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Rosslyn Road Changes Could Mean Big Improvements for Walkers, Cyclists, New Headaches for Drivers

Plans to make Rosslyn a bit easier to navigate for pedestrians and bicyclists are coming together, though county officials are concerned that some of the proposed changes might further snarl traffic in the area.

The county unveiled its latest designs for future of the “Core of Rosslyn” at a public meeting last Tuesday (Oct. 2), which includes plans to convert several streets around the Rosslyn Metro station into two-way roads, remove the Fort Myer Drive tunnel under Wilson Blvd and add a host of new connections for cyclists and walkers.

However, transportation planners worry that these alterations will produce “significant increases in gridlock” over the next decade or so, according to meeting documents.

In all, they’re projecting that the proposals will increase wait times at intersections in the neighborhood by a total of 19 minutes during the morning rush hour (with especially acute problems at the already jammed intersection of the Key Bridge, G.W. Parkway and Lee Highway) and a total of six minutes during the evening rush. They’re hoping to refine these designs in the coming months to address those issues, while maintaining the positive parts of the plan.

Certainly, planners expect the changes will result in substantial improvements in Rosslyn’s offerings for people who aren’t relying on cars to get around. The designs included 14 new or improved crosswalks for pedestrians, and more than 1.3 miles of new protected bike lanes included in the design. The lanes, largely set to run along Fort Myer Drive, N. Moore Street and N. Nash Street, are designed to ease bike connections to the Key Bridge and Mt. Vernon and Custis Trails.

The plans also keep alive the county’s long-considered possibility of building a car-free, “pedestrian corridor” running from 18th Street N.’s intersection with N. Oak Street to N. Kent Street, a change that would replace the Rosslyn skywalk system to make the Metro station more accessible.

Yet the county expects that this design would create some new challenges for walkers and cyclists as well. In particular, allowing two-way access on roads like N. Fort Myer Drive, N. Lynn Street and N. Kent Street will create a host of new “conflict points,” where cars are turning across crosswalks, prompting further delays for all involved.

That’s why Arlington officials are still accepting feedback on tweaks to the design.

Among the questions they want answered is whether people actually want to see the Fort Myer Drive tunnel filled in and transformed into a regular, signalized intersection with Wilson Blvd. The change would prompt additional delays at the intersections, and would involve “extensive construction costs and [a] long timeframe,” but could make it substantially easier for people to access the Rosslyn Metro station.

Similarly, planners want to know if making N. Lynn Street a two-way road is worth the extra traffic headaches it might entail. The county projects that the change “reduces confusion and allows for more direct routing” if it’s put in place, but it would also force officials to find new access points to the G.W. Parkway, I-66 and the Key Bridge.

The county plans to finish collecting feedback by Friday (Oct. 12), then unveil revised designs in the coming months. Officials hope to have final study recommendations for the area ready by sometime this winter.

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Morning Notes

Pentagon Declares War on Scooters — “The Pentagon hates your little scooters, too. In fact, DoD would like you and your ride-sharing company to know that if you leave your rental scooters or shared-bicycles anywhere on Pentagon property, they will be impounded, right quick.” [Defense One]

ACPD Ticketing Bike Lane Blockers — Arlington County police have been ticketing delivery truck drivers who block protected bike lanes — including the new bike lanes on N. Quincy Street in Ballston — as part of an “enforcement and education” effort. [Twitter]

Ballston Farmers Market to Extend Season — “Arlington County Board members on Sept. 22 are expected to vote to permit the Ballston Farmers’ Market to operate through the end of November each year, an extension of one month from earlier years.” [InsideNova]

Stuck Window Washer Rescues Self — A large fire department response to a report of a window washer trapped outside the sixth floor of a high-rise building in Rosslyn turned out to be for naught; the worker was able to “self-extricate” before the technical rescue team arrived. [Twitter]

Reminder: Free ART Bus Rides Today — “In celebration of ART’s 20th Anniversary, we’re letting everyone ride ART for free on Thursday, September 20! It’s our way of saying thank you to our loyal customers for riding ART and also an invitation for those who have never been on ART to give it a try.” [Arlington Transit]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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New Protected Bike Lane Opens Connecting Rosslyn and Courthouse

Arlington’s opened up another protected bike lane, this time connecting Rosslyn and Courthouse.

This newest lane runs along Wilson Blvd, between N. Quinn Street and N. Courthouse Road near the post office in the area. The county previously built a protected lane between N. Oak and N. Quinn Streets back in 2016.

