Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Climate Change Protests in D.C.Updated at 8:45 a.m. — As expected, demonstrator are blocking a number of key intersections in D.C. this morning to protest against government inaction in tackling climate change. The roadblocks have caused major backups on northbound I-395. [WTOP, Twitter]

APS Implements New Verification System — “Arlington school officials say a new, higher-tech effort to gather requisite start-of-school information from parents is moving forward as expected. The new online-verification process has been completed by 54 percent of families as of Sept. 19, Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members.” [InsideNova]

County Board Approves Pike Redevelopment — “A new six-story apartment building and ground floor retail will replace an aging shopping center and surface parking lot at the northeast corner of South Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, under a plan approved today by the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]

Worker Hurt Friday in Madison Manor — “Scanner: ACFD on scene of a worker who fell out of a tree on the 900 block of N. Potomac Street in Madison Manor. Being transported by ambulance to a local trauma center with potentially serious but non-life threatening injuries.” [Twitter]

Post Praises Swell Sausages at Ballston’s Bronson — “The five kinds of housemade sausages emerged from the kitchen tinkerings of Barley Mac chef Chris Harman and co-owner Mike Cordero, Koh says. Both the bratwurst and the wiener, reminiscent of a hot dog that spent a semester abroad, have a pleasantly snappy casing and a peppery pungency. The Bronson is rightly proud of its sausages, which are available to-go from a case at the front.” [Washington Post]

Ballston Harris Teeter Design Event — “Come share your thoughts on the consolidated design for the public space at Harris Teeter on N. Glebe Rd at an open house Mon., Sept. 23 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Arlington Room at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex (accessible from the 8th floor). This design is based on prior community feedback. Don’t forget your sweater! The Arlington Room is next to the rink and you might get a little chilly.” [Arlington County]

APS Trying to Fix Bus Issues — “Arlington school officials continue to work out start-of-school transportation kinks, with a goal of having everything running as expected by the end of the month… ‘We have heard from families who are still experiencing challenges,’ Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members on Sept. 19. ‘We’re working to resolve all the concerns.'” [InsideNova]

New LEED Certification in Ballston — “4201 Wilson Boulevard, a 595,000-square-foot office building at Ballston Exchange in Arlington, VA, has earned LEED Silver certification, making it the first office building in the state of Virginia to certify using the LEED v4 Building Design + Construction green building rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The building constitutes one half of the 776,000-square-foot Ballston Exchange development.” [Press Release]

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A $17.2 million overhaul of the Boundary Channel Drive interchange along I-395 is in the works.

Plans call for overhauling the existing, difficult-to-navigate interchange near the Pentagon and Crystal City with two rotaries, to be installed on either side of I-395.

The 150 and 160-foot wide rotaries aim to merge traffic from Boundary Channel Drive and the Pentagon Access Road on the left, and the Boundary Channel and Long Bridge Drive on the right. The project would remove I-395’s two southbound loop ramp, and add a new multi-use trail, shared by cyclists and pedestrians, connecting the Mt. Vernon Trail to Long Bridge Park.

The project will be managed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and is expected to cost around $17 million.

The Arlington County Board will review an agreement for the project during its upcoming meeting this Saturday. As of Tuesday, the project was featured on the Board’s consent agenda, a place usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.

Officials hope the redesign will better connect to the long awaited Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center and better serve area commuters, as staff noted in a report to the Board:

The Interchange serves the Pentagon (five million square foot office building with 25,000 employees), Pentagon City (12.7 million square feet of office, 2.3 million square feet of retail and over 13,000 residential units), Crystal City, Long Bridge Park plus its future park expansion and the future Aquatics & Fitness Center, which is expected to draw regional visitors from Maryland and the District of Columbia, as well as from the areas south and west of Arlington in Virginia. The existing interchange design is dated and will need to be redesigned to better serve the transportation needs of the existing and future land uses in the area.

The county held public meetings to showcase the designs in 2015, during which staff noted feedback “varied greatly.” The points staff said residents agreed on included:

  • There needs to be fewer ramps onto I-395
  • Rotary islands need to be designed to not allow cars to speed
  • Pedestrian crossings need to be designed to reduce conflicts with cars and bicycles

County staff also noted that plan for the trail meets goals set by the newly-upgraded bike element of the Arlington County Master Transportation Plan to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to use the Mt. Vernon Trail.

“The Mount Vernon Trail connection is an extremely critical part of the project and will create a much-needed link between Long Bridge Park and the trail,” the staff report said.

Image 3 via Google Maps

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Drivers should expect delays on I-395 this weekend as a series of weekend lane and HOV closures continue.

The closures are the result of bridge work associated with the 395 Express Lanes project. Crews have also been at work building sound walls along much of the highway in Arlington.

