Submit Content
County Board candidates Adam Theo, Audrey Clement and Matt de Ferranti (via Facebook)

For voters, evaluating Arlington County Board candidate views of Missing Middle will look a lot like Goldilocks sampling porridge.

Three familiar names are vying for a seat on the County Board: incumbent Matt de Ferranti and his independent challengers Audrey Clement and Adam Theo, who have both ran for a seat on the Board before — Clement numerous times before.

Now, potential Missing Middle zoning changes are becoming a key battleground for the candidates, as both community support and opposition intensifies. The two-year study is entering a final phase of community discussion before it is slated to go to the Planning Commission and County Board for consideration as early as this year.

County Board, School Board and congressional candidates fielded multiple questions from members of the Arlington County Civic Federation last night (Tuesday) during its annual candidates forum. The Civic Federation previously took up the issue of Missing Middle, passing a resolution saying residents need more negotiating power during upzoning and land-use proposal proceedings.

During Tuesday night’s questioning at the Hazel Auditorium in Virginia Hospital Center, Theo said he is “a huge fan” of Missing Middle because “it’s about not squeezing the middle class anymore, of allowing opportunities, options and housing types.”

Clement reiterated her equally entrenched opposition to it as “a scheme to rezone Arlington’s residential neighborhoods for much higher density multi-family dwellings,” which will keep housing types out of reach for anyone not making six figures.

De Ferranti, meanwhile, says he supports the construction of low-density units up to a point.

“Your input has led me to oppose eight plexes as not being worth the cost,” he added. “Your input has led me to tier the ideas so that the smallest lots would have duplexes and as you get to the largest plots, more density would be allowed.”

None, however, pronounced the county’s community engagement efforts as “just right.”

The Goldilocks principle reappeared when candidates discussed whether to do away with first-past-the-post voting for their seats and replace it with ranked-choice voting (RCV) for County Board elections.

Under this system, which has support from some current Board members and which the county has tested out, voters rank candidates by preference and a winner is selected over the course of many elimination rounds.

Clement, an independent, said it would increase competition in otherwise predictable election cycles. Theo agreed.

“Ranked-choice voting has potential, and I want it now in Arlington County,” he said.

Both independents support the change for general elections, while de Ferranti said he is supportive of it for primaries and more cautious about using it for the general election.

“It’s something I’m supportive of,” de Ferranti said. “There are fair critiques with respect to the simplicity and timeliness — as we just saw in Alaska — of the results.”

The County Board may consider ranked-choice voting before January, de Ferranti said.

While expressing support for ranked-choice voting, Clement claimed it would not work in Arlington because of media bias.

“Unfortunately, ranked-choice voting only works in competitive elections, where the media are unbiased and endorse candidates on their merits. That is not how media operate in Arlington,” Clement said. “A continual stream of press releases by and features about those who promote the status quo are published as news, together with biased editorials, all but guaranteeing the defeat of their challengers.”

(ARLnow no longer publishes opinion columns and has never endorsed candidates for office, though the Sun Gazette routinely publishes editorials and letters to the editor.)

Like their County Board counterparts, School Board candidates Bethany Sutton and Vell Rives said they would work to improve community engagement.

“A change I might make is to make sure we have multiple ways for people to engage and we are deliberately transparent as to how all that engagement has factored into the board’s decision making,” said Sutton, who received the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee after another candidate, Brandon Clark, withdrew from the caucus and then the election entirely.

Rives, meanwhile, said the School Board needs to vote on all “massive decisions,” such as extended school closures or starting a new school.

Sutton and Rives both said a chief concern is addressing student mental health. Both said APS can tighten security at school entrances, while Rives supports reinstating School Resource Officers and Sutton called for clear, consistent emergency communications.

The School Board removed school-based police officers last summer, citing racial disparities in juvenile arrests in Arlington. Following the decision, the Arlington County Police Department said it would be a challenge to staff the program again.

The two School Board candidates both support the construction of a new Arlington Career Center, but criticized how the project was discussed and the strain it could put on future budgets.

Read More

0 Comments
Airplane overhead at Gravelly Point (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is addressing a key constituent concern — airplane noise — through the just-signed CHIPS Act.

The $280 billion bill is primarily focused on boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturing, but contains other scientific research provisions. Among them is wording from Beyer to “bolster NASA’s efforts to reduce emissions from the aviation industry while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.”

“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district,” Beyer said in a statement yesterday. “I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law.”

The legislation “authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions,” Beyer’s office said in a press release.

