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by ARLnow.com November 16, 2017 at 4:15 pm 0

An East Falls Church resident returned home early this past Tuesday morning, only to be surprised to find a burglar hiding in the closet.

Upon being discovered, the man — who was wearing sunglasses and a mask — jumped out of the closet and fled on foot.

The resident did not report the incident to police until the afternoon. More from this week’s ACPD crime report:

BURGLARY (late), 2017-11140143, 6300 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 1:13 p.m. on November 14, police were dispatched to the late report of a breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that upon returning to the residence at approximately 4:00 a.m., the victim located an unknown suspect hiding inside a closet. Upon being located, the suspect fled the scene on foot. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male with light brown skin, approximately 5’5, wearing black sunglasses, a black mask, a black jacket, blue jeans, gloves, and socks. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

(more…)

by Katie Pyzyk September 28, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

Starting in October, a construction project will close the Van Buren Bridge near the East Falls Church Metro until next spring.

The bridge expansion and replacement project is scheduled to begin the week of October 16, and all bridge access will end at that time. In a letter to residents, the City of Falls Church indicated that construction is expected to continue at least through March 2018.

During construction, Van Buren Street will be closed between 19th Street North in Arlington and East Columbia Street in Falls Church. Northbound vehicles will be rerouted from Columbia Street to Roosevelt Street and 19th Street North. Southbound vehicles will be rerouted from 19th Street North to Sycamore Street and 16th Street North. Cyclists and pedestrians will detour on an existing bridge along the W&OD trail in Benjamin Banneker Park.

Construction is expected to take place most weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and some weekend work may also be necessary. Residents in the affected area will still have access to their driveways and homes when the closure is in effect.

The project to remove and rebuild the existing Van Buren Bridge will repair structural deficiencies and add pedestrian access along the corridor to the East Falls Church Metro. The new bridge will have two lanes for vehicle traffic and cyclists in addition to a 12-foot wide pedestrian walkway.

by Chris Teale August 29, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Drivers in Westover and East Falls Church can expect traffic delays and detours in the coming weeks as the state and county repave and add bike lanes to Washington Blvd.

The project by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which owns and operates the street, is set to begin in the next couple of weeks with repaving between Lee Highway and N. McKinley Road.

After that repaving is complete, staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services will install green bicycle lanes, bollards and way-finding signs for bicyclists. At some points, the lanes will have a buffer as wide as two or three feet from traffic. The county and VDOT coordinated on a design plan for the new striping earlier this year.

At one stage, the plan had been for continuous bike lanes along Washington Blvd. But those plans were nixed earlier this year and revised.

Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to shorter stretches. Westbound the lane will run between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets. Eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.

Staff said they anticipate between 16 and 19 parking spaces on the street will be lost out of around 150 in total. In turn, Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church (6201 Washington Blvd) is expected to increase its parking capacity to 15 spaces.

DES staff said the project has a number of benefits for those in the area:

  • Enhance bicycle infrastructure where it does not currently exist
    • Help stitch together the expanding Capital Bikeshare system (a new station was installed at the East Falls Church metro station in 2016 and two new stations will be installed in Westover in 2017 and 2018).
    • Connect to existing bicycle lanes on Washington Boulevard between Westover and Lacy Woods Park.
    • Create a nearly two-mile stretch of bicycle lanes from Sycamore St. to George Mason Dr.
  • Narrow unnecessarily wide travel lanes to help calm traffic.
  • Install a dedicated left turn lane for westbound Washington Boulevard at N. Ohio Street to help reduce backups.
  • Sidewalks will be more comfortable for walking due to buffering provided by the new bicycle lanes.
  • Pedestrian safety improvements at key intersections with highly visible markings for crosswalks (pending VDOT approval). Center line “Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk” signs may also be installed.

During the work, DES says parking will be prohibited on Washington Blvd and detours will be in place.

Next year, staff will collect additional usage data to track cars, bicycles, pedestrians and parking.

Image (top) via VDOT, (middle) via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com August 7, 2017 at 8:20 am 0

A driver “hit the gas instead of the brakes” and flipped her car in the East Falls Church Metro commuter parking lot this morning, according to a fire department spokesman.

