84°Scattered Clouds

by Adrian Cruz — August 9, 2016 at 1:25 pm 0

Diana Sun (photo via Arlington County)Diana Sun is set to retire from her post as Arlington County’s chief spokeswoman this summer after 13 years on the job.

Sun, who joined the county as director of communications and assistant county manager in 2003, is slated to step down in the next couple of weeks. Her last day will be Friday, Sept. 2.

County Manager Mark Schwartz, who announced Sun’s retirement at a County Board meeting last month, said her communications department had “excellent relationships” with journalists and was available at all times to help with media relations.

“She’s held our communications efforts to the highest ethical standards and she has enhanced our reputation as a national leader,” he said.

Prior to working for the county, Sun served as the vice president of corporate communications at Capital One. The experience she brought with her had an immediate effect on the county government, her co-workers said.

“She joined us when we had at best a rudimentary public information office structure and she was bought in to professionalize and modernize the effort and she succeeded brilliantly at the task,” said Schwartz. “She built what I think is one of the best communications teams of any jurisdiction in the commonwealth and perhaps the United States. We are regarded as leaders and innovators in so many areas.”

During her time in the county government, Sun helped oversee the building and rebuilding of the county’s website, led the county’s expansion into social media, redesigned its Citizen newspaper and tracked down the history of the county seal, eventually getting it trademarked.

“The length of time you’ve been here, there’s been an enormous evolution of the communications function here in the county and a professionalization of that,” County Board member Jay Fisette said.

Photo via Arlington County

by Lindsay Smith — August 3, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Several of the original firefighters of Arlington’s Fire Station 8 were glad to see that the Arlington County Board abandoned a plan to relocate the station, instead voting in favor of rebuilding it on its current site.

Fire Station 8 was the only station in segregated Arlington with black firefighters during the 1950s and 60s. Those firefighters had to work hard just to keep the station running — due to a lack of county funding, they would hold cookouts to raise funds for equipment.

“The community got together, and they sold dinners, fish dinners, chili dinners, chicken dinners, and… they made enough money to buy all the materials and things for a barracks,” recalled Marguarite Gooden, a local resident.

After working on a volunteer basis for years, Captain Hartman Reed and Firefighter Carl Cooper were two of the first three firefighters at Station 8 to receive pay for their work, starting in the early 1950s. (White Arlington firefighters started receiving salaries about a decade earlier.)

Reed and Cooper still live in Arlington, right behind the fire station. They spoke to ARLnow.com about their thoughts on the station’s relocation.

“I just thought, well, it was very wrong about trying to move it out,” Cooper said. “If anything, they should enlarge it and let it remain here.”

In 2014, the fire chief recommended — based on a 2012 consultant’s report — that Fire Station 8 be moved north of its current location to reduce response times for the northern communities. A county-owned parcel of land near Marymount University seemed like a prime candidate.

Captain Reed found that recommendation a little odd, especially given that there was more population density — and thus, more calls — along Lee Highway.

“I recall when I was in Station 8, how few calls we ran up into that [northern] area, and the difference in the calls we ran,” Reed said. “I don’t think the fire department could prove, even though it was a longer run, that they were needed more in that northern area, then they were in the Lee Highway corridor.”

Reed theorized that one of the underlying reasons for the move may have been a desire to place low income housing on the current fire station site. Cooper said he thought “maybe they wanted to get it away from this community” due to some sort of prejudice.

The recommendation to move the station was met with much resistance from both the historically black community surrounding the station’s current site and the community surrounding the stations’s proposed new location.

Kitty Clark Stevenson, the daughter of Alfred Clark — another one of the first paid firefighters at Station 8 — explained that the community felt they were included in the process only after a top-level decision had already seemingly been made.

“We were not respected as a community by the leadership in this county government, which for us was a violation of the Arlington Way,” she said.

Gooden, who is Captain Reed’s daughter, also found that upsetting.

“The thing that outraged me was… we weren’t engaged in the conversation at all,” she said.

After numerous county meetings and the creation of a task force, the county finally decided against relocating the station. Instead, the existing station will be knocked down and a new, larger Fire Station 8 will be built on its current site, which many in the community describe as historic.

“I was excited to hear that it would… remain where it is,” Cooper said. “Very much elated,” Reed agreed.

Gooden was also pleased that the building was being redone.

