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Morning Notes

Sunset along Columbia Pike at the Arlington National Cemetery expansion site (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Resident Moving to San Diego — Baseball superstar Juan Soto, who recently moved to Arlington, has been traded by the Nats to the San Diego Padres. He’ll presumably take with him some photos and art that were framed at a Clarendon frame store. [MLB]

Fairfax Barricade EndsUpdated at 9:25 a.m. — A man reportedly barricaded in a condo with a rifle near Lake Barcroft has been taken into custody. The barricade situation prompted a Fairfax County police helicopter to circle over parts of Arlington for hours. [FFXnow, Twitter]

County Getting Part of Opioid Settlement — “It’s not a princely sum, but cash is cash and the Arlington County government is set to receive its share of a new payment based on a legal settlement with a number of opioid distributors… Of the first settlement payout, about $9.94 million will go to the state government’s Opioid Abatement Authority and about $4.07 million will be distributed to localities. Arlington is entitled to 1.378 percent of that latter figure, which works out to $56,034.” [Sun Gazette]

Ballston Quarter Gets Small Tax Break — “Owners of the Ballston Quarter retail-restaurant-and-entertainment complex came away from a recent Board of Equalization hearing with a very partial victory, as that body reduced the property’s assessed valuation but not nearly as much as its owners had sought. On a unanimous vote, Board of Equalization members on July 13 voted to reduce the assessment rate – which is used to calculate the property’s annual tax bill – from $91.1 million as determined by staff to $86.7 million.” [Sun Gazette]

Va. Sens. Celebrate Vets Bill — “Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated Senate passage of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 following obstruction efforts by Senate Republicans last week. This legislation will expand health care and benefits for toxic-exposed veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs.” [Sen. Mark Warner]

YHS Grads Makes Youth National Team — “Yorktown High School graduate Lauren Flynn was named to the U.S. Under-20 Women’s Youth National Team soccer roster for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica from Aug. 10-28.” [Sun Gazette]

Feedback Sought for Eco Plan — “Arlington County would like your input on the draft Forestry and Natural Resources Plan. To assure future generations of Arlingtonians enjoy the benefits of nature, the County must identify what needs are urgent, what are aspirational, and how each can be addressed through both long-term initiatives, incremental change and immediate action.” [Arlington County]

Crash in D.C. Shut Down Chain Bridge — From WTOP’s Dave Dildine: “Chain Bridge closed both ways along with Canal Road and Clara Barton Parkway at the bridge. A crash occurred when traffic signals were malfunctioning. Witnesses say an officer was struck under the malfunctioning signals. These lights fall out of phase frequently.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Another hot and humid day. High of 90 and low of 71. Sunrise at 6:13 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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N. Glebe Road blocked near Chain Bridge (via Google Maps)

Update at 9:40 p.m. — All lanes have reopened, Arlington County says.

Update at 6:40 p.m. — The southbound lanes have reopened but the northbound lanes are expected to remain closed for several hours.

Earlier: All lanes of N. Glebe Road near Chain Bridge are reported to be blocked during this evening’s commute, due to a combination of a disabled vehicle and a large pothole.

The large pothole is in the northbound lanes, on a steep portion of the road between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road, according to initial reports. A VDOT crew is now on scene assessing possible repairs to the roadway.

“Traffic is being diverted to Military Road,” the county said in an Arlington Alert message. “Seek alternate routes.”

Drivers should also expect heavy traffic on Chain Bridge as a result of the closure.

The closure is not far from where an SUV overturned earlier today.

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This article was funded by and first shared with the ARLnow Press Club. Join us to fund more local journalism in Arlington and to get early access to some stories.

(Updated at 3 p.m.) Tom Jensen has seen a lot on the uphill bike trail that ascends intimidatingly past his house in the Arlingwood neighborhood of Arlington.

In the 11 years he’s lived at the house on N. Randolph Street alongside the county-owned trail that connects with Chain Bridge, Jensen has spotted broken bikes, overheated hikers and lost walkers (as well as confused motorists) all climbing the steep hill that he calls “The Wall.”

Often, when travelers finally make it to the top, they are frustrated, tired and possibly cursing.

“I hear a lot of exclamations,” he tells ARLnow, laughing, on a breezy morning at the hilltop, outside of the home he shares with his wife, teenage son, two dogs and a cat.

So, at the beginning of March, Jensen built a flat stone wall — a bench, essentially — at the top of the hill to help people catch their breath and recoup before going on their way.

