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by Chris Teale July 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Some residents in Columbia Forest will be without water tonight (July 20) and traffic will be diverted for emergency repairs along Columbia Pike.

Crews from the county’s Department of Environmental Services will be making emergency water main repairs at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street, beginning at 8 p.m. The repairs are scheduled to last until 8 a.m. July 21.

During that time, the Pike’s eastbound lanes between S. Greenbrier Street and S. Dinwiddie Street will be closed, while the westbound lanes will be converted into a lane each for eastbound and westbound traffic.

DES said approximately 100-150 people will have water service affected. The Columbia Forest Civic Association said that water will be turned off for the buildings at 5200, 5300 and 5353 Columbia Pike.

Photo via Google Maps.

by Chris Teale July 17, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

A 22-story apartment building has the go-ahead to start construction in Crystal City after the Arlington County Board unanimously approved the project at its Saturday meeting.

The building, with the address of 2351 Jefferson Davis Highway but located at the intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S., is set for 302 apartments on top of a podium of the existing two-story retail space. The building is part of the larger Century Center office and retail complex.

The existing ground-floor retail includes Buffalo Wild Wings and Mezeh Mediterranean Grill. The existing retail tenants are expected to stay in the property after the project is complete.

The building would have more than 330,000 square feet of floor space and be 270 feet tall, with a total of 242 parking spaces provided for residents. An existing shared garage with a nearby office building will provide another 100 spaces for retail customers.

“This is the sort of mixed-use project that has become an Arlington signature,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “This building will accomplish one of our key goals — to bring more residents to the heart of Crystal City and provide an even better balance of jobs and residents in this neighborhood. This is a very attractive building, putting state-of-the-art new apartments above upgraded retail space that will enhance the neighborhood’s vibrancy.”

And while the project itself received broad support among County Board members and local residents who testified at the meeting, several raised concerns at the effectiveness of the county’s Transportation Impact Analysis.

The TIA is a requirement for new projects that assesses how many new vehicles and users of public transportation will be added, but some residents said it failed to take into account the community’s traffic concerns.

In their own recommendations of the project in Crystal City, both the Planning Commission and Transportation Commission said said staff must engage in a “community conversation” and receive feedback on where TIA studies can be improved.

“What we’re asking is for staff to reach out broader and more deliberately to the community, because they’re currently not feeling heard,” said Planning Commission member Stephen Hughes at the meeting.

County transportation director Dennis Leach said staff in the county’s Department of Environmental Services are already looking at updating the TIA, and that they will look to the community for input on how it can be changed before presenting any updates at a public meeting, as well as to the Planning and Transportation Commissions.

Leach said the county already asks far more of developers to show impacts on traffic and transit than many other jurisdictions. In its announcement of the Board’s approval, county officials said the analysis for this project was more stringent than most:

The applicant conducted a more extensive traffic impact analysis than usually conducted for such a project. The analysis included the effects of the project on multiple modes of transportation, not just vehicle trips. It assessed the development’s projected impact on the adjacent street, sidewalk, transit, and bicycle network and took into account additional traffic generated by approved, but not yet built, projects within the study area, and their associated transportation network improvements. The analysis evaluated 14 intersections along Crystal Drive, South Clark Street, 23rd Street South and 26th Street South and concluded that future intersection level of service will remain the same regardless of the development, due to sufficient capacity within the existing Metrorail and bus system for the additional trips generated by the site, and a high-quality environment that exists adjacent to the site for pedestrians and bicyclists.

There is no specific timeline on when the TIA regulations will be updated and presented to the community, although Leach said it is already in staff’s work plan. Fisette said he hoped to see progress in the “near term,” possibly as early as September.

by ARLnow.com July 17, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

County officials say the reduction of a westbound turn lane on Arlington Mill Drive near Shirlington is a pilot program and the backups it’s causing will be resolved by traffic signal adjustments.

Arlington Mill Drive was recently re-striped at the “T” intersection with S. Walter Reed Drive. One of the two left turn lanes from Arlington Mill to Walter Reed was removed and blocked off with bollards, a move intended to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

There is heavy bike and pedestrian traffic at the intersection, which connects two sections of the Four Mile Run Trail.

