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Vision Zero team representatives during the Arlington County Board meeting on Oct. 18, 2022 (via Arlington County)

Arlington County Board members have indicated their impatience for traffic changes at an intersection where a woman was fatally struck by a driver two weeks ago.

During a meeting yesterday (Tuesday), Board members received a briefing from team members from Vision Zero — the county’s initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries — about all the work they do after a critical crash.

But Board members were less interested in the process and dwelled more on getting answers to questions like “How long will this take?” and “What can we do now?” Part of that motivation, according to Board Chair Katie Cristol, was that the death of 85-year-old Gwendolyn Hayes felt preventable.

“Any fatal crash is unacceptable to our community, as I know you feel deeply, as do we. And what feels so difficult about Ms. Hayes’ death is the sense that this is one that should have been prevented, especially because of those who had been killed at the same location before her,” she said.

Scene of fatal pedestrian crash along Little Falls Road in the Williamsburg neighborhood (staff photo)

This was the second pedestrian death and the third notable crash in recent months, and the rash has prompted residents to demand more action. Viviana Oxlaj Pérez died in early August after being struck by an alleged drunk driver on 2nd Street S. and Old Glebe Road. A man charged with involuntary manslaughter related to her death has hearings set for February 2023, according to court records.

Shortly after, a child on a bicycle who allegedly pedaled into oncoming traffic was struck at the intersection of 3rd Street S. and S. Carlin Springs Road. Then, Hayes died at the intersection of Little Falls Road and John Marshall Drive.

All three crashes were near schools: Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Kenmore Middle School and Nottingham Elementary School, respectively. And while school zones are slated to get speed cameras, possibly later next year, it won’t help safety at the intersection where Hayes died, which is just outside the school zone boundaries.

Scene of pedestrian struck in the Williamsburg neighborhood (staff photo)

In light of these crashes, Board members pressed staff to give timeframes for the police investigation into Hayes’ and Oxlaj Pérez’s deaths. They asked when police will choose a vendor for speed cameras, and asked if more red light cameras could be installed. They urged staff not to let new research into this intersection slow them down.

“We’ve got a lot of data, we’ve got a lot of information that doesn’t require a lot of time to initiate original research and study,” Board Vice-Chair Christian Dorsey said. “I would encourage us to use the data that we have and the analytical framework and tools we have to work as expeditiously as we can.”

County Board member Matt de Ferranti said he visited with a neighbor near Little Falls Road who always has first aid supplies ready to take care of people who get into crashes. There have been a total of three fatal pedestrian crashes along a two-block stretch of Little Falls Road near Nottingham Elementary School over the past eight years.

De Ferranti said he has seen videos showing how hazardous the conditions are. These are examples of “qualitative data” staff should use to prioritize changes to this intersection, he said.

“I really hope we can be thinking in weeks and not months in terms of additional action,” he said.

Staff at Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which builds and maintains local roads, say they’re working on preliminary designs for safety improvements, but are waiting for the facts of the police investigation to finalize these designs.

“We are prioritizing this [intersection],” Transportation and Operations Bureau Chief Hui Wang said. “We are trying to see if there are other data we can utilize without the fresh collection.”

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A utility pole blocks a narrow sidewalk, bordering four lanes of traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road (via Google Maps)

After a driver collided with a child on a bicycle on S. Carlin Springs Road this week, neighbors and advocates are calling for street safety upgrades.

For its part, Arlington County says it has already been working on safety measures for the area, which has narrow sidewalks, little or no pedestrian buffer and a history of crashes. Upcoming steps include reducing speeds near the schools in the area: Kenmore Middle School and Carlin Springs Elementary.

“We are looking into the details from police regarding the crash and will identify next steps based on the report,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien said.

And Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti has recently gotten involved, too. He tells ARLnow he has walked the area with advocates and will be meeting with staff next week.

“First and foremost, I understand that the young man is okay and the safety of our kids and our residents is highest on my mind,” de Ferranti said. “Second, the accident raises important and urgent questions about safety in that whole corridor… We need to do better to address them.”

