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County Kicks Off Months of Work on Four Mile Run Bridge, Prompting Lane Closures

Workers are gearing up to make some repairs on the S. George Mason Drive bridge over Four Mile Run, so be on the lookout for some lane closures.

The county kicked off work on the bridge on Monday (Nov. 26), and it will likely last through spring 2019.

Workers will reduce from two lanes in each direction down to one as construction proceeds, but only during “non-rush hours,” according to a county NextDoor post.

The work will primarily focus on “patching and sealing,” mainly on “good weather days” through early next year.

Then, the county plans to repaint the bridge in summer 2019.

Photo via Google Maps

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Though Parking Concerns Persist, County Board Approves Plan for Four Mile Run Valley’s Future

Arlington officials have, at long last, approved a new planning document to guide the Four Mile Run Valley’s future, one of the last remaining steps for the county to take in the years-long debate over the area’s development.

The County Board unanimously signed off on new “area plan” for the Nauck valley on Saturday (Nov. 17), sketching out the county’s strategies for fostering the preservation and growth of industrial and arts-focused businesses in the area.

The plan also lays out a series of potential road and parking changes in the area, which have prompted some community consternation even as the planning process wraps up. Some Nauck leaders have previously expressed grave concerns that county officials aren’t listening to their suggestions for the area’s development, and that includes fears about the road changes on the way for S. Four Mile Run Drive.

“An important element is missing: trust,” Nauck Civic Association President Portia Clark told the Board. “The county needs to work with us to repair the loss of trust… We were here before the planning process began, and we’ll be here long after.”

But Board members expressed broad satisfaction with the plan, despite those anxieties, arguing that the roughly three-year-long planning process delivered an outcome that will benefit the community for years to come.

“We’re going to all look back on this process, as occasionally challenging as it was, and see that this will be a true jewel for not only South Arlington, but the county as a whole,” said Board member John Vihstadt, the Board’s liaison to a working group convened to assemble the plan.

The Board previously adopted a broad “policy framework” guiding all manner of future changes to the area this spring. The working group and county staff then relied on that document to develop a parks master plan for the area, primarily focused on the overhaul of Jennie Dean Park, and then assembled the final area plan.

Among the document’s proposed changes are road alterations designed to make S. Four Mile Drive and some of its side streets more friendly for both cyclists and pedestrians, and free up more parking along the road. Changes will include new sections of sidewalk, a new pedestrian crossing island and curb extensions, as well as more robust parking restrictions and enforcement to encourage more turnover.

But those alterations will only be temporary, as the county examines whether they actually work. Officials could even initiate more dramatic changes going forward, like the addition of more angled spaces leading up to Jennie Dean Park and even the conversion of S. Four Mile Run Drive into a two-lane road with a dedicated middle turning lane.

“There are still some concerns on the road changes… but the community has accepted the ‘test first, build later’ strategy,” said Charles Monfort, chair of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group.

Yet Monfort’s leadership of the group attracted a public rebuke from one of his fellow vice chairs in a Washington Post opinion piece, as Robin Stombler argued that the public engagement process on all manner of issues was flawed — Monfort insisted Saturday that “anyone’s who wanted to speak has had many opportunities to do so.”

But Stombler and other Nauck residents charged that the parking changes are simply the latest example of the community’s concerns being cast aside. Clark pointed out staffing challenges in the Arlington police department means officers have less time to dedicate to traffic enforcement, making any pledge to step up the policing of parking violations on S. Four Mile Run Drive a hollow one.

“It makes no sense to test parking restrictions that will not be enforced and will actually increase parking turnover problems,” said Anne Inman, one of the Nauck Civic Association’s representatives on the working group.

Vihstadt also expressed some trepidation that the county is “really engaging in real time” on these issues, worrying that officials might “prioritize beauty and aesthetics over operational, on-the-ground needs for businesses and people who inhabit and do commerce in the valley.”

