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(Updated 2 p.m.) Some changes are coming to several Metrobus routes through Arlington County next year, as the county prepares for the Columbia Pike “Premium Transit Network.”

At a work session with the Arlington County Board on Thursday, county staff put forward a plan that would end seven lines that run through Arlington in FY 2019, which begins on July 1, 2018, and save the county $5.8 million:

  • The 4A between Seven Corners and Rosslyn
  • The 16B, E and P along Columbia Pike
  • The 16G, H, K along Columbia Pike

A spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the changes along the Pike would help make way for the so-called “Premium Transit Network,” which is projected to cost $6.9 million and launch next summer after delays. The various routes would be consolidated under that network, which the spokesman said would “result in more bus service in the county, not less.”

The new bus system was put together after the Columbia Pike Streetcar project was cancelled in 2014, with Board members at the time promising a system that would be just as good, if not better.

To try and lessen the impact of the service cuts, staff proposed improving the frequency and hours of the 4B that largely overlaps the 4A, and similar efforts for the 16A on Columbia Pike. Those improvements would cost just under $850,000.

The 4B would then be discontinued as a Metrobus route in FY 2020, saving the county $1.7 million, and made an ART route.

The 16X service from Columbia Pike to Federal Triangle in D.C. via the Pentagon would have its hours improved, at a cost of $3.2 million to county coffers. The 15K and 15L routes between the East Falls Church and Rosslyn Metro stations would also be realigned.

All told, the various service reductions and increases will cost the county just over $2.6 million more in its Metrobus subsidy, bringing that figure to $40.5 million in FY 2019.

The possibility also exists that the 22A, B and C routes through Barcroft and South Fairlington could be converted into locally-run ART routes. That would save $2.4 million in the county’s Metrobus subsidy, but would require funds to be made available through ART instead.

Cuts had been planned for FY 2018 under the county’s Transit Development Plan approved last year, but were pushed off to FY 2019. The county did not cut any Metrobus routes for FY 2018, and improved the frequency of the 2A route between the Ballston and Dunn Loring Metro stations.

That came in part due to funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s “Transform 66” project to widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.

Metro staff will analyze the actual costs and savings from the various changes, and bring forward a proposal to the agency’s board of directors. The board would then take public comment on any proposed changes region-wide before making a decision next year.

Image via county staff presentation

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(Updated at 9:30 p.m.) A large swath of South Arlington is experiencing low or no water pressure due to “several” water main breaks.

One major break happened on S. Dinwiddie Street, near the Arlington Mill Community Center, Monday evening.

As of 7 p.m., water was gushing from a buckle in the road, sending a torrent of water through an apartment parking lot and down to S. Arlington Mill Road below, where it was pooling, just above Four Mile Run. Tow crews, meanwhile, were moving cars from the side of Dinwiddie Street to give water crews room to work.

Police have closed a portion of Dinwiddie Street between Columbia Pike and 8th Road S. The community center closed just after 7:20 p.m. due to the water main break.

Residents of the Fairlington, Barcroft, Nauck and Columbia Forest neighborhoods have all been reporting widespread water pressure issues.

Officials say there are several water main breaks along the Columbia Pike corridor being attended to by county crews. An Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services sent ARLnow.com the following statement just after 7:30 p.m.

We learned within the past hour of several water main breaks in the Columbia Pike corridor and we’re receiving reports of low water pressure in portions of South Arlington. Crews have been dispatched and are working to fix the issue. Due to high call volume, our 24-hour emergency line, 703-228-6555, is down. At this time, I don’t have an estimated completion time or the number of impacted residents.

As of 8:30 p.m., water pressure had returned to near-normal in at least some areas.

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Police car (file photo)A Maryland man has been arrested and charged with choking and assaulting a woman, then smashing her car’s windshield.

The incident happened late Monday night into early Tuesday morning, in the Barcroft neighborhood near Columbia Pike.

Police say the man and the woman knew each other.

