People around the country and here in Arlington have already begun heading to their Thanksgiving destinations. In the D.C. metro area, the number of travelers is expected to be slightly higher than last year.
More than 1 million local residents are anticipated to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, according to AAA. That’s a 1.3 percent increase over last year.
“The consistently solid travel numbers since the 2008 drop, despite high gas prices and a struggling economy, is impressive and reassuring,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The ‘recovery’ rate of the number of holiday travelers has out-paced the economic recovery and, as Thanksgiving is primarily a family holiday, speaks to the importance of family in good times and bad.”
Meade noted that travelers should plan accordingly if driving to areas such as New York or New Jersey, which have been hurting for gasoline due to Superstorm Sandy. She spoke with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office and was informed that gas rationing was supposed to end yesterday (Sunday), but might need to be re-evaluated today.
“If gas rationing is going on, if there’s not enough gas for the people who live there, certainly bringing in other people who need gas will only make the situation worse,” Meade said.
AAA predicts air travel in the metro area will decrease by a little more than 1 percent, even though it shows air fare is about 11 percent lower than last year.
According to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the Thanksgiving travel rush began on Friday (November 16) and will continue through Monday, November 26. The busiest days are anticipated to be tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday, in addition to the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving.
Peak travel times are typically in the early morning from 5:30-8:00 a.m. and late afternoon from 3:30-5:30 p.m. There could also be a mid-day peak from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Travelers are advised to arrive at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight, especially during these peak times.
Student Ambassadors and Travelers Aid volunteers will be at Reagan National Airport to offer directions and answer traveler questions. The Student Ambassadors will be wearing distinctive yellow shirts and the Travelers Aid volunteers will be wearing blue blazers.
MWAA offers the following tips for travelers:
- Confirm the status of your flight directly with your airline before coming to the airport. Weather here or in other parts of the country can affect airline schedules across the route network.
- Print out your boarding pass in advance. Some airlines also offer electronic boarding passes.
- Bring government issued photo ID to the airport for all adult passengers.
- Expect full flights and full luggage bins on board.
- Pack wisely – no prohibited items in carry-on luggage; and no valuable items in checked luggage. Label your luggage so your name is plainly visible.
- Reagan National customers can check parking availability on the airport’s website or at 703-417-PARK. Economy tends to fill during holiday periods.
- For travelers not familiar with the airport, a printable one-page information sheets is available in the “Travel Tips” section at the airport website. Travelers can also follow MWAA on Twitter for updated information.
Update at 5:55 p.m. — All Arlington Public Schools (except Barcroft Elementary) will open on time tomorrow (Wednesday). “Parents are asked to be patient as buses may need to work around road closures in some parts of the county, causing delays on some routes,” said school spokesman Frank Bellavia.
All county government offices, libraries, courts, community centers, and nature centers will also be open.
Roads are gradually being cleared, dark homes are lighting up and residents are attempting to return to a sense of normalcy following Superstorm Sandy.
Currently, Dominion’s outage map shows 14,645 Arlington customers without power. The company promises to have crews working around the clock until power is restored. It’s hoping to complete its restoration efforts by Thursday night.
The federal government will be open for business tomorrow, according to the Office of Personnel Management, which will mean increased traffic on neighborhood streets that are still littered with storm debris.
Metro has resumed bus and train service and is slowly getting all lines back up to normal operation. Trains are running on a Sunday schedule. ART buses also resumed service this afternoon on routes 41 and 51. There may be delays if there is debris in the roads along the routes.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reports that Reagan National Airport fared well and didn’t experience any damage or flooding. Most flights are still cancelled today but there are a few taking off and arriving. Travelers are urged to check with their airlines directly for information about flights before going to the airport. MWAA will provide updates via Twitter as more flights begin to take off.
Early voters can go to Courthouse Plaza until 7:00 p.m. for in-person absentee voting. For now, the Barcroft and Madison locations remain closed, but the county hopes they can open tomorrow in addition to the Courthouse location. More information about absentee voting can be found online.
Trash and recycling services, including brush and leaf collection, will resume Wednesday. Monday/Tuesday pickups have been rescheduled for Wednesday, and Wednesday/Thursday pickups have been rescheduled for Friday. Storm debris removal can be requested online or by calling 703-228-6570. The normal requirement for brush to be less than 18 inches in diameter will be waived.
The county notes that an additional 2,000 people signed up for the Arlington Alert system during the storm, bringing the number of total subscribers to more than 50,000. The system provides emergency information updates via email or text message. Anyone interested in receiving alerts during the storm cleanup and for future public safety events can sign up online.
The airport served a record-breaking 18.8 million passengers in 2011, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. That’s a nearly 4 percent increase over 2010, which compares favorably to the national passenger growth average of 1.5 percent.
The growth may continue in 2012, thanks to new and expanded service that’s coming to DCA starting on March 25.
US Airways is in the process of adding non-stop service to 11 new cities via Reagan National. And JetBlue is increasing service to its existing destination, while providing new daily service to Tampa.