More on the closures and the bridge work, from VDOT:

Motorists are advised that lane closures will continue on the general purpose lanes along north- and southbound I-395 this weekend, Sept. 6-8, from King Street (Exit 5) to S. Washington Boulevard (Exit 8A) for bridge rehabilitation work. The HOV lanes will also close to accommodate this bridge work starting Friday night and through the weekend. All lanes will reopen, including the HOV lanes in the northbound direction, in time for Monday morning’s commute.

Drivers traveling to D.C. this weekend are urged to use alternative routes or plan extra travel time. Local traffic may still use the general purpose lanes, but should expect closures.

What Drivers Should Expect:

  • A single general purpose lane on I-395 North will close from 7 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday. Double lane closures will occur during nighttime hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • One HOV lane will close beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday, followed by the closure of both HOV lanes at 11 p.m. All lanes will reopen in the northbound direction on Monday at 4:30 a.m.
  • Ramp from northbound Glebe Road to I-395 South will close from 11 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Sunday. Motorists should follow detour signs to I-395 South.
  • Single and double lane closures will occur along I-395 South during nighttime hours.
    Weekly updates with specific closure information will be available at: ExpressLanes.com and VDOT’s 395 Express Lanes Web Page.
  • The reversible 95 Express Lanes, from near Edsall Road to past Garrisonville Road in Stafford, will operate according to their normal schedule.

The 395 Express Lanes, an eight-mile extension of the 95 Express Lanes to the Washington D.C. line, are scheduled to open this fall. Learn how Express Lanes work and how to get an E-ZPass at www.ExpressLanes.com.

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(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) A crash has temporarily shut down all main lanes of northbound I-395, just before the 14th Street Bridge.

First responders were first called to the scene for reports of a two-vehicle wreck with injuries.

Police and firefighters are working to move the vehicles off to the side. At least one of traffic is expected to reopen shortly.

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Morning Notes

County Releases Statement on ART Crashes — “We are incredibly thankful that no one was seriously injured in these incidents, which the County and ART take very seriously. ART’s number one priority is the safety of our riders and others on the road.” [Arlington County]

More I-395 Nighttime Closures — “Motorists should expect significant lane closures on the general purpose lanes along I-395 North this weekend, August 9-11, from Duke Street (Exit 3) to past Pentagon City/Crystal City (Exit 8C) for bridge rehabilitation work along the I-395 corridor.” [Press Release]

Arlington Opening Local Recovery Center — “Arlington County is opening a Local Recovery Center (LRC) to assist residents and businesses affected by the July 8, 2019 flood. This is in conjunction with the governor’s announcement that low-interest federal loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to help homeowners, renters and businesses rebuild from storm damage.” [Arlington County]

Facts About Arlington Resident Chuck Todd — Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, who lives in Arlington, shared some facts about himself in a new local magazine profile. Todd says he does not drink beer, prefers his coffee black, sleeps five hours “on a good night,” and thinks Lost Dog Cafe serves the best pizza in town. [Arlington Magazine]

Kudos for Quarter Market in Ballston — “The big top of dining options can generate a major case of FOMO, even when the meal in front of you satisfies all your conscious needs. This is particularly true at Quarter Market, where mall operators spent years seeking out and negotiating with a smartly curated collection of local chefs, restaurateurs and producers.” [Washington Post]

Escape Room Open in Clarendon — “Bond’s Escape Room has opened a second location at Market Common Clarendon… Located just above Sephora, it offers six escape room games with a wide variety of themes.” [Press Release]

Photo courtesy @clarendonalliance/Instagram

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A cement truck flipped on its side on the ramp from northbound I-395 to S. Glebe Road.

No injuries have been reported and the occupants of the truck were able to get out before emergency responders arrived on scene, according to scanner traffic. The circumstances surrounding the crash, which happened shortly before 1:30 p.m., are unclear.

The ramp is blocked as the crash cleanup gets underway.

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Those traveling to, from and through Arlington may need to pack their patience this weekend, depending on the route and time of day.

Both directions of Route 50 will be closed in the area of Wilson Blvd in Seven Corners, from Friday night to Monday morning, to allow VDOT to lift a new, 87-foot Wilson Blvd bridge span into place. Drivers are being encouraged to avoid the area if possible.

More from a VDOT press release:

Eastbound and westbound Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) at the Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) interchange and eastbound Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) between the eastbound Route 50 service road and the westbound Route 50 service road will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday, August 2 to 5 a.m. Monday, August 5 to safely demolish the Wilson Boulevard bridge deck over Route 50 and install the new bridge deck, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Eastbound Route 50 traffic will be detoured via the eastbound Route 50 service road back to Route 50, and westbound Route 50 traffic will be detoured via the westbound service road back to Route 50.

Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.

Drivers can expect delays and are advised to use alternate routes.

