Construction is ramping up on the widening of one of the most congested sections of I-66, and that will prompt some changes on county trails and streets lining the highway.
The County Board gave the go-ahead yesterday (Tuesday) for VDOT workers to relocate some local trails and build a noise wall and storm drain associated with the project. Once it’s completed, I-66 eastbound will boast an extra travel lane between Exit 71 in Ballston and the highway’s intersection with the Dulles Connector Road, long one of the worst traffic choke points in the region (and even the country).
The construction will impact areas along the highway throughout Arlington, however, prompting the Board’s latest action.
Perhaps the largest change is the relocation of part of the W&OD Trail near East Falls Church to a new pedestrian bridge running over Lee Highway, and county officials formally gave VDOT workers permission to start work on that project last night.
Workers also now have the county’s permission to build a new noise wall near the N. Harrison Street bridge over I-66 in the Bluemont neighborhood. But that wall will block off a portion of the Custis Trail as it runs alongside the highway, and workers plan to create a new connection from the trail onto the bridge itself, according to a county staff report.
Additional construction on the highway widening will also force workers to connect a portion of the Custis Trail near Bon Air Park to an underground tunnel beneath I-66.
The county will also construct “park benches, trail signage, lighting, bike shelter and racks, railing and fencing” along the new sections of the trail, the staff report said.
State officials awarded a contract for the $85.7 million project in 2017, and they’re currently hoping to have the new lane open by fall 2020.
Starting this week, construction to improve the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn will significantly narrow a portion of the Custis Trail.
The Custis Trail will be restricted to six feet wide for the section between N. Fort Meyer Drive and Lynn Street, as crews work to transform one lane of Lee Highway into additional trail width and buffer space.
The trail narrowing will last for nine to 10 months while construction takes place on the south side of the trail.
Workers will add wider sidewalks, on-street bike lanes and improved curb ramps as the northbound and southbound sections of Lee Highway meet Lynn Street.
The project will also include improvements to the Custis Trail as it runs alongside Lee Highway, including bicycle and pedestrian facility upgrades, lane reconfiguration and widening of the trail.
For street beautification efforts, the “Corridor of Light” public art installation will get added to each of the four corners of the Interstate 66 bridge.
The county is helping to fund the construction. The project, expected to wrap up in spring 2020, will require some lane and sidewalk closures.
Photo via VDOT and rendering via Arlington County
Arlington is kicking off a new phase of construction along the Custis Trail near Rosslyn, as workers add a bevy of safety improvements to the area.
The county’s contractor plans to kick off work at the intersection of N. Scott Street and Lee Highway on Monday (Aug. 13), so long as the weather cooperates.
Anyone using the trail will need to follow a short detour onto N. Scott Street as it meets 21st Street N., but the county hopes the detour will only last about a week.
Earlier this year, the county kicked off bike safety improvements along Lee Highway, widening the trail itself, improving some trail crosses and crosswalks and adding curb extensions. County contractors are also reconfiguring the bike lanes on both N. Scott and N. Quinn Streets as part of the construction, resulting in some road closures in the area.
The county also plans to add new traffic signals at Lee Highway’s intersection with N. Scott Street, but planners predict they’ll only be installed “after completion of major construction activities”, likely “in the latter half of 2018.”
Workers are also busy repairing the trail as it runs alongside I-66 between N. Adams Street and McCoy Park, necessitating another detour in the area set to last through the end of the month.
A new protected bike lane is on the way for Courthouse this month.
Construction on the protected lane is set to move in conjunction with the county’s paving work starting this month, and will require some adjustments for the area’s on-street parking. Workers have also temporarily relocated the Capital Bikeshare station along N. Veitch Street to the road’s intersection with Key Blvd in preparation for the construction.
The station at Veitch St & Key Blvd is now up and running! pic.twitter.com/oZCQepzwSO
— Capital Bikeshare (@bikeshare) July 26, 2018
Soon afterward, the county also hopes to retool parking along N. Troy Street as part of the repaving work, set to take place sometime in “late summer.”
In subsequent phases of this project, the county plans to extend a previously built protected bike lane between N. Oak Street and N. Quinn Street in Rosslyn, linking the neighborhood to Courthouse. Some paving work on that effort could start as soon as this month.
A section of the Custis Trail running alongside I-66 near Rosslyn is set to close for the next month.
Starting today (Monday), workers will start repairing the trail as it runs between N. Adams Street and McCoy Park to make it a bit more hospitable to cyclists. Construction is set to last through Aug. 24.
Specifically, Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation and its contractors will focus on “a series of bumps, or undulations, on the trail surface near the pedestrian flyover bridge over I-66,” according to a blog post by Bike Arlington program manager Erin Potter.
“This part of the Custis Trail is too narrow (between a retaining wall and I-66) to allow repair work to happen while the trail is open,” Potter wrote.
