Press Club

Arlington: a highly educated and affluent riverfront county looking over D.C. Some say it has a kindred spirit in Hoboken, New Jersey, described as a “vibrant, walkable” city with waterfront views of New York City.

What makes Hoboken walkable seems to also make it safe for pedestrians. For the last four years, the city has not logged a single pedestrian death.

The trend drew the praise of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department released a national plan in January to reduce and eventually eliminate thousands of road deaths.

Arlington, like Hoboken, has adopted a Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic-related serious injuries and deaths by 2030. The county saw seven deaths between 2018 and 2020, and — depending on the exact location on the D.C./Arlington dividing line — one death in 2021. So what can Arlington and its 26 square miles (population ~237k) learn from the “mile-square city” (population ~53k)?

Arlington crash data from 2013 through November 2021. Crashes involving vehicles are left and crashes involving pedestrians are right (via Arlington County)

Hoboken transportation planner Gregory Francese credits the city’s success to Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s top-down, interdepartmental approach that involves residents. He says Hoboken regularly tackles challenging roads with temporary fixes that are made permanent later.

But the city wasn’t always pedestrian-friendly, he said. Cars could park up to crosswalks, which were faded, and intersections were in poor condition.

Those conditions began to change through repavement projects under the last mayor, and the work accelerated under Mayor Ravinder Bhalla when he established a Vision Zero task force, made of department leaders and residents.

“A big part of Vision Zero is removing the silos between transportation, enforcement [and other departments],” Francese said. “It takes someone who can remove those silos to unite people around Vision Zero.”

Planners test out quick, cheap and temporary solutions to find creative solutions to Hoboken’s main challenge: fitting safety improvements on narrow roads while balancing driving and parking needs. He said this approach translates well to bigger cities.

Like Hoboken, Arlington’s Vision Zero initiative has improved county government-wide cooperation, project manager Christine Baker said.

“The Vision Zero program has truly allowed County staff to place a spotlight on safety for all transportation-related projects and programs,” said Baker. “Our staff are coordinating interdepartmentally in a way that we have not in the past, which has streamlined the ability to get safety improvements on the ground.”

County staff map crash locations and respond with quick-build or capital improvement projects and pilot programs. The Arlington County Board, meanwhile, is setting policy. It has voted to further limit speeds and install speed cameras around schools and road construction areas, as a change in state law recently allowed.

Local transit and safety advocates say the county is on the right track but can still take notes from Hoboken.

Bicycling enthusiast Gillian Burgess picked up on Bhalla’s top-down approach. She also said Hoboken has more concrete actions and deadlines that are easier for the public to find and read, and the city’s emphasis on encouraging drivers to be more careful is front and center.

“When you have good leadership and concrete plans, you get something done,” she said. “We need the County Manager and the County Manager’s office and leadership at the Department of Environmental Services to take more ownership.”

Read More

0 Comments

(Updated 5:30 p.m.) The child who was struck by a driver a few weeks ago while riding his scooter in Westover has returned home, police say.

A Cadillac sedan struck the child in the afternoon on Nov. 17 as the driver exited a county-owned alley onto N. Longfellow Street. The boy was reportedly pulled from under the vehicle and was conscious when medics arrived to rush him to a local hospital.

“The toddler has been released from the hospital and is reportedly doing well,” said Ashley Savage, a spokeswoman for Arlington County Police Department, told ARLnow yesterday afternoon.

No additional details about the nature of the toddler’s injuries were provided, although initial reports indicated he had suffered a serious head injury.

The driver stayed on scene while police began their investigation, which Savage said Tuesday “remains an active and ongoing critical crash investigation.”

Following the crash the look of the alley has changed, as some thick hedges — one of a number of safety concerns neighbors articulated about the alley — have come down. Workers could be seen trimming back the hedges last Thursday.

Reached by phone Tuesday, a family member of the homeowner declined to comment about the hedges.

On the day of the crash, Arlington County’s code enforcement division received a complaint about the house with the hedges, spokeswoman Erika Moore told ARLnow Wednesday afternoon.