But the lane removal has caused traffic to back up during peak times, according to several accounts. Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey wrote about the backups last month, proclaiming the lane reduction to be part of the county’s “semi-official ‘drivers must suffer’ policy.”

Last week a Twitter user also reported significant evening rush hour delays.

(The backups seem to be short-lived; a brief evening rush hour visit by a reporter last week did not reveal any long lines.)

In a statement released to ARLnow.com, officials with Arlington County’s Dept. of Environmental Services said that the lane re-striping is a “test” that is being evaluated ahead of a larger intersection improvement project, slated for next year.

The test will help traffic engineers determine adjustments to the traffic signal timing, which should alleviate any delays, officials say. Potentially complicating the plan, however: there is already heavy traffic on Walter Reed Drive during the evening rush hour, which could be exacerbated by changes to the traffic light cycle.

The full statement from DES, after the jump.

(more…)

by Chris Teale July 12, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

Arlington County Board members wrestled last night with a plan to substitute car parking spaces for spots for bike and car-sharing at new apartment and condo buildings near Metro stations.

The proposal, put together by county staff as part of a number of changes to parking policy under discussion at a Tuesday work session, is meant to encourage developers to contribute to other transit options.

Staff recommended that a developer providing a Capital Bikeshare station could substitute that for for up to four car parking spaces, depending on its size, or bike parking could be exchanged for two parking spaces. One car-sharing space, provided for a private company like Zipcar, could be in place of five spots.

But Board members questioned why the provision for different transit means is tied to reducing car parking spaces, especially near Metro stations, as adding such amenities is becoming a more standard practice in developments across the region.

“It bothers me that going to suggest that we’re not going to get these things until we go down to the minimum [parking ratio],” said Board chair Jay Fisette. “These are things that should be part of every site plan.”

Among the other recommendations put forward by staff, developers could request fewer parking spaces the closer a property is to a Metro station, with some committed affordable housing units not being required to have any parking spaces if they are within an eighth of a mile of a station.

Board member John Vihstadt argued that orienting the changes in parking policy around Metro, which would allow developers to provide fewer spaces at new buildings if they are close to a station, might be misguided given the drop in ridership due to the system’s ongoing safety concerns and year-long SafeTrack rebuilding program.

Vihstadt said that drop in ridership was “casting a pall” over the discussion, but county transportation director Dennis Leach said it was important to attract residents to such buildings who “build a lifestyle” around Metro. Vihstadt requested further data on the county’s declining ridership, which Leach said has also been hampered by more teleworking and other factors.

A major addition by staff to a report in March, by a residential parking working group on the new parking policy, is a requirement that developers provide for dedicated visitor parking.

Stephen Crim, a parking planner in the county’s Department of Environmental Services, said that change came after concerns from nearby residents that cars would park on their residential streets, especially those of visitors who have few options.

Leach noted that the parking garages in neighborhoods like Crystal City and Pentagon City are under-utilized, especially by visitors, and that DES could do even more to promote use of those spaces alongside the various Business Improvement Districts in the county.

Staff and County Board members agreed that while the policy still needs work before approval, it is aspirational and designed to attract residents who would prefer to have minimal, if any, car use.

“We are all seeking to hasten a future that we are interested in, which is a more multimodal corridor especially with fewer cars and more people taking alternatives to the extent that it suits them and choices that allow them to do so,” said Board vice chair Katie Cristol.

by Chris Teale July 11, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

(Updated 12.55 p.m.) Residents in North Rosslyn have been without water since yesterday (Monday) afternoon after a water main break on N. Scott Street.

Crews from Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services have been making emergency repairs since last night at 1815 N. Scott Street.

A department spokesman said they expect work to be complete and water service restored by 3 p.m. Tuesday, and that the service for 50-100 people has been affected. A traffic detour has been in place in the area, with N. Scott Street closed, including its sidewalks.

The spokesman said a contractor installing a cable drilled through a 16-inch water pipe.

In a post on the North Rosslyn Civic Association’s online forum, local resident Paul Derby said the break came after contractors for Comcast installing fiber in the neighborhood accidentally drilled through the water main.

“Hopefully, Comcast will fully reimburse Arlington County for the cost of these repairs,” Derby wrote. “One wonders how a piece of underground infrastructure as large as this water main could be missed or wrongly interpreted when the utility markings were done.”

