Press Club

Morning Notes

“End Road Work” sign in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Welcome to Our Summer Interns — Two interns have joined ARLnow for the summer. Mavis Chan of the University of Missouri will focus on local news reporting while Pia Kramer, graduate of Virginia Tech and Arlington’s Washington-Liberty High School, will focus on audience engagement.

Passengers Spend Hours on Planes at DCA — “Thais Austin wanted to get home to the District after a weekend visit with family in Jacksonville, Fla. Instead, she said, she and other passengers were stuck on the Reagan National Airport taxiway for three hours Sunday night, unable to exit their plane… Hundreds of passengers on at least a half-dozen other flights reported similar delays after thunderstorms downed trees, flooded roads and left thousands without power in the Washington region.” [Washington Post]

Armed Robbery in Crystal City — “At approximately 10:02 p.m. on May 23, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined the three victims were walking on the sidewalk when they were approached from behind by the unknown suspects. Suspect One brandished a firearm and demanded the victim’s property, including their clothing. During the incident, Suspect One struck the victims with the firearm, causing injury. The suspects then fled into a parking garage with the stolen property which included cash, clothing and electronics.” [ACPD]

Signature Season Salutes Sondheim — “Signature Theatre announces its 33rd season today, which highlights the organization’s long-time relationship with the legendary Stephen Sondheim. Signature has produced 31 Sondheim productions in its 32 season history – more than any other theater in North America. The 33rd season will feature three more.” [Signature Theatre]

Michigan Election Fraud Has Arlington Link — A man at the center of a scandal over allegedly fraudulent petition signatures in the Michigan governor’s race was previously convicted of a similar crime in Arlington following an unsuccessful attempt to change the county’s form of government. [TPM]

Student Killed in Fight Near Fairlington — “A teenager from Alexandria City High School was killed during a ‘large fight’ at the Bradlee Shopping Center McDonald’s, police say. According to scanner traffic, the incident started around 12:21 p.m. with a call about a brawl happening at the McDonald’s at 3646 King Street. Police said one person was stabbed and critically injured, then pronounced dead at the hospital.” [ALXnow]

It’s Wednesday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 65 and low of 57. Sunrise at 5:50 am and sunset at 8:24 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The sky is reflected off glass office windows in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It’s Bike to Work Day — “Bike to Work Day is back… This free event is open to everyone. Arlington will have ten pit stops and BikeArlington will host five pit stops in Rosslyn, Ballston, Columbia Pike, Shirlington, and Clarendon.” [BikeArlington]

Unleashed Dog Leads to Bluemont Brandishing — “At approximately 4:45 p.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to a report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was walking in the area when an unleashed dog ran towards him while barking. A verbal dispute ensued between the victim and dog owner, during which the suspect, who is known to the dog owner, became involved. The victim continued on his route, during which the suspect reapproached and allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened the victim.” [ACPD]

Metro Restoring Some 7000-Series Cars — “A seven-month train shortage that has brought lengthy waits for commuters is closer to ending after Metrorail’s oversight agency approved a request to reinstate some rail cars that were pulled from service because of a rare wheel defect. Transit officials submitted a plan to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to restore a limited number of 7000-series cars.” [Washington Post, WMATA]

Slight Increase in Homeless Population — “Though down by more than half compared to a decade ago, Arlington’s homeless total rose from 2021 to 2022, according to new data. ‘There’s work to do,’ said Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti, parsing the new data during the May 17 board meeting. The… homeless count (conducted Jan. 26 with data recently released) revealed a total of 182 people living in shelters and on the streets in Arlington, up 6 percent from 171 a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

Op-Ed: Arlington Could Be National Model — “Arlington’s Missing Middle draft framework is extremely ambitious and might serve as a model for the entire country if the county board gets the policy details right to enable new construction.” [GGWash]

Group: ‘Missing Middle’ is ‘War’ — “With the release of the Missing Middle Phase Two Report on April 28, and the accompanying consultant analysis, the county is declaring war on single-family areas of Arlington… Developers, who have essentially run out of room among our 26 square miles, have pushed for Missing Middle up-zoning that will be politically and legally impossible to unwind, even if it falls short of stated goals or produces negative results.” [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future]

