Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Metro Removes 3000-Series from Service — “Metro overnight temporarily removed all 3000-series cars from service after we received a report of a door malfunction for which we need to identify the cause. This voluntary safety action reduces the number of available rail cars by ~15%” [Twitter, Twitter]

Courthouse Hotel May Become Apartments — “The owner of an Arlington hotel is now hoping to flip the building into residential space instead. The Arlington Court Suites Hotel in Courthouse could soon become a 180-unit apartment building dubbed ‘Park Arlington at Courthouse,’ according to plans filed with the county this week.” [Washington Business Journal]

More HQ2 Jobs Listed — There are now 18 open HQ2 jobs listed on Amazon’s website, with roles ranging from HR to sales to software engineer. Some of the jobs were reportedly first listed as working out of Amazon’s existing Ballston office, the long-term prospects for which are now in question. [Amazon, Washington Business Journal]

NPS’ Massive GW Parkway Backlog — “ABC7 asked the National Park Service how big the [GW Parkway’s] maintenance problem is. The… Parkway has a maintenance backlog of $717-million, but that includes 25 sites, such as Arlington House and Great Falls Park. $649-million of that amount is for paved roads. 33 million vehicles drive on the GW Parkway every year.” [WJLA, Twitter]

Va. Reps Call for Telework Option During ‘Summer Shutdown’ — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and other Northern Virginia representatives have written a letter to the director of the Office of Personnel Management, calling for federal employees to be given expanded telework options during the May 25-Sept. 8 “Summer Shutdown” of Metro stations in Alexandria. [House of Representatives]

Yellow Line Extension Starting This Weekend — “Metro today announced it will begin running all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt more than a month earlier than expected – starting Saturday, May 25 – when the Platform Improvement Project begins at six Yellow and Blue line stations south of Reagan National Airport.” [PoPville]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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Morning Notes

Post-Amazon Real Estate Boom in N. Va. — “After an anemic first quarter, Northern Virginia’s home-sales market blossomed last month, with prices on the rise and sales at their highest April mark since the pre-recession boom of more than a decade ago.” [InsideNova]

Northbound GW Parkway Partially Reopens — “One of two northbound lanes of the George Washington Memorial Parkway reopened Tuesday after a 10-foot-deep sinkhole appeared in the road Friday. But officials warned that future lane closures are planned on both sides of the parkway as long-term repairs continue.” [Washington Post]

More Endorsements for Stamos, Tafti — In the heated race for Commonwealth’s Attorney, incumbent Theo Stamos and Democratic primary challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti have picked up some new endorsements. Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur and former county treasurer Frank O’Leary have endorsed Stamos. School Board member Nancy Van Doren, meanwhile, has endorsed Tafti.

New Exhibit for Arlington Art Truck — Arlington County’s art truck is debuting a new work today with planned stops in Rosslyn and Clarendon. “In What’s Your Sign?, participants can select free, humorous signs about daily life, consumption and the environment by artist Paul Shortt, or make their own signs that re-think the spaces we encounter every day,” says a description of the project. [East City Art, Facebook]

Nearby: Bikeshare in Falls Church, Fairfax Co. — Capital Bikeshare has launched in the City of Falls Church with 10 new stations. Bikeshare is also planning new stations around the Tysons area in Fairfax County. [City of Falls Church, Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Update at 11:50 a.m. on 5/13/19 — Per the National Park Service: “Due to continued rain, the National Park Service now hopes to reopen one lane in time for the evening rush hour on Tuesday, May 14. If this schedule changes, we will share an update.”

Earlier: The northbound lanes of the GW Parkway are closed just north of Arlington due to a large sinkhole.

Sinkholes have been a recurring problem on the Parkway, with the most recent sinkhole-related closure happening in March.

The Parkway’s northbound lanes are currently closed from Route 123 in McLean to the Beltway, with traffic backing up prior to the detour onto 123. The National Park Service issued the following press release about the closure Friday night.

The U.S. Park Police and National Park Service have closed the northbound lanes of the George Washington Memorial Parkway from Virginia Route 123, Chain Bridge Road to I-495 the Capital Beltway. The closure began around 6:45 p.m. when a U.S. Park Police officer observed a sinkhole. The northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway will remain closed in that area as engineers and work crews fully assess and repair the road.  Southbound travel lanes remain open.

The National Park Service took this action to ensure public safety, and no accidents have been reported.  Staff have continued to monitor the parkway since March when a sinkhole developed in the same area next to Dead Run.

The George Washington Memorial Parkway is a critical link in the national capital region’s transportation network, and closing it is never a decision that is made lightly. Drivers should follow local news or visit www.nps.gov/GWMP for the latest information.

