Arlington, VA

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department is working to mitigate a chemical odor and sheen on Four Mile Run near Barcroft Park.

The department has been providing updates about the hazmat incident on social media, saying Thursday afternoon that the source was a leaking underground oil tank along Columbia Pike near the Fairfax County border.

“We are working with our neighboring jurisdictions and the State to mitigate the situation,” ACFD said via Twitter. “The HazMat Team has taken steps in @ArlingtonVA County to minimize the effects on the environment.”

In the meantime, ACFD says people and pets should stay away from Four Mile Run downstream of Columbia Pike.

“Please keep all pets out of Four Mile Run until the #HazMat situation can be full mitigated,” the fire department added. The stream runs past the Shirlington dog park, where dog owners frequently let their pups off leash to go for a swim.

More from an Arlington County press release:

Residents and visitors are advised to avoid contact with — and keep their pets out of — Four Mile Run downstream of Columbia Pike for the next 24 to 48 hours.

At 6:29 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, Arlington County Hazmat Crews were dispatched to the 4200 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive for a chemical odor. The Arlington County Fire Department and the Arlington Department of Environmental Services determined that the source originated upstream of Arlington County, in a neighboring jurisdiction. Crews placed boom filtering devices in the water at various locations along Four Mile Run to contain the released product.

Public, pets, should stay out of Four Mile Run

People should not fish in the stream or have any contact with the water until further notice from the County. The advisory to avoid all contact is considered an extra precaution to allow the effect of the discharge to be diminished by natural flushing of the streams. Drinking water is not affected by the incident.

Anyone who has been in Four Mile Run and is experiencing medical symptoms, such as sore throat or eye irritation, should seek medical attention.

NOTE: The public is  reminded that stream water can contain microorganisms that can make people sick, whether the stream is located in an urban area or in the middle of a forest. Even after the discharge is naturally flushed from the streams, the County’s normal precautions for safe use of streams apply. You can find information and safety tips on Arlington streams, including information on reporting stream pollution incidents, on the Department of Environmental Service website.

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Morning Notes

It’s Columbus Day — Despite the federal holiday, all Arlington County government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be open today. Barring breaking news, ARLnow will be publishing on a limited schedule today. [Arlington County]

Theft from Casual Adventure — From an Arlington County Police crime report: “At approximately 11:35 a.m. on October 10, police were dispatched to the late report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect entered a business at approximately 5:30 p.m. on October 9, selected numerous fleece jackets before fleeing the scene without paying.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Warns of Phone Scam — “Residents have reported receiving unsolicited phone calls from individuals fraudulently claiming to be technicians with Dominion Energy. These individuals accuse the victims of having overdue bills which must immediately be paid, or their power will be disconnected. The caller then provides a fraudulent claim number and phone number where the funds may be paid and often requests payment using a prepaid debit or gift card.” [Arlington County]

Governor Issues Drought Watch — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced a statewide drought watch advisory for the Commonwealth of Virginia. A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of current conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event.” [Press Release, Capital Weather Gang]

Circus Returns to Rosslyn — Updated at 3:45 p.m. — Conservative provocateurs Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl are holding yet another press conference this week outside Burkman’s Rosslyn townhouse. The duo say they will be joined by a “longtime drug dealer” for prominent Democratic members of Congress. [Twitter]

Nearby: Four Mile Run Trail in Alexandria to Reopen Soon — “A bridge spanning the last gap on the Alexandria side of the Four Mile Run Trail has been put into place, but the trail remains impassable for pedestrians.” [ALXnow]

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Arlington County has made progress in repairing infrastructure damaged in the July 8 flash flood emergency.

Last week Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services reopened a portion of the Four Mile Run Trail that runs under Wilson Blvd. The underpass was partially washed out by the force of the raging flood waters.