“We’ve constructed a new stone wall with a wide flat top at comfortable seating height right next to the trail,” he wrote on Nextdoor in mid-March. “It’s ours, but it’s really yours.”

The post has received nearly 1,000 likes and has received numerous comments of gratitude.

“Your kind gift will give solace to the cyclists like me, wondering where their lowest gear has wandered off to,” wrote one person.

“Thank you!” wrote another. “I’ve heard Marylanders refer to your hill as ‘The Committee to Welcome you to Virginia.'”

Jensen, who previously lived in Cherrydale before moving to Arlingwood in the early 2010s, is not entirely clear why such a steep trail exists here.

He believes it may have to do with a long-time-ago installation of a water pipe that county workers paved over. Much of the neighborhood, including Jensen’s cabin and house, is historic and dates back at least nine decades, so the steep trail wasn’t likely constructed anytime recently. He estimates the grade of the hill to be between 6 and 12%, which is quite steep. (U.S. interstate highways are not allowed to be more than 6% grade.)

Jensen, an attorney who specializes in natural resource law, simply saw a need for a bench and decided to take action.

“It’s remarkable how a very small thing can matter,” he said.

Jensen has ordered a sign to let passers-by know that they are welcome to sit on the bench and — to add to the hospitality — is considering installing a free little library as well as a bike repair station.

“[The hill] can break your bike because you have to put some much force into it to overcome the elevation change,” he says. “You get these poor folks sitting there with their bikes upside down, trying to get their chains out from wherever they got jammed.”

On spring and summer weekends, Jensen estimates that he sees “hundreds” of cyclists and “scores” of walkers and hikers using the paved path. Even on a chilly Friday morning for less than an hour, ARLnow saw a cyclist, a jogger, and a walking group of three all traverse the hill.

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Morning Notes

Man Convicted of Crystal City Shooting — “A convicted murderer has been found guilty on four charges for shooting and wounding his ex-girlfriend in her Arlington, Virginia, office in 2019. Mumeet Muhammad forced his way into the woman’s office, in the 1500 block of Crystal Drive in Crystal City, and shot the woman on Aug. 28, 2019. Muhammad also was shot by police.” [WTOP]

Body Found Near Roosevelt Island — “A death investigation was underway Wednesday after a body was found in the Potomac River, D.C. police said.  Authorities said the body was found in the water between Teddy Roosevelt Island and the Virginia shoreline under the footbridge pedestrians use to access the island… Officials with knowledge of the investigation said the body was heavily decomposed.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

GW Parkway Chase Leads to Lawsuit — “A D.C. police captain sued the District on Tuesday, alleging he was retaliated against after trying to stop a high-speed pursuit last month that ended with a car overturning on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, causing injuries and bringing rush-hour traffic to a halt.” [Washington Post]

Task Force: Expand County, School Boards — “Increasing the size of the Arlington County Board and School Board by at least two members is among the recommendations of the Arlington County Civic Federation’s task force on local governance, which on April 12 delivered the first of what are expected to be two sets of proposals to be voted on by the organization in June.” [Sun Gazette]

PSA: Steer Clear of River Near Chain Bridge — From D.C. Fire and EMS: “The river knows no boundaries. All this holds true for the District. One slip off the rocks can lead to a fall into a deceptively calm looking river actually laden with treacherous currents and hidden rocks that quickly pull you under. Especially the case around Chain Bridge.” [Twitter]

Lease Change Scores Big Bucks for County — “Arlington County Board members on that date voted 5-0 to support a change in technical aspects of the lease that guides the relationship between the county government, which owns substantial parcels in the Courthouse area, and the developer JBG Smith, which holds ground leases and owns the buildings on some of those very same parcels… By making the changes, which staff say carry little risk to the county government or taxpayers, the Arlington government coffers would receive somewhere in the area of $10 million to $12 million in a one-time payment from JBG Smith.” [Sun Gazette]

ARLnow Article Confuses Chicago Suburbanites — From the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Police Department: “The incident was reported by Virginia news outlets with the headline ‘Barricade situation in Arlington Heights.’ News reports were then shared on social media using the #ArlingtonHeights. We understand this created some confusion and concern for our residents. The Arlington Heights Police Department would like to clarify the above incident occurred in Arlington County, Virginia.” [Facebook]

It’s Thursday — Rain and storms in the afternoon and evening. Southwest wind 11 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. High of 76 and low of 59. Sunrise at 6:34 am and sunset at 7:45 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Air Force Memorial on a snowy night (Flickr pool photo by Nathan Jones)

Local Closures Due to Winter Storm — In addition to Arlington Public Schools being closed due to today’s winter storm, Arlington County government has shifted to virtual operations, recreation centers and libraries are closed, and ART buses are operating on a severe service plan.