“I’m excited about them getting the best, the best technology, the best facility,” she said. “And they will better be able to serve the dynamic, very densely populated Arlington.”

by ARLnow.com — August 2, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

Audrey ClementAudrey Clement says those who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary should come over to her side in the Arlington County Board election.

Clement, a perennial candidate who is running as an independent this year, after formerly running under the Green Party banner, says that she shares the “disappointment that Senator Sanders did not succeed,” a still touchy subject among some Democratic voters.

“I happen to share a lot of Bernie’s values,” Clement says in a press release, below. “I will place meeting the needs of all Arlington residents first and the wants of wealthy special interests last on my agenda when elected to County Board.”

Clement later says that her opponent, incumbent County Board Chair Libby Garvey, has gone back to “rubber stamping the Arlington Democratic Party’s agenda” after splitting from party leaders over the Columbia Pike streetcar.

The full press release:

I’m Dr. Audrey Clement, Independent candidate for Arlington County Board.

I applaud the efforts of all those Arlington voters who worked hard to make Bernie Sanders the Democratic Nominee for President, and I share your disappointment that Senator Sanders did not succeed.

I happen to share a lot of Bernie’s values, among them a sincere interest in good government. As an Independent, I will place meeting the needs of all Arlington residents first and the wants of wealthy special interests last on my agenda when elected to County Board.

So I’m asking you to join my campaign in order to make progressive changes locally that you tried to make nationally.

I live in affordable housing that’s in danger of being bulldozed for million dollar townhomes, displacing seniors, students, the disabled, and the working poor. I want affordable housing preserved and new affordable housing built that’s actually affordable for everyone in Arlington.

I’ve ridden a bicycle everywhere for decades. But bicycles shouldn’t be Arlington’s only transportation alternative to more parking for thousands more single-occupant vehicles.

And it’s time for on-site renewable energy installed throughout our County.

It’s time for electric vehicles throughout our County, charged by renewable energy sources.

It’s time to put a moratorium on Smart Growth — which is just a euphemism for gentrification — until there’s a comprehensive evaluation of where Smart Growth is taking our County.

Who wants to live in a County that is unaffordable to anyone who earns less than 100% of area median income, or $110,000 per year?

Not me.

My opponent says she’s “progressive”.  She initially voted against the Pike Streetcar and the most extravagant excesses of the Democratic Old Guard.

But, having been challenged in a primary election by an Old Guard Democrat, she’s gone back to rubber stamping the Arlington Democratic Party’s agenda.

With your help we can have better, more diverse, County Government at less cost.

Please visit my website — www.AudreyClement.com — to volunteer, donate and/or comment on issues of concern to you.

by Adrian Cruz — July 27, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Arlington’s recently-appointed poet laureate read a new original poem at one of last week’s Arlington County Board meetings.

At the Tuesday, July 19 meeting, poet Katherine E. Young read a poem entitled “Evening Storm: Ballston,” which depicts the aftermath of a thunderstorm that felled a tree in the area.

“This poem describes an actual storm that took place near Lubber Run Park but it could very easily serve as a metaphor for where we as a community and we as a country find ourselves now,” said Young, who’s the first poet laureate in the county’s history.

The poem is transcribed below.

All last night, the sirens shrieked.
Fire trucks skittered like water bugs, their plastic eyelids conning streets gorged and rivered by the storm.
Daylight reveals buds, limbs, entire trees shattered where they stand.
Already, chain saws roll their metallic rrrrrs.
In my neighbor’s yard, a fresh cut stump.
The raw wood, cool, wet, smooth to the touch.
Twenty-six rings, 26 years of xylem and phloem ferrying food and water for the care and feeding of this one tree.
It might have stood for years to come, shading this house, shading the houses that follow this one.
All of the houses and the tree itself pretending that the shading of houses is the purpose set out for the tree.
Surely there’s some purpose for everything.
Surely what we do here has meaning.
Why else would we have crept last night from our hiding places to flit along streets littered by downed trees and power lines.
Strange nocturnal insects marking the darkened blocks with the scent of our headlights.

by ARLnow.com — July 22, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Slowly but steadily, the former DoD Inspector General’s Office in Pentagon City is being demolished floor-by-floor.

Also known at the “Paperclip building,” the structure is being torn down to make way for a new 20-story condo tower known at “The Altaire.”

