A rehabilitation project and a potential lane reconfiguration are both in the works for the S. Abingdon Street bridge in Fairlington.
The bridge, which carries local vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood over I-395, was built in 1970 and last rehabilitated in 1994. It’s due for more work to improve safety and extend the bridge’s life, VDOT says.
A VDOT presentation noted that inspectors found crumbling concrete below the bridge span.
The state transportation department is conducting a virtual public engagement process about the upcoming $10.5 million rehab project, for which it anticipates starting construction in the summer of 2023. At least one lane of vehicle and bike traffic will be maintained in each direction during construction, VDOT says.
More from VDOT’s website, below.
The project includes:
- Resurfacing the concrete bridge deck and closing deck joints
- Repairing concrete piers and abutments
- Adding protective concrete barriers adjacent to piers
- Extending and adding concrete in-fill walls between piers
- Replacing bearings and reconstructing bearing seats
The existing sidewalks on both sides of the bridge will remain and the bridge bicycle lanes will be restriped as part of the project.
The bridge averages 8,300 vehicles a day based on 2019 data.
The project is financed with federal and state funding.
In lieu of an in-person meeting, VDOT invites residents and travelers to learn more, watch the virtual presentation and give feedback in the following ways through Wednesday, June 1:
In addition to VDOT’s construction project, Arlington County is gearing up for a “Complete Streets” repaving and re-striping project on the bridge — from Fire Station 7 to 34th Street S. — this summer.
The project may involve removing the sparsely-used street parking on either side of the bridge, in favor of more robust and protected bike and pedestrian facilities, based on public comments and past history with the program.
Several comments note concerns about vehicles speeding on the bridge and the presence of students going to and from school.
An exact plan for the county’s Complete Streets project has yet to be published.
Photo via Google Maps
Several items before the County Board on Saturday would tee up an Arlington Transit bus facility construction in Green Valley — to the chagrin of two communities.
The Board will consider approving the use of the new bus facility for commercial parking, temporarily relocating about 30 ART buses to a Virginia Square site during construction, revising a lease to accommodate the temporary storage, and making contract amendments.
Construction on the project off Shirlington Road, which is budgeted at $97 million, is set to start in late spring, per a board report.
The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association is concerned with the county’s plans to use the approximately 6-acre “Buck site” along N. Quincy Street for temporary bus storage. The association claims the property isn’t zoned as a bus dispatch and storage site, and it would be disruptive to the neighborhood.
County officials said in December that property is the only available and affordable site zoned for vehicle storage. Ahead of construction, 29 buses will go to the N. Quincy Street site, while 12 will move to a bus site on S. Eads Street, which opened in 2017 near Crystal City.
“Other sites were considered, both County-owned and private facilities, but these did not meet all the suitability criteria needed to maintain service delivery to our transit riders,” county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said in a statement. “If the Board approves the application for the use permit, the County has committed to being a good neighbor to minimize impacts to the largest extent possible and be responsive to concerns that may arise from this temporary use.”
Currently, the county uses the site across from Washington-Liberty High School to park some fire and police vehicles, as well as a portion of the Arlington Public Schools vehicle fleet. An item before the Board this weekend would amend its lease with the School Board to move those vehicles to another part of the site.
The local civic association, however, is opposed to the plan.
“Our neighborhood — like any other in Arlington — should shoulder its fair share of uses that benefit the broader community, even if that sometimes means greater noise, traffic, and pollution,” BVSCA President James Rosen said in a statement. “But placing buses on the Quincy site fails to meet the standard for a good — let alone lawful — use of land the County paid over $30 million to acquire in 2017, of which the County has since written off $5 million.”
Before the county purchased the property, which is zoned for light industrial uses, it was home to family establishments like Jumping Joeys and Dynamic Gymnastics. The county, facing a shortage of land for school and government operations, saw the purchase as a possible school bus facility, which the surrounding community also opposed at the time.
