Arlington, VA

Four years ago, Arlington officials spent $4.1 million to build a 10-mile fiber optic network aimed at allowing local businesses to get cheaper access to higher-speed internet — since then, the fiber has just sat in the ground, almost totally unused.

At the time, county leaders championed the construction of the “dark fiber” network as a transformative step for Arlington. Though the county is barred by state law from offering internet service itself, officials envisioned smaller internet service providers working with local tech firms to “light” the fiber, providing county businesses with a powerful new option to access the internet at blazing-fast speeds.

But an ARLnow investigation shows that Arlington officials made a series of decisions in designing the program that scared off any businesses interested in leasing the fiber.

A committee of broadband experts convened by the county laid out many of these problems with the network, dubbed “ConnectArlington,” in a thorough report recommending an extensive overhaul of the program’s design. At least one member compared ConnectArlington to the infamous — but never built — “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska.

County officials, including County Manager Mark Schwartz, have now been aware of the group’s conclusions for close to eight months and they say they’re already hard at work to heed some of the committee’s recommendations. The report has even since been forwarded along to the County Board, even though Schwartz had originally hoped to wait to deliver his own recommendations for the program alongside the committee’s conclusions.

Now, it remains an open question how the county will work to address the problems with ConnectArlington, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for the county to maintain.

“They have this huge amount of fiber in the ground, and not a single strand of it has been leased,” said Chris Rozycki, a member of the Broadband Advisory Committee that studied ConnectArlington. “It’s like they’ve built an interstate, with no on-ramps or off-ramps.”

Fiber frustrations

The Board decided to build the 10-mile network in February 2015, reasoning that it would be a logical extension of the county’s existing fiber network, which connects county facilities, schools, radio towers and traffic signals.

Then-County Board member Jay Fisette touted it to ARLnow at the time as a “competitive advantage over other jurisdictions,” positioning it as a key tool for economic development in the county. It was also designed as a way to provide more competition for large ISPs like Verizon and Comcast — the county’s own research shows that companies at roughly 60 percent of all county office buildings only have one ISP able to offer them fiber-based service.

But the network’s design and the county’s conditions for leasing out the fiber were flawed from the very beginning, according to the broadband committee’s report and interviews with four of the group’s six members.

A chief concern is how the county chose to build out the fiber. Officials designed it as “middle mile” service, meaning it runs along major roadways (along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Columbia Pike, for example) but didn’t initially connect to the buildings along the corridors.

“To be useful, the network must be complete,” the report argues, according to a copy obtained by ARLnow. The report has not been publicly released by the county.

“‘Build it and they will come’ does not always work,” the committee wrote. “Part of the network was built, but not enough to bring the ‘players’ to the game.”

(Read the full report written by the county’s Broadband Advisory Committee.)

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Arlington County Police are investigating a shooting that happened last night on S. Glebe Road.

A man was shot at the intersection of Glebe and S. Arlington Ridge Road, two blocks away from Gunston Middle School, around 7 p.m., according to police. The victim is expected to survive and police are still seeking the shooter.

More from an ACPD press release, issued just after noon today (Monday):

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a shooting that took place on the evening of December 30, 2018.

At approximately 7:03 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown at the intersection of S. Glebe Road and S. Arlington Ridge Road. Upon arrival on scene, officers located a male victim suffering from trauma to the upper body and immediately began performing life saving measures. The victim was transported to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries. Following medical treatment, the victim’s condition has been upgraded to stable and he is expected to survive his wounds.

This incident remains an active criminal investigation. At this time, no suspect(s) have been identified and there are no suspect(s) descriptions. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective J. Trainer of the Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4185 or [email protected]

Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

File photo

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(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating a crash in Rosslyn involving a dump truck and a woman who was pushing a stroller.

The crash happened around 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Lee Highway and Ft. Myer Drive. According to a police spokeswoman, a female pedestrian was struck by a dump truck and suffered serious — but at this point non-life-threatening — injuries. The woman was pushing a stroller at the time but the child was not injured, police said.

The victim was rushed to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital. Detectives are on scene investigating, as is standard procedure for crashes involving very serious injuries.

All lanes of eastbound Lee Highway were previously blocked at N. Nash Street, but have since reopened. Police have moved the investigation onto N. Lynn Street, closing two lanes on that road. Major backups have been reported on the Key Bridge and Ft. Myer Drive approaching Rosslyn.