How the crash happened

Just before 7 p.m. on Monday, a driver traveling south on S. Carlin Springs Road proceeded through a green light and struck a juvenile riding a bicycle in the crosswalk, Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said.

The driver remained on scene. The child, who did not require a trip to the hospital for treatment, was tended to on scene by medics, Savage said. No citations were issued.

While ACPD does not provide identifying information, she did say the child involved was older than first reported on social media.

A history of unsafe sidewalks 

Community advocate Janeth Valenzuela tells ARLnow that she passed by the crash around 6:45 p.m. and saw emergency responders. She says she’s been working on safety along S. Carlin Springs Road for many years now, and has suggested everything from building a bridge for kids crossing the road to erecting a fence to prevent kids from getting pushed into the street.

“I’ve been proposing a lot of things, but they don’t take it into consideration,” she said. “The solution is hard.”

S. Carlin Springs Road is an important walking route for Kenmore students, but she and other residents say the pedestrian amenities are poor. Sidewalks are narrow and not well maintained and often do not have any landscaping separating pedestrians from traffic.

Narrow sidewalks provide no separation between pedestrians and drivers on S. Carlin Springs Road (via Google Maps)

And people have been telling the county the same thing for nearly a decade, according to a 2014 report by the APS Multimodal Transportation and Student Safety Committee and Advisory Committee on Transportation Choices meeting minutes from 2017.

During one ACTC meeting in 2017, a father said moms with strollers pass kids playfully shoving each other on the sidewalk as cars whiz right next to them. In the winter, if the sidewalks aren’t plowed, kids walk in the road, he added.

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After a year of work surveying residents, two civic associations are going to the county with a request: to make a stretch of N. Carlin Springs Road safer for pedestrians.

Drivers routinely go 40 mph on the 30 mph road, which is used by kids walking to Kenmore Middle School, says Christopher George, who spearheaded the community initiative. People have to cross four lanes of traffic without marked crossings to get to two heavily used bus stations, which lack ramps to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

“It’s very dangerous for people who take the bus to cross the street,” he tells ARLnow. “Kenmore students are pretty much told not to cross the street because it’s so dangerous.”

Members of the Bluemont Civic Association (BCA) and the Arlington Forest Citizens Association (AFCA) want slower speeds, safer crossings and greater enforcement of speeding and street crossing laws on N. Carlin Springs Road between N. Edison Street and N. Kensington Street.

Their asks come after more than a year spent surveying neighborhoods, conducting site walks and drafting a report.

Residents say they want to see:

  • Marked crossings accessible to people with disabilities
  • Medians with pedestrian refuges, curb extensions and streetscaping at the intersections of 2nd Street N./N. Jefferson Street and at N. Greenbrier Street
  • A speed limit on N. Carlin Springs Road of 25 mph, not 30 mph
  • Dark sky-compliant Carlyle-style street lights

Members sent a joint resolution to the County Board and County Manager Mark Schwartz requesting that they pilot these changes before fully implementing them.

They said these changes could qualify as upgrades for the county’s annual repaving efforts, its Vision Zero program to reduce pedestrian deaths and serious injuries or the county’s Neighborhood Conservation program, designed to let residents identify and plan projects in their neighborhoods.

The two intersections mentioned by the association members are “in the queue to look into for evaluation,” says Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

And a lower speed limit could be coming to the street. This year, DES is studying 30 mph roads ­­– including N. Carlin Springs Road ­­­– to determine which “could be a good fit for either a speed limit reduction or other measures such as signage,” she said.

DES expects the study will be done before the end of the year.

The two neighborhoods have worked together before to seek funding for pedestrian safety improvements on N. Carlin Springs Road, George said.

Arlington recently made intersection safety upgrades on N. Carlin Springs at N. Edison and N. Wakefield streets that included curb extensions, rapid flashing beacons, accessibility improvements, widened medians and other improvements, Pors said.

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The right lane of S. Carlin Springs Road reopens to traffic on Saturday (photo via DES)

Temporary bollards and wheel stops along a segment of S. Carlin Springs Road are set to come down this weekend.

Since March, these barriers — closing off the northbound right travel lane from 8th Place S. to 5th Road S. — have been up to give more room to kids walking to their neighborhood schools. On Saturday (July 24), S. Carlin Springs Road will fully reopen to traffic, according to a tweet from Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services.

