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by ARLnow.com August 14, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Charlottesville Solidarity Rally Held — Arlington County Board vice chair Katie Cristol was among those who spoke at a “Rally of Solidarity for Charlottesville” in Courthouse yesterday. The rally was intended to “actively condemn bigotry and racial hatred through a series of speeches, songs, actions, and a moment of silence.” [Facebook, WJLA]

Alexandria Considering New Names for Route 1 — An Alexandria group charged with considering new names for Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) is soliciting suggestions through an online form and two public hearings. [City of Alexandria]

Flashing Lights on I-66 — If you drove on I-66 this weekend and noticed flashing lights from equipment overhead, don’t worry: you’re not getting a ticket. Instead, VDOT is testing new toll equipment. Non-HOV drivers are expected to begin paying a toll to use I-66 inside the Beltway in December. [VDOT, NBC Washington]

Old Oak Tree Saved — A “mighty” oak tree that pre-dates the Civil War was saved from being removed during the construction of a new home thanks to a petition by neighbors and a developer willing to consider their concerns. The tree, at the corner of N. Nottingham and 27th streets, is 18 feet in circumference and one of Arlington’s 100 designated “champion” trees. [Washington Post]

WeWork Offering Free Space on Mondays — Coworking provider WeWork is offering free workspace at its D.C. and Northern Virginia locations — including its Arlington location in Crystal City — on Mondays as part of a new promotion dubbed “#SummerMondays.” The promotion runs through the end of September. An RSVP is required. [WeWork]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

by Chris Teale July 14, 2017 at 4:35 pm 0

(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Police closed westbound Interstate 66 near the Rosslyn tunnel Friday afternoon after a three-vehicle crash.

Units from the Arlington County Fire Department responded to the scene under Rosslyn Gateway Park with Virginia State Police just after 3:30 p.m after reports of the crash.

Three patients were transported to the hospital with injuries, according to scanner traffic.

Officers and crews from the Virginia Department of Transportation blocked all lanes of westbound I-66 and diverted traffic in the area onto Lee Highway. Delays are likely to continue into the evening rush hour, although police said they will look to reopen one westbound lane soon.

by ARLnow.com July 7, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Rough Day on the Roads — An already rain-soaked Thursday was made worse after a tree fell across the eastbound lanes of I-66, blocking the highway during the morning rush hour. Later, the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway were closed near the Key Bridge due to a crash. [WJLA, Washington Post]

Running of the Bulls Viewing Party — New Spanish restaurant Pamplona in Clarendon is hosting its first annual Running of the Bulls viewing party on Saturday. [Facebook]

Arlington Helps Out With Falls Church Graduation — Arlington voluntarily shifted its high school graduation schedule to help Falls Church’s George Mason High School get a graduation ceremony spot at D.A.R. Constitution Hall last month. [InsideNova]

Nearby: Affordable Housing Decline in Alexandria — There was a 90 percent drop in affordable housing units in Alexandria between 2000 and 2017 and the decline is likely to continue without the construction of more dedicated affordable units. [WAMU]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by Chris Teale July 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A plan to revamp Interstate 66 is threatening the character of the Custis Memorial Parkway, the highway’s name inside the Capital Beltway, historic preservation advocates said today (Wednesday).

Preservation Arlington, a nonprofit group that looks to protect Arlington’s architectural heritage, released its annual list of “endangered historic places,” with the parkway named as one.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is in the midst of an ambitious plan known as “Transform 66” to widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston within the existing eastbound right-of-way.

Under the plan, VDOT would also add tolls and improve local trails, as well as build a pedestrian bridge in East Falls Church.

But Preservation Arlington said the plan could undermine “the roadway’s unique parkway design.”

“Plantings are no longer maintained. Corten steel guardrails and sign supports are being replaced with standard, steel interstate highway components,” the group wrote. “The new toll road gantries, and large, new sign supports (and highway signage) on nearby arterial roads have further eroded the parkway’s ability to blend into its surroundings.”

Another piece of history under threat, according to Preservation Arlington, are the Education Center and Planetarium, chosen last week by the Arlington County School Board for an extra 500-600 high school seats and a renovation.

A request had been made to designate the site as a historic district, but the County Board followed staff’s recommendation and denied that designation in May.

“While some exterior improvements will be necessary it is hoped that this will be minimal and will not alter the appearance of the historic structure,” Preservation Arlington wrote. “Designed as a headquarters building to show the strength and commitment to education, the building is iconic in our community.”

Also under threat, according to Preservation Arlington:

  • 1000-series Metro cars, retired this month for safety reasons
  • Community buildings like those for churches and service organizations
  • Four Mile Run industrial area
  • Housing stock from before World War II, with the continued loss of these homes “erasing Arlington’s architectural and community history.”

Image via VDOT presentation

by ARLnow.com June 9, 2017 at 9:05 am 0

Road Closures for Bike Races — As a reminders, there will be significant road closures in Clarendon and Crystal City on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, for the Armed Forces Cycling Classic.

