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
Passenger Thrown from Minivan in Crash — Three people were hurt in an early morning crash on S. Arlington Ridge Road today. Police say a car traveling at 55 mph on the residential street slammed into the back of a minivan near 23rd Street S., causing one passenger in the van to be ejected from the vehicle. [WJLA, NBC Washington]
School Board Approves $100 Million H-B Design — The Arlington School Board has approved a concept design for the Wilson School in Rosslyn, future home of the H-B Woodlawn secondary program. With a 92-space parking garage factored in, the construction cost of the school may exceed $100 million. Also last week, the School Board confirmed that it will again ask the County Board for permission to build a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson Middle School campus. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
County Facebook Post Raises Eyebrows — Democratic political operative Ben Tribbett, among others, is calling an Arlington County Facebook post about a local Democratic resolution on the Redskins team name an “inappropriate use of a government Facebook account.” Tribbett was previously hired by the team to defend its name. [Facebook, Blue Virginia]
Nine Arlington Restaurants Make Top 50 List — Nine Arlington establishments have made Northern Virginia Magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants list. The highest on the list is new-this-year Kapnos Taverna in Ballston. [Patch]
Fisette on County’s Support for I-66 Plan — Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette says the county supports a plan for tolling I-66 because it is a regional compromise that’s cost effective, multimodal and not “the typical knee-jerk reaction [of] just widening roads.” Fisette notes that Arlington “was traumatized by the building of I-66 right through some of our neighborhoods” in the 1970s and 80s. [Washington Post]
Four Mile DMV Moving After Losing Lease — Dozens of angry Fairfax County residents came out to a meeting Thursday night to express opposition to a new DMV office in the Barcroft Plaza shopping center. The meeting also revealed more information on why the DMV is moving from its current location on S. Four Mile Run Drive. The DMV reportedly lost its lease due to a planned redevelopment, which has since fallen through. [Annandale VA]
More Info on Courthouse Redevelopment — We now know a bit more about the planned redevelopment of a low-rise office building in Courthouse. A 15-story, 91-unit condo building with 2,000 square feet of ground floor retail space is planned to replace the office building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Eric
Huge Apartment Building Proposed for Ballston — A Bethesda-based developer is proposing a huge new apartment building on the western side of the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road in Ballston. The building would feature 483 apartments, 760 underground parking spaces and 68,000 square feet of retail including a grocery store. The nearby Bluemont Civic Association has expressed concern about the proposal, including the potential impact of traffic from the grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]
Mall Worker Accused of Stealing Dozens of Shoes — A maintenance worker at the Pentagon City mall has been arrested and accused of stealing at least 77 pairs of shoes and boots and 9 purses. Police say surveillance footage shows Michael Meza-Guevara unsuccessfully trying to disable surveillance cameras. [NBC Washington]
Arlington Tops Regional Teacher Pay List — Arlington Public Schools offer the highest average teacher pay in suburban D.C. The average teacher salary in Arlington was $78,002 a year, compared to $76,029 for Montgomery County, which ranked third. [WTOP]
Editorial Supports I-66 Toll Plan, Widening — A new Washington Post editorial supports Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan for adding tolls to I-66. The editorial also supports widening the highway: “The right policy response to the I-66 mess, in addition to promoting mass transit, is to widen the road. Unfortunately, that’s been blocked by Arlington County, whose hostility from the outset is why the road was designed to narrow to four lanes inside the Beltway (from six outside).” [Washington Post]
Freezing Temperatures This Morning — Temperatures reached the freezing mark, dropping down to 32 degrees for the first time this season. The average first freeze in Arlington occurs on Nov. 18. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
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.
