(Updated 6:00 p.m.) A new survey shows that a majority of Arlingtonians are satisfied with public transit, but their levels of satisfaction vary by geography.
Mobility Lab, a division of Arlington County Commuter Services, surveyed county residents last year to gauge travel patterns for work and non-work trips as well as concerns about public transit. This “state of the commute” survey was last conducted in 2010 and 2016, and the 2021 results included additional information about the pandemic’s effect on travel in Arlington.
ACCS uses the data to improve how it markets bicycling, walking and transit options to residents, businesses, and commercial and residential property managers, said Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors. Those people-facing efforts include Bike Arlington, Walk Arlington and Arlington Transportation Partners.
“The primary uses of ACCS surveys are to check how well these programs are running,” she told ARLnow.
Of the 4,213 respondents, 71% of residents said they were satisfied with transit in Arlington. But people living along Metro corridors were happier with their options than people living in parts of South Arlington where the bus is the main transit mode.
People living along the Rosslyn-Ballston and Route 1 corridors were the most satisfied with their options, at 81% and 75%, respectively. And they were more likely to be members of Capital Bikeshare, at 37% and 38%, respectively.
Outside of the Metrorail corridor, the survey found satisfaction levels of 64% in Shirlington, 58% in Columbia Pike and 64% in what was deemed “Other South.” Shirlington residents reported lower rates of availability for various transportation services in general and only 13% said they had a Bikeshare membership.
Pors said a takeaway from the survey for ACCS might be that they need to focus their outreach in Shirlington “to make sure they’re aware of their options… and make sure apartment managers are talking to tenants, and using daily face time to make sure they’re fully informed.”
What the data will not do, Pors said, is set which transit projects to prioritize — for instance, applying more time and staff to improving bus transit along the Pike over adding a second entrance to the Ballston Metro station.
Concerns about safety and long waits
While generally happy with their options, Arlingtonians did have some gripes with the transit system, including how long one must wait for the bus or Metrorail as opposed to driving.
Nearly 40% said they would have to wait too long for transit to arrive while another 35% said the trip would take too long.
As for barriers to bicycling, two-thirds of residents said they don’t feel safe riding a bike in traffic, while another 37% mentioned concerns about the network of bike paths or bike lanes.
The pandemic spurs changes
The survey showed how transit use for non-work trips changed during the pandemic. While remote work contributed to the widely reported steep drop in Metro ridership, between 2015 and 2021, transit use for non-work trips also declined from 87% to 68%.
But one form of transportation increased during the pandemic: walking. About 34% reported walking “somewhat more” for non-work trips and 22% walking “much more.”
In fact, many respondents said the most important transportation needs facing the county post-pandemic are ones that take them outside: walking (58%) and cycling and scooting (42%).
Meanwhile, most respondents said they won’t be changing their commuting mode anytime soon: 81% who drove alone, 82% who used transit, and 71% who biked or walked indicated they would keep doing so post-pandemic.
Still, to chip away at those statistics, Arlington is embarking on extensive marketing efforts to encourage people to swipe their SmarTrip cards and stop driving.
“Through ACCS, [the county is] going to come out with more messaging to get people to feel comfortable on transit again,” Pors said. “There has been that loyal set of riders who’ve stayed through the pandemic. Maybe this is an opportunity for people who shifted to single-occupancy vehicles to try something new, and pitching bus as that option.”
