HQ2 Employment Up 50% in Two Months — “Less than two months into the new year and Amazon.com Inc. says it has more than 600 employees at its second headquarters — a fairly significant staffing jump considering there were some 400 employees there as of late December.” [Washington Business Journal]
Construction Progress at DCA — “It’s happening: Reagan National’s nightmarish Gate 35X at Terminal C will soon be demolished. Construction is underway for Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Project Journey, which will bring a new concourse to the north end of the airport and add new security checkpoints for Terminal B/C.” [NBC 4, DCist]
Fire Alarm Delays DCA Flights By 30 Minutes — “Flights have resumed and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) controllers have returned and continued tower operations after a control tower was evacuated to investigate a sprinkler alarm activation Wednesday.” [WJLA]
Food Delivery Driver Robbed in Claremont — “At approximately 11:04 a.m., the victim, who was operating as a food delivery driver at the time of the incident, exited his vehicle to make a delivery and was approached by three male suspects. The suspects demanded the victim provide them with the contents of the delivery, then attempted to assault him. The suspects stole the delivery and fled on foot.” [Arlington County]
Property Owner Goes 100% Renewable — “Brookfield Properties has added 100 percent clean, renewable power to six of its office buildings in Northern Virginia, with the new energy source going into effect this month… The changes are impacting three of the firm’s Arlington properties: Potomac Tower at 1001 19th St., 601 South 12th Street, and 701 South 12th Street.” [Commercial Observer]
Big Raise for Startup With Clarendon Office — “Carbon Relay and Insight Partners today announced a $63 million transaction to accelerate the growth of its Red Sky Ops solution for optimizing application performance in Kubernetes environments.” [Carbon Relay via Potomac Tech Wire]
‘Mr. Z’ Wins Award, Gets on TV — “The Virginia Department of Transportation has named an Arlington County crossing guard one of 2019’s Most Outstanding Crossing Guards. He’s one of only four in the state. Affectionately called Mister Z by faculty and students, Zeleke Taffesse says his smiling students make him feel younger every day. Taylor Elementary School is one of three schools he’s worked for.” [Local DVM]
(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) Travelers flying in or out of Reagan National Airport should expect significant delays after an emergency landing and aircraft evacuation this morning.
Initial reports suggest that an American Airlines flight landed, declared an emergency and evacuated passengers on the tarmac after smoke filled the cabin. Emergency responders rushed to the scene but so far no significant injuries have been reported.
Dozens of flights are now delayed, waiting to take off or land from the busy airport.
“Due to… Aircraft Emergency, traffic is experiencing Gate Hold and Taxi delays between 46 minutes and 1 hour in length and increasing,” the Federal Aviation Administration said on its website as of 10:30 a.m. Shortly thereafter, the airport tweeted that the incident had been cleared and flights were resuming.
More from social media:
@bshepler At approximately 9:40 a.m. Mon, American flight 5082, CRJ-200 jet aircraft from Tallahassee, landed at DCA then declared an emergency due to reports of smoke in the cabin. The aircraft came to a stop and evacuated passengers onto the airfield via the aircraft’s stairs.
— Charlie Bragale (@charlienbc) December 9, 2019
— Curtis Roberts (@RefractiveComm) December 9, 2019
— Erin O'Brien Hawley (@erin_hawley) December 9, 2019
Inbound to DCA holding, I expect diversions might start soon if they haven't already. pic.twitter.com/CuYMoKSwYO
— Stephen Repetski (@srepetsk) December 9, 2019
45 minutes of fuel left*
— Dennis Lennox (@dennislennox) December 9, 2019
An earlier incident involving an aircraft has been cleared and air traffic is resuming. Airlines are the best source of information on any changes to flight status. Thank you for your patience.
— Reagan Airport (@Reagan_Airport) December 9, 2019
Screen cap via Twitter/@glukianoff
(Updated at 5 p.m.) Some Arlington Transit (ART) riders are out of luck as transportation officials tell ARLnow that maintenance issues are cutting service.
The bus service shared today that ART routes 43, 45, 53, 87 would operate on “reduced service” and that at least three other lines (45 to S. Dinwiddie Street, 61 to N. Veitch Street, and 75 to N. Monroe Street) “will not operate.” The disruptions are due to a “mechanical issue,” according to social media posts.
Numerous delays and cancellations were also reported on Monday.