From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

TAMPERING WITH AUTO (significant), 2016-11290004, 5100 block of S. 8th Road. At approximately 12:10 a.m. on November 29, officers responded to the report of tampering with auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that a male subject assaulted a known female victim. After two witnesses broke up the altercation, the suspect left the residence and shattered the windshield of the victim’s vehicle. Ryan Victor Lane, 33, of Cockeysville MD, was arrested and charged with assault & battery, strangulation, and tampering with auto. He is being held without bond.

The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights — which are somewhat sparse thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday — after the jump.

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National Night Out 2016 logoArlington County Police Department officers are set to meet with locals during fun community gatherings at six locations across the county tomorrow night.

The planned events are held as part of National Night Out, a “community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie,” according to a flyer distributed by the police department.

National Night Out celebrations are a chance for police and members of the community to come together, usually over free food and activities.

National Night Out events will be held at the following locations:

  • Arlington Forest (200 block of N. Galveston Street) at 7:30 p.m.
  • Nauck Town Square (24th Road S. and S. Shirlington Road) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
  • Farlington Villages Pool 2 (3045 S. Buchanan Street) from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Park Glen Condo Associations: (800 block of S. Arlington Mill Road) from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Whitefield Commons: (106 N. Thomas Street) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Image via ACPD National Night Out Flyer

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Morning Notes

Cranes and storm clouds (photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk)

Barcroft Fourth of July Parade — The annual Barcroft neighborhood Fourth of July parade will take place Monday at 10 a.m. “Decorate your bikes and wagons, put on a costume or build a float and come march from the Community House to Barcroft Elementary,” organizers wrote. “Stay for a potluck picnic and performance by the Banjo Man.” [Arlington Events]

Real Estate Section Returns — After a six month absence, ARLnow has relaunched our Arlington-specific real estate section. Browse local homes for sale, rentals and open houses (there aren’t many this weekend). We’re still working out some bugs, so let us know if you find any. Real estate agents, if your listings aren’t there shoot us an email and we’ll let you know what your office needs to do to get listed. [Arlington Real Estate]

Summer of Savings — Want to get 25 percent off at a local 4.5 star Yelp-reviewed restaurant? Want other exclusive local discounts and offers? If so, be sure to subscribe to our daily Afternoon Update emails today. Starting this weekend, email subscribers will be receiving some great, curated deals from local businesses. [Email Subscription]

Arlington Considering WWI Commemoration — Arlington County officials are considering options for an official, local World War I commemoration. Such a commemoration would mark the 100th anniversary of the conflict, which ended in 1918. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk

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Morning Notes

Southwest Airlines flight over the 14th Street Bridge (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Zoning Board Rules in Favor of Gun Store — Arlington Board of Zoning Appeals has rejected a challenge to the Certificate of Occupancy for Nova Firearms, the gun store at 2300 N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park. A group of residents filed the appeal, claiming that the store’s owner submitted false information to the county. [Daily Caller]

Complaints About Aircraft Noise in Barcroft — Residents of Arlington’s Barcroft neighborhood are organizing a working group to address the issue of aircraft noise, particularly noise from low-flying helicopters. [Chamandy.org]

Another IRS Phone Scam — Arlington residents are reporting yet another phone scam. If someone calls you out of the blue, says they’re from the IRS and tries to get you to reveal personal information, it’s probably a scam. [WJLA]

New Leader for Arlington Arts Center — Holly Koons McCullough has been named the new executive director of the Arlington Arts Center. Previously, McCullough served as director of the Greater Reston Arts Center. [Washington City Paper]

New Director of Transportation for APS — The Arlington School Board has approved the appointment of Angel Garcia-Ablanque as the school system’s new Director of Transportation. He was previously Assistant Director of Transportation for Montgomery County Public Schools. [Arlington Public Schools]

Fundraiser at Celtic HouseCeltic House (2500 Columbia Pike) is holding a fundraiser for two veterans organizations today. The Irish pub, an ARLnow.com advertiser, will be donating a portion of all sales today to Wings for Warriors and Links to Freedom.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Car fire in the Barcroft neighborhood on 10/23/15 (photo courtesy ACPD)No one was injured after a car burst into flames in the Barcroft neighborhood this morning.

