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.
Starting tomorrow, drivers should prepare for possible delays when traveling to Reagan National Airport from Crystal City or the southbound GW Parkway.
The National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration are planning to begin maintenance on the Route 233 bridge, which connects Jefferson Davis Highway in the Crystal City area to the airport. An off-ramp from the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway also connects to the bridge.
Single lane closures on the bridge are planned from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in both directions, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. At least one lane will be open on the bridge and on the GW Parkway ramp will remain open during the nine month project, which will replace the bridge’s median, among other improvements.
“In addition to directional signage, Airports Authority Police and Park Service Police will be present to assist in directing drivers through the area and to minimize the traffic impact in the construction zone,” the Airports Authority said in a statement.
Drivers should expect delays and detours when using the bridge to access the airport.
“The Park Service and Federal Highway Administration bridge construction project will allow for better access to and from the airport and add safety improvements to sidewalks and trails for pedestrians,” the Airports Authority said.
Starting Monday morning, commuters will have to find an alternate route to get from the GW Parkway to the Key Bridge.
National Park Service will close the ramp from southbound GW Parkway to Key Bridge starting before rush hour Monday morning and running through Friday, Aug. 28. The ramp will reopen Saturday morning, said NPS spokesman Aaron LaRocca.
NPS will be replacing the entire surface of the ramp while it is closed. The repairs include milling the road, replacing gravel and overlaying with asphalt.
There will be no detours. NPS advises commuters to find alternate routes and to expect delays.
Ramps to the 14th Bridge and on and off GW Parkway are also affected by the construction.
Single-lane closures will occur in both directions between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Two-lane closures are expected between 7 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. The lane closures are expected to cause delays.
NPS will work to minimize disruptions to travelers using Reagan National Airport.
Construction is anticipated to be finished by mid-December 2015, barring any inclement weather delays.
“Every effort will be made to minimize traffic delays and accomplish the work in a timely manner. The NPS regrets any inconvenience and appreciates all motorists’ understanding and patience,” NPS said.
Photo via Google Maps
Arlington Public Schools are closed. All preschool programs, Enjoy Arlington classes and sports leagues are canceled. Synthetic fields are closed.
Garbage collection will take place, and those whose garbage day is Thursday are also asked to put their carts out for collection.
An overnight refreeze may result in slippery conditions on the roads and sidewalks this morning. Pedestrians and drivers are encouraged to exercise extra caution.
Arlington Transit has modified its morning service schedule in light of the slick streets. From an ART alert email:
- ART will operate at Severe Service Levels on the 41 & 51 and also the 42, 45, 77, & 87.
- ART 41 & ART 45 will not serve Columbia Heights West. Buses will run only to/from Columbia Pike & Dinwiddie.
- ART 42, 45 & 77 will not serve S. Courthouse Road
- ART 77 will not serve Walter Reed between Arlington Mill & S. Glebe (the hill)
- ART 87 buses will run AM Peak, but expect delays. ART 87A and 87X will not be served
- As the ice melts mid-day, more service will be provided. We will post more alerts.
Shirlington Oktoberfest Road Closures — Several streets in the Shirlington area will be closed Saturday for the annual Capitol City Brewing Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest. As seen in a county-produced video, there are a number of ways to get to the event without a car. [Arlington County, YouTube]
Composting Will Add to Waste Collection Cost — A plan to add a composting program for organic materials to Arlington’s solid waste collection could cost Arlington homeowners an extra $30-35 per year. Currently, homeowners pay just under $300 annually for Arlington’s residential waste collection. [Sun Gazette]
Delays on Blue, Yellow Lines — Metro riders on the Blue and Yellow lines can expect some additional delays this weekend. Due to track work, trains will run every 16 minutes (instead of every 12 minutes) during daylight hours. [WMATA]
Flickr pool photo by eschweik
The incident happened at 2:52 p.m., when the man intentionally climbed down to the tracks and stood there, about 15 seconds prior to a train entering the station, according to WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel.
“The train operator saw the man and stopped the train in time,” Stessel told ARLnow.com. “Third rail power was taken down, and the man climbed back onto the platform under the supervision of the train operator and the station manager.”
“The man was not injured,” Stessel continued. “He was transported to the hospital for a psychological evaluation.”
Orange Line delays from the incident have since been cleared, according to WMATA.
Photo via @mikekap3
The Blue Line will single track between Arlington Cemetery and Foggy Bottom to allow for fiber-optic cable installation. Orange Line trains will single track between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom, also to allow for fiber-optic cable installation.
Trains on both lines will run every 26 minutes between 10:00 tonight (Friday) and system closing on Sunday.
Delays due to maintenance work are also expected on the Red and Green lines. Metro says the work is part of its larger infrastructure “rebuilding” effort.
“Metro is investing $5.5 billion to install new rail, ties, platforms, escalators, signals, lighting, communication systems, and more,” the agency said in a press release. “It represents the largest capital investment — and work effort — since the system’s original construction in the early 1970s.”
There are significant delays on the Blue and Yellow lines due to a track problem near Reagan National Airport.
The delays are impacting both inbound and outbound trains on both lines. From WMATA:
Metrorail customers on the Blue and Yellow lines will experience delays of approximately
2030-35 minutes this morning as trains share a single track between Braddock Road and Pentagon City. Shortly before 5 a.m., an accidental leak of hydraulic fluid on the outbound track created a slippery condition for trains. Personnel are on the scene working to clear the fluid to allow two-track train operations to resume. The clean up effort is expected to last through rush hour.