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ART Considers Adding New Route to Better Link Ballston to Shirlington

Arlington Transit could soon add a new bus route to better connect Ballston to Shirlington, as part of a host of route and schedule changes on tap for this winter.

The county’s bus service is currently collecting community feedback on the service tweaks, with plans to finalize any changes by mid-December.

The most substantial of the proposed options would be the creation of a new ART route 72, running from N. Glebe Road’s intersection with Old Dominion Drive in Rock Spring to the intersection of S. Quincy Street and S. Randolph Street near the Village at Shirlington.

The route would run through the Ballston Metro station, via both directions of George Mason Drive, and offer buses once every 20 minutes during peak hours. ART hopes that the new route would work in conjunction with Metrobus’ 22A/C routes to “bring more frequent service between Ballston and Shirlington.”

The 72 route require the creation of eight new bus stops along N. Glebe Road, at the following intersections:

Proposed Northbound Bus Stops

Stop 1 – N. Glebe Road and in front of the Marymount Admissions Building
Stop 2 – N. Glebe Road and 32nd Street N.
Stop 3 – N. Glebe Road and N. Albermarle Street
Stop 4 – N. Glebe Road and N. Abingdon Street

Proposed Southbound Bus Stops

Stop 5 – N. Glebe Road and 35th Road N.
Stop 6 – N. Glebe Road and 33rd Road N.
Stop 7 – N. Glebe Road and Rock Spring Road
Stop 8 – N. Glebe Road and Old Dominion Drive

Other proposed service tweaks include running buses more frequently along the 45 route during peak hours, and reducing some service on the 52, 55 and 77 lines. ART would also tweak the schedules of 74, 84, and 87 routes to create better spacing between various buses and endure buses run on time more frequently.

The county is currently collecting feedback via an online survey, and will also hold a pair of public meetings on the subject this month.

One is set for this coming Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street), while the other is scheduled for the Langston Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street) on Oct. 11. Both will run from 6:30-8 p.m.

File photo

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Metro Adds Temporary Bus Tracking Displays to Stops Along Columbia Pike

(Updated at 5 p.m.) Metrobus has added real-time bus tracking displays to a bevy of its stops along Columbia Pike, one of many changes coming to the corridor’s bus service in the coming months.

The California-based company Connectpoint announced earlier this month that it’s working with WMATA to install the devices, which will display wait times for various buses, route maps and even alerts about service disruptions.

The new screens will be available at stops along the pike at the highway’s intersections with the following roads:

  • S. Barton Street
  • S. Carlin Springs Road
  • S. Courthouse Road
  • S. Four Mile Run Drive
  • S. George Mason Drive
  • S. Glebe Road
  • S. Greenbrier Street
  • S. Oakland Street
  • S. Veitch Street
  • S. Walter Reed Drive

The company says it will also install the displays at several stops around Annandale as well, for a total of 24 in all. Metro spokesman Ron Holzer told ARLnow four are already in place as part of a “pilot program” the transit agency is running, with the remaining displays to be installed “in the next two weeks.”

“If the pilot is successful, we hope to deploy signs at all Metrobus stops,” Holzer said.

Arlington transportation spokesman Eric Balliet added that WMATA first installed the technology as part of some long-awaited work to beef up bus service on the pike this summer.

For now, Balliet expects the devices will only display “next bus arrival times” for the Metrobus 16 line, the primary focus of service changes that started in late June.

However, Balliet added that the county “anticipates removing” the devices when it can finalize plans for new bus shelters on the pike. Those have been the subject of plenty of scrutiny over the years, particularly after one stop was revealed to have a price tag north of $1 million.

“The transit stations will include electronic information displays showing all bus services and multimodal options,” Balliet said.

The county put out a request for proposals for those pike bus stops in June, with the goal of starting work on five sometime this winter. Arlington hopes to eventually install 23 of the “transit stations” along the pike.

Photo courtesy of Connectpoint

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ART to Close Four Ballston Bus Stops This Weekend

Arlington Transit is closing several bus stops around Ballston to cope with construction this weekend.

Starting tonight (Friday) at 9 p.m. and running through Sunday (Aug. 12) at 7 p.m., the bus service plans to close the following stops along its 41 line:

  • Northbound N. Randolph Street at Wilson Blvd
  • Southbound N. Randolph Street at the Ballston Quarter mall
  • Northbound N. Glebe Road at N. Quincy Street
  • Northbound N. Glebe Road at N. Henderson Road

ART noted in a service alert that some stops along N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd will remain open, should riders need options along the corridor.