The incident was first reported around 7 a.m.

Rescuers from the Arlington County Fire Department helped to extricate the woman from the overturned vehicle. She was transported to the hospital with minor injuries, the spokesman said.

by ARLnow.com July 24, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Updated at 9:40 p.m. — Police say the deaths of two people found deceased in an East Falls Church home were the result of an “apparent murder suicide.” More from an ACPD press release:

Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating an apparent murder-suicide in the East Falls Church neighborhood.

At approximately 2:42 p.m. on July 24, police responded to a check on the welfare call in the 2400 block of N. Quantico Street. Inside the residence, arriving officers located two adults deceased from apparent gunshot wounds. The victim, Terry Lynn Matsumoto, 82, of Arlington, VA was pronounced deceased at the scene along with the subject, Masao Matsumoto, 81, of Arlington, VA. The victim and subject were married.

This appears to be an isolated incident and there is no indication of a larger threat to the community. Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances that [preceded] the incident. Final determination of cause of death will be made by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Earlier: Arlington County Police are investigating the deaths of two people in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood.

The investigation is taking place on the 2400 block of N. Quantico Street, two blocks north of Lee Highway. Police found the bodies of two people in a house Monday afternoon.

“Two adults were located deceased inside a residence,” confirmed ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Police do not believe there’s a threat to the community. The investigation is ongoing and police will remain in the area.

So far police have not released the names of the deceased individuals nor have they said whether either of the deaths is considered suspicious, only calling it an “active death investigation” at this stage.

“It’s very strange,” one local resident told ARLnow.com. “We’re kind of a quiet neighborhood.”

by Chris Teale July 7, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

(Updated 2 p.m.) Some changes are coming to several Metrobus routes through Arlington County next year, as the county prepares for the Columbia Pike “Premium Transit Network.”

At a work session with the Arlington County Board on Thursday, county staff put forward a plan that would end seven lines that run through Arlington in FY 2019, which begins on July 1, 2018, and save the county $5.8 million:

  • The 4A between Seven Corners and Rosslyn
  • The 16B, E and P along Columbia Pike
  • The 16G, H, K along Columbia Pike

A spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the changes along the Pike would help make way for the so-called “Premium Transit Network,” which is projected to cost $6.9 million and launch next summer after delays. The various routes would be consolidated under that network, which the spokesman said would “result in more bus service in the county, not less.”

The new bus system was put together after the Columbia Pike Streetcar project was cancelled in 2014, with Board members at the time promising a system that would be just as good, if not better.

To try and lessen the impact of the service cuts, staff proposed improving the frequency and hours of the 4B that largely overlaps the 4A, and similar efforts for the 16A on Columbia Pike. Those improvements would cost just under $850,000.

The 4B would then be discontinued as a Metrobus route in FY 2020, saving the county $1.7 million, and made an ART route.

The 16X service from Columbia Pike to Federal Triangle in D.C. via the Pentagon would have its hours improved, at a cost of $3.2 million to county coffers. The 15K and 15L routes between the East Falls Church and Rosslyn Metro stations would also be realigned.

All told, the various service reductions and increases will cost the county just over $2.6 million more in its Metrobus subsidy, bringing that figure to $40.5 million in FY 2019.

The possibility also exists that the 22A, B and C routes through Barcroft and South Fairlington could be converted into locally-run ART routes. That would save $2.4 million in the county’s Metrobus subsidy, but would require funds to be made available through ART instead.

Cuts had been planned for FY 2018 under the county’s Transit Development Plan approved last year, but were pushed off to FY 2019. The county did not cut any Metrobus routes for FY 2018, and improved the frequency of the 2A route between the Ballston and Dunn Loring Metro stations.

That came in part due to funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s “Transform 66” project to widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.

Metro staff will analyze the actual costs and savings from the various changes, and bring forward a proposal to the agency’s board of directors. The board would then take public comment on any proposed changes region-wide before making a decision next year.

