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County Could Speed Up Design Work on Army Navy Country Club Access Road

County officials seem to have found some money to speed up design work on an access road to link the Arlington View neighborhood to Army Navy Drive.

County Manager Mark Schwartz initially proposed some hefty delays for the project, which is set to stretch across a section of the Army Navy Country Club, in his proposed 10-year plan for county construction efforts. Under his proposal, design work on the effort wouldn’t even start until fiscal year 2027, with construction set for 2029.

The county’s budget challenges have ensured that Arlington officials haven’t suddenly found enough money to build the road, and its accompanying bike and pedestrian trails, right away. But county staff did manage to track down about $230,000 to pay for design and engineering work starting in fiscal year 2020, officials told the County Board during a work session Tuesday (July 10).

That news is quite welcome for Board members and residents alike, considering that the county has been working to build the 30-foot-wide road since 2010, in order to better connect Columbia Pike to Crystal City.

The road would run from S. Queen Street, near Hoffman-Boston Elementary, to the I-395 underpass, where a country club access road meets up with Army Navy Drive. The process of securing an easement to even cross the country club in the first place was a challenging one for the county, but the two sides ultimately struck a deal after the county agreed to allow the club to build a larger clubhouse than county zoning rules would ordinarily permit.

Staff cautioned the Board that reallocating this money for design work won’t do anything to change when the project gets built, at least for the time being. But members supported the change all the same as a way to provide some more detailed plans for the Board to consider a few years from now, when the county’s fiscal picture could improve.

“At least it’s getting us somewhere,” said Board member Erik Gutshall. “We’ve got to move the ball forward.”

In order to get that design work moving, the Board would need to pull $105,000 away from some minor arterial road projects over the next two fiscal years, and another $125,000 away from the “Walk Arlington” program for pedestrian-centric projects. The latter move will leave just $50,000 available for the program in 2020 and 2021.

But Board members seem to believe the funding shake-up is well worth it, particularly as bicycling advocates stress the importance of the project.

“There is a compelling case to be made that this will allow one of our largest growing population centers, Columbia Pike, to have more access to one of our major commercial and office centers of Crystal City,” Board Chair Katie Cristol said. “The most important thing is we get the scope of this proiect to the point where we can have those conversations about feasibility.”

County transportation director Dennis Leach cautioned that additional examinations of the project could reveal that it’s too challenging for the county to pursue. He noted that the “steep grades” in the area, combined with its proximity to woodlands and I-395, could all combine to make the effort “extremely expensive.”

Initial estimates pegged construction costs around $5.2 million, but the county hasn’t updated that figure in years.

Cristol added that there are also “big questions” about whether the county can afford to bring the project into compliance with federal accessibility laws. However, she did suggest that one avenue for addressing those cost concerns might be redirecting some revenue generated by the commercial and industrial property tax on Crystal City businesses, as the area would potentially stand to benefit from the project.

“I look forward to the prospect of a taking a better scoped project and having a conversation with the business community about whether it’s a proper use of that tax money,” Cristol said.

The Board will make the reallocation of money for the access road official when it votes to approve a final Capital Improvement Plan on Saturday (July 14).

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Arlington Named Top Digital County Again — “Arlington County is the No. 1 digital county in the nation for a third straight year. The Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties 2018 award recognizes Arlington for its best technology practices in areas of open government, transparency, public engagement, planning, cyber security and operations.” [Arlington County]

Robbery in Courthouse — Two men reportedly robbed the Dunkin’ Donuts on Wilson Blvd in Courthouse yesterday evening. The men demanded money and fled the scene with cash but did not display any weapons during the robbery, according to initial reports. [Twitter]

Kaine to Campaign in Arlington Today — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tonight “will host a ‘Neighbor to Neighbor’ community conversation in Arlington to engage Northern Virginia voters on the critical issues facing our country and take their questions.” The event is taking place at the Barcroft Park Picnic Shelter (4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive) at 6:30 p.m.