The construction work prompting the bus stop closures will require occasional road closures as well, as it’s largely tied to the Ballston Quarter construction and some summer paving work.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Power Outage in Clarendon — A small power outage affected several businesses in Clarendon yesterday evening, including Arlington Independent Media and Galaxy Hut.

County to Expand Citizenship Aid — “Arlington government officials plan to expand a subsidy program that helps prospective U.S. citizens pay the costs associated with their efforts. County Board members on July 14 are expected to increase the subsidy amount and expand the ranks of those eligible to participate in the subsidy program, which is funded by private donations.” [InsideNova]

Local Couple Helps Seniors to Downsize — “Bill and Betty Ubbens, realtors with Weichert Realty and parishioners of St. Ann Church in Arlington, assist seniors with downsizing… The Ubbens have found the biggest resistance to decluttering is the ‘sheer amount of stuff to go through and the time to complete the inventory and planned disposition of the property.'” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Arlington Man Wins Big in Poker Tourney — Arlington resident Yaser Al-Keliddar won more than $150,000 and a World Series of Poker bracelet in a $3,000 limit hold’em tournament in Las Vegas earlier this week. [World Series of Poker]

Monitor Broken at ‘Super Stop’ — As seems to happen every so often, the electronic display at the Walter Reed Drive “Super Stop” along Columbia Pike — also known as the “million dollar bus stop” — is broken. A sign on the monitor, which is supposed to show real-time bus arrival information, says a replacement is planned. [Twitter]

It’s Friday the 13th — Be careful out there. But then again, only 27.4 percent of you are superstitious.

Photo courtesy @thelastfc

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Long-Awaited Columbia Pike Bus Service Changes Kick Off Sunday

Bus riders along Columbia Pike will see significant service changes starting Sunday (June 24), as part of the long-awaited “premium transit network” planned for the corridor.

Metrobus will soon offer five streamlined routes along the Pike, down from 11, and offer more frequent service across all of those routes, Arlington transportation officials told the County Board Tuesday (June 19).

The changes will move in tandem with some other Metrobus service alterations recently approved by WMATA’s governing board, and bring the county closer to delivering on its promise to improve transit options along the Pike after abandoning the contentious streetcar project four years ago.

“You may not necessarily move through the corridor faster, but you won’t have to wait as long for a bus to take you somewhere, particularly during the peak hours,” said Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey.

Lynn Rivers, the county’s transit bureau chief, noted that Metrobus will offer 30 additional hours of service across all the different routes on the 16 line, with the ultimate goal of running buses once every six minutes along the most crowded stops on the Pike.

The county has also kicked off the process of finding a contractor to build 20 new bus shelters along the Pike.

Dennis Leach, the county’s transportation director, told the Board that the county started soliciting bids for the project last Wednesday (June 13). By July, he expects the county will know how much each shelter will cost, a key point of interest for Board members after the Pike’s “$1 million bus stops” prompted community outcry years ago.

Yet Rivers believes the more noticeable change for riders right away will be the alteration to Metrobus routes along the Pike. She noted that buses won’t be changing where they drop off and pick up riders, but Metrobus will be tweaking how it describes its various routes to be less confusing.

“The idea was to streamline that to make it easier not just for those who are using it, but also bring more people onto the system,” Rivers said.

Moving forward, the five routes on Columbia Pike will be known as 16A, 16C, 16E, 16G and 16H. Rivers added that 16Y service will still be available as well during peak hours, though only to Farragut Square, and service along the 16X route to Federal Triangle will still be available during peak times as well.

While these changes came as good news to Board members, John Vihstadt did point out that “our communities have been frustrated with the pace” of the county’s work to implement bus service changes along the Pike. Rivers believes this first phase of improvements is the equivalent of starting off “with a bang,” but she did acknowledge there’s lots of work left to be done.

Eventually, the county and Metro plan to offer nonstop bus service between the Pike and Crystal City, and extend the Transitway, or dedicated lane bus service, out to Pentagon City — the latter effort just won some new regional funding as well.

“This is just the beginning of many more phases,” Rivers said.

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One Year Anniversary of the Clarendon Bus Stop Deodorant Post

One year ago today, a mystery captivated the Arlington community.

Why, we asked, was there a stick of Old Spice deodorant on top of a Clarendon bus stop? We sent an intern to interview passersby to see if anyone had any idea how it got there.

“People get drunk on the weekends, that would be my best guess,” said a man who works at a local bar.

“I assume somebody just threw it and didn’t expect it to land up there,” said another passerby.

[…] “Maybe somebody was upset with the deodorant’s performance and threw it up there out of anger. Or, more often than not, people throw things up there to see how often they stay up there.”

