Another big battle is brewing in Bluemont and this one is not about bocce.
Wilson Blvd was recently repaved and restriped between the Safeway and Bon Air Park, so that instead of four lanes of traffic, it is now has two lanes of traffic, a turn lane and two bike lanes. The change seems to have brought about two separate realities.
To hear one group of residents tell it, traffic is flowing as normal but families can finally walk down the narrow sidewalks along Wilson Blvd without the fear of imminent vehicle-induced death.
To hear the other group tell it, the loss of a lane in each direction is causing a traffic nightmare that’s adding 20-40 minutes to Wilson Blvd commutes during the morning and evening rush hours. Their tales of woe are relatively consistent.
“I had the displeasure of commuting westbound on Wilson Blvd Thursday [May 28] at 6 p.m.,” driver Alexi Bustillo told ARLnow.com via email. “It took me 20 minutes from Glebe and Wilson to Manchester and Wilson (1 mile distance).”
“Morning traffic backs up from the light by Bon Air Park up the hill… with dangerous merging,” said Josh Laughner, via Twitter. It’s “dangerous [because you can’t] see traffic stopped at bottom of [the] hill. At night it’s pretty bad where the merging starts by Pupatella. I never had any backups morning/night when it was two lanes all the way through.”
“The message boards of [the Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods, to the west of the restriping] are full of the comments,” a tipster said. “Many complaints about trip times during morning and evening rush hours taking 20-40 minutes on the stretch between George Mason and Manchester.”
ARLnow.com visited the stretch during a morning and evening rush hour this week and didn’t observe any abnormally heavy traffic. Supporters of the restriping say, essentially, that it’s the answer to their pedestrian prayers and they don’t know what the critics are talking about.
“We are so grateful to Arlington County for these improvements!” said Ed Fendley, co-chair of the Bluemont Civic Association Sidewalk Safety Task Force. “The restriped roadway is working great. Traffic is flowing really well. Fewer drivers are speeding. When I’m driving, it is now easier for me to turn left onto Wilson because I can use the center turn lane to stage my turn.”
“It feels so much safer to walk and bicycle,” Fendley continued. “For the time ever, my kids and I bicycled on Wilson Boulevard to go to La Union restaurant. The road is now safer and more accessible for everyone — just as we had hoped.”
“I just want to say that for the first time in the 23 years I’ve lived on Kensington Street, my family and I have been able to comfortably walk down Wilson Boulevard,” said Chris Healey, Fendley’s co-chair. “I can’t express how great it is to be able to walk to Safeway and the many great neighborhood restaurants and shops without worrying about being clipped by a passing car or bus. This is a giant step toward Bluemont becoming a true community. We look forward to phase two and we are confident that the momentum from the success of this project will take us there sooner rather than later.”
(Phase II of the project, which will take place should the county be satisfied with the flow of traffic and pedestrians on the reconfigured roadway, will include wider sidewalks and other improvements.)
“For the first time in two decades, kids can walk or bike safely to Ashlawn school and the pools on Wilson Blvd,” said Tom Carter, a 21-year Dominion Hills resident. “The walkable, bikeable stretch of Wilson should be extended from Seven Corners to Clarendon. Families should be able to walk and bike through the heart of Arlington.”
(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) This morning’s commute is officially a traffic nightmare for anyone still out on the roads.
The map above shows just how bad traffic is around the region as two and a half inches of slick, powdery snow have fallen. Numerous accidents have been reported around the county as students make their way to school and commuters make their way to work.
Metrobus service has now been limited to snow emergency routes — major roadways only. There is no Metrobus service on secondary streets.
Arlington snow crews so far are only treating primary and secondary roads, not neighborhood streets.
Conditions are bad enough on local roads that we’ve heard of at least one tow truck getting stuck en route to an accident scene An Arlington County Police spokesman, who himself was stuck in heavy traffic having moved only 3 miles in an hour and a half, said officers were doing their best to keep up with all the accidents.
“Obviously traffic is pretty [bad],” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The county’s 911 call center is “getting a steady flow of emergency calls. The majority of calls are for struck vehicles… we’re addressing accidents first, then stuck vehicles.”
Sternbeck noted that the police department has a normal staffing level this morning.
At least one crossing guard has not been able to make it to her post near Jefferson Middle School, but no police officers are available to replace her, according to scanner traffic. At N. McKinkey Road in 9th Street, medics are responding to a crossing guard who slipped, injured her knee and is lying in the middle of the road.
Students are tweeting ARLnow.com saying their buses are running late or are getting stuck. Others say their school bus never showed up at all.
There have been police reports of school buses getting stuck in various locations, including near Oak Ridge Elementary and on 16th Street S. at S. Taylor Street.
