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Starting next month, weekday drivers and pedestrians like should plan for sporadic closures near the Shirlington Road bridge.

Kicking off in April and lasting through the summer, the sidewalk and westbound lane on S. Arlington Mill Drive will see intermittent closures on weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., due to the construction of a new $1.6 million pedestrian bridge.

The 15-foot-wide prefabricated steel bridge will run parallel to the main vehicular bridge, connecting Shirlington and S. Arlington Mill Drive to Jennie Dean Park and the Green Valley neighborhood. It will also serve local users of the heavily used Four Mile Run and W&OD trails nearby.

Construction on the Shirlington Road bridge concluded in the summer of 2022, and the pedestrian bridge began off-site construction last year. The new bridge is expected to be in place by the summer or early fall of this year, according to the county website.

For nearly two decades, county staff and the public have discussed the need for pedestrian enhancements along Shirlington Road.

The comprehensive project includes the pedestrian bridge and new street lighting at both bridge ends, improvements to medians and sidewalks, and crosswalk upgrades narby. A Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon will be installed in the road median for added pedestrian safety.

Much of the design was driven by public input after many residents shared safety concerns.

The count awarded the construction contract for the pedestrian bridge to D.C.-based Milani Construction last year the amount of $1.38 million, with an additional $277,000 set aside for any additional costs.

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A heron fishes in Four Mile Run at twilight (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4 p.m.) People and pets should avoid Four Mile Run downstream of Mount Vernon Avenue, Arlington County says.

The advisory follows a reported fish kill.

“County environmental staff are investigating a fish kill along Four Mile Run between Mount Vernon Avenue and Route 1,” the county said in an Arlington Alert message Wednesday morning. “Avoid contact with the water for at least the next 48 hours. Updates will be posted.”

A tipster told ARLnow that numerous dead fish could be seen downstream of Arlington’s sewage plant, near Potomac Yard.

“I would like to report seeing all of these dead fish in [Four Mile Run] just downstream from the wastewater treatment plant [at] 7:30 a.m.
today,” the tipster wrote.

On Wednesday afternoon, the county said its investigation found that an error at the sewage plant caused the fish kill.

From an Arlington County press release:

Water quality levels in Four Mile Run are returning to normal near Route 1 in Arlington after a fish kill – a sudden, unexpected death of a number of fish over a short period of time – occurred overnight.

An investigation found a manual operation error at the County’s Water Pollution Control Plant released higher-than-usual levels of sodium hypochlorite into the waterway late on March 12, 2024, as part of the regular wastewater treatment process. A correction was made in less than 90 minutes.

There is no ongoing threat to Four Mile Run.

Officials at the plant will review and refine procedures working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

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As restoration work continues at Sparrow Pond, one trail will close as another opens.

The Washington & Old Dominion Trail will be closed for six to seven weeks starting in mid-to-late February, per an Arlington County webpage.

“The work will allow the construction team to finish the new outfall that will connect Sparrow Pond to Four Mile Run,” the county says. ‘Thank you for your patience and understanding with the trail closures and weather-related delays.”

Restoration of the man-made pond along the W&OD Trail is still on track to be completed on time, with work expected to wrap up in August, according to the county.

A detour will direct cyclists and pedestrians to a newly reopened Four Mile Run Trail, set to open this week, says Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. This trail had been closed for the construction of a new outfall connecting Sparrow Pond to Four Mile Run.

“The team has been excavating, placing the concrete outfall structures, and stabilizing the area to build a new outfall from Sparrow Pond to Four Mile Run,” the county webpage says.

The trail closures are part of a multi-phase project to restore the pond — which had filled up with sediment — to its original depth.

The county is removing sediment and adding a collection bay, which it says will make maintenance and future sediment removal easier going forward, maximize water quality benefits and restore the pond’s habitat.

Two aerial views from Arlington County of Sparrow Pond, in 2003 and 2018

Through February, the contractor is working on excavating and installing pipe segments in the new outfall from Four Mile Run up to Sparrow Pond.

“Most habitat structures have been installed, including turtle basking logs, root wad habitat structures, and poles for wood duck boxes,” the county says. “Wood duck boxes will likely be installed in late February or March. Once the outfall is completed, work will resume on the remaining pools.”

Local officials, meanwhile, are asking that pedestrians and cyclists using the S. Park Drive trail spur to keep a wide distance from active equipment and follow flagger instructions during active construction hours.

Cyclists are cautioned to go slow and exercise caution due to large moving machinery, equipment, rocks, debris and wet or slippery conditions on the trail.

Typical work hours are weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., the county says.

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Reconstruction of Sparrow Pond is currently underway.

Last Thursday, part of the Four Mile Run Trail closed while a new pipe from Four Mile Run up to Sparrow Pond is built. A detour is in place for the 6-7 weeks this work is expected to take place.

