Press Club

Morning Notes

Pigeons hanging out in Rosslyn’s Freedom Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Bus Crash in Front of Hospital  — “At approximately 1:52 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a two vehicle crash involving an ART bus in the 1600 block of N. George Mason Drive. The driver of the other involved vehicle has been transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. Police remain on scene investigating the cause of the crash.” [Twitter]

Civ Fed Proposes Board Changes — “A task force empaneled by the Arlington County Civic Federation has proposed a somewhat radical reconfiguration of County Board and School Board elections… The TiGER proposal, which seeks to expand membership on each body to seven, would have four County Board members and three School Board members elected in a given year, followed by a gap year, followed by three County Board members and four School Board members elected. After another gap year, the process would repeat.” [Sun Gazette]

New Lounge Arriving at DCA — An American Express Centurion Lounge is under construction at Reagan National Airport. [Twitter]

Free Soccer Programming Pilot — “The Arlington Soccer Association is teaming up with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to provide free soccer programming. The eight-week pilot program recently kicked off and brings soccer programming to families who live in APAH’s more than 2,000 affordable apartments throughout Arlington County. The programming is offered once a week at local parks and elementary schools for children as young as 3 years old.” [Press Release]

Throwback to Metro Groundbreaking — “We recently rediscovered a scrapbook from the early days of NVTC. June 18, 1971: Ceremonies to mark construction of the Rosslyn Metro station, ‘first in the D.C. suburbs.'” [Twitter]

Buses Gone Wild on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “I’ve shown you lots of amateur drivers trying to navigate I-395S Exit 8C/Route 1. Let’s see how the pros handle it.” [Twitter]

Car vs. Bakery Near Fairlington — “No one was injured after a car smashed through a front window of Great Harvest Bread (1711 Centre Plaza) in Fairlington Centre on Tuesday night (May 10). The incident occurred at around 7 p.m., which is after the bakery is closed.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Overcast throughout the day with some patchy fog. Showers likely, with thunderstorms also possible after 2 p.m. High of 70 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Construction scaffolding in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Bye, Bye Bank Building — “A new residential development is on the boards for Columbia Pike. Marcus Partners filed plans late last week with Arlington County for a new 250-unit residential development at the site of the Bank of America office building at 3401 Columbia Pike. The six-story building will have ground floor retail, a central courtyard and 287 parking spaces on 2.5 below grade levels.” [UrbanTurf]

It’s Official: No Caucus — From Blue Virginia: “The @arlingtondems announce that their School Board Endorsement Vote process is canceled, as there is only one candidate (Bethany Zecher Sutton) left after the other withdrew.” [Twitter]

Rents Still Rising — “The median Arlington apartment rent in April was up 16.8 percent from a year before, the third highest growth rate among the nation’s 100 large urban areas, according to new data. The median monthly rental for an apartment in the county last month was $1,999 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,420 for two bedrooms, according to data reported by Apartment List.” [Sun Gazette]

Truck Crash Caught on Camera — From Dave Statter: “Just happened. 3rd crash in as many days on I-395S at Exit 8C/Rt 1. It appears the red car didn’t stop & no other cars struck. @VSPPIO has all lanes open.” [Twitter]

Protest Outside DEA HQ in Pentagon City — “I’m outside DEA headquarters in Arlington, where protests have gathered to draw attention to terminally ill patients’ rights to try experimental drugs like psilocybin.” [Twitter, The Hill]

WaPo Reporter Rappels Down Hotel — “On Thursday and Friday, about 80 people, including two local elected officials, a Washington Post reporter, and a member of the D.C. Divas women’s football team, dressed in full pads and uniform, rappelled down the side of the Crystal City Hilton to raise funds and awareness for New Hope Housing.” [Washington Post]

Boeing HQ May Draw More Companies — “Even without a sizable addition of jobs or expansion, Northern Virginia landing another major corporate headquarters has strategic ‘marketing value,’ Terry Clower, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, said in an interview. The presence of a headquarters attracts the attention of other corporations, as well as site-selection consultants who advise companies where to locate new facilities. ‘Nothing draws a crowd like a lot of people,’ Clower said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Metro: Ridership Rebounding — “Metro ridership is outpacing projections through the first three quarters of fiscal year 2022 by nearly 40 percent. Through March, ridership has exceeded the initial forecast by 28 million passenger trips as more people chose bus and rail for travel throughout the region. Metrobus leads the way, accounting for 60 percent of overall Metro ridership, compared to about 40 percent for rail.” [WMATA]