The following roads have been closed by police due to cars getting stuck on hills:
- 14th Street N. between Kirkwood and Kenmore
- S. Adams Street between 25th and 26th
- Wilson Blvd at N. Larrimore Street
- 16th Street between Taylor and Stafford
- N. Patrick Henry Drive at 9th
- 8th Road S. at Dinwiddie
- N. McKinley Road north of Wilson Blvd (several accidents reported)
Drivers and residents have been tweeting reports of accidents and stuck vehicles.
— Alana Sawyer (@AlanaSawyerDC) January 6, 2015
— David Kinney (@dnak17) January 6, 2015
— David Kinney (@dnak17) January 6, 2015
— Titoo (@_medinaugly4lif) January 6, 2015
— Titoo (@_medinaugly4lif) January 6, 2015
— JBurd (@jnburd) January 6, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom multiple cars having trouble getting up Wilson Hill in Rosslyn next to Hyatt
— Ben (@WASHDCBEN) January 6, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom art 77 and 16y (and another one) stuck at 6th and courthouse road south.
— C J (@hoborocks) January 6, 2015
avoid s. walter reed drive near shirlington. superman hill is a nightmare @ARLnowDOTcom
— Ashley Goff (@goffashley) January 6, 2015
— regular r (@cybersmell) January 6, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom I have kids who take 3 different APS buses – not one showed up this morning. I've declared our own snow day.
— kc (@klcmurphy) January 6, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom Our officers are working numerous accidents around the County. Drive slowly and seek alt transportation options, if possible.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 6, 2015
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 6, 2015
Trash collection is being delayed until later in the day today, according to the Dept. of Environmental Services.
A “ground stop” was in place for flights at Reagan National Airport for part of the morning. As of 8:50 a.m., the airport said the main runway had been treated and “our operations are back to normal.”
While numerous problems have been reported on the roads, at least one bike trail was well-treated this morning.
— BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) January 6, 2015
— BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) January 6, 2015
The National Weather Service belatedly issued a Winter Storm Warning just after 9:00 a.m.
… WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON…
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR SNOW… WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON. THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.
* PRECIPITATION TYPE… SNOW… HEAVY AT TIMES.
* ACCUMULATIONS… 4 TO 6 INCHES.
* TIMING… UNTIL 1 PM. THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL BE THROUGH 11 AM.
* TEMPERATURES… LOW 20S.
* WINDS… VARIABLE 5 MPH.
* IMPACTS… HEAVY SNOW ACCUMULATING ON ALL SURFACES WELL BELOW FREEZING AND VISIBILITY BELOW HALF MILE WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE FOR VERY HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS.
A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW ARE FORECAST THAT WILL MAKE TRAVEL DANGEROUS. ONLY TRAVEL IN AN EMERGENCY. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL… KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT… FOOD… AND WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.
Anyone who’s driven along Clarendon Blvd near the Whole Foods at 2700 Wilson Blvd knows the grocery store has a tendency to cause minor backups.
This afternoon during the lunch hour, the traffic problems escalated, backing up traffic for several blocks in the area and leading to police being called for traffic control. We’re told backups like this are common around major holidays, like Christmas and New Years.
Part of the problem, according to the responding officers, is cars parking — legally — in pay spots on the left-hand side of Clarendon Blvd between the entrance to Whole Foods and N. Edgewood Street. That causes cars waiting to turn into the store’s parking lot to wait in one of the travel lanes.
At about 1:00 p.m., there were three officers on Clarendon Blvd helping to direct traffic. That helped to clear much of the backed up traffic, which also extended to several side streets.
When asked, two of the officers each said it was far from the worst Whole Foods-caused traffic they had seen in Clarendon.
Four out of ten D.C. area residents — nearly 2.5 million people — are expected to travel 50 miles or more during the 13-day holiday travel period around Christmas and New Year’s, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
That’s up 3.3 percent from 2013.
Most of those travelers will be taking to the roads — 91 percent — while 5 percent will be flying and 4 percent will be traveling via other modes of transportation, AAA said. The busiest day on the roads: today, Dec. 23.
The weather is already making travel more difficult. Departure delays ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours, due to fog, are being reported for flights going to eastern seaboard cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
While the 24th and 25th are expected to be lighter travel days, it’s yet to be seen what impacts the expected wind and rain may have.
Locally, forecasters say to expect the fog to linger through this evening. From the National Weather Service:
… PATCHY DENSE FOG INTO EARLY AFTERNOON…
PATCHY DENSE FOG WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOP ACROSS PORTIONS OF EASTERN AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA LATE THIS MORNING. LOW CLOUDS ACROSS THE AREA WILL CONTINUE TO LOWER IN HEIGHT TOWARD THE SURFACE… REDUCING VISIBILITIES TO NEAR OR BELOW A QUARTER MILE IN LOCALIZED AREAS.