Bank Booting Xmas Tree Sale from Lot — “Optimist members tell 7News On Your Side that [Wells Fargo] bank officials told them in late 2021 that their parking lot would not be available to the Optimists for liability reasons. This concern was bewildering to club members as they say over the years they’ve never had any serious accidents or issues. The Optimists are now scrambling to find another space.” [WJLA]
Real Estate Agents Making Less — “Northern Virginia Realtors shared roughly $30 million less in compensation during the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2021 despite rising home prices, according to a new Sun Gazette analysis. Year-over-year sales for the first half of 2022 were down 12.2 percent, according to figures reported by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.” [Sun Gazette]
Expanded Bikeshare Station in Ballston — From Capital Bikeshare: “Our teams have expanded and replaced the station at Glebe Rd & 11th St N in Arlington. Happy riding!” [Twitter]
Firefighters Rescue Stuck Bird — “The Arlington Fire and Rescue Department helped save a blue jay stuck in a tree on Monday — and the video is heartwarming. The bird appeared to have a piece of plastic material wrapped around its leg.” [WJLA, Twitter]
Arlington Seeks Feedback on Bay Plan — “The County is updating its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Plan, which speaks to effective land use management practices as required by the state. Read on, chime in.” [Twitter, Arlington County]
Local Company Making New Acquisition — “Evolent Health Inc. is taking steps to expand its arsenal of services for health care providers, starting with an acquisition that will move it into the lucrative area of musculoskeletal care. The Arlington company, which helps health systems and insurance companies manage their costs and improve care, charges into the second half of 2022 on the cusp of closing its purchase of Alpharetta, Georgia’s IPG.” [Washington Business Journal]
New Burger Restaurant at DCA — “Elevation Burger has opened a new restaurant in Terminal E at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington. Founded in 2002, Elevation Burger uses USDA-certified organic, 100-percent grass-fed beef and fresh-cut fries cooked in heart-healthy olive oil.” [Patch]
It’s Thursday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 88 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]
From a new Columbia Pike library to a dedicated pickleball court, County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed 10-year $3.9 billion capital improvement plan would fund projects across Arlington.
The first 10-year plan for capital projects in four years would budget for infrastructure projects between 2023 and 2032. The CIP proposal, slated for adoption in July, is a 40% increase from the plan approved four years ago, Schwartz said in his presentation to the County Board Tuesday.
“This CIP proposal aims to address current and future capital needs in Arlington County as we emerge from the financial setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schwartz said in a statement. “We want to focus on key planned investments in addition to following through on commitments from prior plans to benefit county residents and businesses long-term.”
Stormwater projects would receive $331.3 million in funding, including $77 million for Spout Run, $14.7 million for Torreyson Run, $28.5 million for Crossman Run and $49.5 million for Lubber Run — all flood mitigation efforts. Streams and water quality funding is proposed at $52.1 million and maintenance at $50.2 million.
While Metro remains one of the largest investments in the CIP, at $356.4 million, the proposal also outlines $1.8 billion in non-Metro transportation funding. This includes $16 million for Vision Zero street safety improvements program, $64 million for bridge replacements and renovations, and $89 million for bike and walk programs.
Other highlights include:
- Columbia Pike library replacement ($31.6 million)
- Planning for future investment at the Quincy Street site ($16.4 million)
- Army Navy Country Club Trail ($4.9 million)
- Maintenance and expansion of Capital Bikeshare program ($16.8 million)
- Continued funding for Columbia Pike transportation improvements, supporting the remaining reconstruction and the Transit Station program ($117 million)
- Bridge replacements and renovations, including replacing the W. Glebe Road and Mt. Vernon (Arlington Ridge Road) bridges and design and construction of Shirlington Road Bridge ($64 million)
- Construction of new entrances to the Ballston ($147.5 million) and Crystal City ($91.4 million) Metro stations and investment in the transitway extension to Pentagon City and Potomac Avenue ($33 million)
The proposed CIP includes new park programs that focus on emerging needs and natural resiliency, a new fire station on the west end of Columbia Pike, and facilities consolidation to enable remote work for county staff.
Schwartz said the needs of the county have changed since the last 10-year CIP, as the county is in “a world shaped by the pandemic where we do our business differently.”
Michelle Cowan, deputy county manager overseeing the Department of Management and Finance, noted during the presentation that the finance department works entirely remotely now, potentially a harbinger of a money-saving reduction in the county’s office footprint.
“We have reduced our footprint which… allows us then to do some really strategic consolidations that you’ll hear about in other county buildings that could get us out of some aging assets,” Cowan said.
