Arlington, VA

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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Morning Notes

GOP Senate Primary Today — “Three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s Virginia primary are hoping to win a chance to defeat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner in November’s general election. Alissa Baldwin, Daniel Gade and Thomas Speciale will be on the Republican primary ballot.” [The Center Square]

Pike Housing Proposal Delayed Amid Outcry — “Faced with criticism on multiple fronts, Arlington County Board members on June 16 essentially threw a staff proposal under the bus, delaying for three months consideration of a controversial plan on how to prioritize affordable housing in the Columbia Pike corridor… It would have increased the maximum threshold, from the current 60 percent of area median income to up to as much as 100 percent, for individuals to qualify for assistance in buying properties.” [InsideNova]

River Rescues Near Chain Bridge Saturday — “D.C. firefighters and police officers on Saturday rescued eight adults and four children who became trapped on rocks in the Potomac River and were cut off from shore by rapidly rising waters in a sudden rainstorm.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Arlington Home Show Cancelled — The pandemic has led to the cancellation of the annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo, which had earlier been rescheduled for Saturday, June 27. [Arlington County]

ACPD Investigating Brandishing Incident — “On June 21, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was driving in the area of 31st Street S. and S. Abingdon Street when he was allegedly cut off by the suspect. The suspect then waved the victim in front of him and began following him. When the victim parked, the suspect pulled alongside his vehicle and a verbal dispute ensued, during which the suspect brandished a firearm.” [Arlington County]

Traffic Getting Back to Normal — “Car and truck volume trends in Virginia are moving back toward normal after plummeting during the COVID-19 shutdown, according to numbers released Friday by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Pandemic traffic on state-maintained interstates and primary roads hit a low on April 12, a Sunday… The numbers have gradually rebounded since, climbing back to around 20 percent below normal by the end of May.” [Virginia Mercury]

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Morning Notes

Rent Protest Today — Starting at the shopping center parking lot at 5001 Columbia Pike, a caravan of cars adorned with signs will travel to local apartment complexes to support “rent cancellation during this pandemic plus two months following the ability for community members to work and pay rent,” among other aims. The protest is being organized by La ColectiVA and other groups. [Facebook]

Animal Control Rescues Turtle from I-395 — “A few days ago, we got a call about a turtle very close to traffic on I-395. When Sgt Ballena arrived, he found a young snapping turtle who’s beak was fractured and bleeding. He took the turtle to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, who will care for him until he can be released.” [Twitter]

Arlington Officers Injured During D.C. Protests — Despite an earlier comment by the police chief that no officers were injured, “a spokesperson for Arlington County Police told us, ‘one Arlington officer suffered a concussion and several others suffered bruises and abrasions.'” [WUSA 9]

Home Sales Downs, Prices Up — “May is usually one of the best months for housing sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of listings sidelined many potential buyers. The D.C. area had its slowest May for sales in a decade. But more sellers stepped up from April and prices continue to rise year-over-year… The median price of what sold in Arlington County was $622,500, up 1.2% from last May.” [WTOP]

Could HQ2 Be Downsized? — Amazon prizes in-person interactions among employees, but there are still questions as to whether the company will proceed with the second phase of its 4+ million square foot permanent second headquarters in Pentagon City. [Washington Business Journal]

Orange Line Platform Work Moving Along — “Two weeks into the summer shutdown, construction activity is well underway at Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations. So far, construction crews have focused on demolition work, including the removal of all tiles from the platforms, mezzanines and pedestrian bridges.” [WMATA]

Two Recent Drownings Near Chain Bridge — While D.C. Fire and EMS warns of dangerous waters near the Chain Bridge, the department said another grim discovery was made Thursday. “There have been 2 drownings in the past 3 weeks near Chain Bridge and a body was recovered today,” DCFEMS said. [Twitter]

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(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) A combination of hot days and pandemic closures has sent people flocking to the banks of the Potomac River near Chain Bridge.

On both the Virginia and D.C./Maryland sides of the river, people are fishing, picnicking, hanging out and, in some cases, swimming. The last one of those is a major danger, authorities say, as is accidental falls into the river.

First responders from D.C., Arlington and federal agencies have conducted rescue operations along the Potomac several times over the past few months.

In March, a man suffering a medical emergency was airlifted from rocky terrain on the Virginia side, just north of Chain Bridge. In May, a search and rescue operation turned into a recovery operation after a 67-year-old man fell into the river and died. On Tuesday, another search — this time, a man is presumed dead after swimming in the river, going under and not resurfacing.