Photo No. 1 via Twitter user @lizvanwazer

by ARLnow.com June 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm 0

A water main break is affecting more than 100 customers in the Fairlington neighborhood.

Video of the break, recorded by a local resident and posted on social media, shows a large geyser of water coming up from the middle of the street around 1 p.m. Water was subsequently turned off and crews are now working to repair the burst pipe.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says repairs, on the 2800 block of S. Columbus Street, are expected to be complete by 9 p.m. DES says it is also working to repair a second water main break, in the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood.

by Kalina Newman June 5, 2017 at 3:15 pm 0

The first phase for the upgrades on the intersection between Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road are well underway after construction began March 6.

A spokeswoman for the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) said the installation of spaces for underground utilities should be done by the end of the year.

After that is complete, utility cables will be transferred underground from the overhead poles. Each individual wooden overhead pole will then be removed and any remaining existing overhead utilities will be rearranged.

Improvements include wider sidewalks, upgraded traffic signals, enhanced left-turn lanes and the installation of left-turn lanes for N. Glebe Road. The area will also get four new bus shelters with real-time arrival information, new streetlights and crosswalk markings.

Currently the construction hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays.

Workers may close a single lane of traffic in one or both directions along Lee Highway, Glebe Road or both during construction. Vehicles turning left or right might also be detoured as construction moves into the intersection itself.

Additionally, some bus stops in the area will be relocated and some sidewalks will be closed or rerouted to allow for construction. Off-street parking in the area may also be reduced in the coming months.

DES says it does not expect any changes to be made to the current design plan for the project.

by Kalina Newman June 1, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Construction is set to begin this winter on improvements to S. Walter Reed Drive between S. Arlington Mill Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive near Shirlington, a plan in the works since 2014.

S. Arlington Mill Drive will get new left and right turn lanes to make crossing easier for pedestrians and bicyclists.  The realignment will be installed temporarily to allow residents to test out the proposed changes, and will remain in place until the work begins.

During the test period, staff will monitor the intersection’s usage to determine signal timings and markings prior to construction.

In addition, the project will include new crosswalks and curb ramps, ADA-compliant bus stops, upgraded traffic and pedestrian signals and new street lighting, among other improvements. S. Walter Reed Drive’s lanes will be restriped and widened slightly.

It is hoped the project will improve bicycle and pedestrian access to Shirlington. The intersection serves as an access point to the neighborhood’s commercial area, while county vehicles are also based at nearby facilities.

The funding for this project is provided through a slew of county sources as well as the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Revenue Sharing Program.

by ARLnow.com March 20, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Slide from Dept. of Environmental Services budget presentation

(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Those who live and work along Columbia Pike will have to wait another year for the implementation of a “Premium Transit Network” along the corridor.

ARLnow.com has learned that the plan for enhanced bus service along the Pike has been pushed back from 2018 to 2019 due to “WMATA’s focus on SafeTrack and core operations.”

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services issued the following statement on the delay.

Originally proposed for summer 2018, implementation of the Columbia Pike Premium Transit Network is now planned for summer 2019. Much of the new service for this network depends on Metrobus, but Metrobus service improvements have been hampered by Metro’s SafeTrack program and the need for Metrobus to focus efforts on moving passengers around rail disruptions. The County is still working to improve local ART service on the original schedule, and we’ve started the purchase process for new buses needed for future service improvements.

Arlington’s Transit Bureau is working with WMATA and Fairfax County to develop an implementation plan for Columbia Pike service improvements. Metrobus has executed a contract to begin the planning and combine improvements included in both Arlington and Fairfax County’s Transit Development Plans.

The Premium Transit Network was criticized as not ambitious enough when it was approved last year, especially compared to the Columbia Pike streetcar plan it essentially replaced. County staff was directed to consider other enhancements to transit along the corridor to supplement it.

The streetcar project was cancelled in 2014. At the time, Arlington County Board member and streetcar critic Libby Garvey promised a transit replacement that “will do everything the streetcar could and more.”

The transit network is intended be “fast, frequent, reliable and easy to use, with features including simplified routes, increased weekday and weekend service, and a new one-seat bus ride from Skyline to Pentagon City-Crystal City,” according to a county press release last year. “In addition to new service, the Premium Transit Network includes new transit stations along Columbia Pike that will provide near-level boarding, longer platforms, real-time bus arrival information and off-vehicle fare collection.”

