The West Glebe Road Bridge connecting Arlington and Alexandria is dropping down to one lane in each direction after an inspection found deterioration under the bridge’s sidewalk.
According to a press release from Arlington County, one northbound lane and one southbound lane will be open, with one northbound lane being converted into a pedestrian and bicycle path after the closure of the west sidewalk.
“A recent inspection revealed additional deterioration under the west sidewalk and the temporary walking path, which necessitated the sidewalk being closed in this area,” the County said.
In April, the County Board approved a $9.89 million contract — funded jointly by Alexandria and Arlington — for a bridge replacement. The bridge is still in the design process, with construction expected to start next summer. The County said the closures will remain in place until the bridge replacement is completed.
The County noted that this isn’t the first time travel capacity on the bridge has been reduced.
“The routine inspection of the bridge in fall 2018 uncovered deterioration that prompted a vehicle weight restriction of 5 tons and closure of the sidewalks in both directions,” the County said. “The southbound lane across the bridge was converted for the exclusive use of people walking and biking.”
Photo (1) via Google Maps, photo (2) via Arlington County
The Alexandria man whose drugs led to a local woman’s death is expected to spend at least a decade in prison.
Prosecutors announced this morning that 29-year-old Kibruysday Degefa, accused of distributing the fentanyl-laced drugs that caused the overdose death of a 20-year-old woman in Arlington, was convicted on an array of charges by a jury in Alexandria federal court.
Arlington County Police Chief Andy Penn helped to make the announcement. Degefa is set to be sentenced in February and is facing a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia is below.
A federal jury convicted an Alexandria man yesterday on charges of conspiracy, possession, and distribution of fentanyl and Eutylone, and being a felon in possession of a firearm during drug trafficking.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, from in or around June 2020, through at least December 2020, Kibruysday Degefa, 29, conspired with others to distribute counterfeit, pressed pills containing fentanyl, as well as Eutylone, which is a designer drug similar in character to MDMA. Pills distributed by the conspiracy twice on December 20, 2020, contributed to the mixed drug overdose death of a 20-year-old female in Arlington, whose blood was later determined to contain fentanyl. A search warrant on the hotel room where Degefa was staying at the time revealed additional narcotics for distribution, including Eutylone, along with multiple firearms concealed in the bathroom ceiling tiles. Degefa was previously convicted of robbery in Alexandria in 2015.
Degefa faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison when sentenced on February 18, 2022. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andy Penn, Arlington County Chief of Police; Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division; Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police; and Charlie J. Patterson, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the verdict.
Major Metro Delays — “Following an investigation into the derailment of a Blue Line train, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission has ordered Metro to put roughly 60% of its rail fleet ‘out of service’ starting Monday. This will bring the total amount of Metro cars available to 40 and shift train service to departures every 30 minutes on all lines.” The delays may stretch beyond today as the 7000 series railcars are inspected. [WTOP, Twitter, Twitter]
County Board Roundup — “The Arlington County Board took action at its October meeting to ensure the safety of its youngest residents and secure quality housing. It also took steps to plan for Arlington’s priorities of housing and land use, transportation, sustainability efforts and more in the 2022 General Assembly legislative session.” [Arlington County]
Composting Program Profiled — “Erik Grabowsky is painfully aware that each time he chucks an overripe avocado, he’s not only lost a dollar; he’s also adding to the roughly 3,000 to 6,000 tons of food waste that residents in Arlington County, Virginia, generate every year. Most of it ends up in a nearby landfill. But Grabowsky, chief of the county’s solid waste bureau, is betting on a new residential composting program to change that.” [Bloomberg]
ACPD Latino Liaison — “ACPD is announcing the appointment of Cpl. Montoya as our first Latino Liaison Officer. He will work proactively with the Spanish-speaking community to build trust and confidence, share information, and conduct proactive engagement.” [ACPD, YouTube, Twitter]
Alexandria Police: Don’t Run Us Over — “Public Service Announcement: We recently have had two officers struck by inattentive motorists, so we are asking all who visit, work, and live in Alexandria to take a moment to understand Virginia’s ‘Move Over’ law and ensure you are following it.” [Twitter]
Outlook: Sunny, with a high near 66 today (Monday). Northwest wind 8 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Sunset at 6:25 p.m. Tomorrow it will be sunny, with a high near 71 and sunrise at 7:22 a.m.
