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
Arlington DMV Wait Times — The Arlington DMV office on Four Mile Run Drive has the longest wait times in the state. The average wait time is just shy of 45 minutes. Outside of the D.C. area, the wait times at Virginia DMV offices generally range from 20-25 minutes. [Twitter]
Dueling I-66 Letters to Dr. Gridlock — The widening of I-66 would “cripple Arlington forever,” says a letter writer to the Post’s Dr. Gridlock. “A significantly wider I-66 would be an even worse physical barrier to Arlington residents than I-66 is now,” and “turning I-66 into a repeat I-395 would send a devastating message to Arlington homeowners.” An earlier Arlington letter-writer said critics of widening were “whining” and pointed out that plenty of those who work and live in Arlington use I-66. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Arlington Asks for I-66 Corridor Grants — The Arlington County Board has selected five transportation projects for state potential grant funding. The county is seeking grants from a pool of $5 million allocated by VDOT for initial improvements along the I-66 corridor, ahead of the tolling of the highway. Among the projects Arlington is submitting for consideration: real-time transportation information screens along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, expanding certain bus routes, and a series of initiatives including vanpools and a travel planning app for smartphones. [Arlington County]
APS to Renovate Fenwick Center for High School Program — Arlington Public Schools will renovate the 50-year-old Fenwick Center along Columbia Pike for use by the soon-to-be-renamed Arlington Mill High School program. Moving the program will make room at the Arlington Career Center, next door from the Fenwick Center, for the new Arlington Tech initiative. [InsideNova]
Remembering James Kimsey — James Kimsey, the co-founder of AOL, died on March 1 at the age of 76. Kimsey spent his childhood in South Arlington and most recently lived at the very northern tip of Arlington, in a $30 million “castle” known as “The Falls,” which he built around the turn of the century. The house, one of the largest private residences in Virginia and one of the priciest properties in Arlington, was so big that it prompted Arlington County to build a new sewage line. [Falls Church News-Press]
Photo by Dennis Dimick
I-66 Public Hearing at W-L — VDOT is holding a public hearing on the changes planned for I-66 tonight. The hearing is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School’s cafeteria. Meanwhile, one letter-writer is decrying the “whining” from Arlington residents who complain about the proposed partial widening of I-66 while using it to make a reverse commute to Fairfax County — and the protestations from Arlington policymakers who are more than happy to have large employers come to Ballston and other dense neighborhoods along I-66, thus increasing traffic on the highway. [VDOT, Washington Post]
Wakefield, Yorktown Victorious in Key Games — The Wakefield boys basketball squad defeated Deep Run 50-48 on Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the 5A state basketball tournament. This will be the Warriors’ third semifinal appearance in four seasons. Yorktown’s hockey team, meanwhile, defeated Washington-Lee 5-3 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Friday night. [InsideNova, Twitter]
Abingdon Elementary Design Approved — On Thursday the Arlington School Board approved a final design for an addition and renovation to Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington. The project will add 12 classrooms and 136 seats to the school, while renovating the gym, kitchen and media space. [Arlington Public Schools]
Retired Fire Officials Speak Out Against Station Move — Two retired Arlington County Fire Department officials say a proposed relocation of Fire Station 8 from Lee Highway to a county-owned location farther north does not make practical sense and would mostly benefit residents of Fairfax County. Residents around the current fire station and around its proposed new location have been protesting the planned move. [InsideNova]
Arlington Complying With Immigration Detainers — Arlington County law enforcement is complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for jail inmates, but only if ICE reimburses the county for certain expenses and picks up the inmate within 48 hours. Fearing that some jurisdictions are not complying with federal detainers, Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly have proposed bills to make such requests mandatory. [Washington Post]
County Board to Meet With Commission Chairs — The Arlington County Board tonight is holding a meeting with the chairmen of the county’s advisory commissions. ARLnow.com hears that the Board has received complaints about certain commissions overstepping their bounds or operating inefficiently. The meeting will address diversity in commission membership, training for commission members and potential improvements to commission communication and community outreach. [Arlington County]
Virginia State Police are investigating a serious single-vehicle crash on I-66 near East Falls Church.
The wreck happened early this afternoon in the westbound lanes near the Sycamore Street exit. Photos show a dark gray sedan with heavy front-end damage on the side of the road, next to a crumpled-up guardrail.
One lane is blocked and westbound traffic is backed up to Glebe Road. Drivers should also expect delays approaching the crash in the eastbound lanes.
“Seek alternative routes,” Arlington County Police said, in a tweet.