In the early going, at least, the new lane seems to be a hit for cyclists and scooter fans alike.

The county’s added several new protected bike lanes this summer, including one along N. Veitch Street near this latest addition, as part of summer paving work around Arlington.

Photo via @juddlumberjack

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Cycling Advocates Fear Impacts of Planned Arlington National Cemetery Expansion

Bicycling advocates are blasting newly revealed plans to simultaneously expand Arlington National Cemetery and realign Columbia Pike, arguing that the proposed changes could make cycling along the roadway more dangerous.

The advocacy group “Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County” claims the cemetery’s current expansion plans, designed to someday add 70 acres to the burial ground, “will squander a major opportunity to improve the bike connection between Columbia Pike and Pentagon City and arguably make cycling less pleasant and less safe.”

In a message to its mailing list, the group urged concerned cyclists to speak in opposition to the cemetery’s plans at a public meeting on the subject in Pentagon City tonight (Wednesday).

The organization, founded by county transportation commission chair Chris Slatt, is primarily concerned that the cemetery only plans to add a 10-foot-wide sidewalk along the pike’s north side when it realigns the road. Army officials are currently hoping to add space for as many as 60,000 new interments to the cemetery’s south, absorbing the former Navy annex site and several other acres of land controlled by the county near S. Joyce Street and Washington Blvd, prompting some changes to the pike in the area.

The project also calls for the removal of Southgate Road in its entirety as it runs through area, which Slatt’s group describes as “a relatively quiet street that cyclists currently use to avoid that stretch of Columbia Pike.” The organization has made improving conditions for cyclists on the pike a central part of its mission, and it’s warning that eliminating an alternative to biking along the road would be a major step backward for the area.

“By replacing Southgate Road with just a sidewalk, this project is arguably a downgrade in cycling infrastructure,” the group wrote. “This portion of Columbia Pike has no reasonable nearby alternative. It needs great bike infrastructure.”

Spokespeople for the cemetery did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the organization’s criticisms. But a draft environmental assessment of the project prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggests that the changes represent “the upgrade of Columbia Pike into a multimodal facility.”

“The alignment for the future Columbia Pike has the necessary geometry for a high capacity regional multimodal transportation corridor,” the corps wrote.

The corps wrote that planners also considered building the “wall trail” along the cemetery’s eastern boundary as part of this work, a bit of cycling infrastructure long hoped for by county officials to link the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood to Memorial Avenue. Yet the corps said it determined that it “appears to have severe space constraints due to aboveground utilities along the proposed route,” and didn’t consider it any further.

Instead, Slatt’s group would rather see the Army build a “bidirectional bike lane” on the north side of the pike to connect with additional improvements to the west of the area. If that’s not feasible, the organization would also accept a widening of the planned sidewalk into a trail “providing demarcated areas for pedestrians and cyclists marked with paint, signage or differentiated materials.”

Tonight’s meeting on the project is scheduled for the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel (900 S. Orme Street) from 5-8 p.m. The Army expects roadway construction associated with the expansion could start as soon as 2021.

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New Protected Bike Lane Opens in Ballston on N. Quincy Street

Workers recently put the finishing touches on a new protected bike lane through Ballston.

The new lane runs along N. Quincy Street, stretching from N. Glebe Road to 9th Street N. The lane was installed as the county’s embarked on some summer paving work, and workers took the opportunity to add protected lanes in several spots around the county.

Protected bike lanes contribute to making our streets calmer, easier to understand, and more useable for people from ages eight to 80,” Erin Potter of Bike Arlington explained in a March blog post. “Well-designed protected bike lanes establish more order and predictability on the streets. Cyclists tend to behave themselves and do a better job of following the rules when they are using properly designed and separated facilities. Drivers also appreciate a sense of order and clarity that the separation provides.”

However, the change has taken some getting used to for some Ballston drivers.

The paving work has also involved some parking changes along 5th Road N. between N. Quincy Street and N. Pollard Street, adjacent to Mosaic Park, changing the parking there to back-in spots on an angle.

Photo via @Blacknell

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Custis Trail Work Hits New Stage, More Detours Planned

Arlington is kicking off a new phase of construction along the Custis Trail near Rosslyn, as workers add a bevy of safety improvements to the area.

The county’s contractor plans to kick off work at the intersection of N. Scott Street and Lee Highway on Monday (Aug. 13), so long as the weather cooperates.

Anyone using the trail will need to follow a short detour onto N. Scott Street as it meets 21st Street N., but the county hopes the detour will only last about a week.

