Kitchen Fire at Lebanese Taverna — Firefighters extinguished an early morning kitchen fire at Lebanese Taverna on Pentagon Row Saturday. [Twitter]
Arlington to Get Tourism Promotion Boost — A slight increase in Arlington’s hotel tax, approved by the County Board over the weekend, will allow the county to boost its tourism promotion budget by $1.25 million. The hotel tax increase was years in the making, as Arlington sought authorization from the state legislature, which stripped the county of the ability to levy the tax surcharge in 2011. [Arlington County]
Fire Station 8 Recommendation — The County Board’s Fire Station No. 8 task force is recommending that the current, aging station be torn down and a new, larger station be built in its place. The cost will be $5 million higher than the county’s estimate for what it originally wanted to do: move the station to county-owned land near Marymount University. That proposal met with resident resistance. [InsideNova]
New Temporary Home for County Buses, Vehicles — The County Board has approved a seven-year lease for a property near Shirlington, where it plans to temporarily store ART buses and county vehicles during separate construction projects. The land is near the CubeSmart self-storage facility. [Arlington County]
Bank Robbery Suspect Arrested — The “Ball Cap Bandit,” who allegedly robbed a bank near Fairlington while wearing a Brooklyn Nets hat, has been caught. According to the FBI, the suspect is 26-year-old Arlington resident Budder Khan. He’s being charged in three separate robberies. He wore Colorado Rockies and Oakland Raiders hats during his other two alleged robberies. [Washington Post]
Two Dozen APS Students Selected for Governor’s School — “This summer, 24 APS students will attend the Governor’s School for Academics, Mentorship, Visual and Performing Arts or the Foreign Language Academy. Both programs allow students to focus on a specific area of intellectual or artistic strengths and interests and to study in a way that best suits the gifted learner’s needs.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Arlington Transit buses will be running more frequently or on expanded hours tomorrow, on certain routes, to try to help commuters during the all-day Metro shutdown.
During the Metrorail shutdown on Wednesday, March 16, ART will run normal weekday service PLUS the following additional service:
ART 41 – Supplemental service will be added between Ballston Mall and Courthouse to connect with Metrobus bridge from Courthouse to DC.
ART 42 – Midday service will be more frequent.
ART 43 – Service will be provided during off-peak hours, with lower frequency than rush hour.
ART 45 – AM peak service will end 60 minutes later than usual. PM peak service will begin 60 minutes earlier than usual.
Because of the short notice for the service changes, real-time arrival info for the additional services will not be available. We apologize for any inconvenience.
A runaway Arlington Transit bus rolled downhill and smashed into at least four parked cars and a motorcycle early this afternoon.
The crash happened around 12:30 p.m. on the 800 block of S. Greenbrier Street, in the Arlington Mill neighborhood near Columbia Pike.
A preliminary report suggests the bus’ brakes failed, leading to the big crash, but that has not been confirmed yet, said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. Investigators remain on scene and the road is closed.
The force of the collision flipped one car on its side and pushed another across the adjacent sidewalk. Luckily, no injuries were reported and no passengers were on the bus at the time of the crash, Savage said.
**UPDATE** 800 S. Greenbrier Street reopening after earlier crash.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) March 14, 2016
Photos courtesy @themusiking, Arlington County Police Department
Traffic volume on I-395, I-66 and Route 50 was relatively light this morning. Some delays were reported on I-395 at King Street earlier, possibly the result of snow clearing operations.
Every Metrorail line is running every 12 minutes except the Silver Line, which remains closed. WMATA was unable to open aboveground service on the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Vienna this morning, so Ballston is the Virginia end of the line.
Metrobuses are operating on a “severe snow plan” with half hour delays, while Arlington Transit service is operating on a Sunday schedule between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. with “severe service” detours. Only the ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 lines are running.
Arlington County snow removal crews, meanwhile, are making slow but steady progress on clearing neighborhood streets. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services said this morning that 30 percent of residential streets had been plowed.
