Arlington, VA

Officials are hoping to find ways to close the only break in the 45-mile long Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board (TPB) approved $680,000 in assistance for 13 projects, including one to look into options to close a gap near the East Falls Church Metro station.

The W&OD Trail is a regional pedestrian and bicycle trail with 3,000 plus daily users. This trail is used for walking and bicycling to the East Falls Church Metrorail Station and for longer-distance bicycle commuting across the area. The only gap in the 45-mile long W&OD Trail is in East Falls Church. The trail gap creates conflicts involving trail users and motorized traffic. This project will use technical assistance to identify alternatives for constructing an off-street connection of the trail sections in the East Falls Church area.

Currently, the trail breaks at 19th Road N., just before the Metro station.

TPB received 25 applications for transportation project funding from regional governments before the April 2 deadline, according to a press release.

The applications were judged partially on how they reflected TPB’s long-range regional transportation plan “Visualize 2045” and its goals to move more people around the growing Greater Washington area without adding more cars.

Last summer, the Van Buren Bridge near East Falls Church Metro re-opened after the City of Falls Church repaired it with a $300,000 regional grant to help connect cyclists with the station and with the W&OD. VDOT, meanwhile, is currently working on a new pedestrian bridge over Lee Highway near the Metro station.

Images via Google Maps

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After a few more months of delays, a new sushi restaurant is now set to open today (Monday) in East Falls Church.

Yume Sushi plans to hold a soft opening today at its location at 2121 N. Westmoreland Street, according to spokeswoman Isobel Leandra. She said the eatery then expects to hold a more formal grand opening sometime in “mid-January.”

The restaurant has been working to open since last fall, but has consistently run into permitting and construction challenges. Yume originally hoped to start serving up sushi in late October, but Leandra says that “a combination of permitting and a few other changes behind the scenes to ensure we could roll out all the stops” prompted the additional delays.

The eatery is backed by executive chef and co-owner Saran Kannasute, who was previously the executive chef at Alexandria’s The Sushi Bar.

He plans to serve up not only a large collection of sushi roles, but will also offer “Omakase dining,” stemming from the Japanese phrase that roughly translates to “I shall leave it up to you.” The two-hour sessions give chefs complete creative freedom in creating specially tailored menus for diners.

Yume will be located in the same building as a South Block juice bar, and will be just down the street from the East Falls Church Metro station.

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More than 700 Dominion customers are without power in Arlington and the City of Falls Church this morning due to a possibly wind-related outage.

The outage extends from an area near the East Falls Church Metro station to the E. Broad Street commercial corridor of Falls Church and other parts of the city.

Restoration is estimated between noon and 3 p.m.

A number of downed tree branches and utility lines have been reported this morning (Wednesday) as the area remains under a Wind Advisory through 4 p.m.

Image via Dominion

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Arlington police are searching for a man who they believe exposed himself to people along the W&OD Trail near East Falls Church.

Police say the man was spotted with his pants down, masturbating near the N. Ohio Street bridge over I-66 around 2:40 p.m. last Saturday (Nov. 10).

However, by the time officers made to the area, they weren’t able to find him. They’re describing him as “a white male, 20-30 years old, wearing a red or orange hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.”

Full details from a county crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-11100143, 6200 block of 12th Road N. At approximately 2:40 p.m. on November 10, police were dispatched to the report of an exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims were walking on the W&OD trail when they observed an unknown male suspect near the Ohio Street Bridge with his pants down allegedly masturbating. Arriving officers canvased the area with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male, 20-30 years old, wearing a red or orange hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.

