VDOT is holding a community meeting next week to discuss plans to extend the I-395 Express Lanes north through Arlington.
The meeting is being held at Wakefield High School’s cafeteria (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 11.
The project will extend the 395 Express Lanes ” for eight miles north from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road to the vicinity of Eads Street in Arlington,” according to VDOT.
“The improvements primarily will be built within the existing footprint of the I-395 HOV lanes,” the agency said on its website. “The two existing HOV lanes (or High Occupancy Toll) lanes will be converted to express lanes and a third lane will be added, providing three reversible express lanes.”
Among the promised benefits of the project, besides the additional lane and faster travel for single-occupant drivers willing to pay a toll, are:
- “An active traffic management system to keep traffic moving”
- “Sound walls for nearby neighborhoods”
- “Improving connections between the I-395 Express Lanes and Eads Street”
- “Providing dedicated annual funding for transit”
Following a multimodal study and a public hearing this fall, construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2017 and wrap up by the summer of 2019.
Looking for evidence of a nightmare commute due to today’s Metrorail shutdown? Look no further than I-395.
I-395 is slow for the entire length of the highway, from the Beltway to the 14th Street Bridge. The good news is that traffic appears to be moving — just slowly.
Route 50 is also jammed, starting around Washington Blvd. The southbound lanes of the GW Parkway are slow from the bridge over Donaldson Run to Key Bridge, while northbound traffic is very heavy from Alexandria to the 14th Street Bridge. Washington Blvd is crawling all the way from I-395 to the Key Bridge.
There’s also heavier-than-usual traffic on some local roads. Clarendon Blvd is slow from Courthouse to Rosslyn. Eastbound Lee Highway jams up starting at N. Rhodes Street to Rosslyn. Pretty much the entire street grid of central Rosslyn is a mess.
There are some surprising bright spots: I-66 is pretty clear for most of the stretch inside the Beltway. Route 1 could be worse. And Columbia Pike traffic doesn’t appear to be out of the ordinary.
Despite the traffic mixed bag, it’s obvious that Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) doesn’t want to make the Metro shutdown a regular occurrence, based on his tweet below.
This morning we get a sad, frustrating vision of what a working day in our nation's capital is like #WithoutMetro
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) March 16, 2016
Widening Critics Still Questioning I-66 Deal — “Widening the highway for four miles from Beltway to Ballston will not relieve traffic congestion, according to every expert I’ve spoken to,” writes WAMU transportation reporter Martin Di Caro, regarding the I-66 deal struck by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, meanwhile, says the overall plan for tolling I-66 is worth the compromise. [Twitter, WAMU]
Arlington Probably Won’t Sue Over I-395 HOT Lanes — After mounting an expensive legal battle over a plan by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) administration to convert the HOV lanes on I-395 to High Occupancy Toll lanes, Arlington appears poised to accept a similar HOT lane plan by VDOT and the McAuliffe administration. There are some key differences between the two proposals, observers say. [Greater Greater Washington]
Arlington Man Arrested in D.C. Cold Case — Arlington resident Benito Valdez, 45, has been arrested and charged with an alleged accomplice in a 1991 triple homicide cold case in the District. [Associated Press]
Chamber Concert in Lyon Park This Weekend — On Saturday, IBIS Chamber Music will hold a free concert of chamber music in the newly-renovated Lyon Park Community Center (414 N. Fillmore Street). The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. and feature music by Schubert, Beethoven and Debussy. [ARLnow]
Local Resident’s Cat Story Appears in Book — A story by Arlington resident April Riser is featured in the new book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat,” according to a PR rep for the publisher.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
County Moves to ‘Phase 4’ of Snow Cleanup — With all residential streets passable, Arlington County has moved to “Phase 4” of its snow removal operation. “Phase 4 will focus on clean up, widening primary and secondary routes, as well as addressing trouble spots in residential areas,” the county said. “Widening and hauling snow from major corridors will continue at night when it is safest — we will do our best to minimize disruption, but please expect some noise.” [Arlington County]
Heavy Traffic Again This Morning — Pretty much the entire stretch of northbound I-395 was a parking lot this morning, as the D.C. area continued to get back to work following this past weekend’s blizzard. Other traffic problem spots include eastbound Route 50, which was backed up starting around Courthouse, Washington Blvd around the Pentagon, and the southbound GW Parkway, which slowed near the first overlook.