But county planner Richard Tucker reassured concerned neighbors, however, that the county is “going to move forward with understanding we’ll come back on this and make changes” after a year or so, if the parking plans aren’t working as intended.

“We test a little bit, we see what we learn and then maybe we expand that to other areas,” said Board member Erik Gutshall.

Beyond the parking changes, Tucker added that there are still few elements left to the planning work for the valley. In January, the county will kick off discussions on potentially adding an arts district to the area (a controversial point in its own right) and then convene a broader discussion on land use and zoning a few months later.

By and large, though, Board members hope the area plan’s adoption signals a major step forward for the county in charting out the valley’s future.

“When I walk down to Four Mile Run 25 years from now, the built environment will not look fundamentally different,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol. “And that speaks to this effort and what we all value about this area.”

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Morning Notes

Polls Are Open — Voting in Arlington started at 6 a.m. this morning and will continue until 7 p.m. Don’t be surprised to see TV crews at local polling places: a number of international news outlets will be on hand to document democracy in action in Arlington. [Twitter, Twitter]

HQ2 Driving Real Estate Interest — Real estate agents are seeing increased interest in Arlington and Alexandria as a result of the increasingly-likely prospect of Amazon’s HQ2 (or, at least, a portion of it) coming to the area. Crystal City residents, meanwhile, are both excited and apprehensive about the tech and e-commerce giant moving into the neighborhood. [Washington Business Journal, WJLA]

Rain Causes Swollen Four Mile Run — Heavy rain Monday morning caused flooding along Four Mile Run. Floodwaters blocked the Four Mile Run Trail for part of the day. [Twitter]

Green Valley Pharmacy May Reopen — The Green Valley Pharmacy, a long-time local business serving the Nauck community, may be revived by the family of its late founder, Leonard “Doc” Muse. “”We [hope] to restore the exterior to the way it looked when my grandfather opened it in the 1950s,” said Muse’s grandson. [Arlington Magazine]

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County Readies Temporary Parking, Road Changes to Make S. Four Mile Run Drive More Walkable

Though the biggest changes to the Four Mile Run Valley and its parks are still a few years out, Arlington officials are gearing up to make a few road changes in the area before major construction starts.

The county is planning some interim parking tweaks to free up space primarily along S. Four Mile Run Drive as it approaches Jennie Dean Park, in a bid to prepare for more substantial pedestrian and parking changes as the area evolves in the future. Officials are convening a community meeting to discuss the temporary changes tonight (Monday) at the Charles Drew Community Center (3500 23rd Street S.), starting at 7:30 p.m.

The affected roads up for discussion include:

  • S. Four Mile Run Drive major between Walter Reed Drive and Shirlington Road
  • S. Four Mile Run Drive minor west of Shirlington Road
  • S. Oxford Street south of S. Four Mile Run Drive
  • S. Oakland Street south of S. Four Mile Run Drive
  • S. Nelson Street south of S. Four Mile Run Drive
  • 27th Street S. between Shirlington Road to S. Nelson Street

According to the county’s website, “the changes are designed to provide better access for residents, park users and businesses in the area,” and are included as part of the long-range planning documents the County Board is currently finalizing for the Four Mile Run Valley.

The 4MRV Area Plan, set to be considered by the Planning Commission on Wednesday (Nov. 7), calls for a full “reconfiguration” of S. Four Mile Run Drive, in order for the county to test out some changes to make the area a bit more pedestrian-friendly and free up parking around Jennie Dean Park. Additions will primarily include “paint, bollards and landscaped planters,” according to the draft document.

“This would create a temporary 10-foot sidewalk on the south side of the street, a pedestrian crossing island at the intersections of Nelson and Oxford streets, and curb extensions (with planters) along the corridor,” the plan says. “Parking lanes would still be provided on both sides of the street. This interim solution would allow the county to pilot the new street design and collect input/data on vehicle speeds and delay, pedestrian comfort, safety and access to businesses.”