The county plans to post signs for detours for both pedestrians and cyclists near the closed section of the trail. Walkers and runners will be redirected down N. Adams Street and then along Lee Highway to bypass the construction, while bicyclists have their choice of three different options.
Bike Arlington has full details on the detours posted on its website.
The Custis Trail was open this morning, but the N Adams-McCoy Park closure will start soon.
— BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) July 30, 2018
Safety improvements on three Custis Trail intersections have begun.
The project will reconfigure bike lanes at N. Quinn and N. Scott streets, as well as widen the Custis Trail. Other safety improvements include curb extensions, ADA-compliant curb ramps, trail separation from Lee Highway, and crosswalks with higher visibility.
Construction has temporarily closed a lane of Lee Highway. Jersey barriers have been erected to form a bike detour along the right-hand, westbound lane of Lee Highway between N. Scott Street and N. Oak Street.
At least one Arlington bicyclist took to social media to cheer on the bicycling infrastructure, saying the jersey barriers were “better than 99 percent of bike facilities in the U.S.”
This temporary facility for a closed-for-maintenance bike trail is better than 99% of bike facilities in the US. Thanks to @arlingtonva, @VaDOTNOVA, and/or @BikeArlington? Really professional all around. #bikedc pic.twitter.com/xtlZmOGPKi
— Salim Furth (@salimfurth) February 28, 2018
In addition to the Lee Highway lane closure, the north legs of the intersection at both N. Scott Street and N. Oak Street will be restricted to one lane. Northbound traffic will be permitted only at the N. Scott Street intersection, while southbound traffic will be permitted only at N. Oak Street intersection, according to the county.
Detour signs will be present to guide drivers out of the North Highlands neighborhood.
The bus stop for the ART 55 and WMATA 3Y buses will be relocated from the construction zone to the west side of the N. Scott Street and Lee Highway intersection. Part of the construction includes plans for an improved bus stop with a bench.
Project funding comes from a Federal Highway Administration bicycle and pedestrian safety program grant.
Work hours are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, and between 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays. The project web page notes that construction is anticipated to wrap up at all three points in May.
The Custis Trail project is being done in concert with the N. Lynn Street esplanade project, for which the Arlington County approved additional funding this week.
A D.C. taxicab drove onto the Custis Trail yesterday and the incident was caught on video.
The taxi was seen driving onto the bike path Monday afternoon near the MOM’s Organic Market on Lee Highway. A passerby saw it happen and ran to make sure the driver, who was apparently lost, was able to safely get off the trail and back onto the road.
“I followed him right away to make sure he backs up,” said Wael Salha, who also took the video.
Salha says that he frequently uses the path and believes that a narrower trailhead and more car-blocking bollards could have prevented the driver from mistakenly turning onto the path.
“I always use that trail and I was really worried,” he said, adding that he’s not trying to get the driver in trouble.
“I hope that this will not affect the driver’s job,” he said. “This is not my intention, I was only concerned about the people’s safety and [want] more precaution on the county’s end.”
A V.I.P. Cab Company phone operator was unable to connect ARLnow.com to the driver with partial plate numbers, but was able to confirm that all cab drivers with V.I.P. are required to use G.P.S. while driving passengers. The operator added that normally the cab company stays within Washington, so the driver was in unfamiliar territory.
Photo (bottom) via Google Maps
Lost Dog Reunited With Owner — A dog that disappeared under mysterious circumstances is back at home this morning, her owner says, after the man who picked her up as she was wandering around North Arlington saw a sign with the dog’s photo and dialed the phone number on it. [Facebook]
County Lauded for Digital Prowess — Arlington has been named one of the “top 5 counties for digital government” by StateTech magazine. The county was lauded for “embracing open data and transparency” in decision making and citizen outreach. [StateTech]
Death at Belvedere Condos — A man reportedly jumped to his death at the Belvedere Condominiums near Rosslyn on Friday. The complex’s pool and pool deck were closed Friday as police investigated the incident.
Priest Who Admitted KKK Past Still Venerated Confederacy — A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington might not have been totally forthcoming when he admitted and renounced his KKK activity as a young man. Even after becoming a priest, in the early 2000s, Rev. William Aitcheson “was a ‘fervent advocate of the Confederacy’ who would joke about ‘Saint Robert E. Lee’ in homilies at the church,” one former student of his recalled. [Washington Post, Washington Post]
Nearby: Two Men Jump From Aqueduct Bridge — One man is dead and another in grave condition after both jumped from the Aqueduct Bridge in Georgetown, near the Key Bridge, into the Potomac River. A friend of the men said they were hanging out on the bridge when one decided to jump, then the other jumped in to save him. Boats and and a helicopter were used as part of the subsequent rescue operation. [NBC Washington]
Police say Marvin Velasquez touched a woman walking the trail inappropriately on Wednesday afternoon. He also grabbed a second woman and then exposed himself to her, according to a news release.
