Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Return of First Students Delayed — “As we have shared, we were aiming for an October 29 start for Level 1, which includes approximately 225 students with disabilities who need in-person support to access distance learning. We are now moving the start date back to Wednesday, November 4, to ensure all operational metrics are met and staff are well equipped and ready to support our students at each school.” [Arlington Public Schools]

County Crushes Census Count — “You did it, Arlington County: With the Census Count completing on October 15th, 99.98% of Arlington was officially counted. Thank you to our Complete Count Committee for your tireless, infectious enthusiasm for ensuring that everyone counts!” [@kcristol/Twitter, YouTube]

Culpepper Garden Celebrates Renovations — “It wasn’t quite the kind of celebration that had been expected when, two and a half years ago, work began on a major renovation at the Culpepper Garden senior-living facility. But it was a celebration nonetheless – albeit ‘virtually’ – that was called for, and on Oct. 13, leaders of two non-profit housing providers and their partners held an online program to mark completion of the $58 million project.” [InsideNova]

Spirits of ’76 Closing Happy Hour Set to close on Nov. 1, Spirits of ’76 is holding a half-off happy hour from 4-6 p.m. until the closing date. “Everything must go!” the Clarendon bar said on social media. [Instagram]

Punch Bowl Social Restarting Happy Hour — “Punch Bowl Social, the ‘millennial-oriented’ adult playground in Arlington, reopened its Ballston location last week, and it plans to restart happy hour, Wednesday through Friday, beginning Wednesday, October 21. The ‘eatertainment’ chain says it will offer diversions like arcade games, bocce, darts, and more in a socially distant fashion.” [Washingtonian]

Overnight Closures Along I-66 — “Overnight ramp and lane closures are scheduled to occur this week, and possibly next week, on I-66 East in Arlington for asphalt paving and overhead sign replacement as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project. Detours will be posted to direct traffic.” [VDOT]

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Morning Notes

Ballston Movie Theater to Close Again — “Cineworld Group, the owner of Regal Cinemas, will suspend operations at all of its theaters in the United States and the United Kingdom beginning on Thursday. The closures will affect 45,000 employees.” [CNN, Axios]

N. Va. Trending in Right Direction — “The health department’s new pandemic metrics, updated Monday based on data through Saturday, show that the disease is currently at a ‘low burden’ level in Northern Virginia, is trending downward, and has low levels of community transmission. All other region’s of the state either have moderate or high levels of burden of the virus and community transmission.” [InsideNova]

County Joins Eviction Task Force — “Arlington has joined the Northern Virginia Eviction Prevention and Community Stability Task Force, a diverse coalition of stakeholders from the housing sector in Northern Virginia, to identify best practices to prevent evictions and stabilize households.” [Arlington County]

Greens Want Local Bag Tax — “The Arlington Green Party is pushing the Arlington County Board to enact a tax on single-use grocery bags, now that the General Assembly has given localities the permission to do so. Party members on Sept. 2 endorsed the proposal to enact a 5-cent tax on bags, and plan to present a petition to the County Board in November.” [InsideNova]

New Police Dog’s Official Photo — “FRK9 Brooks recently sat for his official department photo and gave the camera his best puppy dog eyes.” [@ArlingtonVaPD/Twitter]

More I-66 Ramp Closures — “Alternating overnight ramp closures are scheduled to occur this week on I-66 East in Arlington for final asphalt paving and striping as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project.” [VDOT]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

County Allocates More Money for Rent Relief — “The Arlington County Board today approved using an additional $1.125 million from the County’s COVID-19 contingent account to fund eviction protection through December 2020 for those affected by the pandemic. The Board’s action brings the total amount allocated for eviction prevention in Fiscal Year 2021, which began July 1, 2020, to $3.5 million.” [Arlington County]

AWLA Pushes to Extend Eviction Ban — “The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is pushing for legislators to extend Governor Northam’s original eviction deadline of September 7, to prevent animals from being surrendered by people who can’t afford them. AWLA says they’re here to help tenants during these trying times and also urge landlords to cut back on animal restrictions and limitations.” [WDVM]

