Arlington, VA

The East Falls Church and Arlington Cemetery Metro stations are scheduled to reopen this weekend, WMATA says.

The transit agency announced that its planned outdoor platform reconstruction work along the Orange Line is “well ahead of schedule,” allowing East Falls Church and other stations to return to service.

The East Falls Church station will reopen Sunday, according to WMATA. It closed in March, at the outset of the pandemic, along with the Clarendon and Virginia Square stations — which reopened in June.

The Arlington Cemetery station is also set to reopen on Sunday, as Metro works to return rail service to pre-pandemic levels.

Also available to East Falls Church commuters: a new bike parking facility at the station, which cost around $2 million and was originally slated to be completed in 2015. Cyclists need to register online before using the “Bike and Ride” facility.

More on the reopenings from a WMATA press release:

With the project to reconstruct outdoor platforms at four Orange Line stations west of Ballston proceeding well ahead of schedule, Metro today announced that East Falls Church will reopen this Sunday, August 23. The early reopening of East Falls Church will follow yesterday’s ahead-of-schedule reopening of West Falls Church and the five Silver Line stations in Virginia. Rail service has returned to near pre-pandemic levels, and Metrobus service will increase dramatically beginning Sunday, August 23.

Also today, Metro announced that Arlington Cemetery Station, closed since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will also reopen on Sunday, leaving only two of Metrorail’s 91 stations – Vienna and Dunn Loring – that will remain closed for a few additional weeks.

Dunn Loring and Vienna will open Tuesday, September 8, marking the first time all Metrorail stations have been open since March 19 when Metro initiated strategic station and entrance closures as part of its comprehensive response to the public health emergency.

Returning Orange Line customers may notice ongoing construction activity even after stations reopen, as Metro’s commitment is to restore service on the first day it is safe for customers, which is often weeks earlier than a project’s completion date.

East Falls Church Station customers will benefit from the station’s new secure Bike & Ride facility that offers secured bicycle parking at no charge. To access the facility, customers must use a registered SmarTrip card and must first complete the online Bike & Ride registration form, available here.

Photo courtesy Elvert Barnes

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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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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A bear was spotted near Bishop O’Connell High School this morning.

Social media posts on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor have residents buzzing over the bear encounter in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood.

The bear was spotted in the private high school’s parking lot by a construction crew, around 6:30 a.m., as seen in the photo above. It was later spotted around 7 a.m. closer to I-66.

“All the neighbors in the area saw it,” one poster said. “The workers saw it too.”

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington confirmed to ARLnow that its animal control unit responded to the area but was unable to locate the bear.

“Arlington County Animal Control was promptly alerted as was the Arlington County Police Department, Virginia State Conservation Officers, the Arlington County Natural Resource Manager, and Fairfax County Animal Protection Police,” AWLA said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“The bear appeared to be a yearling male… Animal Control quickly responded and monitored the area but was unable to locate the bear and there was no property damage,” the statement continued. “The bear did not approach any people, pets, or residences and quickly left the area. If a resident ever sees a bear we ask that they keep a large distance and immediately report to Animal Control at 703-931-9241. Animal Control is continuing to monitor the area to ensure the bear has moved on.”

Alonso Abugattas, Arlington County Natural Resource Manager, also released a statement.

Bears, especially young males, travel away from their families and often, as they don’t know as much as older bears, into new areas that perhaps are not ideal for them. They are shy and almost always try to get away from people, would like for you to leave them alone as well. Eventually they either find their way back to more wild settings or are helped to get there. They are almost always not a danger and just would like to be left alone. If you find one, just calmly report it. If you know they’re around you, don’t leave trash cans, pet food, and bird feeders around that may attract them. This is not an uncommon occurrence as bear numbers have really built up. For example, there are 4 bears this calendar year that have been seen in Fairfax.

A bear was spotted in the Reston area two weeks ago, our sister site Reston Now reported.

It’s not uncommon to spot bears this time of year as they wander into residential areas in search of food,” Reston Now write. “County officials say that bears may be drawn into populated areas because of the smell of food. Other things that attract bears include garbage, compost piles, fruit trees, beehives and berry-producing shrubs.”

