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BREAKING: Multi-Vehicle Crash Shuts Down I-395 HOV Lanes

Update at 1:05 p.m. — The crash has been cleared and the HOV lanes have reopened.

Earlier: The northbound HOV lanes of I-395 near Shirlington Circle are blocked by a crash involving ten vehicles, including two dump trucks.

One car, a taxicab, can be seen resting on a concrete barrier, wedged between the truck and another taxicab. Five people are being evaluated for injuries, according to the Arlington County Fire Department.

A large fluid spill has been reported as a result of the crash.

Police and firefighters are on scene. HOV traffic is stopped approaching the crash, though police are working to clear out some of the backed up traffic. The HOV lanes are expected to remain closed into the afternoon.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: I-395 HOV Lanes Blocked by Crash

A reported four-vehicle crash has completely blocked the HOV lanes of I-395 near Shirlington.

Police and firefighters are on scene, evaluating four people for possible injuries, according to scanner traffic.

Traffic cameras show northbound HOV traffic at a standstill past King Street.

Update at 12:20 p.m. — All lanes have reopened.

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BREAKING: Car on Fire After I-395 HOV Crash

The HOV lanes of I-395 is blocked due to a crash.

One of the vehicles involved in the crash caught fire, sending heavy black smoke and a column of flame into the air.

Firefighters are on scene and were able to quickly extinguish the fire. At least one injury has been reported.

Two left lanes of both the north- and southbound main lines of I-395 are blocked by the emergency response.

Update at 10:55 a.m. — Units are starting to clear the scene but the HOV lanes will remain shut down for an “undetermined amount of time” 

Updated at 11:55 a.m. — The HOV lanes have reopened.

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Fugitive Led Police on High-Speed Chase on I-395 Before Arrest

(Updated at 8:50 p.m.) A man wanted for a series of credit card and vehicle thefts has finally been taken into custody after a high-speed chase that zoomed through Arlington.

Alton Thodos, who escaped from a Fairfax County motel two weeks ago while surrounded by police, drove a reportedly stolen SUV northbound on the HOV lanes of I-395 this morning, pursued by Fairfax County police. Arlington County officers and the Fairfax County police helicopter assisted pursuing officers as the chase continued northbound toward the 14th Street Bridge.

Before the chase crossed the bridge, an Arlington officer attempted but to use a “spike strip” to flatten the tires of the SUV, but Thodos managed to maneuver around it, according to scanner traffic. (The image above shows the chase just before it crossed the river.)

Officers lost sight of the SUV after crossing into the District, but the search continued and the pursuit later continued in D.C. and Maryland. Thodos, 32, was later arrested after a crash in District Heights, Md.

More via Twitter:

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Medical Emergency Shuts Down Two Lanes of SB I-395

Two left-hand lanes of southbound I-395 are blocked due to a driver suffering a medical emergency.

The incident happened on the main line of the highway between Arlington Ridge Road and S. Glebe Road, around 2:15 p.m.

More via Twitter:

Update at 3 p.m. — Lanes have reopened.

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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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TRAFFIC ALERT: I-395 Ramp Blocked Due to Crash With Overturned Vehicle

(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) The ramp from northbound I-395 to the northbound GW Parkway, just prior to the 14th Street Bridge, is blocked due to a crash.

Initial reports suggest the crash involves an overturned vehicle. Police and firefighters are on the scene.

No word yet on injuries.

Several lanes of northbound I-395 are also closed due to the emergency activity. Traffic on I-395 is heavy approaching the bridge and the crash.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Car Overturned on I-395

A vehicle overturned in the southbound HOV lanes of I-395 during Tuesday’s evening rush hour.

The crash was reported shortly before 6:45 p.m. near Shirlington. It left one vehicle on its side, completely blocking the HOV lanes.

The driver of the vehicle was reportedly able to get out and was not seriously injured. Traffic is being diverted onto Shirlington Circle.

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Virginia Tech, Transurban Plan New Research Effort to Make Highways Safer for Motorcyclists

Motorcycle riders represent just a small portion of traffic on the roads, but they’re consistently involved in more fatal accidents than anyone else — some researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute are looking to change that.

VTTI is teaming up with Transurban, the company building and operating toll lanes on Northern Virginia’s busiest highways, to try and spur the development of new technology to make the roads safer for motorcyclists.

Transurban announced at Virginia Tech’s Ballston research center yesterday (Tuesday) that it would be donating $400,000 to VTTI to kick off the “Motorcycle Technology Evaluation Challenge,” known as “MotoTEC.”

The goal is to pair small technology companies and startups working on devices and software that could be used for motorcycle safety with some needed funding and, perhaps more importantly, the expertise of Virginia Tech’s researchers. VTTI hopes to find some promising technology to test along Transurban’s express lanes on highways like I-495 and I-95, giving it a big boost in making it to market.

“This is all about: What can get on the road fastest to make the most impact?” said Andy Schaudt, project director for VTTI’s motorcycle research group.

