The Arlington County Board over the weekend voted to endorse the goals of a Virginia Dept. of Transportation plan to widen part of I-66, but it also had a few questions.
The Board unanimously backed a resolution that outlines “areas of support and ongoing concern with [VDOT’s] environmental assessment,” according to a press release.
Under VDOT’s “Transform 66” plan, an extra lane would be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston. The lane would stretch about four miles.
The plan would also include the replacement and construction of noise walls along the interstate, a new pedestrian bridge on the W&OD Trail at Lee Highway in East Falls Church and a realignment of the Custis Trail at Bon Air Park.
Earlier this year, the Board endorsed VDOT’s plan to add tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway during peak travel times.
Not everyone who lives in Arlington supports the project as proposed, however. Some East Falls Church residents have recently criticized the part of the proposal that would build a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge on the W&OD trail at Lee Highway. (Bicycling advocates, meanwhile, are organizing to support the bridge plan.)
In its resolution, the Board asked transit officials to “ensure a robust community process will be incorporated into the design process to achieve a context sensitive solution for the W&OD Trail changes.”
The Board also called for more cooperation on other areas of concern such as impacts on right of way, increased traffic at local intersections, noise mitigation and possible effects on stormwater infrastructure.
“Arlington supports the broad goals of this plan, including the focus on moving more people versus vehicles through the corridor. We are also committed to ensure that VDOT mitigates any impacts on our residents and neighborhoods that may result from the mandated eastbound widening,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “VDOT has been responsive to our concerns as the project has taken shape, and we anticipate working closely with them to monitor the project as it moves forward.”
According to VDOT’s estimates, workers could break ground on the project in “mid 2018” and finish by “mid 2020.”
More from the press release:
In its resolution, the Board says it will work to ensure that the Commonwealth monitors and mitigates the project’s impacts on Arlington streets and on cultural or natural resources.
VDOT released the Environmental Assessment for the eastbound widening of I-66 from the Dulles Connector to Fairfax Drive in November. Based on a review of the technical documentation and public testimony, the Board resolution calls for VDOT to continue working cooperatively with the County on addressing the following:
- Impacts on right of way and other resources – VDOT anticipates that the eastbound widening will occur primarily toward the inner portion of the I-66 roadway, but temporary or permanent property easements or acquisitions will be needed along the easternmost portion of the project.
- Traffic analysis and impacts to Arlington streets – The Environmental Assessment identified several intersections in Arlington that will experience increased congestion as a result of the widening. Staff is concerned that the traffic analysis used for the Environmental Assessment does not include any multimodal travel, which is a primary goal of the Transform 66 project and the studies supporting it.
- Impacts to the regional trail network – VDOT has proposed realigning the Custis Trail at Bon Air Park and grade-separating the crossing of the W&OD Trail at Lee Highway. The Board resolution endorses these improvements and asks that VDOT ensure a robust community process will be incorporated into the design process to achieve a context sensitive solution for the W&OD Trail changes.
- Noise mitigation – VDOT will solicit input from property owners and renters who would benefit from noise mitigation as to the desirability of the installation of noise barriers along I-66. County staff will work with VDOT to ensure messaging to the public on the noise barrier selection process is communicated as comprehensively as possible. The Board also encouraged VDOT to work with WMATA, FTA and others to explore options for additional noise mitigation related to Silver Line and new generation of rail cars.
- Stormwater Management Infrastructure – In response to public testimony, the Board reinforced the important responsibility that VDOT has to ensure that existing and future stormwater infrastructure by adequately designed and maintained.
(Updated at 10:31 a.m.) A proposal to build a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge in East Falls Church has prompted complaints from some nearby residents.
The Virginia Dept. of Transportation has proposed building a new bridge over Lee Highway near the W&OD trail as part of its “Transform 66” interstate widening and tolling project.
If built, VDOT says the bridge would improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The trail currently crosses Lee Highway at the busy intersection with Fairfax Drive.
But the idea deserves more thought, according to the East Falls Church Civic Association. Residents voiced concern in a letter the group sent to local officials last week.
“This VDOT project, if not paused, will create problems for holistic future pedestrian and cyclist transit development in the area, as well as create negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood in a way that a more thoughtful design would not,” the letter reads. “Pause this project so the neighborhood and the surrounding areas can fully consider the problems we are trying to address (both present and future).”
