Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Expensive Bike Parking Spaces — “Metro has spent nearly $20,000 per bike parking space at three bike facilities, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has found. Metro has spent over $5.9 million on the construction of 304 bike spaces at the three facilities… located at the College Park, East Falls Church and Vienna Metro stations.” [NBC 4]

Short Waits to Vote in Arlington — “Eager to avoid waiting in line while casting an early ballot? Try to avoid peak times and you should be fine. ‘Wait times are minimal,’ said county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer, with the exception of early morning and occasionally at lunchtime. Other than that, voters have been experiencing waits of 10 minutes or less, and ‘most people are just walking straight in to vote,’ she said.” [InsideNova]

Voters Flocking to Ballot Drop-Boxes — “Arlington has set up nine dropboxes for the secure collection of ballots at points across the county, representing another option for those who neither want to vote in person nor wish to trust the U.S. Postal Service with their ballots. That network has proved ‘very popular,’ Arlington elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]

Biden Leads in New Va. Poll — “Former vice president Joe Biden leads President Trump 52 percent to 41 percent among likely Virginia voters, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll — roughly double Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the state in 2016. Biden’s advantage cuts across most demographic groups, with regional strength in the Northern Virginia suburbs and the Richmond area.” [Washington Post]

Local Nonprofit Featured on GMA — “Lights, camera, action! We had a wonderful experience filming with the Good Morning America team last week. The piece aired early this morning… We were thrilled by an unexpected and very generous gift from Amazon.com to help our residents weather the pandemic.” [Facebook, Vimeo]

Police Investigation Bill Signed into Law — “Gov. Northam has signed my bill (HB 5072) to empower the Atty Gen to conduct ‘pattern or practice’ investigations of police forces that appear to be violating constitutional rights, such as patterns of excessive force, illegal searches, or racially biased policing.” [@Lopez4VA/Twitter]

Pupatella Now Available for Delivery — “UBER EATS Now available at all locations – DC (Dupont Circle), both the Original Wilson Blvd spot and South Arlington, as well as Richmond too! We’ve partnered up with UberEats to bring you some of the best pizza around.” [@PupatellaPizza/Twitter]

Local Beer Biz Figure Dies — “Ben Tolkan, a popular figure in DC’s beer industry who was the subject of a Washingtonian feature story, died late Saturday night after a five-and-a half-year battle with cancer. He was 37.” Tolkan is survived by his wife, Abby, an Arlington County public school teacher. [Washingtonian]

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Morning Notes

Nonprofit Won’t Return to Arlington Office — “The American Diabetes Association isn’t planning a return to the Crystal City headquarters it left Alexandria for a few years back, not even when a Covid-19 vaccine is readily available and it’s safe to go back to the office again. The nonprofit is seeking to sublease all of its space at 2451 Crystal Drive, about 80,000 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]

Voter Registration Open Until Midnight — “A judge on Wednesday granted a request from civil rights groups to extend Virginia’s voter registration deadline until Oct. 15 after the state’s online system crashed on the final day of the registration period, according to Virginia’s attorney general.” [Axios, Press Release]

Oh, Deer — The regional deer population has been increasing during the pandemic, which is making driving more dangerous this fall as deer potentially become “too comfortable” around roads. [NBC 4]

Park Rangers Patrolling for Rogue Mountain Bikers — “Park rangers have been patrolling the parks to keep the mountain bike riders off the natural trails. ‘We put up barriers in places where we can. We put up signs … in key areas we put up some things to block their access … but we’re focusing on education,’ Abugattas said.” [WTOP]

Voting Lines Should Move Quickly — “Arlington election officials are advising the public not to be dissuaded if lines for voting, either in advance of Nov. 3 or on Election Day itself, seem long. ‘You can expect to see a pretty long line, but that’s because of the spacing we’re trying to put between voters,’ county director of elections Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” Also, the Reinemeyer said the county is already fully staffed with volunteer poll workers. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Certification for Sheriff’s Office — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office has met all applicable Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards following an audit that was conducted earlier this year.” [Arlington County]