“APS and the Department of Environmental Services saw an opportunity to create pilot temporary walking routes not on built sidewalks but rather on space carved out from an original travel or parking lane to help students get to school,” DES spokesman Peter Golkin said.

Campbell Elementary School, Glen Forest Elementary School and Carlin Springs Elementary School are all on or near that stretch of S. Carlin Springs Road that starts in Arlington Mill and ends in Glencarlyn.

The pilot walkability route was part of the county’s five-year Vision Zero Action Plan, aimed at eliminating traffic-related deaths and severe injuries. The County Board approved the Vision Zero safety plan this May.  

“Staff collected information on facility use feedback, community experience, field observation of operation, traffic pattern, crash experience, etc.,” Golkin said. “Staff hope to use the comments and data to inform future decisions.”

DES and APS will continue studying how the road is used to decide any future changes to traffic patterns, he said. They also tested out the idea on Lorcom Lane in residential North Arlington, which has seen prior attempts to improve safety for kids walking to school.

Although the test was part of a long-range plan, the department took advantage of conditions this spring — when there were fewer cars on the road due to the pandemic and kids were starting to walk to school again — to pilot the change, Golkin noted.

He says neither the Arlington County Police Department nor APS observed a notable increase or decrease in the number of collisions during the study period. Instead, they saw “challenging and dangerous encounters, but none resulted in a collision.”

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Intersection of N. Carlin Springs Road and N. Edison Street (Photo via Walk Arlington)

Pedestrian safety improvements at N. Carlin Springs Road are nearing completion.

The project’s goal is to increase pedestrian safety on busy N. Carlin Springs Road at the intersections of N. Edison Street and N. Wakefield Street. Work first began in November after the County Board approved the project in July.

The project is expected to be completed this month weather permitting, according to the Department of Environmental Services spokesperson Eric Balliet.

Last month, a Rapid Flashing Beacon was installed at the N. Edison Street intersection. Medians were also restored in January.

At the N. Wakefield Street intersection, all the concrete and base asphalt work was completed earlier this year to extend the curbs and shorten crossing distance, making pedestrian crossings safer amid the fast-moving traffic.

Other work finished includes adding high visibility crosswalks at both intersections and improving ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

However, there’s still work that needs to be done.

At the N. Edison Street intersection, a retaining wall is currently under construction. Milling and paving still need to be completed as well as adding pavement markings and signage. Due to this, some sidewalks may be closed to pedestrians until the work is finished.

Funding for the project is being shared between the county and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Pedestrian safety has long been an issue at these intersections and on Carlin Springs Road in general. The county has recently increased fines for speeding on number of streets, including a different portion of Carlin Springs Road, as a means to protect pedestrians.

Also, this month, Arlington County is piloting a temporary lane closure to help create a buffer for pedestrians and students as they walk and bike to school. This comes just as some students return to in-person learning in nearly a year.

Photo via Walk Arlington

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Morning Notes

Local 911 Dispatchers Can Work Remotely — “On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center (ECC) became one of the first centers in the nation to implement capabilities that allow fire and emergency medical services (EMS) dispatchers and supervisors to deliver critical emergency communications services no matter where they are. Now, Arlington Fire-EMS dispatchers and supervisors are able work from a remote location, including from home.” [Arlington County]

Grocery Workers Unaware of Vaccine Availability — “Grocery store workers in Arlington can now sign up for Covid vaccine… But Arlington County is apparently not notifying grocery store workers about this option… At our local Arlington grocery store, a staff person in the management office indicated they were not aware of either option, when my wife and I called.” [Blue Virginia]

Apple Stores Temporarily ClosingUpdated at 8:55 a.m. — “Apple is temporarily closing its Washington, D.C. retail stores ahead of the United States presidential inauguration. Five stores in the Washington metro area will close through at least January 21… Stores in Arlington, VA at Pentagon City and Clarendon, as well as in Maryland at Bethesda Row will close from Saturday.” [9to5Mac]