East Falls Church Civic Association president Kelly Alexis said locals first heard of the plan in October. Since then, Alexis said she’s received emails from more than two dozen East Falls Church residents, many opposing the idea.
The problem, Alexis explained, revolves around a lack of input from the community. Though VDOT has held a series of public meetings, she said the agency hasn’t adequately weighed the concerns of the people who live nearby the proposed site of the bridge.
Earlier this month, the association met with VDOT officials to discuss the plan and identified a number of concerns. Among them are questions about whether the bridge would disrupt design aspects of the 2011 East Falls Church Area Plan or “lock-in” the alignment of the W&OD trail, which residents say forces cyclists and pedestrians onto neighborhood streets near the East Falls Church Metro station.
The plan also needs more study regarding improving pedestrian access and safety along Lee Highway on the I-66 overpass and at the Fairfax Drive and Washington Blvd intersections, residents said at the meeting.
The association has suggested several alternatives to building the bridge, such as a trail realignment under Lee Highway or rerouting the trail across Fairfax Drive at the same intersection.
“It’s not a bad plan, it’s just the wrong plan,” Alexis said. “We recognize we’re in a transportation hub, but we want to work together to create a better solution.”
Gillian Burgess, chair of Arlington County’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, said she shares some of the neighborhood’s concerns. Still, a bridge is sorely needed to “allow people on two feet or two wheels to use the trail without worrying whether that red car is really going to stop at the light,” she said.
“The neighborhood does have legitimate concerns about the de facto routing of the trail through their neighborhood,” Burgess added. “But there’s no need to delay building this much-needed improvement to this important piece of our transportation network.”
The Arlington County Board is expected to further discuss the I-66 widening plan and the pedestrian bridge at its meeting tomorrow (Saturday).
A Virginia Dept. of Transportation plan to widen part of I-66 could soon get the partial blessing of the Arlington County Board.
Under VDOT’s “Transform 66” plan, an extra lane would be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston. The lane would stretch about four miles.
VDOT is also planning to improve two local trails, according to a presentation on the proposed project. The planned improvements include a new pedestrian bridge on the W&OD Trail at Lee Highway in East Falls Church and a realignment of the Custis Trail at Bon Air Park.
Additionally, the project would include the replacement and construction of noise walls along the interstate’s eastbound and westbound lanes.
If all goes according to plan, workers would begin construction on the project in “mid 2018” and finish by “mid 2020.”
The Board is scheduled to vote on whether to “endorse the goals” of VDOT’s widening project during its general meeting this Saturday, Jan. 28.
According to the county:
In the proposed resolution, the Board also says it will pursue goals of ensuring that the Commonwealth monitors and mitigates the impacts on Arlington streets, noise impacts, and impacts on cultural or natural resources. The proposed resolution also calls for VDOT to work collaboratively with all the affected jurisdictions to ensure that the final design of possible noise barriers do not unduly or negatively impact cultural or natural resources and that VDOT will not pursue more widening of I-66 inside the Beltway until after a meaningful evaluation of peak period tolling, conversion to HOT-3, tolling in both directions during peak periods, and implementation of multimodal components.
Arlington has already endorsed VDOT’s plan to add tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway during peak travel times.
Update at 9:30 a.m. — The suspect has been found hiding under a car in the area of N. Quinn Street and 18th Street N. and has been taken into custody, according to scanner traffic.
Update on 1/19/17 — Virginia State Police have issued the following updated statement regarding the chase and the suspect’s apprehension.
At 8:48 a.m., Wednesday (Jan. 18), Virginia State Police Sgt. C.J. Szupinka was conducting stationary HOV enforcement when he observed a 2005 Ford Focus entering the eastbound I-66 HOV lane at the 71 mile marker. The Ford was in violation of the HOV+2 regulation, as it had only one occupant. Sgt. Szupinka motioned to the driver, John R. Johnson III, to stop. Johnson pulled over in front of the sergeant’s patrol car. But as the sergeant approached on foot, the Ford kept rolling forward and then pulled away and into the mainlines of eastbound I-66. A pursuit was initiated with the Ford reaching speeds of up to 100 mph.