Earlier this year, the county kicked off bike safety improvements along Lee Highway, widening the trail itself, improving some trail crosses and crosswalks and adding curb extensions. County contractors are also reconfiguring the bike lanes on both N. Scott and N. Quinn Streets as part of the construction, resulting in some road closures in the area.

The county also plans to add new traffic signals at Lee Highway’s intersection with N. Scott Street, but planners predict they’ll only be installed “after completion of major construction activities”, likely “in the latter half of 2018.”

Workers are also busy repairing the trail as it runs alongside I-66 between N. Adams Street and McCoy Park, necessitating another detour in the area set to last through the end of the month.

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County Plans to Pilot New Bike, Pedestrian Features on N. Pershing Drive

Arlington is gearing up to test some protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety features along a heavily trafficked stretch of N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park.

The county plans to install the new “safety and accessibility improvements” on the road between Washington Blvd and N. Barton Street in the coming weeks, as part of some previously scheduled summer paving work in the area. Mainly, the construction will focus on adding protected bike lanes alongside some new landscaping designed to better separate cars from pedestrians.

Transportation planners have been studying the road for potential improvements since last summer, over concerns that Pershing can be challenging for cyclists and pedestrians alike along the road as it leads up to Route 50. While the county hopes to eventually make the changes permanent, Arlington’s gloomy financial picture means that officials will merely be testing out the new features over the next few years as “a cost-effective opportunity to implement improvements early,” according to the county’s website.

Workers also plan to relocate the Capital Bikeshare station in the area once the paving work gets going. The station currently sits along 7th Street N., but the county is planning to move it up the block a bit to where the road intersects with Washington Blvd, adjacent to a gas station in the area.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet says that work will likely start sometime in September, noting “we don’t have an exact timeframe yet.”

Someday, the county plans to add pedestrian safety and bus stop accessibility improvements at intersections all along Pershing as it runs to meet N. Glebe Road. However, those projects are on hold until the county can come up with a bit more funding.

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New Protected Bike Lane Coming to Courthouse This Month

A new protected bike lane is on the way for Courthouse this month.

Workers are set to add the new lane along N. Veitch Street as it runs between Wilson Blvd and Lee Highway, in a bid to better connect the Custis Trail with both Courthouse and Rosslyn.

Construction on the protected lane is set to move in conjunction with the county’s paving work starting this month, and will require some adjustments for the area’s on-street parking. Workers have also temporarily relocated the Capital Bikeshare station along N. Veitch Street to the road’s intersection with Key Blvd in preparation for the construction.

Soon afterward, the county also hopes to retool parking along N. Troy Street as part of the repaving work, set to take place sometime in “late summer.”

In subsequent phases of this project, the county plans to extend a previously built protected bike lane between N. Oak Street and N. Quinn Street in Rosslyn, linking the neighborhood to Courthouse. Some paving work on that effort could start as soon as this month.

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New Bike Lanes Proposed to Connect Lee Highway to N. Glebe Road

Some new bike lanes and other road improvements could soon be on the way for N. Woodstock Street as it runs between Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.

County officials are circulating some new designs for the road, which primarily runs through the Waverly Hills neighborhood, ahead of some paving work kicking off later this summer.

The county currently has a community survey open on possible designs for the retooled street, including the addition of bike lanes in each direction and some new traffic calming measures to bring down speeds on the road.

Officials also plan to add new, high-visibility crosswalks where the road meets both 20th Road N. and N. Glebe Road, as the county embarks on the wholesale replacement of brick crosswalks in favor of reflective plastic markings.

The work also calls for the removal of several “outdated medians” to help facilitate the construction of the bike lanes, without requiring any change in on-street parking or traffic patterns.

“Adding bike lane markings rather than having un-utilized pavement (previously occupied by medians) will also serve as a traffic calming measure to keep vehicle speeds low and encourage safer movements,” the county wrote in the survey.

The survey is set to close to respondents tomorrow (July 31).

Photo 1 via Google Maps

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More Than 100 Cyclists Flood Columbia Pike to Advocate for Better Bike Routes

More than 100 bicyclists hit Columbia Pike on Saturday (June 23) to draw attention to a new push to improve bike routes along the road.

The newly-formed advocacy group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County organized the roughly two-mile-long “Bike for the Pike” protest ride, which ran down Columbia Pike from the Penrose Square Park to the intersection with with S. Four Mile Run Drive.

