Arlington, VA

Arlington is continuing its final preparations for a presidential inauguration unlike any other.

In wake of the U.S. Capitol riots and a still-raging pandemic (though, cases are currently on a downward trajectory), tomorrow’s inauguration of President Joe Biden will be a scaled-down and highly militarized affair.

A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. are either completely shut down or have significantly altered traffic patterns.

Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. D.C.-bound lanes on the Roosevelt Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to a Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of D.C. road closures.

Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Road/MacArthur Blvd, according to the advisory.

Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland. Despite the unprecedented bridge closures today, traffic on N. Glebe Road leading to Chain Bridge appeared little changed from a typical weekday, suggesting that between the pandemic and the inauguration many would-be commuters were staying at home.

Traffic on the Key Bridge was heavy this morning (as seen in the photo above), as was the traffic being diverted from the 14th Street Bridge.

The county is advising residents to use the live cameras that are set up to monitor traffic.

On Friday, a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers said that this inauguration “will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history” and local law enforcement is trying to have a response “that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far.”

Reiterating previous statements, the Arlington County Police Department says there will be an increased “visible and non-visible” police presence in the county tomorrow. ACPD also remains in contact with neighboring law enforcement agencies about changing information and intelligence.

At this time, there are still no known threats to Arlington County, and the department still hasn’t committed to providing resources outside of the county on Inauguration Day, per ACPD spokesperson Ashley Savage.

Newly unsealed court documents, meanwhile, reveal that members of Oath Keepers militia, a far-right extremist group currently being investigated by the FBI, booked rooms for January 5 to 7 at the Comfort Inn hotel in Ballston, ahead of the January 6 storming of the Capitol.

In a Facebook message referenced in the documents, a Oath Keepers member said that the location would allow them to “hunt at night.”

Earlier this month, Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti told ARLnow that the county was aware of at least one local hotel hosting Trump supporters. The situation was monitored, he said, but no behavior there rose to a level of concern at the time.

ARLnow contacted Comfort Inn and was told by an hotel employee that management “definitely does not want to comment” on the allegations included in the documents.

We also have reached out to the hotel’s parent company Choice Hotels, but have yet to hear back as of publication time.

Jo DeVoe contributed to this report.

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I-66, Lee Highway and numerous local roads around Rosslyn will be temporarily blocked Sunday morning for the planned implosion of the former Holiday Inn hotel.

The 18-story hotel tower at 1900 N. Fort Myer Drive is set to come down around 8 a.m. Sunday “as safety, crowd control and weather conditions permit.” The implosion will make way for a new mixed-use development featuring a 25-story residential tower and a 38-story hotel tower.

Roads, including Lee Highway, will close around 6:30 a.m. Some will reopen by noon, while others are not expected to reopen until 6 p.m.

I-66 is set to be closed between Spout Run and the Roosevelt Bridge between 7:45-8:30 a.m. WTOP previously reported that crews will inspect the I-66 tunnel in Rosslyn for damage before the highway reopens.

Traffic on the Key Bridge, meanwhile, will be diverted onto the northbound GW Parkway until around 9 a.m., according to a new advisory from the Arlington County Police Department.

Gateway Park will be closed during the implosion, and ACPD says there “are no good viewing areas available to the public” to watch the event. The police department recommends that the public “avoid the area and watch local media coverage of the implosion.”

More from a police press release, including a detailed list of road closures, is below.

