(Updated at 9:30 a.m. on 8/23/23) Arlington County’s efforts to electrify transit just jolted forward.
Arlington’s transit system, ART, is getting its first batch of battery electric buses, or BEB, as it pursues carbon neutrality by 2050, according to a press release. The vehicles will be deployed in late 2024 after work wraps up on the new Operations and Maintenance Facility on Shirlington Road.
With $3.3 million in state and $1.2 million in local funds, the county is buying four American-made buses by the company Gillig, which drivers and riders tested out along with other options over the last year.
“Delivering transit service is at the core of who we are and what we do, when it comes to realizing our vision of smart growth that is environmentally conscious and sustainable,” Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said in a statement.
Transit Bureau Chief Lynn Rivers said in a statement that this purchase is the county’s second step toward a “greener, healthier future for Arlington Transit.”
“The first step began with our public vehicle demonstrations of BEB technology,” she said. “The partnership with Gillig points us in the right direction for a reliable and resilient zero-emission transit fleet that contributes to a cleaner, healthier County.”
The release says the battery electric buses are part of an effort to test out new technologies while maintaining current reliable levels of service.
Arlington’s Transit Bureau could also be testing out advances in fuel technology for 15 buses it is buying to replace aging vehicles within ART’s 78-bus fleet.
Unlike the four electric buses, these 15 will be powered by compressed natural gas — essentially compressed methane — like the rest of the ART fleet. While compressed natural gas produces fewer emissions than petrol, is still considered nonrenewable because underground reservoirs make up its largest source.
For the 15 new buses, the transit bureau is looking at using renewable natural gas, or methane that has already been used or captured from landfill emissions, Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors told ARLnow.
Meanwhile, the county is outfitting its forthcoming bus operations and maintenance facility with electric charging capabilities.
Initially, the county aimed to get electric buses operating from the facility in 2025, but the 2024 deployment date means it is ahead of schedule.
“The facility is projected to reach substantial completion in 2024 — a little faster than initially expected, and we are expecting to receive revisions of the 100% design for BEB infrastructure in the fall of this year,” Pors said.
Arlington County, like the rest of us, is realizing $250,000 does not get you as far as it used to.
With inflation, gone are the days that a construction contract of any significance could realistically come in under that sum, the threshold for a project that requires Arlington County Board approval. Gone too are the days that most professional services contracts, for things like engineering work, would cost under $80,000.
So, on Saturday, the Board adjusted for inflation — and then some — greenlighting a new threshold of $1 million for capital construction contracts and professional services. Contracts under this sum will no longer need Board review and approval.
“Establishing a higher threshold corrects for these cost increases and provides some
insulation against future inflationary pressures, which is prudent given the infrequent nature of these threshold adjustments,” a county report says.
The two thresholds were last set in 2000 and since then, the impacts of inflation in the D.C. area construction market “have been particularly acute,” the report says.
“While different construction market indices reflect varying degrees of inflation, they consistently support that $250,000 in the year 2000 more closely approximates $500,000 [to] $600,000 in 2023,” it said.
Although $1 million is a higher threshold even after adjusting for inflation, the county says it is reasonable.
“The proposed $1 million threshold would still be the lowest among major counties and cities in the Northern Virginia region and among the lowest in the D.C. metro area,” per the report.
In fact, of all the 70 road, sewer and park projects between 2015 and 2022 that received bids — dubbed invitation to bid or ITB projects — none were under $250,000, the county says.
The majority, 62%, were more than $1 million — the kind of capital construction projects that “also tend to be those with the most complexity and public interest and impact,” the report said.
The Gazette Leader newspaper, however, lamented this as a loss for those seeking a more transparent government.
“The proposal likely will add more fuel to the fire among critics of the government like the Arlington County Civic Federation, which has contended that the government is failing the public on the transparency front,” editor Scott McCaffrey wrote.
The county has a different take, saying projects under $1 million are largely “minor renovations and smaller maintenance projects.” That includes minor sidewalk or park improvements, such as those recently undertaken at Towers Park Playground, Oakland Park and Edison Park.
These projects can generate public interest but, the report says, the county has existing engagement processes to respond to such interest.
They are installing traffic sensors in and marking some 4,500 parking spots in the Rosslyn-Ballston and Pentagon City-Crystal City corridors.
The spots and hardware are the foundation for a three-year, $5.4 million state-funded pilot project testing out a new way to manage parking availability and pricing, dubbed “performance parking,” which kicked off earlier this year.