Photos courtesy Animal Welfare League of Arlington

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A trio of Metro stations in Arlington will close starting on Thursday, as Metro experiences low ridership and dwindling cleaning supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Closing are the Clarendon, Virginia Square and East Falls Church stations, along the Orange and Silver lines. They’re among 17 stations Metro is closing.

More from WMATA:

Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced the strategic closing of 17 additional stations, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, in an effort to conserve critical resources and protect the health and safety of Metro employees and the public. This follows drastic measures already taken to reduce travel on Metro to essential trips only, leading to a Metrorail ridership decline of 90 percent.

These steps will help reduce the risk of exposure to employees and save critical cleaning supplies for the remaining stations. While Metro increased its on-hand warehouse inventory of essential supplies, such as hospital-grade disinfectant, wipes, hand sanitizer, and other items used by Metro’s frontline employees, suppliers are experiencing delivery delays. Metro is taking action to make its current 2-3 week warehouse supply stretch until massive orders placed in late January are received.

Each Metrorail station has multiple escalators, faregates and other high touch surfaces that are being cleaned daily, including some stations with multiple entrances. By reducing the number of entrances, Metro will be able to better protect its workforce and customers and prolong the inventory of these critical supplies needed to keep the system open.

Metro said the Virginia Square station is being closed due to its close proximity to the Ballston station, while the Clarendon and East Falls Church stations are closing due to low ridership — 299 and 239 trips on Monday, respectively.

The Arlington Cemetery Metro station was previously closed due to low ridership.

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Starting next month, the parking lot at the frequently-packed East Falls Church Metro station will be completely closed for up to nine months.

The closure is part of planned summer shutdown to rebuild four stations on the Orange Line — including East Falls Church, Vienna and Dunn Loring in Virginia. While the projects aren’t scheduled to start for another three months, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said construction crews will need to utilize several parking lots as a staging ground for equipment and materials starting in March.

More from WMATA:

Beginning Sunday, March 15, the surface parking lots at East Falls Church, West Falls Church, and Vienna stations will be closed for seven to nine months, as construction contractors begin the process of moving material and machines into place. Once these lots close, there will be no parking available at East Falls Church, severely limited parking at West Falls Church, and reduced parking at Vienna Station. Parking at Dunn Loring station is not impacted.

The platform work is necessary to address years of concrete structural deterioration that, left unaddressed, could pose a safety risk to riders. Metro will use the time to make improvements that enhance customer experience with a higher level of safety, accessibility and convenience. Key renovations include new slip-resistant tiles throughout the stations, brighter energy-efficient LED lighting and illuminated handrails, new stainless steel platform shelters with charging ports and digital map/information displays, and new Passenger Information Displays (PIDs) with larger digital screens to improve visibility.

NBC 4 reporter Adam Tuss, a veteran of the local transportation beat, noted that the closure will be especially disruptive given that the parking lot is frequently full.

WMATA said the kiss and ride lot will be open only for pick-up and drop-off, while additional parking will be available at the Dunn Loring Metro station.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Warren Blasts Bloomberg at Arlington Event — “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Thursday that Michael R. Bloomberg should not be the Democratic presidential nominee because of newly surfaced comments he made 12 years ago in which he said the end of a discriminatory housing practice had helped contribute to the 2008 financial crisis.” [New York Times]

Warren Draws Big Crowd at Wakefield — Last night’s Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign event at the Wakefield High School gym drew national media, a crowd of thousands and lines that stretched around the block. The gym’s scoreboard was programmed to say “ELIZABETH WARREN” and “20:20.” Warren later addressed the overflow crowd outside the school.

Bike Rack at EFC Metro Has Cost Millions — “Metro has spent $3.8 million and taken five years to build two unfinished bike racks — at East Falls Church and Vienna Metro Stations. WMATA originally budgeted $600,000 for each rack, but the price tag has soared to $1.9 million each. The covered bike shelters will house 92 bikes, putting the price tag at more than $20,000 per bike… The projects were supposed to be completed in December of 2015 but remain unfinished in 2020.” [WJLA]

EPA May Move Out of Arlington — “The Trump administration is planning to move the Environmental Protection Agency from leased space at Potomac Yard to the federally owned William Jefferson Clinton complex in downtown D.C… The GSA plans to shift workers from One Potomac Yard in Arlington starting in March 2021, boosting occupancy in the Clinton building by about 1,200 employees.” [Washington Business Journal]