Big Development Kicks Off in F.C. — “West Falls, a major mixed-use development near the West Falls Church Metro station, broke ground Thursday, less than a week after the development team closed on $391 million of financing. In this first phase of its long-planned development, the project, spearheaded by D.C.-based Hoffman & Associates and joined by real estate giant Trammell Crow Co., will comprise five buildings totaling about 1.2 million square feet.” [Washington Business Journal, Patch]y

Veep Coming to Falls Church — “Kamala Harris coming to [Meridian High School in Falls Church] tomorrow to talk electric school buses? The school didn’t name Harris in an email to parents about the event tomorrow, but they said it will stream live at [whitehouse.gov].” The event is scheduled for 3:40 p.m., which means motorcades through Arlington are likely this afternoon. [Twitter]

Plan for Yellow Line Bridge Work — “The City of Alexandria is preparing for a Yellow Line shutdown in Alexandria later this year due to bridge and tunnel rehabilitation and bringing the Potomac Yard Metro station into the system… Blue Line trains will be running frequently from the airport with a replacement ‘Yellow Line’ route running to New Carrollton during the September-October.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:53 am and sunset at 8:20 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Pigeons hanging out in Rosslyn’s Freedom Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Bus Crash in Front of Hospital  — “At approximately 1:52 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a two vehicle crash involving an ART bus in the 1600 block of N. George Mason Drive. The driver of the other involved vehicle has been transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. Police remain on scene investigating the cause of the crash.” [Twitter]

Civ Fed Proposes Board Changes — “A task force empaneled by the Arlington County Civic Federation has proposed a somewhat radical reconfiguration of County Board and School Board elections… The TiGER proposal, which seeks to expand membership on each body to seven, would have four County Board members and three School Board members elected in a given year, followed by a gap year, followed by three County Board members and four School Board members elected. After another gap year, the process would repeat.” [Sun Gazette]

New Lounge Arriving at DCA — An American Express Centurion Lounge is under construction at Reagan National Airport. [Twitter]

Free Soccer Programming Pilot — “The Arlington Soccer Association is teaming up with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to provide free soccer programming. The eight-week pilot program recently kicked off and brings soccer programming to families who live in APAH’s more than 2,000 affordable apartments throughout Arlington County. The programming is offered once a week at local parks and elementary schools for children as young as 3 years old.” [Press Release]

Throwback to Metro Groundbreaking — “We recently rediscovered a scrapbook from the early days of NVTC. June 18, 1971: Ceremonies to mark construction of the Rosslyn Metro station, ‘first in the D.C. suburbs.'” [Twitter]

Buses Gone Wild on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “I’ve shown you lots of amateur drivers trying to navigate I-395S Exit 8C/Route 1. Let’s see how the pros handle it.” [Twitter]

Car vs. Bakery Near Fairlington — “No one was injured after a car smashed through a front window of Great Harvest Bread (1711 Centre Plaza) in Fairlington Centre on Tuesday night (May 10). The incident occurred at around 7 p.m., which is after the bakery is closed.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Overcast throughout the day with some patchy fog. Showers likely, with thunderstorms also possible after 2 p.m. High of 70 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Ballston Quarter at twilight (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Poll: D.C. Residents Prefer Alexandria — A poll on Twitter with more than 1,000 respondents shows D.C. residents saying they’re prefer to live in Alexandria over Arlington, if they had to choose, by a ratio of nearly 2:1. [Twitter]

ACPD Lays Wreaths at Memorial — “Following the Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day, ACPD’s Honor Guard laid wreaths at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in recognition of Arlington’s seven heroic officers who have died in the line of duty. The memorial features the names of more than 22,000 federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation. We are committed to never forgetting their sacrifices in service to their communities.” [Facebook]

Roads in Rosslyn Closing for Police 5K — “The 2022 National Police Week 5k will take place on Saturday, May 14, 2022.  The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures to accommodate the event.” [ACPD]

Reminder: Expect Police Motorcades — “Police Week is scheduled from Wednesday, May 11 through Tuesday, May 17. Most of the scheduled activities will take place Thursday through Sunday, though the arrival of families of fallen officers on Wednesday and Thursday will prompt many of the motorcades and rolling road closures.” [ARLnow]