Image via county staff presentation

by ARLnow.com July 6, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

County Seeking Cash for EFC Upgrades — Arlington County is seeking $30 million in congestion relief funds from the future I-66 toll lanes to help fund some upgrades at the East Falls Church Metro station. Among the hoped-f0r changes: a second entrance to the station, from Washington Boulevard, and the addition of two new bus bays. [InsideNova]

New School Board Leadership — Barbara Kanninen has been elected by her colleagues as chair of the Arlington School Board for the 2017-2018 school year. Reid Goldstein was selected as vice chair. [Twitter]

Arlington Man Arrested for Murder — A 24-year-old Arlington man was arrested in Arlington last week and charged in connection with a 2016 homicide in Waldorf, Maryland. Authorities say Bryan Aquice was the second shooter in the case; he is one of four in custody for the crime. [NBC WashingtonSouthern Maryland News Net]

High School Football Schedules — Fall high school football schedules for Wakefield, Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Bishop O’Connell have been released. [InsideNova]

Straddling Bus Was a Scam — That traffic-straddling bus that some locals were fascinated by last year as a possible futuristic transit solution? It was apparently an investment scam. [BBC]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by Kalina Newman June 15, 2017 at 4:15 pm 0

(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) Nostalgia is the most dangerous emotion for Andrew Gifford, the grandson of John Gifford, founder of beloved former area ice cream chain Gifford’s Ice Cream.

Last month Gifford released his first book, “We All Scream: The Rise and Fall of the Gifford’s Ice Cream Empire. The book depicts Gifford’s abusive relationship with his parents growing up, the deaths of his grandparents and how his father ruined Washington’s largest ice cream empire.

When Robert Gifford, one of John Gifford’s other sons, took over the company, things quickly went downhill. Gifford described his father’s actions during the reading, explaining how he would never pay his taxes, cheated his customers and didn’t pay employees, ultimately leaving the company in financial ruin.

Despite the collapse, many local residents still remember Gifford’s fondly. And that means the brand is still valuable.

“It doesn’t matter what’s in the cup,” a person trying to reboot the company said last year, according to Gifford. “As long as I say it’s Gifford’s Swiss Chocolate, people will pay me anything I ask.”

“It’s these people who are so focused on this fantasy and nostalgia that frustrate me,” said Gifford. “I want the lesson to be nostalgia is dangerous, don’t give into it. Don’t buy $6 ice cream from someone who said they once bought machines from the people who once supplied Gifford’s 50 years ago.”

Gifford was at One More Page Books in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood earlier this week, where he read two excerpts from his book, held a Q&A session and signed copies.

In the excerpt Gifford read during the event, he described how his mother decided to sit him down at the age of 6 and tell him that his grandmother was murdered by his grandfather. This was a lie: his grandmother had passed several years beforehand, but Gifford had been told she was still alive during his entire childhood.

“We All Scream” made an impression on members of the audience, most of whom grew up in the area and had warm memories of Gifford’s Ice Cream.

During the Q&A session, many questions were about what happened to the old Gifford’s ice cream flavors and recipes people adored, and if anyone could find any remaining Gifford’s products. Instead of focusing on the horror and abuse around the Gifford story, the questions were full of yearning and nostalgia.

“This was a beautiful thing that people loved but it needs to die,” said Gifford after the event. “It needs to end. There’s this obsession with the Gifford’s of old, when really it wasn’t that fairytale.”

by ARLnow.com May 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm 0

Someone tried to light a door on fire at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses church in the East Falls Church neighborhood of Arlington this morning.

The fire was set using a flammable substance just before 10 a.m., according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Jason Hart. The fire damaged the door — an entrance to the church sanctuary — and some surrounding bushes but did not spread beyond that.

Investigators from the Fire Marshal’s Office are still on scene this afternoon, gathering evidence.

This is the second such arson case currently being investigated in Northern Virginia, Hart said; a similar fire was recently set at a Jehovah’s Witnesses church in the Falls Church section of Fairfax County.

Arlington authorities are coordinating the investigation with their Fairfax County counterparts, according to Hart.

by Chris Teale May 3, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Refinements are being made to a plan to build a pedestrian and cyclist bridge in East Falls Church, which has undergone big changes in the past few months.