As an example, the planning document points to the intersection of S. Arlington Mill Drive and S. Walter Reed Drive, where the county is currently working on curb extensions and crosswalks to make the area more hospitable to cyclists and walkers alike.

The county anticipates that the interim changes will get set up this winter. County planner Richard Tucker even told the Transportation Commission last Thursday (Nov. 1) that some could be in place, “in the next several weeks,” so long as Monday’s meeting goes smoothly.

In the longer term, the area plan calls for “a parallel/angled parking strategy for Four Mile Run Drive with a concept for parallel parking on Arlington Mill Drive,” freeing up a bit more parking in an area that’s frequently in high demand.

“This concept creates more than 30 angled parking spaced immediately adjoining Jennie Dean Park,” the plan says. “Through regulatory and design changes, more than 250 additional spaces would be available during the daytime and evening. The cost of repainting streets in this configuration is far less than constructing new parking structures, and there may be opportunities for the county to explore shared parking agreements in existing nearby private parking garages.”

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Police: Car Wash Employee Drunkenly Steals Vehicle, Crashes Soon Afterward

An employee of an Arlington car wash is now behind bars after police say he stole and then drunkenly crashed a customer’s vehicle.

County police believe 61-year-old Rigoberto Folgar Hernandez was sent home Friday afternoon (Sept. 28) after showing up to work drunk at a car wash along the 4100 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive.

But Hernandez returned to the business a short time later, when he “drove a customer’s vehicle off the property, went over a median and struck a concrete piling and a parked vehicle,” police say.

Hernandez then exited the vehicle and went back to the car wash, where he was arrested shortly afterward. He’s now facing charges of grand larceny: motor vehicle theft, destruction of property, hit and run, and drunk in public.

Hernandez is set for a hearing on those charges in Arlington General District Court on Nov. 20, and is being held without bond.

Full details from a county crime report:

GRAND LARCENY (Significant), 4100 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive. At approximately 11:34 a.m. on September 28, police were dispatched to the report of a hit and run. Upon arrival, it was determined the suspect had been sent home from his employment at a car wash due to showing signs of intoxication. The suspect returned to the car wash and, shortly after, drove a customer’s vehicle off the property, went over a median and struck a concrete piling and a parked vehicle. The suspect then exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot back to the car wash. Rigoberto Folgar Hernandez, 61, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny: Motor Vehicle Theft, Destruction of Property, Hit and Run, and Drunk in Public. He was held on no bond.

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Car Runs Into Ditch Along Four Mile Run Drive

A car ran into a wooded embankment near the intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and Columbia Pike this morning.

The crash happened around 8:30 a.m. on the 4600 block of S. Four Mile Run, behind a parking lot for The Carlton Condominium. A dark-colored sedan drove over a bike path and into the woods along Four Mile Run.

Firefighters stabilized the vehicle and helped the driver get out. No serious injuries were reported.

No word yet on how, exactly, the crash happened. A similar crash happened on the opposite bank of Four Mile Run in early September.

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Morning Notes

WeWork Coming to Rosslyn — Another coworking space is coming to Rosslyn. WeWork is reportedly coming to three floors near the top of the new CEB Tower. [Washington Business Journal]

Board Passes Four Mile Run Plan — Despite some dissatisfaction among those who live in a nearby community, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to adopt as-is the proposed Four Mile Run Valley Park Master Plan and Design Guidelines, which includes “a comprehensive Master Plan for Jennie Dean Park and Shirlington Park, with short and mid-term recommendations for maintaining and improving Shirlington Dog Park.” [Arlington County]

Memorial Bridge Closure Rescheduled — Due to high river levels, work on and the closure of the Arlington Memorial Bridge has been rescheduled to this coming weekend. [Twitter, National Park Service]

Salt Storage Structure Approved — “The Arlington County Board today voted to allow the County to build an interim salt storage structure before winter sets in, on County-owned property on Old Dominion Drive, between 25th Road N. and 26th Street N.” [Arlington County]

