Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

AWLA Announces COVID-19 Policies — “Out of an abundance of caution, and in line with CDC recommendations, AWLA is cancelling all public events, classes, tours, and clinics for the rest of March. We feel that this in the best interest of our staff, volunteers, animals, and the public.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]

Rep. Beyer Couldn’t Get Coronavirus Test — “People ask ‘did @RepDonBeyer get tested for COVID-19?’ No he did not. We tried to get a test for him… But there aren’t enough tests, he didn’t meet the risk threshold.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Pentagon Makes Coronavirus Changes — Tours at the Pentagon have been cancelled, while a Pentagon clinic is offering coronavirus tests to employees who meet certain criteria. [Twitter, Twitter]

Crosshairs Garage Races Cancelled — “Hey everyone, we’ve made the decision to cancel the remaining weeks of the @crystalcityva Garage Races. I will be issuing refunds for everyone who pre-registered. We will let you know if any plans to reschedule in the coming months materialize.” [Twitter]

Restaurants and Bars Stay Open — Local restaurants like Bakeshop in Clarendon are staying open, and many have been posting about stepped-up sanitation measures. Among the local venues taking extra sanitation steps is Four Courts in Courthouse, which is still planning to host St. Patrick’s Day festivities. [Twitter, Twitter]

SAT Testing Cancelled — SAT tests that had been scheduled on March 14 at Wakefield and Yorktown high schools have been cancelled. [Twitter, Twitter]

Police St. Patrick’s Day Event Cancelled — “To ensure the health and safety of our community… the Don’t Press Your Luck Anti-Drunk Driving Event has been canceled.” [Arlington County]

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Thanks to some push from local advocates and the county’s Transportation Commission, a new mixed-use development at 1900 Crystal Drive could be required to include protected bike lanes on Crystal Drive, a long time sore spot for bicyclists in the area.

There are bicycle lanes on Crystal Drive, but motorists notoriously ignore the lane markers and drive or park in the lanes designated for bicycle traffic.

“It’s almost a hoax on bicycle riders to say there’s a bike lane here when as a practical matter there isn’t,” said Transportation Commissioner Jim Lantelme.

At the Transportation Commission meeting Thursday night, the Commission recommended that developer JBG Smith be required to turn the existing bicycle lanes into protected lanes while adding new protected bike lanes to 18th Street S.

“First the Commission recommended that the County Board require JBG Smith to build protected bike lanes on 18th Street either as part of their upcoming 1900 Crystal Drive development or as part of the already-approved Central District Retail development,” Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt said in a press release. “Furthermore the Commission recommended that the County Board direct staff to study an appropriate cross-section for Crystal Drive that would safeguard those on bikes and scooters and, if schedules permit, incorporate the results of that study into the public space designs for 1900 Crystal Drive and any other unbuilt development approved along the Crystal Drive corridor.”

The last recommendation from the Transportation Commission was that the County and JBG develop a temporary southbound protected bike lane on Crystal Drive if the public process isn’t completed in time to be incorporated into the 1900 Crystal Drive plans.

County staff said in their report that making the lanes protected would require further traffic studies and analysis, with staff noting that a new bike lane would carve out part of the street and would have an impact on open space, traffic, or parking. That kind of impact would require a public process that would take additional time.

The developer said they hope to start construction at the end of March, with the streetscape being one of the last parts of the project to be completed.

“I worry there is the possibility we would not have a final decision-ready on Crystal Drive ready before this window closes,” Slatt said.

“There’s a lot of good, new information heard tonight,” said Gillian Burgess, chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee. “Crystal Drive bike lanes are blocked so often that they’ve become the test case for new apps and data collection that seek to test how often bike lanes are blocked.”

With three site plans in the area, Burgess said the County has a rare opportunity to improve the conditions for cyclists and other road users there.

The 1900 Crystal Drive proposal is set to be discussed by the Planning Commission tonight (Monday).

Photo via Google Maps

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It’s March, which means the Crosshairs Garage Races has started its 6th season of racing bicycles in parking garages in Crystal City.

Every Tuesday evening through the end of the month, cyclists from across the Washington area descend into the garage at 201 12th Street S. and compete in an event that Washingtonian called the “best use of a garage that doesn’t involve your car.” The series was formerly known as Wednesday Night Spins.