“Even during these challenging times for the aviation industry, we are very pleased that in 2011 we were able to not only continue to provide excellent air service for the region but also to attract new airlines and service,” MWAA President and CEO Jack Potter said in a statement.
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department has cleared the scene at Reagan National Airport, where it had been assisting Airport Police with a suspicious package.
The bomb squad took x-rays of the package to determine its contents, but nothing dangerous was found.
The package turned up near the economy parking lot, and that lot closed down during the investigation. Most other airport roads and lots remained open, and no flights or terminal operations were affected. There were also no reported traffic backups due to the lot closure.
There’s a silver lining for Caren Merrick, the one-time Republican candidate for state Senate who was soundly defeated by Democratic Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) has appointed Merrick, a successful businesswoman, to the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. If the appointment survives a potential legal challenge, Merrick will be one of 17 members of the MWAA board.
The Authority has been facing scrutiny recently amid accusations of mismanagement, according to the Washington Post.
On Saturday, the public will be introduced to the new Long Bridge Park — just north of Crystal City — when county leaders hold an 11:00 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.
First-time visitors will be pleasantly surprised to find that the 18-acre park is quite a sight to behold. A year and a half after construction on the park began, what was once a muddy brown field is now a welcoming green space, with picturesque views of Reagan National Airport, the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, the Crystal City skyline and the Washington Monument.
The esplanade runs parallel to a pair of CSX railroad tracks, used by freight trains, Amtrak passenger trains and VRE commuter trains. Lined with cherry trees, the esplanade will be utilized by walkers, joggers, cyclists and people who just want a scenic place to sit and relax.
Getting to the park will be somewhat of a challenge. Visitors coming to the Crystal City Metro station will have a bit of a hike before reaching the esplanade entrance, at the bend where Crystal Drive becomes 12th Street S. Those arriving by car will be able to use Long Bridge Drive — formerly Old Jefferson Davis Highway — to reach a modest surface parking lot. While Long Bridge Drive was recently renamed, it remains the worst public road in Arlington — with big bumps, ruts and potholes for most of the stretch between 12th Street and I-395/Boundary Channel Drive.
Find out more about the park’s first phase via Arlington County. A second phase of park construction, currently in the planning stage, will add a large new aquatics, health and fitness center, with an Olympic-sized pool and a 10-meter diving platform.
More photos, after the jump.
The alleged scuffle started around 8:40 a.m. when one of the women inadvertently struck the other with a suitcase, according to airport spokeswoman Courtney Mickalonis. The woman who was holding the suitcase later told airport police that the woman she struck then stood up and hit her several times.
While airport police were escorting the suitcase holder to the Arlington County Magistrate’s Office to swear a warrant against the other woman, the alleged attacker claimed that she was injured, Mickalonis said. Arlington County paramedics were called to treat her.
No word yet on whether any charges will be filed in connection to the altercation.
Striking ART Drivers Fired — The Examiner’s Liz Essley reports that the Arlington Transit bus drivers who went on strike yesterday have been fired by Forsythe Transportation, the contractor that operates ART buses. The paper also reports that the labor dispute came to a head when Forsythe fired the head of the bus drivers union last week. ART buses are operating on a reduced frequency schedule today, with all routes in service except the 61B route. [Washington Examiner, Arlington Transit]
Airport Uniforms Found in Ballston — Three pairs of airport employee uniforms and a Washington Reagan Airport safety vest have been found in the bushes outside Carpool restaurant in Ballston (4000 Fairfax Drive). The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Arlington police are investigating how the uniforms wound up there. [WJLA]
Arlington Mill Construction Contract Awarded — Construction on the new Arlington Mill Community Center is scheduled to begin in August, after the County Board awarded a $27.6 million construction contract for the project over the weekend. “Redeveloping the old Arlington Mill Community Center site into a mixed-used facility with a new community center, gymnasium, retail space and a parking garage is part of the County’s efforts to foster a vibrant, walkable urban village along Columbia Pike,” the county said in a press release. [Arlington County]
Goodbye, Hollywood Video — A shuttered Hollywood Video store and a small office building along Wilson Boulevard are set for demolition this month. The buildings are being razed to make way for a 191-unit apartment complex, which will include a parking garage and ground-level retail space. [Washington Business Journal]
“We touch you kid like that / We grope your kid like this / We touch them up and down because they might be terrorists,” Remy sings, dressed as a mustachioed TSA agent. “We do the pokey pokey because we somehow are allowed, that’s what it’s all about.”
According to a recording of air traffic control radio, the pilot of the 737 reported a left engine failure as a result of the bird strike. The plane landed safely at Dulles just before 8:00 a.m.
The bird strike caused a bit of a scare on the ground. D.C. Fire and EMS crews near the Potomac River were put on alert after reports came in of an aircraft in distress. The situation recalled the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson” — when pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed a US Airways jet on the Hudson River after both engines were disabled by a flock of birds.
Bird strikes are actually not uncommon at Reagan National.
Despite the use of systems designed to scare birds away from the runways and alert air traffic controllers to their presence, a total of 24 bird-related incidents were reported at Reagan National last year, according to an FAA database. Of those incidents, 21 were reported as birds striking an aircraft and 3 were birds simply found injured on or near runways. Five incidents involved large birds, which are more likely to cause damage to an aircraft fuselage or engine.