Road closures are expected to remain in place “for a significant amount of time” while officers investigate the cause of the crash, according to Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

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Morning Notes

Suspect and Murdered Wife Both Marines — “A woman found dead in [an Arlington] hotel room on Saturday and the man arrested in connection with her murder are both U.S. Marines… The two were seen earlier in the evening at the Marriott while attending their unit’s military ball to commemorate the Marine Corps’ 243rd birthday.” [Newsweek, Task and Purpose]

Arlingtonian Named ABC 7’s Hero of the Week — “In his dedication to the community, Aaron Codispoti switches gears constantly — in the truest sense of the word. He manages a team of more than a thousand people within the State Department, volunteers as an auxiliary police officer with Arlington County — often on bike patrol — and organizes blood drives twice a year.” [WJLA]

Crafthouse Going National — Ballston restaurant Crafthouse is taking its craft beer and elevated pub food formula national. The company, which also has locations in Fairfax and Reston, is preparing for rapid expansion via franchising. [Reston Now]

Local Entrepreneurs Mostly Looking Forward to Amazon — Though Amazon’s anticipated arrival in Crystal City could come with rent and hiring challenges, local entrepreneurs are mostly looking forward to the excitement and amenities the tech giant will bring to the area. [Forbes]

Amazon May Make Defense Hiring Harder — “If Amazon.com Inc. puts part of its second headquarters in Crystal City — as signs are pointing to this week — it could make defense hiring in the region even more competitive. The Seattle-based e-commerce and cloud computing company is already pursuing new deals in the defense and intelligence sectors, industry execs tell The Wall Street Journal, and an expanded presence in Greater Washington — home to thousands of government contractors — would put a strain on a market stretched by a dearth of workers holding proper security clearances.” [Washington Business Journal]

Police Looking for Driver Who Brandished Gun — Arlington County Police are investigating a road rage incident along Columbia Pike in which one driver “pulled over, exited his vehicle, and following a verbal dispute, allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened the other driver.” [Arlington County]

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The pedestrian struck by a vehicle on Columbia Pike Monday morning died from his injuries, Arlington County Police said Tuesday afternoon.

Police are still investigating the crash, according to ACPD. The victim has been identified as 44-year-old Arlington resident Jay Thoman.

More from a press release:

The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a fatal pedestrian crash that occurred on Monday, April 30 at the intersection of Columbia Pike at S. Queen Street. At approximately 7:08 a.m., police responded to the area for the report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. Members of the Crash Reconstruction Team responded to the scene and are conducting an ongoing and active investigation.

The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. The victim was transported to George Washington University Hospital where he was subsequently pronounced deceased.

The identity of the pedestrian is being withheld pending proper identification.

Anyone with information regarding this crash is asked to contact Detective Johnson at [email protected] or 703-228-4193. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

Photo via Google Maps

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Arlington County Police have released a composite sketch of a man who allegedly tried to abduct a woman in the Ballston area on April 1.

Police say a woman was walking along the 600 block of N. Oxford Street on a Sunday afternoon when a man “grabbed her from behind and attempted to pull her towards his vehicle.” The woman managed to get away and called police.

Police distributed a sketch and a description of the suspect Wednesday afternoon.

“The suspect is described as a black male in his 20’s, approximately 5’9″ to 6’0″ tall with shoulder-length deadlocks with red tips,” ACPD said in a press release. “He was wearing a black shirt, light gray zip up hoodie and dark gray sweatpants at the time of the incident.”

“Anyone with information on the identify of this suspect is asked to contact Detective G. Sloan at 703.228.4198 or at [email protected],” the press release added.

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The Arlington County Police Department has released surveillance video of a man suspected in an arson case along Columbia Pike.

The man is accused of breaking into the Legend Kicks and Apparel store early last Friday morning, stealing merchandise and then setting the store on fire. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the blaze after being alerted to it by a passerby.

In the video released by police (above), the man can be seen ambling down Columbia Pike after exiting the store. A bag full of apparently pilfered merchandise breaks as he approaches the camera. As the man bends down to pick it up, a portion of his rear end is blurred by police.

Legend Kicks is a relatively new store but had quickly grown a loyal customer base, particularly among younger people.

“They were getting quite a following by ‘sneakerheads’ in the area,” one nearby resident told ARLnow.com. “They had some very valuable stock. It’s such a shame.”

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Virginia State Police are investigating a shooting on I-395 near the Pentagon.

Someone fired a bullet through the front seat windows of a car driving on northbound I-395 near the HOV entrance and the Pentagon, according to VSP.