Scooter Injury in Crystal City — A woman on a motorized scooter reportedly suffered a dislocated elbow after she accidentally ran into a wall in the Crystal City area Friday evening. The safety of the electric rental scooters has been questioned both locally and nationally. [Twitter]

Coming ‘Flood’ of Medicaid Applicants — “The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to accept state funding that will help pay for additional staff needed to process an expected flood of new applications for Medicaid under the state’s expanded program, Cover Virginia… ‘Under the expanded program, we expect 3,000 more County residents will qualify. Childless low-income adults with no disabilities, a group previously excluded, and families and persons with disabilities whose income previously was not considered to be low enough to qualify will now be eligible for coverage.'” [Arlington County]

Packer Drops By Clarendon Day — Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones, in town for Sunday’s game against the Redskins — the local team ended up upsetting the visitors 31-17 — dropped by Clarendon Day on Saturday. He also posed for a photo with Arlington County police. [Twitter]

APS Wires 40 Schools for Fiber Connection — “Arlington Public Schools (APS) is kicking off the 2018-19 school year with a brand-new connection–ConnectArlington. Thanks to a yearlong collaboration, 40 Arlington school facilities are now up and running on the County’s own fiber optic network. APS made the switch from a commercial provider to take advantage of ConnectArlington’s high-speed, dedicated network for digital telecommunications and broadband services.” [Arlington County]

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Nauck Residents Blast County’s Handling of Four Mile Run Valley Planning, Feel ‘Ignored’ and Excluded

As Arlington officials continue to chart out the future of the Four Mile Run valley, some community leaders in Nauck feel their concerns are being ignored by the county and are demanding a louder voice in the proceedings.

The county’s worked since 2016 to craft new planning documents for the area, primarily located in Nauck but touching Shirlington and other South Arlington neighborhoods as well, in a bid to guide the gradual transformation of the valley’s parks and business district. The County Board passed a “policy framework” to provide a roadmap for that process in May, and is set to sign off on a “parks master plan” for the area at its meeting this weekend.

But even with a slew of community meetings on the subject and a working group dedicated to the valley, some Nauck leaders remain frustrated by how the county’s handled their input. While they have gripes with some policy specifics — the re-design of Jennie Dean Park, in particular — their broader concern is that residents are being left out of the process of determining their own neighborhood’s long-term outlook.

“It is confounding when the community that’s most impacted by the Four Mile Run valley is blocked from county communication,” Robin Stombler, a Nauck resident and vice chair of the Four Mile Run working group, told ARLnow. “There’s been a history of exclusion and marginalization of this community, and the county’s current actions don’t correct that history.”

As Stombler points out, the community’s roots as a historically black neighborhood add an extra level of tension to any discussion of how the county engages with people in Nauck. Even with the Board’s frequent commitments to remedying historic inequities in the community as part of the planning process, some residents can’t help but feel suspicious that Nauck’s past is still influencing its future.

“This community has been ignored repeatedly by the Arlington County Board while the requests and desires of several other, predominantly white, Arlington neighborhoods are being placed ahead of those of the people who live here,” Nauck resident Renee Greenwell wrote in an email. “It takes a lot for a historically marginalized community to speak its mind, [and] for Arlington County leaders and staff to patronize us and ignore our opinions is despicable.”

Arlington officials dispute that they’ve ignored any community involved in the planning, let alone Nauck. For his part, Board member John Vihstadt, the Board’s liaison to the Four Mile Run working group, says he’s done his best to “understand and appreciate the sometimes varied perspectives of all stakeholders in our planning process, especially those from Nauck.”

County parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish also touted the “enormous amount of community outreach” involved in the process, noting that the county has held a total of 65 meetings on the valley as well as creating “an online forum for those who could not attend” those gatherings.

Nauck Civic Association President Portia Clark, however, says the county’s “engagement process was lousy from the beginning.” While she says the county has indeed held plenty of meetings, it’s the quality of those meetings that concern her.