“The noxious effects of the operation of ART buses… will not only put our health and safety at risk, but will compromise the livability of our neighborhood, and put our students and visitors in dangerous situations,” Rosen said.
Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services previously said the peak times of the high school and bus dispatches aren’t the same so it doesn’t think that student safety will be an issue.
Through 2025, buses will be parked at and dispatched from the N. Quincy Street site on weekdays, with a majority of movement happening between 4 a.m. and 9 p.m., according to the board report. The buses parked on the site would serve six ART bus routes, mostly in north Arlington.
Maintenance and refueling activities would not occur on-site but buses may leave to be maintenanced at other county facilities on weekends.
Green Valley facility
As ART has increased its routes and hours of service over the last decade, and anticipates continuing to increase service over the next 20 years, the operations and maintenance facility in Green Valley is needed, according to a board report.
A project scheduled to begin this summer will tunnel under the Four Mile Run near the Route 1 bridge to move overhead power lines underground.
As part of the project, Dominion Energy will rebuild its Glebe Substation next year, modernizing the facility that was built in the 1970s and is reaching the end of its service life. The substation serves parts of Arlington and Alexandria.
“Everything will look a lot cleaner, a lot of the equipment will be a lot smaller,” said Ann Gordon Mickel, Dominion Energy’s communication and community lead for the project.
When work begins, a 250-foot by 250-foot area will be fenced off in the Potomac Yard shopping center parking lot in Alexandria to allow for a 40- to 50-foot deep pit for tunneling.
In Arlington, a pit will be constructed at the substation and there may be temporary intermittent closures on S. Eads Street, as well as on nearby sidewalks and pedestrian paths. Electric service will not be affected.
The underground line will run between the substation and the Potomac Yard Transition Station, which will be decommissioned at the end of the project. The rebuilt Glebe Substation will incorporate new technology, requiring less maintenance and making it more reliable, the power company said.
“Any time you address aging infrastructure and replace it with new technology the reliability always enhances,” said Greg Mathey, a manager of electric transmission communications for Dominion Energy. “The transmission system feeds the distribution system, so the more reliable and hardened we can make the transmission system, the better the distribution system can perform.”
The construction to convert to underground lines is scheduled to continue through 2024. The whole project should be completed by late 2025.
The entire project is expected to cost about $122.8 million. The State Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities in Virginia, approved the project in 2019. It was originally scheduled to be up and running by this month, but due to the nature of the construction, the timeline was pushed back.
Using a trenchless microtunneling method will increase costs by about $16 million — but it shortens the construction timeline, according to project documents.
This type of tunneling will also reduce construction-related impacts to the Potomac Yard shopping center, as it won’t require as much space for pipes above ground.
The overhead lines that can be seen over Four Mile Run will be removed at the end of the project.
(Updated, 4/27) Work has finally started on a long-delayed “boutique multifamily development” in Ballston.
The development is taking place at 1031 N. Vermont Street in Ballston, the former site of Portico Church Arlington.
It was a year ago that McLean-based Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG) took over the site at the intersection of N. Vermont Street and 11th Street N. after plans fell through to build new condos and townhomes there. Those original plans initially drew some backlash from neighbors who worried it would create traffic congestion in an already-highly dense area.
In June 2020, the county approved adding another 4,300 square feet of floor space to the project by removing an “on-site alley,” among other changes. The project called for a seven-story apartment building featuring 98 units. When JAG took over the project, the company said they would mostly stick with this configuration.
Work is now underway on the site, with the existing buildings being demolished and debris being hauled away.
The apartment complex will be a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units. The building will have a rooftop terrace, below-grade parking with 120 spaces, 40 bicycle spaces, and resident storage.
Construction is expected to be completed in early 2024, with initial move-ins slated to start in the fall of 2023. Work was initially expected to start in late 2021 with a completion date of 2023. It was pushed back due to “challenges relocating existing utility infrastructure on site and securing permits from Arlington County,” a Jefferson Apartment Group spokesperson notes.
