Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Incubator Leaving Crystal City — “Startup incubator 1776 plans to open its new D.C. location this year and will ultimately shut down its Crystal City location. 1776 spokesman Lucas McCanna said the company will relocate to ‘the general McPherson Square area,’ but declined to give a specific address.” [Washington Business Journal]

AAA: Worst Times for Independence Day Travel — “Holiday travelers hailing from the area will face absolute gridlock along key freeway segments starting [today], July 3. Topping the list of the worst corridors for those departing Wednesday, July 3, is Interstate 270 northbound.” [Press Release]

Arlington County Holiday Closures — All Arlington County government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be closed Thursday for the Independence Day holiday, though trash and recycling will still be collected. Also, “metered parking is not enforced but street parking near the US Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima), Long Bridge Park, and the Air Force Memorial will be restricted. Motorists should look for temporary ‘No Parking’ signs.” [Arlington County]

Memorial Bridge Closed to Pedestrians — In addition to other July 4 road closures around Arlington, Memorial Bridge will be closed to both vehicles and pedestrians throughout the day Thursday. [Twitter, National Park Service]

ART Bus Holiday Schedule — “ART will operate holiday service on Thursday, July 4, 2019, in observance of Independence Day. ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 will operate on Sunday schedules. All other ART routes will not operate and the ART customer call center will be closed.” [Arlington Transit]

Superintendent Search May Be Drawn Out — “Arlington’s new School Board chair, who will be focused in coming months on the selection of a new superintendent, asked for patience in the community as the process plays out. ‘Finding the right leader and the best fit for our community will take time,’ Tannia Talento said July 1 as she rotated in as chair of the School Board for the coming year.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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The video (below) was jarring: cars driving through muddy flood waters that nearly reached the tops of tires.

Even more jarring: this was happening along busy Columbia Pike, a route not noted for being flood-prone, during the evening rush hour.

The scene yesterday evening was captured on video by a passerby, showing floodwaters inundating a low-lying section of the Pike near S. Greenbrier Street. As commenters pointed out this morning, driving through flooded roads is a bad idea, but despite repeated reminders to “turn around, don’t drown,” drivers continue willfully operating their vehicles as if they were hovercraft.

(A spokesman with Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services tells ARLnow the department is still investigating the flooding and “looking into whether there were any construction-related obstructions in the storm sewer inlets.”)

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage this morning offered the following tips for driving during heavy rain and potential flooding situations.

Residents are reminded to:

  • Sign up for Arlington Alert to receive emergency notifications including severe weather alerts.
  • Whenever possible, limit travel during times of severe weather.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast.
  • It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters. If you see a flooded roadway, seek an alternative route.
  • According to the National Weather Service, 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. Play it safe, Turn Around Don’t Drown.
  • If you see a hazard, report to the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Those tips may come in handy tonight. A Flash Flood Watch is set to take effect at 2 p.m. From the National Weather Service:

…FLASH FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 11 PM EDT THIS EVENING… * THUNDERSTORMS WITH HEAVY RAINFALL ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ACROSS THE WATCH AREA THIS AFTERNOON AND LINGER INTO THE EVENING. LOCALIZED RAINFALL TOTALS OF SEVERAL INCHES ARE POSSIBLE. THIS COULD LEAD TO FLASH FLOODING, ESPECIALLY IN THE URBAN AREAS. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A FLASH FLOOD WATCH MEANS THAT CONDITIONS MAY DEVELOP THAT LEAD TO FLASH FLOODING. FLASH FLOODING IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION. YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS BE ISSUED. &&

The video from last night’s flooding is below.

Photo via Becky Haberacker/Twitter

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Police and firefighters are on scene of a major crash at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road.

The westbound lanes of Columbia Pike and at least one northbound lane of Glebe are blocked by the crash and the emergency activity. Drivers should expect significant evening rush hour traffic impacts in the area.

Initial reports suggest three vehicles were involved and at least two people were injured, one of whom suffered serious injuries and was rushed to a local trauma center.