Crews “completed the work to repair the bike trail underpass by replacing the curb that was undermined by the stream and placing new concrete slab on the sidewalk surface,” DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter tells ARLnow. “We also painted the curb on the outer perimeter towards the stream. Overall, it took about two weeks to complete.”

Arlington reported around $6 million in damage to county infrastructure from the flooding. Baxter said DES has completely most of its repairs, though some work remains to be done.

“In terms of repairs, we have substantially completed our tasks — we have minor items to address, such as catch basin repairs,” she said.

A number of footbridges were swept away by floodwaters. At least one, near 38th Street N. in the Old Glebe neighborhood, was recently replaced. Arlington’s parks department is currently evaluating the replacement of others.

“As of Oct. 2, County contractors have removed bridges that were destroyed by the storm, including the bridges at 38th St. N. and N. Chesterfield Street, Bon Air, Glencarlyn and Gulf Branch. Lubber Run will follow,” parks spokeswoman Susan Kalish said. “All bridges and fords damaged in the storm are being assessed for safety and next steps.”

Photo (1) courtesy Dennis Dimick, (3) courtesy @btj/Twitter

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Weenie Beenie was recently commemorated in an Arlington mural, but the shack near Shirlington has a surprising history involving gambling winnings and a beef with a popular D.C. restaurant.

Founded as a simple hot-dog stand in the 1950s in Green Valley at 2680 Shirlington Road, Weenie Beenie’s current incarnation was the creation of gambling legend Bill “Weenie Beenie” Stanton, lauded as the “one of the premier gentleman gamblers of pocket billiards” aka pool.

According to the Arlington Public Library, Staton took $27,000 in winnings from a gambling trip to Arkansas and used it to purchase the hot dog stand in 1960.

There was, at one point, several Weenie Beenies throughout the area, but the only one remaining is the one just north of Four Mile Run.

The storefront boasts that Weenie Beenie is the home of the original half-smoke — a local sausage variant popularized by Weenie Beenie rival Ben’s Chili Bowl in D.C. Also offered: North Carolina style barbecue and breakfast served all day.

The restaurant is also notable as the title of a Foo Fighters song from the group’s first album. Dave Grohl, frontman for the group, grew up in the area, once rented a home near Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood with his fellow Foos, and has recorded at nearby Inner Ear Studio, just steps from Weenie Beenie.

ARLnow reached out to RCA Records to request an interview with Grohl but received no response. Dave, if you’re reading this, that’s a standing offer.

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Arlington County firefighters are on scene of a fire in the parking lot of Tucker Field, near the Barcroft Community Center along Four Mile Run Drive.

Initial reports suggest the contents of a trash truck or dump truck caught fire, prompting the driver to dump the flaming load in the parking lot. Flames and smoke could be seen on a nearby traffic camera, before firefighters arrived on scene and doused the fire.

Currently, firefighters are working to ensure all of the fire is out before the cleanup process begins.

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From zoning to storefronts to its very name, Green Valley (formerly known, officially, as Nauck) is changing — so one Arlingtonian put together a book to remember the neighborhood as it exists today.

As We Are is a new book by Robin Stombler, vice-chair of the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative Working Group and a frequent voice of the neighborhood, collecting of photographs from 2015-2019 taken around Green Valley.

The book highlights a neighborhood on the eve of revitalization, Stombler says.

“After thumbing through a couple thousand photographs that I’d taken of Green Valley, I saw a theme emerge that I wanted to share,” Stombler said in an email.

Green Valley was a community founded by freed slaves, who settled there during and just after the Civil War. The area was initially known as Green Valley but at one point in the 1970s county officials began referring to the areas as Nauck, honoring a former Confederate soldier who purchased land there in the 1870s.

Now, the entire Four Mile Run area — which includes Green Valley — is being targeted for broad revitalization. It’s a plan that Stombler helped craft, but has also been openly very critical of.

Green Valley has a smart vision for the revitalization of this community that’s worth a listen,” Stombler said. “As one example, the creation of an arts and industry quarter along Four Mile Run Drive would refresh the area, make it an arts destination in Arlington, yet retain the needed light industry, employment opportunities, and cool vibe.”

