Arlington, VA

Arlington County has made progress in repairing infrastructure damaged in the July 8 flash flood emergency.

Last week Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services reopened a portion of the Four Mile Run Trail that runs under Wilson Blvd. The underpass was partially washed out by the force of the raging flood waters.

Crews “completed the work to repair the bike trail underpass by replacing the curb that was undermined by the stream and placing new concrete slab on the sidewalk surface,” DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter tells ARLnow. “We also painted the curb on the outer perimeter towards the stream. Overall, it took about two weeks to complete.”

Arlington reported around $6 million in damage to county infrastructure from the flooding. Baxter said DES has completely most of its repairs, though some work remains to be done.

“In terms of repairs, we have substantially completed our tasks — we have minor items to address, such as catch basin repairs,” she said.

A number of footbridges were swept away by floodwaters. At least one, near 38th Street N. in the Old Glebe neighborhood, was recently replaced. Arlington’s parks department is currently evaluating the replacement of others.

“As of Oct. 2, County contractors have removed bridges that were destroyed by the storm, including the bridges at 38th St. N. and N. Chesterfield Street, Bon Air, Glencarlyn and Gulf Branch. Lubber Run will follow,” parks spokeswoman Susan Kalish said. “All bridges and fords damaged in the storm are being assessed for safety and next steps.”

Photo (1) courtesy Dennis Dimick, (3) courtesy @btj/Twitter

0 Comments

Up to 100 homes and business in the Arlington Forest neighborhood will be without water service Friday night into Saturday.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says a valve replacement is needed and the portion of the neighborhood east of Lubber Run is expected to lose water service around 7 p.m. Friday as a result.

Water is expected to start flowing again around 9 a.m. Saturday, DES said.

File photo

0 Comments

Next week, county officials will present details and ask for feedback on a long-awaited project to restore a pond along the W&OD Trail.

On Tuesday, October 1, Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services will present a draft plan for digging the Swallow Pond in Glencarlyn Park deeper, and restoring some of the wild habitat in and around the pond.

People interested in learning more about the designs can attend the meeting at the Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Officials are also welcoming feedback from community members.

“The project goal is to restore the pond to the original depth by removing sediment, add a sediment collection forebay to allow easier maintenance and sediment removal, maximize water quality benefits, and restore habitat,” the county wrote on the project webpage.

Officials hope that clearing sediment means clearer water will flow from the pond to Four Mile Run — making this project one of several the county is hoping can cut down on pollution and clouding downstream in the Chesapeake Bay.

Sparrow Pond was man made in 2001 and has been slowly filling up with sediment ever since.

Sparrow Pond in 2018 after years of sediment build up, filling in the manmade waterway (Image via Arlington County)

Sediment was first cleared out of the pond 2007, per a county presentation. The pond was due for another clean-up in 2012, but the work was delayed. Several studies later, the pond is now slated for a full restoration project.

During a March community meeting, residents expressed concerns that construction could introduce invasive plants like Japanese knotweed via machinery that’s worked in places already seeded with the fast-growing shrub. Residents also requested crews do the work outside of the sparrow breeding cycle (roughly March to August) to protect the pond’s namesake avian inhabitants.

Image 1 via Flickr Pool/Dennis Dimick, others via Arlington County

0 Comments

Updated at 11:35 a.m. — The work on the county’s sewage plant has been postponed until next week, officials say.

Earlier: The air near Arlington’s sewage plant is expected to be a bit more rank than usual this week.

The county’s Dept. of Environmental Services announced yesterday that the plant near Crystal City was undergoing repair work on its odor control system, starting today (Tuesday). As a result “a sulfurous odor may be noticeable near the plant as air is vented out of manholes on both sides of South Glebe Road.”

Staff from the department provided a diagram (above) showing the location of the work and the odorous manholes, noting that the extra emissions are safe and not a health hazard.

The full announcement from DES is below.