The work is part of the Wilson Boulevard over Route 50 bridge rehabilitation project. After the weekend closure, drivers can expect single-lane closures on Route 50 and the eastbound Wilson Boulevard bridge until late fall. The project is scheduled for completion this winter.

Also this weekend, “significant lane closures” are planned along I-395.

The work, part of the 395 Express Lanes project, will close multiple northbound lanes at night, starting Friday. Drivers are being encouraged to use the HOV lanes of I-395, which will be switched to the northbound direction starting at 8 p.m. tonight.

More on the I-395 work, from VDOT:

Northbound I-395 from Duke Street (Exit 3) to past the Pentagon City/Crystal City exit (Exit 8C) will have nighttime lane closures Friday night, August 2 through Sunday night, August 4 for bridge work. The I-395 HOV lanes will be switched to northbound at 8 p.m. Friday and will remain northbound all weekend.  The 95 Express Lanes from Edsall Road to Garrisonville Road will operate on a standard schedule; on Saturday from midnight to 2 p.m., the 95 Express Lanes will operate in the southbound direction while the I-395 HOV lanes are open northbound.

Photo via VDOT/Twitter

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A proposed streetscape improvement project has revealed rising construction costs in Arlington County due to ongoing work to add new lanes to I-66 and I-395 — and associated projects.

“We believe the shortage of qualified contractors resulting from the abundance of work generated by the I-66 & I-395 Express Lanes projects is contributing to the higher than expected bid prices,” according to a county staff report.

The project in question — which “will reconstruct curbs and sidewalks to install [Americans With Disabilities Act] compliant curb ramps and sidewalk areas,” mostly along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor — will be considered by the Arlington County Board at its Saturday (June 15) meeting.

The county selected Fort Meyer Construction Corporation, which submitted the lowest bid for the project at $718,580.97.

“We have observed a high volume of construction in the region because of many projects, including major ones such as the I-66 and I-395 Express Lanes, and this work is distributed over a limited number of qualified contractors,” Ramzi Awwad, the engineering bureau chief at the Department of Environmental Services, told ARLnow today (Thursday).

“Contractors have indicated they are paying more to compete for qualified laborers, and we have observed less competition in the form of lower numbers of bidders for some projects,” Awwad said. “The result is higher than expected costs in comparison to estimates.”

He added that this trend has affected other recent projects, especially in the last six months.

VDOT does not provide funding to offset the rising construction costs in Arlington, according to Awwad.

On Saturday, the Board will vote to accept Fort Meyer’s bid and could approve an additional $107,787 for the project in case costs rise further.

For now, the pedestrian proposal is still within the $2.02 million budget set for the two-phase project.

The pedestrian project aims to make eight areas in Rosslyn and Ballston ADA compliant by extending curbs, widening sidewalks, repainting crosswalks, and building new curb ramps. One of the sites is the intersection of 36th Street N. and N. Kensington Street, which aims to make students walking to Discovery Elementary School safer.

The seven other intersections slated for improvements are:

  • N. Nelson Street & 9th Street N.
  • Washington Blvd & N. Nelson Street
  • Washington Blvd & Jackson Street N.
  • Washington Blvd & 9th Street N.
  • Clarendon Blvd & N. Barton Street
  • Wilson Blvd & N. Barton Street
  • N. Troy Street & 14th Street N.
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VDOT is planning a community meeting to discuss changes that might be coming to the “Shirlington Circle” interchange of I-395.

The somewhat labyrinthine interchange has been the scene of several notable crashes over the past few years. VDOT has been studying ways to improve it over the past few years.

The meeting is planned from 7-9 p.m. next Wednesday, June 12, at Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.). The transportation agency says it will reveal options for reducing congestion and crashes while soliciting public comments.

More from VDOT:

Join the Virginia Department of Transportation on Wednesday, June 12 to learn about and give input on alternatives identified by a study assessing safety and operational improvements at the I-395 Shirlington interchange (Exit 6), as well as at the following:

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

The study has collected data on traffic volumes and vehicle movements, and identified safety and operational issues. Learn more about the study’s identified alternatives, which aim to reduce congestion and crashes as well as boost the interchange’s overall performance. The study is being financed with federal funds and is expected to be finalized in fall 2019.

Residents are invited to stop by Drew Model Elementary School, 3500 23rd Street South, Arlington, VA 22206 between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to view displays and learn more about the study. A presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. VDOT staff will be on hand to answer questions.

Give comments at the meeting, or e-mail or mail them by June 24, 2019 to Ms. Olivia Daniszewski, EIT, Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Image via VDOT

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VDOT is permanently closing a ramp that allowed drivers heading southbound in the HOV lanes of I-395 to merge into the main southbound lanes near the Pentagon.

