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Construction is wrapping up at the intersection of Langston Blvd (Route 29) and Glebe Road.

Last week, the traffic signals hanging from wires were swapped out for new mast-arm signals. This week, the contractor is expected to complete the remaining sections of sidewalk, curb ramps, and curb and gutter, according to the county’s project webpage.

These changes were part of a years-long project to add dedicated left turn lanes, make bus stop upgrades, take utilities underground and replace an old water main. The changes were intended to improve safety, access and travel times for motorists, pedestrians and transit riders at the intersection.

And now, the county says the project is almost done.

“Construction on the intersection improvements is nearing the finish line,” the project’s webpage said.

Work was anticipated to be completed by this coming spring, but progress is moving faster than expected.

“Spring ’22 was the expected completion date when we started construction, but work has been ahead of schedule and we now expect substantial completion in September,” Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet said.

The county said it will be releasing a schedule of the project’s final paving and the installation of the final pavement markings, both of which will likely occur at night this month (September).

The first phase of the project, including utility undergrounding, kicked off in 2017. The county has spent years obtaining easements from property owners along Glebe to allow the roadway expansion.

The County Board approved a $3.88 million contract for the remainder of the work in December 2019. Work started on this phase in May 2020, according to the project webpage.

This phase included the new exclusive left-turn lanes along N. Glebe Road “to ensure safer turning movements and reduce delays,” the county said. North-south traffic on Glebe had previously flowed only in one direction at a time, allowing turns without a dedicated turn signal but causing backups during rush hour.

The phase also included the mast-arm traffic signals with new phasing and timing, the upgraded water mains and stormwater infrastructure, enhanced crosswalks and bus stops, widened sidewalks and accessible curb ramps and commercial driveway aprons.

The need for upgrades to Langston Blvd and Glebe Road dates back to studies conducted in 2004.

“[The study] identified considerable traffic backups at the Lee Highway and Glebe Road intersection,” the county webpage said. “The backups resulted in traffic cutting through the neighborhood.”

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Response to robbery at Preston’s Pharmacy (photo courtesy anonymous)

Two people were hurt in an armed robbery of Preston’s Pharmacy on Route 29 this morning.

The robbery happened around 9:15 a.m. at the neighborhood pharmacy, located at 5101 Lee Highway.

“Two suspects entered the business, brandished firearms and directed employees in the pharmacy to get on the ground,” Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “The suspects then assaulted two victims and deployed pepper spray before stealing medication and an undisclosed of cash. As the suspects were fleeing the scene, they stole a wallet dropped by a witness.”

“Medics transported one victim to an area hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries,” Savage continued. “Additional victims were treated on scene for exposure to pepper spray.”

On a local Facebook group, an employee of the pharmacy briefly described what happened.

“We were robbed at gunpoint this morning,” the employee wrote. “They pepper sprayed the employees and pistol whipped an employee. Thankfully everyone is not hurt badly but everybody’s shaken up.”

Savage said the suspects were both wearing dark clothing and masks. They fled the scene in an SVU and remain at large.

“Suspect One is described as a Black male wearing a black hoodie, black pants, black hat, blue facemask and white sneakers,” she said. “Suspect Two is described as a Black male, wearing a gray hoodie, black sweatpants, black hat, blue facemask, black sneakers and brown sunglasses. The suspect vehicle is described as a white SUV. The investigation is ongoing.”

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Morning Notes

Langston Blvd Plan Meets Resistance — “Following this May’s release of area planning maps and a presentation on density from consultant AECOM, a furious screed was published by Lyon Village Civic Association president John Carten. Though the process is still in the community engagement phase that precedes concrete recommendations, the hint of possible changes in the General Land Use Plan prompted the Lyon Village group to predict a parade of horribles.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Clarendon Apartment Building Sold — “Trammell Crow Residential has sold the Alexan Earl, a 333-unit multifamily building at 1122 N. Hudson St., to Lincoln Property Co. for $192 million… The Earl represents the first phase of the long-planned Red Top Cab redevelopment… Shooshan continues to plan for the second phase, a roughly 250-unit building fronting Washington Boulevard at the intersection with 13th Street North. It expects to start demolition this fall.” [Washington Business Journal]

Online Fundraiser for Fallen Officer –” The family of George Gonzalez started a memorial fund Sunday for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer who was fatally wounded Tuesday on the platform of the Pentagon Transit Center… By 3 p.m. on Monday, the GoFundMe campaign had already raised $15,000, outstripping its original goal of $1,000.” [Patch, GoFundMe]

Local BBQ Joint Competing in ‘World Championship’ — “Arlington’s Smokecraft Modern Barbecue… has been invited to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.  Taking place in Lynchburg, TN on on October 8th and 9th, ‘The Jack’ as it is known, is widely considered the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition.” [Press Release]

