Arlington, VA

Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday.

The closing of the Blue Line, which runs through parts of Arlington, is due to platform reconstruction work being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station. Additionally, work is being done at the Addison Road station in Maryland. The project was announced last year.

Both the station and the Blue Line are planning to reopen on May 23.

A shuttle bus will run between the Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations during the project. The shuttles will run every 12 minutes Monday through Friday and every 15 minutes on the weekends. They will not stop at Arlington Cemetery after 7 p.m.

The construction work is part of a massive effort to reconstruct, modernize, and update station platforms throughout the system.

The work being done at the Arlington Cemetery station will include adding slip-resistant tiles, brighter LED canopy lighting, and lighted handrails on stairs. There will also be new platform shelters equipped with charging ports, improved platform speakers and PA system, better information screens, and renovated bathrooms.

This is the same type of work that closed down parts of the Orange Line and the entire Silver Line over the summer.

Normally, this type of work and necessary shutdown happens during the summer time when Metro ridership is historically lower. But with ridership down as much as 90% due to the pandemic, the Blue Line shut down is being initiated earlier in the year.

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Brian Sicknick arrived at his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday, escorted there by scores of local first responders, including many from Arlington.

The fallen U.S. Capitol Police officer, who was killed during the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot, was laid to rest at the cemetery after lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Arlington County Police Department motor officers were part of the procession from the Capitol to the cemetery. Arlington County firefighters and Virginia State Police troopers helped to salute Sicknick’s remains as the hearse arrived at the cemetery.

Photos from the procession route, as posted on social media, are below.

Photo (top) via ACPD

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Morning Notes

Metro on Modified Snow Plan — “On Monday, February 1, Metrobus will operate on a moderate snow plan. Service on some routes will be suspended and detours will be in effect on selected routes to avoid areas prone to hazardous conditions such as hilly terrain and narrow streets. Metrorail service is expected to operate on a regular weekday schedule.” [WMATA]

Arlington Vaccination Stats Might Be Higher — “Over 140,000 Northern Virginia residents have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Virginia Department of Health data, but that does not include federal employees and current and retired military service members who may have received vaccines through the federal government.” [InsideNova]

Fallen Capitol Officer to Be Buried at ANC — Brian Sicknick, the U.S. Capitol Police officer killed during the Jan. 6 riots, will be lie in honor at the Capitol before being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. “Officer Brian Sicknick’s service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. These honors, accorded to few, are richly deserved by one who gave his life in defense of American democracy,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said in a statement. [Press Release]

ACPD: Trespasser Kicked Officer — “Arriving officers observed the suspect outside the business, however, he began to flee on a bicycle. As the officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, he got off the bicycle and approached the officer’s cruiser. When the officer exited their cruiser, the suspect began to walk away and ignored lawful commands. The suspect was detained without further incident, however, while sitting on the curb, he became irate and kicked an officer.” [ACPD]

Recounting Presidential Visits to Arlington — “Which of our 46 presidents spent time in Arlington, before or during their tenures? Most, if not all, would have passed through during cross-Potomac travels, and in modern times most visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Pentagon.” [Falls Church News-Press]

COVID Cases Among DCA Construction Crew — “The two-part, $650 million modernization of Reagan National Airport is still expected to be completed this year… While the health crisis hasn’t slowed construction, it has apparently affected the workers building the project. About 63 Project Journey workers have tested positive for Covid-19 since March, and most of those cases, 26, were discovered in December, according to MWAA.” [Washington Business Journal]

It’s February — Today is Feb. 1, the first day of February. Tomorrow is, of course, Groundhog Day.

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Despite everything that transpired leading up to it, Inauguration Day saw a peaceful transfer of power as now-former President Donald Trump departed the White House and President Joe Biden was sworn in.

Overlooking it all from across the Potomac, Arlington played a bit part in pomp and circumstance.

Those with a vista across the river could catch a clear view this morning of President Trump departing the South Lawn of the White House on Marine One.

The inauguration ceremony that followed was devoid of members of the general public, as security and virus concerns closed the National Mall. Some who wanted to experience history unfold in person headed instead to the Marine Corps War Memorial, near Rosslyn.

A sizable security presence could be seen near the Rosslyn Metro station as the inauguration ceremony concluded and as President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris — joined by former residents Clinton, Bush, Obama — headed via motorcade to Arlington National Cemetery.