More Cars on Local Streets Due to I-66 Plans? — Will plans to toll I-66 inside the Beltway during rush hour send cars spilling onto local streets in Arlington? Not exactly. Traffic studies suggest the opposite will happen: more cars will use the highway rather than seek alternate routes through Arlington. [Washington Post]
Metro Begins Installation of Cable for Cell Service — Metro has begun the process of installing 100 miles of cable in Metrorail tunnels in order to allow mobile phone and better emergency radio coverage. [WMATA]
Optimism from Arlington’s New Metro Board Member — Freshman Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey is serving as the county’s representative on the WMATA board. Though he says the agency is facing “a fair number of problems,” he says Metro expects “to see some significant improvements” in 2016. [InsideNova]
Potholes on GW Parkway — The northbound lanes of the GW Parkway had to be closed from Spout Run to the Beltway for pothole repair last night. This morning, crews were dispatched to fill potholes in the southbound lanes. [Twitter]
County Combines Budget Hearings — In previous years, Arlington held separate budget hearings to discuss proposed expenditures and the tax rate. This year, those topics are being combined and members of the public can weigh in on either at two budget hearings: one on Tuesday, March 29 and another on Thursday, March 31. The county is also accepting online budget feedback. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
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
The compromise is intended to appease lawmakers from outside the Beltway, many of whom opposed the idea of tolling I-66 without adding capacity to the often clogged highway. It’s likely to rankle some residents in Arlington, where in the 1970s a citizens group formed to oppose the construction of I-66 in the first place. That group now advocates for a “wiser, not wider” I-66.
According to various news reports, the compromise calls for eastbound I-66 to be widened to three through lanes between the Dulles Connector Road the Fairfax Drive/Glebe Road exit, within the existing highway right-of-way.
Outside-the-Beltway lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, were calling for I-66 to be widened before being tolled. The McAuliffe administration’s plan for converting I-66 to high-occupancy toll lanes inside the Beltway during rush hour — tolls for vehicles with 1-2 occupants, free to those with 3 or more occupants — was in danger of being blocked in the Virginia General Assembly without the compromise. The plan originally called for widening to be considered as a last resort, after studying the efficacy of the HOT lanes in improving traffic congestion.
“If we don’t take this deal now, it’s not going to happen for a generation,” state Sen. Barbara Favola said, as quoted by NBC 4.
The deal will allow tolling on I-66 to begin in 2017 and the new lane to be in place by 2020, at a construction cost of $140 million, according to WTOP.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey released a statement on the plan shortly after it was announced, expressing disappointment.
We are disappointed with the news of the amended plan for I-66, which will immediately widen I-66. We respect that Governor McAuliffe and his administration worked hard to protect the earlier plan, which delayed the widening of I-66 until we had several years’ worth of experience with multimodal solutions. We appreciate that — aside from the decision to widen immediately — many of the original elements remain intact:
- Toll revenue is dedicated to multimodal improvements;
- NVTC (our region’s transit agency) receives the toll revenue;
- Local governments retain the authority to spend these funds on local projects; and
- Any widening occurs within existing right-of-way.
As the new plan moves forward, Arlington will be vigilant, working to ensure that appropriate environmental analyses are completed efficiently and comprehensively. We will do all we can to mitigate harm from the widening, and we will explore possible improvements to accompany the widening. As always. Arlington will be working to promote improved regional transit. We need frequent, reliable, and comfortable transit systems along the east-west corridor that get people quickly to where they want to go.
Update at 3:00 p.m. — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has weighed in with an interesting statement, suggesting that Arlington County’s opposition to a partial I-66 widening, as proposed, may not be too strong.
Arlington County had a longstanding agreement that I-66 would not be widened inside the Beltway. Today’s announcement by Governor McAuliffe changes that understanding, and with no public input so far.
My initial reaction is one of concern for Northern Virginians who have worked – many of them for decades – for an alternative approach to big highways. But I continue to learn details of the proposal and to listen to constituents on all sides of this issue.
Early conversations with elected officials who represent Arlington County indicate that Arlington is more open to this partial I-66 widening than in the past, and that the potential benefits from I-66 tolls will bring important transit and multi-modal benefits to the surrounding corridor. I remain dubious about additional asphalt, and await input from my Arlington and other constituents about today’s proposal.
Update at 11:55 a.m. — After the jump, the press release from Gov. McAuliffe’s office.
