There’s been a lot of clean-up in Arlington following last Thursday’s strong storms that produced a weak tornado.
The National Weather Service says the tornado formed adjacent to the Army Navy Country Club and lasted for six minutes on its 4.5 mile journey through Pentagon City and into Washington, D.C. The F-0 tornado had peak winds of 60-70 miles per hour.
The Army Navy Country Club property experienced quite a bit of damage, and a spokesperson issued the following statement to ARLnow on Monday:
“The tornado did interrupt some of the Club’s golf operations, as we had to close 18 of the 27 holes of golf in the Club’s Arlington location. Due to the tornado, we lost dozens of trees, several water coolers, trash cans, and benches on the course. We are fortunate that the path of the tornado did not cause any injuries or damages to the buildings.”
The last time a tornado was recorded in Arlington was on September 24, 2001, when an F-1 that originated in Fairfax County traveled northeast for 15 miles through Alexandria and Arlington, then it crossed the 14th Street Bridge into the District. It caused extensive damage and injured two people in south Arlington.
The scene was different for Thursday’s tornado in Arlington and the two others confirmed in the region that day, said Chris Strong, a warning coordination meteorologist with NWS Baltimore/Washington. Not only were the tornadoes weaker, but they also formed in a different manner.
“These weaker ones last week were basically eddies along a gust front, rather than more classic supercell thunderstorm tornadoes,” Strong says. “Those eddies produced small whirls of wind that in narrow corridors snapped some trees and caused siding and roofing damages.”
Some of that damage occurred when a portion of the facade and roof of the Macy’s at the Pentagon City mall ripped off and fell onto a car, resulting in one minor injury.
Technological advances have prompted changes in how local emergency managers warn the public about tornadoes and other weather emergencies. Some parts of the country, especially those that are more prone to tornadoes, use sirens as a warning. But sirens aren’t necessarily as effective in Arlington and the District, partially because of the dense buildings and foliage.
“Tornado sirens are not used much in this region of the country,” Strong said. “One of the reasons they work better in tornado alley is the wide open spaces with lack of trees that allows the sound to travel well.”
Initial reports suggest a motorcycle and a car collided near the entrance to Army Navy Country Club around 5:15 p.m.
One person was evaluated for a possible back injury, according to scanner traffic.
Wounded Marine’s Golf Clubs Stolen — Retired Marine Lt. Col. Justin Constantine had a couple of his beloved, custom-made golf clubs stolen from Arlington’s Army Navy Country Club after accidentally leaving them at the driving range. Constantine was shot in the face by a sniper in Iraq in 2006. So far, one of the clubs has been returned while two remain missing. [Marine Corps Times]
Video: iPads in Use at APS — Arlington Public Schools has posted a new “#digitalAPS” video that shows iPads in use in a middle school science class. [Arlington Public Schools]
APS Community Engagement Juggling Act — Arlington Public Schools is planning a community engagement blitz as it seeks to keep up with rapidly rising school enrollment by building new schools. This comes in the wake of the County Board putting the brakes on a plan, unpopular with some residents, to build new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School. APS is trying to juggle getting community consensus with the need to build new capacity quickly. [InsideNova]
Dremo’s Owner Dreams Up ‘BeerDisneyLand’ — The owner of the late, lamented Dr. Dremo’s in Rosslyn is proposing to build a two-acre “BeerDisneyLand” on D.C.’s Anacostia River waterfront near Navy Yard. [Hill Now]
Flickr pool by Kevin Wolf
The project was approved by the Arlington County Board in the 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Program. It will include a sidewalk and provide cyclists and pedestrians access from the Columbia Pike area to Pentagon City, according to county Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Manager David Goodman.
“It was originally envisioned as a trail, but ultimately it has more value as an emergency access drive that also allows pedestrian and bicycle activity,” Goodman told ARLnow.com. “Its purpose is to provide an escape valve for getting emergency vehicles between the two sides of I-395. There really aren’t any other connections there.”