Britney Spears Touches Down in Arlington — Britney Spears arrived at Reagan National Airport ahead of the kick off of her summer tour. Photos and video show her walking through the terminal with a small entourage. [Daily Mail]

Arlington to Pay to Help Retain Federal Tenant — “Arlington taxpayers will be on the hook for nearly $8 million over 10 years to subsidize a lease that will retain the Office of Naval Research in the county. County Board members on July 14 are expected to approve an incentive package that will keep the federal agency in its current 314,000 square feet of office space in Ballston.” [InsideNova]

Suspect Hailed Cab After Pike Burglary — “A burglar made his getaway from a scene in Arlington by hailing a taxi, according to officials. The Arlington County Police Department said the burglar targeted a business in the 3100 block of Columbia Pike near the Westmont neighborhood at about 10:25 a.m. on Sunday.” [Fox 5 DC]

George Mason Drive Detour — A “small detour” will be in place this weekend on N. George Mason Drive “as crews above remove the old half still remaining from the soon-to-be-replaced Carlin Springs Road Bridge.” [Twitter]

White Ford Bronco Profiled — Prolific local 90s cover band White Ford Bronco is the subject of a newspaper profile that dubs it the “undisputed king of D.C. cover bands.” The profile recounts that “at a recent concert at the Clarendon Ballroom, guys in button-down shirts and Birkenstocks pumped their fists to the chorus of ‘Mr. Jones.'” [Washington Post]

Metrobus Delays This Morning — Metrobus passengers reported delays and missed routes this morning, which WMATA says was the result of “bus operators reporting late to work as part of a collective labor action by their union.” [Twitter, WTOP]

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Crime Report: Driver Arrested for Brandishing BB Gun

A 34-year-old D.C. man was arrested last week and charged with flashing what turned out to be a BB gun at another driver during a road rage incident.

The incident happened last Tuesday shortly after 11 a.m. on the 4000 block of Columbia Pike, just east of S. George Mason Drive.

Police were called and located the vehicle and the suspect nearby, according to the latest Arlington County Police Department crime report.

BRANDISHING, 2018-07030092, 4000 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 11:17 a.m. on July 3, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that following a verbal dispute between drivers, the suspect brandished a BB gun at the victim before fleeing the scene in his vehicle prior to police arrival. The victim was not injured. Arriving units canvased the area and, based upon a description of the vehicle provided by the victim, located the suspect vehicle and suspect nearby. Jose Del Cid Sanchez, 34, of Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with Brandishing a Firearm and released on a summons.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, is below.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-07030201, 1600 block of S. Joyce Street. At approximately 7:21 p.m. on July 3, police were dispatched to the late report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., an unknown suspect(s) gained entry to a residence and stole items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2018-07050034, 5100 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 3:32 a.m. on July 5, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that a verbal dispute between the victim and suspect escalated to physical violence, resulting in the victim being struck multiple times and suffering lacerations. The suspect fled on foot prior to police arrival. A lookout was broadcast and units canvased the area with negative results. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6’1″, 160 lbs., with a low haircut, wearing khaki pants and no shirt. The investigation is ongoing.

FELONY HIT & RUN (Significant), 2018-07080071, I-66 at N. Scott Street. At approximately 4:41 a.m. on July 8, Arlington County Police responded to an accident with injury on eastbound I-66 near the Key Bridge. Upon arrival, it was determined the suspect failed to yield to a Secret Service officer, entered the eastbound lanes of I-66 traveling westbound and struck another vehicle head-on.  The driver of the suspect vehicle fled the scene on foot.  A perimeter was established and Fairfax County Police Helicopter conducted an aerial search for the suspect with negative results. Due to the crash, the passenger of the suspect vehicle was unable to exit the vehicle. Upon seeing flames originating from the vehicle, arriving Arlington County officers pulled the passenger from the vehicle to safety. He was transported to George Washington University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the victim vehicle was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with non-life threatening injuries. Warrants were issued for Victor Ebai, 28, of Springfield, VA for Felony Hit and Run and Felony Eluding.

ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT, 2018-07050205, 1100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 6:32 p.m. on July 5, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny in progress. An arriving officer identified the suspect, who was allegedly in possession of stolen goods that were visible in his backpack, based upon a lookout and attempted to stop the suspect. The suspect ignored the officer’s commands and fled the area on foot. A brief foot pursuit ensued and the suspect eventually stopped running. The officer issued lawful commands to the suspect, to which he did not comply and continued to challenge the officer. The officer then attempted to deploy his taser unsuccessfully, however, the suspect complied and got on one knee on the ground. When the officer attempted to handcuff him, the suspect continued to struggle with the officer, knocked the handcuffs away and fled on foot again. A second foot pursuit ensued and the officer was able to take the suspect to the ground. The suspect resisted the officer’s attempts to control him and repeatedly pulled the officer’s hand away from his radio and interfered with his microphone, preventing him from communicating his location to dispatch. The suspect continued to be combative, attempting to strike the officer with a closed fist multiple times. Despite the suspect grabbing the officer’s hand as he attempted to use his O.C. spray, the officer was able to successfully deploy the spray, preventing the suspect from further resisting arrest. With the assistance of an additional arriving officer, the suspect was then taken into custody. The officer sustained minor injuries and was transported to an area hospital for evaluation. Lamont Witherspoon, 41, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Petit Larceny: 3+ Offense, Possession of Burglarous Tools, Assault on Law Enforcement, Attempting to Disarm a Law Enforcement Officer of a Chemical or Impact Weapon, Obstruction of Justice (x2), Preventing an Emergency Call, and served with an outstanding warrant for Grand Larceny. He was held on no bond.

SEXUAL BATTERY, 2018-07080036, 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 1:53 a.m. on July 8, police were dispatched to the report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside a business when an unknown male suspect approached her from behind and grabbed her buttocks. The suspect is described as a black male in his 30’s, approximately 5’4″, slightly overweight, with a round face and dark brown shoulder length hair. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-07060049, 2700 block of N. Pershing Drive. At approximately 6:00 a.m. on July 6, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 3:45 a.m., two unknown suspects forced entry to a business and stole items of value. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-07080198, 1200 block of S. Scott Street. At approximately 6:38 p.m. on July 8 police responded to the report of a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 9:15 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., an unknown suspect(s) forced entry to a residence and stole items of value. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2018-07080101, 3100 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 10:23 a.m. on July 8, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim remotely observed a male suspect force entry to their business and steal items of value. After exiting the business, the suspect located a taxi and fled the area. During the course of the investigation, police were able to determine the identity of the driver of the taxi and make contact with him. The driver returned to the scene, but the suspect had exited the vehicle prior to the taxi’s return to the scene. The suspect is described as a black male, 40-50 years old, approximately 5’10”-6’0″, 150 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes. The investigation is ongoing.

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Crime Report: ACPD Looking for Pushy Bike Thieves

A woman tried to stop a quartet of bike thieves from leaving her apartment building, but they shoved her out of the way and fled the scene before police arrived.

The incident happened this past Sunday evening on the 1200 block of S. Courthouse Road, just south of Columbia Pike.

The four suspects stole a bike from the building’s storage area despite being discovered by the resident.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ROBBERY, 2018-07010172, 1200 block of S. Courthouse Road. At approximately 6:55 p.m. on July 1, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was attempting to retrieve her property from the secure storage area of a building when she encountered four suspects attempting to steal bicycles from the storage area. The victim attempted to prevent the suspects from exiting, however, she was pushed away. The suspects fled in possession of one of the bicycles from the storage area. The victim did not require medical treatment. Suspect One is described as a black male, approximately 20 years old, six feet tall, 185 lbs., with a heavy build, a faded high top haircut and a goatee, wearing red shorts and a white t-shirt. Suspect Two is described as a light skinned Hispanic or Middle Eastern male, approximately 20 years old, 5’8″, 130 lbs., with a skinny build and thin mustache, wearing a gray t-shirt, dark blue jeans, white socks and sandals. Suspect Three is described as a black male, approximately 20 years old, six feet tall, 140 lbs., with a thin build, wearing glasses, a gray and red t-shirt, dark sweat pants, white socks and sandals. Suspect Four is described as a black male, approximately 20 years old, 5’10”, 140 lbs., with a thin build, wearing a black t-shirt and navy pants. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including one that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING, 2018-07020028, 800 block of S. Arlington Mill Drive. At approximately 3:55 a.m. on July 2, police were dispatched to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined that while the victim was inside his residence, a known suspect threw rocks through the window, causing it to break. The investigation is ongoing.