IF TRAVELING… USE EXTRA CAUTION AND BE PREPARED FOR QUICKLY REDUCED VISIBILITIES IN FOG.
Photo courtesy @SBDSLLC
Arlington Ridge Road is closed between I-395 and 20th Street S. tonight due to a water main break.
Crews are currently digging up a portion of the road near the Hume School in an effort to repair the water main. The closure is expected to remain in effect through the evening rush hour.
Traffic is backed up on I-395 approaching the Ridge Road exit. Drivers attempting to head south on Arlington Ridge Road from Army Navy Drive are being directed onto I-395.
Wizards Practice Facility in Arlington? — There’s a potential plan for a Washington Wizards basketball practice facility in Arlington, reports NBC4’s Mark Segraves. However, the more likely plan for the practice facility is for it to be built in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis also owns the Washington Capitals, which has a practice facility at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. [NBC Washington]
Arlington Warns of ‘Potential Severe Traffic’ — Arlington County is warning residents about “potential severe traffic” today due to the massive crowds expected for the Concert for Valor on the National Mall, along with Metrorail service changes and numerous road closures in D.C. that are in place for the Veterans Day event.
Cherrydale Abuzz Over Sound Check — The Cherrydale community email listserv was “going crazy with complaints about the sound check” for the Concert for Valor last night, a tipster tells ARLnow.com. We’re told the neighborhood could hear bass and feel vibrations from the sound check. “One person reported that the Arlington County police were getting so many calls they were telling people to call the D.C. police who then told people to call [U.S.] Park Police,” the tipster said.
Cost of Thanksgiving Dips in Va. — Virginia families will save about $5 per person this year on Thanksgiving dinner thanks to lower food prices, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. [InsideNova]
Lyon Park ‘Sewer Justice’ Petition — A group called Arlingtonians for Sewer Justice — which represents 11 Lyon Park households that are being compelled to pay $10,000-20,000 for a new sewer connection because the county says it will no longer maintain a failing, private sewer line behind their homes — has created a new petition. The petition, which has so far gathered 95 supporters, calls for Arlington County to pay for the upkeep of privately owned sewer lines via a bond referendum. [Change.org]
Flickr pool photo by Ian Livingston
From this Thursday, Nov. 6, to Nov. 24, officers will be assigned to special safety details at the intersections of Wilson Blvd and Lee Highway with N. Lynn Street.
The Wilson-Lynn intersection has been a source of major headaches during rush hours thanks to the ongoing construction along N. Lynn Street with the Central Place project. The backups have led to some drivers not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, and the ACPD is responding with the new enforcement campaign.
The Lynn Street and Lee Highway intersection, nicknamed the “Intersection of Doom,” has for years been a dangerous place for pedestrians and bicyclists because of vehicles exiting from I-66 to the Key Bridge intermingling with users of the Custis and Mount Vernon trails.
Police say they plan to ticket pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers who violate traffic and jaywalking laws.
“Officers will ticket motorists who violate traffic laws or do not yield for pedestrians in crosswalks,” according to a police press release. “In addition, pedestrians will be cited for jaywalking. Public Service Aides will hand out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who commute through these busy intersections.”
The enforcement campaign will begin from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and noon to 1:00 p.m. on Thursday and continue on weekdays until the Nov. 24, the Monday before Thanksgiving. The pedestrian safety campaign, part of the region’s Street Smart campaign, is designed to inform motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians that 25 percent of traffic deaths in the D.C. region are bikers and walkers, nearly 90 deaths per year.
Traffic is a nightmarish in Rosslyn tonight (Friday) — at least for those heading through the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Lynn Street.
Due to lane closures from utility work and the on-going Central Place construction project, Lynn Street — which is often traffic-clogged even without construction — is down to one lane just before 19th Street. That led to major backups on Lynn Street, which led to backups on Wilson Blvd due to cars repeatedly “blocking the bock” in the intersection.
There was at least one minor accident at the intersection, reports of drivers getting in fights and frequent sounds of horns blaring.
At one point, a Arlington County police officer showed up and parked in the intersection, stopping traffic from blocking the box. However, the officer left after less than 15 minutes, allowing the bad driver behavior to continue unabated. Police were dispatched again to the intersection a half hour later, after receiving “multiple calls” from citizens.
Though especially bad tonight, the traffic problems in the intersection are frequent. Central Place construction has had Lynn Street traffic down to two lanes during most rush hours the past couple of weeks, leading to frequent backups and flared tempers.
The left two lanes of the bridge were blocked by the accident, though as of 8:05 a.m. only one lane remained closed.
In addition to the traffic crawling on northbound I-395, heavy traffic could be seen approaching the 14th Street Bridge from the north and the south on the George Washington Parkway.