“Code enforcement cited the property owner under Chapter 10 of the County Code and sent a notice as required,” she said.

Chapter 10 covers trash, recycling and care of premises, and says the following: “It shall be the joint and several duty of each owner or occupant of property to cut back or remove trees or parts thereof, hedges, shrubs, vines and other vegetation which encroaches upon any sidewalk, alley, roadway, street or highway and which impairs or obstructs any pedestrian or vehicular traffic.”

Other safety threats in the area, according to residents, include drivers traveling at a high rate of speed on N. Longfellow Street and on the alley, which connects N. Longfellow Street and the cul-de-sac at 15th Road N. Additionally, streetlights on the alley were dim or out, making it hard to see after nightfall, though the crash occurred during daylight hours.

The crash led the Westover Civic Association to ask on Nextdoor for reports of similar accidents or incidents in the area, which the civic group intends to present to the Arlington County Board.

In conjunction with a fatal crash one week prior in Green Valley, near Drew Elementary School, the incident prompted Arlington County to launch a review of a common thread between them: alleys.

“Our team is evaluating the crash locations in detail now and will conduct a holistic assessment on alleys from now into the spring,” Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien told ARLnow on Tuesday.

In the other crash, a man who was reportedly speeding down an alley on his motorcycle collided with a school bus carrying children.

0 Comments

Prompted by two critical crashes in two weeks, Arlington County is taking a look at a common thread between them: alleys.

Last week in Westover, a car struck a toddler, who is now recovering from serious injuries, while exiting an alley onto N. Longfellow Street. Neighbors say the alley is frequented by cyclists and pedestrians, including students from nearby schools, but has dangerous blind spots.

Two weeks ago in Green Valley, a motorcyclist — who witnesses say exited the 23rd Street S. alley at a high speed — died while trying to avoid hitting a school bus. Instead, he flew off his motorcycle and into the bus, which had children onboard.

A team that includes Arlington County police, Virginia State Police, transportation engineers, public health representatives and a representative from the County Manager’s office will be evaluating these crashes, while county transportation engineers will be looking at other local alleys to find improvements, says Katie O’Brien, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Services.

“As part of our Vision Zero Action Plan, we regularly review and evaluate critical crashes to identify actionable items that we can implement and respond to quickly,” O’Brien said. “In addition to reviewing this terrible incident [in Westover], the team is taking a systematic examination of alleys throughout the County to improve safety given the recent tragic crash that also occurred at an alley on 23rd Street S.”

The toddler from Westover remains hospitalized but is recovering, says Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. The child, who was pulled from under the striking car before first responders arrived on scene, suffered serious injuries including, reportedly, a fractured skull.

Meanwhile, the body of the 26-year-old Alexandria man who died in the motorcycle crash will be transported overseas for his funeral.

Both crashes remain active and ongoing investigations, Savage said, adding that there are no additional details to provide.

Blind spots add peril to Westover alley  

In Westover, neighbors say the alley where the crash occurred is frequented by students headed to Swanson Middle School and folks on bikes and with strollers, who use a hole in the fence at the end of the alley to get to school or to the Custis Trail.

“It’s actually a more trafficked area than it might appear to be,” said one neighbor, Stefanie Cruz.

But it has blind spots for drivers. Where it intersects with N. Longfellow Street, there’s a large hedge to the right and a house to the left that neighbors say can obscure oncoming pedestrians, playing kids and traffic.

“It’s a dangerous alley, and it’s been a dangerous alley, and I don’t know if anyone’s been paying attention to that,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it took something like this to make the alley safer.”

Read More

0 Comments

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington police and firefighters are on scene of a fatal crash involving a motorcyclist and a school bus with children on board.

The crash happened around 2:45 p.m. on S. Kenmore Street in front of Drew Elementary, in the Green Valley neighborhood.

A school bus with 14 students on board struck a man who was riding a motorcycle, according to police. The man, who was reportedly wearing a helmet, was found lying unresponsive in the roadway.