Murder Victim Feared Her Estranged Husband — Bonnie Black, who was found dead in her home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood on April 17, feared her estranged husband, court documents show. After months of continuing to live in the neighborhood a free man during the investigation, David Black is now in jail, charged with murder. [NBC Washington]
Wakefield, W-L Fall in Football Playoffs — The playoff runs for the Wakefield and Washington-Lee high school football teams have ended early. Wakefield could’t hang on to a 6-0 lead at halftime, falling to Potomac Falls 21-6, while W-L lost 44-20 to Westfield. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Arlington Wants I-66 Widening Delayed — This week the Arlington County Board is scheduled to decide its position on the plan for tolling on I-66. At its Saturday meeting the Board made clear that it wants to delay the widening of the highway as long as possible. Meanwhile, responding to questions from county officials, VDOT says it’s not able to fully enforce existing HOV restrictions on I-66 because the enforcement causes significant traffic delays. Nearly half of the clogged rush hour traffic on I-66 is believed to be HOV rule breakers. [WTOP, WTOP]
County May Ask for Paper, Plastic Bag Tax Authority — Despite failing efforts in previous years, Arlington County’s draft legislative agenda seeks to again ask the Virginia General Assembly for the authority to levy a small tax on single-use paper and plastic bags. The proposal may exempt bags for certain items, like newspapers, dry cleaning and prescription drugs. [InsideNova]
Historic House for Sale — A 145-year-old house known as “The Hill” is now for sale in Arlington’s Old Glebe neighborhood. Originally a summer home for a prominent D.C. family, the four-bedroom house is on the market for $1,568,000. [Preservation Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Wakefield Wins, Ends Undefeated in Conference — The Wakefield Warriors football team defeated the Lee Lancers 50-18 on Friday to finish the regular season 8-2 and undefeated in the Capitol Conference. Wakefield will play in the first round of the 5A North Region playoffs on Friday. [InsideNova]
W-L Makes Playoffs with Win Against Yorktown — The Washington-Lee Generals secured a playoff spot and a 5-5 season with a win against cross-county rival Yorktown on Friday. It wrapped up Yorktown’s first losing season since 1995. [Washington Post]
I-66 ‘Worst Damn Freeway in America’ — Traffic-clogged I-66 is the worst interstate highway in America, so says the website Thrillist, based on federal highway data. I-10 in New Orleans was ranked the second worst. [Thrillist]
Arlington to Get Development Boost at Alexandria’s Expense? — After years of losing big office tenants to Alexandria, the economic tables may be turning for Arlington County. This month Alexandria elected a new mayor who ran on a mildly anti-development platform, while Arlington elected two new County Board members who spoke in favor of economic development efforts. [Bisnow]
Photo courtesy Buzz McClain
The latest skirmish involving a County Board candidate started when an automated call from Del. Rip Sullivan (D) started ringing in thousands of Arlington homes Sunday.
Sullivan’s recorded voice ripped into McMenamin for suggesting that he would support adding an extra lane to I-66 within the existing VDOT right of way in Arlington, tying that position into an issue near and dear to many Arlingtonians: parks.
Hi, this is Delegate Rip Sullivan. I have served on a Park Authority and Transportation Commission, and I’ve got an important message for you about the use of parks and green space in Arlington.
Independent-Republican for County Board, Mike McMenamin, supports widening I-66, which would threaten the quality of our parks at Madison Manor, Bon Air, Thrifton Hills, McCoy, and other parklands across the County. It would also threaten the quality of the Custis Trail. To protect parkland throughout Arlington County from development, join me in supporting Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol. If protecting Arlington’s parks and green space is important to you, then vote on Tuesday, November 3rd for the two candidates committed to protecting parks and green space: Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol.
Paid for and authorized by Christian Dorsey for County Board and Katie Cristol for County Board.
McMenamin responded in turn by accusing the Democrats of tying to “hide their weakness on parks.” From a press release:
Mike McMenamin today accused Delegate Rip Sullivan of making an 11th-hour attack purposely distorting his position on I-66.
“It shows that the political establishment in Arlington is worried about losing,” said McMenamin, who is running as an Independent for the County Board.
In a robo-call to thousands of voters on Sunday, the Democratic delegate said that McMenamin’s support for widening the interstate freeway would threaten the quality of various county parks.
McMenamin countered that he would only tolerate widening the highway within the current right of way and no further. Such widening, he said, would not take away any parkland at all.
“My opponents have been unwilling to say that they won’t build affordable housing on parkland, a position they know is unpopular, so they are trying to muddy the waters with these dubious attacks,” McMenamin said. “In fact, I am the only candidate committed to not building on our parks.
The Independent candidate said he is committed to keeping parkland and trails intact. “If any VDOT proposal would negatively affect any parks in Arlington, I think I would be the most effective voice for the neighborhoods.”
“While I don’t like the idea of having to widen 66, I fear the State is inevitably going to do just that,” he said. “After all, VDOT owns the road. So, I have taken the position that Arlington must strike the best deal possible.”
McMenamin also opposes tolls for I-66, saying it will lead to more surface traffic in nearby neighborhoods.
Update at 4:30 p.m. — The crashed vehicles are now on the right shoulder and two lanes of traffic are getting by. However, significant delays remain.
Update at 4:06 p.m. — One lane of traffic is now slowly squeezing by on the lefthand shoulder.
Earlier: The westbound lanes of I-66 are temporarily blocked due to a two-vehicle crash just past Glebe Road.
At least one non-life-threatening injury was reported and there appears to be some sort of a fluid spill on the highway at the crash scene.
Commuters should seek alternate routes.