arlington farmers market made the meeting run long, effectively shutting out participation from low-income residents there to speak about filthy conditions at the Serrano Apartments.

In 2020, community leaders from the Green Valley neighborhood criticized the county for not engaging the community before a temporary parking lot was built for WETA — relying instead on a legal ad published in the Washington Times as a primary form of public notice.

Earlier this year, a typo on a public hearing notice promoted the wrong date, adding to a continuing conversation by County Board members who have critiqued the engagement process.

And even online engagement has been critiqued for attracting a narrow set of interested parties rather than a broad swath of the public. Respondents to a recent survey about historic preservation, for instance, were overwhelmingly older, white homeowners.

Covid learning curve

Covid shifted public engagement to the virtual realm. The county started doing virtual walking tours for site visits and virtual public comment — and learned more about who participates in virtual meetings.

“Coming out of Covid, we think we will be able to do some in-person things, we’ll continue to use our virtual platforms — because the greatest thing has been people participating while watching their kid’s softball game — and that hybrid model where we come together with both,” Helfer said.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.

Caitlin Iseler had great benefits in her executive search job, but nothing that supported her as a working parent.

She loved working at consulting firm Korn Ferry and wanted to be exceptional in her career but also wanted to do the best she could as a mom.

“I was like these (benefits) are great but this isn’t really solving my challenge of wanting to be a great mom and really wanting to be present and having those health wins outside of work,” she said. “I became really passionate about this concept of how do you support people in their time outside of work so they can be great at work.”

Happyly Founder Caitlin Iseler and her family (courtesy of Caitlin Iseler)

So, in 2019, she and co-founders Liz Regard and Randi Banks started Happyly, a platform companies can offer employees that provides activity plans and ways to give back to the community. Twenty corporations, including Navy Federal, her former employer Korn Ferry and Appian, offer Happyly’s service to their employees.

“It shouldn’t take a lot of time or money to do great things with your family and to really live your best life outside of work,” Iseler said. “So our platform is designed to support those experiences for real connection and again it all ties back to, for employers to ‘take care of people and they’ll take care of your company.'”

Last week, the Arlington-based company launched a new website and this week will roll out a new version of its app.

“There’s a lot coming down the pike in terms of our product evolution and around this give back component,” Iseler said.

The Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation is a Happyly investor, and the company recently received a grant from the Commonwealth Commercialization Fund. The startup also participated in the 757 Accelerate program and has several other investors from Virginia and the University of Virginia, Iseler’s alma mater.

“So for us, it’s just such a good place to be, and that has a lot to do with how we’ve been embraced by the state in terms of trying to bring this idea to life,” she said. “And I was in the D.C. area for 15 years after college… it’s home in so many ways.”

Over the next year, Happyly looks to add 30 to 50 more corporate clients and to double its roster of eight full-time employees and 120 ambassadors, which create content across the U.S. They’re hiring across many different categories, Iseler said.

“At the end of the day, building a business and being an entrepreneur is challenging and humbling because I get to live my purpose,” Iseler said. “I’m really proud of the team that we built and being able to bring together people who have such different experiences but are united by this purpose.”

Happyly co-founders Randi Banks, Caitlin Iseler and Liz Regard (courtesy of Caitlin Iseler)

But it is difficult to create a new category.

“You have to find the right companies at the right stage to introduce something so different,” she said, noting after launch only about a quarter of the companies really “got it.”

“But those are the ones we need to focus on, right, because we don’t need every single company in the world, we need the ones that really care and get it,” she said. “And we hope that in a couple years that this new category will be something that every company is thinking about.”

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Remnants of the pandemic in Aurora Highlands (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

We hope you had a great April and have some plans to ring in a new month this weekend.

There was plenty to talk about over the last 30 days.

This week’s number one story, about an FBI operation, was also the top story for the whole month of April. Coming in second, we wrote a story about a woman who pepper sprayed a man for taking photos of children — he turned out to be their dad. The third story you guys were most interested in this month was on SOJA, a band that formed in Arlington, winning a Grammy award.