Megamansion Skews Arlington Real Estate Stats — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington was more than $2 million, though that figure was skewed by the nearly $45 million sale of an estate along the Potomac River, the priciest home sale ever in the D.C. area. [InsideNova]

Arlington Startup Sells to Texas Firm — “Mobile Posse announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Digital Turbine, a mobile delivery and app advertising company headquartered in Austin, TX. The acquisition by Digital Turbine builds on both firms’ strategies of creating frictionless mobile app and mobile content solutions for carriers and OEMs, thus creating effective advertising solutions for brands and app developers.” [Mobile Posse via Potomac Tech Wire]

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Morning Notes

EFC Metro Closing This Weekend — The Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church Metro stations will be closed this weekend, “due to preparation for the Summer Platform Improvement Project.” Per Metro: “Customers on Ballston-bound Orange Line trains who are continuing on to West Falls Church should exit the train at Virginia Square for a same platform transfer.” [WMATA]

Pentagon City Armed Robbery Spike — “So far in 2020, there have been five total armed robberies in Pentagon City. Last year, there were seven for the entire year.” In response to the recent string of parking garage carjackings, Pentagon City mall says “we have increased our security presence to ensure a safe and secure environment.” [WJLA]

Arlington’s Ultra-Low Unemployment Rate — “How low can it go? That may be the question for Arlington’s unemployment rate. The jobless figure squeezed down to 1.6 percent in December, ending the year at its lowest rate of 2019 and – for the umpteenth month and year in a row – lowest in the commonwealth.” [InsideNova]

NFL Star Returns to Arlington — “M. J. Stewart, @Buccaneers Cornerback and Arlington native stopped by his alma mater @APSVirginia!” [Twitter]

Arlington Dems Want Record Turnout — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee is aiming to increase the community’s  2020 voter-participation rate nearly 10 percent from 2016’s presidential race, building on past efforts and launching new initiatives to get there. ‘We’re pulling out all the stops,’ party chair Jill Caiazzo said on Feb. 5.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Pupatella Coming to D.C. — “The rumors are true: Pupatella will bring its wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas to Dupont Circle, occupying the prime indoor/outdoor space that housed Rosemary’s Thyme for nearly 18 years. Owner and Naples native Enzo Algarme says his team is angling for a spring opening.” [Washingtonian, PoPville]

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Morning Notes

Never Ending Bike Rack Construction at EFC Metro — “Metro has been building a Bike & Ride facility at the East Falls Church Metro Station for nearly five years, and the project still is not finished. The covered bike shelter was supposed to open in December 2015, but Metro says due to ‘Numerous construction quality issues, including damage caused by a contractor repeatedly drilling into an underground duct bank, led to lengthy delays.'” [WJLA]

Another Sewage Release in Four Mile Run — “Avoid all contact with Four Mile Run south of 7th Street until further notice due to a sanitary sewage release. @ArlingtonDES crews are on scene investigating pipe’s condition.” [Twitter]

Delegate Wants to Retrocede Arlington to D.C. — Del. Dave LaRock (R) “said some counties and jurisdictions in the state ‘are becoming more like California and New York…’ [LaRock said he] could get behind a move to have more liberal jurisdictions such as Arlington and Alexandria become part of Washington, D.C.” [Winchester Star, Blue Virginia]

Weird Crash Leaves Car Hanging — “Rough night… at Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street.” [Twitter]

Cristol to Chair NVTC — “Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol has been tapped to chair the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for the 2020 calendar year. She succeeds Matt Letourneau, a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.” [InsideNova]

Marine Corps Marathon Bans Cheater — “The Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) recently concluded an investigation into the running history of a 55-year-old female participant at both the Marine Corps 17.75K and the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). The research, including photographic evidence and timing data, indicates that the runner had cheated over multiple years by not running the entire course and then claiming the rewards of a finisher.” [Press Release]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Metro is planning to close the East Falls Church Metro station in the summer of 2020 for a platform rebuilding project.

The station is one of three in Virginia — including Vienna and Dunn Loring — slated to close from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Work will also take place at West Falls Church but the station will remain open.

Trains will single-track past the East Falls Church station, which will be closed to passengers. There will be reduced Silver Line service from McLean to Wiehle-Reston East as a result of the single-tracking.