“Please use caution on the South Park Drive trail connector as the spur is shared between pedestrians, cyclists and construction equipment,” Dept. of Environmental Services Stormwater Communications Manager Aileen Winquist said.

In late November or early December, there will be a 6-7 week closure of the W&OD Trail with a detour to the Four Mile Run Trail.

“Thank you to the neighbors and trail users for your patience and understanding during the pond work, outfall construction and trail closures,” Winquist said.

Four Mile Run Trail detour to W&OD Trail (via Arlington County)

The pond was initially built in 2001 and has since filled with sediment. Restoration work includes removing the sediment, creating deeper pools and making other habitat improvements for wildlife.

“As heavy storms continue to bring silt into the pond, remaining water pools have filled in,” the project website says. “Most turtles and other wildlife have already moved to other areas along Four Mile Run… Once the project is complete, we look forward to drawing them back with deeper pools and good habitat.”

A new sediment collection area is intended to make future maintenance and sediment removal easier.

The need for the restoration project was identified a decade ago and design funding was set aside in 2018. Hammering out designs took three years and construction funding was approved this summer.

Construction began in August with construction site preparations and set up. Tree removal, to make room for the new sediment collection area and expanded pools, is ongoing.

Construction is expected to continue through next August.

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Bluemont Junction Trail (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

This weekend, the Arlington County Board is set to consider a proposal to funnel nearly $400,000 into the second phase of the Bluemont Junction Trail safety project.

Phase 2 includes moving and updating three trail connectors to be accessible to people with disabilities and improving cyclist and pedestrian intersections between the W&OD Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail on both sides of Wilson Blvd, per a county report.

The plan also calls for resurfacing a 480-foot segment of Four Mile Run Trail and repairing a nearby pedestrian bridge.

The project is part of a multi-year county effort to address poor visibility between trail users and drivers along the Bluemont Junction Trail, which crosses the Bluemont neighborhood and connects Ballston to the W&OD Trail at Bluemont Park. Plans were developed by the county with input from the public and the Bluemont Civic Association, the Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian Advisory Committee

In the project’s first phase, which spanned the fall of 2021 to last summer, the county and the Virginia Dept. of Transportation made upgrades to roughly 4,500 linear feet and 13 connector trails, the report said. This included reconfiguring the trail’s intersections with N. Emerson Street and N. Kensington Street.

The second phase, however, demands more “in-depth engineering” than the milling and repaving carried out in the first phase, the report said.

Rep. Don Beyer has earmarked $325,000 in federal funds for the second phase of the project, which has an estimated total cost of $711,662.

The community will have an opportunity to provide input on the designs and proposed improvements if the funds are allocated, a county staff report notes.

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Along Four Mile Run near Shirlington (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) People and pets should avoid much of Four Mile Run for the next 2-3 days as a precaution, Arlington County says.

The advisory comes amid a scorching heatwave. The county says it’s due to a “dumping incident” near N. Ohio Street.

The affected portion of the stream runs along popular parks like Bluemont Park, Barcroft Park and the Shirlington dog park.

Arlington firefighters responded to the stream earlier today for a report of a milky substance — possibly paint — in the water.

“The matter is still under investigation but paint or something similar went into a storm drain from a roll-off dumpster being swapped out at a home where work is taking place,” Peter Golkin, spokesman for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, tells ARLnow.

“The spill was called in by neighbors,” Golkin added. “As we point out often, there are no filters on Arlington’s storm drains and whatever goes in comes out in our streams and the watershed. People need to be careful.”

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A water rescue operation is underway along Four Mile Run after reports of a drunk man falling down an embankment.

The incident happened shortly before 4 p.m. behind the Virginia DMV office at 4150 Four Mile Run Drive. Initial reports suggest that the man fell 20 feet onto rocks below, suffering possible broken bones in the process.

The man is said to conscious. Because he’s in a creek bed, the fire department is treating this as a water rescue and a large contingent of fire apparatus — including water rescue and technical rescue trucks and equipment — is responding to the scene.

Update at 4:55 p.m. — The man has been hoisted from the creekbed by firefighters, and is in the process of being loaded onto an ambulance and brought to a local hospital.

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Arlington Independent Media hopes to open its first satellite studio by early fall.

The non-profit video and audio production studio has begun the build-out at 3700 S. Four Mile Run Drive in Green Valley, Arlington Independent Media (AIM) CEO Whytni Kernodle told ARLnow. They are looking to modernize three underused audio-production studios inside Arlington Arts’ Cultural Affairs Division office, with a focus on providing podcasting space.

Construction is expected to take about four months and cost over $200,000. The aim is to be finished and ready to open sometime in September, Kernodle said.

AIM was established about four decades ago and provides programming for two local cable access television stations and operates the radio station WERA 96.7 FM.