The roar of jet engines from airliners arriving at and departing from National Airport has long been a concern of Arlington and Alexandria residents, particularly those who live along the flight paths near the Potomac River. Beyer has frequently pledged to address the noise issue from commercial airliners and military helicopters, writing letters to top federal officials about flight paths and attaching legislation to larger bills.

The full press release is below.

President Joe Biden yesterday signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law, which included the first NASA authorization passed by Congress in over five years. That section of the Act, Title VII of the science division, included the full text of Rep. Don Beyer’s Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act. Beyer chairs the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics; he introduced the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act to bolster NASA’s efforts to create the next generation of climate-friendly aviation while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.

“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district. I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law,” said Beyer. “As the climate crisis continues to harm American communities, ensuring we are also tackling aviation emissions is vital. This piece of legislation does just that by making the necessary investments to develop the technology to make cleaner flight a reality in addition to driving innovation that would reduce aircraft noise pollution.” 

This legislation sets a goal for cleaner, quieter airplanes, accelerating NASA’s aeronautics work on reducing greenhouse gas and noise emissions. Specifically, this bill:

  • Establishes the ambitious goal of commercial airplanes emitting 50 percent less greenhouse gas compared to the highest performing aircraft in 2021 as well as being net-zero by 2050.
  • Challenges NASA to work with industry partners to carry out flight tests by 2025 that will enable industry to bring a new generation of more sustainable airplanes into service between 2030 and 2040.
  • Authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions.
  • Requires NASA to provide data and insight on new technologies to help the FAA’s work to ensure the safe and effective deployment of these technologies.

Text of the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act is available here.

0 Comments
Arlington House, as seen from the Kennedy gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery in 2011 (staff photo)

(Updated at 12:45 p.m.) Local lawmakers have again introduced legislation to officially remove Robert E. Lee’s name from Arlington House.

For fifty years, “Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial” has been the official name for the National Park Service-managed mansion that sits on top of a hill at Arlington National Cemetery.

But in recent years, there has been a push to drop Lee’s name from the memorial and return it to its original name of simply “Arlington House.”

In 2020, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va) proposed legislation to do just that since Arlington House lies in his district. The bill was co-sponsored by two other local representatives, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va) and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va), along with D.C. Congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Beyer said at the time that the legislation was partially inspired by requests for a name change from descendants of those who were enslaved at Arlington House. However, the bill never got out of committee and no change was made.

Two years later, though, these local lawmakers are trying again with a bicameral push.

The House bill is co-sponsored by Beyer, Connelly, Wexton, and Norton while a new Senate bill is sponsored by Tim Kaine (D-Va). The legislation, if passed and signed into law, would strip the Confederate general’s name from the house he once lived in.

“If we are serious about ending racial disparities, we need to stop honoring those who fought to protect slavery,” Kaine said in a press release. “I’m proud to be part of the effort to rename Arlington House, and am going to keep fighting for the kinds of reforms we need to create a society that delivers liberty and justice for all.”

This year’s bills are very similar to the one from 2020, Beyer Communications Director Aaron Fritschner confirmed to ARLnow, save for small language changes including adding a formal historic site designation.

If the legislation does pass, the mansion would officially be called “The Arlington House National Historic Site.”

The building that now sits inside Arlington National Cemetery was first built by enslaved people in the early 19th century to be the residence for George Washington Parke Custis. It was also intended to be a memorial to George Washington, Custis’s adoptive grandfather.

Custis’s daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis married Robert E. Lee in 1831. The soon-to-be Confederate general was known to be a cruel and sometimes violent head of the household.

During the Civil War, the Union Army seized the house as well as the grounds and turned it into a military cemetery.

In 1955, Congress passed legislation to designate the house as the “Custis-Lee Mansion.” The name was changed again in 1972 to what it is today, “Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial.”

For years, Arlington House was featured prominently in the county’s logo. That changed last year after a push to remove the house from the logo, in large part due to its formal name and association with Lee.

(An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Lee’s relationship to the house and property.) 

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Amazon HQ2 reflected in a puddle in Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

New Way to Complain About Helo Noise –Those with concerns about helicopter noise in the local area now have a new outlet to provide feedback. A new helicopter-complaint pilot program was announced June 24 by U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) in collaboration with the Helicopter Association International and Eastern Regional Helicopter Council. Residents will be able to submit noise concerns online at https://www.planenoise.com/dcmetro/, or by voicemail at (877) 209-3200.” [Sun Gazette, Press Release]

Arrest After Crash on the Pike — From ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage, responding to an ARLnow inquiry about this crash: “At approximately 12:10 p.m. on June 27, police were dispatched to the report of a crash with injuries at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Quincy Street. The preliminary investigation indicates the driver of the striking vehicle hit two vehicles and a tree before fleeing the scene on foot. Responding officers canvassed the area, located the driver and took her into custody. One patient was transported to an area hospital with injuries considered non-life threatening. The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.”