The closure, which is expected to happen later this week, will mean that drivers who take the southbound HOV lanes of the 14th Street Bridge from D.C., but who want to get into to the main lanes in Arlington, will need to take the earlier exit, closer to the bridge.

The closure is part of the 395 Express Lanes project.

More details from a VDOT press release:

The slip-ramp connecting the HOV lanes to the regular (or general purpose) lanes on I-395 South near the Pentagon will close permanently starting on or about June 1, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Drivers wanting to access the southbound general purpose lanes from the southbound HOV lanes on this stretch of I-395 will need to use the slip-ramp located north of the Pentagon, near Boundary Channel Drive after crossing the 14th Street Bridge from D.C. into Virginia. Motorists traveling to the Pentagon or Crystal City — or non-HOV drivers who missed the exit near Boundary Channel — must take the exit at Eads Street. Drivers heading to the I-395 general purpose lanes should then follow signs to Army/Navy Drive and Hayes Street.

Tips for Motorists:

In the mornings:

  • Southbound motorists traveling on the I-395 HOV lanes from Washington, D.C. should move into the general purpose lanes immediately after crossing the 14th Street Bridge at the ramp near Boundary Channel Drive. Don’t wait to switch lanes until after you pass the Pentagon, as this slip-ramp will be closed.

In the afternoons:

  • For HOV motorists traveling southbound from D.C., nothing changes.
  • For non-HOV drivers, exit the HOV lanes after crossing the 14th Street Bridge at the ramp near Boundary Channel Drive.
  • Anyone heading to the Pentagon or Crystal City – or non-HOV drivers who missed the exit near Boundary Channel – should take the exit at Eads Street. Follow signs to Army/Navy Drive and Hayes Street to return to the I-395 South general purpose lanes.

Getting to I-395 South from the Pentagon:

  • Non-HOV drivers should take North Rotary Road to South Washington Boulevard to the I-395 southbound general purpose lanes.
  • HOV drivers should take the Eads Street ramp near the Pentagon to get directly onto the I-395 HOV lanes.

To help plan, drivers can find maps, videos and other educational information at www.expresslanes.com/projects/395.

This planned ramp closure is part of the new I-395 Express Lanes configuration, which will provide eight miles of faster, safer and seamless travel from the I-95 Express Lanes north to the D.C. line, as well as direct connections to the Pentagon and Crystal City. The new express lanes are scheduled to open in late October 2019. Information on how Express Lanes work and how to get an E-ZPass can be found at www.ExpressLanes.com.

The 395 Express Lanes are a public-private partnership between VDOT and Transurban. See more details on the project and related lane closures.

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Expect lane closures and heavy traffic on I-395 this weekend and at least four consecutive weekends due to a bridge rehabilitation project.

VDOT says crews will be working to “rehabilitate five bridges along I-395 between the Springfield interchange and Washington, D.C. line,” but the work will require closing at least two lanes at a time throughout the weekend, from Friday nights through Monday mornings.

This weekend’s work will take place between Duke Street and Pentagon City, in the northbound lanes.

More on the closures from a VDOT press release:

Travelers should expect lane closures on the I-395 general purpose lanes beginning the weekend of April 26-28, and continuing for at least four consecutive weekends, depending on weather. The weekend closures, which will occur from Friday nights until Monday mornings, are needed for crews to safely rehabilitate five bridges along I-395 between the Springfield interchange and Washington, D.C. line. Motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes. If travel in this area is unavoidable, drivers should use caution and plan extra travel time.

What Drivers Should Expect:

  • Two general purpose lanes on I-395 will close for entire weekend periods starting on Friday nights through Monday mornings (alternating between south- and northbound directions, depending on location of bridge work); additional lane closures will occur in the opposite direction of I-395 as needed to allow crews to access work areas.
  • At least two general purpose lanes will remain open on I-395 (in both directions) during peak-travel daytime hours.
  • To help ease traffic impacts, the HOV lanes from just north of Edsall Road to the D.C. line will be open in the same direction as the bridge work, whether northbound or southbound.
  • Thru-traffic (northbound to DC and southbound to Springfield) will be encouraged to use the HOV lanes, while local traffic will need to use the two open general purpose lanes.
  • Weekly updates with specific closure information will be available at: 395ExpressLanes.com and VDOT’s 395 Express Lanes Web Page.
  • Current plans call for the reversible I-95 Express Lanes, from near Edsall Road to past Garrisonville Road in Stafford, to operate according to their normal schedule.

Details for First Weekend, April 26-28:

  • Work and double lane closures will take place in the northbound direction on I-395 from Duke Street (Exit 3) to past Pentagon City/Crystal City (Exit 8C).
  • HOV lanes will remain open in the northbound direction.
  • Ramps from Duke Street to I-395 North will be closed. Drivers should follow detour signs.

The 395 Express Lanes eight-mile northern extension are scheduled to open this fall.

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