Arlington, VA

Parts of Arlington County have been experiencing power problems this morning.

Currently, more than 1,200 power customers are reported to be in the dark in the Virginia Square, Cherrydale and Ballston neighborhoods, according to an outage map from Dominion Energy.

Some complication have been reported from that outage, including tripped fire alarms, smoke from generators starting up, non-functioning traffic signals and a potential power surge in a building.

Several traffic light issues were reported earlier this morning, in Clarendon and Ballston. It’s unclear if those problems are related to the current power outage.

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Update at 11:05 a.m. — The outage is down to about 350 Dominion customers, per the power company’s website.

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A crash in the East Falls Church neighborhood last night closed a portion of busy Lee Highway for an extended period of time.

The crash happened around 7:45 p.m. Thursday, a couple of blocks east of the Lee Highway and Washington Blvd intersection. A driver in a sedan appears to have run off the road, smashed through a brick wall and damaged a utility pole.

“Upon arrival, officers located a single vehicle crash into a utility pole,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. The driver was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Lee Highway was closed between Washington Boulevard and N. Sycamore Street and Dominion Energy responded to complete repairs.”

The crash knocked out power to a portion of the surrounding area. An exact cause of the crash was not given.

Utility work dragged on into the night, but all lanes were reopened by this morning, according to Arlington Alert.

Photo via Danny Shaw

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A widespread power outage is currently affecting parts of Arlington.

More than 3,500 Dominion customers were without power in the county as of 9:30 p.m. Affected neighborhoods include Ballston, Bluemont, Buckingham, Ashton Heights and Lyon Park, according to the power company’s outage map.

Residents near those neighborhoods might have seen their power flicker around 9 p.m.

The outage happened after a driver in a Toyota Prius slammed into a utility pole in the Buckingham area. On social media, the Arlington County Fire Department said it is “unknown” when power will be restored.

Update at 10:15 p.m. — Power has been restored to most customers, but about 500 in the Buckingham area, near the crash, remain in the dark.

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(Updated at 5 p.m. on 11/10/20) Dominion Energy and Arlington County are looking to swap two pieces of land near Crystal City.

On Saturday, the County Board is slated to consider a series of real estate and land use actions, including a land exchange agreement between Dominion and the county. Dominion offered to give the county a piece of property at the corner of 18th Street and S. Ives Street in exchange for a piece of county-owned land on the corner of S. Fern and S. Hayes streets.

The swap would allow Dominion to expand its substation — located roughly two blocks from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2 — to accommodate larger, newer equipment. Construction on the expansion is anticipated to start late in the first quarter of 2021.

The County is considering turning the Dominion property, the site of a previous substation, into a park.

In addition to updating the substation, Dominion is also trying to meet increasing demand for energy as the Pentagon City and Crystal City areas develop, said Michael Halewski, a real estate specialist from the Department of Environmental Services, during a meeting on Wednesday with Arlington’s Planning Commission.

“Dominion is on a tight time frame for the delivery of the increased electrical capacity to the community,” Halewski said.

The area needs more “redundancy and reliability” in the electrical services it provides, said Dominion spokesperson Peggy Fox in an email on Tuesday.

To get the extra physical space needed for the new equipment, Dominion looked to neighboring land. The county-owned property — an unused, grass-covered sliver along S. Hayes Street — did not have as many constraints, including underground public utilities, as other plots.

The original discussion about this exchange occurred in the summer of 2019, and in July 2020, Dominion submitted a rezoning application to the County Board.

In August, Dominion notified the neighboring civic associations of its plans, and invited feedback through a survey. It also purchased social media ads and held two virtual meetings.

“It was one of the more successful community engagements Dominion has had in response to one of its projects,” said Matthew Weinstein, counsel to Dominion Energy, during the Planning Commission meeting.

In response to feedback on the aesthetics of the substation, Dominion updated its permit to include a commitment to installing public art on-site, redesigning the plaza to improve the pedestrian and leisure experience and widening the sidewalk from four feet to six feet, said Dominion spokesperson Ann Gordon Mickel in a project update on Oct. 28.

Neighboring civic associations told county staff they had no issues with the substation rezoning proposals, but the Aurora Highlands Civic Association did express hesitancy with the exchange agreement.

“We’ve heard some concerns from the community about the environmental condition of the land,” said Halewski, the county staffer.

Environmental reports indicate that some areas of the old sub-station property would need to be remediated if dirt was disturbed and excavated. The soil could be used on-site or disposed of in a regulated landfill, he said.

“The cost of those different scenarios range from $0 if it’s a passive open space to approximately $55,000,” Halewski said. “This would be a county cost.”