Currently, parking is at a fixed rate and people have to find spots once they arrive at their destination, which can lead to double-parking or going somewhere else to, for instance, grab a meal.
Using existing meters and keeping the Parkmobile payment platform, the pilot intends to smooth out competition for convenient spots by directing people to cheaper options farther away. Prices would also vary based on time of day.
Arlington County will have a phone-friendly website with real-time availability and pricing data, which may also be accessible from some third-party apps. This information could help people plan where to park ahead of time, decreasing cruising time.
The pilot “is data-driven, using technology to better understand existing park utilization,” Melissa McMahon, the parking and curb space manager for Arlington County, told the Planning Commission this week. “We are actively managing parking supply to make parking more convenient and to reduce the negative impacts of hard-to-find parking.”
To get started, the county has to understand how people use on-street parking right now. Crews are delineating discrete spaces where, currently, it is a free-for-all between two signs, and installing one sensor per space.
Later this year, these wireless, battery-operated, in-ground sensors will start sensing when and for how long a car occupies a space. They will communicate that to “wireless gateways” located on traffic signal poles, which will relay that data to a central network server. That data is converted into a dashboard that county staff will use to make parking decisions.
Once it has enough “existing conditions” data this fall, the Dept. of Environmental Services will pick a range of prices, which it aims to bring to the Arlington County Board for approval this December. After that, for the next two years of the pilot, DES will request permission to change prices once per quarter to see the impact on driver behavior.
“This project does not create dynamically or fast-changing metered pricing,” McMahon said. “It won’t be uncertain on a day to day basis. If you’re going into a neighborhood routinely you’ll have a sense of where the lower price spots are and where the higher priced spots are.”
She said the goal is not to increase overall meter revenue, and blocks with lower rates may cancel out those with higher rates.
(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) The cherry blossoms have passed their peak and the days are getting warmer and longer. That means all signs point to the start of street paving season.
Every year, in March, the Dept. of Environmental Services embarks on its seasonal effort to repave some of its 1,061 lane miles of roadway. After stepping up repaving after years of anemic paving rates, the county has sharpened its focus on streets in poor condition and those that have a lot of traffic.
This year, nearly 58 lane miles are slated for repaving, says Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin. That is down from 74 lane miles last year and below the county’s typical target of 72 miles per year.
“That’s a bit lower than previous years but it takes into account the milder winter allowing for more maintenance,” he said.
More maintenance throughout the winter resulted in fewer road segments with cracking and potholes — two of the metrics the county uses for ranking streets from “poor” to “excellent.”
“Also factored in: avoiding conflicts with current and upcoming projects by other County departments and Washington Gas,” he said.
A new map, released Tuesday, shows which streets the county will pave and repair.
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) March 28, 2023
Some of the major streets slated for repavement include segments of:
- S. Joyce Street in Pentagon City
- S. Arlington Ridge Road in Arlington Ridge
- N. Sycamore Street in East Falls Church
- 10th Street N. in Clarendon
- N. George Mason Drive through the Bluemont neighborhood and near Arlington Forest
“Paving season kicked off this week along S. Grant Street between 23rd and 24th Street S. with full depth paving,” Golkin said. “The more familiar mill and overlay work is starting somewhat later than usual, mid-April, to allow for public engagement regarding pavement markings and related safety features. Also, a new concrete maintenance contractor is getting a jump on some work pre-paving.”
As part of the repaving project, some existing traffic-calming features will be repaved, including a traffic circle at N. Highland Street and 7th Street N. in Lyon Park and speed “cushions” on N. Livingston Street in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood, near the county line.
Over the last nine years, the county has worked to bring up the “pavement condition index” on its roads from an overall score of 67 (out of 100), which is considered “fair,” to 82.4, which is considered “good,” in 2021, according to the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget.
“With the improvement in average PCI to 82.4, the County will be placing more emphasis on re-builds for streets with low PCI and/or with high traffic impacts,” per the budget. “Arterials are repaved more often due to the traffic volumes and type of vehicles using them, while neighborhood streets get slurry seal treatment every seven to ten years to extend their life rather than re-paving them as often.”
Arlington County plans to spend $10.3 million on paving in the FY 2024 budget, compared to $11.5 million in FY 2023, according to budget documents.
The county, meanwhile, is also attending to potholes that may have formed during the winter months. So far in 2023, Arlington had some 260 potholes, compared to 663 for the first three months of 2022, Golkin says.