The project follows this past summer’s shutdown of the Blue and Yellow Line in Alexandria, also for platform reconstruction. Like this year, shuttle service will be provided.

The work will include demolition and rebuilding of aging station platforms as well as “major infrastructure work along the 7-mile rail segment.”

“As the station platforms are reconstructed, Metro will use the time to make improvements that enhance customer experience with a higher level of safety, accessibility and convenience,” Metro said in a press release. “Key customer experience improvements include new slip-resistant tiles, brighter energy-efficient LED lighting, larger digital display screens, new stainless-steel platform shelters with charging ports and new surveillance systems.”

Metro says the shutdown approach ensures safety and efficiency.

“By utilizing an extended shutdown during summer months, Metro can provide contractors with 24-hour access to the work sites,” the transit agency said. “This approach improves safety while significantly reducing project duration as workers do not have to repeatedly set-up and break down equipment.”

After this project, two additional Arlington stations will be slated for a future reconstruction project: Reagan National Airport and Arlington Cemetery.

Photo courtesy Elvert Barnes

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A $2.6 million project to renovate Benjamin Banneker Park will close the park and a portion of the W&OD Trail starting the week after Thanksgiving.

The project, which was given the green light in September, will widen the trails from 8 to 12 feet and upgrade the athletic field, playground, picnic area, dog park and more.

The park closure and trail detour were originally advertised as starting this week, but everything is still open, for now.

“We are giving people a two week notice to make adjustments,” said Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “The trail and park will close December 3. We’ve provided detour recommendations on sandwich boards around the park as well as online. We are putting up a banner at the dog park directing people to the web to find an alternative dog park.”

Not everyone is happy about the trail detour, which will redirect pedestrian and bike traffic from the park — near the East Falls Church Metro station — to the busy intersection of N. Sycamore Street and 19th Street N., which has traffic lights and pedestrian crossing signals.

“Many of us are caught off guard with the total closure of the trail between the creek and the soccer field for the duration of the project,” said Kelly Alexis, a local resident, in an email to county staff that she also sent to ARLnow and other concerned residents.

“Arlington County has provided only one re-route option — funneling all pedestrian and bicycle traffic to the most congested possible intersection; passing across the entry and exit to the EFC Metro Kiss-and-ride lot,” Alexis continued. “This was not part of the plan that was presented to us at the open meetings and has a major impact on bicycle and pedestrian traffic.”

In response to a request to complete trail construction first, before the other park changes, a county staffer said that was not a viable option for a number of reasons. Among them: the need to fence off the trail from the rest of the under-construction park — thus creating “a safety concern for users who would then have very limited egress through a long confined corridor in the park if they were endangered or injured.”

Kalish said she is not aware of any plans to make changes to the detour.

Construction is currently expected to wrap up between July and September of 2020, according to the county website.

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(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) A car ran through a fence and into a house Tuesday night near the East Falls Church neighborhood and Arlington’s western border.

The crash happened around 7:30 p.m. along the 7000 block of Fairfax Drive. The road was closed for around an hour due to the emergency response.

Arlington County Police say the crash happened after the driver of the car sped away from a Virginia State Trooper who had attempted to pull the vehicle over on I-66.

Three suspects fled the crash on foot, police said. One suspect, a 22-year-old Manassas resident, was arrested and charged with hit and run and possession of a controlled substance. Neither she nor the two male suspects, who remain at large, were reported to be injured, according to police.

There was no immediate word on the severity of the damage to the home.

More from an ACPD crime report:

FELONY HIT & RUN (Significant), 2019-09170181, 7000 block of Fairfax Drive. At approximately 7:27 p.m. on September 17, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle that had run off the roadway and into a residence. Three suspects were seen fleeing the scene of the crash on foot. The investigation determined that prior to the crash, the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed on I-66 when a Virginia State Police trooper attempted a traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle failed to stop and sped away at an increased speed. A vehicle pursuit was not initiated. Officers responding to the crash canvased the area and located the female suspect. Tatiana Pendleton, 22, of Manassas, VA, was arrested and charged with Hit and Run – Passenger Fail to Report and Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance. Two suspects remain outstanding. Suspect One is described as a tall, black male wearing a white t-shirt and black pants. Suspect Two is described as a short, heavy set, black male wearing a brown t-shirt and blue jeans. No injuries were reported. The investigation is ongoing.

Photos courtesy JB

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