(Updated at 10:31 a.m.) A proposal to build a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge in East Falls Church has prompted complaints from some nearby residents.
The Virginia Dept. of Transportation has proposed building a new bridge over Lee Highway near the W&OD trail as part of its “Transform 66” interstate widening and tolling project.
If built, VDOT says the bridge would improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The trail currently crosses Lee Highway at the busy intersection with Fairfax Drive.
But the idea deserves more thought, according to the East Falls Church Civic Association. Residents voiced concern in a letter the group sent to local officials last week.
“This VDOT project, if not paused, will create problems for holistic future pedestrian and cyclist transit development in the area, as well as create negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood in a way that a more thoughtful design would not,” the letter reads. “Pause this project so the neighborhood and the surrounding areas can fully consider the problems we are trying to address (both present and future).”
East Falls Church Civic Association president Kelly Alexis said locals first heard of the plan in October. Since then, Alexis said she’s received emails from more than two dozen East Falls Church residents, many opposing the idea.
The problem, Alexis explained, revolves around a lack of input from the community. Though VDOT has held a series of public meetings, she said the agency hasn’t adequately weighed the concerns of the people who live nearby the proposed site of the bridge.
Earlier this month, the association met with VDOT officials to discuss the plan and identified a number of concerns. Among them are questions about whether the bridge would disrupt design aspects of the 2011 East Falls Church Area Plan or “lock-in” the alignment of the W&OD trail, which residents say forces cyclists and pedestrians onto neighborhood streets near the East Falls Church Metro station.
The plan also needs more study regarding improving pedestrian access and safety along Lee Highway on the I-66 overpass and at the Fairfax Drive and Washington Blvd intersections, residents said at the meeting.
The association has suggested several alternatives to building the bridge, such as a trail realignment under Lee Highway or rerouting the trail across Fairfax Drive at the same intersection.
“It’s not a bad plan, it’s just the wrong plan,” Alexis said. “We recognize we’re in a transportation hub, but we want to work together to create a better solution.”
Gillian Burgess, chair of Arlington County’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, said she shares some of the neighborhood’s concerns. Still, a bridge is sorely needed to “allow people on two feet or two wheels to use the trail without worrying whether that red car is really going to stop at the light,” she said.
“The neighborhood does have legitimate concerns about the de facto routing of the trail through their neighborhood,” Burgess added. “But there’s no need to delay building this much-needed improvement to this important piece of our transportation network.”
The Arlington County Board is expected to further discuss the I-66 widening plan and the pedestrian bridge at its meeting tomorrow (Saturday).
On Thursday, from 10 a.m. to noon, cops will “ticket motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic laws” on Lee Highway near N. Edison Street, in the Hall’s Hill/High View Park area.
A second enforcement detail is planned along Columbia Pike next week, on Tuesday, Nov. 22, according to an ACPD press release, below.
During the month of November, the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2016 Fall Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program. The safety campaign will be held in Hall’s Hill and Barcroft areas of Arlington County. This campaign is part of the 2016 Fall Street Smart Pedestrian, Motorist, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign which will run from October 31st through November 27th.
The goals of the campaign are to change motorist and pedestrian behavior, and reduce pedestrian and bicyclist injuries through education and enforcement. Officers will ticket motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic laws at the following locations:
- November 17th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Lee Highway and Edison Street
- November 22nd from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Columbia Pike and Frederick Street
The Street Smart programs are designed to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in the Metropolitan area in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Pedestrians and bicyclists account for a quarter of the traffic fatalities in the region, nearly 90 deaths per year.
Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to pay attention to one another and always proceed with caution and care for each other’s safety.
A driver struck and seriously injured a bicyclist this afternoon near Courthouse.
The crash happened shortly before 4 p.m. at the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Queen Street, in the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood.
A woman in a Nissan sedan struck the adult male cyclist near the entrance to Route 50. The car’s windshield shattered from the force of the impact on the passenger side of the vehicle. Damage was also visible on the side and hood of the car.
The cyclist was transported via ambulance to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Officers remained on scene to investigate the crash, said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
The driver remained on scene. No word yet on whether any charges will be filed.
