Arlington, VA

At a time when coronavirus concerns are hitting public transportation hard, Arlington’s ART service has announced widespread closures.

Starting today, only the following seven ART bus routes will be operating, out of the usual 16 routes:

  • 41 — Along Columbia Pike
  • 42 — Ballston to Pentagon
  • 45 — Columbia Pike to Rosslyn
  • 51 — Ballston to Virginia Hospital Center
  • 55 — East Falls Church to Lee Highway and Rosslyn
  • 77 — Shirlington to Lyon Park and Courthouse
  • 87 — Pentagon to Army Navy Drive and Shirlington

Each bus line will be operating on its respective Saturday schedules. Most of the routes connect high population areas without direct Metro access to Metrorail stations.

Arlington Transit said that real-time schedule information will not be available for most of those bus lines.

Hand sanitizer will be distributed to each employee with dispensers installed at all facilities, Arlington Transit said on its website.

“Deep clean and sanitize all buses thoroughly at the end of each night by using approved disinfectant to wipe down all stanchions, hand rails, passenger seats, windows and all components in the driver’s area,” the bus service said.

STAR service, which caters to elderly or disabled Arlington residents who have difficulty with traditional public transit, will continue operating.

“Passengers are requested not to schedule medical trips if showing signs of illness,” Arlington Transit said on its website. “Please speak with your medical provider first and make other transportation arrangements for avoiding public transportation.”

File photo

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(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Five e-scooter firms won approval to operate in Arlington County, but others currently operating in Arlington were told until they have until this Sunday to clear out.

Lyft and Spin, which as of Tuesday still have scooters on Arlington streets, had their permit applications denied, Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet said in an email.

Last fall, Spin was one of the few scooter companies leading the charge in Arlington on docks and incentives for proper parking for scooters.

E-scooter and e-bike company Jump also applied to offer e-bikes in Arlington but was denied. No other e-bike operators, including Lime which had previously deployed e-bikes to local sidewalks, were approved for operation. Lime did not apply for an e-bike permit, Balliet said.

According to Balliet:

Staff reviewed the applications and, based on scoring criteria, denied a permit to the following companies:

  • Lyft — Staff was not presented with a Lyft scooter that has a speedometer, so we denied their e-scooter application due to not providing the required speedometer on their devices, and because their overall application score was insufficient to earn a share of the initial fleet cap
  • JUMP — Their e-bike application was denied due to not providing a speedometer on their bikes
  • Spin — Their e-scooter application was denied because their overall application score was insufficient to earn a share of the initial fleet cap

While Jump’s e-bike permit was denied, the company was one of the five approved to operate scooters in Arlington. The other four are Bird, Jump, Lime, Razor and Skip.

Arlington isn’t alone in slimming down the number of companies operating scooters. In D.C. the number of scooter operators was cut from eight to four: Jump, Lyft, Skip and Spin. This means only Skip and Jump scooters can be ridden in both D.C. and Arlington.

For the scooter operators told to pack up, Balliet said they have until Sunday, March 15, to remove their devices from Arlington.

Photo courtesy Rob Mandle/Crystal City BID

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Starting next month, the parking lot at the frequently-packed East Falls Church Metro station will be completely closed for up to nine months.

The closure is part of planned summer shutdown to rebuild four stations on the Orange Line — including East Falls Church, Vienna and Dunn Loring in Virginia. While the projects aren’t scheduled to start for another three months, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said construction crews will need to utilize several parking lots as a staging ground for equipment and materials starting in March.

More from WMATA:

Beginning Sunday, March 15, the surface parking lots at East Falls Church, West Falls Church, and Vienna stations will be closed for seven to nine months, as construction contractors begin the process of moving material and machines into place. Once these lots close, there will be no parking available at East Falls Church, severely limited parking at West Falls Church, and reduced parking at Vienna Station. Parking at Dunn Loring station is not impacted.

The platform work is necessary to address years of concrete structural deterioration that, left unaddressed, could pose a safety risk to riders. Metro will use the time to make improvements that enhance customer experience with a higher level of safety, accessibility and convenience. Key renovations include new slip-resistant tiles throughout the stations, brighter energy-efficient LED lighting and illuminated handrails, new stainless steel platform shelters with charging ports and digital map/information displays, and new Passenger Information Displays (PIDs) with larger digital screens to improve visibility.

