(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) A large fire department response has been dispatched to the Ballston Metro station for a report of smoke in a Metro tunnel.
Metro called the fire department, reporting smoke in one of the tunnels between the Ballston and Virginia Square stations. Power has been cut to the track as firefighters investigate.
Metro says trains are single-tracking between Clarendon and Ballston stations as a result.
Firefighters in the tunnel are reporting a smoldering pile of trash along the third rail. There’s also a report of an arcing insulator.
The large emergency response comes after Monday’s fatal Metro incident outside the L’Enfant Metro station, in which smoke filled a disabled Metro train in a tunnel.
As of 10:40 a.m., fire department units were starting to clear the scene. Metro maintenance personnel are now working on the track problem. No additional smoke or fire has been reported.
Metro is advising Orange and Silver Line riders to expect delays.
Orange/Silver Lines: Expect delays of approx 30 min due to single tracking at Ballston.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) January 16, 2015
Update: smoke at Ballston Metro was isolated to malfunctioning insulator, metro maintenance on scene & FD units starting to go in service
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) January 16, 2015
Metro has suspended Yellow Line service from between Pentagon City and Mt. Vernon Square. Green Line service is also suspended.
According to Arlington scanner reports, a Yellow Line train is disabled somewhere between the L’Enfant and Pentagon Metro stations. Medics responded to the Pentagon station due to reports of at least one person having difficulty breathing on the train, but the train is being evacuated in D.C. (photos below) and Arlington units have since been released.
A “mass casualty incident” was declared and rescues were being made at L’Enfant, according to the D.C. firefighters union. The mass casualty designation is likely due to the riders stuck on the disabled train, inside a smoke-filled tunnel. The fire that was the source of the smoke has since been extinguished.
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles told NBC 4 Tuesday evening that dozens of people have been taken to the hospital, including two people who are in critical condition at George Washington University Hospital. One person died as a result of the incident, Sarles said.
During the incident, Arlington firefighters responded to an electrical room at the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of smoke. It’s unclear if that smoke might have traveled through the tunnels from L’Enfant or is the result of a separate incident. Units on the scene say there’s a smell of smoke but no evacuations are necessary.
Blue, Orange and Silver Line trains are continuing to run through L’Enfant station without stopping, according to Metro. Still, riders should expect major evening rush hour delays.
That was easily the worst metro ride of my life pic.twitter.com/a5EnGeRzMQ
— Jonathan Rogers (@JRogers202) January 12, 2015
— Jonathan Rogers (@JRogers202) January 12, 2015
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) State Sen. Adam Ebbin says he was almost carjacked near the Potomac Yard Harris Teeter store, in Arlington.
Ebbin tweeted about the incident at 12:55 p.m. this afternoon.
A potential carjacker tried twice to get in my car when stopped at light: Harris Teeter at S Glebe Rd & Rte 1. Police on way
— Adam Ebbin (@AdamEbbin) January 8, 2015
He seemed unarmed. I had just visited childcare center for demo on their innovative security features .
— Adam Ebbin (@AdamEbbin) January 8, 2015
Police say Ebbin was stopped at a red light when a man tried to open a back door of the vehicle, then went around and tried to open a front door. The light turned green and Ebbin drove off. He called police and officers took a report.
It’s unclear why the man tried to get in Ebbin’s car, though police are not calling it a carjacking attempt just yet.
“Right now it’s technically going to be termed a tampering,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Officers searched the area but couldn’t find anyone matching the suspect’s description.
Update at 6:30 p.m.: Investigators have determined that the substances found in the apartment were cleaning supplies and chemicals such as acetone, police spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm told ARLnow.com. The substances were held in “weird containers,” for reasons unknown. Hazmat teams have cleared the scene.
Earlier: Police and the Arlington County hazmat team are investigating a possible drug lab found in a Crystal City apartment.
Arlington County Police, Virginia State Police and the hazmat team were called to the Crystal Square Apartments (1515 Jefferson Davis Highway) this afternoon after the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office found “suspicious items” and substances in an apartment during an eviction. The items include laboratory equipment like respirators, scales and beakers, according to ACPD spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
The hazmat team is performing tests on the items to determine what they are and if they’re hazardous. While the equipment may be for some sort of drug lab, it’s not suspected to be a meth lab, which would have prompted evacuations. So far, the building has not been evacuated, Malcolm said.