Stombler said the neighborhood has always been a close-knit community. As it is revitalized, Stombler says she hopes the family bonds remain intact.

“The community has a vision for how the area may be revitalized,” Stombler said. “In the period these photographs were taken, Green Valley has spoken loudly with one voice about this vision. Slowly, very slowly, we are seeing some of our vision take shape. The photographs hint at this change.”

Barriers, like razor-edge wiring near a park, are prevalent throughout Stombler’s collection. Stombler cited the physical and social barriers as a recurring visual throughout the area and one of the main reasons she compiled the photographs into a book.

Despite some somber themes, Stombler said that the story of Green Valley’s residents is the story of joy, intellect, and perseverance in the face of these obstacles.

The book is scheduled to launch on Sunday, August 25, with a gallery of the photography at a house in Green Valley (2206 S. Monroe Street) from 4-6 p.m. Another exhibit is scheduled for Thursday (Aug. 29) from 7-9 p.m.

The book is available online for $47.

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(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) Arlington officials estimate that Monday’s flash flooding caused $3.5 million in damage to county infrastructure, particularly bridges in local parks.

As of last night, the an Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman said the department was aware of “at least six pedestrian bridges adjacent to the Four Mile Run stream and one storage building at Bon Air Park” which have been washed away.

Restrooms, playgrounds and picnic tables along local streams also sustained damage and “a few community centers experienced minor to moderate flooding,” though the community centers all remained open with “no major operational impacts,” we’re told.

The parks department damage assessment was updated Tuesday late afternoon to include the following:

  • Six pedestrian bridges adjacent to the Four Mile Run stream — one at Bon Air Park, two at Lubber Run Park, two at Glencarlyn Park and one at Gulf Branch Nature Center — were destroyed. Additionally, a bridge near the Glencarlyn Dog Park and one at Holmberg Park were damaged
  • The following picnic shelters are closed through Friday (July 12): Bluemont Park, Bon Air Park, Glencarlyn Park
  • Playgrounds at numerous parks lost safety surface in the flooding; as a result, Glencarlyn Park playground remains closed until further notice
  • A storage building at Bon Air Park was destroyed
  • James Hunter Dog Park [near Shirlington] experienced flooding and DPR is evaluating the fountain
  • The County’s Trails saw debris and dirt; Four Mile Run Trail suffered some asphalt damage

“The Department of Parks and Recreation is working to make our areas safe and operational as soon as possible after Arlington’s parks saw considerable damage on Monday,” said spokeswoman Martha Holland. “DPR is still working on gathering damage assessments from the storm, and some facilities may be closed as cleaning and repairs begin.”

Photos and video also shows damage along Lubber Run, near the amphitheater. A torrent of muddy water can be seen rushing through the park; pedestrian bridges were washed away, though the amphitheater itself was spared.

Foot bridges along even tiny babbling brooks were no match for raging floodwaters. One such wooden bridge connecting Chesterbrook Road and N. Vermont Street in the Old Glebe neighborhood was washed off its foundation and blocked off by caution tape this morning.

A couple of Arlington libraries were also impacted.

“The auditorium at Central Library sustained water damage and all programs are canceled this week,” Arlington Public Library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist told ARLnow. “Central Library opened up on schedule today.”

“Cherrydale Branch Library closed early yesterday due to flooding and power outages,” Sundqvist added. “We expect to open on time today.”

Arlington County has closed two roads that suffered damage to the road surface as a result of the flooding: until repairs can be made, 18th Street N. is closed between N. Lexington and McKinley streets, while 20th Street N. is closed at George Mason Drive.

“There’s no other significant damage to facilities at this time, but assessments are ongoing,” said county spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith.

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(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) Arlington County is considering a series of transportation improvements, including a fix to the complicated West and South Glebe Road intersection.