BRANDISHING, 2018-06290101, S. Four Mile Run Drive at Columbia Pike. At approximately 12:21 p.m. on June 29, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was walking in the area when he approached two suspects on foot. During the verbal exchange, one of the suspects brandished a firearm and demanded the victim’s property. The victim yelled for help and the suspects fled on foot. The victim was not injured and nothing was reported stolen. A lookout was broadcast for the two suspects based upon the description provided by a witness and arriving units located the two suspects nearby. Petitions for Possession of a Handgun by a Juvenile, Brandishing a Firearm, Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Possession of Marijuana were obtained for the juvenile suspect. The investigation into the involvement of the second suspect is ongoing.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-06290173, 900 block of S. Columbus Street. At approximately 5:07 p.m. on June 29, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 6:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., an unknown suspect(s) gained entry to a residence and stole items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

UNLAWFUL WOUNDING, 2018-06280024, 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 2:20 a.m. on June 28, police were dispatched to the report of an assault with injury. Upon arrival it was determined that the suspect had exited a taxi and was involved in a verbal argument with the driver over the fare. When a witness intervened, the suspect allegedly became aggressive and struck the witness in the face. The victim did not require medical treatment. Responding officers canvased the area and located the suspect. Oscar Castillo, 32, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with Unlawful Wounding and Drunk in Public.

BURGLARY, 2018-06280212, 100 block of N. Wayne Street. At approximately 6:34 p.m. on June 28, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival it was determined that between 7:25 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., an unknown suspect(s) forced entry into a residence and stole cash. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

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ART Prepares to Roll Out 13 New Buses Over the Next Few Months

Arlington Transit is prepping 13 new buses to start picking up riders in the coming months.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet told ARLnow the bus service received the new vehicles a few months back, and hopes to have three making the rounds before the month is out.

He expects the rest will hit the road as the county continues to beef up bus service in the coming months, likely “later this summer/early fall,” as part of the Transit Development Plan the County Board approved in 2016. That plan is designed to bridge gaps in bus service around the county, particularly along Columbia Pike, where ART and Metrobus just started teaming up to offer enhanced service last month.

ART has also dealt with a series of mechanical issues recently, particularly on some of its older buses, but Balliet says the county is still being cautious in putting these new buses in the field.

The 40-foot-long, natural gas-powered vehicles are the first buses the county has purchased from New Flyer of America, the same company that provides vehicles to WMATA for much of its Metrobus service. Accordingly, Balliet says ART’s service contractor “has been in the process of reviewing the buses for acceptance and training operators and technicians” since the agency got its hands on the buses earlier this year.

In all, the county’s Transit Development Plan calls for ART to expand its fleet “by over 20 vehicles” in total through 2026.

The county projects that these additions and service changes will help it boost ridership by 24 percent over the same time period, though ART’s ridership figures have flagged in recent months, similar to other bus services nationwide.

Photo courtesy of Abigail Wendt

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Morning Notes

Motorcycle Crash Closes Columbia Pike — Columbia Pike was closed in both directions for just over two hours this morning while police investigated a serious accident. A motorcycle reportedly crashed into a minivan between S. Frederick and Dinwiddie street, near the Arlington Mill Community Center. The motorcycle rider was seriously hurt and two people in the van were also taken to the hospital. [WJLA, Twitter]

Man Arrested for Threatening FCC Chair’s Family — A California man has been arrested and charged with sending emails that threatened to murder FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s family, over his support of the rollback of net neutrality rules. Pai has two children and lives in Arlington. Per an affidavit, one of the emails “listed the names and addresses of three preschools located in or around Arlington, Virginia, followed by the following sentence: ‘I will find your children and I will kill them.'” [Gizmodo, Washington Post]

Car Fire in Cherrydale — A car caught on fire in the garage of an apartment building in Cherrydale early this morning. No one was hurt. The cause of the fire is under investigation. [Twitter, Twitter]

Plane Evacuated on DCA Tarmac — “Passengers were forced to evacuate a United Airlines plane at Reagan National Airport on Sunday after smoke was reported in the cabin… The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said that about 1 p.m. Sunday, Houston-bound flight 6122 was taxiing for takeoff when emergency crews were called for a report of smoke in the cabin. The plane’s emergency slides were deployed, and all passengers and crew members exited ‘without incident.'” [Washington Post, Fox News]

Lee Highway Planning to Move Forward? — “It’s been delayed, delayed and delayed some more. But, Arlington’s top elected official promises, the long-awaited study of development options along the Lee Highway corridor will be up and running by the end of the year.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy R. Johnson

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More Than 100 Cyclists Flood Columbia Pike to Advocate for Better Bike Routes

More than 100 bicyclists hit Columbia Pike on Saturday (June 23) to draw attention to a new push to improve bike routes along the road.