For instance, Clark says she invited parks officials to a civic association meeting last Monday (Sept. 10) to have a broader conversation about the parks master plan. Despite repeated requests, Clark and Stombler both say the county ultimately only sent one representative to the meeting, who couldn’t discuss the plan in the detail they were looking for.

“Where were the other county folks behind the parks plan?” Clark said.

Kalish acknowledges that the county was invited to that gathering, but noted that other officials had just held an “open house” on the parks plan on Sept. 5, calling it “robust and distributive.”

“We heard from a variety of people, including residents from Nauck and the surrounding communities,” Kalish said.

But Clark claims the meeting was sparsely attended, coming so soon after Labor Day, with county officials outnumbering community members by a hefty margin.

“How engaging is that?” Clark said. “We recommended from the beginning that they contact every household… It just went on deaf ears, because they weren’t listening.”

Clark feels that the county instead came into the process with “certain things in mind that they wanted,” and then refused to change based on community input.

Among her biggest concerns are the plans to revamp Jennie Dean Park. Eventually, the county envisions acquiring the WETA building next to the park, relocating a baseball field and adding new tennis courts to the area.

The Board ultimately endorsed a plan to move the field closer to the intersection of 27th Street S. and S. Nelson Street, even though Clark’s civic association and the county’s Park and Recreation Commission backed an option that would’ve left a bit more open space at the front of the park by locating the field elsewhere. But county staff endorsed the former alternative, reasoning it would be easier to build and maintain, and the Board is set to formalize that selection when it votes on the park master plan Saturday (Sept. 22).

To Clark, the dispute represents the perfect example of the county not listening to Nauck’s input, even though the neighborhood hosts the park itself.

“We’re concerned it will be a border to the community, and about the noise levels, what will project out into the neighborhood,” Clark said. “We just have to live with that now.”

Vihstadt noted that “Board members and staff are in continued communication with a variety of communities as we approach our Saturday vote,” and said the county is working to “build as much consensus and mutual understanding as possible” on the plan.

But Stombler is already looking a bit beyond the parks plan to what she thinks the county can take away from this whole dust-up moving forward.

“I think we need an assessment of how this process has proceeded, so future engagements are more collaborative and understanding of the community,” she said.

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BREAKING: Rescue Underway After Vehicle Runs Down Four Mile Run Embankment

Update at 3:10 p.m. — The victim has been successfully rescued from the vehicle. Tow crews will now start the process of removing the SUV from the embankment.

Earlier: Firefighters are currently working to rescue the driver of an SUV that ran down an embankment along Four Mile Run.

The incident happened just before 2 p.m. along 10th Street S., just south of Columbia Pike on the west bank of Four Mile Run. Initial reports suggest that one man is trapped in the vehicle but is in the process of being extricated by firefighters.

The victim’s injuries are said to be non-life-threatening.

The crash happened on a busy Sunday afternoon for the fire department. It is unrelated to the body recovery further down Four Mile Run.

Photos via Arlington County Fire Department and Google Maps

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BREAKING: Body Found in Four Mile Run

A body has been found in rain-swollen Four Mile Run near where it runs into the Potomac River.

First responders from Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. all responded to a report of a person in the water along the 3600 block of Potomac Avenue. The incident is currently being described as a recovery operation and investigation.

“ACPD is responding to investigate,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.com early Sunday afternoon. “No details to report at this time.”

Photo courtesy Tatton Oliver

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Sewer Bypass Work Closes Four Mile Run Trail Tomorrow

A sanitary sewer realigning along S. Four Mile Run Drive will close the Four Mile Run Trail on Wednesday (Aug. 15).

Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., the Four Mile Run Trail will be closed between S. Troy St. and S. Joyce St. But the bypass is just the beginning of the sewer repair impact — when construction begins on a fix for the main sewer line in September, the impact will spread to the surrounding roads.

