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by Chris Teale October 13, 2017 at 3:15 pm 0

Shuttle buses will replace trains this weekend on a section of Metro’s Yellow and Blue Lines in Arlington County.

Buses will run between the Braddock Road and Pentagon City Metro stations from 7 a.m. Saturday through closing Sunday as crews install communication cables and rehabilitate platforms.

The Reagan National Airport and Crystal City Metro stations will be closed.

From a Metro announcement on the weekend work:

Blue Line trains will operate at regular weekend intervals between Pentagon City & Largo Town Center and every 15 minutes between Franconia-Springfield & Braddock Road. 

Yellow Line trains will operate at regular weekend intervals between Pentagon City & Mt Vernon Square and every 15 minutes between Huntington & Braddock Road. Customers traveling to/from stations north of Mt Vernon Sq should use the Green Line to complete their trip.

Free shuttle buses will operate between Pentagon City, Crystal City, National Airport and Braddock Road. Please allow 15 minutes of travel time for each station stop.

Stations closed: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Crystal City.

To allow for shuttle bus connections, the last train will depart Franconia-Springfield at 11:56 p.m. Saturday and 9:56 p.m. Sunday, 30 minutes earlier than normal.

Work performed: Communication cable installation and platform rehabilitation.

For those not wanting to get on the free shuttle buses, ART’s 43 bus between Courthouse and Crystal City offers an alternative, as well as the Transitway along U.S. Route 1 between the Braddock Road and Pentagon City Metro stations via Potomac Yard and Crystal City.

by ARLnow.com October 4, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

Numerous Arlington County Fire Department units are arriving at the Courthouse Metro station to investigate a report of smoke in the station.

The fire department says there is an arcing insulator near the station and firefighters are gathering on the platform level. There is a “slight haze” in the station, according to scanner traffic.

Drivers should expect road closures in the area due to the emergency response and Metro riders should expect delays on the Orange and Silver lines. A Metro emergency response team is en route to the station.

by Katie Pyzyk October 3, 2017 at 9:45 am 0

(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) The number of Arlington residents commuting via bicycle is on the rise, according to the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, contrary to the national trend.

The survey showed that in 2016, 2.4 percent of Arlington commuters cycled to work, up from 1.9 percent in 2015. That number is an average of men and women, but slightly more men commute by bicycle. “We think it’s great, of course, and part of a longer trend,” said BikeArlington program director Henry Dunbar. “The bike mode share has tripled since 2009 (0.8 percent), and will keep climbing as Arlington continues to improve its bike infrastructure and more people learn that biking is often the quickest and cheapest way to get around.”

Arlington’s bike commuting growth is in line with Washington, DC, where 4.6 percent of all commuters now cycle, up from 4.1 percent the previous year. But the region’s commuting habits are not indicative of those in the rest of the country. The Census Bureau shows that last year bike commuting was down nationwide for the second year in a row, falling from 0.59 percent to 0.57 percent of all commuters.

The survey offered data but no possible causation for the numbers. However, a number of factors likely contribute to the nationwide bike commuting slump, including low gas prices and more people working from home. Arlington, however, has been designated a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, due in part to its bike-friendly infrastructure and the volume of cyclists.

Other data revealed by the latest census figures include:

  • 26 percent of Arlington commuters take public transit
  • 5.7 percent of Arlington’s workforce works from home
  • 34 percent of Arlington workers work in Arlington, while another 24.1 percent work elsewhere in Virginia and 41.8 percent work outside the state

by Katie Pyzyk September 28, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

Starting in October, a construction project will close the Van Buren Bridge near the East Falls Church Metro until next spring.

The bridge expansion and replacement project is scheduled to begin the week of October 16, and all bridge access will end at that time. In a letter to residents, the City of Falls Church indicated that construction is expected to continue at least through March 2018.

During construction, Van Buren Street will be closed between 19th Street North in Arlington and East Columbia Street in Falls Church. Northbound vehicles will be rerouted from Columbia Street to Roosevelt Street and 19th Street North. Southbound vehicles will be rerouted from 19th Street North to Sycamore Street and 16th Street North. Cyclists and pedestrians will detour on an existing bridge along the W&OD trail in Benjamin Banneker Park.