The newly-formed advocacy group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County organized the roughly two-mile-long “Bike for the Pike” protest ride, which ran down Columbia Pike from the Penrose Square Park to the intersection with with S. Four Mile Run Drive.

The group is lobbying county leaders to consider a slew of improvements to make the Pike corridor easier on cyclists, arguing that large sections of the road remain unsafe. County Board members Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall attended Saturday to lend their support to the effort.

“Despite budgeting over $100 million in the current adopted capital plan to make Columbia Pike a complete street, the county’s current plans wouldn’t even provide a complete bike facility that runs the full length of the Pike, let alone one that is safe, direct and low-stress,” Chris Slatt, the group’s founder and a transit-focused blogger, wrote in a statement. “#Bike4ThePike was a chance to say ‘We’re here, we ride, we pay taxes, we deserve safe, direct, low-stress routes.'”

The county has indeed made efforts to improving transit options along the Pike, with long-awaited changes to Metrobus service along the corridor starting yesterday (June 24). But Slatt’s organization is pressing for a variety of new roadway improvements and policy revisions to make the Pike even more hospitable to cyclists.

In the near term, Slatt wants to see the county conduct a “comprehensive safety review” of the Pike’s intersection with Washington Blvd. In a news release, the group notes that the area “has been the site of numerous bicycle and pedestrian crashes” since VDOT finished a major overhaul of the interchange a few years ago, and Slatt wants to see the county commission a study of the area within the next year.

His group is also advocating for the construction of a parallel bike and pedestrian bridge over Four Mile Run in the next three years, arguing that the current bridge is “dangerously narrow and lacks any sort of buffer from speeding traffic.”

They’re also pushing for traffic signal changes to make 9th Street S. friendlier for bicyclists as it intersects with both S. Glebe Road and S. Walter Reed Drive, as well as the construction of an access road connecting the Arlington View neighborhood to Army Navy Drive within the next five years — the county likely won’t start work on the latter project until 2027.

Slatt’s group plans to hold additional advocacy events focused on bicycling, walking and public transit around the county in the coming weeks.

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Long-Awaited Columbia Pike Bus Service Changes Kick Off Sunday

Bus riders along Columbia Pike will see significant service changes starting Sunday (June 24), as part of the long-awaited “premium transit network” planned for the corridor.

Metrobus will soon offer five streamlined routes along the Pike, down from 11, and offer more frequent service across all of those routes, Arlington transportation officials told the County Board Tuesday (June 19).

The changes will move in tandem with some other Metrobus service alterations recently approved by WMATA’s governing board, and bring the county closer to delivering on its promise to improve transit options along the Pike after abandoning the contentious streetcar project four years ago.

“You may not necessarily move through the corridor faster, but you won’t have to wait as long for a bus to take you somewhere, particularly during the peak hours,” said Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey.

Lynn Rivers, the county’s transit bureau chief, noted that Metrobus will offer 30 additional hours of service across all the different routes on the 16 line, with the ultimate goal of running buses once every six minutes along the most crowded stops on the Pike.

The county has also kicked off the process of finding a contractor to build 20 new bus shelters along the Pike.

Dennis Leach, the county’s transportation director, told the Board that the county started soliciting bids for the project last Wednesday (June 13). By July, he expects the county will know how much each shelter will cost, a key point of interest for Board members after the Pike’s “$1 million bus stops” prompted community outcry years ago.

Yet Rivers believes the more noticeable change for riders right away will be the alteration to Metrobus routes along the Pike. She noted that buses won’t be changing where they drop off and pick up riders, but Metrobus will be tweaking how it describes its various routes to be less confusing.

“The idea was to streamline that to make it easier not just for those who are using it, but also bring more people onto the system,” Rivers said.