Pentagon City Planning Meeting Tonight — “Participate in a virtual workshop about Arlington’s community planning process for Pentagon City! The first workshop will include small group discussions about the community’s vision for the Pentagon City Area.” [Arlington County]

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Morning Notes

Shooting Near Arlington Border — An early Sunday morning shooting that could be heard in parts of south Arlington “happened along the 3800 block of South George Mason Drive at approximately 1:19 a.m., according to Fairfax County police. Police said when they arrived at the scene, they discovered bullet casings but no victims. Shortly after, Arlington County police stopped a vehicle along I-395 and found a victim who had been shot in the abdomen and was trying to drive to a hospital.” [WTOP]

Purple Lounge Loses Liquor License Again — “The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has temporarily suspended the alcohol licenses of the Purple Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge, LLC after finding the establishment in violation of the terms imposed… on September 16, 2020. As a result of this action, the alcohol licenses of the Purple Lounge will remain suspended for a minimum of 10 days with reinstatement dependent upon approval by Virginia ABC.” [Arlington County]

Local Tourism Boomed in 2019 — “After a record-breaking 2018, tourism spending in Arlington rose to $3.6 billion in 2019, according to data released today by the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Arlington has led Virginia counties in visitor spending for 12 consecutive years, with local tourism in 2019 generating $97.8 million in local tax receipts… [but] early numbers for 2020 project a sharp decrease in tourism spending.” [Arlington County]

Those Darn Kids Are At It Again — “Certain mountain bikers have blazed new unauthorized trails down the historic hillock known for 300 years as Brandymore Castle. They’ve angered tree stewards and parks protectors who bemoan damage to plant life on that secluded tree-lined formation in Madison Manor Park… The problem, Allen said, is not that mountain biking is inherently bad, but that a few practitioners lack education in the environmental impact of their behavior.” [Falls Church News-Press]

National Landing = Copenhagen on the Potomac? — From a local cycling advocate, regarding the possibility of adding more cycling infrastructure around Crystal City and Pentagon City: “We can turn @NationalLanding into Copenhagen in one fell swoop if we want to.” [@CarFreeHQ2/Twitter]

Today’s a Holiday — As a reminder, ARLnow is on a limited publishing schedule today due to the federal holiday. Arlington County offices and facilities, however, are open. Trash and recycling are being collected, though metered parking is not being enforced.

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Morning Notes

Girl’s Study Shed Featured on NBC — With the help of a local Facebook group called “Buy Nothing,” an Arlington dad built a study shed for his daughter using materials donated by neighbors. The project was featured on Saturday’s national NBC Nightly News broadcast. [YouTube, Washington Post]

APS Graduation Rate Improves — “Arlington’s public-school students posted a 93.4-percent on-time graduation rate up from 92.5 percent a year before, according to new data from the Virginia Department of Education. Rates rose among both genders and in major racial/ethnic groups compared to the Class of 2019, while the school system’s dropout rate showed improvement, declining from 5.6 percent in 2019 to 4.9 percent in 2020.” [InsideNova]

Crystal City Halloween Shop Struggles — “This was supposed to be the biggest Halloween of Lorenzo Caltagirone’s career.
For the first time in 95 years, it would fall on both a full moon and a Saturday — an equation that normally would mean big profits for his Virginia costume shop. Instead, sales are down 80 percent and he is running low on cash.” [Washington Post]

Vehicle Tampering Suspects Flee — “Police were dispatched to the report of two subjects trespassing and tampering with vehicles in a parking garage. Upon arrival, it was determined that security observed two suspects enter the garage on motorcycles and begin trying door handles. Arriving officers observed the suspects, however, when they attempted to stop them, Suspect One got on a motorcycle, then fled on foot and the Suspect Two fled on a motorcycle.” [ACPD]

Memorial Service for Erik Gutshall — A memorial service for the late County Board member Erik Gutshall was held last night at outdoor the Lubber Run Amphitheater. Some mourners attended in person, though the service was also broadcast online. [YouTube]

Beyer’s Warnings Unheeded By White House — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) “specifically and directly warned the White House and the Trump Campaign in June, July, August, and September that refusing to wear masks or social distance could create ‘super-spreader events.’ We used those words,” said Beyer’s spokesman. [Twitter]

Cross-Country Tandem Bike Ride — “Terri and Bruce Brown are finishing up a more than 3,000-mile, three-month bicycle trip from Oregon to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, not with two bikes, but one.” [WTOP]

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An Arlington-based organization wants people to join them for a peaceful protest on wheels.