Traffic on eastbound I-66, meanwhile, was relatively clear through Arlington until the Rosslyn tunnel.
Today Is Terrible Traffic Tuesday — AAA Mid-Atlantic has again dubbed today Terrible Traffic Tuesday. With vacations over and kids back in school, rush hour trips are expected to increase in length by 26 percent today, on average. Washington, the auto club says, has the worst rush hour traffic in the nation. [AAA Mid-Atlantic]
Fairfax School May Be Model for Arlington — Fairfax County unveiled a new five-story urban-style elementary school, with tech-laden and light-filled classrooms. The school, in the Seven Corners area, may be a model for a future school in Arlington, which is struggling to find enough open space for new schools. [InsideNova]
Shuttleworth Wins Pie-Eating Contest — Bowen Shuttleworth, the son of former Congressional candidate Bruce Shuttleworth and an emerging track champ, emerged victorious in the pie-eating contest (photo, above) at the annual Arlington County Democratic Committee Labor Day chili cookoff on Monday. The cookoff itself was interrupted by thunderstorms.
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
The accident happened in the mainline lanes near King Street just before 5:00 p.m. Medics are reportedly evaluating two people: a pregnant woman and a person with a head injury.
Currently, three lefthand lanes are blocked by the emergency response. Traffic is backing up just past the Pentagon.
(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Traffic on eastbound I-66 was backed up to the Beltway this morning due to roadway damage on the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.
A photo sent to ARLnow.com from an I-66 commuter shows a section of roadway that has sunk a foot or more, creating a large gap. The damage is located on the east end of the bridge at the E Street exit, we’re told. In a tweet, DDOT says one lane is closed as a result.
That lane closure is causing big problems: even at 10:30 a.m. traffic on eastbound I-66 was very slow inside the Beltway, which in turn caused backups on Arlington arterial roadways that lead to the highway.
DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders says the damage was caused by a “utility cut in the roadway.” As of 5:30 p.m., DDOT had installed metal plates over the damaged section.
(Updated at 9:35 a.m.) Traffic on northbound I-395 is slow from the Beltway to Arlington due to an accident involving a truck near the Pentagon.
A truck slammed into the jersey wall and a light pole in main line northbound lanes, just before the 14th Street Bridge. Crews are working to get the truck down from the jersey wall.
Two lanes are blocked as a result of the accident.
Morning rush hour traffic on Columbia Pike has gone from bad to worse thanks to a new traffic pattern at the Washington Boulevard interchange, drivers tell us.
Two weeks ago VDOT, as part of its Route 27/244 interchange project, altered the traffic pattern for vehicles heading eastbound on Columbia Pike. Drivers heading toward northbound I-395 now have to turn left at the traffic signal on S. Quinn Street, whereas before northbound and southbound traffic could both take the right-hand ramp that also leads to southbound I-395.
Last week, one reader told us the new traffic pattern was a “disaster,” with eastbound Pike traffic backed up to S. Courthouse Road at 7:45 a.m. Today (Wednesday), another reader said that traffic was backed up to S. Walter Reed Drive at 8:15 a.m.
“That is absolutely ridiculous,” said Thierry Driscoll, a Pike commuter who now uses S. Courthouse Road as a shortcut to Washington Boulevard. “There are cars backed up in the left lane of Columbia Pike waiting to take a left onto the Washington Blvd access ramp, but cannot because the access ramp is full.”
“There is no excuse for such a boneheaded design,” he continued. “This new pattern has inconvenienced a lot of people.”
VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord says the current traffic pattern is temporary and will be in place for another 8-12 months while new ramps are built.
“We realize it’s slower for drivers trying to get to I-395N since they have to yield to the oncoming traffic,” she said. “Our folks… added as much time as possible to the left-turn signal” to alleviate some of the traffic.
“No more significant changes” are planned, said McCord. She advised using S. Glebe Road as a possible alternate route to I-395 for those heading from western portions of Columbia Pike.
Nearly 2.4 million people, or about 41 percent of the metro region’s population, are expected to travel 50 miles or more during the time period from this Saturday, December 21, through Wednesday, January 1. That’s a small increase of 0.1 percent over last year. This will be the fifth consecutive year for such an increase, and the highest recorded travel volume for the winter holiday season.
“Unfortunately, a number of Washingtonians sat out three of the first four holiday travel periods of the year as an upshot of all the political drama in the nation’s capital and the economic stress it engendered. But they will not be denied nor deny themselves or their families during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel period,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.
Air travel is expected to slightly decline to 129,300 travelers, compared with 130,400 last year. The number of people traveling by train or bus is also down this year, by about two percent. Automobile travel, however, is expected to increase by 0.3 percent, to more than 2.1 million people.
D.C. metro area residents plan on traveling an average of 965 miles for the holidays. That’s up from 805 miles last year.