Photos (1, 2) courtesy @LAGATAF1NA/Twitter

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Update at 5 p.m. — All lanes of the Beltway have reopened, though residual delays remain.

Earlier: A crash has closed most lanes of the Beltway near S. Van Dorn Street in Fairfax County, creating yet another traffic mess in Northern Virginia.

A truck crash and subsequent fire led to the complete closure of the Beltway just before 2 p.m. today. Since then, a single lane of traffic has reopened on the Inner Loop and two lanes have reopened on the Outer Loop.

Virginia State Police say they’re investigating the crash, which involved a truck carrying insulation:

At 1:38 p.m. Thursday (April 4, 2019), Virginia State Police responded to an overturned tractor-trailer in the westbound lanes of I-495 at the 172 mile marker in Fairfax County. The impact of the crash caused the vehicle to catch fire. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured in the crash. The tractor-trailer’s load is insulation, which is not deemed as a hazardous material. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Motorists are advised to plan ahead and avoid travel through this particular area. State police, VDOT and Fairfax Fire and EMS are on scene.

The crash could have major traffic implications into the evening rush hour. WMATA has already announced that it will run additional Blue Line trains to help.

The situation is reminiscent of last week’s Beltway crash that shut down the Inner Loop just before the American Legion Bridge, sending tens of thousands of commuters trying to get to Maryland and D.C. into Arlington.

Thus far, traffic impacts in Arlington do not appear to be nearly as severe, although as of 3:45 p.m. delays on northbound I-395 heading into D.C. were starting to extend past Pentagon City.

More via social media:

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(Updated at 9:45 p.m.) Traffic throughout Arlington has reached apocalyptic levels as the closure of the Beltway’s Inner Loop continues well into the night.

Shortly before 2 p.m., a tanker truck overturned as part of a multi-vehicle crash just prior the American Legion Bridge. The cleanup from the crash and the hazmat response from a fuel spill prompted the complete closure of I-495 northbound before the bridge, sending tens of thousands of drivers bound for Maryland and D.C. into Arlington to try to make it across the remaining Potomac bridges.

In Fairfax County, that has meant gridlock on main eastbound arteries like Chain Bridge Road and Georgetown Pike. In Arlington, it has resulted in the following almost unthinkable traffic scenarios as of 9 p.m. on an otherwise clear and calm day:

  • Both directions of I-66 are jammed between Glebe Road and the Roosevelt Bridge.
  • Northbound N. Glebe Road is a virtual parking lot for more than two miles from just past Washington Golf and Country Club to Chain Bridge. The backups have been getting longer as the night goes on.
  • Northbound Military Road is a solid line of traffic from Zachary Taylor Park to the Glebe Road on-ramp. Police have shut down access to the road at Nelly Custis Drive, according to a tipster.
  • Side streets in the Old Glebe neighborhood are filled with cars attempting to find shortcuts.
  • Eastbound Route 50 is “in gridlock from Pershing Drive.”
  • Numerous highway on-ramps throughout Arlington have been closed by police to try to control traffic.
  • Eastbound Lee Highway is backed up to the MOM’s Organic Market.
  • Multiple intersections in Rosslyn are reported to be near-gridlock near Key Bridge, with police on scene directing traffic.
  • Northbound I-395 is crawling past Pentagon City.

The Inner Loop remains completely closed and is expected to remain closed until midnight or later.

The nightmare traffic has led to hours in the car for commuters and some frayed nerves. Police have responded to numerous reports of road rage incidents, as well as crashes on traffic-clogged streets.

More from social media:

Maps via Google Maps

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Drivers should expect police activity along I-395 and the GW Parkway following a reported multi-vehicle crash and police foot chase.

A suspect ran from the five-vehicle crash along northbound I-395 near the 14th Street Bridge, according to scanner traffic. He was reportedly apprehended by police along the GW Parkway.

Traffic is heavy and building approaching the crash scene. Two northbound lanes are blocked. Police are also planning a rolling closure on southbound I-395 to assist with the investigation.

At least one injury was reported in the crash.

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After a day of nervous anticipation that saw most schools and government facilities close early today, the snow is now here — and so is the traffic.

