Update at 5:00 p.m. — Service has been restored through the Stadium-Armory station, but residual delays are expected and trains will proceed through the station as a slow speed.
Update at 3:55 p.m. — The problems on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines will continue through the evening rush hour, Metro says.
Earlier: Those commuting to D.C. via the Blue, Orange and Silver lines are having a slow and sometimes chaotic go of it this morning due to a fire in the District.
A fire at a Metro-owned power substation near RFK Stadium was reported around 7:30 a.m. That fire has closed the Stadium-Armory and Potomac Avenue stations.
Metro says service is suspended between Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue, with buses replacing trains. Riders are advised to expect delays on all three lines as a result.
Also, inbound Blue Line trains are running between Franconia and Rosslyn, but are forcing passengers off at Rosslyn to transfer to continue their trip. Overcrowding at Rosslyn has been reported. In some cases, Metro says, Blue Line trains are letting off at the Pentagon station.
Adding to the misery, traffic is very slow for those driving from Virginia to D.C. As of 9:30 a.m., delays extended the entire length of eastbound I-395 and started near Cherrydale and Lee Highway on eastbound I-66. Parts of Washington Blvd, Route 50 and the GW Parkway are also jammed.
The problems come a day before the Pope arrives in D.C., prompting mass road closures and an expected reliance on Metrorail for transportation.
— ClinicEscort (@ClinicEscort) September 21, 2015
File photo by BrianMKA
Metro Transit Police responded to the Pentagon City Metro station around the beginning of the evening rush hour for a “report of [a] suspicious package,” Metro said via Twitter.
According to Metro spokesman Mike Tolbert, a “suspicious note” was found on a train. The note was similar to another note — a bomb threat — that caused delays on the Blue, Silver and Orange lines this morning, Tolbert said.
Trains single tracked between the Pentagon City and National Airport stations for about a half hour as a result of the investigation. Metro said officers determined that the threat was “unfounded” and an all clear was given. Full service resumed, though with significant residual delays.
The incident even caused delays on the Green Line in D.C. “due to earlier congestion from delayed Yellow Line trains.”
Whole Foods Eying Ballston Development? — Whole Foods is reportedly considering leasing a 43,000 square foot retail space in a new 12-story, 431-unit apartment building that’s set to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd in Ballston. The organic grocer is said to be “in advanced talks” to fill the space and is “very bullish” on Ballston in general. [Bisnow]
Car Drives Off I-66, Into Woods — A car drove off the eastbound lanes of I-66 and into the woods yesterday afternoon. Nobody was hurt in the accident, which happened between the Monroe Street bridge and Spout Run. [Twitter]
More Opposition to Fire Station Move — Residents of the Old Dominion community aren’t the only ones opposed to a proposal to move Fire Station 8 to the neighborhood. Some residents of the Hall’s Hill/High View Park community, where the fire station is located, say that it is a “hub of the neighborhood” and should stay put. Fire Station 8 has some historic distinction, as the first African-American-run firehouse south of the Mason-Dixon Line. [Falls Church News-Press]
Metro Proposes Blue Line Boost — The good news: Metro is proposing changes to its rush hour service that would have trains on the overcrowded Blue Line run every eight minutes instead of every 12 minutes. The bad news: the proposal would increase the headway between trains on the Orange, Silver, Green and Yellow Lines, from six minutes to eight minutes. [Greater Greater Washington, WAMU]
Arlington Startup Raises $21 Million — Ballston-based Distil Networks, a cybersecurity startup founded in 2011, has raised $21 million in a “Series B” venture round. The company is planning to add 100 new employees over the next 12 months. It has offices in Arlington, San Francisco and Raleigh, N.C., and has plans to open another office somewhere in Northern Virginia. [DC Inno, Tech Crunch]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The Blue Line will be the recipient of the first of Metro’s next generation of trains next month.
The first 7000-series train is scheduled to enter passenger service on Tuesday, April 14, Metro announced today.
“The introduction of the first new train will be the most significant milestone to date for a project that has spanned nearly five years from approval and funding, through design and engineering, to testing and certification,” Metro said today, in a press release.