The CIP calls for the project to begin the planning phase in FY 2020, and for construction to occur in FY 2022 and 2023. The total project cost is estimated at $5.2 million, and the CIP calls for it to be paid for with state transportation funds. Goodman, who is leading the project, said the $5.2 million is a “back-of-napkin” estimate because there has been no preliminary engineering work done, but it’s possible it will cost less.
The approval in the CIP is the first concrete step toward building the path since the county received the easement for a 30-foot-wide stretch of property along the golf course in 2010. The easement was granted in exchange for zoning approval for a new clubhouse. At the time, members of the country club filed a lawsuit against the club’s leadership trying to block the path from being built.
The road will require a retaining wall because it will be at “a very steep grade,” Goodman said. It will likely have safety bollards on the entrances to block civilian motorist traffic from entering, but allowing the flow of cyclists and pedestrians.
“It’s a very steep and narrow piece of land we were given,” he said. “It’s just a leftover piece of land they were never going to use… Retaining walls are always expensive. We were asked to work with the easement we were given.”
Bicyclists hoping for a new way to get from Columbia Pike to Pentagon City without having to navigate the tricky eastern end of the Pike will have to keep waiting. A plan to build a bike and pedestrian path from the Arlington View neighborhood to Army Navy Drive is still on hold until additional engineering plans and project funding can be procured.
In June 2010, the Arlington County Board approved a plan for Army Navy County Club to build a new four-story clubhouse. As part of the approval process, the club agreed to grant the county an easement which would allow a 30-foot-wide emergency access road and bike/pedestrian path to be built from S. Queen Street, near Hoffman-Boston Elementary, to the I-395 underpass that leads from Army Navy Drive to the club.
The primary motivation for the new road, county officials emphasized, is a need for more north-south connections across I-395 for emergency vehicles.
“There are very few places along the 395 corridor in Arlington where we actually have an underpass, or a way to get from one site of the highway to another without going through an interchange,” says Arlington County Director of Transportation Dennis Leach. “So it’s incredibly valuable…. for emergency response purposes.”
As a side benefit, though, Leach said the path will be “a real benefit to the community” in terms of providing better access for cyclists and pedestrians.
Despite the positives, the project hasn’t gone very far. First, Leach says, more detailed engineering plans need to be drawn up. Then funding needs to be procured through the county’s Capital Improvement Plan and bond referendum process. An early engineering study, conducted in 2010, suggested that the project would require very high retaining walls to compensate for the steep hill the access facility must run along. The cost of such a construction project was expected to exceed $3 million, we’re told.
Leach declined to speculate as to when the access road might eventually be built. He also declined to comment about a 2010 lawsuit filed by disgruntled members of Army Navy Country Club who objected to a bike path being built along one of the holes at their golf course.
A call to Army Navy Country Club for comment was not returned. The club’s then-general manager, who wrote a letter to the editor in support of the emergency access and bike path in 2010, is no longer employed at the club, according to a woman who answered the phone there.
A rebel faction of tradition-bound military officers has declared a legal war on the management of Army Navy Country Club for having the temerity to allow Arlington to build a bike path along the northeastern edge of the golf course.
A gang infestation, hoards of recreation-seeking youngsters and liability issues are a few of the undesirable consequences that the dissident club members fear. The officers, 14 in number, have enlisted a lawyer and are suing the club.
The Washington Post reports that the “grumpy generals,” as they’re called, are seeking a club-wide vote on the trail, which had initially been received with enthusiasm by local bicyclists and county transportation planners.
The Arlington County Board approved a controversial snow removal ordinance on Saturday by a vote of 4-1. Board chairman Jay Fisette cast the lone ‘no’ vote, calling the hefty penalties in the ordinance “overkill.”
The board also passed a fare hike for the county’s ART and STAR buses. The base ART bus fare will increase from $1.25 to $1.50.
Additionally, the board approved a zoning change that will allow Army-Navy Country Club to build a sprawling new four-story clubhouse with views of Washington, D.C. As part of the zoning change, the club will allow an emergency access road to be constructed through its 254 acre grounds. The road, which will connect the Arlington Views neighborhood near Columbia Pike with Army Navy Drive near Pentagon City, will also be open to bicyclists and pedestrians.