In October so far, the ART Alert Twitter account reported 76 times that buses missed their routes and 25 times the buses were late or ran reduced schedules. The vast majority of both types of issues were attributed to unspecified mechanical issues.
Due to mechanical issue ART 45 to S. Dinwiddie and Columbia Pike from Rosslyn Metro at 1:00 PM will not operate. We apologize for the inconvenience.
— ART Alert (@ART_Alert) October 29, 2019
A spokesman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) — which oversees ART — told ARLnow that the service interruptions were not related to the ongoing Metrobus strike in Northern Virginia.
“The recent missed trips are due to bus maintenance issues,” said DES spokesman Eric Balliet. “ART’s service provider, National Express, is working to address these issues as soon as possible.”
“This is a temporary interruption and we are working side-by-side with the County to rectify these delays,” said a spokesman for the U.K.-based National Express Transit Corporation. “We will be back to full-service without reductions within 48-72 hours, and will continue to work with the County on delays that may be caused for any route that we serve.”
This is not the first time that mounting maintenance problems affected ART service.
In January, ART pointed to its bus aging fleet and a shortage of drivers and as reasons why some trips were going “missing.” Last June, ART service was also dogged with service delays and cancellations due to unspecified maintenance issues.
In the past, several buses’ brakes have failed, one bus with a reported check engine light issue overturned, and there were other major crashes. However, it’s not clear whether ART’s the latest maintenance woes are related to any of the past issues.
ART 53 will operate with reduced service this morning. Details: https://t.co/8VHMnU8tow and click "Service Alerts"
— ART Alert (@ART_Alert) October 29, 2019
Due to Mechanical issues ART 61 to Veitch from N. Veitch st at 4:13 pm will not operate. We apologize for the inconvenience.
— ART Alert (@ART_Alert) October 29, 2019
(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) A potential opening date for Ballston Quarter’s revamped food court has arrived, but its new restaurants still aren’t open to diners.
Representatives for the overhauled Ballston Common mall previously told ARLnow that the new “Quarter Market” would open today (Wednesday). But barriers and signs still block off all entrances to the new, so-called “food hall.”
Several hungry would-be patrons arrived to make such a discovery as lunchtime neared today, only to be disappointed.
— George Elias (@georgejelias) February 27, 2019
— William McGovern (@B_Willly) February 27, 2019
Ballston Quarter’s Twitter account tweeted shortly afterward that the 14-restaurant food court will “begin to open within the next week,” pledging to announce the move on its social media channels.
Rachel Buckly, a public relations representative for Ballston Quarter developer Forest City, said late last week that Quarter Market would begin to open Feb. 27. Signs around the development have promised a February opening date for months.
Shortly after ARLnow published a story to that effect, Buckly reversed herself and wrote in an email that “the first restaurants will begin to open their doors at Quarter Market in early March.” But she did not answer questions about what prompted the sudden delay.
Signs around the property now merely list a “spring 2019” opening date for Quarter Market. (Spring starts March 20.)
This is far from the first delay the development’s experienced since it first neared opening late last year.
Initially, its backers promised to open some stores to the public in late October. But the proposed opening date came and went without any news on the mall’s status, before some stores finally opened in mid-November.
Plans for a new pedestrian bridge stretching over Wilson Blvd also encountered some construction delays last year. Workers mounted the bridge on its supports earlier this month, but it’s not quite ready for use just yet.
Arlington Transit officials are hoping to get bus service back to normal this week, after everything from emergency brake issues to loose bolts on buses prompted a series of delays and cancellations, but riders on some routes could still see longer waits.
Arlington Transit Bureau Chief Lynn Rivers told ARLnow that her agency discovered a series of mechanical issues on county buses during an inspection of the ART fleet that began last Saturday (June 2). Rivers noted that ART technicians worked to repair those issues as inspectors discovered additional problems, which forced the agency to offer reduced service over the course of the last week.
A county spokeswoman says that ART wrapped up its safety inspection and repairs on Friday (June 8). Now, Rivers says ART hopes to restore its level of service to “our normal” this week.
“All of those [issues] are easily repaired. They’re part of a routine maintenance,” Rivers said.
ART runs routine fleet inspections about every two years, Rivers said. This inspection, which ART characterized as “expedited” in a statement last Tuesday (June 5), occurred a little under two years after the last one, according to Rivers.