A few weeks later, the deodorant was joined by a bottle of mouthwash.

We may never know the real explanation of why either personal care product went astray. The deodorant spent a few months on top of the bus stop, looking no worse the wear despite plenty of wind, rain and other inclement weather. Then, one fateful day, we arrived at our office and it was gone without a trace.

On this one year anniversary, we again photographed the bus stop. The roof was sans deodorant, but you can see a new addition in the zoomed-out photo: stray shopping carts from a local Giant grocery store.

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ART Sees Big Drop in Bus Ridership Over the Last Year

Arlington County’s bus service has recorded a hefty drop in ridership over the course of the last year, according to figures released to regional transportation planners.

In all, Arlington Transit recorded about 696,500 passenger trips in the first three months of 2018. That’s a 17 percent drop from the same time period last year when the service registered more than 836,000 trips, according to a new report from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission on May 3.

The numbers show riders increasingly turning away from the bus service over the past few months, as the latest ridership figures also represent a 6.2 percent decrease from ART’s numbers in the last three months of 2017.

For context, ART recorded just under 783,200 passenger trips in the first three months of 2016, according to the NVTC’s figures. That means the bus service saw an 11 percent decrease in ridership in the same time period from 2016 to 2018.

Eric Balliet, a spokesman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, which manages ART, wrote in an email that ART officials believe this drop is a result of several factors. Commuters are returning to Metro “now that rail service has stabilized in Northern Virginia,” he said, and increasingly choosing ride-sharing services instead or simply telecommuting more frequently.

“We don’t have a way at this time to quantify each of the above changes,” Balliet wrote.

The Arlington County Board recently voted to cut a pair of bus routes when it passed a new budget, citing a lack of demand from riders. The county is also preparing to shutter several lightly used bus stops along Washington Boulevard, and renovate dozens more.

ART is certainly not the only bus service in the area to see a dip in passengers.

Metrobus service in Northern Virginia has also seen a decline in riders over the last year — NVTC figures show that the service recorded about 4 million passenger trips in the first quarter of 2018, compared to about 4.5 million in the same time period last year. That works out to a decline of roughly 11 percent.

The numbers track closely with a nationwide decline in bus ridership. An analysis by the New York-based TransitCenter advocacy group found that bus ridership fell by 5 percent last year across 35 major metropolitan areas.

File photo

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Arlington Plans to Renovate Dozens of Bus Stops Along Washington Boulevard, Eliminate Others

(Updated 12:25 p.m.) Some big changes are on the way for bus stops around Arlington, as county workers kick off plans to shutter several lightly used stops and renovate dozens more.

The county is starting construction work this spring on a whole host of changes to its Metrobus and Arlington Rapid Transit stops along Washington Boulevard from Sycamore Street in East Falls Church to the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Route 50 in Lyon Park. In all, the county plans to add new amenities to busy stops and make every stop along the corridor more accessible for people with disabilities, according to a news release.

While the county is still waiting on some final approvals from local landowners, transportation officials are hoping to relocate some stops, and add new shelters, benches or trash bins to others.

In all, the county is planning on closing stops at eight locations around Arlington, due to a lack of riders:

  • 3rd Street N., westbound
  • N. Stuart Street, westbound and eastbound
  • N. Utah Street, westbound and eastbound
  • N. Frederick Street, westbound and eastbound
  • N. Inglewood Street, westbound and eastbound
  • N. Kenilworth Street, westbound
  • N. Kentucky Street, eastbound
  • N. Nottingham Street, westbound

The county expects construction work on the stops to continue through the summer of 2019. Arlington is funding the project using some of the county’s share of revenue generated by the new tolls on drivers on Interstate 66 inside the Beltway during the morning and evening rush hours.

Full details on the planned construction across the county are available on Arlington’s website.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Tops HQ2 Poll — The combined Crystal City-Potomac Yard site is the most likely D.C. area landing spot for Amazon’s second headquarters, according to an online poll conducted by the Washington Business Journal. Meanwhile, D.C., Virginia and Maryland officials are teaming up to promote the region as the HQ2 search continues. Amazon fever has even entered the world of local business conferences: an event dubbed “HQmania” is scheduled to be held in Rosslyn next month. [Washington Business Journal, WAMU, DCA Live]

Rosslyn Lands Nonprofit HQ — “It’s been a good week for Rosslyn. First came the news that Gerber, a Nestle subsidiary, would relocate its headquarters and 150 jobs from New Jersey to 1812 N. Moore St. And Friday, we learn that a D.C.-based global nonprofit has decided to cross the Potomac into Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]