The group is lobbying county leaders to consider a slew of improvements to make the Pike corridor easier on cyclists, arguing that large sections of the road remain unsafe. County Board members Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall attended Saturday to lend their support to the effort.

“Despite budgeting over $100 million in the current adopted capital plan to make Columbia Pike a complete street, the county’s current plans wouldn’t even provide a complete bike facility that runs the full length of the Pike, let alone one that is safe, direct and low-stress,” Chris Slatt, the group’s founder and a transit-focused blogger, wrote in a statement. “#Bike4ThePike was a chance to say ‘We’re here, we ride, we pay taxes, we deserve safe, direct, low-stress routes.'”

The county has indeed made efforts to improving transit options along the Pike, with long-awaited changes to Metrobus service along the corridor starting yesterday (June 24). But Slatt’s organization is pressing for a variety of new roadway improvements and policy revisions to make the Pike even more hospitable to cyclists.

In the near term, Slatt wants to see the county conduct a “comprehensive safety review” of the Pike’s intersection with Washington Blvd. In a news release, the group notes that the area “has been the site of numerous bicycle and pedestrian crashes” since VDOT finished a major overhaul of the interchange a few years ago, and Slatt wants to see the county commission a study of the area within the next year.

His group is also advocating for the construction of a parallel bike and pedestrian bridge over Four Mile Run in the next three years, arguing that the current bridge is “dangerously narrow and lacks any sort of buffer from speeding traffic.”

They’re also pushing for traffic signal changes to make 9th Street S. friendlier for bicyclists as it intersects with both S. Glebe Road and S. Walter Reed Drive, as well as the construction of an access road connecting the Arlington View neighborhood to Army Navy Drive within the next five years — the county likely won’t start work on the latter project until 2027.

Slatt’s group plans to hold additional advocacy events focused on bicycling, walking and public transit around the county in the coming weeks.

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Protected Bike Lane Proposed for N. Veitch Street

A protected bike lane has been proposed as part of a repaving project this summer

The parking on N. Veitch Street between Lee Highway and Wilson Boulevard would be reconfigured to create space for a protected bike lane connecting the Custis Trail and Courthouse.

“This protected bike lane will create a more bike-friendly connection between the Wilson/Clarendon Corridor and the Custis Trail,” says the county’s project page. “This will be considered the second of four phases of construction to create the protected bike lane connection on the Rosslyn-Courthouse corridor.”

The first phase of the “Courthouse-Rosslyn Multimodal Connectivity Improvements” project built protected bike lanes on Wilson Blvd between N. Oak Street and N. Pierce Street in Rosslyn. Additional phases would extend the protected bike lane from Rosslyn to Courthouse.

The second phase of the project this summer would also reconfigure parking on N. Troy Street in Courthouse, between Key and Wilson boulevards, to create additional spaces.

A public design workshop and discussion is planned for Wednesday (April 4) from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd).

Photos via Arlington County

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Parts of Army Navy Drive Could Be Reduced to One Lane Each Way Under Complete Streets Plan

A section of Army Navy Drive could go down to one lane for cars in each direction under a Complete Streets plan being considered by the county.

County staff wrote that the project would rebuild Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City as a street “featuring enhanced bicycle, transit, environmental and pedestrian facilities.”

The lane reduction would take place between S. Eads Street and 12th Street S., and staff said it would help connect various local neighborhoods and landmarks.

“The goal of the project is to improve the local connections between the Pentagon and the commercial, residential and retail services of Pentagon City and Crystal City,” staff wrote.

Other changes include planted medians instead of raised concrete medians, and new bike lanes.

“The reconstruction will provide a physically separated two-way protected bicycle lane facility along the south side of Army Navy Drive, in addition to shorter and safer pedestrian crossings, and will accommodate future high-capacity transit,” said the county’s website. “Motor vehicle travel lanes will be reduced in number where appropriate and will be narrowed to dimensions appropriate for a slower urban context.”

The project would also extend the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway into Pentagon City by adding a dedicated bus lane on Army Navy Drive, and link to the bike lanes planned for S. Clark Street between 12th Street S. and 15th Street S.

Staff will host an Army Navy Drive Complete Streets Workshop on Wednesday, January 31 from 4-7 p.m. at the Aurora Hills Branch Library (735 18th Street S.). The meeting will be an open forum to discuss the project.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020, and be complete in spring 2022.

Image No. 1 via county staff. Image No. 2 via Google Maps.

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Survey: Residents Want to Bike More, Have More Protected Bike Lanes

A survey has found that Arlington County residents favor bicycling and support more separate bike lanes.