Biden and Harris paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before heading back into D.C., via the Memorial Bridge, for their arrival at the White House.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report. Photos (as marked) by Jay Westcott, Joanna Hitt Kim and Kevin Wolf.

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Morning Notes

BBC Airs Segment on AFAC — The Arlington Food Assistance Center, which is seeing record food need and lines throughout the day, was profiled in a segment that aired on BBC World News this week. [Twitter]

Fares to Return on ART Buses — “ART buses will resume front door boarding and fare collection starting on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Riders will begin boarding buses through the front door and will pay their fare at the fare box using a SmarTrip card or exact change. The regular ART bus fare for a one-way trip is $2.00.” [Arlington Transit]

Teens Launch Hot Cocoa Company — “In July, Wakefield High School rising seniors Farah Bahr and Sithiya Reshmee (who goes by the nickname ‘Resh’) founded F&R Sweets, a line that includes chocolate-dipped strawberries, churro cheesecake (made with croissant dough, cream cheese filling and cinnamon sugar) and hot chocolate bombs… the bombs ($3-$10 each) grabbed my attention. They are bonbon-like orbs filled with mini marshmallows, Swiss Miss cocoa mix (regular, caramel or peppermint) and sometimes other add-ins.” [Arlington Magazine]

AWLA Treats Dog With Skin Condition — “On Sunday, we were very surprised when a brown-eyed dog with a severe skin infection and hair loss came through our doors. He desperately needs us, and together we can start him on the path to healing. Rufus was found all alone on the side of the road and was brought to AWLA for help.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Patch]

Fort Myer Bowling Alley Back Open — “The [Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall] Bowling Center had a small grease fire last week that temporarily shut down operations. Today, the fire department and health inspections were completed and they were given approval to re-open at 2 p.m.” [Twitter]

Arlington is Soldier’s Resting Place, At Last — “An Army sergeant from Panama, Oklahoma who was killed during the Korean War has been identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,” from the 55 boxes containing remains of American service members turned over by North Korea in 2018. “Rodgers will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, at a later date that has yet to be determined.” [Times Record]

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Morning Notes

Schools Closed, Federal Gov’t on Delay — Due to anticipated icy conditions this morning, Arlington Public Schools has closed schools, though distance learning is still on. Federal government offices have a 10 a.m. delayed opening. [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington Xmas Decorations Go Viral — Two Arlington homes, next door to one another, have very different approaches to holiday decorating, as seen in a tweet that went viral. [Twitter]

Might Mayor Pete Live in Arlington? — “Pete and Chasten have an affinity for airports — Pete proposed to Chasten at O’Hare in Chicago and Chasten proposed to Pete at an airport in Berlin — so why not live walking distance from DCA? Besides having a great beer bar and Synetic Theater, the area also known as Crystal City is a major transportation hub, which could work in Pete’s favor as he starts his new role.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Bill Would Strip Lee’s Name from Arlington House — Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s name is likely to soon be removed from Lee Highway in Arlington, and potentially from his former home in Arlington National Cemetery as well. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has introduced legislation that would rename what’s currently known as “Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial” as just “Arlington House.” Arlington County is in the process of removing an illustration of the house, which critics say is a symbol of slavery, from its logo and seal. [Press Release, Twitter]

Wreaths on the Way — The wreaths for this weekend’s Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery are currently making their way to Arlington from Maine via convoy. [Twitter, Facebook]

Funeral for Vietnam War Hero — “Despite the winter elements that hit the [D.C. area] Wednesday morning, Medal of Honor recipient Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins was given modified military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Adkins died from COVID-19 earlier this year in April at the age of 86.” [WJLA]

Local Nonprofit Gets Grant — “The Arlington-based nonprofit organization, Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) announced their latest financial contribution from the Arlington Women’s Civic Alliance (AWCA) to support LLT’s leadership training and college readiness programs. ” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

ANC and Addison Alternatives Announced — “Metro will offer free shuttle bus service and other travel alternatives during the spring closure of Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery stations on the Blue and Silver lines, the transit agency announced today. Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery will be closed from Saturday, Feb. 13 through Sunday, May 23, 2021, to allow for construction.” [WMATA]