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Morning Notes

One Rescued After Key Bridge Plunge — “DC water rescue Potomac River at Francis Scott Key bridge, 1 in water who may have jumped. Removed from water by Good Samaritan in Private vessel. #DCsBravest on scene and will be transporting a conscious patient.” [Twitter]

ART Bus Service to Increase — “Starting on Sunday, August 23, Arlington Transit will increase bus service. The majority of service will be restored to pre-Covid levels while Arlington Transit continues to take precautions to keep passengers and operators safe.” [Arlington Transit]

I-66 Ramp Closures Starting Tonight — “Overnight ramp closures are scheduled to occur this week on I-66 East in Arlington for asphalt paving as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project. Detours will be posted to direct traffic.” [VDOT]

Yet Another Hot Day — “It’s a hot one! We haven’t been below 70 degrees at Reagan National since June 27th.” [Twitter]

Today: ACPD’s ‘Fill the Cruiser’ Drive — “The Community Resources Section will be collecting donations at drive-thru donation stations on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  at three locations.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Deadly Crash Sunday — “Two people are dead following a crash in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia, early Sunday. Fairfax County police said a single vehicle was involved in the crash, which happened on Carlin Springs Road near Columbia Pike around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.” [WTOP]

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(Updated at 11:20 p.m.) A small group of peaceful protesters marched over the Key Bridge from Georgetown and blocked traffic in Rosslyn tonight.

The group blocked the intersection of N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway around 10 p.m., according to police radio traffic. They then marched back to the bridge, where they are currently blocking traffic.

Police earlier blocked all lanes of the Key Bridge due to the protest activity. The demonstration is being organized by a group called Concerned Citizens, which also marched in Georgetown Saturday night.

As of 10:30 p.m., the bridge had reopened.

https://twitter.com/seuntheactivist/status/1287561248138317826

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(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) With a 7 p.m. curfew and protesters marching on M Street NW, D.C. police are blocking lanes of the Key Bridge heading towards Georgetown.

Stores and restaurants are boarded up along M Street, in anticipation of another night of protests in the District.

A group of peaceful protesters was heading in the direction of Georgetown around 8:15 p.m., but started heading back on Pennsylvania Avenue after encountering a police roadblock, according to reports on Twitter.

Some businesses in Arlington have also been boarded up or closed early, including the Crate and Barrel in Clarendon and a CVS store in Rosslyn, as seen in the photo gallery above.

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Morning Notes

It’s Election Day — Voting today in Arlington will take place between 6 a.m.-7 p.m. at your local polling place. Most of the local candidates in competitive races penned essays describing why Arlington residents should vote for them. [Arlington County]

Almost A Century Since Suffrage — “Tomorrow represents 99 years of women voting in Arlington. Arlington’s celebrating with 19 events this year.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

‘Baby Trump’ Greeting Key Bridge Commuters — Arlington Democrats have inflated a 13-foot “Baby Trump” on the Virginia side of the Key Bridge as part of a get-out-the-vote message. [Twitter]

Anti-Trans Group is Based in Shirlington — “From the 12th floor of a glass office tower in the Washington suburbs, a campaign to sway the governor’s race in Kentucky on Tuesday is being waged with an alarmist claim that has little to do with the race itself: If Democrats have their way, soon boys will be able to compete against girls in school sports.” [New York Times]

Growing Season Over in D.C. Area — “As of this morning, the growing season has been declared to have ended across our entire forecast area. Frost and freeze [watches and warnings] will not be issued again until Spring 2020.” [Twitter]

Pedestrian Enforcement in Clarendon Tomorrow — “As part of the Street Smart campaign, officers will conduct high-visibility traffic enforcement… November 6th from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. [on the] 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard (Pedestrian Enforcement Detail).” [ARLnow]

Nearby: Va. Tech Unveils Plan for Potomac Yard — “Plans are starting to take shape for North Potomac Yard. Virginia Tech has submitted its first concept plan, showing what its Innovation Campus will look like just as the design of the Potomac Yard Metro station nears its final design phase.” [ALXnow]

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Heads up if you’re heading home to Arlington via the Key Bridge tonight — a vehicle fire has closed both lanes heading out of D.C.

D.C. police say some traffic is still flowing into the city, but are otherwise warning of big back-ups heading toward Rosslyn.

Police added that the fire has been put out. No word yet on when the lanes will reopen.

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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

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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.

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Morning Notes

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

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