Dems Honor Longtime Volunteer — “The recipient of the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s highest accolade for longtime service says she is pleased that the party continues to expand in both size and scope. ‘With more people doing more things, our organization is more complex than ever,’ Inta Malis said during a May 10 online event sponsored by Arlington Senior Democrats.” [Sun Gazette]

TV Station Honors Arlington Nurses — “As 7News celebrates the third day of Nurses Week, we salute the men and women of VHC Health in Northern Virginia. The community hospital in Arlington is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and is a designated Magnet hospital, one of the highest group honors for a hospital.” [WJLA]

Startup Founder Helping Refugees — “As the clock struck 11 p.m. on March 19, Yulia Yaani gathered a group of Ukrainian refugees at the Polish border. She stepped onto the bus that night, alongside roughly 50 women and children, and they traveled to Denmark for the next 17 hours — to escape the war with Russia… Yaani is co-founder and CEO of Arlington fintech [company] RealAtom, a 5-year-old startup.” [Washington Business Journal]

Kiwanis Donate to Ukraine Efforts — “The Kiwanis Club of Arlington has donated $5,000 to the World Central Kitchen (WCK) to assist with relief efforts in Ukraine. Proceeds from the club’s fund-raising activities, including its annual blueberry sale, are being used to support the WCK with their meals programs on the ground in Ukraine and in surrounding countries.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Thursday — Mostly cloudy and cool throughout the day, with a slight chance of rain. High of 68 and low of 58. Sunrise at 6:00 am and sunset at 8:12 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A project scheduled to begin this summer will tunnel under the Four Mile Run near the Route 1 bridge to move overhead power lines underground.

As part of the project, Dominion Energy will rebuild its Glebe Substation next year, modernizing the facility that was built in the 1970s and is reaching the end of its service life. The substation serves parts of Arlington and Alexandria.

“Everything will look a lot cleaner, a lot of the equipment will be a lot smaller,” said Ann Gordon Mickel, Dominion Energy’s communication and community lead for the project.

A virtual community meeting will be held tonight (Wednesday) at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the status of the project and what to expect during and after construction.

When work begins, a 250-foot by 250-foot area will be fenced off in the Potomac Yard shopping center parking lot in Alexandria to allow for a 40- to 50-foot deep pit for tunneling.

In Arlington, a pit will be constructed at the substation and there may be temporary intermittent closures on S. Eads Street, as well as on nearby sidewalks and pedestrian paths. Electric service will not be affected.

The underground line will run between the substation and the Potomac Yard Transition Station, which will be decommissioned at the end of the project. The rebuilt Glebe Substation will incorporate new technology, requiring less maintenance and making it more reliable, the power company said.

“Any time you address aging infrastructure and replace it with new technology the reliability always enhances,” said Greg Mathey, a manager of electric transmission communications for Dominion Energy. “The transmission system feeds the distribution system, so the more reliable and hardened we can make the transmission system, the better the distribution system can perform.”

The construction to convert to underground lines is scheduled to continue through 2024. The whole project should be completed by late 2025.

A chart outlining the timeline of the Glebe Electric Transmission Project (via Dominion Energy)

The entire project is expected to cost about $122.8 million. The State Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities in Virginia, approved the project in 2019. It was originally scheduled to be up and running by this month, but due to the nature of the construction, the timeline was pushed back.

Using a trenchless microtunneling method will increase costs by about $16 million — but it shortens the construction timeline, according to project documents.

This type of tunneling will also reduce construction-related impacts to the Potomac Yard shopping center, as it won’t require as much space for pipes above ground.

The overhead lines that can be seen over Four Mile Run will be removed at the end of the project.

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(Updated at 12:35 p.m.) The West Glebe Road bridge over Four Mile Run will be completely closed to vehicles in two weeks, and will remain closed for nearly a year.

The circa-1956 bridge, which connects Arlington and Alexandria near the I-395/S. Glebe Road interchange, has been deemed “structurally deficient” since 2018. A $10 million project to replace its deck and beams was approved by the Arlington County Board last April and was slated to start this year, but in the meantime engineers have found “continued degradation of the bridge beams.”

As a result, the bridge is closing to drivers on Monday, May 9, the county announced today. That’s after southbound bridge traffic was detoured for the same reason in March.

