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Gas leak and closure along Columbia Pike

The westbound lanes of Columbia Pike are closed near Penrose Square due to a gas leak.

It appears that a construction crew working in the roadway struck a gas line. Police, firefighters and Washington Gas crews have responded to the scene.

As a result, westbound traffic is being diverted onto S. Barton Street, according to scanner traffic. One lane of eastbound traffic remains open.

It is not immediately clear how long the closure will last.

Arlington has seen a spate of gas line ruptures recently, mostly due to construction activity. S. Walter Reed Drive was completely blocked for a period of time on May 19 and two separate road closures for gas leaks, in Westover and Halls Hill, were reported on May 30.

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Washington Gas truck (file photo)

(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) The smell of natural gas has been reported in parts of the Westover neighborhood after a major leak.

The leak in a gas transmission line was first reported around 9:30 a.m. on the 1800 block of N. Lexington Street. Initial reports suggest that Arlington’s emergency dispatch center received reports of a gas smell in the nearby Westover library, Cardinal Elementary School and other locations as a result of the leak.

“It has come to our attention that there is a leak in a gas line up the street and there have been reports of a gas smell in pockets throughout the building, the principal of Cardinal Elementary wrote in an email to families. “We were told that the students are safe and it will be fixed soon.”

Washington Gas crews are now on scene working to repair the line. Firefighters are also standing by, just in case.

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Closure for gas leak on S. Walter Reed Drive

Update at 3 p.m. — The road has reopened, per police radio traffic.

A portion of S. Walter Reed Drive is closed due to a gas line rupture.

The artery is currently closed between 6th and 7th streets — about halfway between Route 50 and Columbia Pike — after reports of a construction crew accidentally rupturing a sizable gas line.

There’s no word on how long the road closure will last. Firefighters are on scene with hoses at the ready should something ignite the leaking natural gas before Washington Gas crews can shut off the line.

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(Updated at 9:15 p.m.) A busy set of highway ramps were shut down in Ballston due to a construction mishap.

A construction crew accidentally ruptured a large, 6-inch gas line along the 4600 block of Fairfax Drive, in front of the Holiday Inn hotel.

The fire department quickly requested that Arlington County police and Virginia State Police shut down all of Fairfax Drive between N. Glebe Road and I-66, including the ramp from the highway.

Firefighters also evaluated whether they should evacuate the hotel and surrounding buildings, but no evacuations were ultimately reported.

As of 3:15 p.m., the leak was still active, according to the fire department, despite Washington Gas crews having been on scene for about an hour, and the odor of natural gas was spreading throughout the area.

“Odor can be smelled throughout Ballston,” ACFD said on social media. “This will be an extended operation with impacts for an unknown duration.”

Firefighters were dispatched to at least one location outside of Ballston, in the nearby Bluemont neighborhood, after a caller reported a concerningly strong smell of gas.

As of 7:15 p.m., the roadway and the ramps reopened, though lane closures remain on Fairfax Drive.

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(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) Firefighters are on scene of a large gas line rupture near Rocky Run Park, in Courthouse.

Initial reports suggest that a 3-inch natural gas line was accidentally struck by construction workers near the intersection of N. Barton Street and 11th Street N.

Those and other nearby streets are being blocked by police. A large fire department response and Washington Gas crews are now on scene.

It may take an hour or two to fully shut off the gas due to the size of the ruptured line requiring more personnel to secure it, according to scanner traffic.

Firefighters are in the process of evaluating whether any nearby buildings will need to be evacuated.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Local Home Sales, Prices Up — “The average price of a detached, single-family house that sold in Arlington County, Virginia, in December was $1,258,648. That is 17% more than the average price a year earlier, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.” [WTOP]

Crystal City Office Tower Sells for $188M — “The building at 1400 Crystal Drive, totaling 308,000 square feet, was sold in late December by affiliates of Lincoln Property Co. for $188.5 million, or $612 per square foot, to Starwood Capital Group, according to Arlington County property records.” [Washington Business Journal]

Metro GM/CEO Retires — General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld will retire from Metro in six months, after more than six years running the regional transit agency. [WMATA]

More Water Main Breaks — From Arlington DES: “An unusually intense winter has triggered an above-average number of water main breaks, often during the cold, dark early morning when most people are asleep. Saluting the folks who respond. They’re not in it for the glamour. #TheOtherFirstResponders.” [Twitter]

Larry Finch Plaque Likely Coming to Zachary Taylor Park — “The proposal emanated from the Donaldson Run Civic Association to honor Finch (1933-2020), who lived in Arlington from 1966 and 2013 and was active in civic affairs – especially in the parks and ecological arena – for much of that lengthy period.” [Sun Gazette]

Gas Leak Closes Street — A natural gas leak in Crystal City closed S Eads Street for over an hour Tuesday morning as Arlington County Fire Department waited for utility crews to assess the situation. Buildings were checked and no gas was detected. [Patch, Twitter]

Small Business Program Launches — From Arlington Chamber of Commerce: “We are proud to launch our¬†Small Business Accelerator Program, presented by¬†Amazon.¬†As the Presenting Sponsor of this program,¬†Amazon¬†will sponsor half of the membership dues to verified¬†Small, Women and Minority-owned (SWaM) businesses located in Virginia joining the Chamber for their first year of membership.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 47. South wind 9 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Sunrise at 7:23 a.m. and sunset at 5:15 p.m. Tomorrow we’ll see rain and snow before 1 p.m., then a slight chance of snow. High near 38. North wind 10 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. [Weather.gov]

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All lanes of Columbia Pike are blocked due to a large gas leak.