NBC 4 reporter Adam Tuss, a veteran of the local transportation beat, noted that the closure will be especially disruptive given that the parking lot is frequently full.

WMATA said the kiss and ride lot will be open only for pick-up and drop-off, while additional parking will be available at the Dunn Loring Metro station.

Photo via Google Maps

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By the end of the month, Arlington County will start posting signs making it clear where e-scooters and e-bikes are not welcome.

The county today revealed that the sidewalks along nine different stretches of road, in six Arlington neighborhoods, will be off-limit to scooters and similar personal mobility devices. That follows the November passage of an ordinance allowing e-scooter and e-bike operation in the county, following a temporary pilot program.

The new no-go zone for scooters and the like, deemed “key sidewalk conflict areas,” are:

  • Ballston: North Quincy Street between North Glebe Road and 9th Street North, westbound Fairfax Drive between North Glebe Road and North Wakefield Street
  • Court House: North Veitch Street between Wilson Boulevard and Lee Highway
  • Crystal City: South Eads Street between 12th Street South and 22nd Street South, and between Fort Scott Drive and South Glebe Road
  • Lyon Park: North Pershing Drive between Washington Boulevard and North Barton Street
  • Pentagon City: Army Navy Drive between South Nash Street and South Joyce Street, South Hayes Street between 15th Street South and 18th Street South
  • Rosslyn: Westbound Wilson Boulevard between North Oak Street and North Courthouse Road

“Later this month, new signage prohibiting sidewalk-riding will be installed next to protected bicycle lanes, where people biking are separated from drivers with a parking lane or other physical barrier,” Arlington County said in a press release. “When a protected bike lane is available in the same direction of travel, shared e-scooter and e-bike riders must use it instead of the sidewalk.”

“Signage will be placed at the start of a sidewalk where sidewalk-riding is banned,” the press release said. “Initial enforcement of the new restrictions will focus on education and warnings.”

The county is now evaluating other stretches of sidewalk that are not next to protected bike lanes for possible scooter prohibition, “in the interest of public safety and welfare.”

Arlington has set up a website — ridedockless.com — that lists information about e-scooter and e-bike riding in the county, including rules, parking etiquette and info for businesses.

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Arlington is once again planning to convert an outside lane on Lee Highway to bus and HOV only.

The Transportation Commission unanimously approved staff’s request to seek $1 million in funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for pavement treatment, restriping, and signage for a new bus lanes.

The lanes would operate eastbound from N. Veitch Street to N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn during morning peak period, and westbound from N. Oak Street to N. Veitch Street during evening peak periods, staff said in the application. The lane would otherwise be open to general-purpose travel.

The sections with a bus lane are three lanes in each direction, and during peak periods roughly 25 loaded buses travel down that stretch of Lee Highway per hour, according to county documents.

“The section between North Veitch Street and Rosslyn is very heavily congested and sharply degrades bus performance and reliability, which will be improved by the lane conversion,” staff said.

An application for the project was submitted last year, but staff said at the Transportation Commission that funding was not approved because the designs had not advanced enough and were too broad in scope.

“The FY 2021-2022 application has been re-scoped to focus on the portion of Lee Highway with the greatest need,” staff said in a request to file the applications. “That has in turn reduced the estimated cost by one-third compared with the previous application.”

Staff said the deadline for grant submission is the end of January and the county would hear back in the spring. If approved, funding would include a feasibility test and the project could be incorporated into ongoing plans to reshape Lee Highway.

Photo via Google Maps

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Police are conducting a death investigation after a person died on a Yellow Line train Tuesday evening.

Arlington County medics were dispatched to the Pentagon Metro station around 4:15 p.m. for a report of a person suffering a medical emergency on a Yellow Line train bound for Huntington. The individual was found unresponsive and in cardiac arrest, and was declared dead shortly after medics arrived on scene, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli.

Metro Transit Police and officers from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency both responded to the Metro station with medics.

The incident prompted delays and single-tracking on the Blue and Yellow lines. The single-tracking ended shortly before 5 p.m.

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Trackbed lighting installation is prompting the closure of four Orange and Silver line stations in Arlington this weekend.

The Ballston, Virginia Square, Clarendon and Courthouse Metro stations will be closed Saturday and Sunday, WMATA says on its website.

Shuttle buses will run between East Falls Church and Rosslyn throughout the course of the weekend.

