A decades-long effort to build a boathouse along the banks of the Potomac River is lurching forward once more.
Officials with the National Park Service have wrapped up an environmental analysis of the project and settled on a preferred alternative near Rosslyn for its construction, in the latest bit of forward momentum for an initiative that has long bedeviled county leaders.
Local high schoolers have been particularly keen on seeing a new boathouse come to the fruition, as the closest access points for rowing teams have long been in Georgetown or Alexandria, but the project’s complexity has repeatedly stalled it.
NPS took control of Arlington’s portion of the Potomac shoreline after the construction of the GW Parkway, and the federal agency has spent years working off-and-on with the county to find a way to give local rowers easier access to the river. Arlington officials helped jump-start the process in 2014 by buying a parcel of land along Lee Highway just south of the Key Bridge, giving the NPS some added flexibility as it evaluated several options where the boathouse could be built.
Now, the agency is recommending a design that would involve building a 300-foot-long floating dock and 14,000 square feet of boat storage along the Potomac’s shoreline near Rosslyn, just across from Theodore Roosevelt Island. The plan also calls for building a support facility on the county-owned Lee Highway site with office space, locker rooms and handicapped parking.
NPS also evaluated plans to build the boathouse on the same site near the island without the support building, as well as an option that would involve building the boathouse on Gravelly Point near Reagan National Airport instead.
Yet the agency settled on its preferred alternative because the additional space off Lee Highway “allows for development of a smaller boat storage structure while providing additional support facilities outside the floodplain, off NPS property, and close to transit,” officials wrote in the environmental analysis.
They also noted that the Potomac is a bit calmer near the Rosslyn location, earning it higher marks than Gravelly Point. The close proximity of the Rosslyn Metro station and several local bus stops, in addition to the Custis bike trail, also won the option some praise.
While the agency found that any construction would have some limited impacts on the area’s wetlands and soil, it broadly didn’t foresee many stumbling blocks for the project to move forward. Nevertheless, any construction will require both federal and state permits to advance, and the county will need to work with federal officials to find funding for the effort.
In the meantime, however, NPS is accepting comments on the environmental analysis through July 30 on its website. The agency also plans to hold a July 12 open house at Washington-Lee High School on the project, starting at 6 p.m.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt
Update at 2:10 p.m. — The incident ” has transitioned from a rescue to a recovery operation,” according to D.C. Fire, indicating that officials believe the missing worker did not survive. The barge that overturned has been secured, the fire department said.
Earlier: Rescuers are searching for a worker who remains unaccounted for after a small barge overturned in the Potomac River near the Key Bridge Monday morning.
At least people were rescued after what was described as a “workboat” reportedly flipped over amid a strong current in the rain-swelled Potomac. A total of six people were in the water and five made it out uninjured, according to Twitter posts from D.C. Fire and EMS.
An “extensive search” remains underway, D.C. Fire said.
The Key Bridge is in the midst of a $14.5 million rehabilitation project.
#DCsBravest have secured a barge involved in this incident to the shoreline opposite the Watergate complex. The PIO remains on the scene at that location for any media needs. Also thanks to @uscoastguard and @usparkpolicepio eagle helicopter for their assistance. pic.twitter.com/gqTKDhwB4s
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) June 4, 2018
Update Key Bridge water rescue: 1 worker remains unaccounted for in river. Extensive search in progress utilizing 2 #DCsBravest fireboats + 2 inflatables. 5 others who were in water evaluated and Uninjured. Will not be transported. pic.twitter.com/MdDM3NPinT
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) June 4, 2018
Water Rescue Potomac River beneath Key Bridge. 3 people in water. 2 removed and 1 unaccounted for. This was reported as a workboat overturned.