There have been no reports of any health problems in the apartment building nor of any arrests made by police. Police have closed a portion of 15th Street S. near the scene as the investigation continues.
(Updated at 9:00 a.m.) Two people have been killed in an early morning house fire in the Columbia Forest neighborhood.
The two-alarm blaze was reported at 4:17 a.m., at a house on the 1100 block of S. Emerson Street, not far from Wakefield High School.
Firefighters arrived at 4:23 a.m. and found heavy fire extending from the first floor to the second floor. They also encountered an adult and a child who had escaped the fire, standing outside and yelling that another adult and child were trapped inside.
It took about 15 minutes to get the fire under control, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. Firefighters found the trapped adult and child deceased inside the house.
WJLA reported that the two survivors were an adult man and his middle school-aged daughter. They were transported to Medstar Washington Hospital Center and Children’s National Medical Center, respectively, said Marchegiani.
As is standard procedure for a major fatal fire, Arlington County fire marshals, police and ATF agents are all investigating the blaze.
“It’s going to be a slow and methodical process,” said Marchegiani. “I don’t anticipate any updates today on the cause of the fire.”
In a press release this afternoon, fire officials say the home lacked working smoke detectors.
Early this morning, Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) responded to a house fire at 1106 S. Emerson St. that claimed the lives of two of the occupants. Firefighters arrived to find two victims outside the home with reports of two additional people trapped inside. Firefighters encountered a large volume of fire on the first and second floors. They called a second alarm, bringing a total of approximately 70 firefighters to the scene, including personnel from Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department and Alexandria Fire Department. It took approximately 15 minutes to bring the fire under control and locate the bodies of the two deceased victims.
The two victims found outside the home were transported by medic unit for smoke inhalation and burns to Medstar Washington Hospital Center and Children’s National Medical Center, both in stable condition.
ACFD Fire Marshals are investigating the origin and cause of the fire, with assistance from Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
One occupant reported the home had no working smoke alarms and they were alerted to the fire by the sound of crackling. Smoke alarms allow for early warning of a fire, increasing the time for escape and the chances of survival.
ACFD urges everyone to:
- Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom.
- Test the alarms every month by pushing the test button.
- Change the batteries in the alarms twice a year with daylight savings time.
- Replace all alarms every 10 years, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Ensure every person in your home knows and practices your home escape plan. Include a plan for anyone in your home that needs assistance evacuating. Remember to have two ways out of every room, get low, close the door behind you, go to your family meeting place and once outside, stay outside.
Read more information on smoke alarms or request a smoke alarm if you cannot afford to purchase one.
Update at 5:10 p.m. — Arlington County officials say in a press release that the woman who was sick at the Pentagon this morning does not have Ebola.
Based on the public health investigation, which included the travel history of a woman who became ill this morning in a Pentagon parking lot, and on questioning of her by medical staff, medical authorities are confident that she does not have Ebola.
Arlington County Fire Department Emergency Medical Services transported the woman to Fairfax Inova Hospital Friday morning, after she became ill in a Pentagon parking lot. The woman had displayed symptoms consistent with the virus and her travel history was uncertain. She was put in isolation at Fairfax Inova Hospital. Arlington County took all necessary precautions to protect public health during this event, including activating its Emergency Operations Center. We are beginning to break down those operations now.
(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Arlington County’s responded to the Pentagon this morning due to an possible Ebola case on a tour bus.
Medics responded to the Pentagon this morning for a report of a woman on a bus who was sick and vomiting. When they were told that she had recently arrived from Africa, the hazmat team was called out of “a complete abundance of caution,” Pentagon Force Protection Agency spokesman Chris Layman told ARLnow.com.
A large portion of the Pentagon south parking lot was cordoned off with caution tape, and police are telling those who don’t work at the Pentagon to avoid the immediate surrounding area.
The woman — who reportedly boarded the bus at the Pentagon, got sick in the bathroom then got off — was transported via ambulance to a Inova Fairfax Hospital. The county’s medical director also responded to the call and went to the hospital with the patient, according to scanner traffic.
A tipster with knowledge of the emergency response told ARLnow.com that the patient claimed she recently traveled from the West African nation of Sierra Leone. That was confirmed by D.C. health department officials. However, an Associated Press report is now questioning whether she has, in fact, been out of the country.