“Bordering Crystal City and Pentagon City, The Altaire, referencing the double star in the constellation Aquila, will offer 450 condominium homes to the growing region,” says an older website for the forthcoming development. “With expected unobstructed views of The District, The Altarie will be one community to not miss.”

The website pegs the price range of Altaire condos at $300,000 to $2.5 million. It’s unclear if those prices have since been updated.

A groundbreaking for the project is expected to be held later this year.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a permit for use of the county-owned “teardrop parcel,” adjacent to the property, for temporary construction storage, staging and parking.

by ARLnow.com — July 21, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

The real estate investment trust that owns the Wellington Apartments on Columbia Pike has received the go-ahead to build three new apartment buildings on its parking lot.

The Arlington County Board voted unanimously last night to approve a use permit for the new apartments, to be located on a section of the property that borders Army Navy Country Club and a block of homes in the Arlington View neighborhood.

Each of the three buildings will be six stories high, with a total of 401 new market-rate apartments. The property owner also agreed to convert 105 of the existing apartments in the Wellington to committed affordable units, at no cost to the county.

Other features of the planned development include:

  • A nine-level garage (six levels will be above ground) with hundreds of new parking spaces and bike spaces
  • Streetscape improvements and new street connections (S. Rhodes Street and 12th Street S.)
  • A new public “mini park” on the new 12th Street
  • LEED Silver energy efficiency

“Our efforts to revitalize the Pike through innovative approaches to land use and zoning, while striving to preserve its stock of affordable housing, continue to show results,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement.

The county press release on the approval, after the jump.

(more…)

by Tim Regan — July 20, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

July 19 County Board meeting screenshotThe County Board has given the go-ahead to a plan from the U.S. Department of Defense to install equipment around Arlington that could detect explosions and provide forensic data to investigators after an attack.

The board’s members voted unanimously last night to approve a license agreement between the County Board and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to install the equipment on county property.

According to a county staff report, the nature and location of the equipment will be kept secret and exempt from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, a fact that worried ACLU of Virginia’s executive director, Claire Guthrie Gastañaga. Speaking before the board, Gastañaga argued that it was “important that the capabilities of the equipment be public.”

“We don’t think think that… those capabilities of this kind of equipment are any real secret,” she said. Additionally, Gastañaga urged the board to ask the Defense Department to agree not to install listening devices or other active monitoring equipment.

County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac replied that the board has some of the same concerns as the ACLU, and added that its members have had an opportunity to examine the plans to assure “that the nature of the equipment is not the kind of thing that can record audio or visual activities.”

“It is dormant equipment that is only activated when an event occurs and it does not record audio or video,” MacIsaac said. “You can have a high level of confidence that the equipment they’re putting out there is not capable of doing the sorts of things that there is concern about.”

Board member John Vihstadt agreed with McIsaac and said that “the county has a high degree of control over exactly what DTRA is doing and what they’re putting out on county property.”

“I think a big distinction here is that we’re not turning over any part of our county’s infrastructure or geography or territory to DTRA, we’re simply entering into a licensing agreement to deploy the kind of sensors that they have described,” added board member Christian Dorsey. “That gives me great comfort that many of the civil liberties issues that Ms. Gastanaga have brought up are not going to be ongoing issues here.”

Furthermore, board chair Libby Garvey said the county could choose to cancel the agreement if it ever became concerned with the new equipment.

Screenshot via County Board video

by Adrian Cruz — July 20, 2016 at 1:20 pm 0

Fire Station 8 (Courtesy of Arlington County Fire Department)The Arlington County Board voted yesterday to approve a plan that would rebuild Fire Station 8 at its current Lee Highway location.

The 4-1 decision was made as part of the Board’s deliberation on the adoption of the county’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which includes the replacement of Fire Station 8.

The vote, based on a recommendation from the board’s Fire Station No. 8 Task Force, marks the likely end to a long and contentious saga over the station’s future.

The sole dissenter in yesterday’s vote was County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who argued that building the station on 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive near Marymount University would serve more residents by reducing the amount of time it would take for the fire department to respond to calls north of Lee Highway.

County Board meeting on July 19, 2016Garvey’s argument mirrored what supporters of the relocation have said in the plan’s defense.

“Far and away the most important criteria about where we site the fire station is getting as many people as possible that can be reached as quickly as possible in an emergency,” Garvey said. “If we move it further north, we can get more people we can reach in time in an emergency. It really may mean life and death.”