Business Buys Ballroom Building, Before Bar by Beer Boss Brings Big Bucks — “Monument Realty has acquired the former Clarendon Ballroom as the owners of popular beer garden The Lot plan to open a temporary event venue inside the building on Arlington County’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. MR 3185 Wilson Retail LLC, an affiliate of the District-based commercial real estate developer, acquired the building at 3185 Wilson Blvd. Dec. 11 for about $6.7 million, according to Arlington County land records.” [Washington Business Journal]

COVID Concerns Cause County Crew Changes — “You can now add snow removal to the long list of things that have had to change because of COVID-19. ‘This year, what makes it different than many other years, is the threat of COVID and really the concern of just keeping the employees safe, keeping them distanced enough to where they can do their work but also go home safely,’ said Jeremy Hassan, the chief operating engineer for Arlington County’s Water, Sewer, and Streets Bureau.” [Fox 5]

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The annual Wreaths Across America holiday wreath-laying is back on at Arlington National Cemetery, but with some big changes.

Due to the pandemic, the legions of volunteers that usually participate will not be able to do so this year. Instead, most of the nearly quarter-million wreaths will be placed — and removed, after Christmas — by soldiers based at Fort Myer.

“Unfortunately, including the general public is not possible during the pandemic, and the cemetery will be closed to the public from December 13 to 19,” the cemetery said last week. “This year’s event will be a multi-day, phased plan involving family pass holders, the Military District of Washington (MDW), soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the Wreaths Across America organization.”

“This approach will enable these partners to safely lay and recover approximately 267,000 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) and Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery,” the cemetery added.

The wreath-laying was initially cancelled by cemetery officials this year, but was brought back after intervention by military brass and President Trump.

The cemetery’s press release is below.

Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) and Wreaths Across America (WAA), along with our partners the U.S. Army Military District of Washington (MDW) and the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard” (TOG), will safely lay and recover approximately 267,000 wreaths to honor our nation’s heroes and their family members this December.

We developed this plan to balance our security posture and health and safety requirements with the desire to allow limited in-person participation. Therefore, family pass holders of those interred at ANC and Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery (SAHNC) will be able to lay wreaths in person at designated times. Members of the general public can take part in this year’s National Wreath Day in a virtual setting.

This plan enables us to preserve our capability to execute our primary mission to bury our nation’s service members and their eligible family members with the honor and dignity the American people have come to expect from Arlington National Cemetery.

Event schedule:

Sunday, December 13: Family pass holders only will be welcomed to lay wreaths at their loved ones’ graves from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The cemetery will be closed to the general public.

Monday through Friday, December 14-18: The cemetery will be closed to the general public, enabling the MDW and TOG soldiers to safely place wreaths on graves while ANC simultaneously conducts over 100 funerals during the week. Family pass holders are welcome to visit the cemetery daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to place their private wreaths flowers.

Saturday, December 19: A small group of Wreaths Across America team members will place wreaths in a designated section of the cemetery, and the National Wreath Day event will be broadcast for the public to experience.  The broadcast link and time will be available closer to the event. Family pass holders are welcome to visit the cemetery from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to place their private  wreaths or flowers.

During the week of December 13-19, the cemetery will be closed to the general public.

Sunday, December 20: The cemetery will reopen to the public. Visitors are welcome to place graveside tributes of privately purchased wreaths or flowers in accordance with our floral policy […]

Arlington National Cemetery is complying with the Department of Defense directives and supplemental “Force Health Protection Guidance for the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak,” and with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for this virus. The health protection of our workforce and our visitors is a top priority, and ANC maintains our commitment to honor the nation’s veterans who rest on these iconic grounds.

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Update at 2:20 p.m. — Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy has directed Arlington National Cemetery to host the Wreaths Across America event this year, despite the worsening pandemic, per a tweet Tuesday afternoon. McCarthy said the event will be held safely, but it was not immediately clear how.

Update at 3:50 p.m. — President Trump now says that he reversed the decision to cancel the annual holiday wreath event this year.

Earlier: The annual holiday wreath-laying event at Arlington National Cemetery has been cancelled this year due to the pandemic.

“Due to the current COVID-19 situation across the nation and within the [National Capital Region], it is with great regret that ANC is cancelling Wreaths Across America,” the cemetery said in a tweet Monday night.