Over 100 racers in three categories put a number on their bicycles and raced through a course of taped-off sections that zig-zagged through the lower levels of the garage. Co-organizer and promoter Taylor Jones loves the sense of community that the races bring.

“It’s a unique opportunity for non-traditional cycling demographics to try racing,” he said. “It’s awesome to live in a place that supports something like this.”

Beverages were plentiful, as was pie from Acme Pie owner Sol Schott. Emcee Nate Graham DJ’ed and offered commentary throughout the night.

“Everybody comes together as a midweek break from the grind and plays bikes in a parking garage,” Graham said. “What’s not to love?”

Beginner’s race winner Mac Maheen, 24, of Bowie, Md., thought it was a “super cool event.” New to bike racing, this was Maheen’s third-ever race.

“There were a lot of turns, staying under control and out of trouble was the most important thing,” Maheen said. “It’s super fun. Who would have thought something this cool would be in a parking garage?”

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A stone’s throw from Crystal City is Roaches Run, a waterfowl sanctuary on the northern flight path to and from Reagan National Airport.

The body of water, surrounded by woods, is home to birds, ducks and dragonflies. Accessible primarily from a small parking lot off the southbound GW Parkway, most human activity is confined to fishing and birdwatching.

But that may eventually change.

Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey toured a portion of woods around Roaches Run last week with the chair of Arlington’s Planning Commission and representatives of Crystal City property owner and Amazon landlord JBG Smith.

Though Roaches Run is controlled by the National Park Service and is part of the GW Parkway, JBG owns parcels of land adjacent to the waterfowl sanctuary and could help link it to Crystal City. That would give the rapidly-developing neighborhood newfound accessibility to natural spaces.

“JBG owns a lot of the land over there and is in communication with the Park Service,” Garvey told ARLnow, noting that the developer invited her to last week’s tour. “Can we take this land and turn it into an accessible, usable space for people?”

Garvey said Roaches Run is “a lost area” that’s “not very accessible for anybody” at the moment. Active railroad tracks currently separate it from Crystal City and Long Bridge Park.

JBG declined comment for this story.

Among the ideas for Roaches Run are walking and biking trails, a floating dock for boaters in canoes or kayaks, and bird observation stations. Roaches Run would remain a nature preserve, however, and is not envisioned for other sports or recreation uses.

“It’s going to take some cooperation” to see this idea come to fruition, Garvey said.

The county, the Park Service, JBG and even the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority would likely be involved. That’s not to mention local civic associations, which have floated the idea of establishing connectivity to Roaches Run from Long Bridge Park and the Mt. Vernon Trail as part a series of improvements to the Crystal City and Pentagon City are dubbed Livability 22202.

“I think it’s an advantage for everybody…. making that whole area spectacular for people,” Garvey said. “You could get on an airplane and go hiking and boating within a mile radius.”

While discussions about Roaches Run have been informal in nature so far, with Amazon moving in nearby and demand for recreational opportunities growing it’s likely to advance to a more formal planning process at some point in the near future.

“It’s all very tentative but this is how ideas start, you have to start somewhere,” Garvey said. “Nothing is happening tomorrow or even next year… it’s probably 5-10 years out.”

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) A series of underground bicycle races is coming back to Crystal City next month.

Throughout the month, several races will weave through the parking garage at 201 12th Street S. The sixth annual event series, organized by the Crystal City Business Improvement District, is billed as “the area’s only underground bike race.”

The race hosts warned on the registration website that racing inside with low ceilings and concrete pillars can take a few minutes to get used to.

“This is a training race,” said the website. “Our main goal is to get everyone out riding in a fun and competitive setting.”

Spectators will be able to catch the races on the sidelines and hang out at a lounge area, which will provide a viewing area and feature happy hour drinks and bites from Acme Pie.

“Friends, family, and those too timid for the saddle can always catch the excitement from the comfort of the sidelines while enjoying a beverage from the event’s pop-up bar,” the BID noted.

Each day of racing will have three categories: a beginner race, a women’s cup, and a cup open to men and women aimed at racers who already have some experience. Each race is scheduled to last 35 minutes with a limit of 50 participants. The fee to enter is $20.

Races are scheduled for five successive Tuesdays:

  • March 3
  • March 10
  • March 17
  • March 24
  • March 31

The final will have a different setup. In addition to the beginners’ race, the March 31 race will feature a relay race, an “anything goes” race, and a fixed-gear bike race. For the anything-goes race, the only limit is that the vehicle can’t be motorized.