Greetings:

Tomorrow through Friday, weather-permitting, crews at the County Water Pollution Control Plant will be repairing a duct connected to an odor control scrubber system that discharges cleaned air to the atmosphere. During the work, a sulfurous odor may be noticeable near the plant as air is vented out of manholes on both sides of South Glebe Road.

There is no health hazard posed by this work.

The photo [above] shows the scrubber buildings involved in the repairs as outlined and two small purple x’s indicating the manholes involved in venting.

Safety is always the plant staff’s No. 1 priority. Last year, the plant won the Virginia Water Environment Association’s Facility Safety Award.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Arlington County Department of Environmental Services

Image via Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services

0 Comments

(Updated at 2 p.m.) Arlington residents have gone out of their way to chuck 200 tons of bottles and jars at a pair of drop-off locations since the County Board removed glass from the list of recyclable materials.

In April, county officials asked residents to throw their glass away in their black trash bins instead of blue recycling carts, citing the rising costs of recycling the material.

As an alternative, the county set up two designated glass drop-off sites at Quincy Park (N. Quincy Street and Washington Blvd) and the Arlington Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street). From there, the glass is transported to Fairfax County where it is turned into sand and gravel used in construction.

Schwartz said in April he hoped to identify three additional drop-off sites by August. The month has since passed, but officials say they’re close to announcing the new sites.

“I don’t want to jinx it, but it should be a matter of weeks,” said Peter Golkin, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Services. “We live in a tiny county where land is at a premium, so it’s a matter of making sure we can put the bins in a space where we can collect them with big trucks.”

Just over two-thirds of respondents to an ARLnow poll in May said they think Arlington should keep recycling glass in the residential recycling stream, no matter the cost. Some experts, however, say the cost of recycling glass outstrips the marginal environmental benefit compared to simply sending it to a landfill.

Flickr pool photo by Aaron Webb

0 Comments

After years of public outcry, and dozens of car crashes at an intersection in the Rock Spring neighborhood, county officials said they are working on a possible solution.

Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) says it will be installing signs with new rules for drivers on Little Falls Road at the intersection with Old Dominion Drive later this month. The changes will forbid drivers on Little Falls Road from turning left or going straight at the intersection during morning and evening rush hours — only right turns will be permitted.

“The changes are intended to help address a crash trend at this location that includes a high number of angle collisions involving drivers either turning left or continuing through the intersection from Little Falls Road,” said DES spokesman Eric Balliet.

The right-turn-only restriction will be in place between 7-9:30 a.m. and 4-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Signs will be posted later this month before the start of the new school year, according to Balliet.

Last week, authorities closed the intersection due to a crash, something that neighbors say is all too common.

“Every single week there is at least one major accident at this intersection,” one resident wrote on social media in response to the article. “[The] last one was so bad two cars ended up in the front yard of the house in the corner.”

“It feels like there’s an accident there weekly,” another commentator wrote. “Neighbors have repeatedly asked for a four way stop or some traffic control at this location and have been told it’s not possible due to the proximity to the traffic light at Old Dominion/Williamsburg.”

In 2017, Williamsburg Middle School student Andy Nogas asked the County Board for help installing a stoplight at the intersection. An online version of his letter gained 112 petition signatures.

“I have seen more than 15 crashes and many near misses [at this intersection and] I am writing to ask you to do something about this,” he wrote.

In response, the Board pledged to assign a county staff member to the problem. Balliet said the resulting research indicated a traffic signal wasn’t the right solution:

Transportation Engineering & Operations staff evaluated several traffic management countermeasures for this location, including adding a traffic light, adding an all-way stop, and restricting certain types of vehicle movements. A signal is not warranted per engineering standards, as traffic volumes on Little Falls Road are too low. An all-way stop is not suitable as Old Dominion is a major arterial, and not feasible due to excessive queuing on Old Dominion based on traffic modeling. Adding movement restrictions is the recommended countermeasure to address the safety concerns.

About two years ago Arlington County completed a major road improvement project for this stretch of Old Dominion Drive, adding sidewalks, street lights, stormwater infrastructure and updated traffic signals.