Amazon Eyes Greenhouse for HQ2 — “The greenery proposed for Amazon’s second headquarters in Arlington is so extensive that the company needs a greenhouse to keep it going. According to plans submitted to the county, Amazon hopes to convert Meadow Farms Nurseries and Landscapes (10618 Leesburg Pike) in Great Falls into a greenhouse to provide a ‘permanent operation to provide for the continuous maintenance of the extensive landscaping elements’ at HQ2.” [FFXnow]

APS Website Redesign Coming — “We are in the early stages of redesigning our website. Can you spare 15 minutes to help make sure the new Arlington Public Schools website will be easy for everyone to use? We’ve set up an online exercise to gather feedback, and we’d love for you to participate.” [Arlington Public Schools]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 79 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments
Voting at Swanson Middle School in Westover in November 2021 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) The ballot for the general election has been set, with three races to be decided by local voters.

Multiple candidates for Arlington County Board, School Board and the 8th Congressional District have qualified for the ballot. The first day of in-person early voting is Friday, Sept. 23 and the last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 17, according to Arlington’s election office.

8th Congressional District

In the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, incumbent Rep. Don Beyer overcame challenger Victoria Virasingh. Beyer goes on to the general election to face the GOP nominee, Arlington resident Karina A. Lipsman, and independent candidate Teddy Fikre.

The seat for the 8th District, which encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County, has been held by a Democrat for decades. Beyer won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment,” said an email from the Arlington GOP after the nomination.

Lipsman, who is originally from Ukraine, outlines priorities such as supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion on her website. She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools and vocational training programs.

Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.

Fikre’s website says he is an IT project manager with an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, cares about inclusive justice and “implementing policies that restore fairness in America and enacting laws that are rooted in love.” Among issues he’s focused on are making taxes voluntary for the working, middle and upper-middle-class, as well as forgiving all student loans.

Arlington County Board

Three familiar names are up for consideration for a County Board seat. Incumbent Matt de Ferranti was not challenged for the Democratic nomination.

During his tenure on the board, de Ferranti says he has focused on Covid response, racial equity and priorities like affordable housing, hunger, climate change and school funding.

Two independent candidates will also be on the ballot — and not for their first time — seeking a seat.

Independent Adam Theo, who is vice president of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, is running on a platform of expanding government accountability, prioritizing public safety and making housing affordable. Theo describes himself as “a fierce non-partisan free-thinking ‘progressive libertarian.'” He was previously deployed to eastern Afghanistan while serving in the Air Force Reserve as a civil engineer.

This is Theo’s second time running for the County Board in as many years. Last year, he ran in a crowded County Board race for the seat that Democrat Takis Karantonis occupies.

Civic activist Audrey Clement is also running as an independent, seeking to reduce taxes, stop up-zoning, and preserve parks, trees and historic places. She said on her website she’s running “because the Board has pushed harmful policies resulting in: overcrowded schools, gentrification, loss of green space, and a 10 year average annual effective tax rate increase that is twice the rate of inflation.”

The Westover resident has been a perennial candidate over the last decade or so and says she believes once people realize the ‘Missing Middle’ housing push will rezone some neighborhoods, they will support a candidate like her.

Arlington School Board

After some commotion surrounding the Democratic endorsement for the School Board seat up for grabs, only two names will be on the ballot: James Vell Rives and Bethany Sutton.

Read More

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Parkour in Gateway Park in Rosslyn before the rain (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Beyer Wins 8th District NominationUpdated at 9:50 a.m. — “Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat, has fended off a primary challenge from Victoria Virasingh in the 8th Congressional District. Beyer will face Republican Karina Lipsman, who won a Republican convention last month… With 177 precincts of 182 reporting, Beyer leads, 77.82% to 22.18%.” [WTOP, Fox 5]

Statement from Beyer — “I am grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again making me their Democratic nominee to represent Virginia’s 8th District… This is a challenging moment for the Democratic Party, and I look forward to throwing myself into that fight and making the case for equality, shared prosperity, and progress.” [Twitter]