Moving forward, the five routes on Columbia Pike will be known as 16A, 16C, 16E, 16G and 16H. Rivers added that 16Y service will still be available as well during peak hours, though only to Farragut Square, and service along the 16X route to Federal Triangle will still be available during peak times as well.

While these changes came as good news to Board members, John Vihstadt did point out that “our communities have been frustrated with the pace” of the county’s work to implement bus service changes along the Pike. Rivers believes this first phase of improvements is the equivalent of starting off “with a bang,” but she did acknowledge there’s lots of work left to be done.

Eventually, the county and Metro plan to offer nonstop bus service between the Pike and Crystal City, and extend the Transitway, or dedicated lane bus service, out to Pentagon City — the latter effort just won some new regional funding as well.

“This is just the beginning of many more phases,” Rivers said.

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New ‘Main Street’ Banners Approved for Columbia Pike

Columbia Pike is getting some new branding, in the form of banners that will be placed on light poles along the Pike.

As expected, the County Board approved the banners — which proclaim the Pike to be “Arlington’s Oldest and Newest Main Street” — at its meeting on Saturday.

The initial 48 banners will cost just over $11,000 to install and will be paid for and maintained by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization.

“The County and our partner, CPRO, continue to make steady progress toward realizing the community’s vision of a Columbia Pike that feels more like a Main Street,” Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said in a statement. “These colorful banners will enhance the vibrancy we already see along the Pike, where years of community planning and public and private engagement have created a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape and more welcoming public spaces.”

The banners will run the length of the Pike in Arlington — from Foxcroft Heights to the western county line

Arlington County’s press release about the banner approval is below.

The Board voted unanimously to authorize the installation of non-commercial banners in the public right-of-way along the entire length of Columbia Pike, from Foxcroft Heights to the western County line. The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) will place the seasonal banners on street light poles on behalf of the County.

CPRO will fund the phased installation and maintenance of these banners. In the first phase, 48 banners will be installed at key major intersections along the Pike. Subsequent phases will be completed as funding becomes available. Total cost to install the initial 48 banners is $11,280. It will cost $2,000 to maintain the banners the first year (increasing 5 percent annually). […]

Background

In 2017, the Board doubled annual funding for CPRO, bringing its total commitment to $400,000. The Board, at the time, said it wanted to see CPRO use some of those funds to develop new place-making activities – specifically a cleaning program and a banner program. The Washington Forrest Foundation has also contributed $10,000 to CPRO for the program for this purpose. This is the second time the Board has permitted CPRO to install decorative banners within the public right-of-way.

About CPRO

CPRO’s mission is to create a safer, cleaner, more vibrant community from the Pentagon to the County line, a corridor which geographically makes up 17 percent of Arlington, and to champion and connect businesses and community along Columbia Pike. […]

To learn more about the County’s efforts to transform Columbia Pike into a more transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly Main Street with great public spaces and a mix of vibrant retail, restaurants, housing and offices, visit the County website.

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Arlington’s Metrobus Service Set for Route Changes Starting Next Month

Metrobus 5A to Dulles from Rosslyn

Metro is making some changes to a handful of its bus routes around Arlington, in a bid to make service more efficient and save a bit of money.

WMATA’s Board of Directors approved a series of changes to Metrobus routes across the region on Thursday (June 14), including adjustments along six routes in the county. All of the alterations will take effect on July 1, and they mark the latest in a slew of recent changes to Metrobus service in Arlington.

The biggest change will be the elimination of the 22B route, which currently runs from the Ballston Metro station to a stop at the intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and Columbia Pike in Barcroft.

Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly notes that “alternate service is available on routes 22A and 22C,” and that buses once running the 22B route will be used to provide more service between Pentagon City and Shirlington. Eric Balliet, a spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services, added that the “majority of the 22B is redundant with the 22A and C” and suggested that the change will complement the county’s planned expansion of dedicated-lane Transitway service in Pentagon City.

“The public reaction was neutral, and the change nets $108,000 per year in savings,” Balliet told ARLnow via email.

Another significant change approved by the WMATA board is the truncation of the 10E route, which currently runs from the Rosslyn Metro station to Hunting Point in Alexandria. Now, the route will end at the Pentagon instead of continuing on to Rosslyn.

Balliet said county transit officials have planned on making the change since July 2016, noting it’s redundant with Metro’s Blue Line and some Arlington Transit routes. In all, he expects the change will save about $232,000 each year.

