Arlington is gearing up to ask for millions in I-66 toll revenue to fund a series of changes along Lee Highway, including the creation of a dedicated bus and HOV lane along the road during rush hours.
The County Board is set to sign off this weekend on funding requests for six transportation projects, totaling $6.9 million, four of which focus on reducing traffic along Lee Highway as it runs from Rosslyn to East Falls Church.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission doles out a portion of the revenues collected through the year-old I-66 toll program to localities, in order to help afford road improvements along the corridor inside the Beltway. Accordingly, Arlington is looking for cash for the following efforts along Lee Highway, per a county staff report:
Metrobus Route 3Y Service Improvements — $520,000 per year for five years, total request $2.6 million
This project will increase morning peak hour frequency and provide running time improvements for better on-time performance on the subject Metrobus route that connects the East Falls Church Metrorail Station with the Farragut Square and McPherson Square areas in the District of Columbia via Lee Highway and a short section of I-66 from Rosslyn to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.
Intersection Improvements at Lee Highway and Washington Boulevard — $400,000
This project will add a second left turn lane from northbound Lee Highway to westbound Washington Boulevard and provide pedestrian improvements at the intersection north of the bridge over I-66, which is 0.25 miles from the East Falls Church Metrorail Station.
Enhanced Vehicle Presence Detection on Lee Highway — $20,000 per intersection for 15 intersections, total request $300,000
This project will install forward looking infrared (FLIR) video cameras at key intersections along Lee Highway. FLIR technology uses thermographic cameras that improve the accuracy of vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle detection in all lighting and weather conditions, and in turn improve optimal signal, intersection, and corridor operations and performance.
Design and Construct Peak Period, Peak Direction HOV and Bus-Only Lane on Lee Highway from just east of N. Kenmore Street to N. Lynn Street — $1.5 million
This project would convert the outside lane of Lee Highway to an HOV and bus only lane through pavement treatment, restriping, and signage. The lane would operate eastbound during the morning peak period and westbound during the evening peak period only; at other times it will continue as a general purpose travel lane.
The final project on the list is one that the county initially considered back in 2016 as an effort to prepare for Metro’s “SafeTrack” schedule disruptions, and the new lane would’ve run from Court House to Rosslyn. However, county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet says that lane was never constructed, and the new proposal calls for it to run from Cherrydale to Rosslyn instead.
The county expects a new lane would be particularly impactful along that section of the highway because about “25 loaded buses per hour” drive along it during peak period, and they often run into heavy delays near the highway’s intersection with N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn, according to the report.
In addition to the Lee Highway changes, officials are also hoping to earn $750,000 to add a new traffic light to the Washington Blvd entrance to the East Falls Church Metro station, as well as crosswalks and other pedestrian improvements at the intersection.
Finally, the county plans to ask for a total of $1.3 million over the next three years for “enhanced transportation demand management outreach” along the corridor, educating commuters about public transit and other strategies for getting cars off the road.
The Board is set to approve these funding requests at its meeting on Saturday (Dec. 15), and the NVTC will accept applications through Jan. 16. The organization plans to hand out $20 million in funding across the region through the program next year.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating a crash in Rosslyn involving a dump truck and a woman who was pushing a stroller.
The crash happened around 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Lee Highway and Ft. Myer Drive. According to a police spokeswoman, a female pedestrian was struck by a dump truck and suffered serious — but at this point non-life-threatening — injuries. The woman was pushing a stroller at the time but the child was not injured, police said.
The victim was rushed to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital. Detectives are on scene investigating, as is standard procedure for crashes involving very serious injuries.
All lanes of eastbound Lee Highway were previously blocked at N. Nash Street, but have since reopened. Police have moved the investigation onto N. Lynn Street, closing two lanes on that road. Major backups have been reported on the Key Bridge and Ft. Myer Drive approaching Rosslyn.