“Less freezing and less need for road salt during winter obviously helps keep road surfaces in better shape,” he said.
For the eighth year in a row, the D.C. area had a relatively mild winter. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang declared the end of the season last week, noting winter hardly showed up.
We. Declare. Winter. Over.
(although it never really began)https://t.co/jvytRdi668
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) March 21, 2023
A South Arlington intersection that has seen two pedestrian-involved crashes this year, including one last week, is set to be updated to improve safety.
In the evening on Tuesday, March 14, an adult man was struck by a driver at the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive, causing bleeding from his head, per initial reports. His support dog ran off but was later returned, according to social media.
Planned renovation to this intersection are part of the South George Mason Drive Multimodal Transportation Study, which will bring changes along the major road from Arlington Blvd to the county border. The county and a resident involved in the process say complexities at this intersection have slowed down progress on this initiative, which was first expected to wrap up last fall.
“This project is part of the larger S. George Mason Drive project, but the county discovered fairly quickly that this intersection specifically was going to cause them to have to slow down the project to allow for additional study and design,” Douglas Park resident Jason Kaufman said.
A virtual meeting a few months behind schedule was scheduled to be held last night from 7-8:30 p.m., around the same time as the contentious Missing Middle vote, to discuss new designs for the proposed changes along S. George Mason Drive.
Concept plans from last summer proposed treatments including narrower roads, widened sidewalks and vegetation buffers between pedestrians and road users. One option included protected bike lanes while another mixed cyclists and drivers.
A county webpage for the project says staff have conducted an in-depth analysis of S. George Mason Drive where it intersects with S. Four Mile Run Drive, as well as with Columbia Pike, in preparing its plans.
The high-traffic intersection is a major artery for three neighborhoods that links road users to the City of Alexandria, I-395 and Shirlington. A service road, also called S. Four Mile Run Drive, runs parallel to the main road, basically creating a “double intersection.” The W&OD Trail runs parallel to and in between these two roads, crossing six lanes of traffic on S. George Mason Drive.
“Anyone that bikes, rides, drives, scoots or traverses through that intersection on a daily basis is aware of its challenges,” Kaufman said. “There are a number of conflict points that are dangerous. That intersection has one of the highest incidents of accidents in the county, including accidents that are considered ‘severe’ for the purposes of Vision Zero calculations, and it needs to be fixed.”
The county considers this intersection a “hot spot,” based on a review of crash data from 2019 and 2022. Between 2017 and 2019, there had been more than 15 vehicle crashes and at least two cyclist-involved crashes, per a 2020 report. The county’s crash dashboard lists two crashes with severe injuries, one in 2015 and another in 2017, and ARLnow reported on a hit-and-run with severe injuries in November 2021.
That’s in addition to last week’s crash.
@ArlingtonDES is working on designs at this very intersection because it's a known safety hazard
This is why we need them to work faster https://t.co/O7WXZJf0Ps
— eBike Gillian (@BikeGillian) March 14, 2023
For all road users, navigating the intersection requires hyper-vigilance, but people are rarely able to pay attention to “an overwhelming number of inputs,” says Douglas Park resident Kristin Francis.
A high-traffic intersection one block north of Columbia Pike could get some safety upgrades, including a traffic signal.
Arlington County is embarking on a project to develop plans to upgrade the intersection of S. Glebe Road and 9th Street S., located between the Alcova Heights and Arlington Heights neighborhoods.
In addition to replacing a rapid-flash beacon with a traffic signal, the county says changes, in collaboration with the Virginia Dept. of Transportation, could include extending the curbs, updating the crosswalks and refuge medians, and fixing deteriorating ramps that do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The forthcoming project responds to community feedback, a 2022 safety audit of Glebe Road — a VDOT-maintained artery — and a 2020 analysis of “crash hot spots,” according to a county webpage. The latter two reports include data, photos and community comments describing unsafe conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and drivers.
“Glebe Road from 14th Street N. to Columbia Pike is part of Arlington County’s High Injury Network,” the county says. “These corridors experience high concentrations of critical crashes compared to other corridors in Arlington.”
Per the safety audit, the intersection saw two pedestrian crashes and five left-turn vehicle crashes between January 2018 and February 2021. It also found that many people drive over the speed limit by at least 5 mph between 8th Street S. and 9th Street S., going an average of 38 mph.