On either end of the Orange and Silver lines, trains will run every 12-15 minutes, as usual. At night, the last train on each of the Orange and Silver lines will run some 35-40 minutes earlier than usual, to accomodate shuttle schedules.

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Arlington has been again named a Silver-level “Bicycle Friendly Community.”

Arlington is among 102 U.S. communities to achieve the designation from the League of American Bicyclists as of late 2019. The League also recognized 347 communities at the Bronze level, 34 at the Gold level and 5 at the Platinum level.

(The Platinum-level communities are Davis, California; Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; and Madison, Wisconsin.)

“The program considers five main criteria and three key outcomes in its evaluation, including the current state of local bicycle networks, evaluation and planning efforts for the future and the availability of education and encouragement programs for adults and youth,” Arlington County noted in a press release.

The county says it’s working to improve safety for cyclists by creating a Vision Zero Action Plan that will help “prevent serious injuries and deaths from traffic crashes.”

In the press release below, Arlington officials tout some of the bike amenities that helped the county achieve Silver-level status.

1. 50 miles of shared-use trails and 40 miles of dedicated bike lanes, including a growing number of protected and buffered bike lanes

We know – it’s winter. But they’re out there, right now, waiting for you and your favorite sweater! Arlington County clears snow from a number of the most popular commuter trails so you can bike, or run, on them all year round. You can always explore them digitally and make plans for spring, if that’s more your thing.

2. Meet some new friends on a bike ride

No matter what you are into, someone in Arlington is organizing a bike ride to do it. You can try BikeArlington’s easy social rides to fun destinations, a community-led family bike ride with Kidical Mass, an Arlington Parks and Recreation’s 55+ group ride or even introductory rides lead by local bike shops.

3. Learn to ride (or learn to ride more confidently)

If you’re one of the many adults in the region interested in learning to ride a bike, you can join BikeArlington and WABA for a class next spring. They also have classes for riders looking to understand how to ride safely and confidently on the local roads or trails. Arlington Public Schools has kiddos covered with their bike education unit for second graders.

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Construction on four new transit stations along Columbia Pike is set to begin this week, per county officials.

Nearly seven years after the uproar over the million dollar bus stop, the county awarded a $1.64 million contract to build the first 4 out of 23 planned bus stops along the Pike. The stations include large glass shelters, seating, lighting, trash cans, real time bus arrival displays and a higher curb for easier boarding.

Part of Arlington’s planned “premium transit network,” the improvements are intended to provide a better transit experience along the busy Columbia Pike transit corridor.

Per the construction map, the new stations will be located near the intersections of:

  • Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive
  • Columbia Pike and S. Buchanan Street
  • Columbia Pike and S. Oakland Street
  • Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road

More from the county’s website:

Work will begin at the South Four Mile Run Drive location, then move to the other locations in the order listed above. The current bus stop at Four Mile Run Drive will be moved one block east to Columbia Pike and South Wakefield Street during construction.

Constructing the stations will be a two-step process. First, our contractor will build the supporting infrastructure for the four stations, then they will return to each site to install the shelters and other station features. It will take several months to construct each location’s supporting infrastructure, which includes an 85 to 120-foot-long station platform with higher curb, the shelter foundation, a concrete bus pad in the roadway and electrical connections.

Installation of the station shelters is expected to start in summer 2020, once the fabricator, which is manufacturing the shelters for all 23 station locations, begins production.

Arlington’s 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan allocates a total of $16.9 million for the 23 stations, which includes the above-ground structures and supporting infrastructure, site design, project management and construction costs. The remaining stations are expected to be constructed between 2020-2023.

The county withdrew its original construction plans six years ago after the the prototype cost of the Walter Reed Drive stop, first reported by ARLnow, was revealed to cost over $1 million. The plans drew outrage from the public and attention from national and international press.

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) An entrance to the Pentagon Metro station is expected to close soon, temporarily and during off-peak hours, to allow for water infrastructure work following flooding at the station.

A pipe burst on Nov. 27, filling part of the station with several inches of standing water. Metro says a new water supply pipe will need to be constructed, as repairs are not feasible for the original pipe, which runs under the Pentagon itself and dates back to the station’s original construction.

An exact date for the start of the temporary closure was not given. Shortly after a contract to construct the new water line is awarded, the north entrance to the Metro station is expected to close “outside of weekday rush hours,” Metro said.