Police have closed S. Kenmore Street, likely for an extended period of time while detectives investigate the crash. The victim remains in the roadway, covered in a white sheet, while police tape has been placed around the crash site.

School counselors are being requested to the scene for the children who were on board the bus at the time of the crash. No physical injuries were reported among the students, who have since been taken off the bus.

Despite the location of the crash, we’re told that that bus came from a school other than Drew.

Witnesses, some of whom were sobbing as they spoke to ARLnow, said the motorcyclist was someone they saw often in the neighborhood. They said he had just driven out of an alley at a high rate of speed and tried to lay down his motorcycle when he saw the bus coming. He “went flying” and was run over by the bus, witnesses said.

The man’s injuries were such that first responders immediately radioed that he was deceased after arriving at the scene and failing to find a pulse.

Neighbors said that numerous kids and adults witnessed the crash, which happened in a busy area next to a park on a sunny, warm autumn day.

The neighbors who spoke to ARLnow said that the deceased man was in his early 20s and worked at a nearby auto rental and repair shop.

“They are good guys,” a neighbor said of the workers at the family-owned shop.

Update on 11/11/21: Arlington County police just issued the following press release about the fatal crash.

The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a fatal motorcycle crash that occurred on the afternoon of November 10, 2021.

At approximately 2:49 p.m., police were dispatched to the 3500 block of 23rd Street S. for the report of a vehicle crash with injuries involving a school bus and motorcycle. Upon arrival, officers located the unresponsive motorcyclist partially under the school bus. He had succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased on scene. The school bus had fourteen students onboard at the time of the crash. The students safely exited the bus, were evaluated by medics and no additional injuries were reported.

The preliminary investigation indicates the motorcyclist was traveling at a high rate of speed from an alley on 23rd Street S. onto S. Kenmore Street. He tried to avoid the oncoming school bus by laying down the motorcycle and ultimately ended up partially under the bus. The deceased has been identified as Stevan Zikic, 26, of Alexandria, VA.

This crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective L. Lugasi at [email protected] or 703-228-4054. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Matt Blitz contributed to this report.

0 Comments

Update at 5:05 p.m. — The driver who was critically injured has died, police confirmed Wednesday evening. From a press release:

The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a fatal vehicle crash that occurred on the morning of November 3, 2021.

At approximately 8:29 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a two-vehicle crash with injuries at Washington Boulevard and N. Sycamore Street. The preliminary investigation indicates that as a result of the crash, the driver of a van was ejected from the vehicle and became partially trapped underneath. Upon arrival, medics extricated the driver from under the vehicle and transported him to an area hospital in critical condition. He later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased. The four occupants of the other vehicle were transported to area hospitals with injuries considered non-life threatening.

The deceased has been identified as Mauricio Campos Gomez, 49, of Manassas, Virginia.

This crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective T. Parsons at [email protected] or 703-228-4172. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-8477.

Earlier: A person was taken to the hospital in grave condition after a serious two-vehicle crash near the East Falls Church Metro station.

The crash happened around 8:30 a.m. on N. Sycamore Street, at the intersection with Washington Blvd, and injured a total of five people.

The force of the collision ejected one of the drivers and they ended up trapped under a vehicle, said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. Firefighters worked to free the driver and rush them to a local trauma center.

The crash left one of the vehicles, an orange FreshDirect grocery delivery box truck, on its side in the intersection. The other vehicle involved was a white work van. A van for a local barbecue restaurant could be seen parked nearby but it did not appear to be damaged nor involved.

Four people — three occupants of the vehicle that the injured driver was in, and one in the other vehicle — were transported by ambulance for injuries that are “considered non-life threatening,” police say.

Police remain on scene investigating the crash. The crash response and investigation has closed N. Sycamore Street at the intersection. The ramp from eastbound I-66 to Sycamore is also closed.

The closures are expected to remain in place for at least the next few hours, Savage said. Various Metrobus lines are being redirected around the crash site.