Federal Offices Are Closed, Too — From the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: “Federal offices in the DC area are CLOSED. Emergency and telework-ready employees must follow their agency’s policies.” [Twitter]

Metro on ‘Severe Snow Service Plan’ — “Metrobus will operate on a severe snow service plan [on] Monday, January 3. Bus service will be limited to major roads only. Delays and increased wait times are likely, and travel is strongly discouraged unless absolutely necessary.  Customers traveling when a severe snow service plan is in place should be aware that Metrobus may have to suspend all service if road and weather conditions worsen and travel becomes unsafe. Consider Metrorail as an alternative when possible.  No weather-related impacts to Metrorail are anticipated at this time.”  [WMATA]

ACFD Asks for Help With Hydrants — “Ahead of our first anticipated snowfall of 2022 (didn’t take long) we are asking for your help this season to keep fire hydrants clear. When seconds count, having a clear hydrant allows our firefighters to quickly get additional water to the scene.” [Twitter]

Big Response to NYE Chain Bridge Standoff — From Alan Henney, early Saturday morning: “Person threatening to jump from bridge being held by father. Lots of police, fire and EMS on scene, boats and Eagle helicopter. Negotiations in progress… update: The person threatening to jump is safely in custody. Bridge should be reopened to traffic.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Amazon Building New Tech Team at HQ2 — “Amazon.com Inc. is recruiting a new software and tech development team to its second headquarters to flesh out the technical backbone for its global delivery operations. The new team, dubbed Project Nazaré, will build systems to manage the financial processes for Amazon’s Global Engineering Service, which oversees its global network of fulfillment-related facilities, according to a job posting for the team’s senior product manager, set to be based in the company’s HQ2 campus in Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]

Barcroft Apartment Purchase Complete — “Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners, a leading owner and developer of mixed-use properties and attainable housing in the DC metro area, today announced the acquisition of Barcroft Apartments, the 1,334-unit, garden style apartment complex located along Columbia Pike in Arlington, VA. Jair Lynch purchased the 60-acre site, including two commercial parcels with 34,000 square feet of retail from the DeLashmutt family who built the complex in 1939 and have owned it since.” [PRNewswire]

It’s 2022 — The first weekday of the new year will also be first snow day of the season. The storm, which started out as rain, will transition to snow, possibly mixed with sleet after 5 a.m. Low around 30. Any mixed precipitation should become all snow after 7 a.m. The snow could be heavy at times, before tapering off in the late morning to afternoon. High near 35, with a north wind 10 to 14 mph, and gusts as high as 28 mph. Snow and sleet accumulation of 3 to 7 inches is expected today. Sunrise at 7:27 a.m. and sunset at 4:58 p.m. Tomorrow it will be sunny, with a high near 37. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Nathan Jones

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If you’re heading to or from Chain Bridge on N. Glebe Road today or tomorrow, expect delays.

VDOT’s ongoing rehabilitation work on the Pimmit Run bridge — west of Chain Bridge and Chain Bridge Road — is prompting lane closures from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Flaggers will alternate the traffic flow between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road during that time, likely causing delays.

Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians will all be “under flagging direction,” the state transportation agency noted.

The bridge work is expected to wrap up this fall.

More from a VDOT press release:

North Glebe Road (Route 120) between Military Road and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) will have single-lane closures, weather permitting, Wednesday, June 23 and Thursday, June 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day to place temporary support beams on the bridge over Pimmit Run as part of the North Glebe Road over Pimmit Run bridge rehabilitation project, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

North Glebe Road will have one lane of alternating traffic via flagging along the bridge over Pimmit Run. The traffic signal at North Glebe Road and Route 123 will be turned off during the work and traffic will be controlled via flagging through the intersection. Also under flagging direction will be pedestrians and bicyclists using the path along the bridge over Pimmit Run, and pedestrians using the Potomac Heritage Trail under the bridge.

Drivers should expect delays and are advised to use alternate routes.