Other changes include increasing the time between buses on routes 7A and 7F between the Pentagon and Shirlington, and a series of changes along Columbia Pike to account for bus service improvements designed to take the place of the abandoned streetcar project. In all, Metrobus will tweak the schedule of buses on routes 16A, 16B, 16C, 16E, 16G, 16H, 16J, 16K, 16P and 16X.

Finally, Metro will rearrange the schedules of routes 4A and 4B between Pershing Drive and Arlington Boulevard, eliminating 4A buses in the middle of the day in favor running 4B buses more frequently.

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Morning Notes

Free Admission at New Observation Deck — The new observation deck in Rosslyn is holding “Arlington County residents day” this weekend. Arlington County residents with valid ID can present it at the Observation Deck at CEB Tower box office for free admission from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. [Observation Deck at CEB Tower]

Stanley Cup to Visit ACPD Today — The Arlington County Police Department is set for a visit from the Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and the Stanley Cup today. [WUSA 9]

Pike May Get New ‘Showplace’ Library — “The current two-story community library in the corridor is tucked away on the Arlington Career Center campus, which is slated for a massive, if currently undefined, redevelopment effort in coming years. A library space is expected to be part of the redevelopment package, but county officials are looking at other options, including a full-frontal signature space facing Columbia Pike itself.” [InsideNova]

Road Closures for 5K Race — Several roads will be closed in and around Pentagon City Saturday morning for the 2018 ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk/Dash for Dads 5K Race. [Arlington County, ZERO]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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Columbia Pike Blues Fest Returns Saturday

The 23rd annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival will take place this Saturday (June 16) from 1-8:30 p.m.

The event is free and will take place near the intersection of S. Walter Reed Drive and Columbia Pike. Singer/songwriter Don Bryant will headline the festival, which features blues, R&B and funk performers of regional and national acclaim.

Performances begin at 1 p.m. with Three Man Soul Machine, who will be followed by Caz Gardiner at 2 p.m. and King Soul Band at 3:30 p.m. Nikki Hill will take the stage at 5 p.m. ahead of Bryant’s 6:45 p.m. set.

The festival will also offer activities in the Arlington Art Truck, a reading from Arlington poet laureate Katherine E. Young, arts and crafts for sale from local artists and businesses, such as Hannah Huthwaite and Marney and Swa, as well as food, drink and booths from vendors and community organizations.

Saturday’s weather forecast calls for near-perfect weather: partly cloudy skies and a high of 85 degrees.

As in past years, the event will prompt several road closures from around 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, according to a county press release.

A full list of road closures is below:

  • Walter Reed Drive, from Columbia Pike to 9th Street S. (detour: 7th Street S. westbound to Highland Street)
  • 9th Road, from S. Garfield Street to Walter Reed Drive
  • 9th Street, from S. Highland Street to Walter Reed Drive

Photo courtesy Columbia Pike Documentary Project

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UPDATED: New Caps Banner Above Columbia Pike Prompts Community Consternation

Update on June 7 at 10:30 a.m. — Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization officials say they’ve struck a deal with the Capitals to resolve this dispute.

Each group will now post a banner above Columbia Pike, one facing east and one facing west. They believe a contractor for the Caps inadvertently disposed of the old CPRO banner, and the team plans to replace it, at no cost to CPRO.

“We are happy that CPRO and the Washington Capitals were able to come together and make things work for both organizations,” John Snyder, president of the CPRO board, wrote in a statement. “The Pike community loves the Caps. We invite the Caps family and fans to join us at the Blues Festival on June 16th — and hope they bring along the Cup!”

Earlier: A new banner stretching over Columbia Pike proclaiming that “Arlington is All Caps” might not seem out of place, given the D.C. region’s hockey obsession these days — but the arrival of the pennant has ruffled a few feathers, all the same.

As recently as this past weekend, a banner hung from the same streetlight poles in front of the Audi dealership at 3200 Columbia Pike advertising the Columbia Pike Blues Festival, set for next Saturday (June 16). The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, known as CPRO, puts on the event and arranged to have that banner placed in such a prominent spot.