The Ford Focus took Exit 73 and due to its reckless driving and speed, the sergeant discontinued the pursuit for the safety of other motorists and pedestrians. Minutes later the vehicle was located abandoned on Nash Street near Lee Highway. The keys were still in the ignition and the engine was still running when the sergeant found it. Johnson had fled on foot.
With the assistance of Arlington County Police, State Police set up a perimeter and began searching for the subject by foot and through the use of a Virginia State Police K9 team. At 9:27 a.m., Arlington County Police discovered Johnson hiding under a vehicle in a parking garage near 19th and Quinn streets. Johnson was taken into custody without further incident.
Johnson, 44, of Maryland, was charged with one felony count of eluding police, reckless driving, the HOV violation and driving on a suspended license. He is being held without bond at the Arlington County Jail.
Earlier: Police have swarmed the area around N. Nash Street and the Holiday Inn hotel in Rosslyn to search for a driver who led Virginia State Police on a morning rush hour chase.
Initial reports suggest that state police were pursuing the suspect on I-66 for an HOV violation. The suspect exited the highway at Rosslyn and bailed out near the hotel.
Police are establishing a perimeter as they try to locate the suspect, who’s described as a black male wearing jeans and a gray hoodie.
Photos by Samantha Moore
A reported crash and subsequent fluid spill is causing delays on westbound I-66.
The crash was first reported near the Glebe Road exist just after 2 p.m. Both lanes of the highway are now back open; previously, one lane had been closed.
As of 2:20 p.m. westbound traffic had backed up nearly to Rosslyn.
Virginia State Police and a towing crew are on the scene, with the vehicles involved on the shoulder of the highway. Absorbent material has been placed over the spilled fluid.
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters and paramedics responded to the scene of a serious accident on I-66 near Glebe Road.
A vehicle somehow overturned on the on-ramp from Glebe to eastbound I-66. Initial reports suggest two people were hurt in the wreck and one has potentially serious injuries.
At least one person was reported to be trapped in the vehicle after the crash, according to the fire department dispatch.
During the emergency response there were significant delays in both directions on I-66. Those delays have since mostly dissipated.
Hazmat Incident, Arrests on I-66 — Two people were arrested on drug charges Saturday after their SUV broke down on I-66 and police found a suspicious liquid in and a suspicious smell coming from the vehicle. Lanes of westbound I-66 were shut down while a hazmat team investigated the substance. [WUSA, NBC 4]
Man Arrested for Sexual Assault on Orange Line Train — A man allegedly exposed himself and then tried to force a woman to perform a sex act on an Orange Line train Monday afternoon. The incident happened as the train was approaching the Dunn Loring station, but the man was reportedly arrested in Arlington and held at the county jail. [WTOP]
APS Still Searching for More Space — Arlington Public Schools officials have been busy trying to add more high school seats as a student capacity crunch continues and is expected to get worse at the top grade levels. For now, APS appears to be focused on adding seats at existing high schools and adding additional capacity through new high school programs, like the just-launched Arlington Tech program, as opposed to opening a fourth comprehensive high school. [InsideNova]
Photo (above) of Rosie the Riveter event at the Netherlands Carillon courtesy Valerie Crotty
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) held a special ceremony this morning announcing the construction of equipment that would allow for new high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on I-66.
McAuliffe hosted the event at Washington-Lee High School — which overlooks the highway — and was joined by Va. Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne and Arlington County Board chair Libby Garvey.
“Since the beginning of our administration, we made it our top transportation priority to improve Virginia’s infrastructure and unclog the bottlenecks on our most congested highways,” McAuliffe said during the ceremony. “This initiative, coupled with Virginia’s new SMARTSCALE transportation prioritization process, will unlock Northern Virginia from the traffic congestion that was strangling this region’s economic potential.”
— Terry McAuliffe (@GovernorVA) August 1, 2016
Workers will soon begin the $60 million project to install tolling equipment along the interstate from the Beltway to the Lee Highway exit in Rosslyn, according to a press release from McAuliffe’s office.
The new equipment will allow drivers to pay a toll of about $5-6 on average to bypass traffic during morning and afternoon rush hours, according to VDOT. Vehicles with two or more occupants, buses and motorcycles will be exempt from paying the toll.