Beyer Wants Cameras for Federal Officers — “Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) announced today that they will reintroduce their Federal Police Camera and Accountability Act, which would require uniformed federal police officers, including U.S. Capitol Police, to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in police vehicles.” [Press Release]

Attempted Armed Robbery on Columbia Pike — “At approximately 8:18 p.m. on January 13, police were dispatched to the late report of an attempted armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 5:04 p.m., the suspect was inside a business when they approached the front of the store, threatened the victim with a knife and demanded they open the drawer to the cash register. The suspect then fled the business when the victim yelled and another employee ran to the front of the store.” [ACPD]

Water Main Repair on Carlin Springs Road — “Water main break… Tomorrow, Friday Jan. 15, from 7am to 5pm, the two center lanes on S Carlin Springs Rd from 1st St S to 3rd St S will be closed. A traffic detour will be in place.” [Twitter]

Pelosi Endorses McAuliffe — “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is endorsing Terry McAuliffe’s campaign in a very crowded Democratic primary that will winnow the field of those seeking to be the next governor of Virginia.” [Axios]

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(Updated at 12:30 p.m. on 10/30/20) A juvenile suspect is facing a number of potential charges after a reported hit-and-run crash on Columbia Pike overnight.

The crash happened just before 12:30 a.m. Thursday, at the intersection of the Pike and S. George Mason Drive.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that after the suspect vehicle struck the victim’s vehicle, approximately 5-6 juveniles exited the vehicle and fled on foot,” Arlington County police said today in a crime report. “Arriving officers located the subjects in the area and identified the driver of the vehicle at the time of the crash.”

“The two occupants of the victim vehicle sustained minor injuries,” the crime report continues. “During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect vehicle had previously been stolen from Fairfax County earlier in the evening.”

ACPD says the suspect was also “found to be in possession of a controlled substance” and is now facing petitions for Hit and Run, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle with Intent to Procure or Pass Title.

Separately, on Wednesday evening, S. Carlin Springs Road was blocked near Campbell Elementary School due to an incident involving Virginia State Police. Witnesses report seeing police with guns drawn.

https://twitter.com/cdemers80/status/1321582460237471744

The Arlington County Police Department said officers assisted state police with a suspect search, but referred additional questions to VSP. On Friday, state police provided additional information about the incident — which turns out to be the conclusion of a vehicle pursuit that started on I-395 — to ARLnow:

At 4:57 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2020, a Virginia State Police trooper observed a 2007 Honda Civic traveling on I-395 abruptly slow to 35 mph (55 mph posted speed limit). The trooper pulled in behind to see if the vehicle was experiencing a problem or the driver needed assistance. The vehicle took the Shirlington Exit and kept going well under the speed. The trooper also observed that the temporary license plate tag was unsecured and initiated a traffic stop. The vehicle pulled off the right shoulder on North Quaker Street. But, as the trooper walked up to the vehicle to talk to the driver, the Honda pulled away at a high rate of speed and a pursuit was initiated. The Honda finally stopped in the 600 block of Carlin Springs Road and one of the passengers fled the vehicle on foot.

The driver, Prince Jakim I. Maldonado, 21, of Woodbridge, Va., was taken into custody without incident at the scene.  The passenger, Joshean D. Stokes, 20, of Dumfries, Va., was taken into custody without incident at the scene. Both Maldonado and Stokes were charged for felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, felony possession of Schedule I/II controlled substance with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm while in possession of a Schedule I/II controlled substance, along with several misdemeanor charges. Maldonado was also wanted out on outstanding warrants in Prince William County. Both were transported to Arlington County Jail.

During the course of the short pursuit, the trooper witnessed objects being thrown from the window of the Honda. The trooper returned to that location and recovered a handgun and ammunition.

The search continues to locate the second passenger who fled on foot and left his wallet and ID behind in the vehicle.

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The Virginia Hospital Center’s Carlin Springs Road location is closed for good and demolition is on the way.

The closure has been a long time coming, with Arlington County acquiring 601 S. Carlin Springs Road as part of a land swap with the hospital. VHC, in turn, received land from the county that it’s now using for the expansion of its main campus.

