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Morning Notes

Local Teacher Finalist in TV Contest — From Stacey Finkel, Kenmore Middle School PTA President: “Eurith Bowen, Functional Life Skills teacher at Kenmore Middle School, has been named a finalist for LIVE with Kelly and Ryan’s Top Teacher search. Eurith Bowen is a phenomenal educator who teaches from her heart, and has inspired an entire community to embrace students in a very special way. Eurith teaches students who are identified as having disabilities.” [Live with Kelly and Ryan]

Bridge Repair Work Underway — “Work is underway to rehabilitate the North Glebe Road (Route 120) bridge over Pimmit Run, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation… This summer, North Glebe Road between Military Road and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) will be closed for about nine days to efficiently replace the bridge deck and beams.” [VDOT]

Most Choosing In-Person Learning in Fall — From Superintendent Francisco Durán: “Based on preliminary results from the family selection process, an overwhelming number of families are choosing to return in person in the fall… Previous communications stated that we are planning for both normal capacities as well as developing contingency plans should 3-foot distancing be recommended; however, we want to be transparent that 3-foot distancing is not feasible with the enrollment we are anticipating.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Masks for Youth Sports Questioned — “An Arlington County softball dad created a petition to take on the county’s school system on sports and mask mandates. The school system’s spokesperson sent FOX 5 an emailed response on Tuesday, affirming student athletes will be required to wear masks during competition until the end of the school year… Nearly 300 people have signed the petition made for 500 signatures, calling for the Arlington County Public School’s Superintendent to drop the youth sport mask mandate.” [Fox 5]

Milk Spills into Stream from I-395 — “If you see a white substance in Long Branch Creek, don’t have a cow – it’s just spilled milk, according to the Arlington Fire Department. The department said an incident on Interstate 395 led to a milk truck leaking ‘approximately 50 gallons.’ According to a tweet, that milk has made it into Long Branch Creek near South Troy Street.” [WJLA, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

APS to Offer Coronavirus Testing — “Beginning the week of April 19, APS will begin providing free medical testing for students and staff who are symptomatic, or who have been exposed to COVID-19. Walk-up testing will be conducted after school hours with parent/guardian consent. Walk-up testing sites at Glebe Elementary, Kenmore Middle and Wakefield High Schools provide trained staff to assist in mid-nasal swab testing using the RT-PCR test after school hours.” [Arlington Public Schools]

New DCA Concourse Opening Next Week — “The shuttle buses will soon be relocated to Philadelphia. And the air stairs, no more. After nearly 25 years, officials at Reagan National Airport on Thursday unveiled a much-anticipated addition, a sleek 14-gate concourse that will mark the end of operations of the much-maligned Gate 35X. American Airlines will begin service Tuesday out of the new concourse.” [Washington Post, NBC 4, DCist]

New Concessions Coming to DCA — Timber Pizza Co. and Peet’s Coffee are among the new food and drink options coming to National Airport and its new concourse. [Twitter, Twitter]

Group Rallies for Affordable Housing –“I’m at a rally hosted by the ACE Collaborative, community organizers who work with Asian American residents in Arlington. They’re in [Pentagon City] this evening, asking the county to take steps to end displacement as rents rise. In the immediate term, the group is calling for the county to add $8 million to its housing grant program in the next budget.” [Twitter]

Car Fire on GW Parkway — “ACFD is on scene of a vehicle fire on the GW Parkway near Spout Run. The vehicle is fully engulfed in flames, per the first arriving firefighters.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Animal Control Saves Turtle — “We need to thank Officer Davis for helping this snapping turtle, who was trying to cross I-395 during rush hour. Thankfully, she was able to safely remove him, bring him to the shelter for a check-up, and then release him back into the wild where he belongs!” [Twitter]

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An I-395 ramp near the 14th Street Bridge is blocked due to an overturned vehicle.

The reported two-vehicle crash happened around 11 a.m. on the ramp from northbound I-395 to Memorial Bridge, just before the 14th Street Bridge.