Arlington for Justice, is asking community members to “Ride for Black Lives” on Saturday, Sept. 26, as they pedal about 14 miles in the name of justice.

The ride will begin at 3 p.m., starting at Drew Elementary School (3500 23rd St. S.) and is expected to end around 5 p.m. in front of the county courthouse (1425 N. Courthouse Road).

The route will take riders by sites in Arlington that are of Black historical significance, organization member Yolande Kwinana said.

Arlington for Justice wants the ride to:

  • Call attention to racial injustice and the need for criminal justice reform in Arlington.
  • Celebrate Black resilience and history in Arlington.
  • Advocate for the elimination of School Resource Officers.
  • Advocate for the community’s involvement in selecting a new police chief who is committed to justice system transformation.
  • Advocate for ending police intervention in mental health crises.

Kwinana said there will be a rally at the end of the ride, upon arrival at the Courthouse.

“We ride together with our partners, MOMS Demand Action, Black Parents of Arlington, VA Coalition for Transforming the police, WofA, APS Reform and many more. There will be multiple speakers at the rally including elected delegates who have recently submitted bills,” Kwinana said.

County police will escort the cyclists and close some streets along the route, according to Kwinana.

There will also be a shorter ride for those with kids.

“We will have a FAMILY RIDE at the tail end of the protest,” says the event’s Facebook page. “Families can meet at 4:00 PM at the parking deck at Washington-Liberty High School… The family ride will process out towards Courthouse around 4:15-4:30 PM, joining the main ride. The ride will be about 2 miles with gentle hills. MASKS ARE REQUIRED.”

All participants are asked to bring face masks, portable bike-repair tools, and water. Water will also be handed out, and there will be first-aid volunteers along the way.

Photo via Asya Vee/Unsplash

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(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Phoenix Bikes, a bike shop and nonprofit located inside the Arlington Mill Community Center, will hold a scavenger hunt across Arlington between October 16-19.

Meant to be a pandemic-conscious alternative to Phoenix Bikes’ annual Arlington Fun Ride, the hunt will take bike riders to little-known sites around the county as they follow a trail of clues.

“We’re inviting people to discover the new, quirky and fun things that have always existed in Arlington, but maybe residents who have even lived here for many years just don’t know exist or have never had a reason to go find them,” Emily Gage,  executive director of Phoenix Bikes, said.

The hunt’s full route will be about 20 miles long, but an option to complete half and a family-friendly route will also be included. Riders can win prizes from Phoenix Bikes as they solve clues at each stop that lead to the next location.

Gage said Phoenix Bikes looked for locations that are visually interesting and not widely known when choosing stops along the route.

While a full list is yet to be announced, Gage said there will be a mix of artistic sites and places with more historical meaning, a number of which will relate to Black history in Arlington.

Donors to the hunt include Lyft, the National Landing Business Improvement District and D.C-based Game Genius.

Riders can complete the route at any time over the event’s four days. Gage said this will decrease traffic and help maintain social distancing at each stop.

Locations can also be reached by scooter, car or walking, but Phoenix Bikes hopes participants will take advantage of the county’s bikeability.

“We want people to understand all of the places in Arlington that they can access by bike,” Gage said. “There’s a lot that’s hard in the world right now, and I think that there are some wonderful things to just enjoy and appreciate about this community.”

Registration for the event is open through October 15.

File photo

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Arlington County police have arrested a man they say is the cyclist behind a series of “trail rage” incidents on local trails.