Other board members, such as Christian Dorsey argued that the current location, along busy Lee Highway, better serves the needs of the majority of calls to the fire department than a lower density location like 26th Street.

“It’s pretty clear that we should keep the fire station at its current location in order to meet people where they actually are, recognizing that the greatest number of calls required of our fire and EMS crews is to help people with EMS distress,” Dorsey explained. “It’s a crapshoot. There’s no way we can guarantee what’s going to happen in the future but if I’m going to have to make an allocation based on our best judgment and best data, it’s got to be where people are… versus static residences that are only used for a certain portion of the day.”

Board member John Vihstadt pointed to future development in the area as reasons to keep the fire station at its current location.

“We just approved a large new Ballston corridor development, which is serviced by the station closest to it, Fire Station 2 at George Mason and Wilson Blvd,” he said. “Fire stations south of Fire Station 8 are going to be increasingly called upon to deal with the increased density that is looming in our future.”

Vihstadt also said the location of Virginia Hospital Center played into his decision. “Why would we degrade service for so many to marginally improve service for a much fewer number?” he concluded.

Further planning on the new station will begin next year. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019, according to a press release from Arlington County. While the construction is underway, the fire department will operate from an interim station for two years at a location that has not yet been determined, officials said.

The Board directed the County Manager to determine possible locations and expected costs for the temporary fire station by the end of 2016. The added costs of keeping the station on Lee Highway are expected to total several million dollars.

The new fire station will be ready for operations in spring 2021, according to county officials.

by ARLnow.com — July 20, 2016 at 10:50 am 0

Outside of one of Arlington's polling locations

As part of its latest Capital Improvement Plan, the Arlington County Board last night approved a new slate of bond referenda that will appear on the ballot this fall.

The county has proposed four bonds for voters to consider. In total the bonds add up to some $315.8 million.

  • Metro and Transportation — $58,785,000
  • Local Parks and Recreation — $19,310,000
  • Community Infrastructure — $98,850,000
  • Arlington Public Schools — $138,830,000

In a board report, county staff detailed the planned use of funds for each bond.

Metro and Transportation:

This proposal will fund a variety of transportation, road, pedestrian enhancement and transit projects across the County. The largest components of this proposal are $30 million for Arlington County’s share of WMATA / Metro’s capital improvement program, and $24 million to fund a portion of the costs for paving local streets and roadways. Proceeds of this proposal will also fund bridge renovation, street lights, transportation systems & traffic signals, as well as the WALKArlington, BikeArlington, Safe Routes to Schools, and Curb & Gutter Missing Links programs. The County Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.

Local Parks and Recreation:

This proposal will fund various parks improvements and enhancements, as well as $3 million for the Land Acquisition and Open Space Program for strategic park acquisitions. This proposal would also fund the Trail Modernization program, design and planning at Jennie Dean Park and construction at Tyrol Hills Park, and maintenance capital improvements such as playground, courts and other parks infrastructure improvements. The County Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.

Community Infrastructure:

This proposal will fund a variety of County infrastructure projects. The largest component of this proposal is $46.46 million for the Lubber Run Community Center project. Also included is $12 million of funding for Neighborhood Conservation projects, as well as funding for the Nauck Town Square, planning & design of the Fire Station 8 replacement, renovations & improvements to government facilities in the Court House Complex, renovation of the Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center for additional gymnastics, and a County childcare facility. The Neighborhood Conservation Program provides funding for a variety of neighborhood-identified capital improvement projects including street improvements (sidewalk, curb and gutter, drainage, paving), traffic management and pedestrian enhancements, park improvements, street lighting, recreational facilities, landscaping, and beautification.

It also includes funding of a joint County & Schools parking deck and other improvements at the Thomas Jefferson middle school site due to the construction of a new elementary school, critical systems infrastructure upgrades to 24×7 hour facilities; and facilities maintenance capital improvements, including design and construction of projects including but not limited to roofs, electrical and heating / cooling systems and other facilities infrastructure. The County Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.

Arlington Public Schools:

This proposal will make funds available for the Arlington Public Schools’ capital improvement program. The proposed bonds will fund the following projects:

  • The new middle school at the Stratford site ($26,030,000)
  • The new school at the Wilson site ($78,400,000)
  • Addition and renovation at the Career Center/Arlington Tech ($12,000,000)
  • Planning for secondary seats at location(s) to be determined ($10,000,000), and
  • Infrastructure capital projects such as HVAC, roofing, etc. ($12,400,000)

The School Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.