Initial reports suggest that an SUV and another vehicle collided, sending the former careening off the road, winding up on its roof next to a stand of trees. So far, no serious injuries have been reported.

As of just before 11:30 a.m., the ramp and all but one lane of northbound I-395 is blocked by emergency activity. Drivers should expect the ramp to remain closed for an extended period of time, as well as backups heading into D.C. on I-395.

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(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) All lanes of northbound I-395 between Edsall Road and D.C. were shut down this morning for a funeral procession.

The body of fallen United States Capitol Police Officer William Evans was escorted to the U.S. Capitol, where he is set to lie in honor in the Rotunda.

Evans was killed on April 2 when a man intentionally rammed his car into a Capitol security barrier. He is the second officer to lie in honor at the Rotunda this year, after U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was killed as a result of the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol.

Arlington County’s emergency management office said this morning that northbound I-395 will be temporarily closed, for a period of time between about 9:45-10:45 a.m. Arlington police are assisting with the escort.

“Please seek alternative routes,” the county said.

Last week another large law enforcement procession escorted Evans’ body from the D.C. medical examiner’s office to a funeral home in Falls Church, via I-66.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Rosslyn Dog Park Now Open — “Thanks to the support of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and R-DOGS, there’s a new interim dog park on the western side of Gateway Park. Now that’s something to bark about!” [Arlington County, Instagram]

Arlingtonian Confirmed as U.N. Ambassador — “The Senate voted 78-20 on Tuesday to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.” The long-time Arlington resident “has promised to restore the U.S. role as a defender of human rights and will look to repair multilateral relationships that fractured under former President Trump.” [Axios]

Crashes on I-395 Yesterday Morning — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “The units from Station 9C ran a three vehicle accident early this morning on 395NB. Upon arrival, they discovered a trapped patient who was quickly extricated. Two patients were treated and transported with non-life threatening injuries.” [Twitter, WUSA 9]

YHS Students to Continue Athletics in College — “A dozen Yorktown High School athletes participated in recent college signing ceremonies to continue their playing careers at the next level.” [InsideNova]

Local Woman Sickened By New Puppy — “An Arlington mother and daughter are warning those interested in purchasing a new pet about a disease called campylobacter. Audrey Glitt was thrilled when her mother, Katrina Metzler, brought home a new puppy named Fernweh as a surprise — but shortly after the dog’s arrival, the excitement quickly faded to worry. ‘I think it was about, a week later after we had gotten her, I started getting really sick and I couldn’t get out of bed,’ said Glitt.” [WDVM]

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A number of major changes are coming to Boundary Channel Drive and the I-395 interchange near Crystal City.

The modifications include a shared-use walkway, pedestrian and bicycle access to the yet-to-open Long Bridge aquatics center, and reduction of four lanes to two.

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board voted to endorse the $20.4 million Virginia Department of Transportation project. It was part of the consent agenda, meaning they are non-controversial and can be acted upon by a single vote.

“We’ve long sought these improvements,” said County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti at the meeting. “They will reconfigure the interchange that you see to make it work a lot better and safer for everyone.”

Major components include adding roundabouts on each side, as well as building a 12 foot shared path that connects to the Mount Vernon Trail, the Long Bridge Park esplanade, and a new loop that goes around the aquatics center. Also along Boundary Channel Drive, there’ll be 8 foot wide sidewalks, landscaping, crosswalks, and street lighting.

A public hearing was held in November where, according to the county report, the public “expressed strong support for the project.”

Much of the feedback revolved around the shared-use path, making sure it was wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists safely. There were also a number of comments about the crosswalks and proposed safety measures.

The project is funded by a combination of state, federal, regional, and county money. Construction is expected to start in spring 2022 and be completed in fall 2023.

Construction of the Long Bridge Park Fitness and Aquatic Center, meanwhile, is still expected wrap up later this year, according to the county website. The upcoming FY 2022 county budget will decide when it ultimately opens to the public.

Image via VDOT

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Arlington is continuing its final preparations for a presidential inauguration unlike any other.