The brand new eight-car is expected to depart the Franconia-Springfield station shortly after 7:00 a.m. on April 14, serving Blue Line stations in Fairfax County, Alexandria, Arlington County, the District and Prince George’s County. The Blue Line has weathered service cuts since Metro began Silver Line service last summer.
The 7000 series will feature a blue-and-gray interior color scheme and “new technologies that are generations ahead of Metro’s current railcars.” Among the features riders can expect, as detailed by Metro:
- Stainless steel car body for increased durability
- 64 vinyl padded seats and seat-back hand grasps
- Six different station destination signs, including two dynamic LCD route maps and four video screens in each car
- LCD map displays to allow customers to easily track their location
- LED screens that provide current and upcoming station information
- Improved seats that provide more knee room and better lumbar support
- Wider aisles (34 inches verses 32 inches on older cars) to facilitate movement within the car
- Additional space near the doors for standees and wheelchairs
- Resilient nonslip flooring, rather than carpet
- High-tech automated public address systems
- Closed circuit cameras for added safety and security
- More reliable door systems using proven technology
- Added handholds in the door area and vertical poles added at each seat – for a total of 25% more linear feet of bars than in Metro’s 6000-series cars
- Enhanced lighting and privacy screens in the vestibule area
There are also a number of significant new safety features, as outlined in the Metro press release, excerpted after the jump.
TV Bachelor Arrested in Arlington — John Bonavia, a wealthy bachelor who tried to find love last year on the Bravo show Millionaire Matchmaker, was arrested in Ballston on Saturday, Nov. 1. Banavia was charged with being drunk in public on the 4200 block of N. Fairfax Drive, near the Ballston Metro station. [Radar Online]
Historical Marker for Pharmacy — Arlington County has erected a historical marker for the Green Valley Pharmacy in the Nauck neighborhood. The interactive marker includes audio clips from an interview with 86-year-old owner Leonard “Doc” Muse, who still operates the pharmacy to this day. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
No Blue Line Tomorrow — Metro’s Blue Line will be suspended on Tuesday (Veterans Day) to help with the agency’s effort to accommodate the massive crowds expected to attend the Concert for Valor on the National Mall. Yellow Line trains will replace Blue Line trains on Tuesday. As many as 800,000 people are expected to attend the concert. [WMATA]
County Offices Closed Tuesday — Arlington County offices, schools, courts and libraries will be closed for the Veterans Day holiday on Tuesday. ART buses will operate on a modified holiday schedule. Normal trash, recycling and leaf collection will still take place. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
A cracked third rail between the Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn Metro stations caused at least four Blue Line trains to stop on the tracks, causing major delays and overcrowding on Blue, Orange and Silver Line platforms this morning.
The problems started before 8:00 a.m. as Blue Line trains traveling into D.C. from Arlington were becoming disabled when they were going over the cracked rail. On Twitter, one rider reported “Just past [Arlington National Cemetery] there was a loud pop and train went dark and shut off. We broke down after [Foggy Bottom].”
At 8:23 a.m., WMATA announced that all inbound Blue Line service had been suspended. By that time, Orange and Silver Line trains were experiencing significant delays, and platforms along the line — notably Ballston — were heavily crowded. At 9:10 a.m., Metro announced it had found the cracked rail, but didn’t return the Blue Line to service, via single-tracking, until 9:50.
Blue Line trains will continue to operate at about a 10-minute delay until the rail is repaired, according to WMATA, and Orange and Silver line trains may be slightly delayed at Rosslyn while the single-tracking continues.
Metro reduced the number of Blue Line trains stopping in Arlington to better accommodate the Silver Line. It also expected the “Orange Crush,” or Orange Line overcrowding during rush hour, to lessen because some people would switch to the Silver Line.
How has the addition of the Silver Line affected your commute? Choose up to two answers.
