Arlington Doctor Sentenced in Poisoning Case — Arlington doctor Sikander Imran was sentenced Friday to three years in prison, with 17 years suspended, for slipping pills into his pregnant girlfriend’s tea, causing her to lose the unborn baby. The now ex-girlfriend pleaded for leniency during the sentencing. [WJLA, New York Daily News]
Miniature Horses Could Be Allowed at Schools — “A new policy defining the rights and responsibility of those – students, staff or visitors – wishing to bring service animals into schools would allow for dogs and miniature horses… schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told the Sun Gazette there are no miniature horses used as service animals in the school system at the moment.” [InsideNova]
Powhatan Skate Park Renovations Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a $1.87 million contract to overhaul the Powhatan Springs Skate Park, the only such park in Arlington. “This well-loved skate park is in need of a makeover to address crumbling concrete conditions,” said Chair Katie Cristol. “The result will be a safer park that both kids and adults in Arlington who are passionate about skateboarding, inline skating and BMX cycling can enjoy for years to come.” [Arlington County]
Residents Protest Amazon at County Board Meeting — Several public speakers at Saturday’s County Board meeting spoke out against the prospect of Amazon’s second headquarters coming to Arlington. They held signs saying “No Amazon” and decried the company’s “brutal working conditions” and “culture of toxic masculinity,” among other things. [Blue Virginia]
Walter Reed Drive Project Green Lit — “The Arlington County Board today approved a $1.8 million contract to A & M Concrete Corporation to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections on a short but critical segment of South Walter Reed Drive, between South Four Mile Run Drive and South Arlington Mill Drive. The project will provide safer connections between two of Arlington’s busiest trails: Washington & Old Dominion and Four Mile Run.” [Arlington County]
Trees Fall During Heavy Rain — A number of trees around the area fell late last week after a record-breaking stretch of heavy rain. Among the trees to topple was a large one that fell on a home on the 2100 block of N. Vernon Street and injured one person. [Twitter, Washington Post]
Lubber Run Farmers Market OKed — “Field to Table, Inc., an Arlington-based non-profit organization, won the County Board’s approval today to open the Lubber Run Farmer’s Market in the parking lot at Barrett Elementary School, 4401 Henderson Road. The market is expected to open in late May.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: Train Derailment in Alexandria — A large contingent of emergency personnel responded to the CSX tracks near Port City Brewing in Alexandria Saturday morning for a freight train that had derailed. About 30 cars came off the tracks but no injuries or hazardous spills were reported. [City of Alexandria, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Clarendon Ballroom Battles Alt-Right Blitz — After beating up on Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation earlier this month, the alt-right faction seeking to hold inauguration rallies and parties in Arlington has focused its attention on the Clarendon Ballroom. The Ballroom, one alt-right leader alleges, turned away their planned “DeploraBall” due to political pressure. The Ballroom, however, says the organizers never actually signed a contract. Since then, the Ballroom has been receiving “hundreds of slanderous, dangerous, vulgar and threatening posts and tweets,” along with threatening phone calls. [NBC Washington, Washington Post]
Library Director’s Christmas Playlist — Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh has released her annual “mix tape of seasonal favorites” on the library blog. This year’s list is a Spotify playlist that starts with Diana Krall’s rendition of “Let It Snow” and concludes, on a unique-to-2016 note, with “World Spins Madly On” by The Weepies. [Arlington Public Library]
Six Fired by Metro in EFC Derailment — Following an investigation, Metro has fired six track inspectors and supervisors and demoted several others in the wake of July’s East Falls Church train derailment. Additional firings are in the works. [WJLA]
Arlington Community Foundation Grants — The Arlington Community Foundation has approved grants to 26 local nonprofits and school, totally nearly $100,000. [Patch]
The line is scheduled to shut down between the Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m Sunday for more than 100 people to participate in a “full-scale response drill” for a “simulated” train derailment, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Travelers should use the Blue Line to enter D.C. instead.