Although the transit network implementation has been delayed, Arlington County and WMATA have already implemented a number of planned enhancements to bus service along Columbia Pike and elsewhere in Arlington, according to slides from a Dept. of Environmental Services budget presentation that were posted online.

by Tim Regan February 7, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

Wider sidewalks and new bus shelters are coming soon to the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.

Construction crews broke ground last month on the preliminary stages of a large improvement project that will eventually include the installation of left-turn lanes on N. Glebe Road, bigger sidewalks, four new bus shelters with real-time arrival information, and new streetlights, crosswalk markings and traffic signals. The improvements “will improve traffic flow and pedestrian and bicyclist safety,” Arlington County said.

Workers are currently installing underground equipment in parking lots near the intersection, but the larger improvements aren’t slated to arrive until sometime next year at the earliest.

“Construction began in January on the first phase, utility undergrounding. This is expected to last 18 months,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet. “The second phase, streetscape and transit stop upgrades, is still in design.”

Once the design is finalized, it will take workers about a year to finish the job, Balliet added.

In the months ahead, commuters can expect road work to start at the intersection. Construction hours within the roadway are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some night work will also occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays and weekends, the county said.

Workers may close a single lane of traffic in one or both directions along Lee Highway, Glebe Road or both during construction. Vehicles turning left or right might also be detoured as construction moves into the intersection itself.

Additionally, some bus stops in the area will be relocated and some sidewalks will be closed or rerouted to allow for construction, the county said. Off-street parking in the area may also be reduced in the coming months.

by ARLnow.com January 13, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington County crews pretreating S. Glebe Road with brine (file photo)(Update at 2:15 p.m.) Arlington County is preparing for the possibility of snow, sleet and freezing rain on Saturday, though the exact forecast is still far from certain.

“Crews began pretreating roads yesterday and will continue today to prepare for the expected icy weather conditions on the roadways,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien told ARLnow.com Friday morning.

“Due to the low confidence of this forecast, we are still analyzing the level of response that will be required” on Saturday, O’Brien continued. “A determination of resource levels and time of activation will be made this afternoon.”

VDOT, meanwhile, is encouraging drivers to stay off the roads in Northern Virginia on Saturday.

Virginia Department of Transportation and contract crews are preparing for plummeting temperatures and a gamut of winter weather forecast for northern Virginia this weekend, from early Saturday morning through Sunday morning.

Drivers are asked to monitor weather reports for the latest updates to avoid being on the road during periods of limited visibility or icy conditions. Stay off roads Saturday or delay trips until Sunday if possible, to avoid being caught in deteriorating conditions as weather transitions between snow, sleet and freezing rain through the day.

Crews began pretreating roads yesterday and will be staged roadside in the region by 10 p.m. tonight. Throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington* counties (*Arlington maintains own secondary roads) crews treat about 5,200 lane miles of interstates and other high-volume roads with liquid magnesium chloride or brine when conditions allow for winter weather. Learn more about northern Virginia’s snow preparations.

Why does VDOT ask drivers to stay home?

  • Visibility will be limited during periods of snow.
  • Freezing rain causes an ice glaze that is difficult to see. Black ice often looks like pavement that is simply wet, making it extremely hazardous for driving or walking.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicles cannot stop any better than two-wheel drive vehicles on ice.

It could be deja vu if the weather does trend toward more freezing rain. Icy weather caused a number of crashes and other problems on the roads in Arlington less than a month ago, on Saturday, Dec. 17.

by ARLnow.com January 4, 2017 at 3:50 pm 0

Arlington County crews pretreating S. Glebe Road with brine (file photo)It’s expected to start snowing tomorrow night and crews are already treating local roads and highways.

Arlington County brine trucks could be seen pretreating roads around Clarendon earlier this afternoon. VDOT, meanwhile, says it’s preparing for a potentially messy Thursday evening and Friday morning commute.

“Road crews are conducting anti-icing activities today and tomorrow,” VDOT said in a press release. “Please watch for crews as they stage along roads prior to the storm. Crews will treat roads with salt and sand as needed once the storm begins Thursday afternoon, plow in areas where and if snow totals reach two inches, and will remain on duty throughout the course of the storm.”

