Arlington County’s only Jerry’s Subs & Pizza is closed temporarily for what a sign on the door describes as “remodeling.”
A sign on the door of the eatery at 2041 15th Street N. in Courthouse does not say when it will reopen, and calls to the restaurant’s phone number were not returned.
On Tuesday afternoon when a reporter stopped by, a workman was on a step ladder doing what looked like painting of some light fixtures.
Jerry’s serves pizza, hot and cold subs and a variety of cheesesteaks. It is across the street from Arlington County jail, next door to a bond office and is a block away from an entrance to the Courthouse Metro station.
Its sightings last month left many baffled, and now, car company Ford has explained why and how it sent a “driverless” car through the streets of Courthouse and Clarendon.
In a Medium post today (Wednesday), John Shutko, Ford’s Human Factors Technical Specialist for Self-Driving Vehicles, said the company was working with Virginia Tech to test ways for driverless cars to more effectively show its intentions to pedestrians and other road users.
Ford joined with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to test the technology — an animated light bar in the windshield of the video — and to see how those around reacted when they saw a car with no one in the driver’s seat.
“Anyone who has crossed a busy street likely knows the informal language between pedestrians and drivers,” Shutko wrote. “A driver might wave her hand to indicate to the pedestrian it’s okay to cross, or a pedestrian could throw up his hand like a stop sign to signal he plans to cross first. But what happens in the future, when self-driving vehicles operate without drivers – and in some cases, without anyone even in the vehicle itself?”
After being first reported by ARLnow.com, and famously further investigated by NBC4 reporter Adam Tuss — who was startled to discover a person in a seat costume inside — VT admitted it was behind the driverless car.
Ford said people are put in the cars — and dressed as car seats — for safety reasons, as self-driving technology is still in the early stages of testing and development.
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) September 13, 2017
The vehicle, a Ford Transit Connect van, had a light bar on top of its windshield. The bar pulsed white light back and forth when yielding, blinked rapidly before accelerating after a stop, or stayed solid when driving normally.
“Virtual reality testing with customers shows it takes a couple of exposures to signals like these before people truly understand what they mean,” Chutko wrote. “It takes even longer for signals to become ingrained in people’s brains – second nature, if you will. Through our testing, we believe these signals have the chance to become an accepted visual language that helps address an important societal issue in how self-driving vehicles interact with humans.”
Ford said it has logged more than 150 hours and around 1,800 miles in its tests in dense urban areas. Chutko said the time is right to create an industry standard for autonomous vehicle communications and to start to educate the public.
Those behind a Michelin-recognized Ethiopian restaurant that is now expanding into Arlington say they are hoping to open this winter.
At the time, owner Alemayehu Abebe said he was hopeful of opening this summer, but that timeline has been pushed back. Abebe told ARLnow in a brief interview last Wednesday that construction will start sometime around today (Monday). He did not say what has caused the delays.
The restaurant has applied for a license with Virginia ABC, and is hoping to have more than 100 seats inside as well as more outside on a patio. Chercher offers traditional Ethiopian food and drink on its menu. The restaurant at 1334 9th Street NW was included in Michelin’s D.C. dining guide and earned a “bib gourmand” for high-quality food at a low price.
The eatery previously filed for county permits to convert what was intended as an office space to a restaurant use. As of Tuesday, the space had been completely gutted, ready for work to begin.
The space on the ground floor of a large office building is close to the county courthouse complex and police headquarters, and across the street from the Tellus apartment building. Signs in the window indicate another ground-floor unit in the same building as the planned restaurant is available for rent by a retail tenant.
Buuz Thai Eatery opened a few months ago on the ground floor of the 1919 Clarendon Blvd apartment building, but with an address of 1926 Wilson Blvd. It is located between the Virginia ABC store and a realty office, across the street from the Colonial Village condos.
Buuz’s predecessor, Lucky Pot, opened in 2014. The interior looks largely unchanged, even after the business changed hands. One reader emailed to say he has visited Buuz twice already, “and it’s been packed and [the] food is good.”
Co-owner Zola Enkh is Mongolian, and said she wanted to combine her native country’s food with that of Thailand. The menu is filled with traditional Thai and Mongolian dishes, like stir fry, curry, pad Thai rice and vegetable dishes.
“I’m sure there’s many Thai restaurants, but there’s not many Mongolian restaurants here,” she said.
And while the restaurant seats only around 20 people in addition to its carry-out and delivery service, Enkh said she hopes those wanting Thai and Mongolian food in Courthouse will find it welcoming.
“Even those it’s small, it can be enjoyed,” Enkh said.
Photos 5-8 via Buuz Thai Eatery.