McMenamin Digs Out Maywood Neighbors — One Arlington neighborhood that was particularly slow to be plowed after the blizzard was Maywood, along Lee Highway. Residents pitched in to clear the streets, including former independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin, who “brought out his powerful snowblower and carved out walkways, driveways and helped clear a path for an Uber driver whose Chevy Suburban got stuck at the height of the storm.” [Washington Post]
Video: Marymount Swimmers Train in Florida — Want to think warm thoughts after this morning’s icy commute? Here’s a video of Arlington-based Marymount University’s swim team taking a recent training trip to Key West. [YouTube]
Photo courtesy Valerie Crotty
For the second day in a row, a significant crash has occurred on southbound I-395 near the Washington Blvd/Arlington Ridge Road ramp.
A pickup truck and a van collided, initially trapping one of the drivers in his or her vehicle, according to scanner traffic. The driver was quickly freed by first responders and no serious injuries were reported.
Yesterday a vehicle overturned as a result of a crash in nearly the same location. In 2011, at least five crashes occurred in the same general area — a curvy stretch of southbound I-395 — during rainy weather.
Traffic volume on I-395, I-66 and Route 50 was relatively light this morning. Some delays were reported on I-395 at King Street earlier, possibly the result of snow clearing operations.
Every Metrorail line is running every 12 minutes except the Silver Line, which remains closed. WMATA was unable to open aboveground service on the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Vienna this morning, so Ballston is the Virginia end of the line.
Metrobuses are operating on a “severe snow plan” with half hour delays, while Arlington Transit service is operating on a Sunday schedule between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. with “severe service” detours. Only the ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 lines are running.
Arlington County snow removal crews, meanwhile, are making slow but steady progress on clearing neighborhood streets. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services said this morning that 30 percent of residential streets had been plowed.
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Police and firefighters were on the scene of a crash involving an overturned vehicle on I-395 earlier today.
The crash occurred near exit 8B on the southbound lane of I-395 just before 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.
No injuries were reported and everyone was able to safely escape the car, a Toyota, according to scanner traffic.
Workers removed the flipped car around 4 p.m. and traffic began moving normally shortly thereafter.
State Lawmaker: Add Lanes to I-66 — State Sen. Chap Petersen (D), who represents part of Fairfax County, doesn’t much care for Arlington’s efforts to dissuade VDOT from adding an extra lane to I-66. “When I was a little boy, we put a man on the moon. We can figure out how to put six lanes through Arlington County,” Petersen said in an interview. [WTOP]
Del. Levine Proposes Minimum Wage Increase — For his first piece of state legislation, freshman Del. Mark Levine (D) has proposed a bill that would allow localities in Virginia to raise the minimum wage up to $10. The maximum amount would then rise every year with the consumer price index. The likelihood of the bill passing is slim. [InsideNova]
Highway Project Giving Away Grant Money — Transurban, the private company behind the newly-revived I-395 HOT lanes project, is trying to endear itself to the communities along the I-395 corridor. For one, the company recently joined the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. It’s also giving away grants of $1,000 to $5,000 “to respond to the needs of local organizations and direct impact neighborhoods located within the I-395 corridor.” Applications for the Community Grant Program are currently being accepted. [395 Express Lanes]
AFCYRs to Host MLK Event — The Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans will “celebrate and honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recommit ourselves to living out Dr. King’s dream” at the group’s meeting on Monday. Speaking at the event will be Elroy Sailor, CEO of the J.C. Watts Companies and current senior advisor to Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Transport Panel Approves of I-66 HOT Lanes — The Commonwealth Transportation Board voted yesterday to approve the creation of high occupancy toll lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway. It’s estimated that by 2040, almost twice as many users of eastbound I-66 inside the Beltway will be headed to Arlington compared to those heading to D.C. Meanwhile, two Democratic state lawmakers from Fairfax and Loudoun counties want to force the state to start planning to widen I-66 sooner rather than later. [Washington Post, InsideNova]
County Responds to I-395 HOT Lane Plan — Arlington officials say they hope to reach a “mutually beneficial outcome” to a state proposal to extend the I-395 Express lanes north to the D.C. line. The proposal calls for expanding the HOV lanes from two to three lanes while converting them to high occupancy toll lanes. The County says any proposal should “not undermine Arlington’s successful investment in congestion-reducing transit-oriented development in Pentagon City, Crystal City, or Shirlington.” [Arlington County]