The CIP will continue to fund debt service obligations for the investment in housing at Barcroft Apartments, construction of Fire Station 8, which is scheduled to be completed in fall 2023, and the design and planning process for the proposed Arlington boathouse.
Preliminary construction funding for the lower boathouse site is included in the later years of the CIP.
This CIP returns funding levels for the Arlington Neighborhoods Program, formerly the Neighborhood Conservation Program, which are projects identified by individual neighborhoods and include street improvements, streetlights, parks, beautification and sidewalks. The program had steep cuts in previous CIPs.
The 2023-32 CIP proposal would provide $85.2 million in funding to the program. That includes $4 million of funding for projects in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, and would increase to $9 million in 2030 and 2031, Director of Management and Finance Maria Meredith said.
Data Centers Coming to Nat’l Landing — “The plan to establish 5G connectivity in Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, reshaping the larger community into a technological hub, includes a new addition: data centers. JBG Smith Properties, the area’s dominant property owner, will set up two “urban edge” data centers to serve as hubs for carriers and data aggregation.” [Washington Business Journal]
Clement Blasts Board Raises — “An independent candidate for Arlington County Board says she’d be OK with a major pay raise for County Board members, if they were providing adequate oversight duties. But they’re not, Audrey Clement contends. ‘Where is the hard work in avoiding hard decisions by kowtowing to staff?’ Clement asked in a recent campaign missive to supporters.” [Sun Gazette]
Metro Announces New CEO — “WMATA’s Board of Directors is excited to announce the selection of its new General Manager/CEO who will transform the agency and redefine how Metro continues to be an integrated part of the region’s success. Randy Clarke, the current President and CEO of Capital Metro (CapMetro) in Austin, TX, will begin his new position at WMATA late summer and was selected following an exhaustive nationwide search, which included important stakeholder and public input.” [WMATA]
It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 70 and low of 51. Sunrise at 6:01 am and sunset at 8:12 pm. [Weather.gov]
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Vincent
A new bike share station is potentially coming to Virginia Hospital Center, perhaps as soon as this summer.
At the County Board meeting on Saturday, members will vote on an agreement to install a Capital Bikeshare station at 1800 N. Edison Street in the Halls Hill neighborhood, where construction is currently ongoing to expand Virginia Hospital Center.
The agreement between the county and the hospital will grant permission to Arlington to install, operate, and maintain the station for at least a decade. It also asks VHC to pay $35,000 for the station’s installation and $17,300 annually for operational and maintenance costs.
The station could be installed by this summer if the agreement passes, a county spokesperson tells ARLnow. Since it’s listed as a consent item on Saturday’s agenda, it can be reasonably assumed the agreement will be approved.
The idea for a Bikeshare station at that location was first proposed to the neighborhood civic association way back in 2016, according to the Board report. At the time, the association’s members had no issue with the proposal.
Capital Bikeshare stations are owned by D.C. area localities and operated in partnership with the CaBi program, which is now a part of Lyft.
“Capital Bikeshare is a popular bike-sharing system in the Metropolitan D.C. Region,” reads the Board report. “Recognizing this trend, Arlington County Commuter Services has partnered with MetroBike in the continued development of a network of strategically-placed bike-sharing stations in various locations around the county. This bike-sharing partnership promotes the ideals of ‘car-free’ transportation, a healthy lifestyle and environmental stewardship.”
In recent years, more and more bike share stations have popped up around Arlington. There are now currently 104 Capital Bikeshare stations in operation in the county, a spokesperson says.
Construction is coming along on the 245,000 square-foot outpatient facility and parking garage adjacent to Virginia Hospital Center’s existing campus. It is expected to be completed in late 2023.