“Community feedback received as part of the Vision Zero Action Plan development identified Glebe Road and 9th Street S. as an unsafe crossing,” the county said.
Arlington is working toward eliminating traffic-related serious injuries and deaths by 2030 as part of its initiative known as Vision Zero. Transportation advocates and the Arlington County Board called for swift action to realize plan goals and make roads safer after a rash of crashes involving pedestrians last year.
Some residents heralded the project on Twitter as sorely needed and a long time in coming.
Back in 2018, cyclists who participated in a “protest ride” to advocate for better cycling conditions, called specifically for improvements to 9th Street S., which is part of the Columbia Pike Bike Boulevards, a bicycle route parallel to the Pike.
— Chris Slatt (@alongthepike) March 8, 2023
This spring, there will be a public engagement opportunity in which the county will solicit feedback on existing conditions, including site constraints such as utility poles that block parts of the sidewalk.
County staff are preparing engagement materials, and “when that’s ready, the engagement will open,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors said.
The engagement will first ask people to share how they currently use these streets as well as any ideas or concerns they have.
“This input will be used to refine to goals and develop concept options,” the webpage says.
This spring and summer, county staff will again request feedback on a concept plan, which will be incorporated into a final design plan that the county anticipates can be prepared this fall.
Arlington County has completed, started or has planned other transportation upgrades along Glebe Road, per the 2022 audit, including new or re-programmed traffic signals and new ramps.
Arlington County is looking to buy homes within the Spout Run watershed for flood mitigation.
Since last fall, the county has notified some three dozen property owners in the Cherrydale and Waverly Hills civic associations by letter of its interest in buying their properties for stormwater management. The letters targeted areas that were hit hard by recent flooding events, like the floods seen in July 2019.
Should they agree to sell, the county would tear down the homes, remove infrastructure such as driveways, and then regrade and replant the land to minimize erosion. Properties would be preserved for open space.
“Phased property acquisition is a necessary component of a resilient stormwater improvement program to provide overland relief and reduce flood risk to the community,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien said. “Voluntary property acquisitions will be targeted to areas in the five critical watersheds at higher risk of flooding due to existing topography.”
The county’s first priority is to create “overland relief,” or a safe path for stormwater to flow during large rain events, per presentation materials on the county’s website. It contends that there is not enough public space to provide those paths or make infrastructure upgrades, and, crucially, that existing stormwater systems were built assuming sufficient overland relief to handle anything stronger than a 10-year storm (which has a 10% chance of happening annually).
“There is not sufficient available space within existing rights-of-way to maintain the infrastructure, make resilient system upgrades, or to provide overland relief,” the presentation says. “There is no long-term solution to reduce flood risk in Spout Run without adding overland relief.”
The solution is a long time in coming for some in the Waverly Hills Civic Association, which — along with the Cherrydale Citizens Association — has met with Arlington County about stormwater management solutions since 2018.
WHCA President Paul Holland says he has heard several residents express frustrations related “to the extended timeline to identify a solution” to the flooding that occured in recent years.
“For the Waverly Hills Civic Association, stormwater issues are our top priority. Our neighbors were dramatically impacted by major flooding events in 2018 and 2019,” he said.
Both Holland and Cherrydale Citizens Association President Jim Todd said several questions remain unanswered, however.
“There was a lot of concern that the county was really, really vague and didn’t seem to know or be willing to share what they intend to do with any of the properties they intend to acquire,” Todd said, adding that he heard from constituents who felt they didn’t get much clarity after calling the county’s real estate office.
Although WHCA members worked with the county to develop an FAQ page addressing many of the questions, they too have outstanding concerns.
“Our primary concern is that the acquired lots will be well designed and taken care of by the County to become usable park land and/or attractive open space as neighborhood amenities,” said Holland.
Todd, however, said he is unsure how the county will be able to create any meaningful overland relief if only a smattering of people sell.
(Updated 3:40 p.m.) Work is ramping up on a new Arlington County bus maintenance building and parking garage in Green Valley.
Crews are set to wrap up laying the foundation for the Arlington Transit (ART) Operations and Maintenance Facility at the end of this month, says Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Alyson Jordan Tomaszewski.
“The facility will perform regular preventive bus maintenance, repairs and other unscheduled maintenance work,” per a project webpage. “It also will include administration and operations functions and parking for buses and staff.”
Then, passers-by may notice a crawler crane on site, which will be used to install steel columns. That work is set to last until sometime in March, according to the project webpage.