Update at 1:35 p.m. — The gas has been turned off and firefighters are leaving the scene. Any remaining road closures are expected to be lifted soon.
Earlier: A pair of busy roads are closed due to a major gas leak in a building in Courthouse.
Wilson Blvd is blocked approaching Courthouse Road and Courthouse is blocked approaching Wilson. The gas leak is reported in the building housing a number of restaurants, including the Afghan Kabob House, on the 2000 block of Wilson Blvd.
Firefighters are reporting elevated gas readings in the building’s basement, according to scanner traffic, and an “extended” ventilation operation is underway.
The gas leak was first reported around 11:30 a.m. Wilson Blvd is expected to remain closed until at least 12:45 p.m. Pedestrian traffic is also restricted near the scene.
— Irelands Four Courts (@irelands4courts) August 22, 2017
Photo from the scene at the intersection of Wilson and Courthouse. pic.twitter.com/iQB1IulQcU
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) August 22, 2017
— Irelands Four Courts (@irelands4courts) August 22, 2017
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) August 22, 2017
The first incident happened around 11:15 p.m. on the 1900 block of Wilson Blvd, when a man exposed himself to a woman in a car. The second happened several blocks away, at 11:40 p.m., when a man exposed himself to a woman while she was walking into a residence.
The suspect description is similar for both incidents. More from an ACPD crime report:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-08180307, 1900 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 11:15 p.m. on August 18, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival it was determined that a male suspect on foot approached a female victim inside a vehicle and exposed himself. The suspect is described as a black male in his thirties, wearing a dark shirt and dark pants. The investigation is ongoing.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-08180311, 1500 block of N. Rhodes Street. At approximately 11:40 p.m. on August 18, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival it was determined that a female victim was walking into a residence when a male suspect approached her from behind and exposed himself. The suspect is described as a black male with an athletic build. He was wearing a dark colored sweatshirt with the hood pulled up and had a scarf covering part of his face. The investigation is ongoing.
A pair of recent Yorktown High School graduates were behind Sunday’s rally to condemn the weekend’s events in Charlottesville.
Julian Lopez-Leyva and Justin Wu, both 2016 Yorktown graduates who have just completed their first year of college, decided to put the event together late Saturday night to “actively condemn bigotry and racial hatred through a series of speeches, songs, actions, and a moment of silence.”
Lopez-Leyva is a Political Science major with a minor in Economics at Emmanuel College in Boston, while Wu studies Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech.
They said in interviews Monday that they did not fully expect to see 200 people and a slew of elected officials in attendance in Courthouse, all wanting to come together and heal.
“Initially I expected only 10 people to come out, but it ended up being around 200 people and that blew my mind,” Lopez-Leyva said. “But I think that also spoke to me understanding that it wasn’t only me that was fed up, it was so many other people, and that solidarity was an imperative. We just really have to speak up, and I think speaking up is the right move.”
The pair organized the event through Facebook, and also reached out to local grassroots political group Indivisible Arlington for help getting the word out. Attendance snowballed from that initial Facebook event post. (ARLnow.com also tweeted about it.)
“When we first started organizing this, I had reservations thinking it was too quick a turnaround and that we wouldn’t be able to get the word out in time since we started so late at night,” Wu said.
The rally included poetry readings and speeches by activist Gayle Fleming, Dels. Rip Sullivan, Patrick Hope and Mark Keam, as well as Arlington County Board vice chair Katie Cristol.
Wu said he was struck by how many people have connections to Charlottesville, whether through themselves or family and friends attending the University of Virginia in the city or in other ways.
“It was powerful to see that an event in Charlottesville had an effect all the way out here in Northern Virginia, and how everyone is all connected to this,” Wu said.
And while neither had organized an event like this before, they agreed it was heartening to see such turnout, especially among young people.
“I think students are really going to be the leaders of our world in the future, so I’m sad that I’m going to be leaving Arlington but I’m happy that I have the potential to speak up among so many other people who are like-minded, maybe not so like-minded, but regardless are around the same age range as myself and who have the duress to really say something,” Lopez-Leyva said.
The event ended with a period for conversation and asking questions, like the sorts of town halls hosted regularly by politicians and businesses. Lopez-Leyva said that kind of communication and understanding each other will be key to help unite the country again.
“People and conversations are some of the most powerful weapons in the world,” he said. “I think the voice is innumerably more powerful than any sort of physical weapon, any sort of fist, anything we saw in Charlottesville. I think the discussion on any side of the aisle, no matter where you’re coming from, I think that’s an imperative if you really want to bring this country back together.”