The work is part of the North Glebe Road over Pimmit Run bridge rehabilitation project that includes:

  • Replacing bridge beams, deck and barriers
  • Repairing, waterproofing and providing corrosion protection to abutments and piers
  • Replacing barriers and railings along bicycle and pedestrian connection to trails
  • Upgrading guardrails and drainage

The project is scheduled for completion this fall.

Photo (3) via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Cherry Trees Planted in Pentagon City — “We are so excited to be celebrating with @CherryBlossFest and @amazon the planting of 12 Japanese Cherry Trees in #NationalLanding! Thank you for these beautiful new additions to the area!” [Twitter]

Renderings of Possible DCA Bridge — “JBG Smith Properties isn’t waiting to envision the future. In a video released to investors this month, the company showed off some 3D renderings of what a pedestrian bridge could look like, complete with some features that have not yet been showcased publicly for the project. There’s a small set of amphitheater-like steps for lounging on the bridge, for instance, plus some futuristic-looking coverings for people walking along the structure. There even appear to be bike lanes and greenery pictured at points along the bridge.” [Washington Business Journal, Vimeo]

Arrests in Malicious Wounding Case — “Officers located the vehicle the suspects were traveling in and conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of eastbound Route 50 and N. Courthouse Road… Inside the vehicle, officers recovered three loaded firearms including a black handgun with extended magazine, AR-15 style rifle and a shotgun.” [ACPD]

County 911 Center Administrator Honored — “The Virginia Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (VA APCO) has honored Arlington’s Emergency Communications Center (ECC) Deputy Administrator Jeffrey Horwitz with its Public-Safety Communications Information Technologist of the Year award.” [Arlington County]

Feds May Permanently Expand Telework — “As the Biden administration contemplates how to return the massive federal workforce to the office, government officials are moving to make a pandemic experiment permanent by allowing more employees than ever to work from home — a sweeping cultural change that would have been unthinkable a year ago.” [Washington Post, Washingtonian]

Virtual Chamber Ensemble Performance — “The National Chamber Ensemble will present a virtual performance of Vivaldi’s masterpiece The Four Seasons on May 29, 2021. The 2020-21 NCE season has been keeping the audience and artists safe as well as connected. Each concert is paired with a live virtual event/conversation with the artists. Taped May 22, the concert links will go out on May 29.” [Event Calendar]

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Arlington is continuing its final preparations for a presidential inauguration unlike any other.

In wake of the U.S. Capitol riots and a still-raging pandemic (though, cases are currently on a downward trajectory), tomorrow’s inauguration of President Joe Biden will be a scaled-down and highly militarized affair.

A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. are either completely shut down or have significantly altered traffic patterns.

Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. D.C.-bound lanes on the Roosevelt Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to a Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of D.C. road closures.

Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Road/MacArthur Blvd, according to the advisory.

Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland. Despite the unprecedented bridge closures today, traffic on N. Glebe Road leading to Chain Bridge appeared little changed from a typical weekday, suggesting that between the pandemic and the inauguration many would-be commuters were staying at home.

Traffic on the Key Bridge was heavy this morning (as seen in the photo above), as was the traffic being diverted from the 14th Street Bridge.

The county is advising residents to use the live cameras that are set up to monitor traffic.

On Friday, a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers said that this inauguration “will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history” and local law enforcement is trying to have a response “that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far.”

Reiterating previous statements, the Arlington County Police Department says there will be an increased “visible and non-visible” police presence in the county tomorrow. ACPD also remains in contact with neighboring law enforcement agencies about changing information and intelligence.

At this time, there are still no known threats to Arlington County, and the department still hasn’t committed to providing resources outside of the county on Inauguration Day, per ACPD spokesperson Ashley Savage.

Newly unsealed court documents, meanwhile, reveal that members of Oath Keepers militia, a far-right extremist group currently being investigated by the FBI, booked rooms for January 5 to 7 at the Comfort Inn hotel in Ballston, ahead of the January 6 storming of the Capitol.

In a Facebook message referenced in the documents, a Oath Keepers member said that the location would allow them to “hunt at night.”

Earlier this month, Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti told ARLnow that the county was aware of at least one local hotel hosting Trump supporters. The situation was monitored, he said, but no behavior there rose to a level of concern at the time.

ARLnow contacted Comfort Inn and was told by an hotel employee that management “definitely does not want to comment” on the allegations included in the documents.

We also have reached out to the hotel’s parent company Choice Hotels, but have yet to hear back as of publication time.

Jo DeVoe contributed to this report.