Among the incidents:
- On May 1, 2010, a US Airways 737 ingested a large vulture into its #1 engine on approach. No damage was reported and the plane landed safely.
- On July 28, a United Airlines Airbus 319 struck a large bird on takeoff. The flight continued on to Chicago, where bird remains were then cleaned off the plane’s nose. No damage was reported.
- On August 8, a regional jet struck a large osprey on takeoff. Minor damage to the landing gear door was reported, but the plane continued on to Albany, N.Y.
- On October 7, an injured bald eagle was found near a runway. Crews retrieved the bird and brought it to an animal hospital. No bird strike was reported.
(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) There were major delays on westbound I-66 between George Mason Drive and East Falls Church this morning as police investigated a series of wrecks apparently caused by a airport shuttle van.
We’ve heard reports of at least six crashes caused by the van between the Roosevelt Bridge and Sycamore Street on I-66. At least two additional crashes have been reported outside of Arlington. We’re hearing that two drivers required medical treatment.
Police temporarily shut down the ramp from westbound I-66 to Sycamore Street to allow an ambulance to access one of the crash sites.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is now confirming that airport police have arrested the driver of a blue Super Shuttle van at Dulles Airport in connection with the crashes.
“Our officers located driver and the van in front of the main terminal at Dulles, and he was taken into custody,” said airport spokesperson Courtney Mickalonis. “We’re working with other police agencies to determine exactly what happened.”
Mickalonis said airport police were initially alerted by a motorist who was struck by the van on the Dulles Access Road. She added that police did not find any passengers inside the van. It’s not known whether passengers might have gotten out before police arrived.
No word on charges at this time, but we’re hearing that the driver spit on officers while being taken into custody.
Update at 3:30 p.m. — Virginia State Police have sent out an updated press release (after the jump). Note that VSP is only counting the incidents their troopers responded to, and we stand by our count of eight crashes.
Airport Body Scanner Company Is Based in Crystal City — One of the companies behind the controversial “naked” body scan machines in U.S. airports is located right here in Arlington. Recently, writer Annie Lowrey visited the company’s Crystal City offices to see how they were handling the controversy. More from Slate.
AT&T Rolls Out Pentagon City Store — AT&T’s new wireless store in the Pentagon City mall opened its doors yesterday, just in time for the holiday shopping rush. The store features “a state-of-the-art, hands-on design to engage customers and provide a ‘try before buy’ service experience,” according to a press release.
Verizon Activates New Cell Site — “In a continuing effort to provide the best wireless service for local residents in the Arlington County, Va., Verizon Wireless has expanded its network with a new cell site,” a company press release says. “The new cell site provides increased wireless voice and 3G data coverage in the neighborhood near 22nd Street North.” Verizon did not elaborate on the site’s exact location.
Crystal City ArtJamz Reviewed — The ladies from the DC on Heels blog created their own personal masterpieces at ArtJamz in Crystal City last week. What exactly is ArtJamz, you ask? The explanation, with plenty of photos, from DC on Heels. (Disclosure: ArtJamz is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
Rep. Jim Moran couldn’t give a hoot about the controversial “naked” body scans and saucy pat-downs now in place at America’s airports.
The recently re-elected congressman told TBD’s NewsTalk that he supports measures to make air travel safer, even if they’re invasive or embarrassing.
“I could care less whether somebody feels me up or somebody sees what I look like without my clothes… I think it’s something you just have to live with.”
Do you agree?
Vintage Race Car Found Under Tarp in Arlington — A rusty old race car that was “one of the best known and successfully campaigned” cars of its time has been found under a tarp in the yard of an Arlington home, the New York Times reports. The 1926 Vauxhall 30-98 once raced at the legendary Brooklands track in England. It’s expected to fetch up to $80,000 at auction in Connecticut.
Contribute to Relay for Life — The Arlington Relay for Life will be held on June 19th and 20th at Wakefield High School. There’s still time to contribute to the event, which raises money for the American Cancer Society. More from We Love DC.
Farewell to Outgoing Airport Authority President — Local leaders bid farewell to outgoing Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority president and CEO James Bennett at a luncheon in Falls Church on Friday. Bennett is heading to Abu Dhabi to run three airports in the United Arab Emirates. More from the Sun Gazette.
U.S. Marshals Service Director Profiled — Marshals Service Director John Clark’s Crystal City office may have one of the best views in Arlington (it overlooks the Potomac and Reagan National Airport). Main Justice interviewed Clark about the agency’s plans for dealing with the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in New York City and the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
Shirlington Power Couple Profiled — Politico profiles Amber and Sterling Marchand, a young political power couple who just bought a house in Shirlington. The thesis of the article seems to be: “See, Hill staffers? You don’t have to live in the District or near a Metro station to have fun.”
No more flights will be leaving from or arriving at Reagan National airport tonight, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority. All airlines have canceled flights for Saturday. MWAA says that crews will still be working to keep the runways clear tomorrow, so that flights could possibly resume on Sunday.