On Wednesday, D.C. Fire and Rescue posted on social media, urging people to avoid the waters of the Potomac.

“The Potomac River around Chain Bridge is treacherous and deceiving,” the fire department tweeted. “DO NOT swim anywhere in this area. If you are on the shoreline, stay a safe distance from the water. A fall into the river can quickly turn fatal.”

Over this past weekend, National Park Service employees could be seen watching over the crowds from Chain Bridge. On Wednesday, U.S. Coast Guard personnel were spotted talking and showing maps to river-goers near the bridge.

One local resident told ARLnow this morning that even more needs to be done.

“Arlington and D.C. need to start policing along the river banks,” the resident said via email. “My family and I walk down to the river most nights and the trash, fires and illegal cast nets are increasing daily. It’s become a nightly party down on the river banks.”

“I grew up in Arlington and have always walked the banks. I’ve never seen anything like what’s going on now,” the resident continued. “Police need to patrol the area, like they used to. The only time you see police down there is when someone falls in…. It’s dangerous and I don’t want anyone else to die.”

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

Confusion Over Governor’s Mask Order — “At a briefing this afternoon, Gov. Ralph Northam emphasized that Virginia’s new indoor mask requirements weren’t intended to be criminally enforced. But the text of the order (released ~3 hours later) defines a violation as Class 1 misdemeanor.” [Virginia Mercury, Twitter]

Virus Hits Latino Communities Hard — “Fredys Medina, a diabetic construction worker from Arlington County, waved off his wife’s suggestion that he had the virus after he developed a cough and fever in late April, and he continued to work. Two weeks later, he collapsed on the living room floor. By the time paramedics arrived, Medina, 56, was gone. His wife, Leonor Medina, an unemployed hotel housekeeper, was left with an $8,000 funeral bill.” [Washington Post]

Clement Questions County Board Actions — “An independent candidate for the Nov. 3 Arlington County Board race contends that current board members are overstepping their bounds in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Audrey Clement says that the board’s May 19 vote continuing emergency operations gives the government far too much power for too long.” [InsideNova]

Volunteer Award Winners Announced — “Volunteer Arlington, a program of Leadership Center for Excellence, is honored to announce the recipients of the 2020 community volunteer awards which will be presented virtually at Arlington Cares on July 14.” [Volunteer Arlington]

Alleged Armed Robbery in Crystal City — “At approximately 2:56 p.m. on May 23, police were dispatched to the late report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 9:30 p.m. on May 15, the victim was in the area of 18th Street S. and S. Bell Street when he was allegedly approached by seven suspects. One suspect displayed a firearm and threatened the victim. The suspects stole the victim’s phone and wallet then fled.” [Arlington County]

Man Rescued from Potomac Near Chain Bridge — “A man is in the hospital in serious condition this morning after being pulled from the Potomac River [early Tuesday morning] in a daring rescue operation. The incident occurred just north of the Chain Bridge in an area that is extremely difficult to access from land.” [WJLA]

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(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) Chain Bridge was temporarily closed Friday morning due to a search and rescue operation.

Firefighters from D.C. and Arlington, along with U.S. Park Police, were searching for a fisherman who reportedly fell into the Potomac River and did not resurface.

Numerous emergency responders arrived on scene, looking for the man from the shoreline, the bridge and by boat. (The photo above shows a previous rescue operation in the same general area, in March.)

Inbound traffic on Glebe Road was being diverted onto Chain Bridge Road. As of 9 a.m. the incident was moving from being a rescue operation to a recovery operation, with the reported missing person presumed dead, and as of 9:45 a.m. Chain Bridge was being reopened.

The Washington Post reported late Friday morning that a 67-year-old man had died after falling into the river around 7:40 a.m.

More via social media:

File photo

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(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) A large water transmission main serving Arlington ruptured early this morning amid falling temperatures, prompting major closures.

The water main break was first reported around 4:30 a.m. on the Arlington side of Chain Bridge. The northern end of N. Glebe Road, a portion of Chain Bridge Road and Chain Bridge itself were all expected to remain closed throughout the morning rush hour as a result.

(Chain Bridge and Chain Bridge Road has partially reopened as of 9:45 a.m. for drivers heading to and from D.C. and Fairfax County, VDOT said via Twitter.)

The rupture caused a portion of N. Glebe Road, on the hill leading to Chain Bridge, to collapse.

Large water transmission pipes run under the Chain Bridge, bringing water from the Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant in D.C. into Arlington. The pipe that burst was a 36-inch transmission main, significantly larger than the typical 12-inch residential water main, WTOP reported.