Lingering Campaign Signs Annoy Arlington Dems — Uncollected campaign signs from the June 10 Democratic congressional primary are irking local Democratic leadership. Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Kip Malinosky says the party has contacted certain candidates multiple times to let them know their signs were still cluttering up local medians. By Arlington ordinance, signs can only be removed by those who put them up. [InsideNova]
Blue Line Crunch Coming — When the Silver Line opens next month, the average headway for rush hour Blue Line trains will increase from 8.5 minutes to 12 minutes. Metro says Blue Line riders can consider taking buses instead of trains to, in some cases, speed up their trip. [PlanItMetro]
Sietsema Reviews Mazagan — Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema has reviewed Mazagan, the new Moroccan eatery and hookah bar on Columbia Pike, next to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Sietsema gave the restaurant 1.5 stars, saying the music was too loud and the dishes hit-or-miss. [Washington Post]
New Iwo Jima Bikeshare Station — A new Capital Bikeshare station near the Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima memorial, has been enjoying heavy use. The station can hold nineteen bikes but only three were parked there Wednesday morning. [Ode Street Tribune]
Arlington will play a pivotal role in the regional economy with the coming of the Silver Line, suggests Metro planning director Shyam Kannan.
Speaking at GMU’s Va. Square campus last week, Kannan said that the Silver Line and development around Tysons Corner will make the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor the economic “fulcrum” of the D.C. area. Development pressure — particularly demand for new apartments and condos — “only becomes more pronounced” with the Silver Line, he said, thanks to our central location between the “downtowns” of the District and Tysons Corner.
That should come as a welcome bit of prognostication for Arlington County, which has been fretting about economic competition with a newly Metro-accessible Tysons Corner.
The Silver Line, however, will hasten the necessity to build a second Potomac River crossing between Rosslyn and the District. Already, service adjustments are putting a squeeze on the Blue Line through Rosslyn, reducing train frequency and increasing crowding. Metro envisions building a second Rosslyn Metro station, which will connect with a new Metro line through Georgetown via a second Potomac River tunnel. That will help alleviate the increasingly problematic “bottleneck” between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
Kannan acknowledged that overcrowding and frequent equipment breakdowns are a problem, but said Metro is working to solve both.
“For those of you who have experienced the service disruptions… you’ve seen that there are impacts to our daily lives,” he said. “Metro needs to continuously invest in its resources.”
Another “long, long range plan” is to build an express line on the Orange Line which will bypass the R-B corridor, Kannan said. And South Arlington was not left out of Metro’s plans: a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station is being proposed.
All of this will come at a cost. Kannan made sure to emphasize, for the Arlington officials in the audience, that Arlington and other local jurisdictions will either need to increase their contributions to Metro in order to fund its long-range capital plans, or help the agency obtain a dedicated funding stream — i.e. some sort of a regional tax.
“The question as a region we have to ask ourselves is, ‘are we okay going into the middle of the 21st century with a transit system that functions the same way it functioned in 1976?” he asked. “I don’t think that really spells economic strength or prosperity or livability.”
“Arlington has been a great partner,” Kannan said. “Metro is hitching its wagon to Arlington County. What bet are you willing to make now?”
The plans discussed by Kannan are a long way off, likely a decade or much longer. In the meantime, Kannan says Metro hopes to increase the capacity of its increasingly crowded rail system — which is “busting at the seams” — by switching from a combination of 6- and 8-car trains to all 8-car trains. But even that seemingly simple solution is proving to be an expensive uphill battle.
“We’re fighting hand to hand combat right now to make sure we just have the funding to keep the system going and to get to 8-car trains,” he said.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in ARLbiz, our weekly local business e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Metro Weekend Service Adjustments — Due to work on the Metrorail system, trains on the Orange and Blue Lines will run every 24 minutes this weekend. The altered schedule begins at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 22, and runs through closing on Sunday, November 24. [WMATA]
Metro Sign Upgrades on the Way — By the end of the winter, Metrorail riders should notice a number of upgrades to the electronic signs announcing train arrivals. Some improvements include making the display crisper so it’s easier to read from a distance and temporarily stopping service advisories from scrolling on the screens when trains are arriving. [Washington Post]
ART System Expansion — At its meeting on Tuesday (November 19), the County Board approved a plan to expand the ART bus system within the next year. Two lines will be added and one line will have service later into the evening. [Sun Gazette]
Students Place First in Video Contest — Six students at Arlington Career Center won first place for the video they submitted to the Virginia School Boards Association student video contest. High school students were challenged to create a 30 second video for the theme “What’s Super About Public Schools.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Orange, Yellow and Blue Line trains will all arrive every 20 minutes, beginning at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 8, and continuing through closing on Monday, November 11. All Yellow Line trains will run only between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square.