County Board Member Talks Gondola — “Christian Dorsey (D) said the county will have to decide whether it makes sense to commit public money to the project. ‘It’s a fairly short walk from the Rosslyn Metro station to that station in Georgetown,’ he said. In 2017, the county board said in a letter that it would not fund the gondola project despite agreeing to commit $35,000 to a feasibility study. ‘We viewed it as more of a luxury concept than an essential transportation service,’ Dorsey said.” [Washington Post]
Alexandria Mayor Gabs About Gondola — “‘Gondola, yes or no?’ Sherwood asked. ‘Anything that provides new transportation options is a good thing,’ Wilson said. ‘We’ve experimented more with ferries. The river is typically the challenge.'” [ALXnow]
Some Residents Remain Amazon Averse — “Amazon’s efforts to integrate its massive HQ2 campus into its Arlington community have come in all shapes and sizes. And while some of its neighbors acknowledge those efforts, they point to some key unanswered questions around the tech giant’s engagement strategy and eventual effects on their terrain. Still, many remain positive about the latest, and biggest, corporate addition to their communities.” [Washington Business Journal]
GMU Mulls Ways to Enliven Arlington Campus — “More vibrant outdoor areas and the potential of mid-level pedestrian bridges connecting academic buildings are among the possibilities to help the Arlington campus of George Mason University as it grows and evolves. Efforts should be focuses on ‘bringing some life and energy’ to areas like the exterior courtyard area fronting Fairfax Drive, said Gregory Janks, the consultant leading an effort to reimagine Mason’s Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William campuses.” [Sun Gazette]
New Bikeshare Station in Arlington Mill — From Capital Bikeshare: “STATION ALERT: Check out the newly installed station at 8th Rd and S Frederick St in Arlington.” [Twitter]
JBG Sells Hotels to Fund Development — “A fund managed by JBG Smith Properties is selling off two hotels near Reagan National Airport as the developer readies for still more construction in and around Arlington and Alexandria… In an earnings call this month, JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said the company would use asset sales, along with ground leases and recapitalizations, to harvest some of the value of its properties as it readies an extensive development pipeline totaling nearly 10 million square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]
Ballston: Manhattan Near the Potomac — “Three [census] tracts make a slice of Ballston the highest-density residential neighborhood in Greater Washington. For decades, Arlington’s plans have encouraged high-rise residential and office on the blocks immediately along the Orange Line corridor, while strictly limiting additional homes even a short walk away. All those people in close proximity can support a wide array of dining choices and retailers, including multiple groceries and pharmacies; the tract’s 94 Walk Score makes it a ‘walker’s paradise.'” [GGWash]
Local Storms Not Getting Significantly Worse — “One local weather expert says he hasn’t seen much evidence to suggest D.C. storms in recent years have been getting more severe, or even more frequent. ‘In some years we have a lot, in some years we have very little, depending on how the day-to-day weather trends add up over the course of the year,’ said Christopher Strong, a Sterling, Virginia-based warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service.” [DCist]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Major Snow Storm Approaching — “At the low end, about 1 to 3 inches or so would fall on Sunday before precipitation changes to a light mix or even plain rain late Sunday into Monday. At the high end, at least 6 to 12 inches would accumulate, beginning Sunday and lasting into Monday night or Tuesday, perhaps mixed with sleet at times.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]
Arlington GOP Eyes Comeback — “It took the election of Donald Trump in 2016 to re-energize and motivate Arlington’s dominant, but at that point somewhat moribund, Democrats. And the election result of 2020 may have had the same caffeinating impact on the Arlington County Republican Committee. ‘I’m super-pumped… by the number [of attendees] and the level of enthusiasm,’ party communications director Matthew Hurtt said at the Jan. 27 committee meeting, which attracted a crowd of about 80 to Zoom.” [InsideNova]
Bigger Comcast Bills Surprise Customers — “Dozens of Comcast Cable Communications customers in Maryland and Northern Virginia have been reaching out to FOX 5 saying, they’re concerned about their internet and WiFi bills going up as a result of hitting the new 1.2 terabyte data threshold.” [Fox 5]