Singing Challenger’s Praises — From Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “Thank you to @Victoria4VA for running and raising important issues in our community. It’s never easy to step into the arena and, win or lose, we should all be grateful to those who do. I am sure we have not heard the last of Victoria!” [Twitter]

Man Drowns in Four Mile Run — “No foul play is suspected in the drowning death of a 52-year-old man in Four Mile Run, according to Alexandria Police. Police were called around 2 p.m. on Monday, June 20. Rescuers found the man in the stream near the 3900 block of Richmond Highway.” [ALXnow]

Neighbors Want Public Garage — “County, regional and state officials descended on Shirlington Road on June 15, ceremonially kicking off construction of a much-awaited and oft-debated maintenance facility for the Arlington Transit (ART) bus fleet… But the proposal still calls for using a parking garage on the parcel exclusively for staff use. ‘Given local parking challenges, a little creative thinking would open sections of the garage for public use, too,’ Stombler said.” [Sun Gazette]

Acquisition for Arlington Company — “Leonardo DRS Inc., the Arlington subsidiary of Italian defense and space contractor Leonardo SpA, said Tuesday it has agreed to merge with Israel’s Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. in an all-stock deal that will create a new public company.” [Washington Business Journal]

Storms Possible Today — From the Capital Weather Gang: “Heads-up for Wednesday afternoon + evening: HEAVY RAIN threat for parts of region and possibility of flooding. * Storms — possibly numerous — between 3 and 10p * It won’t rain the whole time but some areas could see multiple bouts of heavy rain — evening may be busiest.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Rain and storms in the evening and overnight. High of 86 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) Today is the last chance Arlingtonians have to vote in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives.

In-person voting is underway for the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, in which incumbent Rep. Don Beyer faces political newcomer and Arlington resident Victoria Virasingh.

As of 9 a.m., Election Day turnout was just 1% so far, according to the Arlington County elections office. By 1:30 p.m. it was up to 3%. With early voting and mail ballots, turnout is around 7% of registered voters total.

Virasingh, a daughter of immigrants, was born and raised in Arlington and is active with the Arlington County Democratic Committee. She was previously part of Communities in Schools at Barcroft Elementary School. Her professional resume includes work for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, and tech company Palantir.

Virasingh’s website lists some campaign priorities as housing for all, equity in education, securing a living wage and Medicare for all.

Beyer has held onto the 8th District — which also includes Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County — since he won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.

The winner will face any non-Democratic candidates in November, including GOP-nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman.

How to vote

Any voter can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, regardless of party affiliation, because Virginia is an open primary state. The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, was May 31.

Polling locations are open until 7 p.m. Voters must cast their ballots at their assigned location, which can be found on the Virginia elections website.

If mailing a ballot, it must be postmarked no later than today or delivered in person today, according to the Arlington County elections website.

0 Comments
Rep. Don Beyer (staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Last week, we invited the two candidates running in the Democratic primary for Congress in Virginia’s 8th District to write a post about why our readers should vote for them on Tuesday (June 21). Find information on how and where to vote in Arlington here.

Here is the unedited response from Rep. Don Beyer:

My name is Don Beyer, and I represent much of Northern Virginia, including Arlington, in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am seeking re-election – and your vote – because I am determined to fight for a strong and equitable economy, protect our democracy from those who threaten it, and act with the speed and scope we need to address the climate crisis.

I am focused on delivering results for our district. Since I was first elected eight years ago, my office has completed over 13,000 cases to help constituents with federal agencies and other matters, and recovered over $10 million dollars on their behalf. This year I secured millions in federal funding for local projects, which include addressing flooding in Northern Virginia, expanding electric vehicle infrastructure, and funding Arlington’s mental health services.

I am a forceful advocate for our region’s transportation infrastructure. I voted for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will benefit Northern Virginia enormously and put Metro on a stronger fiscal footing with added oversight. I helped secure grants to renovate Arlington Memorial Bridge and passed legislation that achieved safety improvements and structural repairs on the G.W. Parkway. I am constantly working to reduce noise from airplanes and helicopters in our skies.

As your Congressman, I helped craft and enact landmark legislation, including Covid relief measures like the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, which funded the national vaccine strategy, direct economic impact payments for most Americans, and the enhanced Child Tax Credit.

Last year, President Biden signed my hate crime prevention legislation, the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, into law. I helped write legislation to launch the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 9-8-8 next month.