The incidents happened along the trail near where it crosses Spout Run Parkway. Police are now trying to figure out whether there may be additional victims.
More from an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit are seeking additional witnesses or victims related to the following matter. A suspect has been charged in an incident involving female victims in the area of the Custis Trail. Marvin Sosa Velasquez, 22, of Falls Church, VA was arrested and charged with indecent exposure and two counts of assault and battery. The suspect was held on no bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.
At approximately 4:37 p.m. on August 23, police responded to the 1900 block of N. Calvert Street for the report of an assault and battery. Upon arrival, it was determined a female victim walking on the bike trail was touched inappropriately by a male suspect. While investigating the incident, officers located a second female victim who reported the same male suspect grabbed her around the waist. The female victim was able to free herself from the suspect. The suspect then pulled down his pants and exposed his genitals to the victim. Responding officers canvassed the area and located a suspect matching the victim’s descriptions in the 3300 block of Lee Highway.
Investigators believe there may be additional victims. Anyone who had previous contact with the suspect is asked to call Detective J. McGrath of the Special Victim’s Unit at 703-228-4244 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
The improvements will reduce the distance of crossing some streets, upgrade curb ramps and bus stops, create high visibility crosswalks, improve trail crossing alignments and update traffic signals to meet Arlington County’s standards, among other changes.
Lanes would also be reconfigured on the W&OD Trail at its crossing with S. George Mason Drive and on the Custis Trail at N. Quinn and N. Scott streets.
The changes that the trails would undergo were recommendations made in the county’s Shared Use Trail Traffic Control Study, completed in 2010.
Three sections along each trail are set for improvements. Along the W&OD Trail, the areas are:
- The intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and S. George Mason Drive
- S. Four Mile Run Drive at the Barcroft Sports Center (4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive)
- The intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and S. Oakland Street
The sections set to be under construction along the Custis Trail are:
- The intersection of Lee Highway and N. Scott Street
- The intersection of Lee Highway and N. Quinn Street
- The trail crossing at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Oak Street
The Arlington County Board has approved the costs for the trail renovations, which will be funded primarily by the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.
Under a timeline put forward by county staff, construction would begin this summer on both projects. A contract worth a combined $1.67 million has been proposed for both, with just over $335,000 in contingency for any cost overruns.
From tomorrow until April 17, the trail will be rerouted east of N. Lynn Street onto an adjacent paved public driveway, according to Arlington County.
The route will have a steeper grade than the current trail, so bicyclists are advised to dismount before entering the detour zone.
On April 18, the next phase sees the trail rerouted at the northeast corner of its crossing at N. Lynn Street. The crossing will be shifted north until May 8.
The fourth and final phase begins May 9 west of N. Lynn Street, with the trail rerouted to the south side of Lee Highway between N. Lynn Street and N. Fort Myer Drive by Gateway Park until June 1. As the detour route for this phase is narrower than the current trail, bicyclists are asked to dismount or slow down when pedestrians are nearby.
Workers from the county along with the Virginia Department of Transportation and Dominion Virginia Power will be performing the work as part of the Lynn Street Esplanade & Custis Trail Improvements project. The project is intended to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, particularly at the dangerous intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway.
Signs will inform trail users of the various detours, and work dates may vary.
The Arlington County Board over the weekend voted to endorse the goals of a Virginia Dept. of Transportation plan to widen part of I-66, but it also had a few questions.
The Board unanimously backed a resolution that outlines “areas of support and ongoing concern with [VDOT’s] environmental assessment,” according to a press release.
Under VDOT’s “Transform 66” plan, an extra lane would be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston. The lane would stretch about four miles.
The plan would also include the replacement and construction of noise walls along the interstate, a new pedestrian bridge on the W&OD Trail at Lee Highway in East Falls Church and a realignment of the Custis Trail at Bon Air Park.
Earlier this year, the Board endorsed VDOT’s plan to add tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway during peak travel times.
Not everyone who lives in Arlington supports the project as proposed, however. Some East Falls Church residents have recently criticized the part of the proposal that would build a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge on the W&OD trail at Lee Highway. (Bicycling advocates, meanwhile, are organizing to support the bridge plan.)
In its resolution, the Board asked transit officials to “ensure a robust community process will be incorporated into the design process to achieve a context sensitive solution for the W&OD Trail changes.”
The Board also called for more cooperation on other areas of concern such as impacts on right of way, increased traffic at local intersections, noise mitigation and possible effects on stormwater infrastructure.