In November, the county approved a lease agreement allowing AIM to take over about 1,100 square feet of space at the Arlington Arts location in Green Valley. It follows the county’s vision for an “arts & industry district” along Four Mile Run.

This new studio in Green Valley represents AIM’s commitment to branching out not just in terms of location but also who is using the studios to tell their story.

“After 40 years, we’ve always existed in one space, always in North Arlington,” Kernodle said. “And our membership has primarily been people over the age of 60, mostly retired, mostly white, mostly male, mostly cis-gendered, mostly English speakers, mostly non-military, and mostly non-disabled. We are trying to change that because that’s not reflective of our community.”

And the hope is that this will not be AIM’s only satellite studio, with Kernodle noting that the organization would love to set up studios in Virginia Square, Rosslyn, and Columbia Pike as well.

The aim is to put production facilities in locations that are accessible to communities that maybe didn’t have the ability to make their voices heard in the past.

“Our goal is to prioritize those voices that have been traditionally underserved or miss-served not just nationally but here in Arlington and here at Arlington Independent Media,” Kernodle said.

She also hopes to use the partnership with the county to turn Arlington’s art scene into the envy of the region.

“[Arlington] is not known for arts and industry. The goal of AIM and my goal is to really make Arlington into the Brooklyn of the D.C. area,” Kernodle said. “We have all the diversity and the resources that Brooklyn values and the proximity to the city as Brooklyn does. And we’re just not honing that because it’s not been centralized.”

Along with production studios, AIM also has access to the county’s “Theater on the Run” to screen films.

This past weekend, AIM hosted a showing of the documentary “The R-Word” as an introduction to the new space for the community. The movie depicts the experiences of persons with intellectual disabilities and how representation matters in telling the story of that community.

Kernodle hopes to have more screenings at the theater of this nature, prioritizing “films of marginalized people.”

With the plan to open AIM Green Valley in a few months, Kernodle believes that this is just the beginning of expanding Arlington’s artistic reputation.

“Our goal is to act as an anchor organization for art transformation and social justice,” she said.

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New District Brewing in Green Valley (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It appears the tap has run dry for New District Brewing, with the local brewery planning to close for good at the end of the month.

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved the purchase of two buildings on S. Four Mile Run Drive in Green Valley. The land will be used to expand nearby Jennie Dean Park.

New District Brewing had also bid to purchase the buildings, so that it could relocate, but the seller went with the county’s offer of $2 million. With that, New District Brewing co-owner Mike Katrivanos tells ARLnow that he has run out of options.

“This was my last shot,” he said, confirming that New District will permanently shut down operations at the end of May.

ARLnow first reported late last year an indoor dog park had come to terms to lease the building that New District Brewery was in. In January, New District confirmed that they had been unable to come to terms with its landlord to stay at 2709 S. Oakland Street. The brewery has been there since 2016, but a rent hike and other related disagreements had led to the indoor dog park getting the lease.

While Katrivanos was disappointed, he also expressed hope that the brewery would be able to purchase a 4,000 to 6,000-square-foot commercial property in Arlington.

More recently, Katrivanos said he has tried to buy three separate properties in the county over the last decade but none of them panned out.

The last shot were the buildings at 3520 and 3522 S. Four Mile Run Drive, located only a few blocks from New District’s current location. With the county purchasing those buildings, Katrivanos said he’s done looking and is making the final decision to close for good.

“We thought we had this other property lined up for purchase and that we’d be able to make a smooth transition, but that is now not the case. I just don’t know if I can go through another Arlington lease, to be honest with you. They are not favorable for long-term business,” he said.

The plan is to hold a going-away party on Saturday (May 20) with the last day of operations set for Sunday, May 28.

“We are going to be serving to the very end,” Katrivanos said.

New District also plans to honor its commitments to serve beer at the Columbia Pike Blues Festival in June and at the Arlington County Fair in August.

As an Arlington native, Katrivanos said it disappoints him greatly that he was “willingness to invest” in the community but it feels like that willingness was not reciprocated.

“It’s a mixture of emotion,” he said. “Being priced out of the area and not being able to find a permanent home for the business, it’s a very, very sad day.”

He has been thinking about what comes next but also needs more time to come to grips with the fact that this is the end for New District.

“It’s just too soon to think on all of that,” he said. “Just shutting down, getting all of this [brewery] gear out of here, and turning [the space] over… it’s just been a lot.”

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The County Board is set to vote this weekend on a contract to build a long-awaited pedestrian bridge.

On Saturday, it is expected that the Arlington County Board will approve a $1.6 million contract to construct the Shirlington Road Pedestrian Bridge. The 15-foot-wide prefabricated steel bridge will run the length of Four Mile Run and parallel to the road with the purpose of providing safer bicycle and pedestrian access.