Very heavy traffic has been reported on I-395, Washington Blvd and parts of the GW Parkway, as long as in the Rosslyn area, as commuters try to get home early before the streets turn slippery.

As of 4 p.m., large flakes were falling outside of ARLnow’s office in Ballston, while grassy areas in the neighborhood were starting to turn white. Roadways, however, are mostly wet — but falling temperatures threaten to turn wet roads icy tonight.

Arlington County crews have started treating roads with salt and expect to continue a “full storm” response through at least Wednesday night.

“Prepare for a slow Wednesday morning” commute, said Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services.

Map (top) via Google Maps

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It’s one of the busiest travel days of the year and a big crash is making it worse for those heading to or from Reagan National Airport.

The crash involved a vehicle that hopped the guardrail along a bridge that connects the airport and Route 1, coming to rest with its rear wheels in the air and smoke coming from its engine compartment. The access road — known as Route 233 — was blocked for a period of time by the police and fire department response, leaving the GW Parkway as the only way to access the airport.

As of 2:30 p.m., at least one eastbound lane had reopened. A traffic map shows heavy traffic on both the Route 233 airport access road and the access road leading from the southbound GW Parkway, with slow extending onto the parkway itself.

Update at 2:55 p.m. — All lanes of the access road have reopened.

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Morning Notes

Christmas Travel Crunch Starts Today — “A record number of people are expected to travel this Christmas season, spurred on by economic comfort and relatively modest gas prices… This year INRIX, a traffic data firm, has forecast the very worst time for drivers to set out on the highways, and for the Washington region, that’s five days before Christmas, on Dec. 20, between 1:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.” [Washington Post]

County Manager Pans ART Service — “‘The ART bus performance, recently, stinks,’ Mark Schwartz said during a meeting with Arlington County Civic Federation delegates… In the second quarter of 2018, on-time performance dropped to 83 percent from 92 percent a year before, according to data provided to the county government’s Transit Advisory Committee. Ridership in that quarter was down 14 percent from a year before.” [InsideNova]

Free ART Rides Today and Tomorrow — “Free ART rides on Thurs. December 20 & Fri. December 21. Everyone rides for free! Happy holidays and thank you for riding ART!” [Twitter]

Small Fire in Under-Construction Home — “ACFD is on the scene of a small trash fire at an under-construction home near Discovery Elementary and Williamsburg Middle School.” [Twitter]

Ballston Company Announces New Funding — “Acendre, a leader in secure, cloud-based talent management software for regulated industry verticals, today announced a majority growth investment from Strattam Capital. The investment will enable Acendre to accelerate its growth and more quickly advance its innovative, easy-to-use Software as a Service (SaaS) talent management platform, which helps organizations solve some of today’s most challenging hiring problems.” [Acendre]

Amazon Joins Arlington Chamber — “Amazon.com Inc. has agreed to join the Greater Washington Hispanic and Arlington chambers of commerce and could join more in the region in 2019… The e-commerce giant formally joined the 760-member Arlington chamber on Dec. 3. and subsequently sent a senior public policy official to its annual meeting on Dec. 7, said Kate Bates, chamber president.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Georgetown Wawa Opening Today — “What an exciting couple of days this week will bring, for fans of hoagies and tacos and caffeine and alcohol-infused frozen Pepsi products. Wawa announced Monday it will open its second D.C. location Thursday, in Georgetown at 1222 Wisconsin Ave. NW. As usual, the event will feature free coffee and a sampling of Wawa fare, in addition to a ‘Georgetown-inspired beverage.'” [WTOP]

Nearby: D.C. Population Breaks 700K — “Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released new official population numbers that put the District’s population at 702,455 as of July 1, 2018. The District’s population has risen every year since 2006 and has soared by more than 100,000 people since the 2010 Census.” [PoPville]

Flickr pool photo by Maryland Nomadic

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(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Arlington County police and medics have responded to Clarendon after a promotion for free cheesecake got out of control.

Police were called to the area of the Cheesecake Factory at 2900 Clarendon Blvd earlier today for a report of a large crowd and heavy traffic in the area. Around 1 p.m., another dispatch went out for a fight in progress at the restaurant, though officers did not find an active fight when they arrived.