She says the the transit agency decided to bump up the safety review after “noticing and also getting comments… about our on-time performance.” Rather than sampling half of ART’s 72-bus fleet, as the agency would in a typical review, Rivers said officials decided to sample 51 buses for maintenance — the number that operates across the county on a normal day.
Issues uncovered by the inspection led to the cancellation of almost 6 percent of trips last Monday (June 4) according to Rivers. That translated to 48 missed trips that affected 11 of ART’s 17 routes, according to the ART Alert Twitter account, which announces all delays and cancellations. Over the course of the week, 12 routes were affected.
Tuesday saw 38 trips missed, according to Twitter. Although that number was down to 16 by Wednesday, it spiked back up to 32 on Thursday before settling back to 13 on Friday.
There were 24 cancellations yesterday (Monday), comparable to the number missed in some of the days preceding last week’s inspection.
Rivers noted that ART plans “to follow up” this week “to see exactly where things are.” However, she added that the conclusion of this inspection and maintenance work likely won’t prevent some of the more serious issues ART riders have noticed, like buses struggling to get up hills and to start again after stopping at lights. Rivers said that ART has noticed “buses that seem to have some power issues,” prompting those sorts of breakdowns.
Problems like this could occur in buses at the end of their “useful life” — 12 years for a 40-foot bus. These buses are routinely scheduled for “rehabilitation,” which extends their useful lives by about four years, Rivers added.
“What will be done in most cases is major components,” like engines or transmissions, “are upgraded or rehabilitated,” Rivers said.
With all that work still ongoing, Rivers said ART appreciates riders who have stuck with the bus system.
“We’re just very grateful that people will just be understanding as we work through this process to continue to have a faithful and reliable system,” Rivers said.
Arlington Transit bus riders could see delays across several routes over the course of the next week.
Unspecified “mechanical issues” are causing the delays, according to an ART service alert issued today (Monday). ART did not list specific routes that will be impacted, noting only that the routes will operate “at reduced frequencies” and that it will issue alerts about upcoming delays “as needed.”
A spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services, which oversees ART, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the nature of the mechanical issues. ART buses have on occasion suffered brake failures, leading to significant crashes, though it is unclear whether this week’s delays are in any way related.
So far, buses on ART Route 77 between the Courthouse Metro station and ART’s Shirlington station have recorded several delays, and some departures have been canceled entirely, according to county service alerts.
“Staff is currently working to quickly resolve these problems but we anticipate service disruptions on ART routes throughout the week,” ART wrote in the alert. “We apologize for the inconvenience as we work to ensure the safety and reliability of our fleet.”
ART opened a new, $17.6 million “light maintenance facility” on S. Eads Street last fall, and the county is planning to someday open a “heavy maintenance facility” in Springfield, after the County Board approved the purchase of a site there for $4.65 million.
The owners of the The Board Room in D.C. had hoped to unveil their Arlington location in the old Sehkraft Brewing spot last month, but construction delays are pushing back the opening of the Clarendon bar and entertainment venue.
Mark Handwerger, the owner of The Board Room’s parent company, Bedrock Bars, wrote in an email, “We are not exactly pleased by the delays.” But he said that The Board Room’s team is “holding everyone’s feet to the fire.”
Part of the issue has been a hold-up on the millwork, delivery and installation of two additional bars. The owners ultimately had to resort to out-of-town fabricators because “everyone within a couple hundred miles of D.C. is buried with other projects, most notably The Wharf,” Handwerger said.
Today an ARLnow reporter visited 925 N. Garfield Street and observed a couple workers inside the demolished bar space, although not a lot of heavy duty construction was taking place. Some of the wall murals have been painted over and new drywall is piled nearby. There’s also a lot of debris and building material staged to be hauled away.
The new goal is for The Board Room to open mid-November if everything goes smoothly.
The second round of closures related to Metro’s yearlong SafeTrack maintenance plan is slated to take effect today, with big impacts to Blue Line service in Arlington.
Maintenance crews will work on portions of the Orange, Silver and Blue lines until July 3, according to a service advisory.
On the Orange Line, trains will not run between Eastern Market and Minnesota Ave/Benning Road. Orange and Silver line trains will run every 10 minutes between Vienna/Wiehle-Reston and Eastern Market.
On the Blue Line, trains will not run between between Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn. Trains will, however, run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery each weekday until 10 p.m. Yellow Line trains will run on a Rush+ schedule all day on weekdays to compensate for the loss of Blue Line service.