And here are other notable incidents from the past week of crime reports:

ROBBERY, 2018-11120026, 1300 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 2:58 a.m. on November 12, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined that earlier in the night, the victim was inside his residence when he heard a knock at the door. The victim went to investigate and, upon opening the door, was sprayed with an unknown substance and assaulted by an unknown suspect, causing him to lose consciousness. The suspect(s) stole cash and items of value and fled the scene prior to police arrival. The victim was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

ROBBERY, 2018-11130247, 1200 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 9:15 p.m. on November 13, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that two male suspects entered a business and began selecting large quantities of merchandise. When confronted by an employee, one suspect took the employee’s cell phone and assaulted him. The suspects fled the scene with the cell phone and merchandise prior to police arrival. A canvas of the area yielded negative results. Suspect One is described as a black male, approximately 20-30 years old, 5’9″, average build, with medium length braided black hair with highlights at the eneds, wearing a gray or black jacket with the hood up and blue jeans. Suspect Two is described as a black male, approximately 5’9″, average build, bald, wearing glasses, a black jacket and black jeans. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2018-11120043, 3500 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 7:25 a.m. on November 12, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 4:30 p.m. on November 10 and 5:30 a.m. on November 12, an unknown suspect gained entry to a construction site and stole items of value. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

ATTEMPTED GRAND LARCENY, 2018-11110279, 3000 block of S. Randolph Street. At approximately 11:50 p.m. on November 11, police were dispatched to the report of an in-progress tampering with auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims heard noise and screams outside. When they looked outside, they allegedly observed an unknown male suspect inside their vehicle with the lights on. A passerby arriving home in the area made contact with the suspect and told the suspect to exit the vehicle, which he complied with. The suspect fled into a nearby building prior to police arrival. Arriving officers established a perimeter, located the suspect and took him into custody without incident. Jherson Cuadra, 21, of Alexandria, Va., was arrested and charged with Attempted Grand Larceny: Motor Vehicle Theft and Tampering with Vehicle.

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2018-11090099, 1700 block of N. Edgewood Street. At approximately 9:56 a.m. on November 9, police were dispatched to the late report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 1:00 p.m. on November 8 and 8:45 p.m. on November 9, an unknown suspect(s) gained entry to a vacant residence. Nothing was reported missing. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2018-11090326, 1900 block of N. Van Buren Street. At approximately 10:37 p.m. on November 9, police were dispatched to the late report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., an unknown suspect(s) forced entry to a residence and stole items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION, 2018-11080251, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 7:07 p.m. on November 8, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted abduction. Upon arrival, it was determined that a verbal dispute between the victim and known suspect escalated and became physical. The victim attempted to use her phone to call for help, however, the suspect allegedly took it from her and began forcing her into his vehicle. Two witnesses came to the aid of the victim and challenged the suspect, who released the victim and left the scene in his vehicle. The suspect then returned and a verbal dispute took place over the victim’s cell phone as she retrieved it from the suspect. The suspect then fled in his vehicle prior to police arrival. Warrants for the suspect were obtained for Attempted Abduction, Assault & Battery, and Preventing and Emergency Call.

RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE, 2018-11080180, I-66 WB at N. Sycamore Street. At approximately 2:42 p.m. on November 8, an officer on routine patrol was alerted to a License Plate Reader hit on a stolen vehicle. With the assistance of Virginia State Police, a traffic stop was conducted and the driver was taken into custody without incident. Demetrius Callaham, 29, of Washington, D.C. was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.

ROBBERY (late), 2018-11070119, 800 block of S. Dinwiddie Street. At approximately 11:43 a.m. on November 7, police responded to the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on November 2, the victim was walking in the area when he was approached by an unknown suspect, who attempted to engage him in conversation. The victim was then grabbed by his hood by a second suspect and assaulted before the suspects stole his personal belongings and fled on foot. The victim suffered non life-threatening injuries that required medical treatment. Suspect One is described as a black male in his 20’s, approximately 5’11”, with a skinny build and short, curly hair, wearing a black hoodie, a black or white shirt and black jeans. Suspect Two is described as a black male in his 20’s, approximately 5’8″-5’10”, heavy set, with short, curly hair, wearing a black hoodie, black or white shirt and black jeans. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-11070081, 200 block of N. Wayne Street. At approximately 10:00 a.m. on November 7, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 12:50 p.m. on November 5 and 8:00 p.m. on November 6, an unknown suspect gained entry to a residence and stole an undisclosed amount of cash. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

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Arlington police arrested a man last week after he allegedly ran naked through an East Falls Church neighborhood, breaking into several homes and damaging property along the way.