Va. AG Continues to Fight Robocalls — “Attorney General Mark R. Herring today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fight back against the scourge of illegal robocalls by moving up the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement caller ID technology. Attorney General Herring joined a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general have in submitting comments to the FCC.” [Press Release]

Pentagon to Require Vaccinations — “The Pentagon will require members of the military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo on Monday. About 64% of active duty military members are fully vaccinated, a low enough rate to pose concern for potential outbreaks and international deployment.” [Axios]

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Morning Notes

Pentagon Metro Station Reopening — “Metro will reopen the Pentagon Station and Pentagon Transit Center to customers beginning with the start of bus and rail service Thursday morning. The station and transit center has been closed since early Tuesday, due to the law enforcement response and investigation following a fatal incident that occurred in the bus bays.” [WMATA]

Chamber Supports Langston Blvd Plan — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce broadly supports the Plan Lee Highway Scenario Analysis, providing for additional commercial and residential density in an established, aging, yet vibrant and critical transit corridor. Moreover, the Chamber encourages creating flexible land use policies and regulations so as to attract investment to the Langston Boulevard corridor.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

ACPD Celebrates ‘National Night Out’ — “Across the nation and throughout the region, neighbors and police mingled Tuesday night in the National Night Out — an annual effort to fight crime by building relationships between communities and police. In Drew Park, nestled in Arlington County, Virginia’s historic Green Valley neighborhood, a DJ played music and children petted a yellow Lab K-9, while their parents huddled together with police officers including Chief Charles ‘Andy’ Penn.” [WTOP]

New Community Center Profiled — “This is a story about a building, but it’s also a story about a park, which flows into the building, driving the structure’s design to an unusually high degree. Located in Arlington, Virginia’s Lubber Run Park–a public recreation area with walking trails and a gentle stream winding through a forest–the Lubber Run Community Center replaces an outdated building from the 1950s that was torn down in 2018.” [Metropolis]

Mini Earthquake Shook Area Yesterday — “A small earthquake shook parts of Central Maryland in the overnight hours of Wednesday morning. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 2.1 earthquake was centered in Clarksville, Maryland, at 2:11 a.m. with a depth of about 1.8 miles.” [WTOP]

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Morning Notes

Police Chief’s First Community Convo — “ACPD looks forward to engaging with the community at our first Community Conversations with the Chief at @MegamartMarket on Columbia Pike” today. [Twitter]

Registration Next Week for Fall Rec Classes — “As it begins to ramp back up after more than a year of COVID-caused pullbacks, the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation has set registration dates for its fall programming. Online registration for classes begins Aug. 4 at 7 a.m. (gymnastics) and 7:30 a.m. (all other programs) for county residents.” [Sun Gazette]

New Name for Lee Hwy Alliance — “The Lee Highway Alliance (LHA) Board has unanimously voted to rename itself the Langston Boulevard Alliance (LBA), following the change in the name of the roadway itself that was approved by the Arlington County Board on July 17.” [Press Release]

Gun Brandishing in Pentagon City — “At approximately 10:55 a.m. on July 23, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered the business and requested services. When the employee asked for his information, he became irate and was escorted out of the building by security. A short time later, the suspect walked by the store and lifted up his shirt to expose what appeared to be a handgun and threatened to shoot the employee before leaving the area. Arriving officers canvassed the surrounding area with negative results. The investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]

Street Sweeping Schedule — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “The County street sweeping schedule is out for 2021-2022. Longbranch Creek: Prepare to hail the big brush truck Aug. 10, Oct. 12, April 12 and June 14.” [Twitter]

Chasten Shops at Pentagon City Mall — “‘We’re going to take those out the maximum,’ Chasten [Buttigeg] says, pulling at the thigh area of a new pair of suit pants two weeks later as he turns to examine himself in a three-way mirror at a Nordstrom in Arlington… After the Nordstrom stop, Chasten faced the good and bad of his new reality while trying to return some new purchases at Banana Republic: One star-struck salesperson wanted a photo with him, and another wouldn’t credit his account without a receipt.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Pentagon City Suspect Charged With Murder — “Taya Ashton, 20, was found shot to death at an apartment in the 2300 block of Brooks Drive in Suitland on Saturday night, Prince George’s County police said. A day after her slaying, Arlington County police arrested DeAllen Price, of District Heights, for running from officers and going on the Metro tracks at the Pentagon City station, police said… Metro Transit Police and a K9 officer searched the tracks and found a weapon they later linked to Ashton’s murder, police said.” [NBC 4]