Metro will provide shuttle service for riders traveling to and from affected stations. Arlington County has also expanded ART 43 service, which runs between Rosslyn and Crystal City, on middays, evenings and weekends until Aug. 20.
Trains may be extremely crowded, especially during rush hour, Metro officials said. Regular riders are encouraged to use commuting alternatives such as carpooling or telecommuting.
Video Courtesy WMATA
Opower Staying in Arlington — In a “symbolic economic development win” for Arlington, Courthouse-based tech firm Opower will be staying put, at least for a couple of years. The company, which was visited by President Obama in 2010 and went public in 2014, was considering a move and was being courted by property owners in D.C. It has renewed its 42,000 square foot lease in Courthouse Tower (1515 N. Courthouse Road) through May 2018. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Has ‘Scars’ from Former Railroad Lines — Even in places in Arlington that have since been paved over with development, you can still see the “scars” from former rail lines in aerial photos. D.C. also has its fair share of “scarhitecture.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Orange Line Delays This Morning — There were delays on Metro’s Orange Line this morning after trains started single-tracking between West Falls Church and Vienna due to a track problem. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
Starting tonight, commuters on westbound I-66 can expect delays from nighttime lane closures.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will pave westbound 1-66 between Lee Highway and the Dulles Airport Access Road in Fairfax County overnight, causing some lanes to be closed.
Crews will start paving the road tonight at 10 p.m., and will continue for the next three weeks. Paving is scheduled to occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., Sunday through Friday.
During the construction, commuters should expect delays and are advised to take alternate routes.
“While VDOT fully understands the impact of night work on the residents, the traffic volumes on I-66 do not allow us to do this work during the day,” the department said on its website. “VDOT has held several meetings with the contractor to come up with ways to minimize the impact of noise stemming from night operations. VDOT staff will work closely with the contractor to reduce the impact of delivery trucks and construction equipment during each operation.”
The paving is part of a $33 million project to improve westbound 1-66 by connecting the on-ramp at Washington Blvd to the off ramp at Dulles Airport Access Road. Once completed, there will be a one-mile auxiliary lane and a new 12-foot shoulder.
VDOT will hold a public meeting on Oct. 7 about “Transform 66,” a project to turn 1-66 into a toll road during morning and evening rush hour and increase the HOV requirement to three people. The meeting will be from 7-9 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street).
(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) It’s slow going for drivers and bicyclists on the stretch of Wilson Blvd between N. Wayne and N. Adams Street in Courthouse, as two construction projects are underway.
Wilson Blvd is currently down to one lane, with cars navigating through traffic cones, due to construction on the new Hyatt Place hotel and a county project to install fiber optic cables below the street, said county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Driving down the stretch of Wilson puts the cars half on the bicycle lane, while crews access underground wiring for fiber optic cable installation. The utility project is set to finish in the “early part of next week,” Baxter said.
Once the utility work is finished, the left lane and parking lane on Wilson Blvd will reopen to vehicles, she said.
However, the righthand parking lane and possibly one travel lane of Wilson Blvd between N. Wayne and N. Adams Street will remain blocked off until the end of September for hotel construction, Baxter said, and lanes may also be closed periodically after that.
“Each periodic closure will require the issuance of a right-of-way use permit from the Department of Environmental Services, and that closure will only be for the timeframe requested on such permit,” she said.
The new Hyatt Place in Courthouse, the hotel brand’s first in Arlington, is on schedule for an August 2016 opening, according to Jim Villars, a spokesman with Schupp Company, the hotel’s developer. Contrary to information from the county, Villars said the hotel construction project will not require the closure of a travel lane on Wilson Blvd.
The topping out of the eight floor structure is expected to be complete before the end of the month, Villars said. At that point, all eight floors above grade and the two floors below grade for underground parking will have been built.
After sealing the structure, crews will start constructing the hotel’s interior, he said.
Once finished, the Courthouse Hyatt Place will 161 rooms, two restaurants and a bar. The hotel will also be the first hotel with gold LEED certification in Arlington and the first Hyatt Place to receive gold LEED certification, according to Villars.
The company is currently looking for a tenant to fill one of the restaurant spaces, which is almost 1,300 square feet, he said. The hotel is replacing a low-rise commercial building that was formerly home to Wilson Tavern.