On Friday, ACPD issued a community warning about a middle-aged man who had aggressively cursed at, mooned and in some cases struck pedestrians, in at least five separate incidents along trails in Arlington. Police say they received “numerous tips” over the weekend, which led them to identify a suspect.

“On the evening of Sunday, September 6, police executed a search warrant at the suspect’s residence and took him into custody without incident,” police said in a press release today. “David Marlowe, 55, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with Robbery, Assault and Battery (x3), Indecent Exposure (x5) and Felony Possession with the Intent to Distribute Marijuana. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.”

Marlowe is accused of striking several people in fits of rage, attempting to steal one victim’s cell phone, and exposing his buttocks on numerous occasions. The marijuana charge against him was not further explained in the press release.

On Friday, a police spokeswoman told ARLnow that the department was “working with our regional partners” to try to determine whether the same suspect might be behind similar incidents on other trails, including a August 13 confrontation on the Mt. Vernon Trail that’s being investigated by U.S. Park Police.

Police say they’re continuing to investigate and are seeking additional information about the case.

The investigation into the suspect’s actions is ongoing. Anyone with additional information related to this investigation is asked to contact the Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Members of the public reporting additional criminal incidents are asked to use the police department’s online reporting system.

Photos courtesy Arlington County Police Department

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Updated at 1:25 p.m. on 9/7/20 — A suspect has been arrested in the case.

Arlington County police are looking for a middle-aged man with a penchant for bicycling, yelling, mooning, and hitting people.

Police say the man has been involved in at least five separate incidents since the morning of August 11, as described in the press release below. Most involve the cyclist approaching on a trail and becoming enraged at pedestrians who get in his way or tell him to slow down.

There may be even more “trail rage” incidents, like this August 13 confrontation on the Mt. Vernon Trail that’s being investigated by U.S. Park Police.

“I can confirm we’re working with our regional partners to determine if this series is linked to other cases in the area,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.

The police department released the photo of a man they say is the suspect, above, taken during an incident on Aug. 29. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

More from the press release:

The Arlington County Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance identifying a suspect involved in a series of incidents along Arlington trails. In the month of August, police received five reports of an aggressive cyclist involved in confrontations with pedestrians walking along trails. Based on witness interviews and evidence collected, detectives are investigating this as a series involving the same individual.

  • At 7:25 a.m. on August 11, police were dispatched to an assault that just occurred in the area of S. Glebe Road and S. Four Mile Run Drive on the Four Mile Run Trail. Upon arrival, it was determined the male and female victims were walking along the trail when a cyclist approached them yelling to stay on the right side of the yellow line. When the male victim yelled back, the cyclist approached and circled the victims on his bicycle before pulling down his shorts and exposing his buttocks. The cyclist then allegedly struck the male victim on the arm and unsuccessfully attempted to take the female victim’s phone from her hand.
  • At 5:03 p.m. on August 15, police were dispatched to the late report of an assault on the W&OD trail between Sparrow Pond and Columbia Pike. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 10:06 a.m., the male and female victims were walking on the trail when they were approached from behind by a cyclist traveling at a high rate of speed. When the male victim took out his cell phone, the cyclist allegedly attempted to strike the him twice, making contact on the second attempt. The suspect then pulled down his shorts and exposed his buttocks before riding away.
  • At 3:35 p.m. on August 16, the reporting party and male victim were walking on the W&OD Trail in the area of Columbia Pike at S. Four Mile Run Drive when they were approached from behind by a cyclist. The cyclist allegedly yelled for the pedestrians to get off the trail and passed closely by at a high rate of speed while yelling obscenities. When the male victim yelled back, the cyclist allegedly pulled down his shorts and exposed his buttocks. The cyclist then rode back towards the reporting party and victim, continuing to yell obscenities before making a U-turn and leaving the area.
  • At 11:39 a.m. on August 21, police were dispatched to the late report of an assault which occurred on the Custis Trail at approximately 10:30 a.m. Upon arrival, it was determined the female victim was running on the trail in the area of N. Frederick Street when she was approached from behind by a cyclist. As the victim attempted to move over, the cyclist passed her at a high rate of speed and allegedly struck her in the back of the head and neck with an open hand and yelled for her to move over.
  • At 7:24 p.m. on August 29, police were dispatched to the area of S. Park Drive and S. Columbus Street on the W&OD trail for the report of an assault and battery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the male and female victims were walking along the trail when they were approached from behind by a cyclist traveling at a high rate of speed. When the male victim yelled for the cyclist to slow down, the suspect dismounted, confronted the victim and allegedly struck him in the face.