Construction is expected to take place most weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and some weekend work may also be necessary. Residents in the affected area will still have access to their driveways and homes when the closure is in effect.

The project to remove and rebuild the existing Van Buren Bridge will repair structural deficiencies and add pedestrian access along the corridor to the East Falls Church Metro. The new bridge will have two lanes for vehicle traffic and cyclists in addition to a 12-foot wide pedestrian walkway.

by ARLnow.com September 28, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

A malfunctioning elevator at the Ballston Metro station made for an unpleasant morning commute for a woman at the Ballston Metro station Thursday.

The woman was trapped inside the station’s elevator at ground level after the doors would not open.

The Arlington County Fire Department was called and firefighters used the “jaws of life,” a heavy-duty hydraulic tool, to pry open the elevator doors. The started passenger was then able to squeeze out of the gap between the doors, where she was evaluated by paramedics.

ACFD posted a video of the incident on its Twitter account.

by ARLnow.com September 15, 2017 at 12:10 pm 0

For at least the second time this week, a large contingent of Arlington County Fire Department vehicles has descended on the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of a track fire.

Initial reports suggest there is an arcing insulator somewhere in the tunnel between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom stations — a seemingly persistent problem that has not been resolved by Metro’s extensive SafeTrack maintenance catch-up program.

Since a woman died on a Yellow Line train that filled with smoke near the L’enfant Metro station in 2015, ACFD sends the cavalry — a full “transportation incident” response — every time there is a report of smoke in a tunnel or fire on the tracks.

Shortly after arriving on scene, firefighters determined that there was no smoke in the Rosslyn station and that Metro’s emergency maintenance team would be taking the lead in resolving what was described as a minor track fire. Most fire department units are going back to their stations.

N. Moore Street is closed in front of the Metro station as a result of the emergency response. Metro riders should expect delays on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.

by ARLnow.com September 13, 2017 at 3:40 pm 0

Update at 4:40 p.m. — Most fire department units are picking up and returning to their stations as Metro crews work to resolve the track issue.

Earlier: A platoon of Arlington County Fire Department units are on scene at the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of a fire on the tracks.

Initial reports suggest that the fire is an arcing insulator somewhere between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom, and that trains are turning around to avoid it. No smoke has been reported in the Rosslyn station.

Metro riders should expect delays on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. Police are closing N. Moore Street to traffic due to the fire response.

by Chris Teale September 8, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Metro is seeking feedback on proposed changes to numerous bus lines, including the plans for new Columbia Pike service as well as other services that run through Arlington County.

Under a series of proposed changes put forward for Metrobus in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, Metro has put forward a plan to “restructure” service on Columbia Pike, in keeping with Arlington’s transit plan for the Pike.

A so-called “Premium Transit Network” is planned for the Pike and is set to open next summer instead of the cancelled streetcar. It will offer limited-stop service and “new or enhanced connections between Crystal City, Pentagon City and Skyline City.”

The buses are set to have a unique look, have additional service in Arlington to keep up with demand and consolidate all current Metrobus routes — the 16A, 16B, 16G, 16H, 16J, 16K and 16P — under the new network.

Other proposed changes to bus lines that run through Arlington are:

  • 4A, 4B (Pershing Drive to Arlington Blvd)

Provide additional 4B trips in response to ridership, with the 4A operating only during weekday rush hours, with weekday midday and evening service eliminated. The county has proposed the 4A become a local ART bus route in FY 2020.

  • 7A, 7F (Lincolnia to North Fairlington)

Modify service to operate via Pentagon City between the Pentagon and Shirlington to serve Pentagon City. New timetables will reflect an increase in the time between buses of approximately five minutes to accommodate additional travel time between the Pentagon and Pentagon City.

  • 10E (Hunting Point to the Pentagon)

Eliminate 10E service to Rosslyn, and have the route operate between Pentagon and Hunting Point in Alexandria only.

  • 22A, 22B (Barcroft to South Fairlington)

Modify Route 22A to operate via Pentagon City between the Pentagon and Shirlington to serve Pentagon City.  New timetables would reflect an increase in the time between buses of approximately five minutes to accommodate additional travel time between the Pentagon and Pentagon City. Route 22B would be eliminated, with alternate service on Metrobus 22A and 22C.