At Saturday’s County Board meeting the Board scheduled to vote on the approval of a series of grant requests for up to six projects with a total funding of up to $5.4 million.

The most expensive of the projects would be cleaning up the somewhat crash-prone Glebe Road intersection for $3 million in grant funding. W. Glebe Road, S. Glebe Road and S. Four Mile Run Drive all feed into the same intersection. By adjusting the geometry and the lane configuration, the county hopes to reduce instances of crashes.

Staff also note in the proposal that adjusting traffic signal timing and turn movements on S. Four Mile Run Drive could alleviate congestion on northbound I-395 by reducing backups on the ramp to S. Glebe Road.

The grant requests also include a series of transit improvements. The report notes that motorists frequently violate the Potomac Yard Transitway travel restrictions in Crystal City. The planned fix would add red markings to the lanes to denote the entry points to the transitway.

Other improvements include reliability upgrades for the 22F and 16Y Metrobus lines, serving Pentagon-Shirlingt0n-Fairlington and Columbia Pike-Court House-Farragut Square, respectively.

The 7Y Metrobus route would also gain additional noon-to-midnight bus service starting in December.

Also included among the grant requests is a funding request for $211,962 to extend the Commuter Store operations at the Pentagon for another 12 months. The store sells transit passes and provides commuter assistance, serving approximately 1,800 customers per month according to the staff report. Current funding for operations is set to expire on March 31, 2020.

Photos via Google Maps

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A new trail connection is now open between 7th Street S. and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

The new access point in Barcroft was open as of Monday, per a photo submitted to ARLnow’s Flickr Pool.

The eight-foot-wide trail connection is paved and comes with new signs and striping at both ends, according a county update on the construction which began this winter.

The Barcroft School and Civic League gave its stamp of approval to the trail connection’s design in February. The design was originally drafted in 2013, per plans posted on the county’s website.

Parts of Four Mile Run and W&OD trails were also under construction in February after the county said emergency repairs were needed to stop the stream from eroding.

Photo courtesy Flickr pool contributor Dennis Dmick

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(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) An SUV wound up in Four Mile Run creek in Bluemont Park this morning, prompting a hazmat response to contain a fuel spill.

The crash happened shortly before noon, near a parking lot adjacent to the intersection of N. Manchester Street and 4th Street N. It’s unclear how exactly the crash happened.

No injuries were reported. A woman could be seen sitting on the ground near the crash scene, being interviewed by police.

Arlington County firefighters placed booms in the creek to try to contain fuel from the SUV, some of which spilled into the creek and was visible as a sheen on the water.

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Arlington transportation planners’ latest attempt at crafting the future of the county’s cycling infrastructure has left neighbors, bicyclists and environmental advocates both pleased and disappointed.

The first draft of the 5o-page document, known as the bicycle element of the county’s Master Transportation Plan, originally included 26 cycling infrastructure projects including new trails and on-street bikeways. Since then, county staff has cut a few bike trails from the document, including two major projects: the Arlington Hall trail in Alcova Heights and another connecting the former Northern Virginia Community Hospital in Glencarlyn to Forest Hills, which were chopped after outcry from neighbors and environmentalists.

Still, bike advocates expressed broad support for the plan, but some think the latest draft doesn’t go far enough to ensure pedestrian safety and combat climate change.

“We made a number of changes in response to what we heard,” said Richard Viola, the project manager for updating the plan at the transportation division of the Department of Environmental Services (DES) told ARLnow Thursday. “I don’t think it negatively affects the overall plan, but it certainly shows a little more consideration of our natural resources.”

The plan is a sort of guiding “wish list” for the county, which some refer to as the “Master Bike Plan.” Viola’s group has been revising the document for more than a year, with the final version expected to be adopted later this spring. The latest edition will be posted publicly next week, he said.