If you’re wondering what racing underground feels like, in 2017 a participant rode with a GoPro.

Photo courtesy Crystal City

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DC Bike Ride will be back on May 16, with 20 miles of car-free roads, monumental views, great music and delicious snacks along the course.

Every year, the Ride attracts thousands of riders in a lifetime cycling adventure through the nation’s capital.

With a course designed for all ages and riding abilities, DC Bike Ride became the biggest celebration of cycling in D.C. by offering a unique experience to its participants. Besides a course full of D.C.’s famous landmarks and rest stops with local music and food, the Ride offers photo stations along the way, and a finish festival to keep the party going.

As a recreational event, DC Bike Ride is meant for everyone. And if you don’t have a bike or don’t want to transport yours to the start line, the Rent & Ride program offers convenience at an affordable price.

DC Bike Ride is also committed to positively impact the local community by supporting local nonprofits initiatives and creating the Sponsor-A-Rider Program for participants who can’t afford the registration fee.

Are you ready to enjoy life on two wheels? REGISTER NOW!

Event Information:

Date: May 16 at 8 a.m.
Location: West Potomac Park (121 West Basin Drive SW | Washington, D.C.)
Website: dcbikeride.com

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Morning Notes

Warren Blasts Bloomberg at Arlington Event — “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Thursday that Michael R. Bloomberg should not be the Democratic presidential nominee because of newly surfaced comments he made 12 years ago in which he said the end of a discriminatory housing practice had helped contribute to the 2008 financial crisis.” [New York Times]

Warren Draws Big Crowd at Wakefield — Last night’s Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign event at the Wakefield High School gym drew national media, a crowd of thousands and lines that stretched around the block. The gym’s scoreboard was programmed to say “ELIZABETH WARREN” and “20:20.” Warren later addressed the overflow crowd outside the school.

Bike Rack at EFC Metro Has Cost Millions — “Metro has spent $3.8 million and taken five years to build two unfinished bike racks — at East Falls Church and Vienna Metro Stations. WMATA originally budgeted $600,000 for each rack, but the price tag has soared to $1.9 million each. The covered bike shelters will house 92 bikes, putting the price tag at more than $20,000 per bike… The projects were supposed to be completed in December of 2015 but remain unfinished in 2020.” [WJLA]

EPA May Move Out of Arlington — “The Trump administration is planning to move the Environmental Protection Agency from leased space at Potomac Yard to the federally owned William Jefferson Clinton complex in downtown D.C… The GSA plans to shift workers from One Potomac Yard in Arlington starting in March 2021, boosting occupancy in the Clinton building by about 1,200 employees.” [Washington Business Journal]

Megamansion Skews Arlington Real Estate Stats — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington was more than $2 million, though that figure was skewed by the nearly $45 million sale of an estate along the Potomac River, the priciest home sale ever in the D.C. area. [InsideNova]

Arlington Startup Sells to Texas Firm — “Mobile Posse announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Digital Turbine, a mobile delivery and app advertising company headquartered in Austin, TX. The acquisition by Digital Turbine builds on both firms’ strategies of creating frictionless mobile app and mobile content solutions for carriers and OEMs, thus creating effective advertising solutions for brands and app developers.” [Mobile Posse via Potomac Tech Wire]

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Morning Notes

Lots of New State Laws May Be Coming — “In the 35 days since the 2020 legislative session began, Democratic lawmakers in Virginia advanced laws to restrict access to guns, raise the minimum wage, decriminalize marijuana and ease restrictions on abortion. They sprinted to pass hundreds of bills before a deadline: February 11th, ‘crossover day,’ when all bills must be passed by at least one chamber or be scrapped.” [WAMU]

Plastic Bag Tax Among Bills Under Consideration — “The Senate passed a version of the bag fee bill shortly before midnight that would impose the five cent tax in Northern Virginia but allow localities elsewhere in the state to decide for themselves whether to have the fee… The House also voted to ban foam takeout containers starting in a few years.” [WTOP]

Tomorrow: Winter Bike to Work Day — “It’s cold outside but that doesn’t mean you have to give up riding your bike. In fact, we want to encourage you to warm up to cold- weather biking on International Winter Bike to Work Day. This year we will have our pit stop at Gravelly Point on the Mount Vernon Trail.” [Eventbrite]