The spokesperson also noted that a planned group of townhouses across the street is being developed separately from the apartments, by local homebuilder BCN Homes.
Jefferson Apartment Group is the same company that also built the J Sol apartment building on Fairfax Drive in Ballston, which opened in 2020.
A full press release from the development company is below.
More on the Weird Chime Sound — “Janae Bixby first heard the sound near Pentagon City, where I-395 and Glebe Road intersect, as she picked up her kid from daycare on Monday evening around 5. She described it as ‘some sort of clock or doorbell chime that you would hear — very digital.’ She assumed the noise was coming from the building and started heading home. But then, in her car ride home to the southern edge of the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria, she kept hearing it, again and again.” [DCist]
Parents Group Wants Smaller Class Sizes — “A group of parents in Arlington, Virginia, is urging the county’s board to allot additional funding to its school system in the next fiscal year’s budget. The group Arlington Parents for Education said in a letter to the board this week that more money should be provided so that class sizes can be smaller, teacher pay can be competitive with surrounding school districts and student mental health and learning loss can be addressed.” [WTOP]
TR Bridge Work Could Wrap Up in June — “A section of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge that was closed abruptly for emergency repairs two months ago is likely to reopen to traffic in June, according to officials with the District Department of Transportation. Crews began work on the 58-year-old bridge after an early-February inspection found steel support beams had continued to deteriorate, prompting the closure of three middle lanes and restrictions on heavyweight vehicles.” [Washington Post]
Operator Shortage Behind Bus Delays — From MetroHero: “For most of the morning, only one #WMATA 16Y bus has been in service where at least 5 are supposed to be running right… Previously-unannounced operator shortage was the cause of poor 16Y service this morning.” [Twitter]
School Bus Crash Yesterday Afternoon — “A crash involving several vehicles including a school bus has snarled southbound traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road, near Campbell Elementary… No injuries have been reported and one lane of traffic is squeezing by the crash scene. This is the same stretch of road where a group of residents recently called for safety improvements. [Twitter]
Video: Adorable Baby Squirrel — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “We’ve definitely got the cutest thing on the internet today! This baby squirrel came to us underweight and hungry, so after a snack she was transferred to a local wildlife rehabber who will care for her until she can be released back into the wild!” [Twitter]
Arlington GOP Ramps Up Outreach — “They are still on the lookout for local candidates, but the Arlington County Republican Committee also is working to connect with prospective supporters. ‘There are thousands of Republican voters who turn out on Election Day but who are otherwise unengaged with the Arlington GOP,’ party communications chair Matthew Hurtt said. ‘We can change that.'” [Sun Gazette]
FBI Warns of Moving Scam — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning the public about increasingly prevalent moving fraud schemes and providing information about how to avoid being victimized by them. A typical moving fraud scheme begins when a customer is enticed into entering into a contract with a moving company to transport their household goods by offers of extremely low-cost estimates from a sales representative or broker.” [FBI]
It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 52. Sunrise at 6:23 am and sunset at 7:53 pm. [Weather.gov]
Arlington is set to spend more than $750,000 to construct stormwater handing infrastructure on the site of the county salt storage and maintenance facility along Old Dominion Drive.
The Arlington County Board is expected to consider the contract with Sagres Construction Corporation at its meeting this coming Saturday. With a contingency of about $150,000, the total contract authorization is just over $900,000.
The project will help deal with stormwater at the site, after the county granted itself an exception to its usual stormwater rules in 2018 in order to build the temporary salt storage facility, which replaced a rusted-out salt dome in danger of collapse.
“This contract for the construction of Stormwater Management / BMP will provide a stormwater filtering device and an underground stormwater detention facility as required by County Code before the expiration of the partial exception,” notes a county staff report.
“Most of the work will be within the boundaries of the County facility, with the exception of the storm drainage outfall pipe crossing 25th Road North,” the report continues. “There will be no impact to the surrounding trees. Traffic flow will be maintained along 25th Road North throughout the project duration.”