Schaudt says the current challenge for tech companies looking to make motorcycles safer is that many have gone overlooked, even amidst the global embrace of “connected cars.” After all, he points out that “there aren’t a lot of places to put sensors” on a motorcycle.

That’s where MotoTEC can come in. Schaudt hopes to convene a steering committee made up of transportation researchers and industry experts alike to evaluate technology with potential, then put out a call to companies looking for a boost.

He expects to hold a “pitch competition” if VTTI gets enough of a response, and he hopes to “keep the funnel wide” in accepting all manner of technologies as possibilities. Jennifer Aument, president of Transurban North America, suggested that solutions could include things like a system to connect a rider’s helmet to road sensors or technology to somehow make work zones safer for motorcyclists.

“It’s about finding something with a big impact,” Aument said. “Our single focus is on how to save lives.”

Depending on what technology wins out, Schaudt said testing could start as soon as this fall. Should it need a little more time to develop, however, he said VTTI could instead wait for the next “riding season” to start next spring.

No matter the exact timeline, Schaudt says the goal is that “within one year of program starting, we want results ready to share.” He noted that testing out the efficacy of various technologies can often be “extremely expensive” for small companies, and he thinks VTTI can play a big part in making that process a lot smoother.

“This all goes towards expediting deployment,” Schaudt said. “If they have the right support, they can start putting it on roadways and benefitting motorcycle riders right away.”

Aument added that the research work could even have a more immediate impact along the highways Transurban is working on.

With construction on the I-395 toll lanes picking up in earnest, necessitating work zones that become especially dangerous for drivers and motorcyclists alike, she said her company would be eager to embrace any low-tech solutions VTTI proposes to improve signage or lane markings and make everyone safer on the roads.

“We’re looking for solutions in our work zones right away, so if they find something interesting, we want to hear about it,” Aument said.

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Lane Closures on I-395 Kick Off This Weekend, Hefty Delays Likely

Expect some major traffic backups on I-395 starting this weekend, due to construction work set to run from Springfield through the D.C. line.

Starting tonight, two general purpose lanes will close on the highway from Friday nights through Monday mornings every weekend through Aug. 26.

The construction will mainly include the rehabilitation of bridges on the highway, including the bridge over Four Mile Run, as workers build an eight-mile extension of the I-395 toll lanes from Edsall Road near Springfield to S. Eads Street near the Pentagon.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says closures will alternate between the highway’s northbound and southbound lanes as work progresses, and two general purpose lanes will remain open in each direction during “peak-travel daytime hours.”

VDOT also plans to make the highway’s HOV lanes available to all travelers starting at the entrance just north of Edsall Road to the D.C. line, running in the same direction as construction occurring at the time. Officials are advising drivers heading past the Pentagon to D.C. or south of Springfield to use those lanes, while local drivers should use the general purpose lanes.

The 395 work is also causing some traffic headaches on local roads near the Pentagon’s south parking lots. VDOT is aiming to have the extended express lanes open by the fall of 2019, and the whole project wrapped up by 2020.

Photo via VDOT

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S. Eads Street Construction Set to Snarl Traffic Near Pentagon Parking

Construction around one of the Pentagon’s parking lots kicking off this week could produce some big headaches for drivers and bus riders alike.

Starting this morning (Monday), work will shut down the west side of S. Eads Street from Army Navy Drive to where it nears the Pentagon’s south parking lot at S. Rotary Road.

That will shift both northbound and southbound traffic to the east side of the street. In the mornings, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., that will cut off access to I-395’s northbound HOV lanes and Army Navy Drive from S. Rotary Road. Crews will post a detour and drivers should follow signs. In the same time period, access to northbound S. Eads Street from the right lane of S. Rotary Road will be reserved for anyone heading for I-395’s southbound HOV lanes.

Construction will include “median reconfiguration, road widening, pavement and drainage work,” according to VDOT, prompting some major traffic snarls.

“As current traffic volume along Eads Street is near capacity during peak periods, we expect significant traffic congestion and delays along Eads Street,” VDOT wrote in an advisory. “Periodic nighttime/weekend closures may also take place to complete the construction activities.”

VDOT is recommending that drivers looking to reach the I-395 HOV lanes during the construction to use the ramps near the Pentagon’s north parking lots at Boundary Channel Drive instead.

Arlington Transit is also warning bus riders looking to reach the Pentagon to expect “significant delays for ART buses entering and exiting” the facility’s lots. ART plans to issue service advisories as needed.

VDOT says work will shift to the east side of S. Eads Street sometime this fall, then last for an additional two months. The construction is included as part of the broader project focused on the I-395 express lanes.

Photo via VDOT

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Army Navy Country Club Access Road Set for Lengthy Delay Due to County Funding Woes

Construction work on an access road crossing a portion of Army Navy Country Club could be pushed back by nearly a decade, as Arlington grapples with a funding squeeze impacting transportation projects.