A 2015 inspection of the sanitary sewer pipes in the area found substantial degradation, including roots lodged in sewer joints and small holes in the pipes. The closures on the Four Mile Run Trail are not related to the fixing of the actual pipes, but to install a bypass that will allow work on the damage pipe to occur without interrupting service to the area.

In September, work will begin on replacing a 60-inch section of pipe on S. Glebe Rd. between S Arlington Ridge Road and S. Joyce St. The right eastbound lane of S. Glebe will be closed during this time. Jersey barriers will be erected around the site with at least one lane of travel active in each direction.

The sidewalk on the south side of the affected stretch of S. Glebe Road will be closed during this time as well.

The S Glebe Road pipe replacement is tentatively scheduled to take 24 weeks, finishing in early 2019.

Photos via Arlington County

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Improvements Underway on S. Walter Reed Drive, With More Changes to Come

S. Walter Reed Drive is slated for several changes that, among other alterations, are designed to make the roadway more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

Construction kicked off last month (July) between 11th Street S. and 13th Street S. That work is scheduled to be completed later this year and primarily targets S. Walter Reed Drive’s intersection with 12th Street S., improving crosswalks and building curb extensions and new ADA-compliant curb ramps.

Also included in the project is the reconstruction of three raised medians to run along that portion of the roadway and alterations to an existing bike boulevard, which will be moved from 12th Street S. to 11th Street S. between S. Highland and S. Cleveland Streets.

Drivers should expect one travel lane to be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays to accommodate construction. Pedestrians will see sidewalk detours and temporary crosswalks, and on-street parking will be restricted.

long-awaited set of changes to a different portion of S. Walter Reed Drive — from S. Arlington Mill Drive to S. Four Mile Run Drive — is set to get underway in mid-September.

That plan has been in the works for years, and the county awarded a $1.8 million contract for it in May. Construction aims to add ADA-compliant bus stops, new crosswalks and curb ramps, more street lighting and improved signals for drivers and pedestrians.

The project also intends to make travel between the Four Mile Run Trail and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail safer and to realign westbound S. Arlington Mill Drive in an effort to make the crossing more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. The county has been piloting the realignment at the intersection of S. Walter Reed Drive and S. Arlington Mill Drive with a temporary installation since June 2017.

Additional changes to the designated portion of the roadway will include a slight widening of travel lanes and resurfacing.

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County Looking for Four Mile Run Valley Planning Feedback

With a key bit of planning work on the Four Mile Run valley in Nauck wrapped up, the county is pushing ahead with the development of additional design guidelines for parks and other features in the area.

Arlington is currently soliciting feedback on both a park master plan and an area plan to guide the valley’s future, and will accept comments on both through Aug. 20.

The County Board approved a “policy framework” for the area in May, sketching out general goals for the remainder of the planning process. Chiefly, the work is focused on the redevelopment of Jennie Dean Park, the evolution of pedestrian and cycling options along roads like S. Four Mile Run Drive and the promotion of the arts industry in the area.

In the framework, the Board endorsed one plan for the redesign of Jennie Dean to account for the county’s plans to someday acquire WETA’s building in the area (3620 27th Street S.).

The Board expects to approve a plan calling for two planned baseball and softball fields to be aligned closer to S. Nelson Street, with new basketball and tennis courts on the site of the WETA building, even though it attracted some fierce pushback from some in the Nauck community. Now, the public will get another chance to weigh in on the design, including the county’s plans to add a new “gateway” to the park near the Weenie Beanie on S. Four Mile Run Drive.

The plans also include details on how the county might manage stormwater in the area moving forward, and future tweaks to features throughout Shirlington Park. The area’s dog park, however, won’t see big changes under the proposed plans, after the Board declined to move forward with any reduction in size for the park.

The Board expects to vote on a final parks plan in September, and could sign off on the area plan in November.

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Berkeley Affordable Housing Redevelopment Earns Key Loan Changes

A new affordable housing complex along Four Mile Run is moving closer to becoming a reality, now that county officials have signed off on additional financing plans for the development.