  • Metroway

Service would be every eight minutes during rush hour between Pentagon City and the Braddock Road Metro station on all trips to better match Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines.

Per a Metro press release, there are several ways community members can have their say:

  • Complete an online survey.
  • Fill out a paper survey and drop it in collection boxes located near the fare gates at Metrorail stations closest to the impacted routes. There is no need to take multiple surveys.
  • Provide feedback to outreach staff September 6 – September 21, at designated times and locations on-board buses or at Metrorail stations.
  • Attend an open house Tuesday, September 26, 2017, beginning at 5:30 p.m. followed by a public hearing from 6 – 7 p.m. Speaker registration is onsite only. Venue: Metro Headquarters Building (600 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001)

The deadline for providing feedback is 9 a.m. on Monday, October 2.

by Chris Teale August 10, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Arlington County Board vice chair Katie Cristol said the plan to make a stretch of a Rosslyn street pedestrian-only could attract more people to the neighborhood.

The county’s long-term plan for Rosslyn includes a multi-block, pedestrian-only stretch of 18th Street N. to replace the skywalk system that extends east to N. Arlington Ridge Road.

The Board laid the foundations for that plan last year when it approved adding pedestrian-only streets and low-speed “shared streets” for bicycles, pedestrians and other transit options to its transportation repertoire.

And in a conversation with WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi this afternoon (Thursday) about a proposal to make a street in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood pedestrian only, Cristol said pedestrian-only streets could help Rosslyn draw more non-residents to the area.

“It would foster and facilitate the conversion of this urban core from an area that people travel through to an area that people travel to, and participate in commerce and can live and work and recreate and shop and patronize businesses in a safe and lively environment to do that,” Cristol said of the pedestrian-centric plan.

She added that such pedestrian-only streets are influenced by wanting to see a “European or pre-1920s U.S. vision of city uses other than vehicular.”

The plan has already had an impact on future development in that area. In July, the Board deferred a plan to reconfigure the nearby Rosslyn Metro Center shopping mall after staff found it would “hinder achievement” of the so-called 18th Street Corridor.

Cristol said that while it is important to think about making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, the county is not looking to punish those who would prefer to drive.

“This conversation for us in Arlington is a little bit less about how do we restrict people’s ability to use their cars, and how do we expand travel options and safety for everyone using our streets,” she said.

Cristol said the county’s use of shared streets, which encourage more pedestrians, bicyclists and transit as well as cars traveling at lower speeds, is something it will continue to explore. Shared streets have features like different paving materials, larger sidewalks and improved crosswalks, and already exist in places like Penrose Square off Columbia Pike.

Almost every project approved in the county has elements of that in its streetscape, and Cristol said there are “definitely a lot of opportunities for this kind of shared street category” in areas like Courthouse. Sections of 14th and 15th Streets N. in the neighborhood are slated to become shared streets.

by ARLnow.com July 14, 2017 at 5:30 pm 0

(Updated at 7:10 p.m.) More than 8,000 Dominion customers in Arlington lost electricity after a powerful storm blew through the area.

As of 5:30 p.m. Dominion was reporting 8,089 without power in Arlington, including in the Fairlington neighborhood and along Lee Highway. Some traffic lights were said to be dark on Lee Highway, including at the busy intersection of Lee Highway and Fairfax Drive.

As of 7 p.m., the number of outages had fallen to 6,039.

Several instances of downed trees, downed power lines and people stuck in elevators were reported around the county.

Meanwhile, major delays were reported on Metro’s Orange, Silver and Blue lines due to a tree that struck a train near the Dunn Loring station during the storm.

by ARLnow.com July 14, 2017 at 11:25 am 0

(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) Arlington County firefighters are on scene at the Rosslyn Metro station, investigating a reported track fire between Rosslyn and Courthouse.

No smoke or fire has so far been found in any of the tunnels. However, Metro is warning of delays on the Orange and Silver lines as a result of single-tracking through Rosslyn.