The average daily case rate hit a new all-time high in Arlington and across Virginia today. Nationwide, the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 reached a new peak today.

The wreath event attracts tens of thousand of volunteers, who lay wreaths at the cemetery’s hundreds of thousands of graves a week or two before Christmas. More crowds of volunteers then help to “retire” the wreaths after the holiday.

In a press release, below, the cemetery’s Executive Director said that officials “did not make this decision lightly.”

Due to the current COVID-19 situation across the nation and within the National Capital Region, it is with great regret that Arlington National Cemetery is canceling Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery and the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home Cemetery on December 19, 2020.

Following a thorough analysis of the annual Wreaths Across America Wreaths-In event this year, and in close collaboration with the Joint Task Force, National Capital Region, we determined that we could not implement sufficient controls to mitigate the risks associated with hosting an event of this size under current and forecasted infection and transmission rates, while still conducting a respectful and honorable public event.

“We did not make this decision lightly. Despite the controls developed to disperse potential crowds in time and space, and required personal safety protocols, we determined that hosting any event of this scale risked compromising our ability to accomplish our core mission of laying veterans and their eligible family members to rest,” stated Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director, Office of Army National Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery. “We reviewed various options to safely execute this long standing event and held numerous consultations with WAA leadership and local government and public health officials. We understand that although this is disappointing for so many, we could no longer envision a way to safely accommodate the large number of visitors we typically host during this event.”

ANC’s most sacred mission to lay our nation’s veterans and their family members to rest continues during this COVID-19 environment. In order to ensure that our primary mission takes place, and to protect our workforce and visitors, the cemetery is taking this proactive step to adhere to the guidance outlined by the CDC to prevent contracting or spreading respiratory illnesses like the flu or COVID-19.

“Our strong hope is to be able to resume hosting this great event next year in 2021,” said Charles “Ray” Alexander, Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery.  “While many of our families and visitors associate the wreath event with the holiday season, we thank all the thousands of volunteers who had planned to take this time to Honor, Remember, and Explore those who are laid to rest at our nation’s most hallowed ground. We invite everyone to virtually visit the cemetery through our multimedia platforms @ArlingtonNatl.”

Family pass holders and visitors are still welcome to visit the cemetery on their own schedules and place graveside tributes of privately purchased flowers or wreaths in accordance with our floral policy.

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Development Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved JBG Smith’s plan to develop Crystal Gateway, a nine-story office building with ground-floor retail,  at 101 12th Street S. in Crystal City. Community benefits associated with the project include the developer conveying 54,500 sq. ft. of land for Gateway Park, which will connect Long Bridge Park to Crystal City.” [Arlington County]

Teacher Groups Banding Together — “Representatives from teacher associations in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Arlington and Manassas Park will host a news conference Monday urging a return to virtual-only learning. In a statement Sunday evening, the Fairfax Education Association said it ‘stands with our colleagues from the Northern Virginia region to ask the Governor to return the Commonwealth to a full Phase II of the reopening plan and to recommend that our schools return to a fully virtual method of instruction.'” [InsideNova]

Feedback Sought for Police Chief Search — “The County Manager has launched a search for a new leader of the Arlington County Police Department. During the first phase of the search, the County is interested in hearing from the community. ‘We value the perspective of every resident and business,’ said County Manager Mark Schwartz… You can offer feedback through December 11.” [Arlington County]

Joint Chiefs Chair’s Wife Saves the Day — “When a bystander collapsed at the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, a nurse was nearby and rushed to his aid. She happened to be the wife of the nation’s top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley.” [NBC News]

‘Click It or Ticket’ Starts Today — ” The Thanksgiving celebration is traditionally one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. As the holiday approaches, the Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on a high visibility Click It or Ticket campaign.” [Arlington County]

State Sen. Pushing Pot Legalization — “We’re continuing to build a bipartisan coalition to #legalize responsible adult use of #marijuana in Virginia. I am working hard to ensure that ending the war on drugs is a top priority.” [@AdamEbbin/Twitter, Virginia Mercury]

N. Va. Delivered State for Biden — “Updated counts from the Virginia Department of Elections show that President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump by over 520,000 votes in Northern Virginia, defined as the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park… Across the rest of Virginia, Trump, a Republican, defeated Biden by about 70,000 votes, winning 50.2% to Biden’s 47.9%.” [InsideNova]

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