ART Bus Stop Vandalized — Someone smashed two of the windows on an ART bus stop in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood late last week. [Twitter]

Arlington Man Charged With Statutory Rape — A 47-year-old Arlington man was arrested at his home last month and charged with the statutory rape of a minor in North Carolina. The man arranged meeting the minor in North Carolina via the messaging app Kik, which is popular with teens. [Fox 8]

Local Columbine Survivor Addresses Student Protesters — “Salli Garrigan was in music class when the sound of gunshots reverberated through the halls of her high school… Garrigan, now 35 and an Arlington resident, stood Friday before a crowd of D.C.-area students gathered on the U.S. Capitol lawn and told them when she was their age, she didn’t know how to make her voice heard.” [Washington Post]

Long Bridge Park Field Renovations Starting — Work is set to begin today on new turf for Long Bridge Park’s heavily-used Field No. 3. The field is expected to be closed for 45 days. [Arlington County]

Past and Present School Board Members Gather — On Thursday, the Arlington School Board held its last meeting at the Arlington Education Center building next to Washington-Lee High School. The board room and administrative offices are moving to the Syphax Education Center along Washington Blvd. To mark the last meeting, past and current School Board members members gathered for a photo. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Duluoz Me

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Pentagon Slug Lines and South Parking Lot To Be Reconfigured

Slug lines at the Pentagon are being temporarily relocated as part of ongoing work that includes creating new bus-only travel lanes.

The relocation was slated to start Monday at the Pentagon’s South Parking Lot “Pork Chop.”

More from a VDOT press release:

Work to reconfigure slug lines and create new bus-only travel lanes at the Pentagon Reservation’s South Parking Lot “Pork Chop,” located east of Eads Street and north of I-395, will begin on or about Monday, March 19. Pedestrians and motorists should exercise caution while traveling in the area.

The work is part of the I-395 Express Lanes Project, a public-private partnership project between VDOT and Transurban that is extending the existing I-95/I-395 Express Lanes eight miles from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road in Alexandria to the Washington, D.C. line.

As part of this change, crews will temporarily relocate the slug lines in the order shown in the diagram. Temporary signage will direct drivers and pedestrians.

Privately owned vehicles will no longer be able to use the exit to VA-110 and will enter and exit the “Pork Chop” from Eads Street.

In addition to the South Parking Lot work, the 395 Express Lanes Project will convert the South Rotary Road drop-off/pick-up lane to a right-turn Express Lane entrance ramp. As part of the South Rotary Road work, crews will install gates along the South Rotary turn lane, and install traffic signals on Eads Street at North and South Rotary Roads.

The I-395 Express Lanes are scheduled to open in fall 2019, while other elements of the project are expected to be completed by summer 2020. For additional information about the project, go to www.395expresslanes.com and www.virginiadot.org/395express.

Map via Virginia Department of Transportation

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Shirlington Bus Stop Busted By Errant Driver

A bus stop, fire hydrant and sign were damaged by an errant driver in the Shirlington area this past Saturday evening.

The fire department tweeted a photo of the damage Monday, with a skull-and-crossbones above the fallen hydrant, urging drivers to “keep your wheels on the road and save our hydrants!”

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said the driver of the striking vehicle — a Nissan Altima — was cited for the crash.

“At approximately 7:11 p.m. on July 22, police responded to a single vehicle crash in the 2500 block of S. Arlington Mill Drive,” said Savage. “The driver was traveling eastbound on S. Arlington Mill Drive when the vehicle left the roadway and collided with a bus stop, fire hydrant and light pole. The driver was cited for failure to maintain proper control of their vehicle.”

So far, there’s no exact timeframe or cost estimate for repairs.

“The bus stop is on the schedule to be fixed as soon as possible,” said Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “Crews will have to get in there and assess the damage to determine cost and timeline for repair.”

Photo (top) via Arlington County Fire Department/Twitter, (middle) via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

APS Tells Staff to Stop Paying Sales Tax — As a public institution Arlington Public Schools is exempt from paying sales tax, but the school system’s internal auditor has found that some staff members have been placing orders for APS via Amazon without sales tax exempted. APS has since requested sales tax refunds for those orders. [InsideNova]

Arlington Resident Cited for Boating Incident — An Arlington man has been cited for operating a vessel while impaired after his 28-foot boat ran aground off the eastern shore of Maryland, south of Ocean City. [WMDT]