During this latest revision, the county dropped its proposal for an off-street, half-mile trail connecting 6th Street S. to S. Quincy Street in the Alcova neighborhood at S. Oakland Street. The trail became a point of controversy because it could mean 6th Street residents lose some backyard privacy, and the county would cut down some important trees.

“We heard from a number of people from that Alcova Heights neighborhood that they did not want to see the trail built,” said Viola. “And then later we heard from a number of people in the neighborhood who want to see the trail build.” Ultimately, his working group shelved the Alcova trail idea for another time.

Another nixed idea was to extend the Four Mile Run Trail a half mile to connect with Claremont Elementary and Wakefield High. The Audubon Society wrote a letter in January warning that the proposal could cause “potential harm” to the rare magnolia ecosystem in the area.

“It’s a useful connection,” Viola said of the proposed trail. “People walk it today. But it would not be a suitable bike route when we thought about it because of the steepness [of the trail] and the proximity to this magnolia bog natural preserve.”

Another plan that became bogged down was a Glencarlyn/Hospital Trail connecting Glencarlyn and Forest Hills neighborhoods via the old site of the Northern Virginia Community Hospital. The half-mile project was envisioned by Viola’s team as a “low-stress route” between Arlington Boulevard and Columbia Pike because it could link up with other bikeways on S. Lexington Street, S. Carlin Springs Road, and 5th Road S.

The Audubon Society wrote that a trail passing through the old hospital site would “destroy valuable natural resources” in the conservation area that protects Long Branch Creek.

As a compromise, Viola’s team suggested instead widening the sidewalk on the east side of Carlyn Springs Road, so bikes and pedestrians can share.

“There are other comments they did not address in their plan,” said Audubon Society member Connie Ericson, referring to the organization’s January letter. “But we are pleased that they took some of our suggestions.”

However, members of the Arlington County Transportation Commission were “not wild” about the sidewalk idea, according to Commission Chair Chris Slatt.

Slatt told ARLnow Friday morning that members felt a paved, woodsy trail was too rare an opportunity pass up.

“There aren’t a lot of places where you could jog or bike without cars next to you,” he said. “It would seem like a shame to give up on that.”

In general, the plan drew praise from Ericson, and other advocates like D.C.-based Wash Cycle who said they couldn’t “spot any holes in the plans” in a January blog post.

Bruce Deming, who runs the Law Offices of Bruce S. Deming, Esq. and is known as the “Bicycle Lawyer,” also praised the Master Bike Plan for being “very thorough” and having a “cohesive strategy.” But he also told ARLnow in a phone call that, when it comes to safety, the “sense of urgency should be greater” in the latest draft.

The plan contains no mention of speed cameras — something Deming admitted is “politically unpopular” but reduces the injury and mortality rates in crashes with pedestrians and cyclists.

Deming also critiqued the plan for not prioritizing more bike lanes protected from cars, something 64 percent of respondents surveyed by the county wish for according to the Master Plan.

“According to the latest version of the plan, we’ve got 29 miles of bike lanes and 10 percent are the protected bike lanes,” said Deming. “I’d like to see that percentage increase substantially.”

Viola told ARLnow that the plan has been updated to language about “traffic safety education.”

The updates to Arlington’s Master Bike Plan are the first in 10 years, and according to Viola, the county doesn’t expect to undergo the process again for another decade. This comes a few months after the U.N.’s report indicating humans have 12 years to cut emissions before global warming causes permanent ecological damage, and reducing trips by car is one way to do this.

The Master Bike Plan acknowledges this, writing that improving the county’s pledges to improve air quality and reduce its emissions “depend greatly on shifting more travel to energy-efficient travel modes such as bicycling and walking.”

For Slatt, this means ensuring the infrastructure is so good it makes people want to ditch cars for bikes — something that would be easier to figure out how to do if the county allocated more resources and invested in high-end data analysis.

“People don’t people pick their transportation option because it saves the planet,” he said. “People pick their transportation option because it works for them because it’s faster or cheaper or makes them happy.”

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