Now, here are the most-read Arlington articles of the past week.

  1. There was an FBI operation on Columbia Pike this morning
  2. West Glebe Road bridge to completely close in two weeks
  3. Atilla’s is closing next month after almost five decades on Columbia Pike
  4. Two arrested after gunfire in D.C. leads to brief chase in Arlington
  5. Arlington is getting its own pride festival this summer
  6. Arlington ultramarathoner Michael Wardian is now running clear across the U.S.
  7. Police planning targeted traffic enforcement in Rosslyn tomorrow
  8. AWLA warns about potentially rabid fox
  9. New Chipotle opening today in Clarendon
  10. County Board unanimously approves Phase 2 of Amazon’s HQ2

Feel free to discuss these stories or anything else of local interest in the comments. Enjoy the weekend, Arlington!

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VDOT is not turning back on its recommendation to lower the elevated parts of Route 1 in Crystal City, but it is considering new options for separated pedestrian and bike crossings near the Metro station.

The state transportation agency on Thursday provided an update on Phase 2 of its study, which is focused on how to make the “urban boulevard” vision for Route 1 from 12th Street S. to 23rd Street S. a reality.

VDOT unveiled concepts for alternatives to a street-level pedestrian crossing at 18th Street after its recommendation to lower elevated portions of Route 1 drew ire from the community for prioritizing cars over pedestrians.

Four alternatives to the at-grade pedestrian crosswalks at 18th Street S. were presented, including a pedestrian bridge; a more gradual, bicycle-friendly bridge; a tunnel; or an underpass.

While the options incorporate some public feedback, including the tunnel proposed by community group Livability 22202, the state is focused on finding a way to make the at-grade roadway work.

“Everything that happens in the Phase 2 study is really looking from that lens of having made that recommendation already and Phase 2 is really geared towards figuring out the details of how to make that recommendation from Phase 1 work,” said Dan Reinhard, VDOT’s lead project manager for the project.

The first phase of VDOT’s study recommended the elevated portions over 12th, 15th and 18th streets be lowered and Phase 2 examines the feasibility of doing that, what traffic in the area looks like and strategies to reduce vehicular traffic.

A table shows benefits and disadvantages to each of the pedestrian and cyclist options for the Route 1 and 23rd Street S. intersection (via VDOT)

The first alternative to at-grade crossings is a 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge with stairs and an elevator option. VDOT estimates this would cost $15 million.

The second bridge alternative, at an estimated $32 million, would add more gradual entry points for cyclists on 18th Street S. This option could link with a multimodal trail that the county plans to build near the Crystal City Metro station, said John Martin, with engineering consulting firm Kimley-Horn.

The third concept, a tunnel under Route 1, was informed by Livability 22202, a coalition of the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City civic associations. The estimated $43 million tunnel would accommodate both bicyclists and pedestrians, connecting them to the Crystal City shops and the Metro.

The final alternative is a 12-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle underpass. In coordination with building owners of the plaza at the corner of Route 1 and 18th Street S., the tunnel could feature a public space at its east entry. An underpass is estimated to cost between $9 million and $14 million.

VDOT also presented two options to ease navigation of the sometimes chaotic 23rd Street S. intersection.

At 23rd Street S., VDOT imagines windening pedestrian spaces and medians, removing one southbound left turn lane and allowing through traffic in the northbound right turn lane. A second option would also add bike lanes on the west side of 23rd Street S.

A chart of options for improving the Route 1 intersection with 23rd Street S. (via VDOT)

A second public meeting is expected in mid to late June, which will workshop the curb elements of street design and discuss potential relocation of 18th Street bus stops.

A third will be held in September or October and discuss ways to reduce vehicle volumes through Transportation Demand Management strategies. A final meeting will review the findings and recommendations.

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