“The exercise, which will take place on the elevated track approaching the Pentagon station over the Potomac River, will allow emergency responders to test their capabilities on the aerial structure in coordination with water rescue teams,” WMATA said in a news release. “In addition, the drill will simulate real-world conditions to test coordination and communication between on-scene responders, Metrorail operations staff, Metro Transit Police and support personnel.”
Members of the Arlington County Fire Department, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Alexandria Fire Department, U.S. Park Police, U.S. Park Service, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire & Rescue Department and Prince George’s County Fire Department are expected to take part.
The drill is set come about a month after a “minor” train derailment at the East Falls Church Metro station.
Metro Transit Police are opening an investigation into the cause of July’s train derailment at the East Falls Church Metro station.
About 75 passengers were on an Orange Line train on July 29 when it derailed around 6:30 a.m. The passengers were able to offload “without further incident,” Metro said the day of the derailment.
Though Metro’s safety department was investigating the cause of the incident, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld asked Metro Transit Police to open a parallel inquiry “following a briefing in which investigators advised him of concerns arising from employee interviews, inspection reports, rail defect tracking, and video recordings,” according to a press release.
“The administrative review uncovered information that warrants further investigation by Metro Transit Police,” Wiedefeld said in a statement. “While Safety Department investigations determine cause and accountability, it is even more important to understand if other issues must be addressed with the way track inspections and maintenance have been conducted.”
Wiedefeld added that the transit agency uncovered information that “raises potentially serious concerns” in the cause of the derailment.
More about the investigation from a Metro press release:
Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld announced today that the investigation into the East Falls Church derailment, which began as an administrative review by the Safety Department, has been expanded to include an investigation by Metro Transit Police.
Wiedefeld directed the Metro Transit Police Department to open a parallel investigation into the matter following a briefing in which investigators advised him of concerns arising from employee interviews, inspection reports, rail defect tracking, and video recordings.
“The administrative review uncovered information that warrants further investigation by Metro Transit Police,” Wiedefeld said. “While Safety Department investigations determine cause and accountability, it is even more important to understand if other issues must be addressed with the way track inspections and maintenance have been conducted.”
Metro’s General Counsel, Patricia Y. Lee, has engaged two former Assistant U.S. Attorneys as Special Investigators to support the internal administrative review. Adam Hoffinger, a former AUSA for the Southern District of New York, and Peter White, a former AUSA for the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, will work closely with Lee on this matter. Both have extensive prosecutorial experience with complex cases.
“The public has a right to know that the tracks on which their trains run are being properly inspected,” said Wiedefeld. “The information uncovered to date raises potentially serious concerns, and we will take all actions necessary to get answers and hold people accountable.”
Wiedefeld assured riders today that the SafeTrack program underway (in which Metro tracks are being inspected and repaired) has been and will continue to be subject to quality controls from multiple internal and external groups to ensure all track work meets Metro’s high standards. (At the time of the derailment, East Falls Church interlocking had not yet been addressed as part of SafeTrack.) Metro is engaging an outside engineering firm to conduct a comprehensive review of its track inspection program.
“While we continue the due diligence to identify the cause of any conditions that may have contributed to this incident, Metro is simultaneously repairing the system and providing better rules, training, quality control and line management,” said Wiedefeld.
Photo courtesy John Sonderman
Wahlburgers Coming to Ballston — Wahlburgers, the burger chain founded by the show biz Wahlbergs (Mark, Donnie, Paul), is coming to Ballston next year. The eatery will be located near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road. [Washington Post]
SER Expanding to Capitol Hill? — The team behind SER restaurant in Ballston — or, at least, part of the team — is opening a new restaurant on Capitol Hill in the former Sona Creamery and Wine Bar space. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Releases Cause of Derailment — What caused a Metro train to derail near the East Falls Church station on Friday? The transit agency says it was a deteriorated section of track in which the rails became too wide. [Washington Post]
Dark Star Park Day — Yesterday Arlington County held its annual observance of Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn. The public park, built in 1984, is designed to have its shadows line up once a year, on Aug. 1. [Storify]
County Touts Innovation Recognition — Three Arlington County programs have been recognized for innovation from the Virginia Association of Counties. [Arlington County]
Road Rage on a Bike Trail — Road rage isn’t something that only happens with motorists. Occasionally, it happens among cyclists as well, as this story from an incident on the Mt. Vernon Trail demonstrates. [Storify]
Update at 2:45 p.m. — Orange and Silver line service will remain suspended between Ballston and West Falls Church through at least Saturday, Metro said this afternoon.