Police say Kahlil Martin, 25, was spotted running nude along the 6700 block of 19th Road N. around 5:30 a.m. last Wednesday (Oct. 10).

Officers received reports that Martin tried to break into several homes in the area, and was successful in some cases, and damaged some property. When police tracked Martin down along the 2100 block of N. Westmoreland Street, he then ran into a home “where he locked himself inside a bathroom with a male victim,” police said.

The man inside the bathroom was able to unlock the door, allowing officers to arrest Martin, who was then transported to the Virginia Hospital Center for a medical evaluation. Police charged him with two counts of burglary and destruction of property, and one count each of attempted burglary and abduction.

The incident was not connected to another instance of a naked man running near Claremont Immersion School earlier that same day, according to police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

Martin is set for a Nov. 15 hearing in Arlington General District Court on those charges.

Full details from a county crime report:

BURGLARY, 2018-10100050, 6700 block of 19TH Road N. At approximately 5:35 a.m. on October 10, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious circumstances. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim heard noise originating from the backyard and upon investigating, located damaged property. As officers canvased the neighborhood, they began receiving reports of a naked man observed in the area. Officers located the suspect in the 2100 block of N. Westmoreland Street and commanded him to stop. The suspect fled on foot into a residence where he locked himself inside a bathroom with a male victim. The male victim was unharmed and able to unlock the door at which time officers took the suspect into custody without further incident. As the investigation continued, officers located additional victims and determined the suspect had allegedly attempted or successfully gained entry into residence as well as locations where property was damaged. The suspect was transported to Virginia Hospital Center for medical evaluation. With the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the suspect was identified as Kahlil Martin, 25, of No Fixed Address. He was charged with Burglary (x2), Attempted Burglary, Abduction and Destruction of Property (x2).

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State transportation officials have firmed up their plans for a new bike and pedestrian bridge over Lee Highway in East Falls Church, putting the project on track for construction to kick off next spring.

VDOT unveiled final designs for the planned Washington & Old Dominion Trail bridge at a community meeting last Thursday (Oct. 11), sketching out more details on the bridge that is designed to offer a safer alternative to the trail’s current crossing at the highway’s intersection with Fairfax Drive.

The bridge’s design is largely unchanged from plans that VDOT showed off last summer. Some of the biggest changes include the removal of a barrier with streetlights running down the middle of the bridge and a change to the “piers” holding up the bridge — they now include open space in the middle of their “v” shape.

Officials initially proposed a design for the bridge that featured a trussed roof and red paint, yet some neighbors objected to those features, as well as the bridge’s potential to disrupt long-range plans for the area’s transportation networks.

Planners ultimately changed the bridge’s color and removed the roof, and even agreed to tweak the lighting features on the bridge too. Instead of a barrier lined by street lights, the bridge will now include lighting underneath the v-shaped posts running along its sides.

VDOT also detailed potential traffic disruptions prompted by the bridge’s construction at the meeting. Officials expect that there will be temporary closures on Lee Highway as the bridge’s beams and girders are put in place, and they expect that the fire lane on Fairfax Drive will be closed as construction continues. The W&OD Trail will also be realigned temporarily to allow for the construction, and could also see some temporary closures.

Planners are tentatively hoping to begin work on the bridge early next year, then wrap it up by the fall of 2020. The work will also move in tandem with the I-66 eastbound widening project, which VDOT also hopes to complete in late 2020.

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East Falls Church is now set to welcome a new sushi restaurant before the month is out.

Yume Sushi, located at 2121 N. Westmoreland Street, plans to open “in the last few weeks of October,” according to a press release. The eatery originally hoped to open last fall, but ran into some delays securing building permits.

The restaurant is backed by executive chef and co-owner Saran Kannasute, who was previously the executive chef at Alexandria’s The Sushi Bar and has worked at Sushi Rock in Courthouse, and has room for about 100 people.