The culprit: the Cheesecake Factory is giving away free slices of cheesecake in honor of its 40th anniversary, but only to those who order on Doordash. The result, according to an Arlington County Police spokeswoman: an unruly crowd of delivery drivers inside the restaurant, trying to pick up orders, and a rash of double parking around the Clarendon area.

The scene was “a little hectic” and officers were working to bring order and “calm the situation down,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.com.

During the fracas, according to Savage, one person refused police commands to leave the restaurant and a struggle with officers ensued. That person was arrested and is expected to be charged with disorderly conduct, Savage said. He requested to be transported to a local hospital by medics for evaluation of possible injuries.

Here is what the Cheesecake Factory said about the promotion on its website:

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, on December 5th only starting at 11:30AM local time, we’re giving away 40,000 FREE slices* of cheesecake! Get a free slice* of cheesecake when you order delivery through DoorDash! Use promo code FREESLICE at checkout. Get it while you can because an offer this sweet won’t last long!

As an added bonus, DoorDash is offering $0 delivery fee** on all of The Cheesecake Factory delivery orders from December 5 – 11! No promo code needed!

There are social media reports that the promotion has caused chaotic scenes at other Cheesecake Factories across the country.

Later Wednesday afternoon, photos and video emerged on Twitter that appeared to show the arrest and some of the chaos inside the restaurant.

https://twitter.com/pat_patsy_cake/status/1070411021305688066

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Morning Notes

Reminder: Yellow Line Shutdown Starts Today — There will be no Yellow Line service today through Sunday, Dec. 9 as Metro works to repair the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac. Yellow Line riders can instead take the Blue Line and/or free shuttle service. [ARLnow, Twitter]

New ‘Clarendon Circle’ Traffic Restriction — Work on improvements to the busy “Clarendon Circle” intersection are underway and have resulted in at least one traffic pattern change. During construction, drivers will not be allowed to make the “tricky” left from eastbound Washington Blvd to Clarendon Blvd, and will instead have to follow a detour via N. Kirkwood Road. [Twitter, Arlington County]

Civ Fed Prepares Tree Canopy Resolution — “The Arlington County Civic Federation in December will weigh in on the development plan of Upton Hill Regional Park and, more broadly, on Arlington government policies on retaining or removing trees during redevelopment on public land. A resolution demanding a temporary halt to current development plans at Upton Hill was introduced at the Civic Federation’s Nov. 13 meeting and will be debated and voted on Dec. 4.” [InsideNova]

Minor Bluemont House Fire — Firefighters extinguished an out-of-control fire in the fireplace of a Bluemont house Saturday night. No injuries were reported but the home, on the 900 block of N. Frederick Street, suffered some smoke damage. [Twitter, Twitter]

Another Traffic Nightmare at DCA — As if the gridlock caused by the Veterans Day shutdown of the National Airport Metro station wasn’t bad enough, the traffic nightmare repeated itself Sunday evening, during one of the busiest travel days of the year. Some drivers reported spending hours trying to get to and from the airport. [NBC Washington, Twitter]

CBS Looks at Clarendon’s Vpoint Apartments — On Saturday morning, CBS News took a close look at the vPoint affordable housing project in Clarendon. The project, which converted a stand-alone church to a combination worship space and apartment building, is potentially a model for other communities struggling with affordable housing. At the time, however, the redevelopment faced lawsuits and other community opposition. [YouTube]

Amazon News Roundup — Arlington saw only modest successes in its quest to pitch itself as a tech hub over the past few years, but Amazon’s arrival changes that narrative in a big way. That said, half of the jobs Amazon brings to Arlington will be non-technical. Meanwhile, Amazon may benefit lower-income residents in New York City more than in Arlington, as subcontractors in New York will be subject to the state’s $15 per hour minimum wage; Virginia’s minimum wage is currently the federal $7.25 per hour minimum. And Nashville, some say, will be the biggest winner in terms of Amazon’s new presence boosting the local commercial real estate market.

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