The tipster also said that four Arlington firefighters were held at the hospital for much of the day due to possible exposure, and are now monitoring themselves for signs illness. That tip could not be immediately confirmed. The AP is reporting that seven Pentagon police officers might have also been exposed and are being monitored.
Arlington medic units and Fairfax hazmat units are on scene at Inova Fairfax Hosptial, according to news helicopter footage.
— Brad Freitas (@NewsChopperBrad) October 17, 2014
As of 10:50 a.m., Arlington County was mobilizing its Emergency Operations Center to deal with the incident, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Just before noon, the county issued the following press release.
Arlington Responds to Possible Ebola Case
At about 9:10 a.m. today, Pentagon Police officers identified a woman in the Pentagon South Parking Lot, around lanes 17-19, who was ill and vomiting. Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) was notified and responded immediately with both emergency medical aid and HazMat response team.
During the response, the individual allegedly indicated that she had recently visited western Africa. Out of an abundance of caution, all pedestrian and vehicular traffic was suspended around the South Parking lot, while Arlington County responded to the scene. At 9:53 a.m, the patient was taken to the Virginia Hospital Center; however she did not exit the ambulance. ACFD then transported the patient to Fairfax Inova Hospital.
Arlington Public Health is directing the public health response to this incident. Arlington County has activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and a Joint Information Center (JIC) to manage the incident.
At the Pentagon
Out of an abundance of caution and to allow the investigation to proceed, pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the Pentagon South Parking lot’s lanes 7-23 will remain restricted until further notice. The Corridor 2 entrance to the Pentagon is also closed.
More information will be released when it becomes available.
Arlington firefighters and the hazmat team cleared the scene at the Pentagon around 1:45 p.m.
The bus the woman boarded was later stopped and detained near D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
— Bruce Leshan (@BruceLeshan) October 17, 2014
Despite numerous Ebola scares in the United States, there have been fewer than 10 confirmed cases in the country. Today President Obama named an “Ebola czar” to help coordinate the federal response to the outbreak threat.
The court decided not to review decisions that struck down gay marriage bans in Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana. The action immediately ends delays on same-sex marriages, which took effect in Virginia in August when the court issued a stay.
According to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who has supported reversing the state’s gay marriage ban, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to issue a mandate at 1:00 p.m. and same-sex marriages can begin at that time. Virginia also will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Herring, who will be speaking at a 12:30 p.m. news conference at the Arlington County Courthouse, issued the following statement.
A new day has dawned, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are shining through.
All Virginians have the constitutional right to be treated fairly and equally, to have loving, committed relationships recognized and respected, and to enjoy the blessings of married life. We should all be proud that our fellow Virginians helped lead us forward.
This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history. We will continue to fight discrimination wherever we find it, but today, we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality ignited centuries ago in Virginia, and so central to the American experience.
State Senator Adam Ebbin also took to Twitter, saying same-sex marriages in Virginia now are “imminent.”
SCOTUS declines to review marriage equality cases. Same-sex marriage now imminent in Virginia & at least 4 other states! #Equality
— Adam Ebbin (@AdamEbbin) October 6, 2014
Governor Terry McAuliffe issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court decision:
This is a historic and long overdue moment for our Commonwealth and our country. On issues ranging from recognizing same-sex marriages to extending health care benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees, Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision. Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriages between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.
I applaud all of the Virginians who gave so much time and effort in the fight for equality, and congratulate my friend Attorney General Mark Herring on this important victory for justice and equal treatment under the law.
Equality for all men and women regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual orientation is intrinsic to the values that make us Virginians, and now it is officially inscribed in our laws as well.
The Supreme Court did not offer an explanation for its decision and did not issue a ruling about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage nationwide.
Rep. Jim Moran addressed the court’s lack of a nationwide decision in a statement.
This is a momentous day for Virginia and for all who believe in equality under the law. This decision affirms the right of all people to pursue happiness, the most basic example of which is the ability to marry and share your life with the person you love.
Still, it is disappointing that the Court has delayed a final decision on a federal right to marriage equality. Legalized discrimination anywhere is wrong. The Court was right to affirmatively strike down DOMA a year ago, and now it is time to end the uncertainty so many couples are forced to live with and guarantee marriage equality throughout the country.
Arlington Public Schools’ capacity crisis is only getting worse, and members of the community are clamoring for good solutions fast.
APS Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations John Chadwick said the school system grew by 1,200 students in the 2014-2015 school year, 400 more than APS had projected. That’s the equivalent of two full elementary schools, Chadwick said.
