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Overhaul of Tricky ‘Clarendon Circle’ Intersection Could Start This Fall

Arlington could soon kick off work on improvements at one of the county’s trickiest intersections for pedestrians and cyclists.

The County Board is set to approve a $2.5 million contract for the overhaul of the “Clarendon Circle” — the area where Clarendon, Washington and Wilson Boulevards all meet, just past the Metro station.

Planners have hoped for years now to add improvements to the intersection, like shortening the distances pedestrians have to walk across roads. The work will also include the installation of additional bike lanes, the widening of Washington Boulevard to four lanes — while nixing the current reversible lanes — and the addition of upgraded traffic signals.

Plans also call for adding a “green streets” element to better manage stormwater on N. Irving Street, next to the Silver Diner.

The Board is scheduled to vote on the construction contract at its Saturday, June 16 meeting as part of its consent agenda, which is typically reserved for non-controversial items. Should Board members approve the deal, the county estimates that work could begin this fall and wrap up in the winter of 2020.

The Clarendon Circle project is designed to move in conjunction with the county’s plans to do away with the reversible lanes on Washington Boulevard and create a “T” intersection with 13th Street N. That construction is projected to kick off in the winter of 2019, after the Board voted on May 22 to let the redevelopment of the nearby Red Top Cab properties move ahead.

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Four Courthouse Elevators Set to be Replaced, Including Two Reaching Metro

Arlington County could soon embark on a $1.8 million effort to replace four elevators around Courthouse.

The County Board will vote at its meeting this weekend on a plan to fully overhaul two elevators in Arlington’s Court Square West building (1400 N. Uhle Street) and two more that connect to the Courthouse Metro station underground.

All four elevators have “reached the end of their useful lives,” according to a report prepared by county staff.

The elevators in Court Square West, a building that holds some county offices, travel seven stories each. The Metro station elevators travel just two stories, and are located at each end of an underground access tunnel linking to the station — one is at 2200 Clarendon Boulevard, the other at 2111 Wilson Boulevard.

The County Board is set to vote to award a contract for the work on Saturday (May 19), as part of its “consent agenda,” which is generally reserved for noncontroversial items that are approved all at once.

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ABC Store Under Construction in Courthouse

ABC sign in Courthouse (photo courtesy Andy Bailey)An ABC liquor store is under construction at 1919 Clarendon Blvd, in the ground floor of a new apartment building on the block.

ARLnow.com reported in July that the state Alcoholic Beverage Control department was in lease negotiations for one of the new retail spaces in the building, just a few blocks from the site of its former location in the Colonial Village Shopping Center.

Signs are already up in the windows of the new space, on Clarendon Blvd between N. Rhodes and Troy Streets, for construction. When contacted, an ABC spokesperson could only confirm the store will be opening in the future, but said there is no available information about when the store might be open.

The site of a possible new ABC store in CourthouseWhile the ABC store is undergoing their interior buildout, so, too, is Shawafel, a “quick served” Lebanese restaurant, next door. The location of Shawafel will be the H Street NE business’ second brick-and-mortar shop.

Before the ABC store opens, the closest spot to pick up bottles of liquor for Rosslyn and Courthouse residents is the store at 1001 N. Fillmore Street, at the intersection with Washington Blvd.

Photo, top, courtesy Andy Bailey. Photo (bottom) is a file photo.

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Car Overturns on Clarendon Blvd

An accident caused a Toyota to flip on its roof at the intersection of Clarendon Blvd and N. Cleveland Street this afternoon.

The crash happened around 1:05 p.m., just down the street from the Clarendon Whole Foods store. Witnesses tell ARLnow.com that the driver of the Toyota crawled out on her own power. She was apparently unharmed but was checked out by paramedics.

According to bystanders, the driver of the Toyota told police that a second vehicle rammed her, causing the accident.

The intersection was closed after the crash but one lane of Clarendon has since reopened. A flatbed tow truck is on scene, about to haul away the overturned vehicle.

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County Board Approves Lower Speed Limits

New speed limits on Clarendon BlvdThe County Board unanimously approved lowering the speed limits on key stretches of Wilson Blvd, Clarendon Blvd, N. Sycamore Street and N. Meade Street Tuesday evening.

The Board acted in line with its Master Transportation Plan in lowering the speed limits on the key local arteries.

The speed limit on Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd was lowered from 30 to 25 mph between Rosslyn and Washington Blvd.

Meanwhile, the speed limit on N. Meade Street was lowered from 30 to 25 mph between Arlington Blvd and Marshall Drive., while N. Sycamore Street from Washington Blvd. to 17th Street N. will see its speed limit drop from 35 to 30 mph.

The change in speed limit is effective immediately, and county staff said they expect the signs reflecting the change to be installed Wednesday.

“The county’s actions to lower speed limits on segments of some key roads are in keeping with the Master Transportation plan, and are intended to make these roads safer for everyone — drivers, pedestrians and cyclists,” said Board Chair Walter Tejada.