The Board also approved its $3.3 billion 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan Tuesday night. A county press release on the plan, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — July 20, 2016 at 8:40 am 0

Post-rainstorm summertime sunrise while driving (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Arts Truck, Grants Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved $215,810 in grants to local arts organizations and nearly $70,000 for the purchase and deployment of a new mobile art studio. [Arlington County]

Snow Plowing Policy Change — Starting this winter, Arlington County will plow residential streets at the outset of snowstorms, reversing its previous policy of only focusing on major arterial routes before moving on to residential streets after the snow stops and major roads are clear. [InsideNova]

Ballston Mall Redevelopment Authority Approved — Arlington County is creating its first Community Development Authority. The CDA will be focused on making infrastructure improvements around the future Ballston Quarter mall — the new identity of Ballston Common Mall, which is being renovated. As part of a public-private partnership, the county plans to spend around $55 million to improve local roads, public plazas and the public Ballston parking garage. [Arlington County]

Chamber Supports Aquatics Center Plan — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has penned a letter in support of building a scaled-down version of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. “One of Arlington’s main assets is the employee talent pool we have residing in our county,” wrote the Chamber’s president. “The proposed facility will help attract and retain this talent, as well as the businesses looking to employ them.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com — July 19, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Books (file photo)A new “pop-up” library is coming to Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with the Crystal City Shops that will allow the county to open the temporary library in a vacant retail space rent-free for at least nine months.

The county will pay nearly $1,900 per month for maintenance and utilities and incur one-time costs of $60,000 for a connection to the county’s fiber optic network and about $113,000 to renovate the space. The funds have already been allocated in the county’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

With the “pop-up” library open, those who live and work in Crystal City will be able to walk to a library without having to cross busy Route 1. The nearest library is the Aurora Hills branch near the Pentagon City mall.

“We chose Crystal City as the first neighborhood to experiment with a pop-up library both because we have found that Route 1, which runs through Crystal City, poses a physical barrier to access for many people to the nearest community library, and because people in the neighborhood expressed interest in the approach,” Library Director Diane Kresh said in a press release (below).

Taking an innovative approach to meeting patrons where they live and work, Arlington Public Library plans to open a temporary “pop-up” library this September in Crystal City.

Library Director Diane Kresh sees the pop-up facility as a low-cost way to push library services into more neighborhoods and introduce people of all ages to the wide scope of what the County’s public library system has to offer. In addition, the Crystal City pop-up branch is expected to help enliven the Crystal City Shops.

“We chose Crystal City as the first neighborhood to experiment with a pop-up library both because we have found that Route 1, which runs through Crystal City, poses a physical barrier to access for many people to the nearest community library, and because people in the neighborhood  expressed interest in the approach,” Kresh said.

Dubbed “The Connection: Crystal City,” the pop-up will be a compelling location for checking out books, accessing the internet, holding community meetings and attending workshops.

The County Board approved a lease this month with CESC Plaza Limited Partnership for 1,222 sq. ft. of space inside the building located at 2100 Crystal Drive, within Crystal City Shops at 2100, 2117 Crystal Plaza Arcade.

The pop-up library staff will hold community discussions this summer to learn more about what types of services people would like offered within the constraints of space, time and budget, Kresh said.

The County’s nine-month lease may be renewed on a month-to-month basis. One-time funding for the pop-up library was approved in the adopted Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

Although the space is being offered to the County rent-free, the County will pay a monthly fee for its share of common area maintenance expenses, real estate taxes and electricity associated with the shopping center. That share is estimated to be $1,603 a month for maintenance, $176 for real estate taxes and $100 for electricity. The County expects to spend about $113,000 to renovate the space. Kresh notes that many of the features the County will install – carpeting, shelving and furniture – will be reused elsewhere by the County after the lease is terminated. The County also will spend $60,000 to install fiber and conduit to connect the pop-up library to the County fiber optic network, ConnectArlington.

by ARLnow.com — July 18, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

16G Metrobus (photo courtesy WMATA)The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a new 10-year transit plan that provides a vision for “more frequent bus service, more late night and weekend service, better north-south connections, and a new Premium Transit Network along Columbia Pike.”