Gunston Bubble Going Bye-Bye — “The iconic, yet temperamental, sports ‘bubble’ adjacent to Gunston Middle School will soon be replaced by a barn-like framed structure that will provide more reliability and accessibility, Arlington government officials said. County Board members have approved a contract worth up to $866,800 for installation of the new Clear Span frame-supported fabric structure, which had been purchased previously.” [Sun Gazette]

WeWork, WeLive No Longer Together — “WeWork has washed its hands of WeLive, the co-living brand it launched a half-decade ago with grand aspirations. WeWork handed over management of the two WeLive locations, in Northern Virginia’s Crystal City neighborhood and on Wall Street in Manhattan, to the owners of the buildings, JBG Smith and Rudin Management, a WeWork spokesperson confirmed to Bisnow Wednesday.” [Bisnow]

Cunningham Tapped as AHC’s Interim CEO — “The affordable-housing provider AHC Inc. has tapped Arlington civic leader [and former Arlington County Board candidate] Susan Cunningham as its interim CEO. Cunningham will bridge the gap left by the departure of long-term organization leader Walter Webdale.” [Sun Gazette]

Interview with APS DEI Chief — “We sat down with Arlington Public Schools Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Arron Gregory to talk about the importance of roles like his in schools… How is the school system’s success in these matters ultimately measured? ‘… if we’re unable to predict student success by identities, such as race, class, gender, socioeconomic status, then we’ve achieved educational equity, but if we’re able to predict those outcomes, then there’s work that still needs to happen.'” [WJLA]

Editorial Lauds Lee Highway Renaming — “The symbolism that attends the struggle for racial justice and recognition could hardly be better served than by paying tribute, as the newly named roadway does, to John M. Langston, a man who, in the words of his biographer, ‘was Obama before Obama.’ A century and a half before, as it happens.” [Washington Post]

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Langston Blvd, formerly Lee Highway, at N. Veitch Street (via Google Maps)

The Arlington County Board took a step toward converting one lane of the newly renamed Langston Blvd into a bus- and HOV-only lane.

On Saturday, the Board accepted and appropriated a $710,000 grant from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission to pay for the transit project, which will run through parts of Rosslyn. Last year, Arlington County applied for funding from the Commuter Choice program, which helps pay for transit upgrades using toll revenue from I-66 inside the Beltway.

“This is an area where we are continuing to work toward multi-modal,” said Board Chair Matt de Ferranti during the regular County Board meeting on Saturday. “On Lee Highway, soon to be Langston Blvd, we will have a bus-only lane so that more residents can move more quickly to work, through our community, and home as well.”

This grant will cover pavement treatment, restriping, and signage for the new bus lane. The lane will run eastbound from N. Veitch Street, near Courthouse, to N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn during peak morning hours.It will run westbound from N. Oak Street to N. Veitch Street during the evening peak period.

At other times, the lane will continue as a general-purpose travel lane.

This segment of Route 29 in Rosslyn “is very heavily congested and sharply degrades bus performance and reliability, which will be improved by the lane conversion,” a staff report said.

Pre-pandemic, that section of Lee Highway carried around 25 loaded buses per hour, according to the report.

The project could take two years to complete, according to Eric Balliet, a spokesman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services.

“The County Board’s acceptance and appropriation of the funds signals the start of the project,” he tells ARLnow. “The schedule included with the NVTC funding application was 26 months from project start to end of construction.”

The funding is less than the full $1 million that the county applied for, but staff are not earmarking more for it.

“We will work to deliver the project within this funding amount,” Balliet said.

The county mulled this project over before, even seeking funding — unsuccessfully — in 2019.

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Morning Notes

Crash Prompts Hazmat Cleanup — From the Arlington County Fire Department last night: “N Glebe Rd closed in both directions between Arlington Bl and N Pershing due to a fuel leak following a motor vehicle crash. #Avoid the area.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Metrobus Crash in Ballston — From our Twitter account yesterday afternoon: “Southbound N. Glebe Road is blocked at Washington Blvd by a crash involving a car and a Metrobus. Police and medics on scene.” [Twitter]

Police Oversight Vote to Be Held Wednesday — The County Board vote on creating a Law Enforcement Civilian Review Board will be taken during a special carryover meeting on Wednesday. [Arlington County]

Activists Decry Possible Route 29 Development — “An activist group raised the alarm about what it suggests could be a major upzoning along the Route 29 corridor. Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future… said efforts to impose ‘major increases in density’ along the 5-mile Lee Highway corridor were resulting in ‘stiff opposition’ from residents. The group encouraged those with concerns about the proposals for more intense zoning to get in touch with County Board members sooner rather than later.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Firefighter Honored — “2021 Northern VA EMS Council Regional Award winner for Outstanding Prehospital Educator is EMS Education Specialist, FF Clare Sabio, Arlington Co Fire Dept.” [Twitter]