Road closures are expected to remain in place “for a significant amount of time” while officers investigate the cause of the crash, according to Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
Police were dispatched at 9:26 a.m. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. The pedestrian was transported with serious but non-life threatening injuries. Police remain on scene investigating.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) December 13, 2018
INCIDENT: Fire and Police Activity
LOCATION: EB Lee Hwy at Nash
IMPACT: The two right lanes of EB Lee Hwy have reopened. Officers are still on scene directing traffic. Use caution and follow police direction. pic.twitter.com/4VBoe0EspU
— Arlington Alert (@arlingtonalert) December 13, 2018
Starting this week, construction to improve the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn will significantly narrow a portion of the Custis Trail.
The Custis Trail will be restricted to six feet wide for the section between N. Fort Meyer Drive and Lynn Street, as crews work to transform one lane of Lee Highway into additional trail width and buffer space.
The trail narrowing will last for nine to 10 months while construction takes place on the south side of the trail.
Workers will add wider sidewalks, on-street bike lanes and improved curb ramps as the northbound and southbound sections of Lee Highway meet Lynn Street.
The project will also include improvements to the Custis Trail as it runs alongside Lee Highway, including bicycle and pedestrian facility upgrades, lane reconfiguration and widening of the trail.
For street beautification efforts, the “Corridor of Light” public art installation will get added to each of the four corners of the Interstate 66 bridge.
The county is helping to fund the construction. The project, expected to wrap up in spring 2020, will require some lane and sidewalk closures.
Photo via VDOT and rendering via Arlington County
The Winter Festival of Lights is set to brighten up various spots along Lee Highway with 10,000 lights on Saturday (Dec. 1).
From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., locals can check out the free festival’s four different venues, which will have holiday music, shopping, performances, art, food and photos with Santa.
The first stop at the Lee Arts Center (5722 Lee Highway) includes a kid-friendly crafting area in the artists’ studios where families can make buttons, watch local artists make ceramic bowls for the AFAC Empty Bowls fundraiser and learn how to make a holiday card with the printing press.
The second spot along the corridor, next to the Petco at 5400 Lee Highway, features magic and puppies. Attendees can meet Marymount University’s Pattern Makers and Fashion Club, chat with Arlington County library staff and learn from Arlington planners about the upcoming Lee Highway Planning Study while munching on food from Peter Chang and Harris Teeter.
The schedule includes:
- Christmas trees and wreaths available at the All Seasons Farm Market
- Performance by magician Steve Kish from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Performance by Jack Russell terriers Mario and Bella, who will show off a variety of tricks during the Jacks are Wild Dog Show
- A donation box for pet food from the Arlington Animal Welfare League
- How-to workshop for “cloved oranges” and Mt. Vernon-style natural wreaths with Melanie Welles Creamer from Mt. Vernon’s Greenhouse
Holiday enthusiasts can also head to the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street) to learn about local history and take photos with Santa and firefighters. Food from the Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe and Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta will be available.
Other activities there include:
- Compete for prizes in the Amazing Passport Race
- Book signing by local author Wilma Jones for “My Halls Hill Family, More Than a Neighborhood”
- Exhibition from the winners of a biennial program that recognizes excellence in architecture, historic preservation, landscape architecture and public art
- Toy charitable dropbox from the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH)
- Music from the Celestial Voices, The Arlington Chorale and Clarinestique Clarinet Choir
Finally, the “Shop Like a Local Holiday Market” at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire House (3900 Lee Highway) tops off the festivities.
Photo via Lee Highway Alliance
With Thanksgiving coming up next week, holiday season preparations are right around the corner. Arlington residents in search of a Christmas tree can head to these spots to pick out the perfect pine.
The Optimist Club of Arlington will start its annual tree sale next at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23 in the Wells Fargo Bank lot along Lee Highway (2213 N. Glebe Road). The sales will end around Dec. 21 depending on availability, according to a press release.
Its hours are:
- Monday to Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.