The small street connecting S. Eads Street and Route 1 in Crystal City will permanently close at the end of next week to make way for an upgraded Arlington Rapid Transit (ART) bus facility.
On Friday, Jan. 29, 32nd Street will close. The tiny road is between two existing ART bus parking lots at 3201 and 3175 S. Eads Street. The combined pieces of land will create the new site for the bus facility.
The County Board approved the $14.2 million project in May, and construction began in September. When complete, the new facility will include a two-story building, a bus wash bay, a light maintenance bay, storage, parking and four compressed natural gas fueling stations.
The decision to close 32nd Street was approved at the same meeting as the new ART facility approval. In a report for that item, county staff determined “the Abandoned Street is no longer needed to provide public access from Jefferson Davis Highway to South Eads Street.”
The next closest street connecting S. Eads Street to Route 1 is via S. Glebe Road, which is approximately 0.2 miles south of the construction site.
Construction on the new ART facility is scheduled to take about 18 months and is expected to be completed in 2017.
Photo via Google Maps
ART 55 will operate from the same bus stops as Metrobus 3A, at the same rush hour frequency and a higher midday and weekend frequency.
The county issued the following press release about the change today.
Starting Sunday, Dec. 13 a new Arlington Transit (ART) route, ART 55, will replace part of the Metrobus 3A route and connect two Metrorail hubs–East Falls Church and Rosslyn.
The new service will be more frequent midday and weekends, more reliable, and cost the County less to operate, because ART bus service is less expensive to operate than Metrobus.
“Replacing the 3A with lower-cost ART service allows us to reinvest the savings in expanded midday and weekend service along Lee Highway, which residents have been asking for,” said Director of Transportation Dennis Leach. “Converting the route to ART service also gives us the flexibility to adjust and improve service in the future to meet the needs of our community.”
ART 55 in Arlington will stop at all the same places as the 3A.. During weekday peak periods, ART 55 service will run every 12 minutes, the same level of service the 3A provides today. During middays and weekends, ART 55 will run more frequently than the 3A does now:
- Every 15 minutes midday (compared to every 30 minutes for the 3A)
- Every 20 minutes during the day on Saturday (compared to every 30 minutes for the 3A)
- Every 30 minutes nights and Sundays (compared to every hour on Sunday for the 3A)
Weekday service will run until 1:44 a.m. (compared to 12:57 a.m. for the 3A), and the hours of service on weekends will be the same as the 3A.
Arlington County courts, libraries, public schools and other government offices will be closed for the holiday, and metered parking will not be enforced, the county said. Arlington Transit will operate on a holiday schedule.
Trash and recycling services, meanwhile, will operate on a normal schedule.
The temporary housing of buses is one of the topics on the agenda for a Sept. 1 community meeting, said county spokeswoman Catherine Matthews. The meeting will also discuss street parking, the upcoming Shirlington Crescent-Four Mile Run planning study and Jennie Dean Park.
“The meeting on September 1 (with residents from Nauck, Shirlington and Fairlington) will really just be to communicate about and implement some community planning efforts and address some outstanding neighborhood concerns,” Matthews said in an email.
County officials will attend the meeting to answer questions about any of the agenda items, Matthews said.
Buses will be housed at LaPorte property until 2017, when the new facility at the corner of S. Eads and 32nd Streets is expected to be finished, she said.
“In terms of parking buses here, the County does not foresee any major changes or delays to existing traffic patterns. All of our ART buses are CNG (compressed natural gas) powered and run on natural gas, making these buses cleaner and quieter in operation,” Matthews said.
Construction to build the new ART facility begins Sept. 9 and is expected to last 18 months, according to the project’s website. The new two-story facility will have spaces for bus maintenance, bus washing, a gas station and parking.
The meeting will also discuss planning efforts for the Jennie Dean Park and Shirlington Crescent-Four Mile Run area. Both projects are in preplanning phases, Matthews said.