Since Nogas’ letter, police have recorded 27 crashes at the intersection, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage: seven in 2017, 13 in 2018, and 7 as of 2019 so far.

In total, Savage said people were injured in nine of those crashes.

“Once implemented, we will monitor its effectiveness and will encourage the community to share their experiences with the new restrictions,” Balliet said of the new turning rules.

Map via Google Maps

0 Comments

Around 500 homes and businesses are without water service tonight due to a water main break in Ashton Heights.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says emergency repairs are underway at the intersection of N. Monroe Street and 7th Street N., about 3-4 blocks from the Virginia Square Metro station.

The repairs are not expected to be complete until daybreak.

Map via Google Maps

0 Comments

Arlington County has officially finished replacing the old Carlin Springs Road bridge near Ballston.

Most of the construction on the new bridge over N. George Mason Drive had wrapped up last month, with crews working on paving and re-striping by mid-June. The Department of Environmental Services celebrated the project’s completion in a tweet Tuesday, writing that the project was “ahead of schedule and under budget.”

On the project’s website, officials noted that crews were finishing installing new street lights on the bridge, as well as improving some landscaping along George Mason Drive.

Previously, neighbors had written to ARLnow to complain of the delays caused by the construction and, in particular, drivers illegally u-turning on Carlin Springs to get to George Mason. DES spokesman Eric Balliet said at the time the department as working on adding a turn lane to fix the problem.

On Tuesday, the department thanked people for their patience noting that “any inconveniences during the work are now water under the bridge.”

Demolition of the old bridge started two years ago, after the County Board approved plans dating back to 2011, which aimed to replace the “deteriorated” structure with a new bridge featuring bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and better street lights, among other improvements.

Image via Arlington County

0 Comments

(Updated on 07/29/19) Arlington County will not be paying for the cost of clean-up from sewage back-ups into people’s homes during the July 8 flash flood emergency.

A spokesperson for the County Manager’s office said today (Friday) that the county “sympathizes with proper owners” recovering from the unusually strong storm and “regrets” any damage caused, but “unfortunately, the County is not in a position to accept responsibility for damage to private properties resulting from this storm.”

As the rainstorm dumped water on Arlington two weeks ago, stormwater runoff filled basements in homes and businesses — as did some sewage. The Department of Environmental Services previously told ARLnow that water flooded some sewer pipes, backing up sewage into people’s homes.

The result was raw sewage flowing into basements, and in some cases, potentially washing up to the first floor of homes, as evidenced by the smells still lingering days after the storm in some houses hit hard in Westover.

“Under Virginia law, the County is legally immune from these sorts of claims and using County tax dollars to pay for damages for which the County is immune would constitute an illegal gift to a private individual,” said County Manager’s office spokesman Ben Hampton. “While the County will investigate all reported claims on a case-by-case basis, there is no legal basis for it to accept liability in the vast majority of cases resulting from the July 8 storm.”

One tipster who lives near the Cherrydale and Waverly Hills neighborhoods said his house was flooded after the main sewer line near his house flooded, “leaving us pretty much helpless as the county sewage flooded into our basement.”

When asked how many homes were affected by damaged sewer lines during the sewer line, county spokeswoman Bryna Helfer did not yet know and added that, “our primary focus right now is on pursuing the federal and state assistance.”

Over 1,000 residents and business owners filed post-storm damage claims with the county as part of Arlington’s preparation to request aid from the state or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Hampton said the county is currently reviewing the the damage assessment from the claims which determines the county’s aid eligibility.

“At this time, we have no reason to believe that homeowners with major damage would not be eligible for aid if it’s approved,”  added Helfer.

“The most likely form of aid is from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which provides low-interest loans to disaster victims, including homeowners, renters, and businesses, for repairs or replacement of disaster-damaged buildings and property,” she said. “SBA can also provide capital to businesses. The County is also pursuing aid under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual Assistance program, which provides financial assistance to individuals and families who have sustained losses due to disasters.”