A serious two-car crash Friday evening on Route 50 has claimed the life of an Arlington woman.

Police say the crash happened shortly after 5 p.m. at the intersection of Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) and N. Manchester Street. Two cars, each with two occupants, collided at the intersection, pinning a 63-year-old woman who was a passenger in one of the vehicles.

“Upon arrival, medics extricated a passenger from one of the involved vehicles and transported her to an area hospital in critical condition,” Arlington County police said in a press release Saturday afternoon. “She later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased. The driver of that vehicle was transported with non-life-threatening injuries and the passenger of the other vehicle was transported in critical but stable condition.”

“The deceased has been identified as Marilou Jocson, 63, of Arlington,” the press release said.

A nearby resident said people tried to help the woman before medics arrived.

“The person who died was a passenger in the vehicle with the passenger side door destroyed,” the resident said. “Neighbors rushed to her side immediately after the accident but she was unresponsive.”

He added that a local civic association has been pushing for safety improvements at Manchester and Route 50.

“We have struggled for years to get VDOT to do something about this treacherous intersection,” the resident said. “Thus far VDOT has no plans to improve the safety of this intersection.”

“People speed, run red lights, turn into traffic on a ‘flashing yellow,’ and generally do unsafe things at this intersection every day,” he continued. “Unless VDOT takes action (not Arlington County jurisdiction we were told) these tragedies will continue.”

ARLnow has previously reported on several notable crashes at the intersection, which received some safety improvements in 2018.

In 2011, an SUV ran off the road and crashed through an iron fence. In 2019 an 83-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed and, later that year, at least two people were hurt in a crash nearby.

The Arlington County Police Department is asking for anyone with information about Friday’s fatal crash to contact investigators.

“This crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective S. Lafley at [email protected] or 703-228-4052,” ACPD said. “Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

0 Comments

A 19-year-old Arlington man has died after a crash earlier this month.

The crash happened around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 17. Police say Eduardo Mendez-Aranda was driving a pickup truck westbound on Washington Blvd, in the direction of Clarendon, when a tractor trailer slowed down just before the Route 50 overpass.

Mendez-Aranda rear-ended the tractor trailer and was pinned in the vehicle. Firefighters extricated him from the pickup and rushed him to a local hospital with critical injuries; he succumbed to those injuries yesterday, ten days after the crash.

Arlington County police are investigating the now-fatal crash.

“This crash remains under investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective L. Lugasi at 703-228-4054 or [email protected],” ACPD said in a press release this afternoon. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

Image via Google Maps

Morning Notes

One Rescued After Key Bridge Plunge — “DC water rescue Potomac River at Francis Scott Key bridge, 1 in water who may have jumped. Removed from water by Good Samaritan in Private vessel. #DCsBravest on scene and will be transporting a conscious patient.” [Twitter]

ART Bus Service to Increase — “Starting on Sunday, August 23, Arlington Transit will increase bus service. The majority of service will be restored to pre-Covid levels while Arlington Transit continues to take precautions to keep passengers and operators safe.” [Arlington Transit]

I-66 Ramp Closures Starting Tonight — “Overnight ramp closures are scheduled to occur this week on I-66 East in Arlington for asphalt paving as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project. Detours will be posted to direct traffic.” [VDOT]

Yet Another Hot Day — “It’s a hot one! We haven’t been below 70 degrees at Reagan National since June 27th.” [Twitter]

Today: ACPD’s ‘Fill the Cruiser’ Drive — “The Community Resources Section will be collecting donations at drive-thru donation stations on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  at three locations.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Deadly Crash Sunday — “Two people are dead following a crash in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia, early Sunday. Fairfax County police said a single vehicle was involved in the crash, which happened on Carlin Springs Road near Columbia Pike around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.” [WTOP]

0 Comments

A woman was killed while crossing a street in Pentagon City yesterday.