Dubbed the North Side Salt Storage Facility, the property serves as the rally point for salt crews treating roads in North Arlington during winter weather events.
Other uses for the site have previously been discussed, including a public park and sports field for nearby Marymount University, as well as a new fire station. The fire station idea was scrapped amid opposition from neighbors, many of whom spoke in favor of a park at the location instead. With this stormwater project, however, it appears that the county is banking on the salt storage use remaining in place for awhile.
The county staff report noted that residents will be provided information on the construction project after the contract is approved.
“Following contract award and prior to the start of construction, a letter containing details about the project and construction schedule will be sent to the civic association president,” the report says. “Project information will also be shared to residents through Nextdoor.”
Metro Project Not Great for Pedestrians — “This @ArlingtonDES Ballston multimodal project isn’t providing a great pedestrian experience.” [Twitter]
Moon Shot — “Incredible view of the moon in Clarendon tonight.” [Twitter]
Arlington Real Estate Remains Hot — “The county this month ranked at the regional tippy-top of the T3 Home Demand Index, created by the Mid-Atlantic multiple-listing service Bright MLS… Arlington garnered a score of 230 for March activity; figures were reported April 12. That’s up from 176 a month ago, confirming that seasonal trends are back in the local market: strong activity in spring and summer and lower levels in autumn and winter.” [Sun Gazette]
Nearby: Dogfish Head Alehouse Closing — “After 15 successful years in business, Dogfish Head’s Falls Church Alehouse has made the difficult and emotional decision to close our doors… Our last day of service will be Sunday, May 15.” [Twitter, Annandale Today]
Rainy Afternoon on Tap — “Skies will be overcast in the morning, and a steady rain will develop by the early afternoon and continue for the rest of the day. Temperatures will be quite cool, with highs in the upper 40s and a gusty east wind at 10 to 20 mph.” High of 48 and low of 41. Sunrise at 6:28 am and sunset at 7:49 pm. [Weather.gov, Capital Weather Gang]
George Mason University has ceremonially broke ground on the quarter of a billion dollar expansion of its Arlington campus.
At an event held yesterday (Wednesday), ceremonial shovels picked up ceremonial dirt to mark the beginning of construction of Fuse at Mason Square, a new $235 million building in Virginia Square that will house the university’s new School of Computing.
In fact, work had actually already begun a few months earlier on the 345,000 square foot facility. It’s the main piece of the quarter-billion-dollar expansion of the Arlington campus, which was recently renamed “Mason Square.”
The groundbreaking, which was one of this week’s events celebrating the university’s 50th anniversary, was marked by a litany of speeches, food, and shoveling of dirt.
In attendance were a number of Arlington officials including Board Chair Katie Cristol, County Manager Mark Schwartz, Arlington School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen, Del. Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, and Arlington NAACP President Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr.
Cristol spoke of her pride that this state-of-the-art facility will have a home in Arlington.
“The vision of Fuse [reminds] me of a term I learned in a laboratory in St. Louis — serendipitous collisions. What an evocative image of the kind of partnerships and encounters that are going to happen here at Fuse at Mason Square,” she said. “Between cutting edge facilities, labs with futuristic devices, and human talent of educators and entrepreneurs as well as this rising generation of creators. The serendipitous collisions that occur on this campus are going to shape our community in ways that we can only imagine today.”
Back in the early 1970s, the late Arlington developer John “Til” Hazel acquired the Virginia Square property that included the former Kann’s Department Store in order to house for GMU’s new law school. The property eventually became a larger graduate school campus, and the former Kann’s building is being replaced with the new computing school.
Hazel died last month at the age of 91. His son James revealed at the ceremony that his dad grew up “not a few blocks away, not down the street. It was right there at [N.] Kenmore [Street] and Wilson Blvd.”
Hazel shared other memories of spending time in this neighborhood before GMU moved in.