County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan calls for engineering work on the project, which is designed to link the Arlington View neighborhood to Army Navy Drive, to start by fiscal year 2027 with construction kicking off two years later. The county has long expected to start design work for the project by fiscal year 2020, with work to begin in 2022.

Since 2010, county officials have aimed to build the new road, which would be reserved for emergency vehicles looking to more easily cross I-395, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians. The 30-foot-wide road would run from S. Queen Street, near Hoffman-Boston Elementary, to the I-395 underpass, where a country club access road meets up with Army Navy Drive.

The process has required a good bit of back-and-forth with the country club — the county only secured an easement on the club’s property as part of a deal to allow Army Navy’s owners to build a larger clubhouse than county zoning rules would ordinarily permit. Some members of the country club even sued the county to block the arrangement, over concerns that cyclists and pedestrians on the proposed trail would be disruptive to golfers.

Yet Arlington leaders have pressed ahead with the project all the same, with the County Board approving two different updates to the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, known as the CIP, including funding for the project.

Schwartz hasn’t gone so far as to ask the Board to abandon the project — his proposed CIP calls for the county to spend $837,000 on engineering work in fiscal years 2027 and 2028 — but the delay does reflect Arlington’s new challenges paying for transportation projects.

As he’s unveiled the new CIP, Schwartz has frequently warned that the deal hammered out by state lawmakers to send the Metro system hundreds of millions of dollars in annual funding has hammered localities like Arlington. Not only does the deal increase the county’s annual contribution to Metro, but it sucks away money from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a regional body that would ordinarily help localities fund transportation projects.

With the county having to shift money around to compensate for those changes, officials say smaller projects like the Army Navy access road will necessarily suffer.

“Overall, the transportation CIP has fewer resources for smaller, neighborhood-scale improvements due to reduced funding resulting from legislation,” Jessica Baxter, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services, told ARLnow via email.

The project’s delay comes as particularly bad news for people living in the Arlington View neighborhood. One resident, Eric Davis, told ARLnow via email that he fears delaying the project would “endanger the lives of nearby bicyclists and pedestrians.”

“With Columbia Pike being our only access out of the neighborhood, this new access road would give us a safe alternative to reaching Pentagon City, Crystal City, and other points east,” Davis wrote. “And, if/when connected to the Washington Boulevard path currently under construction, it then becomes an essential north/south connection in Arlington for bikes and pedestrians.”

Davis also pointed out that the project as a whole could be in jeopardy if delayed much longer.

The county’s CIP documents note that the easement for the country club’s land was recorded back in March 2012, and “may terminate automatically if construction contracts are not awarded within 20 years of that date.” Baxter noted that “the current schedule anticipates completion before the easement expires,” however.

Any delay is also contingent on the County Board approving the change in the CIP. The Board is in the midst of holding a series of work sessions on the CIP this month, but doesn’t expect to sign off on a final spending plan until July 14.

Photo via Google Maps

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Motorcyclist Injured in Crash on Shirlington Circle

Police and firefighters are on scene of a motorcycle crash on Shirlington Circle over I-395.

A motorcycling “wiped out” while driving around the circle, according to scanner traffic, and suffered a number of injuries. The injuries are believed to include broken bones but are not life-threatening.

One lane of Shirlington Circle traffic is squeezing by the crash scene; it is unclear if any ramps are blocked.

The crash comes as thousands of bikers descend on the area for the annual Memorial Day weekend Rolling Thunder rally.

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VDOT Seeking Feedback on Shirlington Circle Improvements

State transportation officials want to hear from you about how to best improve the I-395 interchange at exit 6 near Shirlington.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is in the midst of studying safety and operational improvements to the area, known as Shirlington Circle, and they’re convening a public meeting on the project this Monday (May 21). The gathering is set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street), and VDOT staff plan to give a presentation on potential improvement options at 7 p.m.

VDOT is also eyeing changes to several other roadways in the area, including:

  • The ramp from S. Glebe Road (Route 120) to southbound I-395
  • The intersection of S. Shirlington Road and S.Arlington Mill Drive
  • The intersection of Gunston Road and Martha Custis Drive

VDOT is examining ways to “reduce congestion, crashes, and boost the interchange’s overall performance,” according to a press release.

The agency plans to wrap up the public comment period for the Shirlington improvements on May 31, then study a few alternatives in more detail starting this summer. VDOT plans to issue a report on a “preferred alternative” by this fall.

Anyone looking to comment on the project can do so at the meeting, send comments by e-mail, or even mail them to Olivia Daniszewski, Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, by May 31.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Southbound I-395 Delays Extend to Pentagon City

Delays due to the closure of southbound I-395 following a fatal crash extend all the way from Springfield to just after Pentagon City.

One person died in the crash on the southbound lanes of I-395, just north of I-495, according to Virginia State Police. The crash happened just before 2:30 p.m.

Most lanes have since reopened, but all traffic was halted for a period of time. VSP is on scene investigating the crash.

Image via Google Maps

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