Notable Rivercrest Property Sold — A home and an adjacent vacant lot have been sold near the intersection of Military Road and N. Glebe Road in the Rivercrest neighborhood. The lot was the site of a “national debate over property rights and conformity,” when in 1969 an architect started to build a custom home on the lot but was ultimately stopped after a legal challenge by neighbors, who thought the home was ugly and would not “retain the very pleasant, beautiful nature of Rivercrest.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Flipper: Selling Home to the County Was a Pain — A real estate investor has penned a piece for the Post in which he recounts the sale of one of his properties to Arlington County. The sale, of a house near Fire Station 8, was “neither lucrative nor convenient” and was more trouble than it was worth, he writes. However, the owner of a run-down property next to his received a much better price by holding out, the piece suggests. [Washington Post]

Mouthwash on Clarendon Bus Stop — Updating the saga of the stick of deodorant atop a Clarendon bus stop, the deodorant has now been joined by an errant bottle of Listerine mouthwash. [ARLnow]

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UPDATED: Why Is There a Stick of Deodorant on Top of This Clarendon Bus Stop?

Update on 6/27/17 — A bottle of Listerine mouthwash has joined the deodorant on top of the bus stop.

Earlier: Every once in awhile, a mystery captivates a community.

Today, those who work in the office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd (including ARLnow.com’s staff) are wondering: under what circumstances did this stick of Old Spice High Endurance deodorant get on top of this bus stop?

The deodorant has been there, across from the Clarendon Metro plaza, for at least a week. Neither rain nor wind has knocked it from its perch. It’s unclear if anyone will ever remove it.

Some locals who spoke to ARLnow.com had theories as to how the deodorant got up there.

“People get drunk on the weekends, that would be my best guess,” said a man who works at a local bar.

“I assume somebody just threw it and didn’t expect it to land up there,” said another passerby.

“I ride this bus every day. I would’ve never looked up there, even though I’m tall I can’t see up there,” said a man waiting at the bus stop, who was previously unaware of the deodorant’s presence. “Maybe somebody was upset with the deodorant’s performance and threw it up there out of anger. Or, more often than not, people throw things up there to see how often they stay up there.”

The windows on the second floor of 3100 Clarendon Blvd — home to the MakeOffices coworking space and dozens of companies — do not open, thus making it unlikely that it was tossed from an office. There is a rooftop patio on the third floor, but it would have been difficult to get a stick of deodorant to land and stay on the angled bus stop roof from that height.

Have any other guesses? Let us know in the comments.

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Lee and Glebe Intersection Upgrades Underway

The first phase for the upgrades on the intersection between Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road are well underway after construction began March 6.

A spokeswoman for the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) said the installation of spaces for underground utilities should be done by the end of the year.

After that is complete, utility cables will be transferred underground from the overhead poles. Each individual wooden overhead pole will then be removed and any remaining existing overhead utilities will be rearranged.

Improvements include wider sidewalks, upgraded traffic signals, enhanced left-turn lanes and the installation of left-turn lanes for N. Glebe Road. The area will also get four new bus shelters with real-time arrival information, new streetlights and crosswalk markings.

Currently the construction hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays.

Workers may close a single lane of traffic in one or both directions along Lee Highway, Glebe Road or both during construction. Vehicles turning left or right might also be detoured as construction moves into the intersection itself.

Additionally, some bus stops in the area will be relocated and some sidewalks will be closed or rerouted to allow for construction. Off-street parking in the area may also be reduced in the coming months.

DES says it does not expect any changes to be made to the current design plan for the project.

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Workers Break Ground on Lee and Glebe Intersection Upgrade

Wider sidewalks and new bus shelters are coming soon to the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.

Construction crews broke ground last month on the preliminary stages of a large improvement project that will eventually include the installation of left-turn lanes on N. Glebe Road, bigger sidewalks, four new bus shelters with real-time arrival information, and new streetlights, crosswalk markings and traffic signals. The improvements “will improve traffic flow and pedestrian and bicyclist safety,” Arlington County said.

Workers are currently installing underground equipment in parking lots near the intersection, but the larger improvements aren’t slated to arrive until sometime next year at the earliest.

“Construction began in January on the first phase, utility undergrounding. This is expected to last 18 months,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet. “The second phase, streetscape and transit stop upgrades, is still in design.”

Once the design is finalized, it will take workers about a year to finish the job, Balliet added.

In the months ahead, commuters can expect road work to start at the intersection. Construction hours within the roadway are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some night work will also occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays and weekends, the county said.

Workers may close a single lane of traffic in one or both directions along Lee Highway, Glebe Road or both during construction. Vehicles turning left or right might also be detoured as construction moves into the intersection itself.

Additionally, some bus stops in the area will be relocated and some sidewalks will be closed or rerouted to allow for construction, the county said. Off-street parking in the area may also be reduced in the coming months.

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