Toll revenues will go toward funding alternative forms of transportation, McAuliffe said.
“The toll revenues will now fund travel options like ridesharing and enhanced commuter bus service, making those choices more attractive and much more user friendly so more people will leave their cars in the garage to get to work,” McAuliffe explained in his remarks. “We are committed to creating a carpool culture for I-66 travelers.”
Additionally, the Commonwealth Transportation Board will commit nearly $10 million toward projects such as improving commuter buses from Loudoun, Prince William County and Fairfax, local buses in Arlington and Fairfax, new carpool incentives and new bikeshare programs, according to McAuliffe’s office.
Along with the new tolling equipment, I-66 will also be partially widened. The plan calls for an extra lane to be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.
The new HOT lanes are expected to open some time next summer.
A crash on I-66 this morning resulted in four reported injuries.
The crash, near N. Sycamore Street, occurred around 11:15 a.m. and snarled traffic for more than an hour. Two vehicles, including a red pickup truck, were involved.
Four people were transported to the hospital via ambulance, according to scanner traffic, including one person whose injuries were reported to be serious.
VDOT Awards I-66 Contracts — VDOT has awarded $61.3 million in contracts to build tolling infrastructure on I-66 inside the Beltway. “The work is expected to begin by late summer with all construction completed no later than mid October 2017.” [WTOP]
Stop Arm Camera Enforcement Resuming — After having to pause enforcement and seek a legislative fix in order to issue tickets to violators, Arlington’s school bus stop arm enforcement program will resume July 1. Drivers who drive by a stop sign on a school bus will face an automatic $250 fine. [Arlington County, Arlington Public Schools]
Clinton Opening Arlington Office — Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is reportedly opening a new office at 6035 Wilson Blvd, in the Dominion Hills shopping center. That’s the same shopping center in which American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell was shot and killed in 1967. [Patch]
Local Latino Leaders Talk Trump — At a press conference on Columbia Pike yesterday, former County Board member Walter Tejada said presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may regret his rhetoric on immigration come November. “In a tight election, the Latino community can decide who wins,” Tejada said. “To Mr. Trump, we want to declare a message that hate will not win.” [Washington Post]
Hernick Calls on Trump to Tone Down Muslim Remarks — Republican congressional candidate Charles Hernick, who’s challenging incumbent Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), wants Donald Trump to tone down his “divisive rhetoric” on Muslims, saying it “won’t help us unite with peace-loving Muslims against our common enemy.” He continued: “We need to stand together against hatred, violence and terrorism.” [InsideNova]
Local Startup Expanding — Fast-growing Arlington-based startup ByteCubed, a government tech consulting firm, is expanding with a new office in Crystal City for its now 150 employees. [Technical.ly DC]
Working on the railroad is hard work.
That was in evidence this morning when a Metro contractor who was on the team performing “SafeTrack” maintenance work on the tracks near the East Falls Church station reportedly passed out from dehydration.
Firefighters and paramedics responded to the section of track along I-66 and transported the worker to a local hospital for evaluation.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the agency is taking steps to make sure its workers are well hydrated.
“Obviously, this is hard, physical labor on a hot and cloudless day,” Stessel told ARLnow.com. “We are providing water and sports drinks to all workers on site, and requiring frequent breaks — but the lack of shade is really the issue.”
Update at 12 p.m. on 5/30 — The victim has been identified by state police as Craig A. Vanbrunt, 66, of Pendleton, Indiana. The crash remains under investigation.
Notes VSP: “The crash did NOT occur during the Rolling Thunder Ride. Mr. Vanbrunt was part of a group that had participated in the ride earlier in the day — but they had completed their participation and were headed out when the crash occurred.”
Earlier: A motorcyclist was killed Sunday afternoon in a crash on westbound I-66 near Rosslyn.
From Virginia State Police:
At 4:13 p.m. Sunday (May 29, 2016), Virginia State Police Trooper M.D. Hart responded to a single-vehicle crash in Arlington County. The crash occurred in the westbound lanes of I-66 at the 74 mile marker.
A group of motorcycles were traveling in the westbound lanes of I-66 when they came upon stopped traffic approaching the Rosslyn Tunnel. One of the motorcycles was unable to brake in time and lost control. The motorcycle crashed and its rider, who was wearing a helmet, fell from the bike.