There’s an asterisk to the Transit Development Plan’s unanimous approval and the subsequent cheery press release, however. Responding to criticism from residents and the county’s own Transportation Commission, the Board directed County Manager Mark Schwartz to report back next year on possible improvements to the post-streetcar transit plan for Columbia Pike.

The Board’s guidance to Schwartz and county staff:

This generally ambitious and robust Transit Development Plan nevertheless falls short of the urgency and innovation needed to create a transformative transit network serving Columbia Pike and to realize its potential as a thriving and dynamic residential and commercial corridor.

Therefore, in adopting the FY 2017 -FY 2026 Transit Development Plan, the County Board also gives the following guidance to the County Manager and staff:

Look and Customization of Vehicles. The current TDP phases in the most modern version of current vehicles, WMATA buses and ART buses, with no unique features beyond re-skinning the buses on WMATA routes. Recognizing the significant logistical, cost and inter-jurisdictional challenges, please provide to the Board for consideration and analysis, during Q2 2017, the details of a possible path to customized and unique vehicles.

Articulated Buses. In consultation with WMATA, provide a plan by Q2 2017 to add articulated buses to the highest-demand routes on Columbia Pike (on either a pilot or permanent basis). Continue to assess effectiveness of articulated bus service and determine sustained levels of service for these routes through FY2026.

Headways. The current TDP identifies 6-minute peak headways and 12-15 minute off-peak headways for the Metrobus Connector “trunk line.” Please provide to the Board, by Q2 2017, a cost/benefit analysis (to consider efficiency, capacity, ridership impacts) of reducing the off-peak headways and ultimately achieving a 6-minute headway for 18 hours/day.

Coordination with Other Agencies. To effectuate this guidance, the County Manager and staff will coordinate as appropriate and necessary with WMATA and other federal, state, regional and local government agencies and transportation bodies.

Most of the public comments at Saturday’s Board meeting were complimentary of the overall plan, save the plan for the so-called Premium Transit Network. That plan seemed in many ways diminished from the “TSM-2” enhanced bus plan the county and supporters originally said was inferior to its since-cancelled streetcar plan for Columbia Pike.

Among the public speakers at the Board meeting was John Snyder, member of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and a former streetcar booster. Snyder said the plan for Pike transit presented by county staff was inadequate to support growth along the corridor.

We had a debate for several years [about] TSM-2… and the streetcar. TSM-2 won the debate. Now, when I look at the plan, what is written in the plan has disappeared. The whole idea of premium new vehicles that have higher capacity: it’s gone. This wasn’t announced and it wasn’t part of a public process. We found out about it by looking at the Capital Improvement Plan. There’s no money to buy new buses. There’s still money in the plan for the transit stations if they’re maintained at the current level but the buses have disappeared. There’s great things in the Transit Development Plan, what’s in there is great and the consensus is that the county board supports all of it. But the concern is what’s not in there. We don’t see anything that’s going to help businesses with more frequent service on the off-hours. People go out to dinner not during the commuting hour, they go out to dinner after that time and they come back after that time. The idea of six-minute intervals all the time makes it reliable, frequent, easy and simple to use. We have the simplicity, the new 16M line is great in the way that it simplifies many of these different routes but it needs to have that frequency to help our businesses and connect our residents to that so we get out of the car mentality. Seventy percent of the people on the Pike do not use transit even to get to work. The percentage on other sorts of trips is even higher. We need to change that. That’s the whole idea behind the Pike plan and it has been supported by the Board for the last 15 years.

There is no plan to increase capacity. We understand that you’re going to be coordinating with WMATA on how we can get articulated buses. I heard the same thing in 2003 at the first meeting I attended regarding transit on the Pike. WMATA has a lot on its plate. What we need in that regard is a statement that says Arlington will. Arlington will go do this, we will go get the additional buses, we will get the additional facilities needed to maintain them and we’re going to do that by a particular date.

Some were more charitable about the plan as currently conceived.

“These critics failed to appreciate that no amount of service upgrades will defeat car culture,” said perennial County Board candidate Audrey Clement, who’s running as an independent this year. “If state of the art transit technology were the solution, the Silver Line would not be running half-empty in the I-66 median with cars parked on the interstate on either side every day.”

Dennis Leach, Arlington’s Deputy Director of Transportation, said the enhanced transit stations and other amenities included in the Premium Transit Network plan will, in fact, move the needle in terms of making transit a more attractive option along the Pike.