As Chair of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I am pressing hard to make health care, child care, and housing more affordable, and to reduce the price of lifesaving medicines like insulin. I am a leader in the House in the fight for universal, paid medical and family leave. I am a strong supporter of workers, as a proponent of legislation to raise the minimum wage, protect union rights, and support America’s civil servants and contractors.

As a leader on the House Science Committee, I am committed to being an effective advocate for a tough response to the climate crisis. I have authored climate-friendly provisions to promote direct air capture, green hydrogen, and electric vehicle credits. I’ve had legislation signed into law to boost climate resilience funding and “blue carbon” research, and founded the bipartisan Fusion Energy Caucus. Last year, I represented the House at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

Halting gun violence has been another focus of my work in Congress. I voted for universal background checks, led the fight for red flag laws, and strongly support the Assault Weapons Ban. I recently introduced legislation to restrict the purchase of assault weapons and high capacity magazines, which could bypass the filibuster and win Senate passage with 50 votes.

Finally, like many of you, I am deeply concerned about threats to our democracy. I voted for the For the People Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect our elections and secure Americans’ right to vote. I was a vocal critic of Donald Trump, voting to impeach him twice, and am a strong supporter of the January 6th Committee’s investigation.

Northern Virginians are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the work of the federal government, and representing you effectively requires capable, experienced leadership. As our district’s Representative, I work hard every day to make progress that improves your lives.

Thank you for placing your trust in me. I humbly ask for your support and vote on Tuesday, June 21st to continue to build on the progress we have made. For more information please visit www.friendsofdonbeyer.com.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Along Columbia Pike at twilight (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Dispute Leads to Violence, Vehicular Mayhem — “The victim pulled the suspect out of the vehicle and he pushed her, causing her to fall to the ground. A security guard intervened and separated the parties. The suspect then reentered his vehicle, described as a white van, and fled the scene. While fleeing, the suspect allegedly struck the victim’s vehicle, a sign on the property, and drove towards the security guard, causing him to dive out of the way.” [ACPD]

Beyer Wants Quieter Airplanes — “As the representative for the area around Reagan National Airport, one of the most common concern heard by Rep. Don Beyer is airplane noise. On Friday, Beyer is reintroducing the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act to seek study on reducing airplane noise and emissions.” [Patch]

Top ACPD Official Retires — “Per a tribute that just went out on ACPD’s dispatch channel, Deputy Chief Michael Dunne is retiring today after 38 years of service.” [Twitter]

Arlington Ranks No. 15 for Solo Affordability — “Rent prices are rising rapidly in many of America’s largest cities. Nationally, average rent increased by 11.3% between the start of 2021 and 2022… In this study, we compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across topics such as rent costs, earnings, living costs and employment to uncover where renters can afford to live alone.” [SmartAsset]

Major Delays at DCA — “At Reagan National Airport in the Washington, D.C. region on Thursday, more than 200 flights — roughly 43 percent of scheduled departures — were delayed, and 79, or 16 percent, were canceled. At Dulles International Airport, only 4 percent of scheduled departures were canceled, but 30 percent of flights were delayed.” [Washington Post]

Flyover for Tuskegee Airman — “Memorial events for Brigadier General Charles E. McGee, one of the last surviving members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, were held Friday… McGee’s funeral took place at Arlington National Cemetery with a flyover.” [WJLA, WRIC]

Chance Connection Turns into Emotional Bond — “An Arlington, Virginia, family recently met someone who has an indelible connection to their deceased father that was forged in the chaos and smoking debris at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.” [NBC 4]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 77 and low of 57. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

Editor’s Note — Our staff has the day off due to the federal observation of the Juneteenth holiday. Barring breaking news, we will only be publishing in the morning today.

0 Comments

Members of Congress from Virginia are pushing the federal government to help fund proposed changes to Route 1.

The changes, while still being hashed out by VDOT and local officials, would lower elevated portions of Route 1 through Crystal City to grade, turning it into a lower-speed “urban boulevard.” VDOT is also mulling at least one pedestrian bridge or tunnel at 18th Street S., near the Metro station, to improve safety.

With the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 on track to open in Pentagon City in 2023, state and local officials see a need to turn the area — collectively known as National Landing — into a more cohesive downtown and economic center. Key to that vision is revamping Route 1, also known as Richmond Highway, which effectively separates Pentagon City from Crystal City.

At last check, cost estimates for the project were around $200 million.

Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation would like to see the feds foot much of the bill, through funding from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill.

In a joint letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the lawmakers say argue that the Route 1 project meets all criteria for funding through the infrastructure bill.