Metro Service Still Affected by Derailment — “On Thursday, October 14, there will be no rail service between Rosslyn and Pentagon stations due to the ongoing investigation into Tuesday’s derailment. In addition, Orange and Silver line trains will single track between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom. Customers should expect delays in both directions. Free local shuttle buses will operate between Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations, with free express shuttles between Rosslyn and Pentagon stations.” [WMATA]
Portion of Train Removed from Tunnel — From NBC 4’s Adam Tuss: “Almost 24 hours after the Blue Line derailment — a section of the derailed train is on the move. Only 3 railcars here. We were told the 4th railcar was the one that derailed. There were 8 railcars total.” [Twitter]
Camera Truck to Drive Around Arlington — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Starting [today]: A County contractor’s camera truck will be driving around Arlington for two weeks (weather permitting), gathering imagery and and GPS data exclusively for evaluation of roadway conditions. They come in peace for all mankind.” [Twitter]
Amazon to Fund Transit-Accessible Housing — “Amazon will fund a new grant program to help local governments and nonprofit developers pursue affordable projects near transit stations, directing $500,000 of its recently announced $2 billion Housing Equity Fund to this effort… said Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey… ‘Providing this source of funding, that’s not going to need to be paid back, is really going to be the key in unlocking innovative projects to help meet our goals.'” [Washington Business Journal]
Anniversary Event at Tomb of the Unknowns — “When Arlington National Cemetery marks the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknowns next month, members of the public will be allowed to place flowers there for the first time, the cemetery said Tuesday… ‘This is a rare opportunity for the public to walk next to the Tomb … a privilege otherwise given only to the sentinels of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, ‘The Old Guard,” who stand watch over the site 24 hours a day, the cemetery said.” [Washington Post]
New DCA Security Checkpoints Unveiled — “The public got its first look Wednesday at the buildings that will be home to new security checkpoints set to open next month at Reagan National Airport — an upgrade that officials hope will speed screening times and ease congestion in time for the holiday travel season. The checkpoints are set to open Nov. 9 and will be housed in separate 50,000-square-foot buildings across from Terminals B and C.” [Washington Post]
Nearby: SROs Reinstated in Alexandria, For Now — “After significant outcry from a school system concerned about weapons in schools, the Alexandria City Council took a dramatic 4-3 vote around 1 a.m. this morning (Wednesday) to temporarily return school resource officers (SROs) to two middle schools and Alexandria City High School until the end of this school year.” [ALXnow]
Columbus Day Closures — “Most Arlington Transit routes are closed, with the exception of routes 42, 45, 51, 55, 77 and 87, which will run on Saturday schedules. Parking meters won’t be enforced, but all other parking violations will be. The public schools will not hold classes; it’s a professional learning day for staff. Government offices and the public library are open.” [WTOP]
Local Yard Sale Funds Acts of Kindness — “Susan Thompson-Gaines is like a fairy godmother who magically appeared in Marjorie Gonzales’ life to help her conjure up a dress for the ball. ‘Just came out of nowhere,’ said Gonzales, who was in need of a homecoming dress… Thompson-Gaines uses every penny of her profits — more than $12,000 this year — to fund random acts of kindness throughout her community.” [CBS News, InspireMore]
Proposal for Better W-L Baseball Field — “This fall, Healy is working with director of student activities Carol Callaway on a project proposal that they hope to present to county officials in the coming weeks. His vision is of something similar to Waters Field, a multi-purpose artificial turf field that can host games for baseball and rectangular field sports and serves as a central hub in the Vienna community… ‘You could call it a total facelift,’ Healy said. ‘You name it, we need it. You can’t even stand up in the visitor dugout, and the press box is almost a safety hazard.'” [Nova Baseball Magazine]
GMU Groundbreaking Planned — “GMU plans to break ground on the nearly $250 million expansion of its Arlington campus in January. The primary addition to the Virginia Square campus will be the 360,500-square-foot home for the Institute for Digital Innovation (IDIA), its tech research hub, and the coming School of Computing… Bethesda-based Clark Construction will serve as general contractor on the project, which is scheduled to be complete by April 2025, with students moving in by July of that year.” [Washington Business Journal]
Changes Planned for GMU Plaza –“The ‘stay-the-course’ proposal will aim to make the large plaza fronting Fairfax Drive a more useful gathering space, perhaps with a café attached, while potentially adding a mid-level connection between Smith and Van Metre Halls to effectively combine them as one. That was the vision outlined by Gregory Janks, who has led the 18-month planning process for the three main Mason campuses.” [Sun Gazette]
New Art at Central Library — “Arlington residents and Library patrons are in for a visual treat when entering the second floor at Central Library. The newly installed artwork titled ‘North Lincoln Street, Arlington, Virginia’ by Arlington artist Jason Horowitz, features a playful, 360-degree view of a re-imagined Ballston neighborhood landscape.” [Arlington Public Library]
Marymount 5K Race on Wednesday — “Marymount University Doctor of Physical Therapy program hosted the first Marymount 5K in the spring of 2015… Join us in 2021 for the sixth annual Marymount 5K supporting the DPT Program’s foundational pillars of Global Perspective, Service to Others, and Intellectual Curiosity.” [Marymount University]
Nearby: Shooting in Arlandria — From Alan Henney: “500 blk of Four Mile Rd off Mt. Vernon Ave in the City of Alexandria. 15 yr-old boy shot in stomach taken to a trauma center in serious condition. Several suspects fled the scene on foot.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington County will begin imposing a 5-cent plastic bag tax on Jan. 1 of next year.