I-66 Lane Closures This Weekend — “Single-lane closures on westbound I-66 just before the bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29) at Exit 72 will occur (weather permitting) between 9 p.m. Friday night, Aug. 28 and 5 a.m. Monday morning, Aug. 31 for road repairs, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [VDOT]

Arlington-Based Lidl Expanding — “Discount grocery Lidl, whose North American headquarters is in Crystal City, Virginia, will open 50 new stores by the end of 2021, including 10 new locations in Maryland, and seven new stores in Virginia.” [WTOP]

Nearby: Rabies Warning in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police and Animal Warden remind residents about the risks of rabid wildlife spreading rabies to pets. Police recently responded to a report of a sick raccoon in the 1200 block of Lincoln Ave. The raccoon was euthanized and later found to have rabies.  In this case, two dogs were exposed to the raccoon and are now in quarantine.” [City of Falls Church]

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Morning Notes

More Accessible Parking in Busy Areas — “The County has installed an additional 60 ADA-accessible on-street parking spaces for a total of 212. The spaces — located throughout eight areas of high residential and business density — feature meters with near field communication (NFC), allowing customers to pay by waving a smartphone within a short distance. The adjusted parking areas also allows for easier access to popular areas throughout the County.” [Arlington County]

Ballston Cafe Serves Kids for Free — “When local schools closed in March — and their cafeterias along with them — Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe began offering free weekday lunches to school-age kids on a walk-in basis. As of late July, the restaurant had provided nearly 3,000 such meals.” [Arlington Magazine]

Yglesias on Arlington Housing — “How much study do you need to know that houses are expensive in Arlington and most of the country is zoned to make adding units illegal?” [@mattyglasias/Twitter]

I-66 Lane Closures This Weekend — “Single-lane closures on eastbound I-66 just before the bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29) at Exit 72 will occur (weather permitting) between 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21 and 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 24 for road repairs.” [VDOT]

Reminder: Ballston Taco Bamba Opening — “The new 1,500 square foot restaurant is the fifth Taco Bamba in Virginia. Set to open on Thursday, Aug. 20, the takeout taqueria will feature ‘a bar program, a small patio and a brand-new menu of nuestros tacos, in addition to the taqueria’s traditional favorites.'” [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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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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Morning Notes

Local Unemployment Update — “Over 1 million first-time claims for unemployment benefits have now been filed by Virginians this year, 97% of them since pandemic-related business shutdowns began in mid-March, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday.” Arlington, meanwhile, reported 576 initial unemployment claims last week and 6,148 continuing claims. [InsideNova]

Google Satellite Images Updated — Google has updated its satellite imagery in maps. One can now see the line at Arlington’s drive-through COVID testing site and an empty Arlington National Cemetery parking lot, among other pandemic-specific sights. (Hat tip to Eric Dobson for spotting this.)

No High School Football This Fall — “High school football will not be played this fall in Virginia. Football will be either played in the winter or spring or not at all, based on which of three plans the Virginia High School League’s executive committee approves July 27 for the 2020-21 high school sports season.” [InsideNova]

Lane Closures on I-66 This Weekend — “Overnight lane closures and traffic stoppages are planned for I-66 East in Arlington near Patrick Henry Drive this weekend, weather permitting, to implement a traffic shift as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project. This work will split the two I-66 East travel lanes for more than a half mile.” [Press Release]

Trade Association Moves to Arlington — “The National Automatic Merchandising Association has relocated its headquarters from Chicago to [Arlington] Carla Balakgie, president and CEO, announced.” [Vending Times]

Nonprofit Gets Donation from Local Race — “Bridges to Independence has received a $10,000 grant from the Arlington Bunny Hop 5K and Clarendon United Methodist Church to support the housing of Bridges’ local homeless families.” [InsideNova]

ICYMI: Update to Pool Outbreak Article — In an email sent to members last night, the Overlee Community Association confirmed that three people have tested positive for COVID-19. They, along with other cases still not revealed to the membership, all became sick after a intrasquad swim meet on Saturday, a source tells ARLnow. Thus far, swim coaches and pool management have tested negative, according to the email. [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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The eastbound lanes of I-66 are blocked near the N. Ohio Street overpass due to the aftermath of a high-speed police chase.