The growth means that initial APS projections of seat deficits will need to be revised. With last year’s numbers, APS projected having 960 more middle school students than seats in the 2018-2019 school year; once projections with this year’s numbers are calculated, that figure is likely to reach over 1,000.
“We are experiencing an unprecedented rate of enrollment growth,” Chadwick told a crowd of more than 100 parents and residents at Williamsburg Middle School last night. “Determining the location of those seats is a really challenging process, but we have to make decisions. If enrollment continues to grow as projected, we’re going to look at many more sites for new schools and renovations before we’re through.”
At the heart of the discussion during last night’s community meeting is the School Board’s impending decision to try to add 1,300 middle school seats in North Arlington by some combination of building additions and renovations to existing APS properties, or constructing a new school at the Wilson School site in Rosslyn.
Other options on the table include:
- Building additions onto the Stratford school site on Vacation Lane, which currently houses the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, to form a new neighborhood middle school. Stratford and H-B Woodlawn would be moved the Reed-Westover site with additions and renovations.
- Expanding both the Stratford and Reed-Westover buildings and constructing an addition onto an existing middle school.
- Moving H-B Woodlawn and Stratford to the Wilson School site and constructing a new neighborhood middle school at the Stratford building.
“Our goal is try to get secondary seats as soon as possible to alleviate what we see as imminent future crowding in our schools,” Lionel White, APS director of facilities planning, said.
Many residents and parents have complained that APS has faltered in both informing and seeking input from the community, but last night’s meeting was viewed by some as a significant step toward alleviating the crisis.
“I think for the first time, everyone’s realizing we’re wasting too much time and we’ve got to get more seats,” said Emma Baker, a parent of two Jamestown Elementary School students. “We need to start building now.”
Baker had attended previous meetings between staff and parents, and she said last night was the first time she felt everyone was actively trying to reach the best decision, instead of hemming and hawing. “It’s a very different tone,” she said.
Jamestown teacher and mother of two Megan Kalchbrenner said the option of building additions onto four existing middle schools is “not an option” — staff generally agreed, saying it would cost $16.5 million over budget and wouldn’t be an optimal long-term solution.
“What I want to know is what are they going to do for kids in the next two years?” Kalchbrenner asked. “We have capacity issues today.”
Last year, there were eight “relocatable classrooms” — classrooms in trailers adjacent to schools — at Williamsburg, four at Swanson and one at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. Chadwick said the interim plan before major construction is still being developed, and he couldn’t reveal any concrete solutions.
A girl was beaten with a chair leg in the diplomatic residence of Equatorial Guinea last night, police said Tuesday, but no arrest has been made because the alleged attacker is a diplomat.
The incident happened around 9:30 p.m. Monday on the 4000 block of 27th Road N., in Arlington’s tony Dover-Crystal neighborhood. Police were called to the home of Ambassador Ruben Maye Nsue Mangue after a female 911 caller reported that “there’s someone going crazy at her house” and a man “hit her in the head with a chair,” according to scanner traffic.
“I’ve been there before,” said a responding officer. “There have been previous calls from this address.”
The female victim was struck “several times,” police said. Paramedics transported her to Virginia Hospital Center with a head wound, but no arrests were made.
“The subject has full diplomatic immunity and was not arrested,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report today. Police said the assault was “domestic” in nature but declined to reveal the identity of the suspect.
“We won’t go in to those details at this time,” ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told ARLnow.com. “The State Department was notified by our officers and it’s in their hands at this point.”
An anonymous tipster who contacted ARLnow.com this morning, before news of the attack was made public, claimed that the ambassador — who was appointed last year after serving on the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union — was the attacker and that his teenager daughter was the victim.
Reached at the Equatorial Guinea embassy in D.C., Rebeca Maye, who identified herself as Ambassador Nsue’s secretary, said his 16-year-old daughter was brought to Virginia Hospital Center with a head injury, but added that it was “not very big.” Maye declined to answer questions about the alleged assault and said the ambassador would not be available for comment until later Tuesday night.
Equatorial Guinea is a small nation on the west coast of Africa. It has a population of just 650,000, but it’s one of sub-Sahara Africa’s largest oil producers, according to Wikipedia.
Neighbors of the diplomatic residence on 27th Street, who did not wish to be identified by name, said the family that lives there mostly “keeps to themselves” — but there have been some recent disturbances.