Swooning Over a Woonerf — From WalkArlington: “While still early, we were excited by the idea of a woonerf in Arlington! Woonerf (pronounced VONE-erf) is a Dutch term that means ‘streets for living.’ It describes ‘common space created to be shared by pedestrians, bicyclists & low-speed motor vehicles.'” [Twitter]
Rosslyn CaBi Station Relocated — From Capital Bikeshare: “The 11-dock station at Quinn St & Key Blvd has been moved to Wilson & Quinn Blvd today. Happy riding!” [Twitter]
NY Man Arrested for NYE Gunfire — “The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating the discharge of a firearm which occurred in the Rosslyn area on the morning of January 1, 2021. At approximately 1:48 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun in the 1500 block of Clarendon Boulevard… officers observed the suspect on the sidewalk holding a firearm as they arrived on scene. The suspect was compliant and taken into custody without incident.” [ACPD]
First Arlington Baby of 2021 — “What a way to ring in the #newyear! Welcome to the world, Mohamed! Our first [Virginia Hospital Center] #newborn of #2021 was born at 1:18 am this morning. Congratulations to the family, and thank you for letting us celebrate the new year with your bundle of joy!” [Twitter]
Parent Files Suit Against APS — “An Arlington Public Schools parent wants his daughter back in class so badly, he plans to file a lawsuit against the district. ‘We started the fundraising today, and we’ve already gotten a lot of great contributions from fellow parents,’ Russell Laird told Fox 5 Wednesday, referring to a GoFundMe campaign launched in an effort to raise $10,000 that would be used to sue Arlington Public Schools.” [Fox 5]
Nat’l Landing Touts Transpo Projects — “National Landing, the renamed neighborhood of Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yards in Arlington and Alexandria, will become the country’s most connected urban center sometime in the next decade, its business boosters say. Eight major transportation projects are underway in the area, with the aim of turning what is often seen as a busy pass-through into a truly urban neighborhood where residents, office workers and visitors have easy access to local and regional amenities as well as long-distance travel.” [Washington Post]
Local Nonprofit Sees Surge in Aid — “The financial assistance nonprofit Arlington Thrive is helping four times as many people as families are devastated by COVID-19. ‘I was never thinking this would happen in America. I was working hard. I was working three jobs. I lost all three jobs,’ one client, a cook, waiter and ride-share driver, told News4’s Pat Collins.” [NBC 4]
Bikeshare Station Work — “Pardon our dust! In Jan & Feb, some @bikeshare stations in Crystal City, Pentagon City, & Potomac Yard will be replaced, expanded, moved, or removed and may be OFFLINE for a few hours or days.” [Twitter]
Reminder: Bus Changes in Effect — “Riders on the Arlington, Virginia, bus system will once again have to pay fares and enter the bus through the front door starting on Sunday. Arlington County said that both practices were suspended by Arlington Transit (ART) last March, but fares can now be paid by either using the SmarTrip card, SmarTrip app or by exact change at the fare box, while plastic glass barriers have been installed to protect the drivers at the front of the bus.” [WTOP]
Dorsey’s Bankruptcy Case Dismissed — “Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey, whose ethical and financial difficulties have tangled him in a web of false statements over the past year, fraudulently misrepresented his assets while filing for bankruptcy, a federal court ruled Friday… It was ‘an act of overt misrepresentation,’ [bankruptcy trustee] Thomas P. Gorman told the court at a hearing on Thursday, and ‘misconduct . . . so over the line’ that punishment was warranted.” [Washington Post]
Holiday Shopping Safety Tips — “ACPD wants you to have a happy and safe holiday season. While many are choosing to shop online this year, those shopping in-store are encouraged to be mindful of these safety tips.” [Twitter]
Event for Military Families Today — “An annual Winter Wonderland for Military Families hosted by a former NFL player and his wife will look very different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Derrick Dockery and his wife Emma will hold a drive-thru version of the event that provides toys and holiday cheer to military kids and families on Dec. 7 at a parking lot in Arlington, Virginia through their nonprofit, Yellow Ribbons United.” [Radio.com]