New detours will be put into place that will divert vehicular traffic either over the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge to the east or Shirlington Circle to the west. Both of those bridges, coincidentally, are also aging and set for repairs over the next couple of years; the former received funding from the recent federal infrastructure bill.

The county expects two vehicle lanes on the West Glebe Road bridge to reopen in early 2023, while it’s still under construction. Work is expected to start shortly after the May closure and last until the summer of 2023.

Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the bridge for a few more months. A temporary pedestrian path across Four Mile Run is expected to open in July. Four Mile Run Trail users, meanwhile, will re-routed to a parallel path, as the portion of trail under the bridge will be closed.

More from a county press release, below.

Because of continued degradation of the bridge beams, engineers will close the West Glebe Road Bridge to all motor vehicle traffic beginning on Monday, May 9, 2022, for construction of a planned replacement superstructure (road deck and beams). Two motor vehicle lanes on the renovated bridge are expected to reopen in early 2023 along with one of two widened sidewalks.

The current structure connecting Arlington and Alexandria over Four Mile Run was built in 1956. Elements have experienced noted deterioration in recent years.

In 2018, a 5-ton weight restriction was placed on all user vehicles. In March 2022, all southbound traffic was detoured away from the bridge amid signs of continued structural beam degradation.

Allowing continued motor vehicle traffic with the additional stress of construction has now been ruled out. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to use the bridge through June, after which they will be directed to a temporary crossing, independent of the superstructure, to be built along the bridge, expected to open in July.

The Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge further east over Four Mile Run will continue to handle vehicular traffic detouring from the West Glebe bridge.

The bridge’s original piers are stable and will be used to support the new superstructure, reducing project costs, construction time, and impact on the watershed.

The project is set for completion by summer 2023.

Arlington County and the City of Alexandria continue continue to coordinate closely on the bridge replacement project. Crews will mobilize for the job later this month.

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Morning Notes

Cherry blossoms and Amazon’s HQ2 construction in Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

County Prepping New Tree Study — “Arlington leaders may take their next crack at guesstimating the number of trees in the county – a topic not without political as well as environmental ramifications – early in 2023, if all goes according to plan… estimating the cost at $100,000 to $150,000.” [Sun Gazette]

New Name for GMU Arlington Campus — “George Mason University announced today that its Arlington Campus will be renamed Mason Square as the new centerpiece of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor for multi-disciplinary talent and business development, as well as a civic and cultural destination. Also being announced is Fuse at Mason Square, the name of the new technology-forward building that is the heart of Mason’s commitment to growing Northern Virginia’s next-generation workforce. A groundbreaking ceremony for Fuse at Mason Square will take place April 6.” [Press Release]

FBI Warns of ‘Sextortion’ of Boys — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning parents and caregivers about an increase in incidents involving sextortion of young children. The FBI is receiving an increasing number of reports of adults posing as young girls coercing young boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos and then extorting money from them.” [FBI]

Nature Center Staffing Slowly Returning — “Don’t expect hours of operation at Arlington’s two county-government natures centers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming year, or maybe ever, but local leaders say that doesn’t mean nature programs won’t have priority in coming years… [the] hope for the coming year was to use funding for temporary workers to increase hours at the nature center, including perhaps evening hours.” [Sun Gazette]

Church Wins Climate Award — “Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ’s commitment to fighting climate change over the past 15 years landed it a top award in the 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge. Rock Spring, on Little Falls Road in Arlington, was named the 2022 winner of the Energy Saver category in the challenge, sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit group that seeks to motivate people of faith to take steps to address climate change.” [Patch]

Alexandria Schools Propose SRO Extension — “Alexandria City Public Schools is requesting an extension of its controversial school resource officer (SRO) program through the end of the 2022-2023 school year. School Board Chair Meagan Alderton says that the extension is part of the reimagining of the $800,000 program.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 58 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:05 am and sunset at 7:26 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington County plans to dredge stretches of the Four Mile Run and lower Long Branch Creek channels to alleviate potential flooding.

The project targets sections of the waterways near Mt. Vernon Avenue, bordering the City of Alexandria, where U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) determined soil deposit levels were “unacceptable” for stormwater management.

The Arlington County Board is slated to review the project this Saturday.

The USACE inspection determined the channel had “excessive shoaling” due to shallow water depths. Dredging the soil deposits will address this shoaling and ensure the channel can handle large, once-in-a-century floods, the county says.