Local Private School Gets Accredited —  “The Sycamore School in Arlington has earned accreditation by Cognia, a nonprofit organization that provides quality assurance for schools, school districts and education-service providers.” [Sun Gazette, Press Release]

Western Wildfires Make for Hazy Sunset — “The haze that hung high above us on Monday has been identified as smoke from Western wildfires, in what seemed a vivid visual reminder that faraway hardship may not leave us unaffected. ‘A thick layer of smoke’ at upper atmospheric levels ‘can be seen in the sky at this time,’ meteorologists in the local office of the National Weather Service said Monday night.” [Washington Post]

Photo courtesy Tom Mockler/Twitter

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Lee Highway is no more in Arlington. It’s now Langston Blvd.

The County Board voted unanimously on Saturday to rename Route 29 within Arlington’s borders, following the recommendation of a Working Group (and county staff) on a new name.

As we previously reported:

County staff have selected “Langston Boulevard” from the finalists submitted by a task force, which was charged with replacing both “Lee” and “Highway.” Currently, Route 29 in the county is named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose name was removed from one of Arlington’s high schools and whose house is being removed from the county logo.

Previously, the task force recommended Loving Avenue as the name, in honor of the interracial couple whose landmark U.S. Supreme Court case inspired the film that bears their name. That was nixed after the couple’s descendants objected.

The new name honors John M. Langston, an abolitionist, attorney and member of Congress whose name is also on an Arlington schoolcommunity center and civic association.

Langston was the first dean of the law school at Howard University, the first president of Virginia State University, and the first U.S. representative of color from Virginia.

The new name “better reflects Arlington County’s values, promotes equity, and is welcoming to all people who work on, live on, and/or visit the corridor,” the county said in a press release, which also touted the nearly year-long public process involved in selecting a new name.

“The Working Group created an objective set of evaluation criteria to ensure that the public process of selecting a name was transparent, inclusive, and reflected a commitment to the values of public engagement in Arlington,” the county said. “With the new name of Langston Boulevard, costs for new signage are estimated at $300,000, subject to final design and determination by VDOT.”

“We’re throwing Lee Highway in the dustbin with Jefferson Davis Highway,” said County Board member Libby Garvey. “It’s a great day.”

There was one notable dissenting voice on the renaming, as noted by County Board watcher Stephen Repetski. Local history activist Bernie Berne, who previously called renaming the corridor “political correctness” and part of “a culture war that’s been going on since the Civil War,” spoke out at the meeting.

Berne asserted that Robert E. Lee was unfairly denigrated during the renaming process, prior to the Board’s unanimous vote.

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A man with a gun robbed a woman along Lee Highway late Sunday night.

The robbery happened around 11:30 p.m., near the intersection of the soon-to-be-renamed road and N. Columbus Street — across the street from the McDonald’s.

“As the victim was entering her office space, the suspect approached from behind and brandished a firearm towards her,” Arlington County police said in a crime report. “He forced the victim to remove her jewelry before entering her office space. At that time, the victim was able to run from the scene. It was later determined that the suspect rummaged through the space and stole cash.”

There were no reports of injuries.

Police searched the area but could not locate the suspect, who was only described as a man wearing black clothing.

Photo via Google Maps

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A new eatery called Mumu Cafe is set to open in August in the space underneath MOM’s Organic Market near Courthouse.

The forthcoming eatery is located at 1924 N. Uhle Street in the Verde Pointe development along Lee Highway, which is within walking distance to the Courthouse Metro station. Owner Jermaine Williams said the soft opening for is set for Aug. 2.

“The cafe promotes a fast-casual themed service where customers can come and get something made-to-order or grab something quickly from our grab-to-go station,” he said.

In the morning, Mumu Cafe will serve freshly made doughnuts, pastries, bagels and breakfast sandwiches, as well as smoothies, açaí bowls, drip coffee, cold brew and espresso drinks. After 11 a.m., the cafe will offer lunch and dinner options, such as hot sandwiches and flatbreads.

Mumu Cafe will take over the spot that was vacant since Naked Lunch, an organic vegetarian and vegan eatery closed almost exactly two years ago. It opened on Lee Highway with MOM’s Organic Market in 2015

The addition is right in Williams’s backyard, as he lives in the apartment building connected to the café. When he saw the “for lease” sign go up last year, he got in touch with MOM’s, which leases the space and agreed to let him set up shop there.

Williams brings to his venture years of experience in the hotel business, managing food service.

“I’ve been in hospitality for over 10 years,” Williams said. “The last five years, I have been in a hotel as a banquet manager in Rosslyn, which was cut short last year because of the pandemic.”

Mumu Cafe’s hours are currently set for 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

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