(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Two people were evaluated for injuries after a “minor” train derailment at the East Falls Church Metro station.
Orange and Silver Line service remains shut down between West Falls Church and Ballston as a result of the derailment, and will remain shut down through Friday evening, according to Metro. Shuttle buses are running between the stations.
About 75 passengers were on the train when the derailment happened, around 6:30 a.m. Train cars remained upright and the passengers were able to offload “without further incident,” according to Metro.
The derailment happened as Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance work was being performed on one of the tracks between Ballston and East Falls Church.
Photo (top) courtesy John Sonderman
@ARLnowDOTcom What's going on at EFC Metro? Someone said it sounded like either a gunshot or explosion.
— Juliana (@LadyJazzSinger) July 29, 2016
#FollowUp Train derailment is at the platform & described as minor, passengers being held on the train until they can be safely offloaded.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 29, 2016
#FollowUp Approx. 75 people are on the train. The train is in the process of being unloaded now, with no passengers reporting injuries.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 29, 2016
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 29, 2016
EFC: All passengers offloaded w/o further incident. Two cars are derailed, remaining upright and in line. Use alternate travel modes #wmata
— Metro Transit Police (@MetroTransitPD) July 29, 2016
Orange Line: No train service btwn W Falls Church & Ballston due to a train derailment at E Falls Church. Bus shuttle established.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) July 29, 2016
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) July 29, 2016
I-66 still very slow both ways for several miles before East Falls Church Metro station where derailment occurred. Parallel routes OK.
— Dr. Gridlock (@drgridlock) July 29, 2016
New School Budget Approved — The Arlington School Board approved a new $499.98 million budget last night. The budget includes a 2.84 percent cost of living increase for school employees, but no seniority-based “step” increases. The per-student cost at Arlington Public Schools will increase to $18,615, up from $18,400 in Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s FY 2013 proposed budget and $18,110 in this past year’s budget. [Sun Gazette]
Extra I-66 Lane Studied — Adding an extra lane in each direction on I-66 would improve travel times for drivers by only about 2 percent, while costing some $310 to $685 million, according to a preliminary study. [Greater Greater Washington]
Human Error in Rosslyn Derailment — Human error is suspected in Tuesday night’s derailment at the Rosslyn Metro station. Two Metro employees were placed on paid leave following the incident. [Washington Post]
Randy Johnson Visits W-L — Future Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson came to Arlington to watch a Washington-Lee High School baseball game last Friday. The Big Unit spent time in the dugout and posed for photos with players. [Patch]
Last 5K Friday Tonight — The last Crystal City 5K Friday of the season will take place starting at 6:30 tonight. Registration for the race is $20. [Pacers Events]
Could anything else go wrong on outgoing Metro General Manager John Catoe’s watch? Catoe leaves office on April 2, which may be time enough for Metro to have another major, every-one’s-commute-affected catastrophe.
Today started out with Metrorail only serving the closer-to-the-city stations, leaving those in the outer suburbs to fend for themselves. Many people chose to drive, causing highways to turn into parking lots.
Then, in many cases, Metro only ran the trains every 30-45 minutes, causing huge lines to form at stations. At one point, according to several accounts, access to the Ballston Metro station was cut off due to too many people waiting for trains. Massive queues were also reported at the Pentagon City Metro station.
Finally, although this was beyond Metro’s control, a train derailed at the Farragut North station, causing already-bad delays on the Red Line to become nightmarish. Luckily, there were only a few very minor injuries.
The derailed train has been cleared and the stationed has reopened, Metro says, but the delays continue.
“Trains will be restricted to a speed of 25 mph between Dupont Circle and Farragut North Metrorail stations while Metro officials investigate the incident,” Metro said in a statement.
Metro says 345 people were on board the derailed six-car train, which should give you a sense of just how full trains are running today.