Photos above (1-2) via Google Maps, (3-4) via Arlington County

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Update at 6:40 p.m. — Power appears to have been restored to all Arlington and most Fairfax County customers, according to Dominion’s website, after an issue with a transmission line.

Earlier: More than 1,600 Dominion customers are without power in Arlington due to a widespread power outage.

The outage is affecting parts of Arlington County, Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church, according to Dominion. A cause was not given on the company’s website, but the restoration time was estimated as between 5-10 p.m.

The outage is affecting North Arlington neighborhoods, including areas around Jamestown Elementary, Yorktown High School and Bishop O’Connell High School.

Wide swaths of McLean, Pimmit Hills and West Falls Church are also affected in Fairfax County, where more than 26,000 Dominion customers are reported to be in the dark.

Arlington County police are responding to several intersections where the traffic signals are inoperable, for traffic control.

The outage comes amid wet and breezy conditions, as the remnants of Hurricane Zeta exit the area. A Dominion spokeswoman said via social media that the outages stem from an issue with a transmission line.

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Update at 9:10 p.m. — Power was briefly restored but is back off, according to a Dominion spokeswoman.

Earlier: About 3,700 Dominion customers are without power in Arlington as of 8 p.m. Friday night.

A massive outage is mostly affecting customers in Alexandria, but thousands in Arlington’s Crystal City, Aurora Highlands, Arlington Ridge and Fairlington neighborhoods are also in the dark.

Some have reported the power flickering.

Power restoration is currently estimated between 10 p.m.-1 a.m., according to Dominion’s website. The cause of the outage is a malfunctioning circuit at a substation, according to a company spokeswoman.

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About 1,750 Dominion customers are without power on a steamy July afternoon due to an outage in the East Falls Church area.

Dominion lists the reason for the outage as an “equipment problem” and estimates restoration between 7-10 p.m. tonight (Thursday).

Portions of the East Falls Church neighborhood, as well as some neighborhoods to the east along Lee Highway, are currently affected as of 4:30 p.m.

Update at 5:15 p.m. — The number of homes and businesses without power is now down to less than 250.

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Morning Notes

VHC Staff Honored by NYSE — Two radiation therapists at Virginia Hospital Center, Melinda Mack and Amanda Sprecher, were honored during the opening bell ringing at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. [Twitter]

Tomorrow is Arlington’s ‘Community Day’ — “A beloved Arlington tradition, Neighborhood Day brings communities together to enjoy the great outdoors and strengthens ties between neighbors.  In our currently socially-distant world, Neighborhood Day 2020 (May 2) is swapping out the traditional outdoor get-togethers and focusing on how Arlingtonians can build community while staying apart.” [Arlington County]

Fundraiser for Shelter Employee Bonuses — “I’m raising money to benefit four emergency shelters in Arlington County. The front line staff at these organizations are heroes who risk their personal health and wellness for those most vulnerable. I want to offer each front line staff member a $5/ hour bonus for their selfless work for at least two weeks.” [GoFundMe, Facebook]

Courtland Towers Store to Become Apartments — “It’ll soon be ‘bye, bye, bodega,’ as Arlington County Board members are allowing the owner of the Courtland Towers apartments in the Courthouse area to replace its longstanding ground-floor convenience store with four additional residential units and other amenities for residents. The proposal had generated pushback from nearby residents and garnered formal opposition from the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Federation.” [InsideNova]

Roots Closing at Pentagon City Mall — “Toronto clothing retailer Roots Corp. said Wednesday it will close both its stores in Greater Washington. The closure of outposts in Georgetown and at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City come as part of the liquidation of the apparel company’s U.S. subsidiary through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing — a measure being taken to close the stores quickly and in a cost-effective manner, the company said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fund Created for Local Immigrants in Need — “The Dream Project, a nonprofit organization offering educational assistance to immigrants in Northern Virginia through scholarships and mentoring, has established an emergency relief fund to help immigrant students and families who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Press Release]

Hotel Donates Rooms to County — An unnamed hotel in Arlington has donated rooms to the county to serve as Permanent Supportive Housing for up to 16 people, reducing their risk of COVID-19 exposure. [Arlington County]

Electric Bills Going Down This Month — “Dominion Energy says Virginia customers will see a $6 discount on their billing each month starting on May 1. ‘The cost of fuel has gone down and we’re passing the savings directly on to customers,’ Dominion Energy said.” [NBC 12 Richmond]

New County Initiative Tackling Hunger — “Arlington County announced a new initiative for the coronavirus era: the Cooperative for a Hunger Free Arlington. We talked to those heading the group — Abby Raphael, Diane Kresh and Amy Maclosky — about what it is and how they plan to help during these tough times.” [Facebook, Apple Podcasts]

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(Updated at 3 p.m.) A portion of Old Dominion Drive is closed after a large free fell and landed on a passing car.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. just east of the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and N. Thomas Street, near Dorothy Hamm Middle School and The Horizons Apartments.