APS Wants Historic Designation for Stratford on Its Terms — Arlington Public Schools says it will pursue a local historic designation for the Stratford building, current home to H-B Woodlawn and a future neighborhood middle school. However, APS wants to cut the Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board out of the process, to ensure the middle school project can move forward without delays. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Marine Corps Treats Students to Holiday Celebration — The Marine Corps treated students at Barcroft Elementary to a special Christmas celebration at Henderson Hall on Monday. Students were greeted by Marines, participated in various holiday-themed arts and crafts and got a chance to talk with Santa himself. [DIVIDS]
WERA Now Broadcasting — As of Monday, Arlington’s own low-power radio station, WERA 96.7 FM, was on the air and broadcasting for the community. The station is still looking for volunteers to help with programming. [Twitter, WERA]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Prosecutor: Black Asked for Help Killing Wife — At a bond hearing Monday, prosecutors said that David Black asked a friend to help kill his wife in a classic case of domestic violence. Black was denied bond and will remain in jail, charged with killing his estranged wife Bonnie Black in their home near Pentagon City. The trial is set for Feb. 29. [WUSA 9]
One of the Worst Traffic Bottlenecks — Arlington has one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country, according to the American Highway Users Alliance. I-395 between Washington Blvd and the GW Parkway ranked No. 26 on the list, wasting 1.1 million hours and 322,600 gallons of fuel annually. [WTOP]
TSA HQ Move May Be Delayed — The Transportation Security Administration’s headquarters may be staying in Pentagon City past 2017 after all. A judge has halted the TSA’s move to Alexandria in response to a protest of the lease bidding process by a losing bidder. [Government Executive]
Arlington GOP May Ditch Office — In order to save money, the Arlington County Republican Committee is considering giving up the $1,100 per month office it rents in the Dominion Arms apartment building. [InsideNova]
See Something, Type Something — Arlington County’s website has a “Homeland Security Tip Form,” for reporting “suspicious activity that may be related to terrorism” in Arlington. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
VDOT has a new plan for High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395, the Washington Post reported late Friday.
The news comes nearly five years after the state scrapped plans to build HOT lanes on I-395, following a legal battle with Arlington County. In a lawsuit, the county argued that HOT lanes, as then planned, would exacerbate pollution from and congestion on I-395, negatively impacting Arlington residents.
Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane told the Post that the new plan comes with guaranteed funding for carpooling and transit from private partner Transurban. Construction could start as soon as 2017 and would involve adding a third lanes to the existing HOV lanes while keeping the highway’s overall footprint mostly the same, the Post reports.
No word yet on a reaction from local officials.
Meanwhile, Arlington County has given its endorsement to a controversial plan for adding tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway during peak travel times. By a vote of 3-2 — John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey voted against it — the County Board adopted a resolution supporting the “Transform 66” project.
Last month Fairfax County offered conditional support for the plan, while calling for the widening of I-66. Loudoun County officials oppose the plan, which has faced heavy criticism from suburban commuters.
The plan calls for changing HOV rules on I-66 from requiring at least two people per vehicle during rush hour (HOV-2) to giving drivers the option of either having three people in a car (HOV-3) or paying a toll during peak hours.
In their endorsement, County Board members said they hoped that the changes would prevent the possible widening of I-66 inside the Beltway. The county wants VDOT to at least commit to not considering widening from two to three lanes in each direction through Arlington until 2025 at the earliest.
Lane has previously been quoted as saying the widening of I-66 through Arlington is inevitable.
After the jump, the press release from Arlington County on the I-66 project endorsement.
(Updated at 2:00 p.m.) A VDOT worker is in critical condition after being struck by a car on I-395 Tuesday night.
The crash happened around 10:20 p.m., on southbound I-395 near the Ridge Road overpass. According to initial reports, the worker was setting out traffic cones to warn drivers of an accident ahead when he was struck by a vehicle.
The man was transported to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Weather may have been a factor — it was raining at the time of the crash.
On Wednesday afternoon, Virginia State Police issued the following statement about the crash.
Virginia State Police are investigating a pedestrian crash that occurred late Tuesday evening (Sept. 29) in Arlington County.
At 10:16 p.m., Virginia State Police were on scene of a traffic crash in the right southbound lane of Interstate 395, less than a mile south of the Ridge Road overpass. Safety Services Patrol Supervisor Mike Musgrove responded to the scene to assist the trooper by blocking oncoming traffic and directing traffic safely around the crash scene.
At approximately 10:23 p.m., a 2005 Toyota Matrix traveling south on I-395 lost control and ran through the traffic cones and flares ( that were set up as a perimeter to direct oncoming traffic around the initial crash). The Matrix struck Musgrove, who was standing next to his safety services patrol vehicle. The Matrix then struck the safety truck and guardrail.
Musgrove was transported to GW Hospital in Washington, DC, where he is currently being treated for life-threatening injuries. Musgrove is a VDOT contract employee. His vehicle emergency lights were activated at the time of the crash.