“The premium amenities are proving those high-quality stations with near-level boarding, longer platforms and real-time information,” he said. “These stations are the front door of transit in the corridor. It is shifting this entire corridor to off-vehicle fare collection. We’ve already started work on transit signal priority and we are committed to actually implementing it in the full corridor.”

“We are actively coordinating with Metro to replace the current buses with modern low floor vehicles,” Leach added. “The intent is to implement a unified brand for this premium transit network.”

“I would say this was the most intensive and comprehensive transit update that the county has ever done,” Leach said of the overall transit plan. “I was here for 2011, this effort well exceeded that. We looked at every route and every part of this community to bring these recommendations before you.”

The full press release from Arlington County, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — July 18, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Sunset over Four Mile Run in Shirlington

County Looking at Fire Station Alternatives — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with Arlington Public Schools that would allow it to build a temporary fire station on the grounds of the new H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn. However, in response to parent concerns the Board directed county staff to look into potential alternative locations. [InsideNova, Arlington County]

Couple: Snow Melter Fumes Contaminated Our House — A couple who lives near Bluemont Park says diesel fumes from a snow melter that the county was using about 40 yards from their home this past winter has contaminated the home. The county paid for the couple to live in a hotel while the snow melter was running, in the wake of January’s blizzard. Now the couple wants the county to pay for a thorough cleaning of the home. [Washington Post]

Henry Gate to Reopen — The Henry Gate along Route 50 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will reopen to military bicyclists and pedestrians on Aug. 1. Among other expected benefits, the gate is expected to serve military users of Uber and Lyft; the ride hailing services are not available on the base. [Mobility Lab]

Police Escort Ducklings Across Road — An ACPD officers and a couple of “alert citizens” helped a mother duck and her ducklings cross N. Stafford Street on Friday. [Twitter]

More on Clarendon Drug Bust — One of the regular meetups for the alleged Clarendon drug ring was Whitlow’s on Wilson, where two of the suspects worked. “It was shocking, disappointing and frustrating to hear that any of this activity took place around our business and the neighborhood,” said Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams, noting that most other Clarendon bars were also named as areas of drug activity. [NBC Washington]

Two Park Renovations Approved — The County Board unanimously approved $1.65 million in upgrades to Bluemont Park and High View Park over the weekend. [Arlington County]

Board Approves Changes to Ballston Building — Originally proposed as an office building, the last building in the Founder’s Square project in Ballston will instead be built as a mixed use building, with a mix of retail, office and apartments. [Arlington County]

by Adrian Cruz — July 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) The Arlington County Board is set to consider a contract for another round of improvements to High View Park’s neighborhood basketball courts and other recreational areas.

The County Board on Saturday is scheduled to vote on a $1.03 million contract for D.C.-based Bennett Group to make several improvements to the park.

The changes this time are expected to include a new North Dinwiddie Street entrance, picnic shelter, permeable paving and lighting, as well as new trees, irrigated fields, restrooms, storage facilities, bleachers and steps to the basketball courts.

In 2014, the John M. Langston Citizens Association and neighbors of the park collaborated to create a design concept for the second stage of the improvements based on the feedback from online surveys.

The first stage of improvements — which included a new play equipment, picnic areas and a path to the park’s amphitheater — were completed in May 2013.

by ARLnow.com — July 13, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Original Columbia Pike streetcar rendering. The streetcar plan has since been scrapped.(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) A group of Columbia Pike civic association leaders are speaking out against what they say is an inadequate plan to enhance bus service along the busy corridor.

The Pike Presidents’ Group sent is sending a letter to Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey yesterday, saying that the county is not delivering on its promise to communities along the Pike to “provide services that are equivalent of the abandoned streetcar plan.”

The letter was drafted in advance of a presentation by county staff on Arlington’s 10-year Transit Development Plan and its plan for a “Premium Transit Network” along the Pike and through Pentagon City and Crystal City.

The county’s plan “does not even come close,” to providing transit service similar to the original streetcar plan, wrote the chair of the group, Adam Henderson.

“We ask that you uphold to your prior statements and instruct staff to honor the commitment to Pike… to achieve the Pike transit system we have all worked diligently to achieve,” said Henderson.

The full letter, which we’re now told was a draft and not the final version, is after the jump.

File photo (above) shows rendering of the since-canceled Columbia Pike streetcar.

(more…)

×

Subscribe to our mailing list