The Board also put a public hearing on the agenda for its Sept. 21 meeting to hear public feedback for lowering the speed limits on N. Lynn and Fort Myer Drive between the Key Bridge and Arlington Blvd. from 30 to 25 mph.

As part of the same resolution, the Board changed the County Code to reflect Virginia Department of Transportation’s imposed speed limits on I-66 and I-395. The speed limits of the roads were not changed but, for instance, the code will now officially reflect that I-66 is a 45 mph road between the Virginia state line and N. Lynn Street and 55 mph between N. Lynn Street and Fairfax County.

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Board to Consider Decreasing Speed Limits

Stretch of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse (photo via Google Maps)The County Board may decide to decrease speed limits on a number of roads throughout Arlington, including the main thoroughfares from Rosslyn to Clarendon. Board members are scheduled to take up the issue at their meeting on Saturday (July 13).

The Department of Environmental Services conducted studies to examine the viability of changing speed limits on several streets. Information was gathered regarding factors such as vehicle speeds, collisions, traffic volumes, pedestrian and bicyclist activity and development patterns. Studies were performed in the following areas: N. Meade Street from Arlington Blvd to Marshall Drive (formerly Jackson Avenue), Clarendon Blvd from Washington Blvd to N. Oak Street, Wilson Blvd from Route 110 to Washington Blvd, and N. Sycamore Street from Washington Blvd to 17th Street N. and N. Roosevelt Street from 17th Street N. to the county line.

The studies indicated that speed limits along N. Meade Street, Clarendon Blvd and Wilson Blvd could be decreased from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. The N. Sycamore Street/N. Roosevelt Street studies indicated the speed limit could be lowered from 35 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour.

Arlington’s Master Transportation Plan includes a policy to design streets with lower vehicle speeds without impeding or diverting traffic. Part of that involves adopting a 25 mile per hour speed limit in the county’s “downtown” areas where pedestrian traffic is high, such as along Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd.

The Board also has been asked to authorize the correction of speed limit discrepancies along parts of I-395 and I-66. According to VDOT records, the speed in the regular lanes of I-395 from Alexandria to D.C. is 55 miles per hour. The county code, however, was recently discovered to list a portion of the segment as 35 miles per hour, and that the entire segment is 55 miles per hour. There is a similar discrepancy between county code and VDOT records regarding the HOV lanes. Additionally, the county code does not include speed limits for I-66, but VDOT lists the limits at 45 miles per hour and 55 miles per hour, depending on the section in question.

County staff members recommend Board approval for the speed limit discrepancy corrections and for decreasing the speeds along the four stretches of county roads.

The cost of installing new speed limit signs to reflect the changes is estimated to be $5,000. Funds are available in the Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Environmental Services Transportation Engineering and Operations operating budget.

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Korean Embassy Offers County Free Land Use

Embassy of the Republic of Korea propertyThe Embassy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has offered Arlington County the use of prime land in the Courthouse area at no cost. The County Board is scheduled to vote on the lease agreement at its meeting this Saturday, May 18.

The two parcels of vacant land run along Clarendon Blvd, between N. Adams Street and N. Barton Street. The ROK Arlington Embassy Annex building lies adjacent to the land, but faces Wilson Blvd. The land parcels up for grabs currently house nothing but fenced asphalt and gravel lots.

The embassy reports that the space is only used a few times each year during large meetings. It decided to offer the land to the county as a goodwill gesture.

Terms of the lease would allow the county to use the land free of rent as long as it maintains the parcels. The county may use the property for any legal use, provided it notifies the embassy prior to changing the land use. Any permanent improvements on the land would first require consent from the embassy.

The lease agreement would be in effect for a minimum of two years and would continue until terminated by one of the parties. The county staff report indicates maintenance costs associated with the lease would be minimal and no significant fiscal impact is expected.

Although the county staff report recommends the Board approves the deal, so far no firm plan has been developed for the future of the land. The county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) performed a preliminary land analysis and came up with some potential uses and improvements to the property. CPHD is prepared to solicit public input on possible uses for the site.

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Clarendon Blvd Drivers to Get Some Relief From Rough Stretch

 

Drivers who use the rough stretch of Clarendon Boulevard between Courthouse and Rosslyn will get some relief in the next few weeks.

The developer behind a new residential complex that’s being built on the old Hollywood Video site is planning to smooth out some rough patches of road on Clarendon Boulevard in the area of N. Scott Street, according to Arlington County Department of Environmental Services (DES) spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel. The work is expected to be performed in about three weeks.

Arlington County does not have any paving scheduled for Clarendon Boulevard between Rosslyn and Courthouse due to a number of large construction projects in the area. The developers of those projects — including the aforementioned residential building, a new office building and a new apartment complex — are responsible for fixing the road.

“There are several development projects in the area and the developers will restore the road as projects are completed,” said DES spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy. “Once the major projects in the area are completed, the area will be eligible to be incorporated into our annual paving program.”

Kennedy said that residents can still report potholes and other problems on the road via the county’s online reporting form, or by calling 703-228-6570.