Map via Google Maps

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Update at 1 p.m. — Arlington County Police have released a crime report with more information on the incident.

ROBBERY, 2019-04210144, 2600 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 5:13 p.m. on April 21, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery that just occurred. A male suspect allegedly entered a business, brandished a firearm, stole an undisclosed amount of cash and personal property from the victims before fleeing the scene. A responding officer observed the suspect vehicle and attempted a traffic stop on I-395 North at Boundary Channel. Once the officer exited his vehicle, the suspect fled the scene and a vehicle pursuit was initiated onto northbound George Washington Parkway. While on the George Washington Parkway, officers observed the suspect vehicle drive on the pedestrian path, turn around and begin driving southbound in the northbound lanes. At that time, the vehicle pursuit was terminated by police. The suspect continued to drive towards the Potomac River, exited the vehicle and attempted to flee the scene on foot. As the vehicle careened into the Potomac River, the suspect entered the water and attempted to swim but was subsequently taken into police custody. The suspect was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Freddie Lee McRae, 33, of Temple Hills, MD, was arrested and charged with Robbery, Felony Eluding, Use of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony and Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon.

Earlier: A robbery along Columbia Pike led to a police pursuit and a crash into the Potomac on Easter Sunday evening.

The incident started around 5:15 p.m. when a man armed with a gun robbed a business on the 2600 block of Columbia Pike — the same block as the CVS and the Domino’s Pizza.

The suspect “fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash” and drove off, but was spotted and pursued by police officers, according to Arlington County Police.

The chase continued to the northbound GW Parkway, where the suspect drove off the side of the road and crashed into the Potomac near I-395.

“Suspect was subsequently taken into police custody and transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” ACPD said. “There are believed to be no outstanding suspects. No other injuries or property damage was reported. Police remain on scene investigating.”

Arlington County Police were assisted by the Arlington County Fire Department, U.S. Park Police, Virginia State Police, D.C. police and the U.S. Coast Guard in the incident and investigation. The northbound GW Parkway was temporarily closed following the crash, according to Arlington Alert.

Photo courtesy John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

GW Parkway ClosureUpdated at 9:15 a.m. — “All lanes of the GW Parkway are now closed during Friday morning’s rush hour due to a large sinkhole that was discovered overnight.” [Tysons Reporter]

HQ2 Impact to Be Bigger Than Expected? — JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and George Mason University’s Stephen S. Fuller both think many are underestimating HQ2’s impact on job creation in the region. [Washington Business JournalWashington Business Journal]

Arlington Gets High Marks for Dog Parks — Arlington is No. 10 on the Trust for Public Land’s ranking of cities with the most dog parks per capita. Arlington has eight dog parks, or 3.5 for every 100,000 residents. D.C. ranked No. 22 on the list. [Trust for Public Land]

Wilson Blvd to Close Again in Ballston — “That stretch of Wilson Boulevard at @BallstonQuarter that’s now closed eastbound on school nights 8pm-6am for 8 weeks? It’ll also be closed both ways this weekend, Friday 8pm to Sunday 6pm. Lots of pedestrian bridge to do.” [Twitter]

Road Closures in N. Arlington — “The Nottingham/Discovery Elementary Schools 5K race will take place on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will close several roads from approximately 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM to accommodate the event.” [Arlington County]

Basketball Fundraiser Tonight — “New Directions High School students will play Arlington County’s heroes — including some of the police department, fire department, probation and prosecutor’s office” tonight at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School to raise money for New Directions. [Twitter]

No Hyperloop for Va. for Now — “Virginia transit officials flew to California to check out Elon Musk’s Boring Co. tunnel. They say they’re gonna stick with traditional roads and railways for now. ‘It’s a car in a very small tunnel.'” [Virginia Mercury, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Crash Closes Part of Parkway — A serious crash has closed the northbound lanes of the GW Parkway between the Daingerfield Island marina and I-395. A crash investigation is underway. [Twitter]

False Report Prompts Big Police Response — “At approximately 2:30 p.m. on March 6, police were dispatched to the report of a man brandishing a firearm in the lobby of” the Days Inn hotel on Arlington Blvd. “The investigation determined that no disturbance had occurred and that the reporting party allegedly had an ongoing dispute with the hotel over a refund. A warrant for Filing a False Police Report was obtained for the suspect.” [Arlington County]

Garage Races Cancelled This Weekend — Updated at 9:35 a.m. — Crystal City’s Crosshairs Garage Races series will continue to bring fearless cyclists and spectators together for races through one of the neighborhood’s sprawling parking garages later this month. This year the series is being held on Saturdays in March, but this weekend’s scheduled races have been canceled due to a water main break. [Crystal City, Twitter]