The tree fell on a car heading eastbound on Old Dominion Drive, crushing most of the frontend. The driver, who suffered minor cuts and some chest pain, told ARLnow that he did not notice the tree falling until it was too late.

“It was very shocking,” said the driver, Michael. “If I did not have my seatbelt on, we would not be talking right now.”

As of 2 p.m. the road was still closed in both directions, as VDOT crews with chainsaws, a front loader and dump trucks were working to clear the large tree from the roadway. Police are also on scene, helping to direct traffic.

Elsewhere in Arlington, there have been numerous reports of downed trees, branches and wires amid today’s gusty winds.

A tree that fell this morning near the intersection of 23rd Street S. and S. Dinwiddie Street, near Wakefield High School, closed the road and knocked out power to the neighborhood. As of 2 p.m. Dominion’s website reported 124 customers in the area were still without power, with no estimated restoration time.

A Wind Advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m.

Map via Google Maps

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It’s not a zombie apocalypse, but surely some have wondered about the lights staying on during the coronavirus crisis.

Good news: those who generate your electricity, treat your water and collect your trash are still working, even as many Arlington residents — with the notable exception of healthcare workers, public safety personnel and grocery store employees, among others — stay at home.

There are plans for keeping these unsung heroes safe and on the job, officials say.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which is responsible for waste collection, water service, road maintenance and other critical infrastructure, says it is implementing plans drawn up for disaster situations.

“We have implemented a continuity of operational services plan (COOP) to ensure operations and critical services continue, and are practicing social distancing to protect staff, including staggering start times to avoid large groups,” DES spokeswoman Katie O’Brien tells ARLnow. “Crews are also being encouraged to follow CDC guidelines like washing hands for 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based sanitizer when water isn’t available.”

Waste collection workers are keeping their distance from one another, when possible, and wearing more protective gear, O’Brien said.

“Residential trash, recycling and yard waste curbside collection is expected to continue,” she noted. “Currently, our hauler has suspended bulk curbside collection for residential customers until further notice. This includes furniture, mattresses and any appliances larger than a standard microwave.”

To keep water infrastructure — everything from water mains to sewer lines to the county’s water treatment plant — running at a time when everyone is being encouraged to wash their hands frequently, planned maintenance involving water outages are being avoided.

DES has “limited or postponed planned water shutdowns to minimize service impacts on customers and focus our resources on maintaining our systems,” O’Brien said.

Other mitigation steps in place include modified schedules and rear boarding for ART buses, and reduced staff and schedules — but continued operations — for traffic signal maintenance and repairs, sign fabrication and repairs, markings, and meter repairs.

Dominion Energy, meanwhile, says it is prepared for situations like this.

Customers “can expect continued, reliable service,” said spokeswoman Peggy Fox. “Our crews are standing by to respond to any customer-service issues.”

That includes outages, like the one the Ballston area experienced earlier today.

“Our line workers will still be responding to service interruptions,” Fox said. “If you experience a power outage, the best way to report it is online or through our mobile app.”

On the electricity generation side, power plants are still humming and Dominion says procedures are in place to ensure employee safety and continuity.

“We are staffing our power stations to ensure we continue to provide our customers with reliable energy 24/7 [and] have adjusted our staffing plans so employees who perform the same roles are spread across different shifts or days of the week,” she said. “For employees who cannot work remotely, we are sanitizing our facilities at the end of each shift and encouraging safe hygiene practices. To limit exposure, we have restricted access to our facilities.”

As for Dominion workers who become ill with the virus, Fox said that they will be told to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“Other employees will step in to ensure essential work gets done, just as they do when a colleague goes on vacation,” she said.

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(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) More than 500 Dominion customers — mostly homes — were without power in several North Arlington neighborhoods Wednesday morning.

The outage affected portions of Virginia Square, Cherrydale and Donaldson Run, among other neighborhoods, according to Dominion’s outage map. Power was expected to be restored at some point in the afternoon.

As of 10 a.m. Dominion reported 529 customers in the dark, down from an initial 2,600+ customers without power reported earlier.

Dominion spokeswoman Peggy Fox said the outage was caused by a tree that fell onto power lines.

“The outage was caused by a 3rd party (not associated with Dominion Energy) trimming trees,” Fox told ARLnow via email. “A tree came down on our lines and broke two cross arms and a pole… It caused significant damage and left many customers without power today. We are lucky nobody got hurt.”

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