CPRO leaders say they were quite confused to see their pennant disappear in favor of the Washington Capitals-themed decoration, as they believed they had a permit from Arlington officials to leave the banner up a bit longer. But the Capitals themselves also believe they have the county’s permission to post the pennant, leaving CPRO at a loss.

“It could’ve been a snafu, we don’t know,” Cecilia Cassidy, CPRO’s executive director, told ARLnow. “It could’ve just been Stanley Cup fever.”

Megan Eichenberg, the Caps’ manager of communications and publicity, insists that the team has a county permit to post the banner. She declined to answer questions about when the Caps applied for and received that authorization, or what became of the banner, deferring comment to the county.

A spokeswoman for the county’s zoning office didn’t immediately have answers on the matter, saying only that staffers are looking into it. Cassidy added that CPRO has been in contact with the county about the issue, but has yet to hear more details.

Michael Garcia, an insurance agent with an office on the Pike and a CPRO board member, says the group’s chief concern isn’t in seeing the Caps banner come down, especially with the team on the cusp of its first-ever Stanley Cup. He is, however, interested in learning what became of the $1,800 banner.

“Has it been trashed? Or will it be returned to CPRO?” Garcia wrote in an email to ARLnow. “Who will reimburse CPRO for the $1,800 banner and cost of re-installation? And who authorized this without notifying CPRO in the first place?”

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Crime Report: Gropings in Pentagon City and Along Columbia Pike

Two women were groped in separate incidents over the weekend.

On Friday evening, a woman was allegedly touched inappropriately in a store at the Pentagon City mall, leading to the arrest of a 24-year-old Alexandria man.

On Saturday afternoon, a man hugged a woman without her permission and also touched her breasts. That groping happened in an elevator of an apartment building near Columbia Pike.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

SEXUAL BATTERY, 2018-05250226, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 5:42 p.m. on May 25, security at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City requested the assistance of police. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was inside a store when the male suspect brushed against her and touched her inappropriately. The suspect fled prior to police arrival, but was located returning to the store while units were still on scene. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect was also wanted out of Fairfax County. Sterling Flowers, 24, of Alexandria, VA, was arrested and charged with Sexual Battery. He was held on no bond.

SEXUAL BATTERY (late), 2018-05260118, 1300 block of S. Scott Street. At approximately 12:30 p.m. on May 26, police were dispatched to the late report of a sexual assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that on May 15 at approximately 1:15 a.m., when the victim was entering an elevator in a residential building, the male suspect approached her and asked if he could hug her. Before the victim could respond, the suspect hugged the victim tightly and touched her breasts. The victim was able to push the suspect away and exit the elevator. The suspect is described as an olive skinned male, approximately 5’8″, with short, straight, dark black hair and an average build. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including one that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-05290225, 3300 block of 2nd Street S. At approximately 7:47 p.m., police were dispatched to the late report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 6:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. on May 29, an unknown suspect(s) entered a residence and rummaged through multiple rooms. Nothing was reported missing from the residence. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

ARMED ROBBERY, 2018-05270026, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 2:21 a.m. on May 27, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was in a back room of the business when two unknown male suspects entered the room. One suspect brandished a firearm, hit the victim in the face with it, and demanded cash, while second suspect, brandishing a taser, stole cash and items of value. Both suspects fled the scene on foot prior to police arrival. The victim did not require medical treatment. Suspect One is described as a black male, in his 40’s or 50’s, approximately 6’3″, with a thin build, wearing a dark hat and dark pants. Suspect Two is described as a black male, in his late 30’s or 40’s, with an athletic or stocky build, wearing a dark hoodie with the hood up, a mask and gloves. The investigation is ongoing.

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-05240147, 3800 block of 7th Street N. At approximately 1:38 p.m. on May 24, police were dispatched to the report of an exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that a witness observed a male suspect expose himself to a female victim running in the area. The suspect is described as an older white male wearing a white t-shirt and a blue hat. The investigation is ongoing.

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Portion of Columbia Pike Shut Down Due to Fire Investigation

Firefighters are investigating smoke in a building along Columbia Pike and the emergency response has shut down the westbound lanes.

The fire investigation is happening on the 3700 block of Columbia Pike, the same block as El Rancho Migueleno.

No active fire has been found, according to scanner traffic, and most fire department units are getting ready to leave the scene.

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