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) June 4, 2018
Perriello Campaigns in Arlington — Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello canvassed in Arlington yesterday with former Obama speechwriter and Pod Save America co-host Jon Lovett. [Twitter]
Key Bridge Lane Closure — One southbound lane of the Key Bridge, heading from D.C. to Rosslyn, is scheduled to be closed from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. today through Friday. The closure is part of the Key Bridge Rehabilitation Project. [DDOT]
Beyer Blasts Trump, Again — “Have you no decency?” was the Twitter response of Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) to President Donald Trump’s tweet criticizing the mayor of London in the aftermath of Saturday’s terror attack there. [Twitter]
‘Jungle Book’ at Encore — DC Metro Theater Arts has a review of Encore Stage & Studio’s production of The Jungle Book, which pays through June 11 at Thomas Jefferson Community Theater (125 S. Old Glebe Road). [DC Metro Theater Arts]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
The attempted sexual assault happened in a grassy area near the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Key Bridge about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, police say.
The woman and the man were walking past each other on the bridge when he grabbed her and forced her into the nearby grass, police said. The man then covered the woman’s mouth and tried to get his hands under her shorts.
But the victim was able to get away, and the man fled. Police described the suspect as:
A white male, in his late 20’s to early 30’s, approximately 5’8″ to 5’10” with a medium build. He is described as having fair skin, dirty blonde hair and was clean shaven at the time of the incident. He was wearing a dark t-shirt with tan shorts or possibly pants. He was last seen fleeing the area on foot along the Key Bridge towards Washington D.C.
“If anyone has information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding this incident, please contact Detective R. Icolari of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4240 or at [email protected],” police said in a press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”
Caps, Star Spotting at Don Tito — The Washington Capitals play their season opener Saturday, but the team has already been spotted out on the town. Members of the Caps were seen dining at Don Tito in Clarendon Wednesday night. Among those in attendance: Caps center Brooks Laich and fiancee Julianne Hough, of Dancing With the Stars fame.
Key Bridge Rehab Coming — D.C. is seeking a contractor for a two-year, $30 million rehabilitation of the Key Bridge. The project will include safety improvements for pedestrians. [Washington Business Journal]
GW Parkway Ramp Closures — The ramp from Reagan National Airport to the GW Parkway will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday for paving. Also scheduled for closure during that period: the ramp from the GW Parkway to northbound I-395. Starting tonight, a third ramp — from the GW Parkway to the Key Bridge — will be closed for paving through 7 p.m. Saturday
E.W. Jackson to Address Arlington GOP Women — Controversial 2013 GOP lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson will be the featured speaker at the Arlington Republican Women’s Club fall dinner on Oct. 20. [InsideNova]
School Cafeteria Taste Test for Parents — Arlington Public Schools parents got to taste test food at the Washington-Lee High School cafeteria as part of a school lunch open house. The reaction: generally positive. [WTOP]
Maywood Profiled — Washington’s daily paper of record has profiled Arlington’s tiny Maywood neighborhood, off of Lee Highway. Homes in the community now regularly sell for more than $1 million, a contrast from 30 years ago when Maywood was home to “rough characters who rode motorcycles.” [Washington Post]
Starting Monday morning, commuters will have to find an alternate route to get from the GW Parkway to the Key Bridge.
National Park Service will close the ramp from southbound GW Parkway to Key Bridge starting before rush hour Monday morning and running through Friday, Aug. 28. The ramp will reopen Saturday morning, said NPS spokesman Aaron LaRocca.
NPS will be replacing the entire surface of the ramp while it is closed. The repairs include milling the road, replacing gravel and overlaying with asphalt.
There will be no detours. NPS advises commuters to find alternate routes and to expect delays.
The driver of the SUV that crashed in the early hours of April 16 by the Key Bridge has died.
The Arlington County Police Department identified the deceased as 26-year-old Jefferson R. Edwards IV, of Arlington.
According to Edwards’ obituary, published in the Washington Post on Friday, he was 26 years old, a former member of the United States Coast Guard and had worked as a personal trainer at Fitness First and Gold’s Gym in Arlington.
Edwards went by “J.R.” and grew up in Jacksonville, Fla. According to Sternbeck, alcohol and speed were factors in the crash that resulted in Edwards being ejected from his GMC Yukon at the intersection of Ft. Myer Drive and Lee Highway.
He was taken to George Washington Hospital, where he remained in critical condition for at least a day before he succumbed to his injuries.