“This grant request will allow Virginia to convert the Route 1 corridor in Arlington into a multimodal urban boulevard that prioritizes pedestrian safety in a walkable environment,” the wrote. “VDOT is developing multimodal solutions for Route 1 to meet National Landing’s transportation needs with the coming of Amazon and other related developments.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), along with Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.), and Robert Wittman (R-Va.).

“The Commonwealth’s commitment to Amazon is to improve safety, accessibility, and the pedestrian experience crossing Route 1,” the lawmakers wrote. “Investment in National Landing will produce significant, measurable benefits to the economy, health, and safety of local citizens… This project satisfies all the merit criteria outlined in the federal grant opportunity, especially the priorities of providing economic, state of good repair, environmental, and equity benefits.

The letter also argues for the project’s fiscal benefits, including reducing bridge maintenance costs and providing acres of additional land for development.

“The transformation of Route 1 to an urban boulevard includes the removal of three bridge structures from the VDOT inventory, which will reduce long term maintenance costs,” the letter said. “Modifications to the I-395 interchange will remove a structurally deficient bridge and avoid future replacement or rehabilitation costs, while also extending the urban boulevard to the north which will contribute to lower speeds.”

“[The project] increases the accessibility to job centers through the proposed access improvements, which will benefit residents of all income levels,” the letter continues. “The project will create approximately 6.5 acres of excess right-of-way resulting in high value developable land.”

Another hoped-for benefit: fewer cars and better safety features.

“It will reduce the need for single-occupancy vehicle trips in favor of environmentally friendly options such as enhanced transit service, walkability, biking routes,” said the letter. “The project also includes multiple innovative solutions, such as a progressive design-build strategy and a pilot safety project to implement near-miss crash technology in National Landing.”

The completion of VDOT’s Phase 2 study of the proposed changes is currently expected to wrap up in early 2023. While the project has general support from the county and the business community, some residents have expressed concerns about whether taking away overpasses in favor of at-grade crossings actually makes things more dangerous for pedestrians.

Much of the congressional delegation, led by Kaine, also wrote a letter to Buttigieg supporting funding for an I-64 connector to ease congestion between Richmond and Hampton Roads.

0 Comments
Karina Lipsman, the Republican nominee for the 8th Congressional District, holds a campaign sign (via Fairfax County Republican Committee/Facebook)

Local Republicans nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman on Saturday to seek the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Early voting is underway for the primary to determine whether Lipsman faces Beyer or his primary challenger, Victoria Virasingh, in the November general election. The 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.

At the local GOP’s ranked choice convention, Lipsman earned 61.5% of the votes in the first round of vote counting, according to a press release on her campaign website.

Votes for Lipsman came out ahead of other Republican hopefuls as the slate of candidates sought to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Alexandria resident Kezia Tunnell received 19.12% of the vote, and the 2020 nominee Jeff Jordan received 15.92%. Two other candidates, McLean resident Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher, did not break 2.5%, the release stated.

Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment” in the 8th District, an email from Arlington GOP read. The seat has been held by a Democrat for decades, including by Beyer who won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Lipsman fled Ukraine when it was still under Soviet Union control and came to the United States with her mother and grandparents, according to her campaign website. They didn’t speak English, survived on food stamps and lived in low-income housing in Baltimore. When she was 18, Lipsman became a U.S. citizen.

https://twitter.com/karinacongress/status/1525243734480367617?s=21&t=YbRc9C9C12GqVzMD-SorYg

She received a bachelor’s degree in economics while she was working full-time in the financial industry, and later earned a master’s in engineering from Johns Hopkins, according to the website. She’s worked in the national defense industry for over a decade.

Her website outlines priorities like supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion.

She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training programs. She also wrote, “We must fight the dangerous voices that call for lowering educational standards in the name of equity.”

After her nomination, Arlington Democrats posted to Twitter calling her an “extreme right candidate,” linking to a recording of her allegedly saying “Fauci should be jailed” at a candidate forum.

Lipsman’s website mentions extremists and divisive politics.

“Let’s be honest — there are loud extremists on both sides, who benefit from dividing our country, and we cannot let that happen,” the website says. “Divisive politics are poisonous and we must work together to overcome the gridlock on the critical issues that are facing our country.”

After living in Arlington for more than 10 years, she says she understands the issues facing the community.

“As your congresswoman, I will engage with you directly and represent your interests and put solutions for our district before partisan politics,” her website reads. “I will advocate for common-sense policies that fight crime, reduce inflation, ease transportation and improve our educational standards.”

Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list