The Arlington County Board adopted the tax during its public hearing on Saturday — the same day that the Alexandria City Council enacted the tax as well. These votes come on the heels of Fairfax County, which adopted the tax last Tuesday.
Effective Jan. 1, 2022, all three jurisdictions will tax plastic bags from grocery stores, convenience shops and drugstores. The county said in a press release that it’s been working with Alexandria, Fairfax and a regional waste management board to make sure all three localities have similar outreach and education efforts and timelines for rolling out the tax.
“Arlington is proud to take this step to reduce plastic bag waste in our community and to do so with our regional partners,” said Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said in a statement. “We have long sought the legal authority for this small fee as a way to protect our environment and become a more sustainable community. We look forward to working with residents and neighbors on implementation.”
Until Jan. 1, 2023, retailers can keep two of the five cents collected for each plastic bag. After that date, retailers and keep one cent per bag.
Revenue can be used to offset environmental cleanup, educational programs around reducing waste and mitigating pollution, or providing reusable bags to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and recipients of Women, Infants, and Children Program, known as WIC, benefits.
The county is considering distributing reusable bags at public facilities, the Department of Human Services, affordable housing complexes and farmers markets.
“This is not high-cost and it could be big-impact,” said Deputy County Manager Michelle Cowan.
The tax will not apply to restaurants, farmers markets, clothing stores, Virginia ABC stores and other alcoholic beverage retailers. Bags for wrapping meat, holding produce, protecting dry cleaning and packages of garbage and pet waste bags are also exempt.
“I don’t want to lose sight of what more the Commonwealth can do. It’s not just including the entities that are currently exempt from this go-round, but thinking about this more broadly,” County Board member Christian Dorsey said during the meeting. “Communities that have more successfully changed behavior, which is what this is ultimately getting at… ones that have been most effective have not just looked at plastics, they’ve looked at all bags at the point of sale.”