The Shirlington Crescent-Four Mile Run Planning Study is planned for 2015, according to the project’s website, and will look at the land use in the area.
“The goal will be to develop a vision and long-term planning guidance for the area, which includes primary industrially zoned properties,” Matthews said in an email. “We will be examining potential land use changes, transportation improvements; and environmental issues, given the proximity of the Four Mile stream.”
At the same time, the county will also be creating a master plan for Jennie Dean Park, but the project is still in the early stages, she said.
(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) Arlington County and VDOT are considering building a bus maintenance facility on the east end of Columbia Pike, according to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
The powerful Arizona Senator sent a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh on Wednesday urging him to oppose a planned realignment of Columbia Pike that’s being sought by the county. McCain said the alignment would allow construction of the bus facility but would reduce the number of potential interment spaces available to Arlington National Cemetery as it expands to include the former Navy Annex site.
“We should instead pursue an alignment that maximizes the number of interment sites and places restrictions on the remaining property that ensure whatever is built reflects the solemnity of this national cemetery,” McCain wrote. “It would be shameful to have to tell the family of a fallen American hero that there is no space available at Arlington National Cemetery, because rather than expand its grounds, Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation decided to build a bus maintenance facility.”
Brian Stout, the county’s federal government liaison, said late Friday afternoon that a bus facility is just one use that’s being considered for the land along a realigned Columbia Pike. There are no concrete plans for such a facility, and a formal planning process will not begin until the land swap takes place, he said.
An Arlington County heritage center and parking for the Air Force Memorial are among the other potential uses for the land, said Stout.
Stout said Arlington County, VDOT and the U.S. Army reached a “verbal agreement” on July 16, outlining a swap that would give the Army 38 acres of interment space for Arlington National Cemetery north of a realigned Columbia Pike.
According to Stout, that that represents a 250 percent increase in burial space provided to the cemetery compared to space that would be available without a land swap. The swap would reduce the footprint of the road network from 23 to 9 acres, and would provide Arlington County with 7.5 acres of land south of the Pike for county use, Stout said.
Stout said it’s incorrect to say that the county is “planning” to build a bus facility on the land, though it is a potential use. He denied that discussion of a bus facility has “stalled” talks with the Army, as McCain claims.
Earlier this year the Arlington County Board approved a $14.2 million project to expand and enhance its Arlington Transit bus facility along S. Eads Street and Route 1. Construction on the project is expected to begin this month and last 18 months.
Despite the large investment, the county notes on the project page that an additional ART facility is needed, especially in order to enhance bus service on Columbia Pike in the wake of the cancellation of the Pike streetcar project.
“The new bus facility will not be large enough to fully house the existing ART fleet, or current plans for fleet expansion, nor will it accommodate additional buses that may be necessary to enhance bus service along Columbia Pike and Crystal City-Pentagon City,” the county says. “Where to add bus maintenance and parking space is one of many County needs being examined by the Community Facilities Study, a broad-based, year-long planning effort launched in January 2015 by the Arlington County Board and the Arlington School Board.”
The full letter from Sen. McCain, after the jump.