W-L Defeats Yorktown, Heads to Playoffs — The Washington-Lee Generals defeated cross-county rival Yorktown Friday night to advance to the football playoffs. W-L was trailing when senior quarterback Ricardo Mestre passed for a touchdown with just seconds remaining to clinch the win. [Washington Post]
Board Advertises Ballston Historic District — The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Saturday to advertise hearings on designating a small family graveyard in Ballston a local historic district, ahead of a planned redevelopment by the Central United Methodist Church. “The Board on Saturday received assurances from the church that it will not seek to remove any remains from the graveyard before the County has an opportunity to consider its historic designation,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Students: Adults Should Tone Down Boundary Rhetoric — Some adults have taken their rhetoric over the current Arlington Public Schools high school boundary refinement process too far, according to a pair of high school students who spoke at Thursday’s School Board meeting. “We honestly consider some of the comments made thus far to be an embarrassment,” said a Yorktown student. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Arlington Smartphone App Updated — Arlington County has made a number of new upgrades to its My Arlington App for smartphones. The changes include a new home screen design, transit alerts and, just in time for Election Day, polling locations and a map of voter precincts. [Arlington County]
Library Director: Vote on Nov. 8 — From Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh’s blog: “Every election is important and every vote counts. And it’s a privilege that for people in many parts of the world is not enjoyed. On Tuesday, vote as if your life depends on it; it does.” [Arlington Public Library]
Free Home Buying Seminar Tonight — Sponsored — The Orange Line Living Team is hosting a Free Home Buying Seminar with a local lender and all attendees will receive two guarantees just for attending: 1) Buyer satisfaction — if you don’t love your new home they will buy it back or sell it for free for 12 months, and 2) $1,500 home purchase credit. See website for details and conditions. The event is being at 1600 Wilson Blvd #101 in Arlington, from 6-8 p.m. tonight, Nov. 7. [Orange Line Living]
There’s a new sign at the Shirlington dog park that states what should have been obvious: that riding a bike or a scooter through an area where dogs are running around off leash is a bad idea.
“It’s been an ongoing issue that we hope the sign will rectify,” said Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “We’ve noticed that people are riding bikes and scooters down the paved trail in Shirlington dog park. The off leash dogs get excited and chase, creating an unsafe environment for both man and beast.”
“As there are loads of trails in Arlington for bikes, we are asking people not to bring their bikes and scooters into the park to reduce the risk to park-goers,” Kalish added. “This… is an example of our ongoing work with the community to make Arlington parks fun and safe for all.”
The sign asks that anyone who spots a violation of the rules call Arlington’s park rangers at 703-525-0618.
Board Holds Pike Transit Station Meeting — Updated at 10:45 a.m. — More than three-and-a-half years after it was first revealed by ARLnow.com that a prototype bus stop on Columbia Pike cost more than $1 million, the discussion of less expensive bus stop alternatives continues. The County Board last night held a work session with staff to discuss the current status of Pike transit station planning, ultimately voting to approve the County Manager’s design recommendations. [Arlington County]
APS High School Boundary Refinements — The next step in what promises to be a contentious process of adjusting Arlington’s high school boundaries will take place tomorrow. A community meeting is planned at the Washington-Lee High School cafeteria starting at 7 p.m. Thursday. [Arlington Public Schools]
Cemetery Bike Ban Starts Today — Starting today, only loved ones visiting a grave or niche will be allowed to ride a bike in Arlington National Cemetery. That nixes a commuter route through the cemetery that some cyclists used to avoid busy roads elsewhere in the county. [ARLnow]
Clement Attacks Pay Raise Proposal — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey’s pay raise suggestion is opening her up to attacks from challenger Audrey Clement. “The problem is [the] County Board doesn’t do much work, unless you consider rubber-stamping done deals ‘work,'” Clement told supporters via email. Clement also is criticizing a plan to add an extra high-occupancy lane to I-395 and, in response to local noise complaints, calling on NASA to develop quieter helicopters. [InsideNova, Audrey Clement]
Stalled Cab Company May Retain Permits — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the County Board give All Access Taxi, which specializes in providing wheelchair-accessible transportation, two more years to get its service off the ground. Currently, the company has only one cab — and 49 unused permits. [Washington Post]
Local Ghost Stories — ‘Our Man in Arlington’ columnist Charlie Clark has received recent reports of ghostly encounters from “reliable sources” at several local places: at Arlington Hall, along George Mason Drive; at the Overlee swim club and a nearby home; and at an 18th century home in McLean that was torn down last month. [Falls Church News-Press]
Pamplona May Open in December — Pamplona, a new Spanish restaurant in the former SoBe space in Clarendon, is hoping to open “by the end of the year.” James Martin, a 29-year-old rising culinary star, will be the restaurant’s executive chef. He hopes Pamplona will win the kind of critical acclaim that can “put Clarendon on the map.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Arlington County is in the process of installing a new, protected bike lane on Wilson Blvd through part of Rosslyn.
The bike lane will help cyclists safely traverse a busy, challenging stretch of Wilson Blvd, between N. Oak and N. Quinn streets. County officials say that stretch was being repaved, presenting an opportunity to reconfigure the bike lane.