- Friday, noon to 8 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The lot will also have wreaths, garland and White House Christmas ornaments available for purchase. All of the proceeds go to the club’s youth programs, which provide support and scholarships to local children.
For the first time this year, the Optimist Club will also be selling trees at a second location.
From Dec. 5-7, the club and the Ballston BID will operate a “pop-up lot” in the Ballston Gold’s Gym parking lot on Wilson Blvd. The lot is scheduled to be open from 3-7 p.m. and will offer smaller trees than the main Wells Fargo lot. A food truck is also set to serve food for tree shoppers.
The Arlington South Lions Club will begin its annual Christmas tree sale next Friday, Nov. 23, as well.
The sale will take place at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive from noon to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends until Dec. 24. Also planned is a Christmas Tree 5K on the W&OD Trail on Saturday, Dec. 1.
“Benefits from the Christmas Tree 5K and Lions Club Christmas Tree Sale will provide resources for sight preservation, disaster relief, Arlington Youth activities, the Arlington Free Clinic and the Arlington Food Assistance Center,” according to the Lions Club. “The Club will be providing Christmas trees to low-income families as well to provide joy during holiday celebrations.”
The Clarendon United Methodist Church (606 N. Irving Street), meanwhile, begins its tree sale on Saturday, Nov. 24 and runs until the lot sold out. Proceeds will go toward Rise Against Hunger, Wings of Caring and Arlington Thrive.
The schedule is:
- Monday to Friday, 6 to 8 p.m.
- Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
Other usual Christmas tree sale locations to check out include Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (830 23rd Street S.) in Aurora Highlands, Whole Foods stores and local farmers markets. Spots outside of Arlington include the Middleburg Christmas Tree Farm and Almost Heavenly Christmas Trees, which has a location in North Ridge and another in Landmark.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Uber is mapping streets around Arlington.
A reader spotted an Uber mapping vehicle parked outside of Arrowine at the Lee Heights Shops on Lee Highway around lunchtime today. The driver was nowhere to be seen but might have been getting lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Uber says its mapping operation helps the company produce accurate estimated times of arrival and helps select optimal pick-up spots. More from Uber’s website:
Behind every successful Uber ride is a technology many of us take for granted: maps. Mobile maps and GPS allow us to match you with the closest available driver, navigate the fastest path to your destination, and give you an accurate ETA. Accurate maps are at the heart of our service and the backbone of our business. The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we’re doubling down on our investment in mapping. You can read more about these efforts on our blog.†
The street imagery captured by our mapping cameras will help us improve core elements of the Uber experience, like ideal pick-up and drop-off points and the best routes for riders and drivers. We are not collecting this imagery to post it online or otherwise make it available to the public.
To the extent that any personally identifiable information is collected by our mapping cars or cameras, such information will be treated under our Mapping Privacy Statement.
Uber says it is actively mapping areas in Virginia and 13 other states, along with the District of Columbia.
State transportation officials have firmed up their plans for a new bike and pedestrian bridge over Lee Highway in East Falls Church, putting the project on track for construction to kick off next spring.
VDOT unveiled final designs for the planned Washington & Old Dominion Trail bridge at a community meeting last Thursday (Oct. 11), sketching out more details on the bridge that is designed to offer a safer alternative to the trail’s current crossing at the highway’s intersection with Fairfax Drive.
The bridge’s design is largely unchanged from plans that VDOT showed off last summer. Some of the biggest changes include the removal of a barrier with streetlights running down the middle of the bridge and a change to the “piers” holding up the bridge — they now include open space in the middle of their “v” shape.
Officials initially proposed a design for the bridge that featured a trussed roof and red paint, yet some neighbors objected to those features, as well as the bridge’s potential to disrupt long-range plans for the area’s transportation networks.
Planners ultimately changed the bridge’s color and removed the roof, and even agreed to tweak the lighting features on the bridge too. Instead of a barrier lined by street lights, the bridge will now include lighting underneath the v-shaped posts running along its sides.