The snow is not expected to amount to much — maybe just a dusting to an inch. But even a small amount of snow could cause slippery conditions and virtual gridlock.

Via Twitter:

It might not be necessary with this storm, but Arlington County is urging residents this year to park in a parking lot or on the odd numbered side of local streets when it snows.

The county recently released the following video on the topic.

by ARLnow.com November 23, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Streetlights out near the West Village of Shirlington condo complex

Arlington County says it’s hoping to get a stretch of non-working streetlights near Shirlington switched back on by the end of the year, but residents are complaining that the repairs have taken too long.

The dark streetlights are located along the S. Four Mile Run Drive service road, in front of the West Village of Shirlington condo complex.

Last Thursday, condo management sent an email to residents, encouraging them to press the county to expedite repairs, saying that the lights “have been out for over a year now.”

Hello Residents,

As many of you are aware, Management has made several attempts to have the county make repairs to the street lights on S. Four Mile Run Drive. Unfortunately, we have not been able to make any headway. The County representatives continue to advise us that these repairs are not a priority for them.

In our experience, it is usually helpful for (tax paying county) residents to contact the county. Fortunately, one of your neighbors has done so, and has provided the contact information below. So please bombard the County with your sincere concerns about the community’s safety. Please do remember to include the fact that these lights have been out for over a year now.

Residents say they are concerned about their safety.

“It is pitch black for those walking our pets or those walking to/from our cars,” said resident Chrissy Limetti. “How disappointing to read that resident safety is not a priority.”

The county, however, says that they’ve been working on the issue and expect the lights to be back on by the end of the year.

“Preliminary work on the streetlights in this area has occurred and crews will begin underground repairs in the next month,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Kathryn O’Brien tells ARLnow.com. “Repairs are expected to be completed by the end of December.”

The repairs are taking longer than usual because of the nature of what caused the outage in the first place.

“In this particular case, the outage is an underground issue caused by an old cable that will be replaced,” O’Brien said. “The complexity of the underground issue determines the response time which may take 45 days or longer. For an above ground issue (e.g., bulb replacement), repairs take about 14-21 days but more extensive equipment is required to repair an underground utility problem.”

O’Brien could not confirm whether a county employee actually said that the repairs weren’t a priority.

“To our knowledge, no one on our streetlights team told this person that their issue wasn’t a priority,” she said. “We are still investigating this to see if they may have spoken to someone else. Every outage is a priority and the type of outage and availability of crews and equipment determines the completion time.”

Streetlight outages can be reported to the county online.

by ARLnow.com October 19, 2016 at 10:35 am 0

New protected bike lane project in Rosslyn (photo via @BikeArlington)

Arlington County is in the process of installing a new, protected bike lane on Wilson Blvd through part of Rosslyn.

The bike lane will help cyclists safely traverse a busy, challenging stretch of Wilson Blvd, between N. Oak and N. Quinn streets. County officials say that stretch was being repaved, presenting an opportunity to reconfigure the bike lane.

“We are always looking for ways to improve safety and accessibility for all modes of travel as described in our Master Transportation Plan,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.

“Our Transportation, Engineering and Operations Bureau worked closely with the Rosslyn BID and received input from the Bicycle Advisory Committee on the final design — which should be completed in the next few weeks,” she added.

A protected bike lane is typically separated from traffic using some combination of plastic bollards, landscaping, curbs and car parking. The county’s first protected bike lane project, in the Pentagon City area, moved the bike lane next to the curb and placed the street parking zone between the bike lane and traffic.

Photo via @BikeArlington

by ARLnow.com October 14, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Patrol boat on the Potomac in front of the Memorial Bridge (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Presidential Campaigns in Arlington — What do Ronald Reagan’s 1980 general election campaign, George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, Hillary Clinton’s 2008 primary campaign and John McCain’s 2008 general election campaign have in common? They were all headquartered here in Arlington. Among them, Reagan’s campaign was based in an unassuming office building on Columbia Pike. [Arlington County]

AFAC Reports Record Need — The Arlington Food Assistance Center has had a record 116,000 family visits over the past year and expects weekly family visits to increase to 3,000 next month. [InsideNova]

All About Storm Drains — Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services has answered some frequently asked questions about the county’s more than 10,000 storm drains. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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