Per-Square-Foot Home Prices — “The city of Falls Church zoomed past the District of Columbia to be the local jurisdiction where home-buyers spent more, per square foot, than anywhere else in January. The median per-square-foot cost of $453 for Falls Church property for the month was up 13 percent from a year before, while the $449 recorded in Washington was down 7.2 percent… Arlington placed third, up 9 percent to $399 per square foot.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

County Board Approves Construction Contracts — “The Arlington County Board today approved contracts for projects that will improve the streetscape on 20th Road North, upgrade several intersections along the North Pershing Drive corridor, and rehabilitate a North Glebe Road water main.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Searching for Missing Man — “ACPD continues to attempt to locate critically missing adult Paul Winfred Coleman. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact police at 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Va. Could Stay Blue Without Arlington — “Virginia Delegate Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun) made headlines when he suggested returning portions of Arlington and Alexandria back to the District of Columbia. Even if this idea were to gain any serious traction with other legislators, it would not help LaRock or Republicans in Virginia hold on to a majority in the legislature.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Ebbin’s Labor Bill Faces Opposition — “The bill has attracted opposition from the state’s commercial and residential development industries, in addition to state Republicans, now in the minority in the General Assembly for the first time in two decades. Even some Democrats expressed skepticism about the legislation in initial committee hearings.” [Washington Business Journal]

Map of Cyclist-Involved Crashes — “Cyclists commuting into the District over Key Bridge have to travel through one of Virginia’s worst areas for vehicle-on-bicycle crashes. Both Clarendon Blvd. and Lee Highway had numerous collisions.” [Twitter, WUSA 9]

Possible N. Va. Coronavirus Case — “The Virginia Department of Health says it is investigating three people, including one in northern Virginia, who ‘meet both clinical and epidemiologic criteria’ for coronavirus.” [Fox 5, Virginia Dept. of Health]

Arlington GRAMMY Connection — At last night’s GRAMMY Awards, one-time Arlington resident Roberta Flack was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Arlington is planning to host an open house to mark the start of the development of the county’s Vision Zero Action Plan.

Last July, the County Board directed County Manager Mark Schwartz to develop goals and an action plan for a comprehensive analysis of traffic safety in Arlington as part of the County’s Vision Zero goals — the name for a series of initiatives aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities.

Details on the plan were vague at the time, though similar plans have been enacted in Alexandria, where some changes like traffic calming measures and lane reductions have been famously controversial.

The open house is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28, from 5-8 p.m. at Washington-Liberty High School (1301 N. Stafford Street). An event listing said visitors will be able to learn more about current Vision Zero plans and share their priorities for improving transportation safety in Arlington.

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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Morning Notes

Never Ending Bike Rack Construction at EFC Metro — “Metro has been building a Bike & Ride facility at the East Falls Church Metro Station for nearly five years, and the project still is not finished. The covered bike shelter was supposed to open in December 2015, but Metro says due to ‘Numerous construction quality issues, including damage caused by a contractor repeatedly drilling into an underground duct bank, led to lengthy delays.'” [WJLA]

Another Sewage Release in Four Mile Run — “Avoid all contact with Four Mile Run south of 7th Street until further notice due to a sanitary sewage release. @ArlingtonDES crews are on scene investigating pipe’s condition.” [Twitter]

Delegate Wants to Retrocede Arlington to D.C. — Del. Dave LaRock (R) “said some counties and jurisdictions in the state ‘are becoming more like California and New York…’ [LaRock said he] could get behind a move to have more liberal jurisdictions such as Arlington and Alexandria become part of Washington, D.C.” [Winchester Star, Blue Virginia]

Weird Crash Leaves Car Hanging — “Rough night… at Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street.” [Twitter]

Cristol to Chair NVTC — “Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol has been tapped to chair the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for the 2020 calendar year. She succeeds Matt Letourneau, a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.” [InsideNova]

Marine Corps Marathon Bans Cheater — “The Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) recently concluded an investigation into the running history of a 55-year-old female participant at both the Marine Corps 17.75K and the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). The research, including photographic evidence and timing data, indicates that the runner had cheated over multiple years by not running the entire course and then claiming the rewards of a finisher.” [Press Release]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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