It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 68 and low of 48. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:11 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Kayakers on the Potomac near Key Bridge (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Driver Crashes into Trooper’s Cruiser — A Virginia State Police trooper was radioing in a license plate during a traffic stop on I-395 near Shirlington when his cruiser was rear-ended. The trooper finished giving the tag number before telling the dispatcher about the crash. [Twitter]

Circulator Strike Continues — “The first day’s negotiations between a bus drivers union and the operator of D.C. Circulator since workers began striking were unsuccessful through Wednesday evening, increasing the prospects of a potentially lengthy outage of the city’s only public bus service.” [Washington Post]

Marymount Planning Child Care Center — “Marymount University is setting up a new child care center on campus in a renovation project that it said is designed to fill a critical, and deepening, local workforce need as those with young children return to the office. The Marymount Early Learning Academy for children aged 3 to 5 will open in the summer or fall of 2023, reviving the idea of an on-campus preschool that the university used to run in the 1990s before it closed down.” [Washington Business Journal]

Sexual Battery Incident in Pentagon City — “500 block of 12th Road S…. at approximately 11:40 p.m. on April 29th the male victim had entered into the elevator of a secure residential building when the unknown suspect followed behind him. The victim exited the elevator and walked down the hallway, during which the suspect grabbed his buttocks. The suspect then fled the scene.” [ACPD]

Air Force Colonel on Trial — “An official with the California National Guard charged with indecent exposure in Arlington in March is scheduled to go to trial in Arlington on July 18… the suspect entered the business and exposed himself to female victims, according to the ACPD.” [Patch]

Falls Church Lowers Property Tax Rate — “On Monday night, the Falls Church City Council approved a $112.8 million Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) that invests in public schools, core government services, walkability and traffic calming, environmental sustainability, and more, all while reducing the real estate tax rate by 9 cents… To mitigate the 11 percent overall increase in real estate assessments, the adopted budget includes a decrease in the real estate tax to $1.23 per $100 of assessed value.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Cinco de Mayo — Mostly cloudy, with a high of 67 and low of 56. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:06 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated, 12:05 p.m.) Tesla is opening its first Arlington sales and service center today.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is being held this morning at the nearly 64,000 square foot space at 2710 S. Glebe Road, just east of Shirlington. Several local officials are expected to be in attendance, including state Senator Barbara Favola and County Board member Takis Karantonis.

This is Tesla’s fourth Virginia sales center. Prior to the Arlington location, the closest was in Tysons.

ARLnow reported in early March that the electric car company was charging up to open a store on S. Glebe Road near I-395. It’s the former location of a Maserati dealership and, before that, seafood seller M. Slavin & Sons.

Tesla had to first get approval from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to open this and two other stores in the Commonwealth.

Under state law, automobile manufacturers like Tesla are generally not able to sell their cars directly to customers. This law was originally passed, in part, to encourage competition. In fact, for a time, Tesla couldn’t sell cars at its Tysons mall showroom and employees were forbidden from even discussing purchases.

However, that changed last May when the state DMV commissioner approved the company’s request to open three sales centers in Virginia. The reasoning the commissioner gave is that there are no independent dealers in Arlington — or in Charlottesville and Norfolk, where the other stores are opening — that could operate a Tesla franchise “in a manner consistent with public interest,” according to the hearing decision provided to ARLnow.

The Arlington store will employ about 20 people initially with “plans to grow as needed to meet demand,” a company spokesperson said.

In addition to its sales and service location, there are more than 400 Tesla “supercharger” stations in Virginia, where drivers can get a quick recharge of their car’s batteries.

That number includes eight such stations in Arlington, according to a company map. Rosslyn, Clarendon, Ballston, Pentagon City, Crystal City, and the new Tesla store on S. Glebe Road all have at least one publicly available charging station.