The incident happened around 8 a.m., at the intersection of S. Buchanan Street and 9th Street S.

Police say they responded to a report of a smoldering car at the intersection. The smoldering quickly turned into flames, as captured in a photo taken by a police officer.

Arlington firefighters responded to extinguish the blaze. A county fire marshal also responded, to investigate the cause of the fire.

Photo courtesy ACPD

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Beast of Barcroft (Couresty of Bill Schweigart)A new novel by Barcroft resident Bill Schweigart has taken an old Arlington mystery and added a twist.

The Beast of Barcroft,” set to be released as an e-book in November, is based on a series of actual animal attacks in Barcroft during 1974.

“Something for weeks in 1974 was scaring the residents of Arlington,” Schweigart said.

At least 23 pets near the Four Mile Run Trail were killed by an animal nicknamed “The Beast of Barcroft,” according to 1974 newspaper reports. Residents could hear a fearsome screeching a night, made even more terrifying by the fact that for a time no one knew what kind of a creature was making it.

“What is it that screams so, down there in the dark hollow of Four Mile Run?” read one contemporary newspaper article. “What is it that howls and kills and goes crash in the Arlington night; that tears the eyes from cats; that strips the hides from rabbits; that raises the hackles on the backs of terrified dogs and cats?”

Eventually the National Zoo was called in to capture the “beast,” which turned out to be a civet.

When Schweigart came across the story, he said it was the “lightning bolt that struck.”

"Beast" newspaper clipping (photo courtesy Bill Schweigart)“I love the network of trails here,” Schweigart said. “So I’ve always wanted to set something on the trail.”

Schweigart’s story takes plenty of artistic liberty with the actual history, he said, but he does reference it in his story. For instance, he includes a character who is a zoologist at the National Zoo.

“My bad guy is considerably more dangerous than what was caught in 1974,” he said.

“The Beast of Barcroft” is the first in a series featuring characters living in Arlington, he said. The second is already finished and set to be released in February 2016.

“Arlington is where I live and where I make my stand, and that’s where my characters are making their stands,” Schweigart said.

The book is a supernatural thriller and for adults only, he said, adding that he won’t let his own daughter read it.

“It would make me a very bad parent letting her read that book,” he said.

Bill Schweigart (Courtesy of Bill Schweigart)“The Beast of Barcroft” is Schweigart’s second book. His first, “Slipping the Cable,” is a thriller about a Coast Guard junior officer.

Schweigart started writing while at the Coast Guard Academy, he said. He wrote a story as part of assignment that ended up placing in a writing competition.

“That’s when I caught the bug,” he said.

Schweigart eventually wants to start writing as a full time profession, but for now, he writes in the morning before going to work, he said.

“If all the lovely readers would buy 100 copies of the book that would certainly help me in a huge way,” he joked.

“The Beast of Barcroft” is currently available for pre-order and will be released in November. The book’s plot summary, after the jump.

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Neighborhood Day: Fairlington DayNeighborhood Day, when many neighborhoods around the county hold celebrations of their little pocket of Arlington, is May 9 this year.

Next Saturday, neighborhoods like Clarendon, Bluemont, Westover and Barcroft are each holding events intended to bring neighbors together and celebrate their immediate surrounding area.

In Clarendon, county officials will gather to celebrate the now-upscale neighborhood’s time in the post-Vietnam War 1970s and 1980s when it was known as “Little Saigon” for its high population of Vietnamese immigrants. At 1:30 p.m., former Little Saigon residents and historians will narrate a tour of the area, displaying historic and still-standing businesses from the era.

The whole event, called Echoes of Little Saigon will run from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and will include displays of Vietnamese art and Lemongrass food truck, a frequent Arlington visitor during lunch hours, will provide the country’s cuisine.

Below is a list of the neighborhood day events from other areas of the county, via the Department of Parks and Recreation (all events are on Saturday, May 9).