VDOT also detailed potential traffic disruptions prompted by the bridge’s construction at the meeting. Officials expect that there will be temporary closures on Lee Highway as the bridge’s beams and girders are put in place, and they expect that the fire lane on Fairfax Drive will be closed as construction continues. The W&OD Trail will also be realigned temporarily to allow for the construction, and could also see some temporary closures.
Planners are tentatively hoping to begin work on the bridge early next year, then wrap it up by the fall of 2020. The work will also move in tandem with the I-66 eastbound widening project, which VDOT also hopes to complete in late 2020.
Arlington Gets a New Fire Chief — David Povlitz won the job as the county’s new fire department chief, after James Bonzano retired this summer. Povlitz currently works as an assistant chief in Alexandria, and spent 22 years in Anne Arundel, Maryland’s fire department. [Arlington County]
Arlington Home Values Dip Slightly — The median price of home sales in Arlington County dipped by about 1 percent last month compared to the same time period a year ago, according to new stats. Prices rose slightly in the D.C. region as a whole, though the pace of sales slowed and there were fewer homes on the market. [WTOP]
Civic Federation Backs Park Bond — It took a lengthy meeting and a bit of squabbling, but the Arlington COunty Civic Federation is supporting the $30.3 million bond for parks projects on the ballot this fall. The group did not offer its support for the other bonds on the ballot, however. [InsideNova]
Lee Highway-W&OD Trail Bridge Meeting Tonight — State transportation planners will unveil final designs for the new bridge at Yorktown High School tonight. The bridge is designed to replace the trail’s current crossing at the highway’s intersection with Fairfax Drive. [VDOT]
Rosslyn Cider Fest Delayed — Organizers of the annual celebration of cider are pushing back the event a week to Oct. 18, over fears of inclement weather. [Rosslyn BID]
Trick or Treat at the Pentagon City Mall — Kids can head to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City on Halloween from 5-7 p.m. and snag goodies from select retailers. [Fashion Centre at Pentagon City]
Just a few months after Upper Crust Pizzeria shut down along Lee Highway, a new pizza shop is now set to take its place.
Old Dominion Pizza Company is now planning to open up in Upper Crust’s old space at 4514 Lee Highway in the Lee Heights shopping center, owner John Rodas told ARLnow.
Rodas, who also helps run The Spirits of ’76 bar in Clarendon, says he’s still sorting out the menu for the new restaurant, but hopes Old Dominion will become a “good, local, neighborhood pizza place.”
He says he’d long enjoyed getting pizza at Upper Crust, but thought the restaurant’s management was a bit lacking. He even considered what he might do differently with the space.
“I remember saying, ‘If this spot ever comes open, I would love to put a nice neighborhood pizza place here,” Rodas said.
Accordingly, when Rodas saw ARLnow’s story on the store’s closure this July, he jumped at the chance to lease the space.
“I’d always wanted to do something in the neighborhood, but it wasn’t something I already had plans in the works for,” Rodas said. “But when I saw that it was closed, I drove right over there.”
He says he signed a lease for the space a few months ago, working in tandem with his chef at Spirits of ’76, Charles Smith, who is helping to design Old Dominion’s menu and will have an ownership stake in the pizzeria.
Rodas adds that the restaurant will deliver, and he plans to offer wine and beer in the space, though he expects the lengthy permit application process means the restaurant might not have it available as soon as it opens. As for that opening date, he’s currently hoping to start welcoming customers sometime in December.
Rodas is well aware that it might seem a bit strange to open up a new pizzeria in the same space as one that just failed, but he’s hoping that he’ll be able to bring a bit of what has made his Clarendon bar a success over to this new venture.
“We’re lucky to have great employees there, who take pride in the place and we have great customer service there,” Rodas said. “You know the guys who own the place and who work there… and we want to bring that over to Old Dominion.”
Photo via @olddominionpizza
The demolition for Fire Station 8 is still a long ways away, but two homes behind the building are being prepared for demolition to eventually make way for a temporary station.