In wake of the U.S. Capitol riots and a still-raging pandemic (though, cases are currently on a downward trajectory), tomorrow’s inauguration of President Joe Biden will be a scaled-down and highly militarized affair.

A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. are either completely shut down or have significantly altered traffic patterns.

Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. D.C.-bound lanes on the Roosevelt Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to a Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of D.C. road closures.

Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Road/MacArthur Blvd, according to the advisory.

Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland. Despite the unprecedented bridge closures today, traffic on N. Glebe Road leading to Chain Bridge appeared little changed from a typical weekday, suggesting that between the pandemic and the inauguration many would-be commuters were staying at home.

Traffic on the Key Bridge was heavy this morning (as seen in the photo above), as was the traffic being diverted from the 14th Street Bridge.

The county is advising residents to use the live cameras that are set up to monitor traffic.

On Friday, a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers said that this inauguration “will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history” and local law enforcement is trying to have a response “that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far.”

Reiterating previous statements, the Arlington County Police Department says there will be an increased “visible and non-visible” police presence in the county tomorrow. ACPD also remains in contact with neighboring law enforcement agencies about changing information and intelligence.

At this time, there are still no known threats to Arlington County, and the department still hasn’t committed to providing resources outside of the county on Inauguration Day, per ACPD spokesperson Ashley Savage.

Newly unsealed court documents, meanwhile, reveal that members of Oath Keepers militia, a far-right extremist group currently being investigated by the FBI, booked rooms for January 5 to 7 at the Comfort Inn hotel in Ballston, ahead of the January 6 storming of the Capitol.

In a Facebook message referenced in the documents, a Oath Keepers member said that the location would allow them to “hunt at night.”

Earlier this month, Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti told ARLnow that the county was aware of at least one local hotel hosting Trump supporters. The situation was monitored, he said, but no behavior there rose to a level of concern at the time.

ARLnow contacted Comfort Inn and was told by an hotel employee that management “definitely does not want to comment” on the allegations included in the documents.

We also have reached out to the hotel’s parent company Choice Hotels, but have yet to hear back as of publication time.

Jo DeVoe contributed to this report.

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(Updated on 1/17/21) A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. across the Potomac River are closing due to presidential inauguration security measures.

Virginia State Police is working with the United States Secret Service to close Roosevelt Bridge, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, the I-395 Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge starting Tuesday morning through Thursday at 6 a.m., according to a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers.

The Arlington Memorial Bridge closed Friday night but then reopened, according to news reports. The HOV span of the 14th Street Bridge was set to close Saturday morning until Thursday, according to the Secret Service, but was open as of noon on Saturday.

Those closures would leave the Key Bridge in Rosslyn and the Chain Bridge from N. Glebe Road as the main routes from Arlington into the District for two days.

“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history. We worked together to push for a response that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far,” reads the lawmakers’ statement.

It was issued by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, and Jennifer Wexton.

“It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum,” the lawmakers added. “All of us want the transfer of power to be as peaceful as possible, and we thank all of the men and women in uniform helping to make this historic occasion safe.”

Additionally, Metro announced this afternoon that the Pentagon Metro station will be closed, and bus service there suspended, on Inauguration Day.

“Blue and Yellow Line trains will continue to operate but will pass through the station without stopping,” Metro said. “The Pentagon Transit Center, served by six Metrobus lines, will also be closed. Buses will be relocated instead to Pentagon City, on the east side of Hayes Street S. and 12th Street S. for the day.”

Arlington Cemetery station is also closing, along with a number of D.C. stations, starting today.

Virginia Railway Express trains, meanwhile, will not be running Monday through Wednesday, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and “enhanced security measures” related to the presidential inauguration.

Arlington County Police Department recently announced an “increased police presence” on Inauguration Day in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

While Arlington Acting Police Chief Andy Penn didn’t commit to any road closures in Arlington as of yet, he did say discussions are ongoing.

Much of D.C. will be shut down, though, including many roads and the National Mall.

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A felon driving a minivan with allegedly stolen plates was pulled over Saturday night along northbound I-395.