“If my mom wanted to take us to get new clothes for school, we came to our grandparents. We parked the car, we came over to Kann’s, got the clothes, and saw the monkey display,” he said, to some laughter. “But best of all, we got pizza from Mario’s Pizza.”
The ceremony was also supposed to include an announcement of a “landmark tenant” at the new building, but that didn’t happen, with GMU officials telling ARLnow that the announcement was delayed.
The $235 million building will house faculty from the Institute for Digital InnovAtion as well as the university’s new School of Computing. Also being planned is an atrium, a 750-seat theater, a public plaza, and a below-grade parking garage.
About 60% of the available space will be occupied by the university, with the remaining 40% aiming to be leased out to tenants and private companies.
Fuse at Mason Square is expected to be completed in the summer of 2025.
The Arlington School Board is set to consider a $1.6 million contract for safety upgrades to the entrance of Gunston Middle School.
At its meeting on Thursday, Board members will also consider approving a preliminary budget of $2.7 million for three other entrance projects.
In 2020, Arlington voters gave the thumbs up to safety renovations for five schools: Gunston, Thomas Jefferson and Williamsburg middle schools, Taylor Elementary School and Wakefield High School.
Construction at Gunston would start in June and be completed in mid-August before school starts on Aug. 29.
Work includes moving the main school entrance and office closer to S. Lang Street, which will require two science rooms to be relocated. The entrance will feature a vestibule where visitors will check in with office staff.
The project scope has also expanded to remediate structural issues related to how the building has settled into the ground over time. APS is budgeting $2.5 million, including contingencies, for the Gunston project and any unspent funds will be used for other capital projects.
This summer, APS will also be making upgrades to Wakefield’s entrance. This project will not have to go out to bid and the school system can move forward without School Board approval.
Design and Construction Director Jeffrey Chambers says the Taylor and Williamsburg projects, meanwhile, have fallen behind. Design work is currently just over halfway complete and staff aim to find a contractor this fall and start work next summer.
“We’re very concerned putting those out to bid or getting pricing or trying to get them constructed this summer because… both from references from our consultants and our experience with regard to projects we’ve recently finished, there are some serious issues still in the supply chain,” he told the School Board last month. “We don’t want to start projects, especially with administrative offices, and not be able to finish them.”
APS staff are recommending that work at Jefferson be deferred until APS is ready to make substantial renovations to the school.
“It was going to require a lot more renovations to that building than what we had budgeted for,” he said. “We felt it was better to defer that to a future, larger project.”
The public schools system is staggering these projects, all part of the adopted FY 2021 Capital Improvement Plan, because “rapid construction price escalation and supply chain delays [have] impacted the anticipated construction cost and completion,” according to the presentation.
APS has made security upgrades to more than half of its school buildings and aims to complete this work “within the next few years,” Chambers said.
The residential redevelopment, dubbed The Hazel & Azure at National Landing, is located along Potomac Avenue and Crystal Drive between 29th Street S. and 33rd Street S., between Potomac Yard and Crystal City.
The developer, ZOM Living, announced the step forward — and its acquisition of $152 million in construction financing — yesterday (Thursday).
Hazel & Azure is comprised of two towers, 15 and 11 stories tall, separated by a pedestrian pathway. The 491-unit development will also have 6,800 square feet of ground-floor retail space for restaurants and “service-oriented retailers,” according to a press release.
The original site plan for Potomac Yard Landbay C, divided into east and west parcels, was approved in 2007 and included four office buildings, 41,000 square feet of retail space and a half-acre for a park.
The parcels sat undeveloped for years before ZOM Living submitted its proposal to convert Landbay C East into a residential redevelopment. The western half is still slated for offices.
When complete, the complex will have several amenities for residents, including a rooftop pool, a spin and yoga room, co-working spaces, a self-serve market and an indoor green space for dogs. The lobby will have a café called Verza Coffee and Cocktails, serving coffee and food during the day and cocktails at night.