Authorities Still Investigating Oil Sheen on Potomac — In an effort to find the source of an oily sheen on the Potomac River near the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, the Coast Guard, state authorities and the Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services will be conducting a “dye test.” Non-toxic dye may be seen in the river today. At least 23 birds were were sent to a wildlife rescue organization for cleaning as a result of contact with the oil. [U.S. Coast Guard, Facebook, WJLA]
Two Displaced By Fire Near Clarendon — A structure fire Friday night on the 1200 block of N. Kirkwood Road, near Clarendon, has left two residents displaced. No one was injured in the blaze. The residents are being assisted by the Red Cross. [Twitter, Twitter]
Nauck History Project Seeks Contributions — As part of Black History Month, Arlington County is encouraging residents of the Nauck neighborhood to donate images and stories to the Nauck/Green Valley Heritage Project. The project has an online archive dedicated to preserving the community’s rich history. [Arlington County]
Arlington Makes AARP ‘Healthy’ List — Arlington County is among the top “medium population cities” for those ages 50+ to stay active and healthy, according to new rankings. [AARP]
Clement: Support Governor’s I-66 Plan — Frequent local candidate for elected office Audrey Clement is encouraging Arlingtonians to support the McAuliffe administration’s plan for tolling I-66 inside the Beltway. That plan, which calls for widening I-66 only as a last resort, is preferable to the call from outside the Beltway lawmakers to widen I-66 as soon as possible, Clement says. [Campaign for a Greener Arlington]
Arlington Woman Has Purse With $10K Cash Stolen — Police are looking for a suspect seen stealing a purse with $10,000 cash inside from a Fairfax County Dunkin’ Donuts. The purse was accidentally left behind by an Arlington mother who had saved for years to pay her 18-year-old daughter’s tuition at Penn State. [NBC Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
‘Carmageddon’ Grips Local Roads — It’s crazy what one inch of snow can do to unsalted roads. Hundreds of drivers slid, stopped and slammed into each other across area roads last night and early this morning. Multiple commuters told us it took hours to get home. [ARLNow, FOX 5, CBS 6, Washington Post]
Traffic Study Reveals I-66 Problems — Ever wondered why I-66 is a mess sometimes? A new study supporting a plan for high-occupancy toll lanes may help shed light on why. Though that answer to that question is complicated, the study did reveal one thing: HOV rules have a large impact on traffic. [Washington Post]
Shovel That Walk, It’s The Law — Did you know you’re required to clear public sidewalks adjacent to your property? If not, you might want to brush up on the rules before this weekend’s snowstorm. [Arlington County]
Gov. McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency for Virginia in response to the winter storm expected to slam the region tomorrow and Saturday. [ARLNow]
Arrowine’s ‘Ladies of the Vine’ Cancelled — The event is cancelled due to the looming snowstorm. [ARLNow]
Summer Reading Becomes Winter Donation — Arlington Public Library staff presented the The Reading Connection with a check for more than $2,400 yesterday morning. The dollar amount represents a $1 donation for each person who completed the library’s 2015 summer reading program. [Arlington Public Library]
Toll Time for I-66? — The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recommended funding for projects that would bring toll lanes to I-66 and add a second entrance to the Ballston Metro Station, among other developments. [WTOP]
Sneak Peek at Latest Synetic Play –Synetic Theater has chosen a cast for its upcoming wordless performance of Romeo and Juliet. Check out photos of the performance, which will star longtime Synetic players Zana Gankhuyag and Irina Kavsadze, on the theater company’s website. [Synetic Theater]
Snow Forecast Intensifies — Computer models from late last night suggest “very substantial to historic” snowfall totals on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Just how much snow are we talking about? Analysts say we could see as much as 12 to 30 inches of the white fluffy stuff. [Capital Weather Gang]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Another Roll-Over Crash on I-66 — Last night, around 3 a.m., an SUV that was being chased by police overturned after exiting I-66 at East Falls Church. At the same time, another roll-over crash happened on the Fairfax Drive ramp to westbound I-66. A vehicle flipped over as a result of a crash involving it and another vehicle. [WTOP]
Planned Power Outage at Courthouse Plaza — Businesses and elevators at the Courthouse Plaza shopping center will be without power from 3 a.m. to noon Saturday as part of scheduled electrical work. Among the businesses affected will be the AMC movie theater and the Starbucks. [Twitter, Twitter]
Retired Arlington Marine Dies at 103 — A retired Marine who lost his arm in a shipboard explosion in 1937 has died at the age of 103. Pvt. Clyde Byrd died at Virginia Hospital Center following a heart attack. A police and motorcycle club-escorted funeral procession brought Byrd to his final resting place at Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, Va. [InsideNova]
Last Weekend for Synetic Show — This weekend is your last chance to see a reimagined version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It performed at Synetic Theatre in Crystal City. [Washingtonian, Synetic Theatre]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
For the second time in two months, a police chase from I-66 has ended in East Falls Church.
The vehicle pursuit began around 2:45 a.m., when a Virginia State Police trooper pulled over a Nissan Xterra that was heading east on I-66 at a high rate of speed.
“During the course of the traffic stop, the Nissan fled from the trooper and headed east on I-66. The suspect vehicle took Exit 68 and the trooper lost sight of it,” according to a VSP press release. “As the Nissan came through the exit ramp, it ran off the road, went through a fence, struck a tree and then an unoccupied vehicle in a parking lot. The driver then fled the scene on foot.”
Arlington County and Fairfax County police helped to search for the driver, who was apprehended just before 4 a.m. after being found “behind a trash can” at the East Falls Church Metro station.
The man, 21-year-old Artis Thomas, Jr. of Washington, D.C., was taken into custody “without further incident” and locked up in the Arlington County Detention Center. He was charged with ” DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs), felony eluding law enforcement, possession of a concealed weapon, hit-and-run, and possession of marijuana,” according to VSP.
Police say they recovered a handgun from Thomas’ vehicle.
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