Kannasute plans to serve not only an “extensive” selection of sushi rolls for a traditional dining experience, but he’ll also offer limited reservations for “Omakase dining,” stemming from the Japanese phrase that roughly translates to “I shall leave it up to you.” The two-hour Omakase sessions will allow chefs to “exert complete creative freedom and technique in curating their dishes with the finest and freshest ingredients available,” while crafting meals in front of diners, according to the release.

The restaurant also expects to stock more than 90 different sakes, which Kannasute claims will be one of the largest selections in the D.C. region. Yume’s bar will also include sake cocktails, seasonal sake varieties, a sake on tap and even Japanese whiskeys.

Yume will be located in the same building as a South Block juice bar, just down the street from the East Falls Church Metro station.

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Transportation planners will soon unveil the final design of a new bike and pedestrian bridge stretching over Lee Highway in East Falls Church.

VDOT plans to show off the finalized schematics for the Washington & Old Dominion Trail bridge at a community meeting next month, capping off a design process that drew plenty of flak from neighbors last year. The new bridge, which is being built as part of widening work on I-66 eastbound in the area, is designed to replace the trail’s current crossing at the highway’s intersection with Fairfax Drive and offer a safer environment for walkers and cyclists.

Officials had initially proposed a design for the bridge that featured a trussed roof and red paint, yet neighbors objected to those features, as well as the bridge’s potential to disrupt long-range plans for the area’s transportation networks.

But VDOT has since tweaked its design to address the most controversial features, proposing a bridge that’s gray in color without a trussed roof, in a bid to address some of those concerns. Even still, some questions about noise walls and public art lingered during a meeting on the project last year.

Planners will look to address those worries and more at an Oct. 11 meeting at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) from 6:30-8:30 p.m., where they’ll deliver a presentation on “final design plans and aesthetic details.”

If all goes as planned, construction is set to start on the bridge by spring 2019 and run through fall 2020.

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A Maryland man is now facing a slew of charges after he allegedly fled a traffic stop along I-66, then crashed into a car carrying three people in Williamsburg on Tuesday (Aug. 21).

Virginia State Police and county police tried to pull over a 2017 Honda Civic taking the exit ramp from westbound I-66 toward N. Sycamore Street when the driver refused to stop, according to state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

The car “sped away at a high rate of speed,” Geller said, and then struck another car near the intersection of N. Sycamore Street and Williamsburg Blvd. The driver of the Honda, subsequently identified as 21-year-old Brandon Andrew Lee of Ft. Washington, Maryland, fled the scene of the crash on foot.

A state trooper arrested Lee soon afterward “without further incident,” Geller said.

Lee is now charged with possession of stolen property with intent to sell, one felony count of eluding police, driving on a revoked license and two drug charges. He’s set for a hearing in Arlington General District Court on Sept. 20, and is currently being held in the county jail.

The adult and two children inside the other car involved in the crash were not injured, Geller said.

Photo courtesy of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office

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In many ways, the Lee Highway corridor is the last part of Arlington that looks like the rest of the Northern Virginia suburbs.

With high rises coming to define both the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Crystal City, and neighborhoods along Columbia Pike becoming ever more dense, Lee Highway has remained persistently suburban in character with its procession of low-slung shopping centers and vast parking lots.

But should it stay that way as the county keeps growing? And if not, how should it change?

Those are the questions the community and county planners will try to answer as they embark on a years-long planning process for Lee Highway in the coming months.

With land-use policies last updated in 1955, Arlington officials have long seen the corridor as ripe for a new round of planning. Now, after years of back-and-forth, the county is set to hire a consulting firm and kick off the process in earnest this fall.

“The next big planning frontier is Lee Highway, from Rosslyn all the way out to East Falls Church,” said County Board member John Vihstadt. “The brewing consensus is that it’s appropriate for some increased density. We’re an urbanizing county, but we also have to be sensitive to the neighborhoods that flank Lee Highway.”

Certainly, the question of density along the highway will be among the most contentious issues to be resolved in the planning process. As Vihstadt puts it, “nobody wants to see the Clarendon-ization of Lee Highway,” considering that so many single-family homes sit directly behind the roadway.