“We are always looking for ways to improve safety and accessibility for all modes of travel as described in our Master Transportation Plan,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
“Our Transportation, Engineering and Operations Bureau worked closely with the Rosslyn BID and received input from the Bicycle Advisory Committee on the final design — which should be completed in the next few weeks,” she added.
A protected bike lane is typically separated from traffic using some combination of plastic bollards, landscaping, curbs and car parking. The county’s first protected bike lane project, in the Pentagon City area, moved the bike lane next to the curb and placed the street parking zone between the bike lane and traffic.
Photo via @BikeArlington
Starting Oct. 26, the Army will bar bike riders from using a 1.2-mile route on Meigs, Sherman and Schley drives to cut through the property, unless they are specifically there to visit a gravesite, according to a new rule.
Bicyclists visiting a grave can get a pass from the cemetery’s Welcome Center to enter the grounds.
Instead of cutting through the cemetery, cyclists can travel into Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and use a 1.3-mile route on McNair Road and Marshall Drive to reach a path along Route 110 that leads to the Memorial Bridge.
Cyclists using the base still have to abide by security policies that were enacted last year. Those security policies have been criticized by some as overly restrictive, requiring those who are not members of the military to apply for a special pass every 60 days.
“The cemetery is not intended to serve as a shortcut route for bicyclists commuting to and from other locations,” the military says. “Rather, as an operational cemetery conducting up to 30 funerals a day and hosting official visits from visiting dignitaries on its narrow roads, the primary purpose of these roads are to facilitate funeral processions, military units, official vehicles to include their escorts, and cemetery equipment and vehicles operating in the daily care of the cemetery.”
“Several commenters argued that bicycles do not impact the decorum of the cemetery,” the Army said in response to cyclist concerns. “The Army disagrees with and rejects these comments for several reasons related to the nature of cemetery operations, decorum, security, and safety.”
The response continued:
Additionally, while the Army assumes that most riders bear no malice of intent to demonstrate disrespect or violate decorum or decency, bicyclists traversing the cemetery grounds, even at the posted speed limit, can and do impact the decorum of funeral processions and services, which can number up to 30 per day, as cyclists pass along or across these procession routes. These funeral processions include not just the families and mourners, but include caissons drawn by horses, military bands, and military escort elements all travelling at a walking pace. For these services, bus tour operators and vehicles are forced to stop because there is simply not enough room to pass. This ensures proper decorum. Likewise, visitors on foot typically stop and yield to the processions also as a sign of respect. Previous trial periods with bicyclists in the cemetery showed bicyclists did not typically stop for these processions. The cemetery does not have the requisite staff to monitor and enforce this behavior for bicyclists.
Fire Station Open Houses — Arlington County’s ten fire stations will be hosting open houses on Saturday as part of Fire Prevention Week. The open houses will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will allow attendees of all ages to tour the stations, climb in the trucks, talk to firefighters and learn about fire safety. [Arlington County]
Sun Gazette Endorses Garvey — Incumbent Democratic Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey has won the endorsement of the Sun Gazette over independent challenger Audrey Clement. Garvey “is the only candidate on the ballot who has both a track record on the issues and in building coalitions to serve the public,” the newspaper says. [InsideNova]
Arlington Ranked No. 25 Bicycling City — Arlington County is the 25th-ranked “city” for bicycling in the country, according to Bicycling Magazine. Arlington offers robust bicycling infrastructure and does a good job of encouraging residents to get out of their cars and try biking to work instead, but it “consistent enforcement” of traffic laws to protect cyclists “remains an issue.” [Bicycling]
County Offices Open for Columbus Day — Arlington County offices are open today during the Columbus Day holiday, but parking meters will not be enforced, according to the county’s holiday schedule. Courts, DMV locations and schools will be closed, while ART buses will run on a modified holiday schedule. [Arlington County]
Cyclist Cited for Eluding — There was a brief police pursuit of sorts Friday afternoon, involving a cyclist in the Courthouse neighborhood. “An officer activated his lights and sirens after witnessing the cyclist run a red light,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. ‘When the cyclist refused to stop, the officer rode beside him and attempted to make verbal contact with the cyclist. The cyclist eventually stopped and was released on two citations, one for the red light violation and one for eluding.”
Public Art Initiative Coming to Courthouse — On Saturday, Oct. 15, the “Reimagine Civic” public art initiative will bring “C_vic,” an interactive sculpture, to Courthouse Square near the county government headquarters. The sculpture has a space between the first “C” and “V” where members of the community can stand, in place of the “I,” and take a photo. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Board is set to consider a request to advertise hearings on the change at a meeting later this month, according to a draft proposal.
The proposal would add “Pedestrian Street” to the MTP’s existing four defined street types. A pedestrian street is described as “a car-free travel corridor that provides public pedestrian access to adjacent buildings and properties fronting the street and serves as a public meeting place and location for commerce, communication and other community activities.”