Flickr pool photo (bottom) by Jeff Reardon
Sweetgreen, Taylor Gourmet Coming to Crystal City — Venture capital-funded salad purveyor Sweetgreen plans to open a 1,700 square foot store in the former Corner Bakery space in Crystal City later this year. And that’s not the only trendy eatery coming to the neighborhood. Sandwich shop Taylor Gourmet is expected to open in a storefront next door. [Bisnow]
Sunglasses Store Closes on Pentagon Row — There’s still more than a month until Labor Day but sunglasses store Specs New York, which opened up three months ago on Pentagon Row, appears to be closing. [Twitter]
New Law Allows Cocktail Pitchers — A new Virginia law that took effect July 1 finally allows restaurants to serve pitchers of cocktails. Previously, it was against the law to serve any mixed drink other than sangria via pitcher. Pepita, which opened last week in Ballston, is taking advantage of the new law by selling margaritas in a skull-shaped pitcher for $40. [Washington Business Journal]
TV Station Profiles Arlington Fugitive — Rosslyn-based WJLA featured an Arlington fugitive as part of an “ABC 7 On Your Side” segment. Police say Jessie Kim, 25, assaulted the new owner of what had formerly been his family’s dry cleaning business. Kim is also accused of destroying the owner’s phone and other property before driving off in a silver BMW. [WJLA]
Bus Accident in Ballston — A minor collision between an ART bus and a Metrobus happened around 5:00 p.m. yesterday in front of the Ballston Metro station. No injuries were reported.
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
Arlington County has added eight new buses to its fleet in order to provide more frequent bus service along several routes.
Additional bus service will be added to the ART 41 (Columbia Pike, Ballston and Courthouse), 43 (Crystal City, Rosslyn and Courthouse) and 87 (Pentagon Metro, Army Navy Drive and Shirlington) routes starting Monday, July 6, according to press release.
The new bus service on Columbia Pike is just an initial step in improving transit on the Pike, said Eric Balliet, spokesman for the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services.
“This is definitely one of the first steps we can take to show our commitment to the corridor and our commitment to transit,” he said.
The ART 41 route will have more frequent service with the bus coming every 15 minutes during the day and every 23 minutes during weekday and Saturday nights.
The enhanced service is one way Arlington is addressing the transit needs that remained after the streetcar program was cut, Balliet said.
The ART 43 route will have buses run about every 10 minutes with extended service until 10:35 a.m. during morning rush hour and 7:47 p.m. during the evening commute.
The ART 87 will be getting new Sunday service, which will run from 7:14 a.m. to 7:11 p.m. The route will also have extended service until 11:41 p.m. on weekdays and 11:53 p.m. on Saturdays. On the weekends, the service will run to the Pentagon City Metro Station instead of the Pentagon Metro Station.
The county is also adding a new ART 87P line, which will run between the Pentagon and S. Lang Street. During rush hour, service will alternate every 10 minutes between the full ART 87 line and the ART 87P line.
“Anything we can do to make [commuting] more convenient, we think customers will appreciate,” Balliet said.
In order to provide the advance service, the county added eight new 40-foot buses to the ART fleet. The new buses are 5 feet longer than the standard ART buses, which allow for more seats and more standing room, he said.
The new buses are being added to routes with high ridership.
“These bus service improvements are a first step in meeting the current transit needs for Columbia Pike and Crystal City-Pentagon City, as we work to create vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods along these corridors,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “Every day ART helps thousands of Arlingtonians get to work, school and other activities, and the additional service will make ART an even more reliable transportation choice all week long.”
Yesterday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority began work on improving the bus bays at the Pentagon, according to WMATA spokesman Richard Jordan.
Jordan said that the bus bay improvements, which include expanding pedestrian walkways and replacing the pavement with concrete, are the largest component of the transit center renovations, which are intended to move pedestrians more efficiently and make the bus bays more comfortable. Jordan said the project also aimed to improve traffic circulation, access and security, although he was unable to speak to specifics.
Both WMATA and Arlington Transit buses serving the Pentagon will be rerouted beginning Thursday (June 18), said Jordan.
ART spokesman Steve Yaffe said delays are currently expected to be less than five minutes.
According to a service update on ART’s website, ART buses 42, 87 and 92 will enter the Pentagon reservation as usual but will exit via S. Fern Street. Again according to the update, the two bus stops between S. Fern and S. Eads Street will be closed for the duration of the construction; an alternate stop has been set up at the corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Drive.
WMATA buses will also experience delays due to rerouting, but there are no planned changes to where the buses stop.
“[The construction] isn’t going to affect where riders get on and off the bus,” said Jordan.