More from a press release:

Metro customers entering or exiting Pentagon Station during off-peak travel times will need to use the “South Entrance” escalators or the elevators due entrance configuration changes associated with the construction of a new water supply line to serve the station’s facilities, including employee restrooms and maintenance sinks.

Dating to the station’s original construction, the original water supply pipe failed on November 27, sending water streaming into the station through air ducts and elevator shafts. The rush of water dislodged some ductwork, and caused a partial ceiling collapse in a service room. The station was closed for several hours to remove several inches water that had accumulated on the mezzanine level.

Because the original water line runs beneath the Pentagon — an inaccessible location — Metro engineers have recommended abandoning the original pipe and constructing a new water line on a new route around the building.

The Pentagon has been an active and supportive partner to expedite the construction process and necessary security clearances for workers. Metro has already engaged its contractor community and expects to award a contract as early as next week. Once a construction contract is awarded and a formal schedule is developed, Metro will update customers on the expected duration of the project.

CUSTOMER INFORMATION

Due to construction activity and security considerations associated with the portable restrooms, Metro is advising customers who use Pentagon Station to expect entrance configuration changes during off-peak travel times. The changes will continue until a new water line is constructed and water service is restored to the station, a process that likely will take several weeks.

Specifically, outside of weekday rush hours, the station’s “North Entrance” will be closed and all customers will need to use the South Entrance, which will remain open at all times.

During rush hours–Monday through Friday, 5:00-9:30 a.m. and 3:00-7:00 p.m.–the North and South entrances will both be open and available for customers. Elevator service to the station will be available at all times.

Rail service on the Blue and Yellow lines is not affected by this project.

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Metro has released the results of a pivotal study of options for increasing capacity of the Metrorail system, and the preliminary conceptual designs suggest big transit changes might eventually be coming to Arlington.

Among the ideas floated by the transit agency are a second Rosslyn Metro station, a new tunnel under the Potomac, and an new stretch of the Silver Line to either run down Columbia Pike or through North Arlington.

Metro says its “Blue/Orange/Silver Capacity & Reliability Study” is necessary because the existing Rosslyn tunnel is a bottleneck for all three lines, producing delays and crowding that will only get worse — particularly in Arlington — due to expected population and job growth.

The study is intended to “identify the best and most cost-effective solutions to address future ridership, service, and reliability needs on these Metrorail lines,” Metro said. “The approval of dedicated funding from Metro’s jurisdictional partners provides funding to bring the existing system into a state of good repair and keep it well maintained going forward; however, there are future transportation needs that we must begin addressing now.”

Among the changes being considered are:

  • A second Rosslyn Metro station, with a pedestrian connection to the current station.
  • A second tunnel across the Potomac.
  • A Blue Line extension to run from Rosslyn through Georgetown and upper Northwest D.C., and into Montgomery County.
  • A Blue Line extension to run from Rosslyn through Georgetown and mid-city D.C., and into Prince George’s County.
  • A new urban core loop “connecting Pentagon, Rosslyn, Georgetown, the Dupont and Shaw neighborhoods, and the Navy Yard/Waterfront area.”
  • New “NoVa Circulator” option that will route some trains from the Pentagon, around Rosslyn and down the Orange/Silver line toward Courthouse.
  • A Silver Line extension down Columbia Pike and up Route 7, connecting with the West Falls Church Station.
  • A Silver Line extension north of I-66, through North Arlington and McLean.

Major capital projects like a Metro line extension would take several decades and the cost is only described as “high.”

The idea of running Metro down Columbia Pike was discussed while debate raged over the since-canceled Columbia Pike streetcar project, and might find some public support, but the concept of Metro running through mostly residential North Arlington seems much more politically infeasible. Wherever a new Metro line runs, big changes, development and a rise in property values can be expected, as happened with the original construction of the Metrorail system in Arlington.

A number of comparatively minor changes are also proposed, like pocket tracks, crossovers and turnarounds to better mitigate delays and incidents, reconfiguring train seats to provide more space, and adding new station entrances.

Metro says it is now embarking on a public engagement process, with a goal of selecting a set of “locally-preferred” options, both long- and short-term, by next fall.

A public open house is planned in Arlington next week, to be held Monday from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at George Mason University’s Van Metre Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive) in Virginia Square.

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