The mixed-use development is less than a mile south of Amazon’s HQ2, which recently reached a new milestone, and north of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and Potomac Yard Metro station, both of which are currently under construction.
“We are excited to commence construction on Hazel & Azure at National Landing, a development that will meet the rising demand for high-quality rental apartments in one of DC Metro’s most sought-after neighborhoods,” said Andrew Cretal, Senior Vice President for ZOM Living’s Mid-Atlantic Region, in a statement.
“With the area’s rapidly expanding employment base and vast retail offerings, the delivery of ZOM’s luxury apartment community will further bolster the premier live-work-play district of National Landing,” he added.
Now, with the exception of Potomac Yard Landbay C West, Arlington’s side of Potomac Yard is mostly built up. In the last three years, two apartment complexes came online: The Sur (3400 Potomac Avenue) on Landbay D East and The Clark (3400 S. Clark Street) on Landbay D West.
Another long-delayed redevelopment project, currently a parking lot, sits a few blocks north of the project at 2661 S. Clark Street. Arlington County is giving property owner Gould Property Co. until Dec. 31, 2025 to get started on an apartment project — otherwise, the county proposes turning the lot into an interim plaza.
Changes Coming to ‘Crossing Clarendon’ — “Our central greenspace, The Loop, will be expanding to offer more spaces to walk, shop, relax and explore The Crossing Clarendon. This renovation includes natural planting and landscaping, a modern play structure for the kids, upgrades to the water feature, increased pedestrian zones, and updated seating for our visitors. Construction is slated until late 2022.” [Instagram]
HQ2 Is Attracting Companies, Investors — “The National Landing area, which encompasses Crystal City, Pentagon City and part of Potomac Yard in Arlington, has an $8B development pipeline, $2.5B of which is from Amazon, National Landing BID President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said… Neighborhood leaders, developers and brokers said that HQ2 is drawing new global investors and commercial tenants to seek opportunities in the area.” [Bisnow]
PSA: Close Your Garage Door — “2600 block of S. Joyce Street. At approximately 6:17 p.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the late report of a breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., the two unknown suspects entered into the victim’s open garage and stole numerous power tools.” [ACPD]
Expect ‘Manageable’ Local Growth — “Northern Virginia localities should expect moderate levels of jobs growth in the coming two decades, with the metropolitan area as a whole adding perhaps 880,000 new ones by 2045. ‘We are a 1-percent-a-year, on average, growing region. This is not too fast, this is not amazingly high. This is actually a very manageable pace,’ said Arlington County Board member Takis Karantonis, parsing new data at the board’s March 22 meeting.” [Sun Gazette]
‘Women of Vision’ Winners — “On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will honor four women for their commitment and leadership in the Arlington community with 2022 Arlington County Women of Vision awards… BUSINESS: Karen Bate and Evelyn Powers… NONPROFIT: Natalie Foote… GOVERNMENT: Tara Magee.” [Arlington County]
County Scaling Down Vax Site — “With the demand for COVID vaccines at least momentarily on the decline across Arlington, local leaders have announced plans to reopen one community center for other uses, and are working on opening up more spaces in another. County Manager Mark Schwartz on March 22 announced that, as of April 5, the Walter Reed Community Center will open for pickleball, volleyball, basketball and table games like bridge and mah jongg.” [Sun Gazette]
Governor Signs Car Tax Bill — “Governor Glenn Youngkin signed into law HB1239 sponsored by Delegate Phillip A. Scott, empowering localities to cut car tax rates and prevent huge tax hikes driven by driven by dramatic increases in used vehicle values… If local government leadership does not address the increased value of used vehicles, then taxpayers are facing significant tax increases, as the Commonwealth of Virginia constitutionally mandates 100% fair market value in property tax assessments.” [Governor of Virginia]
It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 46 and low of 24. Sunrise at 6:58 am and sunset at 7:30 pm. [Weather.gov]