As part of the project, erosion damage and degraded stream conditions will also be repaired and debris and vegetation will be cleared. Construction is slated to begin in September and last until February, according to a project webpage.

The maintenance work “addresses maintenance of the Four Mile Run streambed that is required by the USACE, would help alleviate flooding along the Long Branch Tributary and would not significantly change any facilities, program or services provided to the community,” per a county report.

The entire project will take four to six months, Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Aileen Winquest tells ARLnow. For one month, while work on the Lower Long Branch channel takes place, some access to Troy Park will be limited.

“While the dredging work in Lower Long Branch is underway, there will be a small area at the end of Troy Park (closest to Glebe Road) that will be closed because it will be used for accessing the stream,” Winquist said. “There will be parking restrictions near that end of the park. The majority of the park will remain open and accessible.”

There will be a public meeting about the project in May, she said.

Arlington and the City of Alexandria worked with the USACE to design and build a flood-control channel in this portion of Four Mile Run — not far from where the creek meets the Potomac River — in response to repeated flooding that began in the 1940s. The channel, dubbed the Four Mile Run East and West Levee System, was built between 1974 and 1984. USACE inspects the levee every year to see how well it’s being maintained.

Arlington County will pay for the $5 million project and will receive partial reimbursement from the City of Alexandria, leaving the county on the hook for $2.88 million.

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Morning Notes

Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

No Mardi Gras Parade Today — Clarendon will not be hosting a Mardi Gras parade this year. What was formerly an annual tradition remains on hold, perhaps permanently. The last parade was held in 2018.

Retail Rents Rising on the Pike — “Arlington economic-development officials say they will assist where possible, but in many cases, small-business owners wishing to stay in the corridor will have to do the hunting on their own… The arrival of Amazon not far down the road in the Pentagon City area is just one factor that is impacting rents in the Columbia Pike corridor, once known as a low-cost alternative to Arlington’s Metro corridors.” [Sun Gazette]

Affordable Housing Buy Nearby — “A 14-story Arlandria apartment complex has been acquired by the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, the latest move in an effort to preserve affordable housing in an area facing significant development pressure. AHDC recently announced that it bought the Park Vue of Alexandria apartments from Florida-based ZRS Management with support of $51.4 million from the $2 billion Amazon Housing Equity Fund.” [ALXnow, Twitter]

Va. Weed Bill Goes Up in Smoke — “Republican members of Virginia’s House of Delegates on Monday voted down a bill that would have permitted legal sales of marijuana later this year, delaying any movement on the issue until at least mid- or late-2023 — if not even later than that. The party-line 5-3 vote in the House’s General Laws Subcommittee dashed the hopes of many Democrats and marijuana legalization advocates.” [DCist]

It’s Fat Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day today, the first day of March and the last day before Lent. High of 57 and low of 32. Sunrise at 6:42 am and sunset at 6:02 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The Netherlands Carillon is illuminated, with D.C. monuments in the background (Photo courtesy Stefanie Johnson)

Arlington Has Been ‘Abnormally Dry’ — From the National Weather Service: “The latest Drought Monitor released shows an expansion of drought conditions across Virginia, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, District of Columbia, and parts of Maryland. Abnormal dryness now encompasses most of the region.” [Twitter]

Introducing Commenter Badges — We’re giving the comment section an early Christmas present by rolling out new commenter badges. Earn badges by — among other things — accumulating 50 or more upvote on a comment, by posting useful corrections on an article, or by joining the ARLnow Press Club (members should reply to the morning email with your Disqus user name to request this). In all, there are a total of eight badges. [Disqus]

Nearby: Alexandria SROs on Leave — “The two school resource officers at Alexandria City High School have been removed from their posts and placed on administrative leave after a ‘serious complaint,’ according to the Alexandria Police Department.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 62. Rain is likely overnight. Sunrise at 7:21 a.m. and sunset at 4:48 p.m. Chances of rain on Saturday, with a low of 44 and a high of 64. Mostly cloudy and breezy Sunday, with a low of 35 and a high of 61. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy Stefanie Johnson

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W. Glebe Road Bridge, with a weight limit (Image via Google Maps)

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.

Lane closures planned for West Glebe Road Bridge (photo via Arlington County)

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

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