Local Road Project ‘On the Bubble’ — “With tolls set to begin on Interstate 395 in October and already underway for more than a year on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission is set Thursday to consider the next steps of how to spend part of the money… Arlington County plans for a High Occupancy Vehicle and bus-only lane on Lee Highway in Rosslyn would be on the bubble.” [WTOP]

Remember to ‘Spring Forward’ This Weekend — “On Sunday, March 10, at 2 am, daylight saving time begins. We’ll set our clocks forward one hour, and the change will push sunsets later into the evening hours and sunrises later into the morning hours.” [Vox]

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A driver struck a woman with their car while she was crossing the G.W. Parkway just south of the Arlington Memorial Bridge yesterday (Thursday), in what’s long been a troublesome stretch of road for pedestrians.

The woman was in the middle of a crosswalk just south of the bridge at the time of the incident, according to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado.

The crash happened around 11 a.m. yesterday, and the woman suffered “non-life threatening injuries,” Delgado said.

Police believe that the right lane of traffic had stopped for the woman, but a vehicle in the left lane didn’t, Delgado added. Arlington Fire Department spokesman Ben O’Bryant said the woman was conscious when first responders arrived, and she was transported to a local hospital “in good condition.”

The stretch of the parkway leading up to the bridge has often been the scene of dangerous crashes involving pedestrians. Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012 alone.

Park officials are even in the process of weighing a variety of changes along the parkway and the nearby Memorial Circle to make them a bit safer for pedestrians.

In fact, some of the potential improvements would target crosswalks on the parkway south of the bridge, like making them a bit more visible for drivers or even narrowing the parkway to one lane as it approaches crosswalks.

Photo via Google Maps

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Federal officials think they have a good shot at winning $126 million in grant funds to make a series of badly needed repairs on a long section of the GW Parkway, and Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation is throwing its weight behind the effort.

The National Park Service, which maintains the road, is currently applying for a hefty U.S. Department of Transportation grant to fund rehabilitation work on a roughly eight-mile-long stretch of the parkway, as it runs between the Spout Run Parkway in Rosslyn and I-495. Now, both of Virginia’s senators and three local members of Congress are lending their support to the funding push, in a bid to finally afford some changes on the aging roadway.

“The proposed project will address serious deterioration of the GWMP and implement significant safety improvements,” the lawmakers wrote in a Jan. 8 letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “This project will improve a critical link in the National Capital Region’s transportation network while preserving the historical and cultural characteristics that make the parkway one of the most scenic roadways in the country. These proposed improvements will increase the safety of visitors while significantly extending the life of the parkway.”

Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (both D-Va.) both signed the letter, as did Virginia Reps. Don Beyer (D-8th District) and Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District). Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s lone, non-voting representative in Congress also added her support.

The NPS says the construction work, set to cost about $150 million in all, will start at the parkway’s Spout Run Parkway exit and include:

  • Making drives smoother by replacing the asphalt pavement
  • Replacing guardrails and repairing walls
  • Repairing stormwater management systems to keep excess water from damaging the road
  • Constructing new concrete curbs
  • Rehabilitating parts of two historic, scenic overlooks
  • Lengthening entrance and exit lanes at some interchanges

Officials also hope to use the cash to replace the stormwater drainage grates that line the parkway, which have long made for a bumpy ride for drivers. They’re also envisioning adding four “emergency turnarounds,” in order to allow police to more easily redirect drivers who stop on the road due to a crash or inclement weather.

The construction would also include improvements at the parkway’s interchange with Chain Bridge Road in McLean, like adding a new traffic signal to the area.

The lawmakers note in the letter that this northern stretch of the parkway was first built in 1962, and with more than 33 million vehicles using the road each year, it’s badly deteriorated in the decades since.

The NPS is hoping to win the funding through the Department of Transportation’s “Nationally Significant Federal Land and Tribal Projects” program. In a release, park service officials said they believe the project “will compete well” for cash through that program, given the parkway’s “significance” and the fact that the NPS has already wrapped up schematic design work for the construction.

If all goes well, officials hope to kick off construction sometime next year.

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Transportation officials are proposing a host of safety improvements for Memorial Circle, a confusing confluence of roads connecting Arlington National Cemetery to the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

The circle has long been the site of all manner of dangerous crashes, particularly those involving cyclists and pedestrians looking to access the nearby Mt. Vernon Trail or cross into D.C. But the National Park Service has drawn up a series of changes for the roads in the area designed to address the issue, including traffic pattern changes to transform the circle into something more like a traditional roundabout.

“The project area is at a major convergence of regional roadways and modes that interact through a complex series of roadway merges (on-ramps), weaves, diverges (off-ramps), and intersections, resulting in traffic congestion and crashes,” NPS planners wrote in a November environmental assessment. “The proposed action would change the way area users access and circulate through the area by car, bicycle, or foot.”

Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012. Lawmakers previously secured some safety improvements for the G.W. Parkway and the circle to try to address the issue. The new NPS proposal would address not only the circle itself, but also the roads approaching the area from both the north and south: S. Arlington Blvd and Washington Blvd.

Perhaps the most substantial change park officials are proposing would be cutting back on one lane of traffic in the circle, in order to “allow the circle to function more like a modern roundabout,” the NPS wrote. That means that drivers in the circle would have the right of way, and anyone entering the circle would need to yield to them.

The NPS also plans to split up an island on the east side of the circle, near where it meets the Memorial Bridge, allowing two westbound lanes coming from the bridge to “bypass the circle and head north onto S. Arlington Boulevard” and one lane of traffic to proceed and enter the circle.

For roads north of the circle, officials are proposing some improved signage at the various intersections, including “fluorescent yellow advance pedestrian crossing warning signs” at some and “rapid flashing beacon” signs at others.

But they’re also envisioning more dramatic improvements, like reducing Washington Blvd down to one lane, and removing both the “existing southern exit ramp connecting S. Arlington Blvd and S. Washington Blvd” and “the existing far left exit lane of S. Arlington Blvd.”

As S. Arlington Blvd exits the circle, the NPS also envisions reducing the road from three lanes down to two leading up to the crosswalk. The existing far left lane leading onto a ramp to S. Washington Blvd is slated to be removed, as is the exit ramp itself.

The NPS is planning similar pedestrian sign improvements for intersections south of the circle, as well as other lane reductions.

One major change would be the construction of a new concrete island where Washington Blvd enters the circle to its south, allowing two lanes of the road to bypass the circle and reach the Memorial Bridge, and one lane to enter the circle. That would require a slightly widening of the road in the area, the NPS wrote.

The plans also call for Washington Blvd to be reduced from four lanes to three south of the circle “in order to simplify merging patterns,” while the G.W. Parkway would be widened “to add an acceleration lane allowing traffic from Arlington Blvd to enter the parkway in its own dedicated lane before merging onto the two-lane parkway.”

Additionally, the NPS envisions relocating two bike and pedestrians crossings south of the circle. One, located as a trail crossing Washington Blvd, “would be relocated closer to the Circle, to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross where vehicle speeds are slower and where drivers are anticipating conflicts.” The other, designed to help people cross the parkway to the southeast of the circle, would be moved slightly further north of the parkway.

The NPS traffic analysis of these proposed changes suggest they’d generate “an overall improvement” in congestion on the roads, in addition to substantial safety upgrades.

People in the bicycling community are pretty skeptical of the latter assertion, however.

The NPS is accepting comments on the plans through Dec. 29.

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Morning Notes

County Manager Warns of Tough Upcoming Budget — “Arlington County faces an estimated budget gap of $20-35 million for its 2020 fiscal year, which could require cuts to County services, increased taxes and fees, or a combination of the two. County Manager Mark Schwartz… said that County revenues are forecast to grow by a modest 1.5 percent, while expenditures for the County’s current set of programs are anticipated to grow twice as fast.” [Arlington County, Washington Post]

GW Parkway Rebuild Coming — “Much of the George Washington Parkway will see a complete rebuild in the next few years — and though it’ll surely result in smoother pavement and longer acceleration lanes, good things on the road only come after lengthy closures. An $150 million overhaul of the George Washington Parkway, including a rework of the interchange with Virginia Route 123, is moving forward.” [WTOP]

County: Report Suspicious Activity — Despite some recent pushback on questionable calls to law enforcement, Arlington County is still encouraging citizens to “See Something, Say Something.” Per the county: “Security is a shared responsibility so if you see something out of place, say something by reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement. Arlington County is safer when everyone is engaged and alert.” [Arlington County]

Cops Called on Food Vendor — Someone called police to report a pickup truck that was selling food without a permit on S. Scott Street near Columbia Pike Tuesday morning. The truck may have been delivering food to construction workers. [Twitter]

Crash on Memorial Bridge — A crash blocked two inbound lanes of the Memorial Bridge during this morning’s rush hour, prompting delays for commuters. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Crash Closes Lanes on SB I-395

A crash on southbound I-395 near Arlington Ridge Road temporarily closed the highway.

The crash happened in the usual rainy weather spot — as traffic rounds a curve en route to the Glebe Road and Shirlington exits. All southbound lanes were closed for a period of time, but three lanes have since reopened, with the crash moved over to the right-hand side.

Separately, a crash has been reported on the northbound GW Parkway near Key Bridge and is currently causing “traffic issues,” according to scanner traffic.

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