Traffic impacts are likely outside of the Rosslyn station due to a large number of fire department vehicles. As of 11:30 a.m., most fire personnel were starting to clear the scene, reporting that the problem is a Metro maintenance issue and not an active fire.

by ARLnow.com July 13, 2017 at 9:50 pm 0

(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) A person was struck by a train at the Virginia Square Metro station Thursday night.

The incident happened around 9:30 p.m. Initial reports suggest the person who was struck is still on the tracks and has died.

Police and firefighters are on the scene. Metro Transit Police say an adult male was on the tracks “intentionally” and was struck and killed. One witness said the deceased individual “jumped in front of… a Silver Line train headed into the city.”

Metro’s Orange and Silver lines are suspended between East Falls Church and Clarendon. Shuttles are being dispatched to the stations. Metro riders should expect delays on both lines.

by Chris Teale July 12, 2017 at 4:35 pm 0

The new “Premium Transit Network” on Columbia Pike is being greeted with cautious optimism by some community members after years of discussion and delays.

But some raised questions about what will mark the new bus system as “premium,” considering it will not run in dedicated lanes due to the layout of Columbia Pike and will have a fleet of standard buses, at least for now.

The mood appears to be more positive than previously, when a group of civic association leaders derided the service for a lack of ambition in a letter last year.

“A bus is a bus,” said Ric Birch, president of the Arlington Mill Civic Association, one of several along the Pike. “You can dress it up, you can paint it a different color, use different fabric on the seats, it’s a bus. I’m not sure what the real drive is for a premium bus.”

Staff explained at a work session about the network last month that the standard buses are being used for cost reasons, as electric vehicles or ones powered by alternative fuels would be too expensive at this stage.

County Board vice chair Katie Cristol, a Pike resident, said that most important for the new service beyond the buses themselves will be the frequency, which she said she hopes to see at six-minute intervals for at least a large portion of the day.

“I think it’ll be more incremental, but I do think once the system is operational and its component pieces are in place, Pike residents will feel something different, we’ll experience something different,” she said.

Residents did give staff credit for looking at ways to keep costs down when constructing the 23 “premium transit stations” along the Pike. The successor to the nixed $1 million “Super Stop,” the new stations will be factory assembled to save money, and include features like electronic arrival boards and the option to pay a fare before getting on the bus.

However, some questioned the need for the technology in the bus stops, given the proliferation of smartphones and bus tracking apps.

“Adopting all the technology, I’m a little ambivalent about it,” said Maria “Pete” Durgan, president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association. “I know they put a lot of effort in coming up with a design and they want it to be distinctive but that’s a lot of money for something that doesn’t have to be quite so elaborate.”

“I don’t know that they’re making that same mistake there [with the $1 million bus stop],” said Birch. “The county learned to watch the price on it. But I do think it’s tying a bow on it and calling it something that it already is. It’s a bus stop. They don’t really shield you from the elements that well, and I don’t understand all the need for all the electronic connectivity in the bus stops.”

With the new network set to begin operations next summer, Cristol said she hoped it would help spark more economic development and revitalization along the Pike, as businesses look to capitalize on more regular service. Cecilia Cassidy, executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, did not respond to requests for comment.

But Birch said he would like to go further, and see long-term planning for Columbia Pike include a long-range goal of an elevated light rail system, as well as maintaining good bus service. Durgan said plenty of people were “totally bummed” when the streetcar project was cancelled in 2014, as it would have been something different for the Pike.

“You’ve got to get the transit out of the lanes of Columbia Pike,” Birch said. “[In] today’s political climate, I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s a long-range plan that even if the county were to start today, we’re talking 15 years. I think someone needs to be courageous and start doing that.”

by Chris Teale July 12, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

Arlington County Board members wrestled last night with a plan to substitute car parking spaces for spots for bike and car-sharing at new apartment and condo buildings near Metro stations.

The proposal, put together by county staff as part of a number of changes to parking policy under discussion at a Tuesday work session, is meant to encourage developers to contribute to other transit options.

Staff recommended that a developer providing a Capital Bikeshare station could substitute that for for up to four car parking spaces, depending on its size, or bike parking could be exchanged for two parking spaces. One car-sharing space, provided for a private company like Zipcar, could be in place of five spots.

But Board members questioned why the provision for different transit means is tied to reducing car parking spaces, especially near Metro stations, as adding such amenities is becoming a more standard practice in developments across the region.