A previous version came under fire earlier this year for what critics viewed as a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood and a perceived lack of community input, as well as design concerns. In previous renderings, the bridge had a trussed roof and was dark red.

The Virginia Dept. of Transportation has proposed building a new bridge over Lee Highway near the W&OD trail as part of its “Transform 66” interstate widening and tolling project.

If built, VDOT says the bridge would improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The trail currently crosses Lee Highway at the busy intersection with Fairfax Drive.

Now, the bridge has no trusses along its top and is instead what Amanda Baxter, special projects development manager at VDOT, described at a meeting Tuesday as an “earth tone gray.” Baxter said other refinements include shaped fencing and renderings showing nearby landscaping, as well as locations for relocated trail shelters to provide a rest area for all users.

She added that the lighting on the bridge is still up for discussion. Currently, the bridge has acorn-style lights in its center that would be maintained by Dominion Virginia Power. VDOT and local residents agree the lights could be better, but they are limited to lights in Dominion’s inventory.

Baxter said the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority, which owns land nearby, is instead willing to help out with maintaining different lights.

“I think they’ve heard you too and are willing to step up and look to other options they can maintain,” she said.

Also still up for discussion are the installation of noise walls at certain areas along I-66, which VDOT is required to offer to provide under federal law if the noise level goes higher than 66 decibels.

Neighbors who would directly benefit from the walls would be balloted on whether they should be installed, Baxter said, although some attendees raised concerns about the walls appearing to enclose the neighborhood behind them and block light.

And local resident Sandy Chesrown, representing the Lee Highway Alliance, said the group would continue to push for public art to be installed nearby.

“We see this as a gateway statement to Falls Church and Arlington County, and we will continue to lobby for some sort of public art,” she said.

VDOT plans to award a design/build contract for the entire “Transform 66” project, including constructing the bridge, at the end of this year. Building work is projected to take from mid-2018 until 2021.

by Katie Pyzyk April 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Arlington County police are assisting the Fairfax County Police Department in the search for a suspect who took off in the East Falls Church area after a chase.

Around 3:30 p.m. Fairfax police were called to Tysons Corner for reports of a possible fraudulent transaction at the Apple Store. Officers found two suspects in a car in a parking lot and attempted to stop them.

The suspects took off and a pursuit ensued along Route 7 and Interstate 66. During the pursuit the suspects’ vehicle struck another vehicle but nobody was hurt.

The chase ended near N. Sycamore Street and 22nd Street N. in East Falls Church. Fairfax police arrested one suspect but the other took off on foot. A resident on the 6500 block of 22nd Street N. reports seeing police confiscate bags that appear to be from the Apple Store.

A helicopter and K-9 units are assisting with an active search for the suspect in the East Falls Church neighborhood.

The suspect is described as a black man between the ages of 20 and 25 who is about 6 feet tall and 180-200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and white pants.

Police say homeowners in the area should lock windows, doors and garage doors and report anything suspicious by calling the police non-emergency number at 703-558-2222, and they should not attempt to approach any person who seems suspicious. Police also recommend remaining alert into the evening because sometimes suspects emerge after they believe police activity has calmed down.

Photos courtesy Erin Donahue

by Chris Teale April 19, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A proposal to add bike lanes to a western portion of Washington Blvd has been shelved after neighbors raised concerns at losing on-street parking spaces.

A spokesman for the county’s department of environmental services said that after previously considering a nearly two-mile stretch of bike lanes from N. Sycamore Street to George Mason Drive, staff has revised their plan.

Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to a shorter stretch, westbound between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets; eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.

“The revised plan would still provide bicycling facilities both eastbound and westbound from East Falls Church to Westover Village, albeit with a section along neighborhood streets, while also minimizing the impact to parking in the middle section that was most heavily impacted in the initial proposal, including the preservation of parking in front of and across from the Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church, which does not have off-street parking,” DES spokesman Eric Balliet said.

The project is part of a wider re-paving plan by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which controls that section of Washington Blvd.

The initial plan of bicycle lanes in each direction, improved pedestrian crossings and other improvements was shared publicly last March and received more than 400 comments. County staff then broke them down into categories to get a sense of the main areas of support and concern. Staff then integrated those comments into their revisions of the proposal.