Michelle Winters, the executive director of the Alliance for Housing Solutions and a board member for the Lee Highway Alliance, isn’t so sure about that.

The LHA, a coalition of civic associations and community groups along the corridor, helped spur the start of this new round of planning in the first place, largely out of concern that development was likely coming to the highway and needed to be managed appropriately. Winters reasons that there is room for dense, mixed-use developments along some sections of the highway — she feels it was only the “bad math” guiding the area’s current zoning that prevented the right mix of residential and commercial properties from moving to the corridor in the first place.

“Would the community want another Ballston? Maybe not,” Winters said. “But another Clarendon, especially if it looks like the less dense parts of Clarendon? Maybe.”

Natasha Alfonso-Ahmed, a principal planner on the county’s comprehensive planning team, allows that the county won’t know the best way to proceed until the process wraps up, noting that planners are “going to test every possible scenario” for the corridor.

But, as Winters suggested, Alfonso-Ahmed expects that certain “nodes” on the highway could be rezoned to allow for more density, perhaps creating more walkable communities on the otherwise car-heavy corridor.

In an initial “visioning study” in 2016, the community identified five such areas that could become home to taller buildings and mixed-use spaces — East Falls Church near the Metro station, the intersection with N. Harrison Street and N. George Mason Drive, the intersection with N. Glebe Road, the Cherrydale neighborhood near N. Quincy Street and Lyon Village near Spout Run. Alfonso-Ahmed believes the county could approach each of those “nodes” differently, allowing more density only where it makes the most sense.

“A lot of the communities in that area…want to be able to walk or bike to places like a restaurant or a coffee shop,” Alfonso-Ahmed said. “At the same time, they want to be able to get in a car and go to the supermarket or the cleaners. They’re not totally independent of the car yet, like in other parts of Arlington…The goal is to balance both.”

But what will become of the existing shopping centers on the highway? As Alfonso-Ahmed points out “it’s not like it’s a blighted corridor,” and is filled with plenty of successful small businesses that the county doesn’t want to lose.

That means Arlington officials will need to think critically about what “sort of incentives or tools will be needed for business owners to even entertain” moving, she added. Or perhaps the county could allow for the expansion of those existing commercial areas, which would then bump up into residential neighborhoods.

“Are they comfortable with the encroachment of the commercial properties?” Alfonso-Ahmed said. “If they are, how much of it are they comfortable with?”

Another possibility that intrigues Vihstadt is the expansion of affordable housing options in the area. County Board Chair Katie Cristol agrees, and suggested one “illustrative example” of a change the county might make is rezoning some areas meant for single-family homes to allow for “by-right duplex development” on the edges of neighborhoods.

But, once more, such a change would surely require extensive community engagement to allay concerns about the corridor’s changing character.

To that end, Alfonso-Ahmed expects the whole process will take three years in total, with both a large “community forum” and a smaller working group constantly weighing in on the effort and lots of chances for the community to see the county’s work.

It should all start “before the end of the year,” she said, once the county can pick a consultant to help guide the effort. Though the Board had to scale back some of the process’s funding, thanks to the county’s constrained finances, Alfonso-Ahmed says planners have everything they need to move forward, and are plenty anxious to do so.

“We really want to get it started,” she said. “We know it’s been too long.”

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The Van Buren Bridge near the East Falls Church Metro station is back open after months of renovation work, complete with a new walkway for cyclists and pedestrians.

The city of Falls Church had been working since last fall to repair and widen the bridge, located near where N. Van Buren Street intersects with 18th Street N. and running over Benjamin Banneker Park.

The bridge previously lacked a sidewalk of any kind, forcing pedestrians into the roadway. Accordingly, the $300,000 construction project won some regional transportation funding for its potential to provide a smoother connection for people looking to reach the nearby Metro station with the new 12-f00t walkway.

With the W&OD Trail close by as well, planners also envision the bridge improving conditions for cyclists in the area.

The project’s conclusion also marks the end to detours on N. Van Buren Street, which previously routed drivers onto nearby roads like 19th Street N. and N. Sycamore Street.

File photo

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