During morning and evening rush hour times, police will be at the Pentagon to direct buses to their detours. During all other times of the day, flaggers will be present to indicate where the buses should go.
WMATA has listed all affected routes on their website and encourages commuters to plan for slightly longer traveling times.
Part of a $58.8 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation is funding the project. According to Jordan, construction is expected to last about two months and should be completed sometime in August or September.
The ART bus driver who was involved in a seven-vehicle wreck along Columbia Pike in December has been found not guilty of reckless driving.
The verdict was reached today after a trial held before Arlington County General District Court Judge Richard McCue. Agere Sileshi, 27, was found not guilty of the original charge of reckless driving, but was found guilty of “improper driving.”
Sileshi faces a $250 fine but no jail time on the charge, which “embodies a finding by the Court that the ‘degree of culpability is slight,'” according her attorney, Alexandria attorney Joseph Blaszkow. Sileshi has been on medical leave since the incident, Blaszkow said.
According to court testimony, Sileshi was driving her bus through the parking lot of the Columbia Pike Plaza shopping center when a car suddenly turned in front of her. Sileshi struck the car and then drove her bus through a retaining wall and onto S. Dinwiddie Street, striking several additional vehicles.
Altogether, five passenger vehicle, a mixing truck and several bicycles were damaged in the crash. Three vehicle occupants and a pedestrian were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The County Board will vote on a $14.2 million contract to build a new facility to store and maintain is Arlington Rapid Transit (ART) buses on S. Eads Street in Crystal City, right next to the current bus facility already there.
The site, at 3201 and 3175 S. Eads Street, would include a two-story building, a bus wash bay, a light maintenance bay, storage and parking and four compressed natural gas fueling stations.
“Services currently provided by ART are limited by a size-constrained storage facility that provides no capability for on-site fueling or light vehicle maintenance,” the staff report reads. “The construction of the ART Bus Facility will improve transit facilities, reduce costs, and increase utilization of mass transit services in the County, and assist with the integration of transit facilities into surrounding communities.”
In a separate County Board agenda item, county staff proposes to eliminate 32nd Street S. between Jefferson Davis Highway and S. Eads Street, which would allow two existing ART bus lots to be connected. The county has purchased, or already owns, the land on either side of the street, and transportation staff has determined “the Abandoned Street is no longer needed to provide public access from Jefferson Davis Highway to South Eads Street.”
The total cost of the new facility is estimated at $17.6 million, $5 million more than the county had budgeted in the 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan. County staff said that discrepancy was caused by a revised site concept with added capability for maintenance and fueling, roadway improvements to Route 1 and S. Eads Street and the increasing price of construction materials in the region.
The county plans on covering the funding gap using $1.3 million in state funding and $3.7 million through a rebalancing of ART budgets and dipping into contingency funds.
Once approved and built, the new facility is expected to save the county $57,000 a year thanks to ART buses no longer needing to use a nearby WMATA fueling and washing facility.
Photo via Google Maps
County to Study ART Bus Ads — Arlington County staff will study selling advertisements on the side of ART buses. With County Board member John Vihstadt being joined by Jay Fisette and Libby Garvey in support, the Board directed County Manager Barbara Donnellan to study the issue and report back later this spring. Vihstadt said ART ads could bring in additional local revenue. [InsideNova, Twitter]
RAMMY Nomination for Liberty Tavern — Clarendon’s Liberty Tavern has been named one of the finalists in the “Everyday Casual Brunch” category for the 2015 RAMMY awards. Liberty Tavern appears to be the only Arlington restaurant nominated this year, although Tim Ma of Water & Wall in Virginia Square was nominated in the “Rising Culinary Star of the Year” category. The awards are organized by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.
Props for Crystal City, Pentagon City — Crystal City and Pentagon City are, in some ways, “experiencing the best of times,” according to Bisnow, which held a conference last week about business prospects in the “two cities.” [Bisnow]