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Morning Notes

Bon Air Park azaleas (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

More Bad Driving on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “WATCH THIS! I thought I saw a crash in the distance. Nope. An I-395S driver stopped in the left lane for 30 secs to cross 4 lanes to get to the right hand Boundary Channel exit!” [Twitter]

Drug Take-Back Day Tomorrow — “If you have expired or unused prescription drugs taking up space in your medicine cabinet, Arlington County residents will have an opportunity to safely get rid of them this weekend. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Saturday.” [Patch]

Civic Association to Celebrate Anniversary — “The John M. Langston Citizens Association has set a weekend’s worth of activities to celebrate its 85th anniversary, running May 13-15. The association represents residents in the communities of Halls Hill and High View Park, straddling what long was known as Lee Highway but has been renamed Langston Boulevard.” [Sun Gazette]

AHC Honors Volunteers — “Providing services where residents live is AHC’s secret sauce. Volunteers are the key ingredient. This Volunteer Month, AHC is celebrating the nearly 350 individuals and groups who generously contribute their time and talents annually through our education and social services programs.” [AHC Inc.]

Art Truck Marks Five Years — “Not long after I began working for Arlington County, Arlington Arts launched the Arlington Art Truck: a bold new project to take curated and interactive visual art experiences out into the community to where people congregate. Five years in, the program has succeeded beyond our wildest expectations.” [Arlington County]

Rep. Beyer Interviewed — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) “has cast over 2,100 proxy votes for his colleagues in the last 2 years, by *far* the most of any lawmakers. I spoke w/ him about what that’s like, how it could change, and how he’s cast more votes to impeach Trump (6) than anyone else.” [Business Insider, Twitter]

Va. Requires Digital School Floor Plans — “Every second counts for first responders when it comes to saving lives and now a new Virginia law aims to help those heroes navigate better as they respond to emergencies at schools. Public schools will be required to digitally keep an up-to-date and accurate floor plan for each building.” [Fox 5]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 63 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:14 am and sunset at 8:00 pm. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) Two people are in jail in Arlington after police say gunshots were fired from their vehicle in the District.

The arrests happened around 11:45 a.m., along southbound I-395 near S. Glebe Road. The incident started when an off-duty U.S. Park Police officer allegedly saw shots fired from the suspects’ vehicle — reportedly a U-Haul truck — at another vehicle.

“An off duty United States Park Police officer reporting for duty observed a vehicle discharge a firearm at another vehicle in the District of Columbia,” a Park Police spokesperson tells ARLnow. “Both vehicles fled the initial scene. The off duty USPP officer called in the incident to report it to on duty personnel.”

“USPP officers located the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop on southbound 395 in the area of Army Navy Drive,” the spokesperson continued. “The vehicle fled the initial stop before coming to a second stop for officers in the area of southbound 395 prior to Glebe Road. Two individuals were placed under arrest and transported to Arlington County Jail to be presented before a magistrate.”

A gun was found and the investigation is “ongoing,” the spokesperson said.

Arlington County police assisted Park Police during the incident, an ACPD spokeswoman confirmed. Several lanes of I-395 were temporarily blocked while the arrests were made.

More via social media, below.

Hat tips to Dave Statter and Alan Henney

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Morning Notes

The entrance to the parking garage on 20th St. in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Jogger Robbed Near Rosslyn — “The victim was jogging in the area when the unknown male suspect approached, grabbed her by the arm and pushed her away while attempting to remove her cell phone from her hand. A brief struggle ensued, during which the suspect stole the victim’s cell phone before fleeing the scene in a white sedan. The victim sustained minor injuries and did not require the treatment of medics.” [ACPD]

JBG Announces Carbon Neutrality — “JBG Smith Properties, in its 2022 Environmental, Social and Governance report released Friday, said it achieved carbon neutrality across its 16.8 million-square-foot operating portfolio in 2021 as a result of its purchases of carbon offsets and renewable energy credits… More than 50% of the Bethesda-based firm’s holdings are located in Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard, the area branded as National Landing.” [Washington Business Journal]

ACPD Motor Officer Is No. 1 — “Over the weekend, members of the Special Operations Section competed in the 2022 NOVA Motor Rodeo. Congratulations to all the participants including ACPD’s Corporal Maxwell who placed 1st in the Individual Slow Ride – Police Category!” [Twitter]

More Dangerous I-395 Driving — From public safety watcher Dave Statter: “This is a new one for #395cam: Driver gets halfway down Rt 110N ramp & decides that’s not where they want to to go. Watch what they do.” [Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Possible light rain in the afternoon and evening. High of 66 and low of 57. Sunrise at 6:18 am and sunset at 7:57 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 11 p.m.) An Arlington County Police Department motorcycle officer has been hurt in a crash.