Jessica Baxter, spokeswoman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, said the Carlin Springs center had been leased back to VHC, allowing it to wind down operations there through Dec. 31, 2019. A childcare center closed last summer and VHC’s urgent care clinic recently closed.

“As part of the approval to acquire the Edison property adjacent to the main hospital campus, the Carlin Springs campus was transitioned to Arlington County,” a hospital spokesperson said. “The service closed in December 2019 when our lease ended.”

The Carlin Springs site is now set to be used for county facilities — though the exact plans are yet to be determined.

“The County is currently developing plans to remove the building because it is incompatible with any County use,” Baxter said in an email. “No timing has been set — and is contingent on available funds. Any future uses of the site will involve a public process.”

The lights are off inside the building and a padlock was placed on what was once the front door. A sign on the door — and emails to urgent care patients — encouraged people to instead use VHC’s urgent care clinic that recently opened in Crystal City.

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Arlington County has officially finished replacing the old Carlin Springs Road bridge near Ballston.

Most of the construction on the new bridge over N. George Mason Drive had wrapped up last month, with crews working on paving and re-striping by mid-June. The Department of Environmental Services celebrated the project’s completion in a tweet Tuesday, writing that the project was “ahead of schedule and under budget.”

On the project’s website, officials noted that crews were finishing installing new street lights on the bridge, as well as improving some landscaping along George Mason Drive.

Previously, neighbors had written to ARLnow to complain of the delays caused by the construction and, in particular, drivers illegally u-turning on Carlin Springs to get to George Mason. DES spokesman Eric Balliet said at the time the department as working on adding a turn lane to fix the problem.

On Tuesday, the department thanked people for their patience noting that “any inconveniences during the work are now water under the bridge.”

Demolition of the old bridge started two years ago, after the County Board approved plans dating back to 2011, which aimed to replace the “deteriorated” structure with a new bridge featuring bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and better street lights, among other improvements.

Image via Arlington County

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A new Carlin Springs Road bridge over George Mason Drive has been built and county crews are now preparing for some finishing touches.

Construction started in 2017 and most of the work was completed earlier this year. To the consternation of nearby residents, the paving and restriping work has yet to start — the county told residents it was waiting for the right weather conditions — but that’s about to change.

“Remaining work items include installing new street lights for the bridge and the George Mason Drive interchange and landscaping,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet tells ARLnow. “Crews are scheduled to be on site next week to install the street light conduits.”

“Final paving and marking of the roadway is anticipated to take place by early July, barring any complications and weather permitting,” Balliet continued. “At that time, the permanent traffic pattern will be established and all cones and barrels will be removed.”

Numerous residents have emailed ARLnow with complaints about the project not yet being completed, even though it appears to be on-time based on an Oct. 2017 presentation. One explained that the current traffic pattern has resulted in delays for drivers.

“It’s the left turn on Carlin heading towards Ballston onto George Mason,” a local resident said via email. “It’s causing illegal u-turns so drivers can access George Mason northbound.”

Balliet said the lane striping, when it’s complete, will provide a turn lane for drivers heading from Carlin Springs to George Mason.

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Update at 3 p.m. — Power has been restored to Dominion customers in western Arlington, though more than 1,500 remain without power in the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County.

Earlier: Thousands are without power in Arlington Monday afternoon, following a major outage in the western portion of the county.

The outage was first reported around 1 p.m., after a tree fell onto power lines near the intersection of Route 50 and Carlin Springs Road. All told, including an ongoing outage along N. Glebe Road, nearly 2,750 Dominion customers are without power in Arlington.

Traffic signals are reported to be dark along S. Carlin Springs Road, from Route 50 to Columbia Pike. Police are on scene, setting up cones and helping to direct traffic. The ramps from Route 50 to Carlin Springs have been closed.

Arlington Public Schools says Kenmore Middle School and Campbell Elementary are currently without power and unable to receive phone calls.

The large outage is also affecting parts of neighboring Alexandria and Fairfax County. As of 1:15 p.m., Dominion was reporting about 1,000 outages in Alexandria and more than 8,000 outages in Fairfax.

Numerous trees are down around the area as a result of today’s widespread wind storm.

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