Meanwhile, work on the foundation of the parking garage is planned to start at the end of January, she says.
Construction began in June 2022 and is expected to be completed in the fall of 2024.
“We have experienced both weather and supply chain delays with the ART Operations and Maintenance Facility,” she said. “However, we are still on track for completion in fall 2024. To mitigate the supply chain issue, we are expediting material approval and procurement as best we can.”
ICYMI: Foundation and other infrastructure taking shape at the ART Operations and Maintenance Facility site along Shirlington Road. Work proceeds through next year. https://t.co/d6DdG1ZpQD pic.twitter.com/WNFKcZ0Oz8
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) January 16, 2023
The Green Valley Civic Association welcomes the new facility.
“The county used to park about 60 ART buses right in Jennie Dean Park, next to the basketball court,” Robin Stombler, community-affairs chair of the civic association, tells ARLnow. “Moving the buses into a new operations facility adjacent to I-395 is not only a welcome change, but should mitigate noise and light disturbances on the residential community.”
Still, the civic association has some lingering concerns.
“We were vocal on the need for improved environmental conditions. This meant a state-of-the-art facility outfitted for a future electric bus fleet, better stormwater management and bioretention ponds, and lit signage that does not face the residential part of Green Valley,” Stombler said.
“The new county bus campus will house a staff-only, multi-story parking garage,” she continued. “We need some creative thinking to make sure this amenity is shared with the rest of the neighborhood.”
Next door, the general manager of the Cubesmart storage facility tells ARLnow that the county has “been very sensitive to the fact that we have traffic flowing in and out of there and has done great job keeping the road clean.”
The Cubesmart opened a second facility near the construction site back in March 2021. Between the original building, now “The Annex,” and the new building, there are nearly 2,400 storage units, she said.
This construction project follows on the heels of other recently completed ones in the Green Valley neighborhood, aimed at realizing a community vision of an arts and industry hub. The new John Robinson, Jr. Town Square, with a towering sculpture, as well as the renovated Jennie Dean Park opened with great fanfare this spring.
The County Board approved the purchase of the three parcels in Green Valley to build the ART facilities back in 2018.
“This project is essential for ART’s long-term sustainability and will address the current and future needs for parking, operations and maintenance of the County’s growing ART bus fleet,” according to the project webpage. “ART has significantly increased its number of routes and hours of service during the past 10 years and plans to continue growing during the next 20 years, supported by a fleet of more than 100 buses.”
The total cost to buy the land, plan and design the project and construct it is $81.2 million.
Work hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Friday, with some weekend work occurring between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.
This article was updated to add comments from the Green Valley Civic Association.
Drivers have been blocking a new PBL in search of the perfect PSL.
Last November, as part of a 2022 Complete Streets project, Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services replaced two parking spots with a protected bike lane, or “PBL,” on the east side of Clarendon Blvd. It also added new free, 15-minute parking spots at N. Danville Street, to accommodate those who would have used the two former spots when picking up their coffee order from the nearby Starbucks.
“All those legally parked automobiles are actually protecting bikers who are using the bike lane to the right,” noted DES spokesman Peter Golkin.
But illegally parked vehicles caused a different problem. Flouting a no-parking sign, cars — and even a county pickup truck — parked where the spots used to be, partially or completely blocking the bike lane. Local cyclist Jeff Hopp said he saw cars blocking the bike lane “all day, every day,” to access the Starbucks location across the street from the Whole Foods.
“In the area near Starbucks, [the county] created a hazard to cyclists instead of a safe PBL,” he said. “The county removed two parking spaces in the area when creating the PBL but the design of the PBL at this spot allows for drivers to drive into and park in the PBL while they ‘run in’ to Starbucks to grab their drinks.”
Public feedback helped guide the designs, Golkin says, but in response to the reality on the ground, the county recently made it harder to park there.
“Extra bollards were added this month to make such an abuse less tempting and to encourage drivers to look for the free and pay spaces just a few feet down the road,” Golkin said.
Several free 15-minute parking spots can be found on Clarendon Blvd at Danville along the new protected bike lane. A few more PBL bollards can be found just to the west. https://t.co/WBOtOpfRPh pic.twitter.com/wEz2z32F8n
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) January 17, 2023
Hopp, who had notified the county about the issue, says he appreciates the changes.