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N. Glebe Road is expected to close for nine straight days next year for a bridge rehabilitation project.

In a recently-posed video presentation, VDOT provided an update on its planned Pimmit Run bridge project. The presentation details the plan to replace the deteriorating bridge deck and steel supporting beams with large, prefabricated components.

Sections of the bridge deck and support beams will be constructed off-site and trucked in, then placed with a crane. That will allow crews to replace the entire top of the bridge much faster than with conventional construction techniques, which would require a sequential series of lane closures.

The downside is that the bridge — and thus N. Glebe Road, just up from Chain Bridge — will need to be closed to traffic entirely for an estimated nine days next year.

The project is set to kick off next spring and wrap up in the fall of 2021. Its projected cost of $9.5 million will come from state and federal funds.

The bridge was built in 1973, serves 13,000 vehicles per day, and is suffering from corroding concrete and steel supports. The project will replace the entire bridge deck and support beams, while also repairing the concrete bridge piers in and around Pimmit Run, near where it flows into the Potomac.

The rehabilitated bridge will have new rails and barriers, as well as a widened pedestrian path.

During the project, traffic heading to and from Chain Bridge will be detoured via McLean and N. Chain Bridge Road. A closure of N. Glebe Road just up from the bridge last week, due to water main work, resulted only in minor traffic impacts — albeit during a pandemic during which many people are working from home.

VDOT is asking for anyone with feedback on the project to email [email protected] by Aug. 7.

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(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) Those who commute over the Chain Bridge will need to find a different route this week, starting tomorrow.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says N. Glebe Road and Chain Bridge Road will be closed just before the entrance to Chain Bridge for much of the week, due to water main repair work.

The closures are set to be in effect from 6 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday to Friday.

“No water service impacts are anticipated,” DES said in a tweet. “A traffic detour will be in place.”

That section of roadway was the scene of a major water main break in November, which disrupted water service to a large section of Arlington County.

“There is a confirmed leak at the same location where the November 8… water main break occurred,” DES spokeswoman Kathryn O’Brien tells ARLnow. “This leak is a low volume leak. Crews have isolated the water main and will begin repairs tomorrow.”

Separately, work is currently underway on a $4.5 million water main rehabilitation project on a nearby section of N. Glebe Road.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Local Man Killed in Crash Near Shirlington — “At approximately 7:44 p.m. on July 3, 2020, police were dispatched to the area of Walter Reed Drive and S. Wakefield Street for multiple reports of a crash with injury. The preliminary investigation indicates that the motorcyclist was traveling southbound on Walter Reed Drive at a high rate of speed when he lost control, struck a pole and was thrown from the vehicle.” [Arlington County]

Yorktown Grad Entering Third NFL Season — “The upcoming NFL season, if it is played, will be M.J. Stewart’s third, and the Yorktown High School graduate is more than eager for this month’s training camp then the 2020-21 season to start. ‘I just want to get to training camp,’ said the 5-foot-11, 200-pound defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” [InsideNova]

Ethiopian Community Facing Dual Challenges — “The Supreme Court on June 25 okayed the Trump administration’s policy of limiting the number of asylum seekers in the country… Most likely to feel the impact locally is the Arlington-based Ethiopian Community Development Council Inc., the refugee-support and State Department-authorized transition agency with offices just off Columbia Pike… this sub-sector of Arlington’s diverse population is among those hit hardest by the coronavirus lockdown.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Why Galaxy Hut is Not Opening Indoors — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — “We just decided ultimately that the questions are too many. Too many questions about how safe it is to be out and dine. And we didn’t feel like with our small size in particular that we would be a good candidate for trying this out. We didn’t want to take the risk.” [WJLA]

River Rescue Blocks Chain Bridge — From Sunday afternoon: “River incident the Potomac River vicinity Fletchers boathouse. Injured 18 year old who fell approximately 20 feet from rocks. Will require patient to be lowered to shoreline and transported by boat.” [Twitter]

Wardian Completes Delaware Run — “Ultrarunner Mike Wardian ran the length of the state of Delaware, starting the 130-mile (209-kilometre) route on July 2 and finishing 26 hours later. He began the run in the afternoon, just north of Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, near the state border with Pennsylvania. He ran in [93 degree] weather straight through the night and next morning, and 26 hours, 19 minutes and 43 seconds later, he crossed the state’s southern border and ran into Maryland.” [Canadian Trail Running]

Photo courtesy Eliana Carreño

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