“J.R. lived life to the fullest and left his footprint along the way,” his obituary reads. “Everything J.R. did was larger than life. J.R. was larger than life. J.R.’s splash was like a cannonball, we didn’t just get wet, we got soaked. J.R. not only jumped, he catapulted. J.R. not only hugged you, he lifted you off your feet. J.R. not only lit up the room, he lit up the stadium. J.R. not only raised the flag, he flew it.”
Photo via Facebook
Target Eyes Rosslyn — A vacant storefront at 1500 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn may become home to the D.C. region’s first TargetExpress, a smaller, grocery-oriented version of the big box retailer’s stores. So far, Target has not confirmed the news. The storefront has previously hosted Rosslyn BID-sponsored pop-up market events. [Washington Business Journal]
Key Bridge Rehab Planned — The D.C. Department of Transportation is planning to begin a two-year rehabilitation project on the Key Bridge this spring. Most of the work will focus on the bridge’s substructure so traffic impacts will be limited. Other planned work includes new LED streetlights, stronger barriers between the road and the sidewalk, and a new paint job for the bridge’s fence. [Georgetown Dish]
Sub $2 Gas in Arlington — The average price of a gallon of regular grade gasoline in Virginia fell to $1.99 over the weekend, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s the lowest statewide average price since May 2009. So far in Arlington, only one gas station is reported to have $1.99 gas: the Arlington Auto Service station at 5200 Columbia Pike. [VirginiaGasPrices]
AYD to Hold SOTU Watch Party — Arlington Young Democrats will be holding a watch party for tonight’s State of the Union address. The party starts at 7:30 p.m. at Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon (3100 Clarendon Blvd). President Obama’s address is scheduled to start at 9:00 p.m. For those looking for an ostensibly non-partisan watch party, Busboys and Poets in Shirlington (4251 S. Campbell Ave) is holding a “community watch event” starting at 8:00 p.m. [Arlington Young Democrats]
Blind Woman’s Luggage Returned Thanks to TV Station — WJLA’s “7 On Your Side” segment helped a blind Arlington resident retrieve her lost luggage at Reagan National Airport. The bag, reportedly containing all of Jessica Kyriazis’ winter clothes, was lost for several days by American Airlines due to circumstances arising from “bad weather.” [WJLA]
Taylor Gourmet Now Open at DCA — A Taylor Gourmet is now open at Reagan National Airport. It’s the latest in a line of trendy local restaurants that are opening at the airport this year, including Cava Grill, &pizza, Bracket Room, Lebanese Taverna Grill, Kapnos Taverna, and El Centro D.F. [Washington City Paper]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
The Rosslyn intersection where cyclists and pedestrians face drivers exiting I-66 has received safety modifications in the past two weeks and more changes are on the way, county officials said on a tour of the site Tuesday morning.
In advance of a $5 million overhaul slated to be complete in summer 2016, Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation changed the timing of the traffic lights and walk signals at Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street last week, said Larry Marcus, the county’s head of transportation engineering.
“Pedestrians and cyclists are the priority at this location, period,” Marcus said as county officials and police watched people navigate the corner some locals call the “Intersection of Doom.”
One change is minor in cost but should be significant in impact: A no-turn-on-red sign is being installed at N. Lynn Street for those exiting I-66. That’s being done “as soon as possible,” Marcus said.
Additionally, cyclists and pedestrians crossing N. Lynn Street using the Custis Trail previously had a walk signal when all traffic lights were red — known as a “leading interval” — for just 2 seconds; the length of that signal was increased last week to 5 seconds, Marcus said. The county plans to increase the leading interval time to 15 to 20 seconds in the next six months, once new signal technology is installed.
“We’re giving more time for pedestrians and bikes to go first,” Marcus said, adding that new caution signs for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists will be added to the intersection.
Drivers headed west on Lee Highway, meanwhile, now have an additional 10 seconds of biker- and pedestrian-free time to clear the intersection.
To pair with engineering changes, the Arlington County Police Department has ramped up traffic enforcement and educational efforts at the corner where numerous car-on-bike accidents have occurred, Capt. James Wasem said.
“People can expect to see uniformed police officers out here flagging cars over, directing traffic, handing out some brochures and citing violations,” he said about the measures enacted about two weeks ago.
