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.
Young Republicans to Rally Against Sanders — The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans will “welcome” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to Ballston tonight with a “rally for limited government and free market ideals.” The rally will be held outside the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association, where Sanders will be speaking. [Facebook]
Tree Down on Custis Trail — A tree is down across the Custis Trail near Cherrydale and the ponds, cyclists report. The tree came down following last night’s heavy rains. [BikeArlington Forum, Twitter]
Head of Ex-Offender Group Stepping Down — Gail Arnall, the head of Arlington-based Offender Aid Restoration, is leaving the group, but staying involved as a consultant. OAR helps ex-offenders readjust to life outside of prison. The group notes that it costs only $650 for them to help ex-cons re-integrate into society, while re-incarcerating them would cost $27,000 per year. [Washington Post]
New Clarendon Office Tenant — HDR Architecture has signed a 30,000 square foot lease for the recently-built office building at 3001 Washington Blvd in Clarendon. “Consolidating two existing regional offices into the new Clarendon facility, HDR will now be able to tap into the highly educated population for which Arlington County is well-reputed as well as avail itself of the well-situated project easily accessible via public transportation and multiple roadways and airports,” building owner Penzance said in a press release.
Advocates Decry Proposed Bike Cut — An optional budget cut floated by Arlington County Manger Barbara Donnellan in her proposed FY 2015-2016 budget is attracting some push back from cyclists. Donnellan said the County Board should consider a $800,000 cut in funds for the county’s BikeArlington program if it wants to make additional cuts beyond her base budget. Bike advocates say the cut “would be a huge mistake.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Condo Fence Mowed Down — A car ran through the fence of a condominium complex next to Long Branch Elementary School Sunday evening. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Resident Survey to Be Mailed — Arlington County is planning to mail its fourth resident survey to 3,600 randomly selected residents. “This survey will help us find out how we’re doing across many different service areas – and also pinpoint where we need to improve,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. [Arlington County]
Custis Trail Added to Beer Guide — A guide intended to show D.C. area cyclists where they can grab craft brews near local trails has added Arlington’s Custis Trail to its directory. [Bikeable Brews]
A-SPAN To Help Meet Homeless Goals — Arlington County has signed on to a pair of ambitious goals: to house all homeless veterans in the community by the end of 2015 and end chronic homelessness by 2016. The Arlington Street People’s Network, the nonprofit organization that will be running Arlington’s soon-to-open year-round homeless shelter, is preparing to do its part to help achieve those goals. [InsideNova]
The bicycle counter on the Custis Trail in Rosslyn passed 200,000 trips earlier this month, a milestone for the first device of its kind on the East Coast.
As of last night, the counter was up to 204,899 trips since it was unveiled on April 1. There were 706 trips recorded today at 12:43 this afternoon, and 24,907 trips this month. The “Bikeometer” has been getting good reviews from the community, according to county Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel.
“Many people have said that previously they had no idea how many other cyclists bike through Rosslyn,” she said. “County staff did not have a precise understanding of how many bicyclists were using the Custis Trail through the Rosslyn Circle area. With the installation of the Bikeometer counter and display we now know a lot more about the number of bicycle travelers on an average day, and how that number changes over the course of the year and by the day of the week. We’re also learning more about how factors such as weather can impact bicycle travel.”
The data should help the county as it designs safety improvements to the “Intersection of Doom” — where the trail, N. Lynn Street and the I-66 offramp combine in one of the most accident-prone intersections in the county, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. The improvements are in the design and engineering phase after being approved by the Arlington County Board in May, and construction is expected to begin next spring.
“Knowing the number of bicyclists and at what times they cross through the intersection is useful information in evaluating traffic signal timing at the nearby Lee Highway intersections,” McDaniel said. “We are currently evaluating if and how signal changes could be made to reduce bicycle and vehicle conflicts that occur at the trail crossing of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street. Staff will also conduct a study of the feasibility of constructing an underpass or bypass of the Custis Trail at the Rosslyn Circle location.”
Police say a man grabbed a woman as she was either running or walking by, spun her around, and exposed himself to her. The incident happened on the trail between N. Quinn Street and N. Oak Street just after 11:00 a.m. The man then fled west on the trail, possibly running into a nearby apartment complex.
This was not a sexual assault, as earlier reported, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The man is described as a white male in his 30s, 5’10” with a heavy muscular build and short, partially balding brown hair. He was wearing tennis shoes, a dark jacket, a white t-shirt and dark shorts at the time of the incident.
A police K-9 unit was brought in to try to track the suspect, but that was made impossible by the rain. So far police have not made any arrests, Sternbeck said.
Officers believe the suspect may be responsible for at least one other, similar assault that occurred in the same area, according to scanner traffic.
The bikeometer will be on the trail near the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street — known as the “Intersection of Doom” — with electronic displays counting “passing bicyclists in real time and cumulative daily, monthly and year-to-date counts,” according to an Arlington County press release.
The bikeometer is the first of its kind on the East Coast and sixth in the nation, according to BikeArlington. The data will be used in future planning for cyclists in the area in addition to providing “a highly visible, engaging and fun view of the volume of bike usage on the Custis Trail in Arlington.”
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will be on hand, along with League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke, on Tuesday, April 1 at 10:00 a.m. to unveil the bikeometer.
Photo via BikeArlington