Photos by Peter Golkin
Charlottesville Solidarity Rally Held — Arlington County Board vice chair Katie Cristol was among those who spoke at a “Rally of Solidarity for Charlottesville” in Courthouse yesterday. The rally was intended to “actively condemn bigotry and racial hatred through a series of speeches, songs, actions, and a moment of silence.” [Facebook, WJLA]
Alexandria Considering New Names for Route 1 — An Alexandria group charged with considering new names for Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) is soliciting suggestions through an online form and two public hearings. [City of Alexandria]
Flashing Lights on I-66 — If you drove on I-66 this weekend and noticed flashing lights from equipment overhead, don’t worry: you’re not getting a ticket. Instead, VDOT is testing new toll equipment. Non-HOV drivers are expected to begin paying a toll to use I-66 inside the Beltway in December. [VDOT, NBC Washington]
Old Oak Tree Saved — A “mighty” oak tree that pre-dates the Civil War was saved from being removed during the construction of a new home thanks to a petition by neighbors and a developer willing to consider their concerns. The tree, at the corner of N. Nottingham and 27th streets, is 18 feet in circumference and one of Arlington’s 100 designated “champion” trees. [Washington Post]
WeWork Offering Free Space on Mondays — Coworking provider WeWork is offering free workspace at its D.C. and Northern Virginia locations — including its Arlington location in Crystal City — on Mondays as part of a new promotion dubbed “#SummerMondays.” The promotion runs through the end of September. An RSVP is required. [WeWork]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Updated at 5:15 p.m. — The suspect has been identified as 37-year-old Sharon E. Uwandu of no fixed address. She has been charged with two counts of Aggravated Malicious Wounding and is being held in the Arlington County jail without bond. Both of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries but are expected to survive.
ACPD Deputy Chief Daniel Murray says the victims might not have survived if it wasn’t for “immediate medical intervention by witnesses and Arlington County police officers, quick response and treatment by Arlington County Fire Department EMS, and the exceptional skills of the trauma service at George Washington University Hospital.”
Earlier: Arlington County Police are investigating a double stabbing in Courthouse.
The incident happened just before 6 p.m. in the park near the corner of 15th Street N. and Courthouse Road, near the AMC Theater and ACPD headquarters.
Police say two women were stabbed by a female suspect during an altercation. Passersby intervened, starting helping the victims and one was able to stop and detain the suspect until police arrived — less than a minute after the initial 911 call — according to Deputy Chief Daniel Murray.
The victims were transported to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital and are expected to survive. As of 8 p.m. the victims were reported to be in critical but stable condition.
Police are still investigating what led to the violence.
— Darcy Spencer (@darcyspencer) August 12, 2017
I'm told officers gave first aid to the two victims as soon as they arrived on scene pic.twitter.com/JkQ9yEGSqu
— Amy Aubert (@ABC7AmyAubert) August 12, 2017
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) August 12, 2017
— Angela Johnson (@ArlChocGel) August 12, 2017
— John Sonderman (@jdsonder) August 12, 2017
Photo (top) courtesy John Sonderman
Update at 2:40 p.m. on 8/7/17 — Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said in a statement to ARLnow: “ACPD is aware that driverless vehicles are being tested in the Commonwealth. Officers have not had contact with the vehicle observed in Clarendon. If officers observe a traffic violation, they will attempt a traffic stop.”
Update at 1:30 p.m. on 8/7/17 — NBC 4’s Adam Tuss, working on a follow-up story to this article, spotted the van driving around Clarendon on Monday, Aug. 7, and upon further inspection found a driver — disguised as a seat. Police were called after the driver ran a red light but officers were unable to locate the van, according to scanner traffic. Tuss’ report is expected to air Monday night.
— Adam Tuss (@AdamTuss) August 7, 2017
— Adam Tuss (@AdamTuss) August 7, 2017
Earlier: A mysterious, seemingly driverless van was spotted cruising the streets of Arlington’s Courthouse and Clarendon neighborhoods Thursday evening.
The unmarked gray van with Virginia license plates drove up and down Wilson and Clarendon Blvds more than a half dozen times — with no one in the driver’s seat or passenger seat. The rear windows of the Ford Transit Connect van were darkly tinted.
The van appeared to drive cautiously but keep up with traffic. Cameras and a light bar could be seen behind the windshield.
When the car stopped at a red light, the light bar started blinking. When the signal turned green and the car started driving, the blinking stopped.
The lack of a driver went mostly unnoticed as Clarendon residents went around their after-work routines near the Metro station, though occasionally people could be seen pointing at the car or asking someone nearby if they saw a driver.