“I feel the county was responsive to a conversation about a solution and, in the end, I feel they made the right decision to install additional bollards around the edges,” he said. “With these additional bollards, vehicles will not have enough room to pull into the PBL in this area — unless drivers just mow them down, which I’ll bet has happened before.”
(Updated at 12:40 p.m. on 8/16/23) A portion of Columbia Pike is set to close for more than a year later this month to help make way for Arlington National Cemetery’s expansion.
The half-mile section of Columbia Pike between S. Joyce Street and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) facility just east of S. Oak Street is expected to be shuttered starting Monday, Jan. 23.
It will remain closed until the summer of 2024.
The closures are part of the Federal Highway Administration’s Arlington National Cemetery Defense Access Roads (DAR) project that’s being done to accommodate the 50-acre southern expansion of Arlington National Cemetery (ANC).
This will add about 80,000 burial sites, allowing the cemetery to continue burials through the 2050s. The expansion will also bring the Air Force Memorial within cemetery grounds as well as provide space for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center, with construction on that currently slated to start next year.
The overall expansion project remains on track to be completed by 2027, an ANC spokesperson confirmed to ARLnow.
Some detour specifics for the Pike closure are expected to be announced in the coming days, though the ANC spokesperson did share the general plan via email.
Traffic will be redirected to travel north on a new segment of S. Nash Street that will be opened between Columbia Pike and Southgate Road and one block east of S. Oak Street. It’s marked as a “new access road” on the map below.
Then, to circumvent the closed portion of the Pike, traffic will be sent east on Southgate Road to the existing S. Joyce Street/Columbia Pike intersection, which will remain open.
For pedestrians and cyclists, there is set to be a “dedicated” sidewalk with a buffer zone and barricades. Those “are currently being constructed in anticipation of the 1/23 closure,” the ANC spokesperson said
At the moment, there is an established pedestrian and bike detour along the north side of Southgate Road as well as a temporary sidewalk to the east of S. Joyce Street that connects with the sidewalk under the I-395 bridge.
Last week, though, a reader reached out to ARLnow about how a portion of the pedestrian and bike detour has a “large patch of gravel” rendering it not accessible for some.
“While a wheelchair user might be able to make it across that patch, it wouldn’t be easy,” they wrote. The reader said that locals have reached out to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) about the gravel but, so far, little has been done.
Local officials told ARLnow that they have since addressed that patch of gravel.
After a slight weather delay, the second leaf collection pass will start tomorrow (Tuesday).
Arlington County initially posted the second vacuuming could start on Saturday, Dec. 3. Despite the delay, the county aims to finish sucking up dead leaves before Christmas.
“Collection is currently a day or two behind because of recent winds and rain prompting heavy leaf fall but that’s not uncommon and the schedule has some built-in flexibility,” Department of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin. “The end target of Dec. 21 remains on schedule.”
Routes are run Monday through Saturday, according to the county website. Residents can see when their neighborhood is scheduled for services online and can reference an interactive map to track the department’s progress.
Roughly 2,500 tons of leaves were collected during the first pass, which wrapped up Saturday, the DES spokesman says.
“That’s more leaves than the total 2,736 tons for all of last year but less than the 5,706 total tons picked up for all 2020 and the 6,696 total tons in 2019,” he said. “Hard numbers from weighing the leaves won’t be in until the vacuum second pass schedule is completed the second-to-last week of December.”
This year, Arlington County started leaf collection on Nov. 14, a week after last year’s scheduled start, potentially meaning an extra week for curbside leaf piles to get large and soggy.
In response to the change, more than a third of readers said that was too late, according to an unscientific ARLnow poll. On the other hand, a majority said the later start wasn’t a problem: 38% said the current schedule is fine and about a quarter said it should start later.
It appears the later start, determined by Solid Waste Bureau chief Erik Grabowsky and his team of “tree whisperers,” was not a problem for crews.
“As we say on the website, they use ‘historic data, tree types and density, weather forecasts, state forestry forecasts and resident feedback’ to set the schedule and it works out well,” Golkin said.
DES provided these leaf tips for residents preparing for collection:
- Leaves need to be waiting at the curb by the date on the orange signs posted throughout each neighborhood and the first date, NOT the end date, for each neighborhood on the schedule
- Leaves can also go in the green curbside cart (along with food scraps) and paper bags for year-round weekly collection; never use plastic bags for yard waste because those can’t be composted and won’t be collected
- Free paper yard waste bags are available while supplies last (maximum of 15 per resident) at several County facilities