The County Board gave its final approval to more than $20 million in loans this week for the redevelopment of the Berkeley Apartments (2900 S. Glebe Road), in addition to a few policy changes that will help the project’s backers secure additional financing and kick off construction in earnest.

“We’re looking forward to the project continuing to take shape,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol.

The nonprofit AHC Inc., which is backing the development, started to tear down the existing apartment complex this summer, and plans to eventually construct two buildings on the property, located just across the county’s border with Alexandria. In all, the two five-story buildings will offer 256 apartments, all of which will be “committed affordable units” with rent prices tamped down to help people afford the homes.

Last year, the Board sent roughly $20.9 million in loans from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund to spur the project’s construction, with $7.4 million dedicated to one building and $13.5 million on the other

But as the project’s plans have developed, AHC asked the Board to shift about $1.5 million away from one building to the other, in order to cope with some unexpected construction costs. The developer also told the Board that it wouldn’t need roughly $333,000 of the previously approved AHIF loan, which it will redirect to help existing Berkeley tenants find new homes as the construction starts up — AHC started telling residents they’d need to leave around this time last year.

With those changes approved, AHC can set about securing the rest of the financing it needs for the two buildings, one with a final price tag of just over $51.5 million and the other at $47.7 million, according to a county staff report.

The developer plans to use a mix of bank loans and financing from the Virginia Housing Development Authority to afford the project, the report lays out.

Sara Pizzo with the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development told the Board that AHC hopes to ramp up demolition work once it closes on this financing.

Ultimately, the developer hopes to open one building by “the spring or summer of 2020,” and the next one by the fall of that same year, Pizzo said.

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More Than 100 Cyclists Flood Columbia Pike to Advocate for Better Bike Routes

More than 100 bicyclists hit Columbia Pike on Saturday (June 23) to draw attention to a new push to improve bike routes along the road.

The newly-formed advocacy group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County organized the roughly two-mile-long “Bike for the Pike” protest ride, which ran down Columbia Pike from the Penrose Square Park to the intersection with with S. Four Mile Run Drive.

The group is lobbying county leaders to consider a slew of improvements to make the Pike corridor easier on cyclists, arguing that large sections of the road remain unsafe. County Board members Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall attended Saturday to lend their support to the effort.

“Despite budgeting over $100 million in the current adopted capital plan to make Columbia Pike a complete street, the county’s current plans wouldn’t even provide a complete bike facility that runs the full length of the Pike, let alone one that is safe, direct and low-stress,” Chris Slatt, the group’s founder and a transit-focused blogger, wrote in a statement. “#Bike4ThePike was a chance to say ‘We’re here, we ride, we pay taxes, we deserve safe, direct, low-stress routes.'”

The county has indeed made efforts to improving transit options along the Pike, with long-awaited changes to Metrobus service along the corridor starting yesterday (June 24). But Slatt’s organization is pressing for a variety of new roadway improvements and policy revisions to make the Pike even more hospitable to cyclists.

In the near term, Slatt wants to see the county conduct a “comprehensive safety review” of the Pike’s intersection with Washington Blvd. In a news release, the group notes that the area “has been the site of numerous bicycle and pedestrian crashes” since VDOT finished a major overhaul of the interchange a few years ago, and Slatt wants to see the county commission a study of the area within the next year.

His group is also advocating for the construction of a parallel bike and pedestrian bridge over Four Mile Run in the next three years, arguing that the current bridge is “dangerously narrow and lacks any sort of buffer from speeding traffic.”

They’re also pushing for traffic signal changes to make 9th Street S. friendlier for bicyclists as it intersects with both S. Glebe Road and S. Walter Reed Drive, as well as the construction of an access road connecting the Arlington View neighborhood to Army Navy Drive within the next five years — the county likely won’t start work on the latter project until 2027.

Slatt’s group plans to hold additional advocacy events focused on bicycling, walking and public transit around the county in the coming weeks.

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