The suspect is described as a White male with the appearance of someone in his 50’s, approximately 5’8″ to 5’11” with an athletic build and gray hair. He was riding a black bicycle and wearing sunglasses, a white helmet, black shorts, white shirt with red and black trim, red socks and white shoes at the time of the incidents.

Anyone who has information regarding the identity of the cyclist or details surrounding these incidents, is asked to contact the Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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On an early August morning in Rosslyn, fast-paced dance music played in the shopping center parking lot outside Good Sweat.

A group of ten, sitting on gray and black stationary bikes spaced over six parking spots, pedaled to the beat while coach Edgar Hernandez gave encouragement through a microphone.

“We’re gonna wake up Rosslyn this morning,” Hernandez said to the group. “Come on!”

This scene has become common for Good Sweat, an indoor cycling studio that now holds all its classes in its parking lot.

Like many other small businesses, Good Sweat has been forced to adapt how it serves customers amid the pandemic. For founder and owner Alessandra “Ali” Hashemi, moving classes outdoors was the only way to safely still conduct group exercise.

“We knew that we wanted to keep the community in the forefront,” Hashemi said. “Health and wellness are our core mission, so we want to honor that by providing people with the safest option possible for in-person group fitness.”

Good Sweat originally stopped all in-person operations in March when Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered non-essential businesses to close.

Shortly after, the studio began offering virtual classes. Customers could buy access to daily Zoom live streams and pre-recorded workouts for both on and off the bike. Good Sweat also started renting out its 30 Stages SC3 bikes for at-home use.

Hashemi said the virtual option had a lot of initial participation, but riders logged off as the realities of a solo workout set in.

“It’s so hard to recreate [the feeling of a group workout],” Hashemi said. “[Good Sweat’s customers] feed off the energy of others… If you’re a group fitness person, and that’s your personality, you’re going to just do much better when you’re around others versus through a screen.”

During this virtual period, Hashemi also began negotiating with Good Sweat’s landlord to use part of the parking lot for classes. Good Sweat, like other Northern Virginia gyms, could open indoors at 30% capacity on June 12 and 75% capacity on July 1, but Hashemi chose to forgo that and have all operations outdoors starting July 4.

“Just because we can doesn’t mean we should,” Hashemi said. “Even though we can be inside, we’re really committed to staying outside as long as possible. We know that’s the safest way to [reopen].”

Good Sweat now holds 2-3 classes a day with ten riders and a coach. A majority of these classes are sold out as regular customers return and a few new ones join each day, according to Hashemi.

Another core part of Good Sweat’s business that has continued despite the hardship caused by the pandemic is its charitable giving.

Hashemi describes Good Sweat as a place where people can “sweat it out while giving back.” The business, which Hashemi said is not currently profitable, donates up to 5% of its monthly revenue to a select charity. That did not change during the virtual period, Hashemi said.

“[Charitable giving] has been something that wasn’t an afterthought and is something that is so consistent and just baked into what we do that it is not something we start and stop,” Hashemi said.

According to Hashemi, Good Sweat has donated to charities like AFAC, A-SPAN and Martha’s Table since March. Following George Floyd’s killing by police, Good Sweat gave to Black Lives Matter D.C. and the Center for Black Equity.

Recently, Good Sweat coaches have organized classes meant to raise money for timely causes. Larger portions of the proceeds go to chosen groups, which have included the Lebanese Red Cross in Beirut and Fair Fight.

“We couple [events] with action. We try to do what we can to give back. Giving money is extremely important, but also what are we doing as a community actively to support these causes?” said Hashemi.