County Board Member Talks Gondola — “Christian Dorsey (D) said the county will have to decide whether it makes sense to commit public money to the project. ‘It’s a fairly short walk from the Rosslyn Metro station to that station in Georgetown,’ he said. In 2017, the county board said in a letter that it would not fund the gondola project despite agreeing to commit $35,000 to a feasibility study. ‘We viewed it as more of a luxury concept than an essential transportation service,’ Dorsey said.” [Washington Post]
Alexandria Mayor Gabs About Gondola — “‘Gondola, yes or no?’ Sherwood asked. ‘Anything that provides new transportation options is a good thing,’ Wilson said. ‘We’ve experimented more with ferries. The river is typically the challenge.'” [ALXnow]
Some Residents Remain Amazon Averse — “Amazon’s efforts to integrate its massive HQ2 campus into its Arlington community have come in all shapes and sizes. And while some of its neighbors acknowledge those efforts, they point to some key unanswered questions around the tech giant’s engagement strategy and eventual effects on their terrain. Still, many remain positive about the latest, and biggest, corporate addition to their communities.” [Washington Business Journal]
GMU Mulls Ways to Enliven Arlington Campus — “More vibrant outdoor areas and the potential of mid-level pedestrian bridges connecting academic buildings are among the possibilities to help the Arlington campus of George Mason University as it grows and evolves. Efforts should be focuses on ‘bringing some life and energy’ to areas like the exterior courtyard area fronting Fairfax Drive, said Gregory Janks, the consultant leading an effort to reimagine Mason’s Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William campuses.” [Sun Gazette]
New Bikeshare Station in Arlington Mill — From Capital Bikeshare: “STATION ALERT: Check out the newly installed station at 8th Rd and S Frederick St in Arlington.” [Twitter]
JBG Sells Hotels to Fund Development — “A fund managed by JBG Smith Properties is selling off two hotels near Reagan National Airport as the developer readies for still more construction in and around Arlington and Alexandria… In an earnings call this month, JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said the company would use asset sales, along with ground leases and recapitalizations, to harvest some of the value of its properties as it readies an extensive development pipeline totaling nearly 10 million square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]
Ballston: Manhattan Near the Potomac — “Three [census] tracts make a slice of Ballston the highest-density residential neighborhood in Greater Washington. For decades, Arlington’s plans have encouraged high-rise residential and office on the blocks immediately along the Orange Line corridor, while strictly limiting additional homes even a short walk away. All those people in close proximity can support a wide array of dining choices and retailers, including multiple groceries and pharmacies; the tract’s 94 Walk Score makes it a ‘walker’s paradise.'” [GGWash]
Local Storms Not Getting Significantly Worse — “One local weather expert says he hasn’t seen much evidence to suggest D.C. storms in recent years have been getting more severe, or even more frequent. ‘In some years we have a lot, in some years we have very little, depending on how the day-to-day weather trends add up over the course of the year,’ said Christopher Strong, a Sterling, Virginia-based warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service.” [DCist]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Another Rosslyn Redevelopment Planned — “Rosslyn’s aging Xerox Building could soon be replaced with a massive new apartment complex, as the neighborhood’s older properties continue to steadily redevelop. The investment advisory firm TIAA, which owns the building, and its real estate arm, Nuveen, filed plans in Arlington County last month calling for the full overhaul of the property at 1616 Fort Myer Drive. In its place, the companies hope to build a 691-unit apartment building reaching up to 30 stories tall.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington History Museum Reopens — “Having reopened its museum to the public on the nation’s 245th birthday, leaders of the Arlington Historical Society are now looking ahead to completing a top-to-bottom renovation and reimagining of the facility in time for the nation’s 250th… The museum is located in the 19th-century Hume School, located on Arlington Ridge Road. It came into the society’s possession 60 years ago, and is showing its age.” [Sun Gazette]
Last Week’s Tornado, As Seen from D.C. — “Lightning softly flickered inside the body of the storm. The shelf cloud, a smoothed and rounded arc fanning outward just above the ground, was lit from below as it tumbled over the urban glow of Ballston, Clarendon and Rosslyn… I began fixating on a ringed, collar-shaped cloud above the curtains of rain. Shortly before 9 p.m., the lowest portion of the cloud appeared to be curling inward, deviating from the storm’s heading.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Local Swim Club Update — “The Overlee Flying Fish defeated the Donaldson Run Thunderbolts in a rare all-Arlington matchup in the Northern Virginia Swimming League. Overlee won, 236-184, on July 3, keeping the Flying Fish tied for first with the Tuckahoe Tigers at 3-0 in Division 1. Donaldson Run fell to 0-3.” [Sun Gazette]
Nearby: Alexandria Removes SROs — The Alexandria City Council has voted to remove School Resource Officers from city schools, despite opposition to the move from the School Board. Last month the Arlington School Board voted to move SROs off school grounds. [ALXnow]
(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Just over 2,000 Dominion customers were without power in Arlington this morning.
Though there are small, scattered outages around the county after last night’s storms, the main outage is affecting the Shirlington, Fairlington and Claremont neighborhoods.
More than 3,500 Dominion customers were also in the dark across the border in Alexandria as a result of the outage. No restoration time was given on the Dominion Energy website.
— Debby Bowman (@bowmandj626) May 27, 2021
As of 10:45 a.m., the number of Dominion customers without power in Arlington had dropped to just over 1,000.
An incident involving a county vehicle along S. Walter Reed Drive near Four Mile Run may have contributed to the outage.