Balliet said the revised plan “continues to meet all major goals with fewer impacts on parking in the middle section where impacts were most acute.”

But bicycling advocates vented their frustration at the change. In a blog post published yesterday on the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s website, WABA staff member Garrett Hennigan blasted the changes.

“Following the first meeting, supportive comments poured in from neighborhood residents. 65 percent of comments supported the bike lanes as did 55 percent of comments from neighborhood residents,” Hennigan wrote. “Now, to save some parking spaces and appease a vocal minority, the County has thrown out the public process, abandoned years of planning and determined that putting people on bikes at risk is a fair compromise.”

A community meeting on the project’s latest iteration will be held tonight at 5 p.m. in the Reed-Westover Building at 1644 N. McKinley Road.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com April 3, 2017 at 11:05 am 0

An alert resident and some quick police work led to the arrest of two men suspected of breaking into cars in the East Falls Church area early Friday morning.

Police said the men, both of whom are in their 20s and from Maryland, “entered and rummaged through” a dozen vehicles, stealing a number of items including credit cards.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2017-03310502, 2200 block of N. Tuckahoe Street. At approximately 1:46 a.m. on March 31, police were dispatched to a citizen report of suspicious subjects in the area. Responding officers established a perimeter and stopped two subjects matching the witness descriptions. During the course of the investigation, officers located approximately twelve vehicles which has been entered and rummaged through. Randolph Tyler, 27, of Temple Hills, MD was arrested and charged with credit card theft (x2), possession of burglarious tools, tampering with a motor vehicle (x4), petit larceny (x2), identity theft to avoid arrest and possession of marijuana. He was held on no bond. David Moody, 26, of Morning Side, MD, was arrested and charged with credit card theft (x2), possession of burglarious tools, petit larceny, and tampering with a motor vehicle (x4). He was held on no bond.

Meanwhile, another series of break-ins was reported Monday morning, this time in the Fairlington area. Officers said the suspects entered at least three cars that were left unlocked overnight.

These two series of break-ins follows a number of similar break-in sprees since the beginning of the year.

by ARLnow.com March 15, 2017 at 10:10 am 0

Police car lightsA would-be bike thief led police on a foot chase outside the East Falls Church Metro yesterday afternoon.

The incident happened just before 2:30 p.m. Police say the man ran when approached by an officer on patrol. The pursuit ended on the 6700 block of 19th Road N. when, according to police, the man struck an officer and was tased.

More from Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage:

Just prior to 2:30 p.m., an officer on routine patrol observed a male subject attempting to steal a bicycle outside the East Falls Church metro station. The subject attempted to flee the area and a brief foot pursuit was initiated. As the officer was attempting to detain the subject, he became combative and struck the officer. The officer deployed their taser during the incident. The subject was evaluated by medics and no serious injuries were reported. The subject was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery on Police and additional charges are anticipated.

by ARLnow.com March 1, 2017 at 11:10 am 0

Washington Blvd just west of Westover (Photo via Google Maps)

A community meeting is scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) to discuss a road re-striping plan that would add bike lanes but remove some parking on the western portion of Washington Blvd in Arlington.

The meeting is set to take place at the Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) from 5-8 p.m.

“We invite community members to provide ideas and insights on how we achieve the maximum benefits for bicycle access and pedestrian safety, while minimizing potential impacts in the area,” says the meeting’s web page.

Among the changes being proposed:

  • “Create nearly a two-mile stretch of bike lanes from Sycamore St. to George Mason Dr.”
  • “Narrow unnecessary wide travel lanes to help calm traffic.”
  • “Install a dedicated left turn lane for westbound Washington Boulevard at N. Ohio Street to help reduce backups.”
  • “Sidewalks will be more comfortable for walking due to buffering provided by the new bike lanes.”

The restriping, as proposed, would add bike lanes in both directions to where they don’t already exist on Washington Blvd between Westover and East Falls Church, but at the expense of some on-street parking.

The project is being planned by Arlington County but will be performed and funded by VDOT, which maintains that stretch of Washington Blvd.

Photo via Google Maps

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