Spokespeople for Arlington County, the Arlington County Police Department, VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration did not have any immediate knowledge of any autonomous vehicle testing on the streets of Arlington.
VDOT and FHWA recently announced that Virginia Tech would be conducting automated vehicle testing along I-95, I-495, I-66, Route 50 and Route 29. The announcement did not mention testing on primary streets along Metro corridors, however WTOP reported in May that “self-driving cars already on Virginia roads, even if you don’t realize it.”
“In Virginia, it’s a little bit more discreet, so companies could test in real-world environments and you wouldn’t even know, so we have some proprietary studies going that route,” a Virginia Tech researcher was quoted as saying.
Anne Deekens, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, declined to say whether it belongs to the university. “I have no comment at this time,” she said.
A new deli serving a wide range of food and drink is coming to Courthouse and could open as early as this fall.
The Chelsea Market & Deli will be located at 2250 Clarendon Blvd in the plaza near county government headquarters. It will replace the shuttered City Market convenience store, and be opposite Starbucks, Clarendon Nail Spa and GNC near the Courthouse Plaza apartments.
Owner Shawn Kim said Chelsea Market & Deli could be open sometime in October, depending on how permitting and construction goes. Kim said he is adding a full kitchen with a pizza oven, which could make things more complicated, and that he anticipates being open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The new deli will serve traditional deli food like corned beef pastrami, hot sandwiches, pizzas and salads as well as international cuisine like Jamaican food. After living in New York and being a regular at various street-corner delis and markets, Kim said he wanted to bring that back to Arlington.
“It seems like here, everything is so franchised and the food is good sometimes, but you don’t get that home cooking taste anymore,” Kim said. “I’m trying to bring that food back.”
Chelsea Market & Deli has filed an application with Virginia ABC to serve beer and wine, and Kim said it will also serve various breakfast staples like waffles, pancakes, omelets and French toast. Cheeses and other snacks will also be sold.
He added that the new eatery, which will be focused on being a carry-out market rather than a full sit-down restaurant, will try to keep prices low.
“I’ve been working in the food industry for a long time, and the need for sandwiches and pizza for a good price, it’s hard to find these days,” Kim said.
At a time when everyone is glued to their smartphones, spontaneous, in-person interactions seem to be on the decline. But a new public art installation in Courthouse is hoping to buck the trend, encouraging people to talk to strangers and make new friends.
Created by the Spanish art collective, mmmm…, and presented by the county’s public art initiative, “Meeting Bowls” opened Monday (July 17), and will be in town until November 1, when the installation will be transported to its next exhibit, in Miami. The bowls are red, blue and yellow among other colors, and made from medium-density fiberboard.
The installation is part of Courthouse 2.0: Reimagining the Civic, a public art initiative that strives to explore the interaction between civic space and life in Arlington.
“They are on display in a public space and are free and open to the public to engage with as they pass by, take a moment to rest, have lunch, or converse with friends,” Jim Byers, the marketing director at Arlington Cultural Affairs, said in an email.
There are bowls located at 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road, each with seating for eight people. The bowls are five feet tall and eight feet in diameter, and look to spark conversation among their users through their circular seating arrangements. The bowls also mimic swings, since they rock back and forth when occupied.
Byers said the funding for transporting Meeting Bowls to Arlington and Miami came from a grant from the Madrid-based public arts agency Acción Cultural Española. Byers said Arlington Cultural Affairs also paid around $14,000 from its own budget.
Meeting Bowls first appeared in the United States back in 2011, in New York’s Times Square. Instead of shipping the bowls from Spain, new bowls were created in the U.S. with computer-aided manufacturing. Digital files of the more than 75 parts that make up a bowl are emailed to a regional manufacturer and made locally.
Spanish artists Eva Salmerón and Emilio Alarcón will host a discussion about the creations at the bowls on September 23 at 11 a.m.
‘Meeting Bowls’ Coming to Courthouse — A new, temporary public art installation is coming to Courthouse. Workers will be building 5-foot high “meeting bowls,” designed by the Spanish art collective “mmmm….,” and featuring an 8-foot long circular bench inside. The bowls, which are meant to be used by passersby, are expected to be completed by Monday, July 17 and will remain in place until November. [Washingtonian]
Pentagon City Residents Peeved by Shopping Carts — Legions of stray shopping carts are getting on the nerves of Pentagon City residents, NBC 4’s Julie Carey reported during a news broadcast last night. [NBC Washington, Twitter]
Scholarships Awarded to Wakefield Students — “The Wakefield High School Education Foundation recently awarded 27 scholarships totaling $201,000, bringing the total number of scholarships presented over the history of the foundation to 400 and the total dollar amount of scholarships and teacher grants to more than $2.25 million.” [InsideNova]
Local Author Pens New Thriller — Arlington resident Bill Schweigart, author of the Beast of Barcroft, a supernatural thriller set in Arlington, has penned another book of local interest: The Devil’s Colony, which features a fictional Arlington resident as its main character. [Penguin Random House]
Nearby: Montgomery Co. Consider Plane Noise Suit — Montgomery County, Maryland has hired a law firm to explore legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration in response to new flight paths that have produced a dramatic increase in aircraft noise complaints. The flight paths were implemented in 2015 as part of the FAA’s NextGen system and have prompted some complaints in Arlington and D.C. as well. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
A D.C. man is facing charges for being in a group that rode dozens of dirt bikes and ATVs through Arlington in April.