“At approximately 9:17 a.m., police were dispatched to S. Four Mile Run Drive and S. Walter Reed Drive for the report of a traffic complaint,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the bucket of an Arlington County Government truck struck wires connected to a utility pole.”
The incident caused the utility pole to topple onto some nearby trees.
Dominion crews are currently working to replace the pole and fix the lines. The crash happened a block away from a power substation.
Va. May Lift Most Restrictions Next Month — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday the state could lift most of its COVID-19 pandemic restrictions by mid-June, about 14 months after the state initially put those measures in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Northam said the state is planning to do away with social distancing requirements and restrictions on gathering sizes on June 15, provided coronavirus cases continue to drop and the pace of vaccinations does not let up.” [DCist, InsideNova]
Allegations of Hazing at ACFD Academy — “Over a year ago, firefighter EMT recruit Brett Ahern alleged extreme bullying and hazing at the hands of one firefighter who was an instructor with the Arlington County Fire Department’s Training Academy… there were other victims. Witnesses are speaking out on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.” [WDVM]
Mask Mandate for APS Athletes Questioned — From Sun Gazette Editor Scott McCaffrey’s blog: “Based on feedback we’ve been getting from our sources in the high-school-sports world, Arlington Public Schools has become something of a punching-bag of ridicule for its ongoing policy of requiring student-athletes to wear masks even in situations where it not only serves no good.” [Sun Gazette]
Woman Flees Knife-Wielding Robbers — “The female victim was outside her parked vehicle when she was approached by two male suspects. Suspect One brandished a knife and demanded her cell phone and money. The victim then ran to and entered her vehicle without providing any of her belongings. The suspects fled the scene when a witness approached the vehicle.” [ACPD]
Internal Pick for County Planning Director — “Arlington County has selected Anthony Fusarelli, Jr. to be the County’s new Planning Director after a nationwide search…. Fusarelli has worked in the County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development for 15 years and most recently served as Assistant Director. In this role he was responsible for development agreements and land deals, strategic initiatives, and demographic and development data research and analysis.” [Arlington County]
Warning About Rabid Cat in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police and the Fairfax County Health Department are urging anyone who may have been bitten or scratched by a cat in the last fourteen days that matches the below description to please contact either agency immediately.” [City of Falls Church]
Bob & Edith’s Opening in Alexandria — “Bob & Edith’s Diner will open on King Street later this year, the company confirmed on Wednesday. The diner will take the place of Ernie’s Original Crab House, which closed in April, at 1743 King St. just a few hundred feet from the King Street Metro station.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
A federal grand jury has indicted an Arlington lawyer on charges related to paying underage girls for sex.
Matthew Erausquin, 46, was arrested in November after a 1.5-year-long investigation. He was charged in Alexandria federal court with sex trafficking minors, producing child pornography, and charges related to transporting or forcing victims to cross state lines for sex.
If convicted, he faces between 15 years to a lifetime in prison, although sentences for federal crimes are typically shorter than the maximum penalties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a press release.
“The defendant allegedly used his money and power to sexually exploit minors,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to holding accountable those who prey on and victimize children, and to seeking justice for society’s most vulnerable members.”
Court documents allege that Erausquin paid for sex with six underage girls and three young adults over three years. During that time, the documents say he secretly recorded some of his encounters.
He allegedly met some of the girls on Seeking Arrangement, a website where men seek younger partners looking for financial help. In other instances, prosecutors say he posed as an 18 or 19-year-old on the dating app Tinder.
“Erausquin lured the girls into commercial sex arrangements, paying the girls between $500 to $800 each per sexual encounter and offering to pay at least $1,000 for threesome sexual activity,” said the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office. “In addition to these payments, Erausquin gave the girls marijuana and expensive gifts, such as [Tiffany & Co.] purses.”
According to a Fairfax County police affidavit, the investigation began in 2019, after a high school student reported to police that a man in his 40s had paid two victims $1,000 for a threesome, Virginia Lawyers Weekly previously reported.
One girl alleges that she “passed out after taking a hit of marijuana at Erausquin’s Arlington apartment, then woke up with no clothes on,” according to the Washington Post. Some were lured to the area from out of town with first-class plane tickets purchased by Erausquin, the Post also reported.
According to an affidavit, some underage victims told police that he likely knew they not yet 18.
Erausquin was a founding partner of the Alexandria office of the firm Consumer Litigation Associates. CLA has since removed his office from its list of locations.
Flickr photo by Joe Gratz