Though as of 6:35 a.m. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) reported that “crews have stabilized the transmission main break and pressure is being restored to County water lines,” much of the Arlington’s water service was impacted and nearly half of the county remains under a precautionary boil water advisory.

The boil water advisory is “expected to last until at least Sunday, after a series of testing,” according to Arlington Alert.

The closure of Glebe Road, meanwhile, is currently expected to last at least into the weekend.

The repair of the water main is expected to stretch into late Saturday or even into Sunday, DES Chief Operating Officer Mike Moon tells ARLnow. The road could remain closed until Tuesday, though there’s also a possibility it reopens this weekend, Moon said.

More permanent repairs to the road may be necessary even after it reopens, according to Moon. DES officials are still assessing the situation and expect to provide more information to the public on Saturday.

“It’s a major repair,” said DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “Crews are working as fast as possible… but we don’t have a [solid] timeline for the repair and the restoration of the roadway.”

Moon noted that water service has been restored to most of Arlington thanks to redundancy in the system. There are three large transmission pipes that run from D.C. to Arlington — two hanging under the bridge, one under the river — that supply the county’s water, and there are multiple paths that the water takes into Arlington once its reached the Virginia side of the Potomac.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, have closed today (Friday) due to the lack of water service, though football games will be played tonight

Two community centers are also closed, in addition to all APS facilities. Libraries are open but patrons are encouraged to bring bottled water.

Local restaurants, meanwhile, are using bottled water and disposable plates amid the boil water advisory, according to Washingtonian.

More on the boil water advisory, from a county press release:

As a precaution, Arlington County has issued a Boil Water Advisory for customers in the eastern area of the County (excluding Crystal City) who may be impacted by a large water transmission main break at Glebe Road and Chain Bridge Road. (See area… on the map.) The break caused pressure drops in several locations across the County. The advisory is a safety measure because of the depressurization.

If you live in the affected area, you should bring your water to a rolling boil for three minutes then cool before:

  • Drinking
  • Brushing teeth
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Preparing baby food and formula
  • Making ice
  • Giving to pets

Information will be shared when the advisory has been lifted. Check the County website for updates.

Map via Google Maps. Some photos via Arlington DES/Twitter.

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(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) A dump truck overturned on N. Glebe Road, right before Chain Bridge, completely blocking the road to and from the bridge.

The driver was reported to be “severely trapped” in the truck’s cab, prompting a large fire department rescue response, according to scanner traffic. Multiple ambulances were dispatched to the scene, though it’s unclear if anyone else was injured.

The crash also spilled the truck’s load of cinder blocks and construction debris over the roadway. A heavy wrecker was requested to respond to the scene to assist with the cleanup.

The truck crashed after a steep and winding section of Glebe Road, which leads to a traffic signal at the intersection with Chain Bridge Road, just prior to the bridge.

Chain Bridge was expected to remain closed between D.C. and Virginia, and northbound Glebe Road is expected to remain blocked at N. Military Road, for an extended period of time — likely for “several hours.” Heavy traffic was reported on Chain Bridge Road approaching the crash scene this afternoon, with backups starting to extend into Fairfax County.

“Expect major delays as rescue work continues,” advised the Arlington County Fire Department. “Seek an alternate route.”

“Disruptions are anticipated into the evening commute,” Arlington County said via Twitter.

After an extended rescue operation, the trapped driver was removed from the truck just prior to 1 p.m. Glebe reopened to traffic between Chain Bridge Road and Military Road around 2 p.m. Chain Bridge reopened around 4:30 p.m., according to scanner traffic, though for now traffic heading from D.C. must turn on to Chain Bridge Road.

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(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) The N. Glebe Road bridge over Pimmit Run has been serving drivers, cyclists and pedestrians since 1973 but is due for some major maintenance.

At a public meeting tonight (Tuesday) at Williamsburg Middle School (3600 N. Harrison Street), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is scheduled to unveil new plans for the bridge. The improvements are aimed at improving safety and extending the overall life of the bridge.

According to a press release, improvements will include:

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

The bridge feeds into nearby Chain Bridge and sees an average of 12,000 vehicles each day.

The press release says the event will be an open house running from 6:30-8:30 p.m., with displays and information about the project’s design. A presentation will be made at 7 p.m.

The project is estimated to cost $7.5 million and will be financed by the State of Good Repair fund, a state and federal program used to address repairs on bridges considered structurally deficient on the National Bridge Inventory, according to the press release.

Construction is expected to start in fall 2020.

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