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Morning Notes

Clarendon Boulevard Reopens — Clarendon Boulevard has reopened in Rosslyn after being closed for nearly 36 hours due to a collapse at an apartment construction site.

Photos of Dog Friends — “Dogs love people, but they also love other dogs.” [The A-Town Dog Blog]

‘Lost Dog’ Anniversary — The Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. The foundation says it has rescued more than 17,000 pets since its inception in 2001. Supporters will celebrate the milestone at the Stray Cat Cafe (5866 Washington Blvd) on Friday, August 26. [Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation]

Power Restored in S. Arlington — About 1,500 Dominion customers in South Arlington — including in the Pentagon City area — lost power last night. As of this morning, power had been restored.

Photo courtesy Valerie Crotty

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Rosslyn Road Closures Expected to Remain Through Rush Hour

Update at 7:35 a.m. on 8/9/11 — Clarendon Boulevard has reopened, but neighborhood streets in the area of the collapse remain closed.

Update at 5:55 p.m. — Clarendon Boulevard and 16th Street will both remained closed between N. Pierce Street and N. Oak Street through the morning rush, the county said this afternoon.

Update at 1:10 p.m. — The processes of shoring up the collapsed retaining wall could take up to 48 hours, according Arlington County Inspection Services Division Chief Shahriar Amiri. While some road closures will remain, Amiri said that Clarendon Boulevard may reopen as soon as tomorrow’s morning rush hour. “We are working hard at it,” he said.

The road closures related to last night’s construction site collapse are expected to remain in place through tonight’s evening rush hour. Heavy traffic is expected as a result.

Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management issued the following alert just after 10:30 this morning.

It is anticipated that both lanes of eastbound Clarendon Blvd (N. Pierce St. to Oak St.) will remain closed through the evening rush hour, related to the construction site collapse.

On northbound Rte 110, the Rosslyn exit (via Wilson Blvd) has also been closed to relieve congestion. Motorists are encouraged to continue onto westbound I-66 to the Lee Hwy exit.

Lee Hwy (Rte. 29) and Arlington Blvd (Rte. 50) are the suggested routes for getting to and around Rosslyn. Those with plans in Rosslyn should expect major traffic delays. Transit, pedestrian & bicycle routing will also be affected.

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Morning Notes

Planetarium Fundraising Now Exceeds $100K — The Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium group has now raised $120,000 to help fund renovations at the 40-year-old facility. The group is still far from its goal of raising $400,000 by summer 2011, but it is hoping to close the gap by landing a few major donations from local defense contractors. More from TBD.

Sharrows on Clarendon Boulevard — Arlington County is doing away with a bike lane between Courthouse Road and Rhodes Street on Clarendon Boulevard. In its place, the county is making the right-hand traffic lane a shared car/bike lane. Bikes should be able to keep up with traffic on the stretch of road, much of which is a steep downhill. More from WashCycle.

Ugly Holiday Sweater Party at EatBar — EatBar is throwing an ugly holiday sweater party, complete with spiked peppermint patty hot cocoa and a viewing of the 1983 classic A Christmas Story. The festive event will kick off at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19. More from WCP Y&H.

Flickr pool photo by MichaelTRuhl

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Traffic Lights Out at Wilson and Washington Boulevards

Police are reporting that traffic lights are on flash at the intersection of Wilson and Washington Boulevards in Clarendon.

The county’s Department of Public Works is responding to the scene.

Update at 2:10 p.m. — It’s been at least 45 minutes since the original call went out. The lights are still flashing.

Update at 2:40 p.m. — Thanks to @goremy, we’re hearing that the lights are working again.

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Weird Accident on Clarendon Boulevard

You might have seen our Tweet about about a car accident in Courthouse Friday night, but we’re bringing it up again because it was so unusual.

Around 11:00 p.m. Friday, Clarendon Blvd was shut down between North Wayne Street and North Adams Street, near Velocity Five Restaurant, due to an accident involving a Honda and a parked Audi.

A witness says the Honda was traveling in the direction of the Courthouse Metro station at a high rate of speed, when its front driver’s side tire somehow clipped the Audi’s rear passenger side tire.

The contact apparently caused both wheels to come off the axle. The Honda came to rest a few yards away from the Audi, with much of the driver’s side front quarter panel ripped off, the wheel dislodged and the front end angled into the asphalt. The rear wheel on the Audi, meanwhile, was at a 45 degree angle.

It could have been worse. The driver of the Honda appeared unhurt, even though airbags deployed. No other pedestrians or passengers were involved, thankfully.

Although the damage to the Audi will probably be costly to repair, the partially-amputated wheel was just about the only visible sign that it had been involved in an accident. Plus, the shiny $100,000 Mercedes parked in front of the Audi did not appear to be damaged.

No word yet on whether the driver of the Honda will face any charges.

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Arlington Snow Crews vs. Mother Nature

Arlington snow crews are making a valiant effort to keep Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards passable. Front end loaders are busy shoveling huge mounds of snow into lines of waiting dump trucks. As of 1:30 AM, four wheel drive vehicles were still able to navigate the main thoroughfares in Clarendon with relative ease.

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