The officer was struck by the driver of a Chevrolet in Shirlington Circle, the I-395 interchange that has been the scene of a number of crashes, amid larger safety questions. The other vehicle and its driver remained on scene.

The officer was able to use his radio to request that medics and other officers respond to the scene. He suffered serious injuries not believed to be life-threatening, police said Tuesday night.

“At approximately 2:36 p.m., an Arlington County Police motorcycle officer was traveling in the area of Shirlington Circle when he was struck by another vehicle attempting to merge into his lane,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The officer was transported to an area hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries and has been released. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene and was cited.”

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Another day of trucker convoys in the area have resulted in major traffic headaches for those heading into D.C.

Police have just lifted a series of road closures in District, implemented to try to mitigate the vehicular demonstrations against Covid-related policies. Several convoys headed through Arlington earlier this afternoon, and there were recent reports of a slow-moving group on Route 110 near the Pentagon.

The damage has been done: northbound traffic on I-395 is backed up to Shirlington, while inbound traffic on I-66 is backed up well past the Rosslyn tunnel.

There are also considerable delays on the GW Parkway, in both directions prior to ramps heading into the District, as well as backups on the Key Bridge and N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn.

More via Twitter:

https://twitter.com/DCPoliceTraffic/status/1504890738529734663

https://twitter.com/DCPoliceTraffic/status/1504917414236102663

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(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) After a week of ineffectual laps around the Beltway, the “People’s Convoy” is now jamming up part of I-395 in Arlington.

The convoy, which features a mix of big rigs and personal vehicles, is intended to protest the Covid-related government mandates. It received considerable media attention last week but didn’t do much to disrupt traffic.

Today, however, it is heading into D.C. by way of Arlington and I-395, and creating traffic headaches and a lot of noise in the process.

Traffic cameras show flag-adorned protest vehicles moving at a snail’s pace in the main northbound lanes of I-395, approaching the 14th Street Bridge. Virginia State Police vehicles can also be seen, monitoring the demonstration. The northbound I-395 HOV lanes over the Potomac remain open and seem to be flowing freely.

Public safety watchdog Dave Statter, from his perch in Pentagon City, reports a non-stop honking of horns from the convoy.

Some of the backup can perhaps be explained by traffic restrictions in the District. Authorities there have blocked access from I-395 to 12th and 14th streets “to keep traffic moving safely through the area.”

“Motorists should expect traffic delays in reaching your destination,” the District said in a tweet shortly before 2 p.m. “If possible, you should consider delaying travel on these routes or use alternative transportation such as Metrorail.”

Metro, meanwhile, said the numerous bus lines heading to and from the Pentagon may be delayed due to the convoy.

As of 3 p.m., just over an after the convoy first reached the Pentagon City area, traffic was still slow approaching the Potomac crossings and in D.C.

More via Twitter:

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A 50-year-old bridge over I-395 near Shirlington is slated for upgrades next year.

Locals can learn more about the planned bridge work next Tuesday evening during a virtual meeting hosted by VDOT, which is managing the project.

The bridge connects the southbound I-395 collector-distributor lanes and southbound Shirlington Road to N. Quaker Lane at the I-395 Exit 6 interchange.

First constructed in 1973, the bridge needs upgrades to improve safety for drivers and to extend its usable lifespan, says VDOT. Today, the bridge is crossed by about 7,400 vehicles daily.

The bridge over I-395 in Shirlington slated for repairs (via Google Maps) 

According to the project webpage, VDOT will:

  • Resurface the concrete bridge deck and closing deck joints
  • Repair concrete piers and abutments
  • Repair and repaint steel beams
  • Add protective concrete barriers adjacent to piers
  • Replace bearings
  • Upgrade guardrails adjacent to the bridge

The $4.3-million project will be financed with federal and state funding, including State of Good Repair funds used for bridges.

Next Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. VDOT staff will make a short presentation and then answer questions from the public for an hour. Project materials, which are not yet available, will be posted on the meeting webpage before the meeting starts, the department says.

Through Friday, March 25, VDOT will accept feedback via email and U.S. mail, addressed to Vicente Valeza, Jr., P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

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