The driver of the Matrix, Charles R. Hepburn II, 39, of Alexandria, Va., was not injured in the crash. Hepburn was charged with reckless driving.
No one from the initial crash was injured in the incident.
Both crashes remain under investigation.
During this morning’s rush hour, major commuter highways like I-395 and I-66 had about as much traffic as they might at 4 a.m. on a Sunday. Those who commute to D.C. from Virginia apparently decided to just stay home while large swaths of the District are closed for Pope Francis’ visit.
It was a similar situation on Metro: even the perpetually critical @unsuckdcmetro Twitter account couldn’t find anything to fault this morning, retweeting the following.
— Leah Grace (@leahkennebeck) September 24, 2015
— Jordan Hirsch (@jordanhirsch) September 24, 2015
— David Fuchs (@davidwfuchs) September 23, 2015
Suspicious Vehicle Investigation at Pentagon — An SUV hopped a curb and ran into a pole at the Pentagon’s south parking lot Sunday morning. All three occupants of the vehicle were reportedly sleeping when police arrived, but then tried to drive away. Arlington’s bomb squad helped to check out the vehicle, which was deemed suspicious due to loose wires seen hanging out of it. [MyFoxDC, ABC News]
Va. Advances Potential I-395 Express Lane Plan — Virginia transportation officials are getting closer to announcing a plan to extend the I-95 Express Lanes up through I-395. Arlington officials previously filed suit to block a similar state plan to convert the I-395 HOV lanes to High Occupancy Toll lanes. [WTOP]
APS Students Named National Merit Semifinalists — Ten Arlington Public Schools students have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Competition. [Arlington Public Schools]
Arlington to Seek Route 1 Name Change — Arlington County plans to seek permission from the state to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington, according to County Board Chair Mary Hynes. However, one local state lawmaker says it’s highly unlikely that the Republican-controlled state legislature would okay the removal of Confederate leaders from local road names. [Washington Post]
Woman Dies in GW Parkway Wreck — A woman died early Sunday morning in a single-vehicle crash on the GW Parkway. The crash happened after the woman drove off the southbound side of the parkway, between Route 123 and Spout Run, and struck a tree. [WJLA]
Candlelight Vigil for Wakefield Student — A candlelight vigil is planned tonight for Lucas Guajardo, the Wakefield High School student who died Friday. The vigil is being organized by students and is planned to take place at 7:30 p.m. on the George Mason Drive side of the school. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Guajardo’s family with funeral expenses. The junior, who was a running back on the Warriors’ football team, was found dead by his older brother Friday afternoon after an apparent suicide. [Twitter, GoFundMe]
Suicide’s Lasting Impact on Survivors — Bryan Price, a former Arlington Sheriff’s Deputy, shot and killed himself on May 17. His wife found Bryan’s body and says his decision to end his own life has torn her family apart. “If he had any clue what this would put us through… I honestly don’t think he could have done it,” Tara Price told a local TV station. [WHSV]
The 1-395 overpass above S. Glebe Road will now be known as the Trooper Jacqueline Vernon Memorial Bridge.
Vernon was the first female and black Virginia State Trooper to be killed in the line of duty. She was hit by a commuter bus on I-395 as she stopped a car for an HOV lane violation in 1988. She was 32 years old.
“She was a great person,” said Charles King, III, one of Vernon’s former classmates and coworkers. “I was privileged, and I thank God I got to meet her and she passed through my life.”
The dedication of the overpass, which is near where Vernon was killed, comes almost 30 years after her death.
The bill to dedicate the bridge was brought by Del. Robert Krupicka, who represents the 45th District in the House of Delegates and by Sen. Barbara Favola, who represents the 31st District in the state Senate.
‘This naming of the bridge is also a way to say thank you to our troopers,” Krupicka said.
Vernon was a good trooper and known as someone who had her coworkers’ backs, said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, who was her supervisor.
“I remember them saying after boxing class, ‘we don’t want to get in the ring with [Vernon], so she certainly held her own there,” Flaherty said.
The bridge’s dedication was “personal” to him as someone who knew Vernon. He considers all of the officers under him to be his kids, he said, and Vernon was one of them.
“Now as people pass up and down on 395, they’ll come to know her as well,” he said.
It is one way that people recognize and thank the troopers for their service, Flaherty said.
Virginia State Troopers were joined by Vernon’s family during the dedication. The naming of the bridge was something that both the family and troopers asked to see happen.
“Now when I look around I can say the day is done,” said Vernon’s brother Ronald Vernon. “The struggle is done. It is time to rest. Sleep well, my sister.”