Arlington, VA

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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Morning Notes

Man Arrested After Door Incident at DCA — “A passenger on a flight operated by Frontier Airlines was taken into custody at Reagan National Airport Saturday, after allegedly using the emergency slide to exit the airplane, officials said.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Metrobus Rides Are Free, For Now — “To help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Metrobus riders will be required to board using the rear doors and will not have to tap their fare cards, according to a letter sent to employees Sunday.
The change, which begins Tuesday, means rides essentially are free.” [Washington Post]

Don’t Flush Wipes Down the Toilet — From Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey: “Do NOT put wipes, paper towels etc in the toilet! They severely damage water treatment.” [Twitter, CNN]

County Trying to Help Small Businesses — “To mitigate some of the challenges and hardships experienced by small businesses as a result of COVID-19 related closures and modifications, Arlington County is finding new ways to reach out to business owners with counsel, resources and other options.” [Arlington County]

County Offers Help with Utility Bills — “If you are struggling to pay a County utility bill (water/sewer/refuse) at this time, please call the DES Customer Contact Center at 703-228-5000, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You may be eligible for special payment arrangements without accrual of additional late fees.” [Twitter]

Coronavirus Fraud Task Force Formed — “In response to the increased threat of fraud presented by the coronavirus, federal and Virginia state law enforcement leaders announced today the formation of the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force.” [Press Release]

Marymount Mulls Commencement Alternatives — “This Wednesday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the online-only class period that started this week will be extended through the end of the spring semester, including final exams. It was also decided that the traditional commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 2020 would be canceled.” [Press Release]

Overnight Lane Closures in Rosslyn — “N Lynn St, SB Lee Hwy and the ramps to and from I-66 in Rosslyn will see overnight work requiring lane closures or full closures Mon night 3/23 – Thu night 3/26 in relation to the Lynn St Esplanade project.” [VDOT, Twitter]

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(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Columbia Pike was blocked by a crash at S. Scott Street, near the Wellington Apartments, Thursday afternoon.

The crash happened around 2:45 p.m. Initial reports suggest that a vehicle flipped on its roof and one person was removed from it by firefighters.

A traffic light was felled by the crash. So far there’s no word on injuries nor on what caused the crash.

As of 3:45 p.m., one lane in each direction had reopened, but there was still debris in the center of the roadway, including the fallen traffic signal.

Arlington County turned off three traffic cameras in the area, thus deliberately hindering ability of ARLnow and other news outlets to report on the crash. The cameras remained off, even after the patient was extricated.

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Update at 3:15 p.m. — All lanes are back open.

Earlier: The northbound lanes of S. Glebe Road are closed at S. Lang Street after a reported crash.

Police are working to reopen at least one of the lanes. For the time being, drivers are being detoured around the closure.

There was no immediate word as to the nature of the crash.

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All lanes of westbound Route 50 are blocked at the crash-prone intersection with Park Drive in the Arlington Forest area.

The crash happened in rainy weather around 8:30 a.m. Traffic cameras show at least two vehicles that appear to be involved, including one in the middle of the westbound lanes — which firefighters are pushing off to the side.

Traffic is currently being diverted at the crash scene, but at least one lane is expected to reopen shortly.

There’s no word on injuries.

Update at 8:55 a.m. — One lane has reopened while first responders await tow trucks to remove the damaged vehicles from the side of the road.

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Morning Notes

Lane Closures Near Ballston — Sewer relining work is closing the right-hand lane of portions of Fairfax Drive and Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont neighborhood, near Ballston. [Twitter]

Arlington’s Young Population Drives Trends — “One of the reasons Virginia’s Arlington County is consistently rated highest for health and fitness is because of its young demographic. Take Ballston, for example, where 47.7% of the adult population is between 25 and 44 years old.” [WTOP]

Courthouse Metro Rescue Makes National News — “We would like to thank @ABCWorldNews for broadcasting our rescue of a @wmata rider last Friday. The patient is in stable condition. If you find yourself on the tracks and are unable to exit, roll towards the platform side to the area of refuge.” [Twitter, ABC News]

Fort Myer Gate Temporarily Closed — “Attention DoD ID card holders: @JBMHH’s Old Post Chapel Gate that provides entry onto the base from Arlington National Cemetery will be temporarily closed beginning today through the end of April for construction.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Nearby: Proposed Arlandria Redevelopment — A “D.C. developer filed preliminary plans with Alexandria earlier this month for the project, looking to completely overhaul a Mount Vernon Avenue shopping center near Four Mile Run Park, now called Del Ray North. It’s currently home to a MOM’s Organic Market, but has seen a variety of retail vacancies recently.” [Washington Business Journal]

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The Arlington County Board this weekend is set to consider a $4.5 million contract to rehabilitate an out-of-service water main in the middle of N. Glebe Road.

The 36-inch transmission main — the same size as the large pipe that burst and shut down N. Glebe Road near Chain Bridge in November — was placed out of service in 2013 due to concerns about a catastrophic failure. A transmission line was built parallel to it after a major water main break on N. Old Glebe Road in 2009 and is currently providing service to the area.

County officials say rehabbing the old main, which was built in 1972, will help provide redundancy in the county’s water system. Arlington’s water comes from the Washington Aqueduct in D.C., by way of pipes that cross the Potomac River at Chain Bridge then branch out to various parts of the county.

The project will run along N. Glebe Road from Old Glebe Road to Little Falls Road — a distance of about 0.8 miles. Residents should expect lane closures and daytime water service interruptions during the course of the project, the county staffers said in a report to the County Board.

The Board is expected to vote on the contract at its meeting this Saturday.

More from the staff report:

This contract is for the rehabilitation of a transmission main built in 1972 in the right-of-way of North Glebe Road between Old North Glebe Road and Little Falls Road. The transmission main was placed out of service due to a catastrophic failure in 2009. The proposed rehabilitation work will prevent the likely future failure of this transmission main and bring it back to service which will provide redundancy for the water main network.

The proposed transmission main rehabilitation is part of the Water Main Rehabilitation / Replacement program outlined in the Capital Improvement Plan. Inspection and evaluation of the existing transmission main subsequent to the November 2009 break revealed that the transmission main was subject to failure. Therefore, a 36″ transmission main was installed in parallel and the existing failing transmission main was placed out of service in 2013. The proposed rehabilitation work consists of lining the existing transmission main that was placed out of service and replacing some portions of it. The overall goal for the proposed rehabilitation is to reinstate the transmission main which is currently out of service and provide the required redundancy to meet water demand in the area. […]

The scope of this project involves the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure along the same corridor and the construction will cause some water services disruptions throughout the duration of the project. These disruptions will not be for an extended period. Traffic flow will be maintained throughout the project duration by keeping at least one lane open each direction during working hours throughout the project duration. The traffic impacts of the project have been communicated via the project website and through Civic Association presidents. Progress updates regarding the construction of the project will continue to be regularly provided to the communities via the two channels noted above.

Upon contract award and before the start of construction, a detailed letter about the project and construction schedule will be sent to the presidents of both Civic Associations and then be distributed to residents who will be directly impacted by the project. Additionally, water service disruptions will be coordinated with the affected residents in advance of any shutdowns. All shutdowns will be limited to construction hours during the work day.

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