The system opens at 5:00 a.m. on Monday and will close at midnight. Additional trains will operate on Monday between Vienna and Stadium-Armory from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Crews working on the Yellow and Blue Lines will improve track infrastructure, including installation of new ties, fasteners, insulators, grout pads and cover boards. Orange Line workers will reconstruct station platforms at Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations, as well as performing tie renewal, insulator renewal and structural improvements.
More information about weekend schedule alterations throughout the Metro system can be found on the WMATA website.
Daylight Saving Time Ends Sunday — Be sure to set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, meaning an extra hour of sleep but one fewer hour of daylight at night. The changing of the clocks is also a good time to replace smoke alarm batteries.
Dems Worry About Libertarian’s Impact on Gov. Race — Historically, polls overestimate the potential votes for third party candidates because voters who might have expressed support for a third party in a poll end up choosing one of the major party candidates in the voting booth. Arlington Democrats worry that Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli is thin enough that supporters of Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis may tip the election on Nov. 5 if they break for Cuccinelli. [Sun Gazette]
Blue, Orange Line Work This Weekend — Trains on the Blue and Orange Line will run every 15 minutes this weekend due to scheduled track work. [WMATA]
Arlington Education Company Cutting Jobs — Arlington-based Strayer Education is cutting its workforce by 20 percent and closing some of its Strayer University campuses. Students enrollment is down 17 percent. [Washington Business Journal]
The Metrorail Twitter account suggests several problems are plaguing the Orange Line this morning, including a switch problem at West Falls Church and disabled trains at Dunn Lorning and Metro Center. Inbound Orange Line trains were also offloaded at Clarendon and East Falls Church to return to Vienna for service, Metro said.
On Twitter, passengers have been reporting long waits on both the Orange and Blue lines.
Concrete Falling From Bridge — A local bike blog reports that chunks of concrete seem to be falling off the I-66 bridge over Lee Highway, near Lyon Village. Concrete chunks large and small have been accumulating on the sidewalk below the bridge. [Windy Run]
Orange, Blue Line Delays This Weekend — Due to track work and work to mitigate tunnel leaks, Metro trains on the Orange and Blue lines will run every 16 minutes this weekend, instead of the normal 12 minute intervals. [WMATA]
Arlington SAT Scores Rise — The Arlington Public Schools Class of 2o13 had an average SAT score of 1645 this year, up from the two previous years. The state average this year was 1528 while the national average was 1498. Among Arlington students, females averaged 1654 while males averaged 1635. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Work on the Metrorail system this weekend will affect all of the lines that travel through Arlington, including shutting down the Reagan National Airport and Crystal City stations. Disruptions begin at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, September 13, and continue through closing on Sunday, September 15.
Blue line trains will operate at regular weekend intervals (every 12 minutes during daytime hours, and every 15-20 minutes at other times) in two segments: between Largo Town Center and Pentagon City, and between Franconia-Springfield and Braddock Road. Yellow Line trains will also operate at normal weekend intervals in two segments: between Mt. Vernon Sauare and Pentagon City, and between Huntington and Braddock Road.
Customers on the Blue and Yellow lines will need to take free shuttle buses between Pentagon City and Braddock Road while the two stations are closed. Express buses will operate non-stop between Braddock Road and Pentagon City. Customers should add up to 15 minutes of travel time. Local buses will operate between Braddock Road and Pentagon City, making intermediate stops at Reagan National Airport and Crystal City stations. Customers should add up to 20 minutes of travel time.
Riders should note that there are also alterations to the times for final trains. The last Yellow Line train from Huntington to Braddock Road will depart 22 minutes earlier than normal to allow for shuttle bus connections. It will depart at 2:12 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and at 11:12 p.m. on Sunday. The last Blue Line train from Franconia-Springfield to Braddock Road will also depart 22 minutes earlier, at 2:07 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and at 11:07 p.m. on Sunday.
WMATA says the closures are due to crews replacing junction boxes and performing various maintenance and rehabilitation tasks.
Due to work in the District, customers riding the Orange Line this weekend should expect trains to come at 20 minute intervals.
More information about all of the work on the Metrorail system this weekend can be found on WMATA’s website.