Police issued 228 citations at the intersection from Sept. 15, 2013 through the same date this year: 133 for failure to obey traffic signals, 32 for improper turning and 1 for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Fifteen car crashes occurred at the intersection within that period, police said; just two crashes on record involved pedestrians.
The ACPD assigns an officer to direct traffic at the intersection on weekdays from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. but must spread officers between that corner, schools and other frequent crash sites. The department began sending an officer to the location “as often as possible” following recommendations from a traffic analyst the county hired this year, Wasem said.
ACPD is seeking funding to assign two officers to Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street every weekday morning, plus an additional two officers at Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard, Wasem said. The latter intersection has been facing a chronic problem of drivers “blocking the box” during rush hour since construction began on the Central Place project, blocking lanes of Lynn Street.
The additional staffing would cost $180,000 through next year.
More than 1,700 cyclists use the Custis Trail every day, according to county statistics. The I-66 exit ramp from which drivers head to the Key Bridge is used by as many as 600 cars per hour.
North Arlington resident Jennifer Bristow said she has had too many close calls with drivers as she has crossed the intersection with her 16-month-old son in a jogging stroller.
“People just want to hurry up and turn here,” she said. “They just don’t want to slow down.”
Virginia law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians at any clearly marked crosswalk.
The County Board-approved intersection overhaul will extend the curbs at corners to minimize cyclists’ and pedestrians’ crossing distance, add on-street bike lanes to N. Lynn St., widen sidewalks and improve lighting. A lane of traffic will be eliminated from Lee Highway west of N. Fort Meyer Drive to make way for the widening of Custis Trail from 10 feet wide to 16 feet wide. JBG Companies, which is developing the Central Place skyscrapers near the Rosslyn Metro station, is funding $3 million of the project’s $5 million price tag. Work is set to begin in fall 2015.
Capt. Wasem urged drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to obey traffic signals to keep people safe.
“We’re trying to minimize the doom,” he said.
The D.C. Department of Transportation has removed the dozens of “love locks” that started popping up on the Key Bridge this year.
“We have [the locks] in our storage facility,” DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders said in an email. “The locks are in reasonably good condition. At some point [couples] will be able to make arrangements to retrieve them.”
ARLnow.com first reported the plan to remove the locks last week.
The locks — padlocks with the names or initials of couples written on them — are put there to commemorate relationships, and the trend has been popping up on bridges around the world. On Paris’ Pont des Arts bridge, thousands of couples attached locks to the bridge’s fencing, much like more than 50 couples did on the Key Bridge. The fencing collapsed in June under the weight.
Sanders said he’s unsure of how the locks were removed, and was also unable to say if locks have popped up on any other bridge in the city. DDOT officials will inspect other bridges for locks in the coming weeks, Sanders said.
Asked if DDOT will do anything to prevent couples from placing more locks on the Key Bridge in particular, he simply replied: “DDOT will take measures to protect the integrity of the bridge structure.”
Update on 8/7/14 at 11:30 a.m. — D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Reggie Sanders says the love locks will be removed from Key Bridge today. “Locks are being removed because we don’t want to establish a precedence where our structures could become polluted with these types of campaigns. Also, it could jeopardize the functionality of the railings,” said Sanders.
Earlier: Lovers have started keeping their love under lock and key by latching padlocks bearing their names to the Key Bridge’s railings.
These “love locks” are meant to memorialize romantic relationships, but they can cause damage to fences and railings. At the Pont des Arts footbridge in Paris, thousands of couples latched love locks to a fence along the bridge. It was so weighed down by the locks that the fencing collapsed in June.
“This is the first time we’ve encountered this,” D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Reggie Sanders said.
Last week, there were three combination locks on the railing on the left side of the Key Bridge (as seen from Arlington) and 45 combination and padlocks on the right side’s railing. Many of the locks had couples’ names or initials on them, and some included an anniversary date or an additional sentiment.
One lock says: “alex & andi 26 november 2011,” with an engraving of wedding bands.
With love locks, the owners lock them to a railing, fence or lamppost, discard the key, and hope their love will last as long as their lock.
New York City officials claimed last May that the more than 5,000 locks on the Brooklyn Bridge put it at risk for damages, the New York Daily News wrote, and endangered motorists driving under the pedestrian walkway.