“It bothers me that going to suggest that we’re not going to get these things until we go down to the minimum [parking ratio],” said Board chair Jay Fisette. “These are things that should be part of every site plan.”

Among the other recommendations put forward by staff, developers could request fewer parking spaces the closer a property is to a Metro station, with some committed affordable housing units not being required to have any parking spaces if they are within an eighth of a mile of a station.

Board member John Vihstadt argued that orienting the changes in parking policy around Metro, which would allow developers to provide fewer spaces at new buildings if they are close to a station, might be misguided given the drop in ridership due to the system’s ongoing safety concerns and year-long SafeTrack rebuilding program.

Vihstadt said that drop in ridership was “casting a pall” over the discussion, but county transportation director Dennis Leach said it was important to attract residents to such buildings who “build a lifestyle” around Metro. Vihstadt requested further data on the county’s declining ridership, which Leach said has also been hampered by more teleworking and other factors.

A major addition by staff to a report in March, by a residential parking working group on the new parking policy, is a requirement that developers provide for dedicated visitor parking.

Stephen Crim, a parking planner in the county’s Department of Environmental Services, said that change came after concerns from nearby residents that cars would park on their residential streets, especially those of visitors who have few options.

Leach noted that the parking garages in neighborhoods like Crystal City and Pentagon City are under-utilized, especially by visitors, and that DES could do even more to promote use of those spaces alongside the various Business Improvement Districts in the county.

Staff and County Board members agreed that while the policy still needs work before approval, it is aspirational and designed to attract residents who would prefer to have minimal, if any, car use.

“We are all seeking to hasten a future that we are interested in, which is a more multimodal corridor especially with fewer cars and more people taking alternatives to the extent that it suits them and choices that allow them to do so,” said Board vice chair Katie Cristol.

by Chris Teale July 7, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

(Updated 2 p.m.) Some changes are coming to several Metrobus routes through Arlington County next year, as the county prepares for the Columbia Pike “Premium Transit Network.”

At a work session with the Arlington County Board on Thursday, county staff put forward a plan that would end seven lines that run through Arlington in FY 2019, which begins on July 1, 2018, and save the county $5.8 million:

  • The 4A between Seven Corners and Rosslyn
  • The 16B, E and P along Columbia Pike
  • The 16G, H, K along Columbia Pike

A spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the changes along the Pike would help make way for the so-called “Premium Transit Network,” which is projected to cost $6.9 million and launch next summer after delays. The various routes would be consolidated under that network, which the spokesman said would “result in more bus service in the county, not less.”

The new bus system was put together after the Columbia Pike Streetcar project was cancelled in 2014, with Board members at the time promising a system that would be just as good, if not better.

To try and lessen the impact of the service cuts, staff proposed improving the frequency and hours of the 4B that largely overlaps the 4A, and similar efforts for the 16A on Columbia Pike. Those improvements would cost just under $850,000.

The 4B would then be discontinued as a Metrobus route in FY 2020, saving the county $1.7 million, and made an ART route.

The 16X service from Columbia Pike to Federal Triangle in D.C. via the Pentagon would have its hours improved, at a cost of $3.2 million to county coffers. The 15K and 15L routes between the East Falls Church and Rosslyn Metro stations would also be realigned.

All told, the various service reductions and increases will cost the county just over $2.6 million more in its Metrobus subsidy, bringing that figure to $40.5 million in FY 2019.

The possibility also exists that the 22A, B and C routes through Barcroft and South Fairlington could be converted into locally-run ART routes. That would save $2.4 million in the county’s Metrobus subsidy, but would require funds to be made available through ART instead.

Cuts had been planned for FY 2018 under the county’s Transit Development Plan approved last year, but were pushed off to FY 2019. The county did not cut any Metrobus routes for FY 2018, and improved the frequency of the 2A route between the Ballston and Dunn Loring Metro stations.

That came in part due to funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s “Transform 66” project to widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.

Metro staff will analyze the actual costs and savings from the various changes, and bring forward a proposal to the agency’s board of directors. The board would then take public comment on any proposed changes region-wide before making a decision next year.

Image via county staff presentation

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