“A pedestrian street is [predominantly] paved with a hard surface suitable for walking and includes physical measures that prevent regular access by motor vehicles,” the proposal says.
There are currently no pedestrian-only streets in Arlington, but a few are proposed, including a new 18th Street corridor in Rosslyn that would replace the neighborhood’s aging skywalk system with a several blocks of a new pedestrian-only street between N. Oak Street and N. Lynn Street, with the Rosslyn Metro station in between.
In addition to pedestrian-only streets, the proposal updates the definition of an existing street type — a pedestrian and bicycle priority street. The newly-defined “shared streets” are intended to “allow people to comfortably walk within the roadway” thanks to “implicitly slow traffic speeds through the mixing of travel paths, physical measures and visual cues.”
A recently-approved plan for the Courthouse neighborhood calls for portions of 14th and 15th streets to be shared streets, primarily intended for pedestrians but open to slow-speed vehicular traffic.
If the request to advertise the changes is approved in September, the Planning Commission and the County Board are likely to hold hearing on the change in October.
Hat tip to Jim Hurysz
Key Bridge Marriott Lease Sold — The ground lease for the 57-year-old Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn has been sold to a luxury hotel and resort operator, leading to speculation that the hotel — Marriott’s longest continuously-operating property — may soon be replaced. [WTOP]
Sales Tax Receipts Nudge Up — Arlington received $39.68 million in sales tax disbursements from the state this year, up 0.2 percent compared to the year prior, pointing to an ever-so-slight increase in retail sales in the county despite some challenges dragging that figure down. [InsideNova]
Arlington to Host Community Conference — Arlington County is hosting the 17th annual Virginia Statewide Neighborhood Conference from Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Hundreds of neighborhood leaders, community activists and government agencies are expected to attend. [Arlington County]
Local Yoga Studio Featured on National TV — Spark Yoga, an aerial yoga studio on N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park, was featured in a segment on business news channel CNBC with reporter Diana Olick. [CNBC]
Bikes With Roofs — Is the hot summer sun beating down on you during your bike commute? If so, perhaps you can follow the lead of these two local cyclists and attach a canopy to your bike. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
Woman Attacked, Robbed in Pentagon City — A 24-year-old woman was punched in the face and robbed of her phone last Friday. The crime happened in broad daylight on S. Joyce Street, near Pentagon Row and the Riverhouse apartments. [WJLA]
No Easy Answers for Biking Along the Pike — Columbia Pike remains perhaps the least bike-friendly commercial corridor in Arlington, but there are few realistic ideas for substantially improving its bike-ability. [Greater Greater Washington]
Baptism Makes History at Local Church — For the first time in its nearly 150 year history, Mount Salvation Baptist Church, in the Halls Hill neighborhood along Lee Highway, conducted baptism ceremonies in which a female minister took part. [InsideNova]
Woopie Pie Truck in Ballston — A food truck specializing in whoopie pies plans to be in Ballston today. The Little Miss Whoopie truck will serve hungry Ballstonites around lunchtime. [Patch]
Photo courtesy Sandra Plaza
A “Junior Park Ranger Ride” is set to kick off this Sunday at 9:30 a.m., according to Kidical Mass Arlington, the event’s organizers.
During the 60-90 minute trip, riders will hit several stops along George Washington Memorial Parkway, including the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon and Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove. The ride will end up at Theodore Roosevelt Island, according to Kidical Mass.
The event will also include activities from BikeArlington and the U.S. National Park Service. All young riders will earn Junior Park Ranger credentials for the GW Parkway once the ride is complete, according to event organizers.
Photo via Facebook / Kidical Mass
Police say the juvenile suspects were stealing bike from a bike rack in the area of Barcroft Park.
From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
At approximately 2:37 p.m. on July 17, officers responded to the report of a larceny in progress. Three juvenile suspects were arrested for allegedly stealing bikes from a bike rack. All three suspects were arrested and charged with grand larceny and released to their parents.
Also Sunday afternoon, police say a couple caught two people burglarizing their home in the Glebewood neighborhood.
BURGLARY, 160717025, 2100 block of N. Brandywine Street. At approximately 1:30 p.m. on July 17, two homeowners returned from a vacation to find a known individual and an accomplice in their residence. After the individuals left, the female victim discovered several items of value to be stolen. Officers located and apprehended the suspects a short time later. Margarita Denison, 34, of Alexandria VA, was arrested and charged with burglary, breaking and entering, and grand larceny. Matthew Pair, 30, of Waldorf MD, was arrested and charged with burglary, grand larceny(x2), and possession of methamphetamine.