Initial reports suggest that Virginia State Police troopers were chasing a vehicle involved in a felony hit-and-run, with speeds in excess of 100 mph.

The driver crashed near Ohio Street and was briefly trapped in the vehicle. State police, Arlington police and firefighters are currently on scene. The Fairfax County Police helicopter is also overhead.

All eastbound lanes are blocked and police are working to divert eastbound traffic onto N. Sycamore Street in the East Falls Church area. Drivers stuck behind the crash are being directed around it, through a work zone.

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Those who want to see Arlington close lanes or whole streets during the pandemic will have to keep waiting.

County officials say they don’t have the resources to close lanes  in order to create extra space for social distancing among cyclists and pedestrians.

“Due to the many challenges involved, there are no plans at this time to open/close vehicular traffic lanes for walkers and bikers,” Arlington County spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith tells ARLnow.

Some — including ARLnow columnists — have been pushing for such closures, with vehicle traffic down and more people trying to get out of the house for outdoor recreation.

From WAMU last month:

Local governments in Denver, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and other cities around the world have made more space for people, by taking away a lane of roads that have seen declining vehicle traffic or closing some roads altogether.

In D.C., about 700 people signed a letter requesting some lane closures to make larger sidewalks, turn some streets into “local traffic only” and open streets parallel to trail networks. […]

On Friday, Mayor Muriel Bowser shot down the idea on the Kojo Nnamdi show saying, “I don’t want to send the message to people to go out and have a festival.”

A few days later, Bowser announced the closure of a portion of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park, along with two other parkways.

In Arlington, the neighboring Aurora Highlands and Crystal City civic associations have made specific lane closure recommendations to the County Board, calling for lanes along S. Hayes Street, S. Joyce Street, 12th Street S. and Potomac Avenue to be blocked off.

“Local residents are at risk of coronavirus exposure while being outdoors because of limited space for essential social distancing,” Aurora Highlands Civic Association President Scott Miles wrote in an email last week. “Bike lanes are limited and sidewalks are too narrow to keep a safe distance from the crowds of fellow travelers. Meanwhile vehicular traffic is low, and street parking is underused as most offices and non-essential retail are closed.”

The two civic associations recommended “a specific network of connected streets that are relatively flat and straight, creating better visibility for everyone and easier travel for all pedestrians, including those with disabilities,” he added.

In an online town hall this past Friday, however, Arlington County Police Chief M. Jay Farr said the police department doesn’t have the “thousands” of traffic cones and barriers, not to mention the extra staffing, to create and enforce temporary pedestrian zones on local streets.

He said road closures might look easy during special events, but those events are planned well in advance, are for a short period of time, and require a “tremendous amount of resources and assets… to keep the roads safe.”

“It looks like closing the road is really not going to be that complex the thing, however I just wanted to remind everybody that when we start to look at any road closure there’s a number of factors that go into it,” including things like parking and access to buildings, he said.

“We have many businesses that are dependent upon the conversion of some of our parking to pick up in drop-off spots,” Farr continued. “Most of the places that I’ve seen identified [for closures] also include a number of avenues in and out of apartment buildings or in and out of somebody’s home.”

More from the town hall:

Photo courtesy Aurora Highlands Civic Association

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Morning Notes

Governor Extends Business Closures — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced that he will extend Executive Order Fifty-Three for two weeks, through Friday, May 8, 2020. Executive Order Fifty-Three originally signed on March 24, bans crowds of more than 10 people; closes recreation, entertainment, and personal care businesses; and limits restaurants to offering takeout and delivery services only.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Wi-Fi Available in Two Library Parking Lots — “Arlington residents who lack reliable internet service at home during the COVID-19 pandemic can now benefit from two new free County Wi-Fi hotspots. Access to the ArlingtonWireless network is now available at the Central Library and Columbia Pike Library parking lots.” [Arlington County]