According to the Irish Times, last February in Dublin, city officials put signs on the Ha’Penny Bridge to dissuade couples from putting locks there. Transportation officials removed approximately 661 pounds of locks from the bridge the previous year.
There are far fewer locks on the Key Bridge than those other bridges, seemingly not yet enough to cause damage. Sanders currently is looking into measures his department may take to remove the locks, and is researching which D.C. laws may change this practice.
But drivers aren’t the only one dealing with congestion on the 91-year-old span that crosses the Potomac from Rosslyn to Georgetown. The bridge’s narrow pedestrian walkway is also typically jammed with walkers, runners and bikers, who sometimes come into conflict as they try to pass one another.
Pedestrians also impact traffic, as vehicles must wait for them to clear a crosswalk to take a ramp to the Whitehurst Freeway.
So what should be done to improve matters? Cross-river gondolas have been proposed, as have streetcars. But one self-described “transportation nerd,” writing on the county’s Mobility Lab website, has another suggestion: a dedicated pedestrian bridge.
Such a bridge could better accommodate all of those walkers, runners and bicyclists, while marginally improving vehicle traffic. Built parallel to the Key Bridge, one might expect the project to be similar in scope to the $12 million pedestrian span parallel to the Hot Metal Bridge in Pittsburgh, according to the writer, Sam Krassenstein.
Arlington first responders got a call for a man who fell or jumped from the bridge around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Fire department personnel determined that the man was on the D.C. side of the river and responded to the Key Bridge Boathouse.
There, they found that a civilian had seen the man in the water and used a kayak to bring him to shore, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah-Maria Marchegiani.
The 32-year-old man was transported to George Washington University Hospital for “minor injuries.” Marchegiani could not say whether the man’s plunge into the Potomac was deliberate or accidental.
Flickr pool photo by Alex
‘Trolley Pub’ Bill Fails in Richmond — A bill that would have allowed patrons of Arlington’s Trolley Pub to drink alcohol while on board has been passed over indefinitely in the House of Delegates. Del. Patrick Hope (D-47), who introduced the bill, said there were “too many significant issues” around the bill. [Patch]
Middle School PTA Peeved at Bus Inequality — The Thomas Jefferson Middle School PTA is upset that North Arlington schools appear to be getting preferential treatment when it comes to bus service for students inside the standard 1.5 mile perimeter for secondary schools. The PTA president says S. Glebe Road is dangerous for middle school students to cross and the school system should provide bus service for students who have to cross it. [Sun Gazette]
Settlement to Fund Surveillance Cameras — Arlington will use $55,000 from a federal settlement to fund the purchase of portable digital video surveillance cameras. The cameras will be used “to enhance security at large scale events.” The funds from from the $1.5 billion federal settlement with Abbott Laboratories Inc. in 2012 over unlawful promotion of a prescription drug. [Arlington County]
Freedom Rider Shares Memories — “Freedom Rider” and Arlington resident Joan Trumpauer Mulholland spoke earlier this month about her experience in trying to promote civil rights and racial integration in the deep South in the early 1960s. Mulholland was also the keynote speaker at Arlington’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration on Sunday. [Falls Church News-Press]
Man Survives Key Bridge Plunge in 1929 — A quirky bit of local history: In September 1929 a drunk 26-year-old man fell off the side of the Key Bridge, landing on his side in the water 120 feet below. Miraculously, he was rescued by a police officer and a boat club employee and “appeared none the worse for his experience.” But alas, it wasn’t a completely happy ending: five weeks later the stock market crashed, leading to the Great Depression. [Ghosts of DC]
Photo courtesy @carmstrong07
Update at 11:50 a.m. — All lanes are now back open.
Update at 11:35 a.m. — The Key Bridge is being reopened, D.C. police said via Twitter. Traffic is currently flowing from the D.C. to Virginia side of the bridge, but so far the inbound lanes have not reopened. NBC Washington is reporting that the closure was due to a phoned-in bomb threat.
Earlier: Police have closed the Key Bridge to vehicle and pedestrian traffic due to police activity on the D.C. side.
No word yet on when the bridge might reopen.