Arlington Woman Invented ‘Monopoly’ Precursor — An Arlington woman may have been the “real” inventor of the board game Monopoly. Lizzie Magie, who died in Arlington in 1948, created a board game very similar to Monopoly. Three decades later, Charles Darrow, taking inspiration from Magie’s game, created Monopoly and sold it to Parker Brothers. [Arlington Magazine]

I-66 Tolls Expected to Start in December — New tolls on single-occupancy vehicles on I-66 are now expected to take effect in December. Electronic toll signs have started going up near I-66 on-ramps. [Twitter, NBC Washington]

Krupicka Having Fun Running Donut Stores — Former member of the Virginia House of Delegates Rob Krupicka is enjoying his second act: owning Sugar Shack donut stores in Arlington, Alexandria and now D.C. [Washington City Paper]

Wages Drop in Arlington — Mirroring regional and national trends, average weekly wages in Arlington dropped 1.4 percent, to $1,677, in the last three months of 2016. Arlington ranked as the seventh-highest average weekly wage in the country. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards

by Chris Teale May 3, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Refinements are being made to a plan to build a pedestrian and cyclist bridge in East Falls Church, which has undergone big changes in the past few months.

A previous version came under fire earlier this year for what critics viewed as a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood and a perceived lack of community input, as well as design concerns. In previous renderings, the bridge had a trussed roof and was dark red.

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.

Now, the bridge has no trusses along its top and is instead what Amanda Baxter, special projects development manager at VDOT, described at a meeting Tuesday as an “earth tone gray.” Baxter said other refinements include shaped fencing and renderings showing nearby landscaping, as well as locations for relocated trail shelters to provide a rest area for all users.

She added that the lighting on the bridge is still up for discussion. Currently, the bridge has acorn-style lights in its center that would be maintained by Dominion Virginia Power. VDOT and local residents agree the lights could be better, but they are limited to lights in Dominion’s inventory.

Baxter said the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority, which owns land nearby, is instead willing to help out with maintaining different lights.

“I think they’ve heard you too and are willing to step up and look to other options they can maintain,” she said.

Also still up for discussion are the installation of noise walls at certain areas along I-66, which VDOT is required to offer to provide under federal law if the noise level goes higher than 66 decibels.

Neighbors who would directly benefit from the walls would be balloted on whether they should be installed, Baxter said, although some attendees raised concerns about the walls appearing to enclose the neighborhood behind them and block light.

And local resident Sandy Chesrown, representing the Lee Highway Alliance, said the group would continue to push for public art to be installed nearby.

“We see this as a gateway statement to Falls Church and Arlington County, and we will continue to lobby for some sort of public art,” she said.

VDOT plans to award a design/build contract for the entire “Transform 66” project, including constructing the bridge, at the end of this year. Building work is projected to take from mid-2018 until 2021.

by Katie Pyzyk April 11, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Bloomberg BNA Expansion — Crystal City-based Bloomberg BNA will invest $5.5 million to expand in Arlington County and create up to 125 new jobs. Governor McAuliffe approved a $500,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist with the project. [Augusta Free Press]

Suspect Has Missing Ex-Wife — The Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested a man in Arlington this weekend in connection with the 2009 disappearance of his girlfriend, who lived in D.C. Now Jose Rodriguez-Cruz also has been tied to the disappearance of his first wife, who was last seen in 1989. Arlington County police have opened an investigation into her disappearance. [WTOP] [NBC Washington]

Overnight I-66 Closures — VDOT will be closing part of eastbound I-66 for 20 minute intervals tonight for toll construction. Beginning at 9:30 p.m. and running until 5 a.m. on Wednesday, closures will occur on eastbound I-66 between I-495 north and Lee Highway.

by ARLnow.com April 3, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Baba Now Open — Baba, the comfy bar and cafe in the basement of Ambar in Clarendon, is now open after some unexpected delays. The “big draw” of Baba, according to the Post’s Maura Judkis, is its made-from-scratch cocktails. [Washington Post]

Ballston Wi-Fi to Launch Today — The “BLinked” gigabit wi-fi service in Ballston is expected to launch today. The free service will offer a high-speed and seamless internet connection throughout public spaces in Ballston. [Twitter]

Signature Theatre 2017-18 Season Announced — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has announced the lineup for its 2017-18 season, with eight marquee shows and six short-run cabarets. [Signature Theatre]

Reminder: Storm Drains Empty to Waterways — “Our local waterways literally go with the flow. That means rain water heads into nearby storm drains and then quickly ends up in local streams like Four Mile Run. Those streams flow into the Potomac River, the source for much of the region’s drinking water.” [Arlington County]

Obit: William Coleman — William T. Coleman, Jr., a civil rights lawyer and cabinet member who broke racial barriers, has died. Coleman is noted in Arlington for his role, as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, in authorizing the controversial construction of I-66 inside the Beltway. [NBC News]

Arlington Players Rack Up WATCH Awards — The Arlington Players have received seven Washington Area Theatre Community Honors awards, tying an Alexandria theater company for the highest award total of 2017. [InsideNova]

Hat tip to Eric Dobson. Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com March 14, 2017 at 4:25 pm 0

Overturned vehicle on EB I-66 near N. Westmoreland Street

A car flipped on its roof on eastbound I-66 around the start of Tuesday evening’s rush hour.

The crash happened around 4:15 p.m. in the area of N. Westmoreland Street. The occupants of the vehicle were able to get out and no serious injuries were reported.

Inbound traffic approaching Arlington on I-66 is backing up prior to the accident scene. One travel lane is blocked.

by Tim Regan January 30, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

by Tim Regan January 27, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

(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).

by Tim Regan January 25, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

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.

by ARLnow.com January 18, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

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

by ARLnow.com December 28, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

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.

by ARLnow.com November 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm 0

(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.

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