Lane Closures on I-66 This Weekend — “Extended lane closures will occur this weekend beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 17, on I-66 East between the Dulles Connector Road and Sycamore Street for bridge work and other construction for the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project.” [Press Release]

Buses to Toot Horns in Unison — “[Today] at 3 p.m., ART buses will join transit agencies around the country in honking their horns to honor transportation and other essential workers. Thank you to the ART bus drivers and staff, and all essential workers, for your work!” [Twitter]

Police Warn of Coronavirus Scams — “FRAUD ALERT: Be aware of COVID-related scams and know how to protect yourself. ACPD reminds you that the IRS will not call, text, email you or contact you via social media to request money or personal information related to economic impact payments.” [Twitter]

Disastrous Debut for Fairfax Distance Learning — While Arlington Public Schools catches flak for deciding not to teach new material until the fall, Fairfax County public schools have cancelled online classes for the rest of the week after the school system’s distance learning technology suffered a series of major failures. [Fairfax County Public Schools, Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Pentagon Mandates Face Masks — “All on the Pentagon reservation must wear cloth face coverings in open spaces/work spaces where it is difficult to maintain at least 6 ft social distance. You may remove cloth face coverings in a private office/workspace where at least 6 ft of social distance is maintained.” [Twitter]

County May Host Online ‘Open Door’ Sessions — “Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey announced today that the Board will pilot a virtual format for Open Door Mondays, the informal weekly sessions where individuals or small groups can meet one-on-one with a Board Member to raise any issue, on Monday, April 13, 2020.” [Arlington County]

I-66 Lane Closures This Weekend — “Single- and double-lane closures will be needed for bridge joint reconstruction work over Williamsburg Boulevard and Westmoreland Street. At least one travel lane along I-66 Eastbound will be maintained at all times during this work.” [Press Release]

County Accelerates Columbia Pike Work — “Starting Monday, April 13, we will no longer open an additional eastbound lane during weekday morning rush hours. As a result, the work done between S. Jefferson Street and S. Dinwiddie/Columbus Street will only have one lane open in each direction on weekdays from 7 a.m.-9 p.m.” [Twitter]

South Block Adapts to Delivery and Takeout — “Mostafavi founded South Block in 2011 and he’s slowly grown the business since then, with nine locations and two more in the pipeline. Since the pandemic forced closures of dining rooms, Mostafavi has leaned hard into the delivery and takeout side of his business. ‘I feel fortunate to be in a business that’s still considered essential and that we already had an app, were already doing deliveries and the product is desired right now because it’s healthy,’ Mostafavi said.” [Washington Business Journal]

CPRO Providing Free Banners for Businesses — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization is launching several new initiatives to support our business community… Are you operating an essential business on Columbia Pike? Need help letting the public know you’re open? Contact us today to receive a FREE banner.” [CPRO, Instagram]

Arlington Pension Investment Chief Retiring — “Daniel E. Zito, executive director and chief investment officer of the $2.5 billion Arlington County (Va.) Employees’ Retirement System, plans to retire in the next year.” [Pensions & Investments]

Community Foundation Distributes $500k — “More than 40 Arlington nonprofits have received a total of over $500,000 in emergency response support from the Arlington Community Foundation COVID-19 Prompt Response Fund, with more funds being disbursed daily.” [Press Release]

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Update on 4/2/20 — The repairs were completed and the roadway is back open.

Update at 4:50 p.m. — Walter Reed Drive is now closed in both directions while crews work to stop the leak and repair the line. 

Earlier: The southbound lanes of Walter Reed Drive are blocked due to a significant outdoor gas leak south of Columbia Pike.

The leak was reported shortly before 2:30 p.m., near the intersection of Walter Reed and 11th Street S. Arlington police and firefighters are on the scene.

Initial reports suggest a gas line larger than 2 inches was struck by a construction crew, prompting the closure and extra precautions. First responders are now checking natural gas levels on the ground floor of the adjacent apartment building while awaiting the arrival of Washington Gas.

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