It will connect Shirlington and S. Arlington Mill Drive to Jennie Dean Park and the Green Valley neighborhood. It will also serve local users of the heavily-used Four Mile Run and W&OD trails nearby.

Work on the bridge could begin in the second half of this year if the contract is approved over the weekend, Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesperson Claudia Pors told ARLnow. That would mean a completion date in mid to late 2024.

“The existing Shirlington Road vehicular bridge primarily funnels vehicles to/from I-395 and lacks safe, comprehensive accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling through this area,” the report to the Board says.

“This project will provide a key missing link in the County’s bicycle network by providing a north-south protected bicycle facility that will link up with the existing Four Mile Run Trail along South Arlington Mill Drive to the west and along Four Mile Run in the City of Alexandria to the east of the bridge,” the report adds.

The bridge has been under discussion for two decades and has been the topic of conversation among county staff and the public for years.

It will be constructed in two parts, per Pors. First, the span will be built offsite, a process that will take about nine months, while abutments will be added at S. Arlington Mill Drive and Jennie Dean Park where each end of the bridge will go. Around this time, the bridge’s walls will be built and the sidewalk and crosswalk at S. Arlington Mill Drive will be shuttered. Bike and pedestrian traffic will be detoured.

The bridge, then, will be lifted by a crane and installed.

“It’s possible that lanes on the existing bridge will close to accommodate this installation, and the public would be given notice of any detours,” Pors noted.

New street lighting on each end of the bridge will be installed as well, plus median, sidewalk and crosswalk retrofits. A new Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon will be installed in the median as well.

The work is set to be done by D.C.-based Milani Construction, whose $1.38 million bid (plus $277,000 in contingency costs) actually came in under the county engineer’s estimated construction cost.

Last year, work was completed on the parallel vehicle bridge on Shirlington Road. That included resurfacing, routine maintenance, widening the sidewalk by several feet on the west side of the bridge, widening curb ramps, and adding a median at the mid-block crosswalk near 27th Street S.

A number of these improvements came as a result of public feedback.

Additionally, the county is set to study the feasibility of adding another crossing at the intersection of S. Arlington Mill Drive and Shirlington Road.

“County staff have begun study efforts and anticipate reaching out to the public for input this fall,” Pors said.

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A South Arlington intersection that has seen two pedestrian-involved crashes this year, including one last week, is set to be updated to improve safety.

In the evening on Tuesday, March 14, an adult man was struck by a driver at the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive, causing bleeding from his head, per initial reports. His support dog ran off but was later returned, according to social media.

Planned renovation to this intersection are part of the South George Mason Drive Multimodal Transportation Study, which will bring changes along the major road from Arlington Blvd to the county border. The county and a resident involved in the process say complexities at this intersection have slowed down progress on this initiative, which was first expected to wrap up last fall.

“This project is part of the larger S. George Mason Drive project, but the county discovered fairly quickly that this intersection specifically was going to cause them to have to slow down the project to allow for additional study and design,” Douglas Park resident Jason Kaufman said.

A virtual meeting a few months behind schedule was scheduled to be held last night from 7-8:30 p.m., around the same time as the contentious Missing Middle vote, to discuss new designs for the proposed changes along S. George Mason Drive.

Concept plans from last summer proposed treatments including narrower roads, widened sidewalks and vegetation buffers between pedestrians and road users. One option included protected bike lanes while another mixed cyclists and drivers.

A county webpage for the project says staff have conducted an in-depth analysis of S. George Mason Drive where it intersects with S. Four Mile Run Drive, as well as with Columbia Pike, in preparing its plans.

The high-traffic intersection is a major artery for three neighborhoods that links road users to the City of Alexandria, I-395 and Shirlington. A service road, also called S. Four Mile Run Drive, runs parallel to the main road, basically creating a “double intersection.” The W&OD Trail runs parallel to and in between these two roads, crossing six lanes of traffic on S. George Mason Drive.

“Anyone that bikes, rides, drives, scoots or traverses through that intersection on a daily basis is aware of its challenges,” Kaufman said. “There are a number of conflict points that are dangerous. That intersection has one of the highest incidents of accidents in the county, including accidents that are considered ‘severe’ for the purposes of Vision Zero calculations, and it needs to be fixed.”

S. George Mason Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive (via Google Maps)

The county considers this intersection a “hot spot,” based on a review of crash data from 2019 and 2022. Between 2017 and 2019, there had been more than 15 vehicle crashes and at least two cyclist-involved crashes, per a 2020 report. The county’s crash dashboard lists two crashes with severe injuries, one in 2015 and another in 2017, and ARLnow reported on a hit-and-run with severe injuries in November 2021.

That’s in addition to last week’s crash.

For all road users, navigating the intersection requires hyper-vigilance, but people are rarely able to pay attention to “an overwhelming number of inputs,” says Douglas Park resident Kristin Francis.

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