“A girl can sometimes be heard screaming foul language” from the home, one neighbor said. Another said police were called to the house a couple months ago when a man and a woman had a shouting match outside.
Andrea Swalec, Ethan Rothstein and Scott Brodbeck contributed to this report
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Arlington will not award a contract for construction of the Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, delaying the project for at least a year, the county announced this afternoon.
The decision to cancel the bids for the facility follows an effort by County Manager Barbara Donnellan and her staff to work with construction companies to “value engineer” the project and lower costs. The bids initially came in well above the level necessary to keep the aquatics center within its original $79 million projected cost. Even with cheaper furnishings and other cut corners, however, we’re told the revised cost estimate “got close but not close enough.”
With $42.5 million in bond funding and a $15 million developer contribution already in place, that puts the County Board in a position in which it must approve additional taxpayer funds, scale back the design of the facility, or seek private funding. For now, the county will seek private funds.
County Board Chair Jay Fisette said the aquatic’s center design resulted from an extensive community outreach process that took into account its location near the Potomac River, within view of I-395 and major D.C. monuments.
“This facility resulted from [a community needs assessment] and then took several years to design,” he said. “I still think that to fulfill that plan is the right way to go. But I understand that staying within the previous budget is also appropriate.”
Fisette said the county will now seek funding from a private entity. Possibilities include a corporate sponsorship and naming rights, working with a for-profit operator, or partnering with a university or other institution.
Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston is one such facility built by the county but operated by a rent-paying, for-profit entity. The fields at Long Bridge Park and Barcroft Baseball Field #6 are partially paid for under partnerships with Marymount University and George Washington University, respectively.
A corporate sponsor may be interested in the naming rights to the facility, especially given its high-visibility location. Fisette said he’d be open to having the facility known as the Under Armor or the Nike Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, among other potential sponsors.
“The goal is to identify any balance of funding beyond those already approved by the voters,” Fisette said. “This is an unusual and exceptional opportunity for someone who would like to have that visibility.”
What might make the opportunity more exceptional, according to county officials, is D.C’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Later this month, the United States Olympic Committee is expected to narrow down the list of U.S. cities being considered as an Olympic host. Should D.C. be on that list, it could give a boost to the effort to attract sponsorships, given that the new aquatics center is likely to be one of the facilities used for the games.
“We are under the impression that as they move forward with their bid, that this site is included in their plans,” according to Fisette.
The county will “aggressively pursue private funding support” over the next 6-8 months, Fisette said. Donnellan plans to report back to the County Board in mid-2015, prior to any additional bonds being sold. Should attempts to find private funds prove unsuccessful, the next steps for the facility are “yet to be determined.”
The county press release on the announcement, after the jump.
(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) Police and paramedics swarmed the Ballston Metro station after a stabbing Sunday night.
According to WMATA, a man in his late 20s was stabbed on the station platform around 8:50 p.m. He suffered life-threatening stab wounds to his bicep and abdomen and as of Monday morning was listed in critical/stable condition, according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.
The station manager helped apply pressure to the man’s wounds, potentially saving his life, Stessel told WJLA.
Two people were taken into custody in connection with the stabbing but so far only one has been charged. According to Stessel, 52-year-old Jeffrey Kenneth Hicks, of no fixed address, has been charged with aggravated malicious wounding.
The circumstances that led to the stabbing are still under investigation, but Stessel said “it appears that it began as a verbal altercation that escalated to physical violence.”
Trains single-tracked past the station Sunday night while police collected evidence. On Twitter, witnesses described seeing “blood all over the platform.”
@unsuckdcmetro Someone was just stabbed on inbound platform at Ballston. Blood all over the platform. MTPD on scene, local PD en route.
— Meredith Peruzzi (@etoile) May 5, 2014
Photo courtesy @firstdownbar
Update at 2:45 p.m. — The package has been determined to be safe and the scene is being cleared.
Police, firefighters and the Arlington County bomb squad are staging at the corner of N. Courthouse Road and 13th Street in response to a suspicious package.
According to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, a maid in the Arlington Court Suites hotel on Courthouse Road found a small canister labeled “explosives.” It was brought to the hotel parking lot, where the bomb squad is examining it now.
“They’re taking all precautions as necessary,” Sternbeck said. “Until the canister has been deemed a non-threat, the area will remain closed.”