The Arlington County Police Department announced the arrest Tuesday afternoon.
Stephon Williams, 24, has been charged with felony eluding, concealing identity while wearing a mask, reckless driving and operating an ATV on the highway. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility without bond.
Williams was allegedly part of a group of about 75 riders that on April 9 around 7 p.m. drove on Arlington Blvd, then to U.S. Route 1 south into Alexandria. It was one of two such incidents of the riders descending on the county that weekend; another incident was reported last month.
An Arlington County police officer monitored the group in Courthouse on his in-car camera, and detectives were able to put together a description of a suspect. Williams was arrested in D.C. and waived extradition to the Commonwealth.
More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:
The Arlington County Police Department has arrested and charged a suspect for his involvement in an April 9, 2017 incident of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) being operated in Arlington County. Stephon Williams, 24, of Washington D.C. has been charged with felony eluding, concealing identity while wearing a mask, reckless driving, and operating an ATV on the highway. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.
On April 9, 2017 at approximately 7:14 p.m. an officer conducting a traffic stop in the 1200 block of N. Courthouse Road observed a large group of dirt bikes and ATVs traveling westbound on Arlington Boulevard. The officer activated his in-car camera system and monitored the group before they exited Arlington County.
After reviewing evidence from the scene, detectives from Arlington County Police Department’s Auto Theft Unit developed a suspect description. The suspect was arrested in Washington D.C. and waived extradition to the Commonwealth.
Dirt bikes and ATVs pose a danger to pedestrians and other motorists and are illegal to operate on area roadways. If you see or know the identity of someone riding a dirt bike or ATV recklessly in Arlington County, call police at 703-558-2222. In the case of an emergency, call 9-1-1. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The county could gain control of a section of Fairfax Drive under a plan before the Arlington County Board.
The Board will vote Saturday on whether to request that the Virginia Department of Transportation and Commonwealth Transportation Board transfer control of the road between its intersections with N. Glebe Road and N. Barton Street. Both bodies would then have to approve the transfer, but VDOT has already tentatively agreed to the deal.
If Arlington gains control of the section of Fairfax Drive and 10th Street N. between Ballston and Courthouse, also known as Route 237, it would limit VDOT’s involvement in construction projects.
Currently, roads under VDOT’s control require extensive review before any construction can be done. Making the portion of the roadway a part of Arlington’s local road system would streamline such reviews and give the county more flexibility to implement multimodal improvements.
“Since many of the County’s projects on Route 237 utilize urban standards that are not typical of VDOT plans, this often requires obtaining design exceptions in order to implement the project,” said a staff report. “This cumbersome design-exception process adds time and expense to each project.”
The report recommends the Board approve the proposal, arguing that added flexibility in managing several streets that run in parallel to Interstate 66, which is being widened under the “Transform 66” project, is worth the extra expense.
The move is expected to cost the county upwards of $60,000 a year, according to a fiscal impact statement.
Unlike many other counties in Virginia, Arlington County staff performs the full range of road maintenance functions on the 1,051 lane miles of road and would accept conveyance and responsibility for the maintenance of the additional 6.61 lane miles constituting this portion of Route 237. Per Section 33.2-366 of the Virginia Code, Arlington County receives a per lane-mile payment each fiscal year for the maintenance of its secondary road system. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 rate, approved by the CTB on June 20, 2017, is $18,515.71 per lane-mile; the rate typically escalates each year. Maintenance responsibilities include landscaping, sidewalk repair, street sweeping, paving, plowing, signage, and pavement markings, which cost the County roughly $28,000 per lane-mile of roadway, based on the County’s most recently reported average maintenance cost per lane-mile.
… This equates to $60,000 – $70,000 in additional net tax support to the County. The precise level of service for this portion of Route 237 and associated costs would be determined during the FY 2019 budget deliberations.
The CTB would likely vote on the transfer in September if it is approved by the County Board.