According to Peter Golkin, a spokesman with the Arlington Department of Environmental Services, the homes at 2211 and 2215 N. Culpeper Street will be demolished at the beginning of next week.
Currently, contractors at the site are putting up sediment and erosion control barriers around the buildings.
The buildings were purchased by Arlington County in December 2016 for $1.6 million.
According to Ben O’Bryant, spokesman for the Arlington Fire Department, demolition of Fire Station 8 is still at least a year away. O’Bryant says the Fire Department wants to have the temporary station built and running before they start to tear down the existing station.
Photos via Google Maps
Pentagon Ricin Case Update — “Letters sent to the White House and the Pentagon did not contain a finished form of ricin, law enforcement officials said Wednesday, but did contain a primitive form or precursor… A man was arrested in Logan, Utah, on Wednesday in connection with [the] suspicious letters.” [NBC News, NBC News]
Candidates Call for Speedier Lee Highway Planning — “Indications are pointing to redevelopment of significant portions of the Lee Highway corridor through Arlington beginning to gather steam. But is the Arlington County government going to be left behind as the process grinds on? The two candidates for County Board say the local government needs to get moving on its efforts to lead a comprehensive effort in helping plan the corridor’s future.” [InsideNova]
GMU ‘No Scooter Zone’ Nixed — George Mason University “recognizes the popularity of the scooters, so it is softening the message, [spokesman Buzz] McClain said. ‘I think the ‘no scooter zone’ sign got the attention of a lot of people, a little exclamatory. So we’re gonna tone down the messaging and say, ‘park the scooters over by the bikes,’ and that’s it.'” [NBC Washington]
Tonight: Family Film Showing in Clarendon — “Join Market Common Clarendon each Thursday in October starting at 6:30 p.m. for a FREE family-friendly movie on The Loop! Pre-movie fun begins at 4:30 with face painting and balloon twisting and free popcorn and candy from 6-8 p.m.” [ARLnow Events]
Teachers Endorse Kanninen, de Ferranti — The Arlington Education Association PAC has endorsed Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti for Arlington County Board and incumbent Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The PAC represents Arlington teachers. [Twitter, Twitter, Arlington Education Association]
Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff — “Project PEACE is hosting Kate Ranta, a local domestic and gun violence survivor… for a community conversation about sex, violence and the Arlington community. The event takes place [on] Thursday, October 4 [at] 6:30 p.m., at the Walter Reed Community Center.” [Press Release]
Arlington’s Pros and Cons Compared to Tysons — “‘Arlington has old office spaces with bad floor plans,’ said [GMU Professor Stephen] Fuller. ‘That’s sending people out to Tysons, which has newer office space… [But] when Amazon was looking at Northern Virginia, they were looking at Crystal City, not Tysons. Tysons just doesn’t offer lifestyle that they’re looking for.'” [Tysons Reporter]
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) A woman has been found deceased at the base of the antenna tower at 5301 22nd Street N., according to initial reports.
Arlington County police and firefighters are on the scene. A 911 caller reportedly saw the woman fall from the tower.
The tower, along Lee Highway, is used primarily by telecommunications companies for mobile phone antenna arrays.
Via Twitter, Arlington County Police confirmed that officers are conducting a death investigation, noting that it “appears to be an isolated incident with no known threat to the community.”
POLICE ACTIVITY: ACPD is conducting a death investigation in the 5300 block of 22nd Street N. Based on the preliminary investigation, this appears to be an isolated incident with no known threat to the community. The investigation is ongoing. Expect police activity in the area.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) October 3, 2018
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Department of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-228-5160. You can also call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Photo via Google Maps
A proposed childcare center on Lee Highway that has irked neighbors for months is now on track to open in the next few months.
The County Board unanimously signed off on a permit Tuesday to let Little Ambassadors’ Academy move ahead with plans to open a third location at 5801 and 5901 Lee Highway. The childcare center is now on course to open by February or March of next year.