The survey, conducted by the county’s local transportation research group Mobility Lab and county bicycle education program BikeArlington, found that 89 percent of respondents said they would like to bike more often, and 62 percent said that more separated bikes lanes would help them do that.

More than 1,200 people took the survey at a series of events in August and September, including the Arlington County Fair and Nauck Civic and Community Pride Day. Of those people, 94 percent reported being Arlington residents.

“[The survey] offers yet more evidence that bicycling is becoming a legitimate option for people to get to work in the Arlington and greater Washington, D.C. region,” a Mobility Lab spokesman said. “Mobility Lab recommends that more spending be made available for safer infrastructure – infrastructure that is far easier, faster, and less expensive to get up and running than that for cars and even transit.”

The survey was part of the county’s outreach process for updating the Bike Element of its 2008 Master Transportation Plan.

Staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services have said previously that the time is right for a revamp given the new “technologies, facilities and best practices” around bicycling.

Courtesy photo

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Morning Notes

New Protected Bike Lane — The stretch of Army Navy Drive between S. Joyce Street and Army Navy Country Club, near Pentagon City, has a received a new, protected bike lane. “Both the protected lane and the buffered bike lane enhance bicycle safety and connectivity in the area, and also serve to narrow the relatively wide street and calm vehicle speeds,” county transportation officials said. [Arlington County]

Runner With Cerebral Palsy Training for Marathon — Arlington resident Jamie Watts, a regular at local 5K and 10K races, is now training hard for the New Jersey Marathon in April. Watts, who has cerebral palsy, runs with a cane and is being allowed to start the race early. [WUSA 9]

Rosslyn-Based Home Builder Purchased — CalAtlantic Group, a large national home builder based in Rosslyn, is being acquired by Lennar Corp. to form the nation’s largest home builder. [Associated Press]

Top 3 Developments in Crystal City — Bisnow has ranked the top three developments in Crystal City and come up with this list, from first to third: JBG’s proposed Central District development; Lowe’s planned 2351 Jefferson Davis Hwy residential tower; and the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center, which is still in the design phase. [Bisnow]

County Seeks Design Nominations — “Arlington County’s biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, is now accepting submissions for great design in new construction, renovations, additions or adaptive re-use projects. Established in 2009, DESIGNArlington seeks to highlight excellence and diversity in the County’s built environment.” [Arlington County, PDF]

Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4

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Work to Begin Soon on Washington Blvd Bike Lanes, Repaving

Drivers in Westover and East Falls Church can expect traffic delays and detours in the coming weeks as the state and county repave and add bike lanes to Washington Blvd.

The project by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which owns and operates the street, is set to begin in the next couple of weeks with repaving between Lee Highway and N. McKinley Road.

After that repaving is complete, staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services will install green bicycle lanes, bollards and way-finding signs for bicyclists. At some points, the lanes will have a buffer as wide as two or three feet from traffic. The county and VDOT coordinated on a design plan for the new striping earlier this year.

At one stage, the plan had been for continuous bike lanes along Washington Blvd. But those plans were nixed earlier this year and revised.

Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to shorter stretches. Westbound the lane will run between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets. Eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.

Staff said they anticipate between 16 and 19 parking spaces on the street will be lost out of around 150 in total. In turn, Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church (6201 Washington Blvd) is expected to increase its parking capacity to 15 spaces.

DES staff said the project has a number of benefits for those in the area:

  • Enhance bicycle infrastructure where it does not currently exist
    • Help stitch together the expanding Capital Bikeshare system (a new station was installed at the East Falls Church metro station in 2016 and two new stations will be installed in Westover in 2017 and 2018).
    • Connect to existing bicycle lanes on Washington Boulevard between Westover and Lacy Woods Park.
    • Create a nearly two-mile stretch of bicycle lanes from Sycamore St. to George Mason Dr.
  • Narrow unnecessarily wide travel lanes to help calm traffic.
  • Install a dedicated left turn lane for westbound Washington Boulevard at N. Ohio Street to help reduce backups.
  • Sidewalks will be more comfortable for walking due to buffering provided by the new bicycle lanes.
  • Pedestrian safety improvements at key intersections with highly visible markings for crosswalks (pending VDOT approval). Center line “Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk” signs may also be installed.

During the work, DES says parking will be prohibited on Washington Blvd and detours will be in place.

Next year, staff will collect additional usage data to track cars, bicycles, pedestrians and parking.

Image (top) via VDOT, (middle) via Google Maps

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