Authorities believe the canister might have been used in a training exercise by the Dept. of Defense, which rented out the hotel over the weekend. Courthouse Road is currently shut down between 13th Street and Route 50.
(Updated at 12:00 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools is backing off a plan to sell its Wilson School property to a developer. Instead, the school system and the county are exploring the possibility of building a new 1,300-student secondary school on the property.
Located at 1601 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, the Wilson School was built in 1910 and preservationists have been calling for it to be restored rather than torn down. Under a plan approved by the School Board last summer, it was to be demolished to make way for a private mixed-use development with affordable housing, a new fire station and a 1.5 acre park.
Now, according to a press release (after the jump), that plan has been scrapped in favor of retaining the property and perhaps building a new secondary school at the site, to address the school system’s capacity crunch.
The Wilson Boulevard school is envisioned as a brand new secondary school, not a new location for the 624-student H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, currently located in Cherrydale, according to Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations John Chadwick.
Update at 5:05 p.m. — The barricade situation has ended peacefully.
Earlier: A man who may be suicidal has barricaded himself in his Courthouse townhouse, leading to a standoff with police.
The incident started between 3:00 and 4:00 this afternoon when the man’s girlfriend told police that he made remarks suggesting he may be contemplating suicide. Police responded to the scene and tried to get the man to come out of the house. Reached by phone, he told police that they’d “have to come get him,” according to scanner traffic.
Police backed off and have surrounded the townhouse complex, which is located across the street from the Courtland Towers apartment building. At one point, the man reportedly ran out of the house and then ran back in when confronted by officers. Police negotiators are now trying to talk the man out of the house again.
N. Wayne Street is closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic between 13th Street and the Fairfax Drive pedestrian path as a result of the standoff. Residents of the townhouse complex are so far not being allowed back in their homes.
“We’re taking all precautions,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan announced late Friday afternoon that construction bids for the first phase of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center came in “significantly higher” than the $79.3 million projected cost. As a result, Donnellan says she will not be recommending a construction contract for County Board approval in early 2014, as planned.
Donnellan said it was “disappointing” that the bids far exceeded the estimate provided by its architect, which was in turn backed up by a third-party firm.
“The high bids were particularly disappointing because the County had done extensive due diligence to ensure that the estimate was sound and within the available budget,” she said in a statement. “We took an additional step of contracting separately with an engineering firm to review design and construction documents and provide independent third party cost estimates.”
“Once staff concludes its assessment of the bids and our architects’ estimates, I will present options to the County Board for next steps,” she continued. “In the months ahead, the County Board and the community will continue their careful consideration of the costs and benefits of building and operating this facility as we shape the FY 2015 Budget and the Capital Improvement Program.”
Reached by phone Friday evening, Donnellan told ARLnow.com that she expects to receive recommendations from county staff as early as February. She declined to speculate about the recommendation, saying that there’s significant work and analysis left to be done by staff.
Donnellan also declined to specify how many bids were received and how much higher those bids were than the estimate, citing legal constraints.
News of the delay in the project comes just a month after news that the aquatics center’s operating deficit would be 2 to 4 times that of original estimates. Local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki says the county should consider scrapping the project altogether.
“This project has been mishandled by the County Board almost from the beginning,” he said. “With the pressures on other parts of the county and school budgets and the stagnation of commercial real estate values, it might well be time to moth ball the Long Bridge aquatics facility and simply leave the current park as-is.”
Construction bids received by the county for the project were technically for “Phase 2” of Long Bridge Park, which encompasses both the initial phase of the aquatics center and minor improvements to the park itself, including “public gathering areas, trails, public art, interpretive signs, and walkways.” Much of the funding for the projected cost of Phase 2 has already been secured, including $42.5 million from a parks bond approved in 2012 and $15 million from Vornado as part of the PenPlace development.
A Phase 3A and 3B, for other park improvements, are also planned, as is a Phase 4, which would complete the Aquatics, Health & Fitness Facility by adding a large “multiple activity center,” additional fitness space, racquetball and squash courts, a climbing wall, an elevated jogging trail, rental meeting rooms and a 547-space underground parking garage.
“Long Bridge Park is an ambitious project for our community, an infrastructure investment that is transforming a one-time industrial wasteland from a brownfield to an iconic gateway on the Potomac,” Donnellan said in her statement. “It will provide multiple recreational opportunities for our growing population and for future generations.”