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.
I-395 N diverts trucks @ Washington Blvd, 14th Bridge closed, delays from Pentagon with traffic diverting to GW Prkwy.
— WTOP Traffic (@WTOPtraffic) January 19, 2021
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.”
Newly unsealed charging docs: Virginia man, member of Oath Keepers militia allegedly involved in coordinating travel to DC for others. Sent a FB message on 1/1 saying the hotel they'd booked was a good location that would allow them to "hunt at night" https://t.co/SbhKZEUjE8 pic.twitter.com/SZmXnXtmSf
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) January 19, 2021
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.
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.
(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.
Upcoming Road Closure: N Glebe Rd and Chain Bridge Rd will be closed this Tues. to Fri. from 6am to 6pm for a water main repair. No water service impacts are anticipated. A traffic detour will be in place. Please seek alternative routes. Questions? Call 703-228-6555 #vatraffic pic.twitter.com/ySfebyyHyM
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) July 20, 2020
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
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]
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]
(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
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]
(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:
Water rescue Potomac River at Chain Bridge. Witnesses saw fisherman fall from rocks into water and not resurface. #DCsBravest land and water units are searching the area, assisted by @usparkpolicepio eagle helicopter.
— DC Fire and EMS #StayHomeDC (@dcfireems) May 8, 2020
Unified command has been established and crews continue their search. https://t.co/MhFWWbhGFY
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) May 8, 2020
Update water rescue Chain Bridge. Sadly, we have transitioned from a rescue to a recovery mode after an intensive 75 minute search effort. pic.twitter.com/KtMGEcoLN2
— DC Fire and EMS #StayHomeDC (@dcfireems) May 8, 2020
INCIDENT: Traffic Collision
LOCATION: North Glebe Road and Chain Bridge Road
IMPACT: Chain Bridge will be closed at Glebe Road for a DC Fire Department incident. Traffic is being diverted onto Chain Bridge Road. pic.twitter.com/y4D83KRoNa
— Arlington Alert (@ArlingtonAlert) May 8, 2020
(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
All schools and offices are closed today, Fri, Nov. 8 due to a large water main break on N. Glebe Rd. Because of the water main break, water pressure is significantly impacted throughout the county. See School Talk Message or Website for details.
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) November 8, 2019
Operations Update: Tonight’s @WHSHappenings @yhssports and @WLHSAthletics football games will be played as scheduled and at their posted location. Because of the boil water advisory, only pre-packaged concessions will be available for purchase and water fountains cannot be used.
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) November 8, 2019
Two community centers are also closed, in addition to all APS facilities. Libraries are open but patrons are encouraged to bring bottled water.
Fri., Nov. 8 – Due to a water transmission main break:
• Carver & Drew Community Centers are closed.
• All activities scheduled in Arlington Public School standalone facilities are cancelled.
• All Aquatic Enjoy Arlington Classes are cancelled. https://t.co/HL8lCJIjW9
— ARL VA Parks & Rec (@arlparksrec) November 8, 2019
The Library is open today, but some locations are inside Arlington's Water Boil Advisory zone so if you are headed to Central, Cherrydale, Columbia Pike or Plaza be sure to bring a water bottle.
More info: https://t.co/nC74EH01f3
— Arlington VA Pub Lib (@ArlingtonVALib) November 8, 2019
Local restaurants, meanwhile, are using bottled water and disposable plates amid the boil water advisory, according to Washingtonian.
Ambar, Buena Vida Social Club, Barley Mac, Bronson Bier Hall and Taco Rock among the Arlington restaurants “taking extra precautions,” including using bottled water and disposable plates https://t.co/AMzzFeE1AN
— Arlington Now (@ARLnowDOTcom) November 8, 2019
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:
- 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.
Emergency Water Main Break: Crews are investigating a large water transmission break at Glebe Road and Chain Bridge. Pressure drops reported in several locations. Avoid turning on taps if possible. Avoid Chain Bridge as work continues. #VAtraffic pic.twitter.com/tGTMhX9hWO
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) November 8, 2019
Update 6:35am: Crews have stabilized the transmission main break and pressure is being restored to County water lines. Boil Water Advisory, issued strictly as a precaution, remains in effect.
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) November 8, 2019