  • Bluemont: Bluemont Park (601 N. Manchester Street), 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The annual Walk for the Animals fundraiser for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is back for Neighborhood Day. The 20th anniversary walk has already raised more than $50,000, and this year will include its first “pet festival.” The festival will include vendors, food trucks, photos with pets, adoptable shelter dogs available to play and more.
  • Westover: Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road), 3:00-5:00 p.m. A “family fun afternoon” with activities that include face painting.
  • Penrose: Penrose Park (2200 6th Street S), 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The south Arlington is hosting “Family Fitness day,” holding activities for nutritional and fitness awareness, a moon bounce and fitness classes for all ages.
  • Yorktown: Chestnut Hills Park (2807 N. Harrison Street), 11:30 a.m. Celebrate the ribbon-cutting on the renovated playground with neighbors. FitArlington will be on hand promoting its new website and fitness initiative. Children can participate in the free scavenger hunt for prizes.
  • Barcroft: Barcroft Elementary School (625 S. Wakefield Street), 4:00-6:00 p.m. The Barcroft Elementary Spring Fair is intended to be an early evening of pure fun, with activities likea bounce house, games and a cake walk, all for prizes.
  • Old Glebe: Gulf Branch Nature Center (3608 N. Military Road), 10:00-11:30 a.m. The north Arlington nature center will join the neighborhood to “welcome back hummingbirds.” Each family will make its own feeders as the birds with the fastest wings in the world migrate back to the county. Register online.
  • Glencarlyn: Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road), 7:00-8:00 p.m. The nature center will host families in the amphitheater for a campfire discussion about snakes. Games, songs and s’mores will all be in abundance.

File photo

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A cat was rescued from a townhouse fire Wednesday morning (Photo courtesy ACFD)Arlington County firefighters rescued a cat from a townhouse fire early this morning.

Firefighters were called to a home on the 4400 block of Pershing Court in the Barcroft neighborhood around 4:45 this morning for reports of a fire. Units arrived six minutes later and found flames coming out of a front window on the top floor, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah-Maria Marchegiani.

The blaze was quickly extinguished but firefighters found a cat inside the home in “respiratory distress,” Marchegiani said. The cat, which was foaming at the mouth as a result of smoke inhalation, was brought outside and given oxygen. It was then transported to an animal hospital — the VCA SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center on Route 50 — where it is now listed in stable condition.

There were no human injuries as a result of the fire. The blaze caused about $50,000 in damage.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, which started in an upstairs bedroom, according to Marchegiani. Other than the cat, the home was unoccupied — its residents were on vacation at the time.

Photo courtesy ACFD

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arlington-va-logoThe Arlington County Board could approve another round of neighborhood improvement projects at its meeting this Saturday.

Six projects are slated to receive $3.5 million in funding in the fourth and final round of appropriations from 2012’s $11 million Neighborhood Conservation Bond.

The projects are:

  • Street improvements to the 5700 block of 2nd Street S. and the 100 block of S. Kensington Street in Glencarlyn. Cost: $724,042. Expected completion date: June 2016.
  • A trail connector from the 4800 block of 7th Street S. to the W&OD trail in Barcroft. Cost: $135,317. Expected completion date: October 2015.
  • Pedestrian safety improvements to 19th Road N. between Woodstock Street and Upton Street in Waverly Hills. Cost: $753,845. Expected completion date: May 2016.
  • Street improvements to S. Lang Street between Arlington Ridge Road and 28th Street in Arlington Ridge. Cost: $713,003. Expected completion date: October 2015.
  • Streetlights and trail improvements on N. Ohio Street between 22nd Street and Washington Blvd in Highland Park Overlee Knolls. Cost: $380,369. Expected completion date: July 2015.
  • Park improvements to Woodlawn Park in Waycroft-Woodlawn. Cost: 795,000. Expected completion date: None given.

The projects were chosen based on a priority scale and approved for recommendation by the NCAC in December.

The projects given the highest priority were those in neighborhoods that have recently updated or completed new conservation plans and in neighborhoods that have waited for projects the longest. The county staff report has the full list of criteria.

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