“Arlington supports the broad goals of this plan, including the focus on moving more people versus vehicles through the corridor. We are also committed to ensure that VDOT mitigates any impacts on our residents and neighborhoods that may result from the mandated eastbound widening,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “VDOT has been responsive to our concerns as the project has taken shape, and we anticipate working closely with them to monitor the project as it moves forward.”
According to VDOT’s estimates, workers could break ground on the project in “mid 2018” and finish by “mid 2020.”
More from the press release:
In its resolution, the Board says it will work to ensure that the Commonwealth monitors and mitigates the project’s impacts on Arlington streets and on cultural or natural resources.
VDOT released the Environmental Assessment for the eastbound widening of I-66 from the Dulles Connector to Fairfax Drive in November. Based on a review of the technical documentation and public testimony, the Board resolution calls for VDOT to continue working cooperatively with the County on addressing the following:
- Impacts on right of way and other resources – VDOT anticipates that the eastbound widening will occur primarily toward the inner portion of the I-66 roadway, but temporary or permanent property easements or acquisitions will be needed along the easternmost portion of the project.
- Traffic analysis and impacts to Arlington streets – The Environmental Assessment identified several intersections in Arlington that will experience increased congestion as a result of the widening. Staff is concerned that the traffic analysis used for the Environmental Assessment does not include any multimodal travel, which is a primary goal of the Transform 66 project and the studies supporting it.
- Impacts to the regional trail network – VDOT has proposed realigning the Custis Trail at Bon Air Park and grade-separating the crossing of the W&OD Trail at Lee Highway. The Board resolution endorses these improvements and asks that VDOT ensure a robust community process will be incorporated into the design process to achieve a context sensitive solution for the W&OD Trail changes.
- Noise mitigation – VDOT will solicit input from property owners and renters who would benefit from noise mitigation as to the desirability of the installation of noise barriers along I-66. County staff will work with VDOT to ensure messaging to the public on the noise barrier selection process is communicated as comprehensively as possible. The Board also encouraged VDOT to work with WMATA, FTA and others to explore options for additional noise mitigation related to Silver Line and new generation of rail cars.
- Stormwater Management Infrastructure – In response to public testimony, the Board reinforced the important responsibility that VDOT has to ensure that existing and future stormwater infrastructure by adequately designed and maintained.
A Virginia Dept. of Transportation plan to widen part of I-66 could soon get the partial blessing of the Arlington County Board.
Under VDOT’s “Transform 66” plan, an extra lane would be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston. The lane would stretch about four miles.
VDOT is also planning to improve two local trails, according to a presentation on the proposed project. The planned improvements include a new pedestrian bridge on the W&OD Trail at Lee Highway in East Falls Church and a realignment of the Custis Trail at Bon Air Park.
Additionally, the project would include the replacement and construction of noise walls along the interstate’s eastbound and westbound lanes.
If all goes according to plan, workers would begin construction on the project in “mid 2018” and finish by “mid 2020.”
The Board is scheduled to vote on whether to “endorse the goals” of VDOT’s widening project during its general meeting this Saturday, Jan. 28.
According to the county:
In the proposed resolution, the Board also says it will pursue goals of ensuring that the Commonwealth monitors and mitigates the impacts on Arlington streets, noise impacts, and impacts on cultural or natural resources. The proposed resolution also calls for VDOT to work collaboratively with all the affected jurisdictions to ensure that the final design of possible noise barriers do not unduly or negatively impact cultural or natural resources and that VDOT will not pursue more widening of I-66 inside the Beltway until after a meaningful evaluation of peak period tolling, conversion to HOT-3, tolling in both directions during peak periods, and implementation of multimodal components.
Arlington has already endorsed VDOT’s plan to add tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway during peak travel times.
Dominion says more than 300 customers, in an area centered around the Metro station, are in the dark as a result of a storm-related outage. Power isn’t expected to be restored until this afternoon.
The outage includes large office buildings and traffic lights up and down Crystal Drive. Police are on scene, setting up cones to direct traffic through the uncontrolled intersections, though generators are being brought in to bring the traffic signals back online.
Last night’s storm is causing other issues around Arlington this morning, as well. On the Custis Trail, a large tree has reportedly fell onto and blocked the trail between N. Quincy and Nelson streets.
— AlliMoe (@AlliMoe21) August 18, 2016
(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Cyclists will have to use detours around parts of Custis Trail while crews work to resurface and repair the pavement.
The county started repairing parts of the trail between N. Harrison and N. Frederick Streets and 11th Street N. and N. Glebe Road on Tuesday. Construction is expected to last until next Friday, Aug. 21.
During the trail work, crews will be milling the surface, removing root heaves and overlaying the trail with asphalt, according to the Bike Arlington forum.
The planned construction will cost $150,000, said Susan Kalish, spokeswoman for the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation.
During construction cyclists and pedestrians are encouraged to use marked detours, which primarily run along low-traffic residential streets.