The traffic stop just before the 14th Street Bridge involved a small fleet of Arlington County Police and Virginia State Police cruisers and was caught on video. The highway was blocked while the incident played out.

In a crime report today, ACPD said the suspect had a concealed weapon in the vehicle and did not have a driver’s license. He is facing a number of charges.

WEAPONS VIOLATION, 2020-11280126, I-395 at Washington Boulevard. At approximately 8:45 p.m. on November 28, police received a License Plate Reader alert for a vehicle traveling with stolen license plates. Officers observed the vehicle and, with the assistance of Virginia State Police, conducted a traffic stop. During the course of the investigation, officers determined the driver was suspended and recovered a concealed weapon. Erich McDonald, 45, of No Fixed Address was arrested and charged with Felon in Possession of a Concealed Weapon, Receiving Stolen Goods and No Operator’s License. He was held on no bond.

Also in today’s crime report, another armed carjacking was reported. The crime happened on Thanksgiving afternoon in the Crystal City area.

CARJACKING, 2020-11260081, 2000 block of S. Fern Street. At approximately 1:51 p.m. on November 26, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim parked and exited her vehicle, then observed the male suspect walk past her. The victim walked away from her vehicle, then returned to retrieve her belongings. As she re-approached the vehicle, the suspect turned around and ran towards her. The suspect displayed a firearm and demanded the victim’s keys. The suspect took the victim’s keys and fled in her vehicle prior to police arrival. The unoccupied vehicle was later recovered in Prince George’s County, MD. The suspect is described as a Black male in his 40’s, medium build, approximately 5’8″, wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans, mirrored glasses, with short hair. The investigation is ongoing.

(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) I-395 in Arlington was the scene of a shootout on wheels last night.

Virginia State Police say gunfire was exchanged between two cars headed northbound, between Shirlington and Pentagon City. One driver was shot and suffered serious injuries, while the other vehicle — a Nissan Maxima with a Texas license plate — remains at large.

The shooting prompted the temporary closure of northbound I-395 near the Pentagon last night.

“At 10:36 p.m. on Nov. 18, Virginia State Police received a call about a Toyota Corolla and Nissan Maxima exchanging gunfire as the vehicles were traveling north on I-395 just south of S. Glebe Road,” state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said this morning. “The Toyota was fired upon again as the same two vehicles passed by the S. Joyce Street overpass.”

The driver of the Toyota was shot, but kept driving into the District. He stopped at a Metro station and was given first aid by police before being rushed to the trauma center at GW Hospital for “serious, but non-life threatening, injuries.”

WTOP reports that the victim was a Metro employee and that he was shot in the shoulder in what’s described as “an apparent road rage incident.” No gun was recovered from the victim’s vehicle.

State police are still investigating the shooting, noting that “there is no evidence of any other vehicles being fired at or damaged during the course of the shootings.”

“The dark-colored Nissan Maxima with Texas plates has yet to be located,” Geller said. “Anyone who may have witnessed the incidents or has information about the suspect vehicle is encouraged to call Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026 or email us at [email protected]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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The aftermath of a felony traffic stop on northbound I-395 near Pentagon City last night.

The Arlington County Police Department says that officers used spikes, known as Stop Sticks, to blow out the tires on a stolen vehicle that was spotted by an automated license plate reader. Two suspects each under the age of 18 were subsequently apprehended.

“At approximately 9:43 p.m. on November 16, police received a License Plate Reader hit for a stolen vehicle,” an ACPD crime report said. “An officer located the vehicle traveling northbound on I-395 and activated his emergency equipment as an additional officer successfully deployed stop sticks.”

“The vehicle came to a stop and the two juvenile occupants were taken into custody without incident,” the crime report continues. “The driver was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle. Charges for the passenger are pending.”

Arlington is in the midst of a wave of vehicle-related crime, including break-ins, thefts and even carjackings.

Last night’s police action on the highway blocked a number of northbound lanes for more than an hour, leading to backups, as seen in the video below.

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