Prior to the July 8 flooding, damage from clogged county sewers has occasionally damaged homes, including several incidents in the Madison Manor neighborhood, leaving residents on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in clean-up costs.

The full response from the County Manager’s office is below.

The County sympathizes with property owners recovering from the July 8, 2019 storm, which dumped an unprecedented amount of rain in the region and caused significant damage to public infrastructure as well as private property. The County regrets any damage that may have been caused to private property from the County’s public sewer lines being damaged or overwhelmed by this storm. Unfortunately, the County is not in a position to accept responsibility for damage to private properties resulting from this storm. Under Virginia law, the County is legally immune from these sorts of claims and using County tax dollars to pay for damages for which the County is immune would constitute an illegal gift to a private individual. While the County will investigate all reported claims on a case-by-case basis, there is no legal basis for it to accept liability in the vast majority of cases resulting from the July 8 storm. Property owners are encouraged to check with their insurance carriers and to explore the possibility of obtaining flood insurance for their properties. Additional information regarding the July 8 storm is available on the Flood Recovery Center at arlingtonva.us/flood-recovery.

0 Comments

(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Last week’s torrential rainstorm flooded thousands of homes and businesses — but something mysterious happened, too.

Just upstream from where it meets Four Mile Run, the Lubber Run stream disappeared.

Earlier this week the stream appeared to be miraculously vanishing around a tree stump, according to a video posted online and on a local listserv. The water was a trickle of its usual flow when a resident shot the video, and the stream left a dry bed of round rocks exposed after the water appeared to disappear.

At first, when contacted by ARLnow, all the Department of Environmental Services (DES) could say for sure was that the stream hadn’t been “rerouted intentionally.”

Jessica Baxter, a DES spokeswoman initially it could take days to find the reason for the phenomenon as storm clean-up continues county-wide and crews work on the damage the storm wrought to public areas.

Raging flood waters washed away at least six pedestrian bridges in the county, including two over Lubber Run.

The department sent crews out Wednesday and Thursday to investigate the steam on a hunch the water could have somehow flowed into an underground pipe.

“There were a few trees that fell over the stream, including a stump that fell and possibly damaged our sewer main,” Baxter said on Thursday after crews visited the stream. “However, given the water entering the main, we are having challenges determining where the damage is.”

The crews then worked to divert the water — which had begun to swell again since its post-storm lull the resident captured in his video. Then the county crews used CCTV technology to inspect the pipe.

On Friday morning at 7 a.m., Baxter reached out to ARLnow to say crews had made a breakthrough.

“Crews got the tree stump removed from the area and we did observe a broken pipe,”she said. “We have our emergency contractor on-site to make repairs today.”

After the repairs to the pipe were completed later this afternoon, Baxter said crews are expected to return early next week for additional repair work, including inserting a liner into the pipe.

A 2011 assessment of all streams and their ability to prevent floods noted that many parts of Lubber Run were considered “stable,” but also noted that the stream had “poor utility elements” at the time.

Lubber Run is not just a feeder for Four Mile Run, it’s also a perfect habitat for underwater critters like crayfish and fly larvae, and snakes, snails, and worms make their home in the stream, which is lined by shaggy water elms.

ARLnow could not locate the mysterious tree dropping-off point after an hour of bushwhacking along the stream banks Tuesday afternoon. However, it was clear that the storm had left its mark in the area.

Bits of broken bridges were beached along the banks as far as Four Mile Run, and picnic tables were covered in silt after being swallowed by the rising water. The stream itself was brown with sediment and fallen tree limbs still littered the walking paths. A golden retriever could be seen jumping in and out of the stream with one of the thicker limbs in his mouth.

0 Comments

Some 600 homes and businesses along Lee Highway, north of Courthouse, are without water service this afternoon.

Officials say a water main break on the 2000 block of N. Adams Street has partially closed the road and knocked out water service to hundreds. Repairs on the 6-inch line are expected to be completed by 9 p.m.

More from Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services:

Map via Google Maps

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list