The incident happened just before 8 p.m. No one was injured and there have thus far been no arrests.

In a press release, state police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down the shooter.

Virginia State Police are seeking the public’s help with a shooting incident that occurred Thursday evening (March 22) in the northbound main lines of I-395 prior to the northbound HOV entrance in Arlington County. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026 or #77 on a cell phone or by email at [email protected].

At approximately 7:53 p.m., the Virginia State Police Fairfax Division received a call about a shot being fired at a vehicle. When Virginia Troopers arrived on scene, they found a white Toyota Corolla and a gray Hyundai Sonata stopped on the right shoulder of the northbound I-395 HOV lanes at the 9 mile marker. The Hyundai Sonata had a hole in the front seat, driver’s side window and another hole in the front seat, passenger side window. Further investigation confirmed that the holes were the result of a bullet entering the vehicle on the driver’s side and exiting the car through the passenger side window.

The driver in the Hyundai was not injured. No bullet was found inside or outside the vehicle, nor were there any other bullet holes in the Sonata.

The Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Corolla were traveling together at the time of the shooting. Neither driver could provide any description or license plate of a suspect vehicle.

Arlington County Police and Pentagon Police responded to the scene to assist State Police with the investigation, which remains ongoing at this time.

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A 25-year-old D.C. man has been arrested for sexually assaulting a woman in Rosslyn last May.

The suspect is Richard Allen Lowe, who police say knocked on doors at an apartment building on the 1500 block of Key Boulevard pretending to be a maintenance worker. When a female victim opened her door, the suspect attacked her, sexually assaulting her before fleeing, according to police.

Lowe, charged with abduction with intent to defile and malicious wounding, is being held at the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.

More from the press release:

Arlington County Police detectives conducted an intensive investigation including the review of crime scene evidence, witness interviews and laboratory results. The review resulted in additional information that led detectives to identify Richard Allen Lowe as a possible suspect. Forensic evidence and thorough investigative efforts linked the suspect to the incident. The suspect was arrested in Washington D.C. on February 22, 2018 with assistance by the Metropolitan Police Department and subsequently extradited to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information regarding this incident or concerning Richard Allen Lowe is asked to contact Detective P. Pena at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

After the attack last May, the Arlington County Police Department released a video of the suspect entering another residential building on the 1900 block of Wilson Boulevard. In that instance, the building’s concierge saw the man sneak in and denied him further access.

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Arlington County Police are still investigating a drive-by shooting in the Nauck neighborhood this past Sunday night.

Three male suspects in a dark van or SUV opened fire on a group of four juvenile near the intersection of 24th Street S. and Shirlington Road around 8:15 p.m., according to police. A resident who lives nearby emailed ARLnow.com and described a chaotic scene.

“Around 8:12 a series of approximately eight gunshots were heard followed by several individuals seen running through the neighborhood,” she said. The resident added later that she’s skeptical that no one in the neighborhood was able to give a better description of the vehicle or the suspects.

Police are treating the shooting as an “attempted malicious wounding” rather than attempted murder. ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said the incident “remains an active and ongoing investigation by the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit.”

“Police have collected crime scene evidence, canvased the area and spoken with witnesses,” Savage said. “The events that preceded the shooting remain under investigation.”

“The Third District Community Policing Team has been in touch with community members since the incident occurred and is attending a tenants meeting in the community next week,” Savage continued. “Anyone who has information regarding this investigation is asked to call Detective Bertollini at703.228.4243 or [email protected]. Information can also be reported anonymously by calling the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”

Photo via Google Maps

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) A nearly $1.8 million home in Clarendon may be subject for forfeiture to the federal government as a result of the case against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

A 12-count indictment of Manafort, accusing him of laundering money and failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, details his alleged transfer of money from overseas shell companies to buy cars, luxury goods and expensive real estate.

Among the properties is a home on the 1000 block of N. Edgewood Street, adjacent to to Green Pig Bistro and steps from the heart of Clarendon. Arlington County property records show the house, first built in 1920, was purchased in September 2012 for $1.9 million and is currently assessed at just over $1.75 million. Manafort’s daughter, Andrea, is listed as the owner.

The indictment alleges that the home was purchased with money transferred from a shell company in Cyprus and seeks its forfeiture, along with the forfeiture of three Manafort-linked properties in New York.

Another official involved in President Trump’s campaign, Rick Gates, was also named in the indictment, as part of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

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