The adult, male motorcyclist was transported to George Washington University Hospital, where he died later Sunday evening.
State police are still in the process of notifying his next of kin.
The crash remains under investigation.
Two Add’l Endorsements for Gutshall — Democratic County Board Erik Gutshall has picked up two more endorsements. The campaign announced this week that Gutshall was endorsed by Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson and former county treasurer Frank O’Leary. [InsideNova]
Garvey’s Idea for I-66 — In an interview with the urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington, County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who is running for reelection, talked about her belief in more Bus Rapid Transit service as a transit solution and her plans for making Arlington a “great” place to live. Among her ideas: building large decks over I-66 to provide more parkland, more bus parking and to “knit our community back together.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Barley Mac Grand Opening — Barley Mac in Rosslyn is holding its grand opening celebration this weekend: “The party will kick off each night at 8:00 p.m. and go until 2:00 a.m., and we’ll serve [complimentary] passed appetizers and light bites in the bar from 8:00-10:00 p.m.” [Facebook, Rosslyn BID]
Native Species Returning to Arlington — The removal of invasive species from Arlington’s parkland is paying off. A number of plant and animal species once thought to be gone for good have started returning to the county, including certain frogs, otters, foxes and turkeys. The county announced this in a press release with the alliterative headline “Nurtured Nature Nets New Natives.” [Arlington County]
Inexpensive Local Art on Sale — The Arlington Artists Alliance is holding an art show and sale later this month where every work of art is priced at $95 or less. [Patch]
Real Housewives Filming in Clarendon? — An episode of the Real Housewives of Potomac was reportedly being filmed at Oz restaurant in Clarendon last night. The restaurants is owned by cast member Ashley Darby and her husband. [Twitter]
The Virginia Dept. of Transportation says it wants to hear from residents about its plan to widen part of I-66.
The plan calls for an extra lane to be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.
VDOT is inviting feedback at a public meeting in Arlington on Monday, May 9. That meeting is being held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street).
A second meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11 at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church.
The public meetings will feature “stations” with informative display boards staffed by knowledgeable project team members where attendees can learn and ask questions about the widening project. Both meetings will also include a presentation addressing items such as the purpose of the widening project and the associated Environmental Assessment, as well as the preliminary project schedule and design concepts.
Previous public meetings focused on tolling and multimodal aspects of the I-66 Inside the Beltway Project, which will not be an emphasis of next week’s meetings.
Power Outage at Courthouse Metro Station — A power outage has been reported at the Courthouse Metro station. The outage turned off most of the lights and trapped some customers in the station’s elevator, according to Twitter accounts. The station is said to now be operating on emergency power. [Twitter, Twitter]
Interview with John Vihstadt — Washingtonian has published a Q&A with Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt. During the interview, Vihstadt said of county government: “by and large, it’s well managed.” Before he was elected, however, Vihstadt said the county was in danger of losing its way. “There was a growing consensus that we were too self-congratulatory. There was too much ‘Aren’t we doing great?’ And if there was room for improvement, it was nothing another taxpayer dollar couldn’t solve.” [Washingtonian]
Another AAA Rating for Arlington — Bond rating agency Fitch Ratings has again assigned Arlington County its top AAA rating. The high rating allows the county to borrow money more cheaply than less creditworthy jurisdictions. [BusinessWire]
Rising Sea Levels and Arlington — A new interactive map shows what rising sea levels would mean for D.C. and Arlington. The good news is that the two meters of sea level rise predicted to occur by 2100 would result in little impact for most of Arlington; the most vulnerable areas are portions of Reagan National Airport, East Potomac Park in D.C. and other areas along the banks of the Potomac. [Washingtonian]
Arlington Little League Opening Day — It looks to be a cool and cloudy start to the local little league season this weekend. Arlington Little League’s 30th anniversary season kicks off at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Barcroft Park. [Twitter]
One Year Anniversary for Shirlington Restaurant — Osteria da Nino in Shirlington (2900 S. Quincy Street) is celebrating its one year anniversary on Sunday. The restaurant will offer a complimentary glass of Prosecco and appetizers for guests from 4-6 p.m. [ARLnow]
Flickr pool photo by Airamangel