Santa Visit Still on This Weekend — “Santa Claus has paid a visit to the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department every year for over a century and he’s not going let the coronavirus pandemic force him to break that streak. In the interest of public safety, the jolly old elf will be meeting children outside this year in the parking lot of Cherrydale Baptist Church, which is located at 3910 Lorcom Lane.” [Patch]
More on CaBi Station at DCA — “Arlington County, Virginia, has installed a Capital Bikeshare station at Reagan National Airport, making it the first major metropolitan airport in the U.S. with a dock-based shared bike program. It is the 99th Capital Bikeshare dock installed in Arlington County.” [WTOP]
Gunston Coordinator Honored — “Shantha Smith, an education coordinator at Gunston Middle School, has been named a recipient of the 2020 Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education by the state government. Awards were presented Dec. 3 in Richmond, and were named after a pioneering African-American educator.” [InsideNova]
Arlington’s ‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Talks — “For me, I like the hole-in-the wall bars. Just like, a dive bar where I can just like, grab a beer. Like I love drinking Guinness or some sort of Allagash White or something like that. If I were to go to a bar in Arlington to watch a game, I don’t know — maybe like, First Down in Ballston or like Spider Kelly’s.” [Washingtonian]
CaBi Comes to DCA — “The Capital Bikeshare station at National Airport is live! Traveling to the airport just got a whole lot easier.” [Twitter]
National Landing BID Expanding — “The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) today announced two new executive appointments and three promotions within the organization.” [National Landing BID]
Fmr. Interim Superintendent Leaves APS — Arlington Public Schools staff wished goodbye to Cintia Johnson, the long-time school staffer who recently served as interim superintendent. [@APSVirginia/Twitter]
Chamber Continues Supporting Dillon Rule — “As part of its 2021 package of legislative priorities, the Chamber of Commerce is continuing its position that the ‘Dillon Rule’ needs to be maintained, and urged members of the General Assembly to do nothing that would lessen it. Leadership of the business organization comes and goes and other policy positions evolve over time, but the Chamber’s support for the Dillon Rule has remained steadfast over the decades.” [InsideNova]
Hospital CEO Staying On, For Now — “Virginia Hospital Center is experiencing some leadership changes — and holding off on others. VHC president and CEO Jim Cole, who’s held the position for 25 of his 35 years with the Arlington hospital, has continued and will remain in the top slot for now after announcing a year ago his intention to retire in September 2020.” [Washington Business Journal]
‘Section 230’ Explained With ARLnow — So what is Section 230, exactly? Per cybersecurity law professor Jeff Kosseff: “[An] example is that I go to my favorite local news site, @ARLnowDOTcom, and post a terrible, defamatory rumor about my neighbor… Neighbor can sue me, but a suit against ARLnow would fail because ARLnow was not responsible in whole or in part for creating or developing my defamatory post.” [@jkosseff/Twitter]
Nearby: Bethesda Encouraging ‘Streeteries’ — “A fund with $1.25 million from federal aid money might help. The county is considering using that money to give outdoor ‘streeteries’ — blocked-off streets filled with tables and chairs for patrons to eat outdoors — tools to prepare for operating during winter, such as heaters.” [Bethesda Magazine]
Wakefield High School students will soon have a new way of getting to and from school: Capital Bikeshare.
A new CaBi station with eleven bike docks was approved unanimously at the Jan. 9 School Board meeting. The station will be placed near the other bicycle racks on the southern side of the school, along S. Dinwiddie Street.
The agreement between Arlington Public Schools and Capital Bikeshare is effective for five years, with an automatic renewal thereafter. The agreement specifies that the Capital Bikeshare is responsible for the costs of setting up the station and maintenance.
There are nearly 100 Capital Bikeshare stations in Arlington, with a number of other stations in the works across the county. There are several stations not far from Wakefield, along Four Mile Run Drive, Columbia Pike, and around Shirlington.
The plans did not include a timeframe for when the new station will be implemented. A school spokesman said the timeline will be determined by the Capital Bikeshare.
Photo via Arlington Public Schools