The crash happened around 2:15 p.m. The victim was struck by a vehicle while crossing mid-block on S. Fern Street between Army Navy Drive and 12th Street S., leaving her lying in the middle of the street.

The driver stayed on scene, according to Arlington County police. So far, no charges have been announced.

The woman was pronounced dead on the scene, ACPD said in a press release this morning. Fern Street was closed for several hours while detectives investigated the crash. Police are now asking anyone with additional information to come forward.

More from the press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team (CAT) continues to investigate a fatal pedestrian crash that occurred on Wednesday, July 15 in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood.

At approximately 2:15 p.m., police responded to the 1100 block of S. Fern Street for the report of a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian. The preliminary investigation indicates the pedestrian attempted to cross mid-block when she was struck by an oncoming vehicle. The pedestrian, an adult female, was pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene.

The identity of the pedestrian is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Anyone who may have witnessed this crash or has additional information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective S. Whalin at [email protected] or 703-228-4159. Information may also be reported anonymously to Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Morning Notes

Local Man Killed in Crash Near Shirlington — “At approximately 7:44 p.m. on July 3, 2020, police were dispatched to the area of Walter Reed Drive and S. Wakefield Street for multiple reports of a crash with injury. The preliminary investigation indicates that the motorcyclist was traveling southbound on Walter Reed Drive at a high rate of speed when he lost control, struck a pole and was thrown from the vehicle.” [Arlington County]

Yorktown Grad Entering Third NFL Season — “The upcoming NFL season, if it is played, will be M.J. Stewart’s third, and the Yorktown High School graduate is more than eager for this month’s training camp then the 2020-21 season to start. ‘I just want to get to training camp,’ said the 5-foot-11, 200-pound defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” [InsideNova]

Ethiopian Community Facing Dual Challenges — “The Supreme Court on June 25 okayed the Trump administration’s policy of limiting the number of asylum seekers in the country… Most likely to feel the impact locally is the Arlington-based Ethiopian Community Development Council Inc., the refugee-support and State Department-authorized transition agency with offices just off Columbia Pike… this sub-sector of Arlington’s diverse population is among those hit hardest by the coronavirus lockdown.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Why Galaxy Hut is Not Opening Indoors — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — “We just decided ultimately that the questions are too many. Too many questions about how safe it is to be out and dine. And we didn’t feel like with our small size in particular that we would be a good candidate for trying this out. We didn’t want to take the risk.” [WJLA]

River Rescue Blocks Chain Bridge — From Sunday afternoon: “River incident the Potomac River vicinity Fletchers boathouse. Injured 18 year old who fell approximately 20 feet from rocks. Will require patient to be lowered to shoreline and transported by boat.” [Twitter]

Wardian Completes Delaware Run — “Ultrarunner Mike Wardian ran the length of the state of Delaware, starting the 130-mile (209-kilometre) route on July 2 and finishing 26 hours later. He began the run in the afternoon, just north of Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, near the state border with Pennsylvania. He ran in [93 degree] weather straight through the night and next morning, and 26 hours, 19 minutes and 43 seconds later, he crossed the state’s southern border and ran into Maryland.” [Canadian Trail Running]

Photo courtesy Eliana Carreño

0 Comments

(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) A North Carolina man was killed in a crash in the Shirlington area late last night.

The single-vehicle crash happened on the Shirlington Circle ramp above I-395, just before midnight, and drew a large emergency response. Virginia State Police say a 55-year-old man died from injuries sustained in the crash, and a female passenger was taken to a local trauma center with non-life-threatening injuries.

“At 11:48 p.m. Sunday night, Virginia State Police Trooper M.I. Campbell responded to a single-vehicle crash in Arlington County,” VSP said in a statement Monday afternoon. “A Lexus sedan struck a jersey wall on the Shirlington Circle ramp to the northbound I-395 Express Lanes. The 55-year-old male driver from North Carolina was transported to Inova Alexandria Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.”

The crash remains under investigation, a state police spokeswoman said.

VDOT is planning safety improvements to the Shirlington Circle interchange.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list