The leak is along the Pike near S. Scott Street and a number of large apartment buildings. Police, firefighters and Washington Gas crews are on scene, repairing the leak and checking nearby buildings for elevated levels of natural gas.

The road closure is affecting several bus lines, including Metro and ART buses.

“Due to emergency utility repairs, Columbia Pike is closed between Quinn St. and S. Walter Reed Dr,” said Arlington Transit. “ART Routes 42, 45 & 74 will be on detour until further notice.”

As of 1:30 p.m. the road was expected to remain closed for at least another 30-60 minutes.

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Morning Notes

Demolition has leveled the former Summers restaurant in Courthouse (staff photo)

Pentagon City Metro Elevator Update — From Arlington Transit: “On Sun., Sept. 19, the bus stop serving ART 42, 74, 84 & 87, Metrobus 7A & 22A, and Fairfax Connector 599 (AM) will temporarily be relocated south on S Hayes St. due construction of Pentagon City Metro second elevator.” [Twitter]

Huffpost Calls Arlington GOP Tweet ‘Racist’ — “In a racist tweet Monday that was promptly ratioed into the shame museum, the Arlington County Republican Committee in Virginia suggested that two Democratic congresswomen of color should retire and go work as lobbyists for the Taliban… ‘This tweet isn’t about race ‚Äē it’s about the Squad’s constant support for anti-American sentiment abroad,’ the Arlington GOP tweeted.” [Huffpost]

ACFD Responds to Courthouse Gas Leak — “Arlington County Fire and Rescue crews said a gas leak reported just before 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Courthouse area was fixed about an hour later.” [Patch, Twitter]

Local Nurse Lauded for Covid Candor — “An Arlington woman who continues going above and beyond to help her community throughout the pandemic is being nominated for a community hero award from her fellow neighbors.” [WJLA]

Arlington Students Make ‘Merit’ Semis — “Sixteen high school students from Arlington have been named 2022 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, taking the first step in securing a scholarship in the competitive program.” [Patch, Arlington Public Schools]

Restaurant Recs for Those With Kids — “Going out with kids is complicated enough — finding dishes for picky eaters, hoping they will sit still long enough to finish their food and not terrorize other tables, praying you can relax for five minutes… These restaurants are going out of their way to create a welcoming, inclusive and safe dining environment for families, with outdoor dining and child-pleasing choices.” [Arlington Magazine]

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(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Two women were rescued by firefighters this afternoon in dramatic fashion, after a gas leak was discovered in their home along Columbia Pike.

The rescues happened shortly before 3:30 p.m., after police were called to the house at the intersection of the Pike and S. Rolfe Street for a welfare check.

“Officers were conducting a check on the welfare. When they made entry to the residence they smelled gas, and called for the fire department,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Two adult females have been transported to local hospitals.”

Initial reports suggest that firefighters searching the house found the victims inside suffering from possible carbon monoxide poisoning. They were pulled outside and treated before being rushed to the hospital.

Eastbound Columbia Pike was blocked near the intersection with S. Rolfe Street during the incident. The Pike has since reopened, though S. Rolfe Street remains closed.

The house has been ventilated and police are now investigating the incident. Washington Gas crews are also on scene, investigating the leak.

So far there’s no word yet on the condition of the two victims.

A neighbor tells ARLnow that “two lovely [older] ladies” live in the home.

“God, I hope they are okay,” said the neighbor, who did not provide her name.

Matt Blitz contributed to this report. Map via Google Maps.

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(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Residents have been evacuated from homes in the Rock Spring neighborhood due to a “major outside gas leak.”

Williamsburg Blvd is currently closed between George Mason Drive and N. Harrison Street, near Williamsburg Middle School.

Initial reports suggest that workers digging up part of Williamsburg Blvd struck a large, 12-inch gas line. A crew from Washington Gas is on scene working to stop the leak.

“Residents closest to the leak will be evacuated,” the Arlington County Fire Department said. “Only evacuate if required to do so by firefighters.”

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

AIM to Spotlight Arlington’s Black Community¬†— “In 2018, Arlington native Wilma Jones published a book about the neighborhood she grew up in.¬†My Halls Hill Family: More Than a Neighborhood¬†details the evolution of a community of freed slaves, which was founded after the Civil War…¬†Jones and Arlington Independent Media (AIM), a nonprofit organization, are launching a multi-part series called¬†UNTOLD: Stories of Black Arlington.” [WDVM]

Interview with Interim Police Chief — “After 29 years with Arlington County, Virginia, Police, Deputy Chief Andy Penn knows a concerning trend when he sees one. Just weeks before moving into the role of interim chief, Penn said addressing an uptick in deadly overdoses was an immediate focus. As of Aug. 18, the county had lost 16 people to overdose deaths, according to¬†Arlington County police data.” [WTOP]

Flu Vaccines Now Available at Giant — “Giant Food announced Monday flu shots are available at in-store pharmacies, including locations in the Arlington area. The flu vaccines are administered by Giant pharmacists and do not require an appointment. A copayment is usually not required through most insurance plans.” [Patch]

Here’s Why Glebe Road Was Closed — “For those wondering, Glebe was blocked just north of Ballston [Sunday] night due to a vehicle that rammed a house’s gas meter, causing a leak. No injuries were reported, some nearby homes were briefly evacuated, per ACFD spokesman.” [Twitter]

Storms Possible This Evening — “[Monday was] the beginning of a several-day stretch of storm threats. [Today] the Storm Prediction Center has the region¬†under an ‘enhanced risk,’ or Level 3 out of 5. On Wednesday, it’s¬†a slight risk¬†at Level 2. As with tomorrow, damaging winds will be the main threat.” [Capital Weather Gang]

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