Photo (1) courtesy Good Sweat

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The East Falls Church and Arlington Cemetery Metro stations are scheduled to reopen this weekend, WMATA says.

The transit agency announced that its planned outdoor platform reconstruction work along the Orange Line is “well ahead of schedule,” allowing East Falls Church and other stations to return to service.

The East Falls Church station will reopen Sunday, according to WMATA. It closed in March, at the outset of the pandemic, along with the Clarendon and Virginia Square stations — which reopened in June.

The Arlington Cemetery station is also set to reopen on Sunday, as Metro works to return rail service to pre-pandemic levels.

Also available to East Falls Church commuters: a new bike parking facility at the station, which cost around $2 million and was originally slated to be completed in 2015. Cyclists need to register online before using the “Bike and Ride” facility.

More on the reopenings from a WMATA press release:

With the project to reconstruct outdoor platforms at four Orange Line stations west of Ballston proceeding well ahead of schedule, Metro today announced that East Falls Church will reopen this Sunday, August 23. The early reopening of East Falls Church will follow yesterday’s ahead-of-schedule reopening of West Falls Church and the five Silver Line stations in Virginia. Rail service has returned to near pre-pandemic levels, and Metrobus service will increase dramatically beginning Sunday, August 23.

Also today, Metro announced that Arlington Cemetery Station, closed since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will also reopen on Sunday, leaving only two of Metrorail’s 91 stations – Vienna and Dunn Loring – that will remain closed for a few additional weeks.

Dunn Loring and Vienna will open Tuesday, September 8, marking the first time all Metrorail stations have been open since March 19 when Metro initiated strategic station and entrance closures as part of its comprehensive response to the public health emergency.

Returning Orange Line customers may notice ongoing construction activity even after stations reopen, as Metro’s commitment is to restore service on the first day it is safe for customers, which is often weeks earlier than a project’s completion date.

East Falls Church Station customers will benefit from the station’s new secure Bike & Ride facility that offers secured bicycle parking at no charge. To access the facility, customers must use a registered SmarTrip card and must first complete the online Bike & Ride registration form, available here.

Photo courtesy Elvert Barnes

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A portion of the Custis Trail will be detoured next week for construction of a roundabout.

The roundabout is being installed on the south side of the pedestrian underpass beneath I-66, which is currently a somewhat dangerous T-intersection. The project is part of VDOT’s larger I-66 widening project.

For two weeks, from Monday, Aug. 24 to Sunday, Sept. 6, those heading to and from the W&OD Trail on the Custis Trail will be detoured around Bon Air Park, via Wilson Boulevard and N. Lexington Street.

More from VDOT:

The Custis Trail will close in Arlington’s Bon Air Park between the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail and the I-66 underpass for up to two weeks for construction to create a roundabout to enhance safety for trail users. The closure is planned from Monday, August 24, through Sunday, September 6. Detour signs will be posted to direct pedestrians, cyclists, and other trail users around the closure. This work is being done as a component of the Transform 66 Inside the Beltway Eastbound Widening Project.

A posted detour will route users around the closure using the W&OD Trail, Wilson Boulevard, N. Lexington Street, and N. 9th Road to reach the bike/pedestrian bridge over I-66. Delineators will be placed temporarily on a short span of Wilson Boulevard to separate cyclists from vehicle traffic and provide a wider bike lane to allow cyclists to travel in both directions for about 500 feet. The sidewalk on the north side of Wilson Boulevard will also be available for trail users.

A roundabout is being constructed on the south side of the Custis Trail I-66 underpass to improve safety and sightlines for pedestrians, cyclists, and other users of the Custis Trail and Bon Air Park. The Custis Trail remains closed under I-66 for safety reasons while an additional travel lane is added overhead. The trail is expected to fully reopen in late October 2020.

The I-66 Eastbound Widening Project will add a travel lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 and install approximately 12,000 linear feet of new and replacement noise barriers. The project also includes constructing a new direct access ramp from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro Station at the Route 7 interchange, and a new W&OD Trail bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29).

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