The daycare company has hoped for just over a year now to remodel two existing buildings on the property and create space for as many as 155 children, but people living nearby have repeatedly raised concerns about how the facility’s addition would impact traffic in the area.
Two people living behind the site even filed a lawsuit to block the daycare center’s construction after the Board lent its initial approval last September, though a judge tossed out that case in January. The Leeway Overlee Civic Association has raised concerns about the project as well, urging the Board to restrict the number of children allowed at the facility in a bid to ease traffic in the area.
All the while, Little Ambassadors has worked to open up the new center — but the process has dragged on so long that the permit the Board issued last year came up for review, even though the daycare has yet open.
As Sara Mariska, an attorney for Little Ambassadors, told the Board: “There has been no change in circumstances since we were here a year ago.”
Nevertheless, neighborhood concerns linger. Adam Watson, a staffer in the county’s planning division, said he’s heard from a variety of people in the area concerned that the daycare will snarl an already-busy section of Lee Highway. The original District Taco location sits just down the block, and a new 711 is on the way nearby at 5747 Lee Highway as well.
“[Our] initial expression of general support for [the company’s] application was based on the understanding that the child care center would operate with no more than 135 children,” Leeway Overlee Civic Association President Jack Grimaldi wrote to the Board. “More children, in other words, raises the likelihood of more vehicles being needed to get them to and from the center.”
But Joanne Gabor, who works with county’s Department of Environmental Services, assured the Board that staff believe Little Amabassdors’ strategy for managing traffic in the area “is a good plan and it’s workable.” And without any real-world examples of the childcare facility’s impact on the local traffic, the Board wasn’t inclined to change its original decision.
“A lot of the concerns that people had when this use permit was approved originally, we haven’t had a chance to see if any mitigating or corrective actions will be needed,” said Vice Chair Christian Dorsey. “I can’t find a way to mitigate something that hasn’t happened. It may seem like a callous approach to safety, but we have to see how the network responds.”
Board member Libby Garvey added that Little Ambassadors’ track record at its other Lee Highway locations, at 5232 Lee Highway and 3565 Lee Highway, also gives the Board confidence.
“We have a lot of background coming to us on this,” Garvey said. “I don’t want people to think we’re just winging this.”
The Board will review the daycare center’s use permit once more in September 2019, when it will have a chance to assess any potential traffic impact.
Misomen, a ramen and sushi restaurant on Lee Highway, now seems to have closed its doors.
The eatery only opened at the location at 5731 Lee Highway late last year, when it took the place of Asian Kitchen. Now, its doors are closed and windows covered, with a note covering up the restaurant’s hours of operation.
A call to a number posted on the restaurant’s door was not immediately returned, and Misoramen’s main phone line seems to have been disconnected.
But, according to Yelp commenters, the restaurant has been shuttered for a few weeks now. One first reported that the eatery was closed on Sept. 13, with tables and chairs removed from the space, while another wrote on Sept. 16 that the restaurant seemed to be closed during its normal operating hours and trash littered its floor.
The restaurant is located next to a former car repair center, and the original District Taco location.
Transportation planners will soon unveil the final design of a new bike and pedestrian bridge stretching over Lee Highway in East Falls Church.
VDOT plans to show off the finalized schematics for the Washington & Old Dominion Trail bridge at a community meeting next month, capping off a design process that drew plenty of flak from neighbors last year. The new bridge, which is being built as part of widening work on I-66 eastbound in the area, is designed to replace the trail’s current crossing at the highway’s intersection with Fairfax Drive and offer a safer environment for walkers and cyclists.
Officials had initially proposed a design for the bridge that featured a trussed roof and red paint, yet neighbors objected to those features, as well as the bridge’s potential to disrupt long-range plans for the area’s transportation networks.
But VDOT has since tweaked its design to address the most controversial features, proposing a bridge that’s gray in color without a trussed roof, in a bid to address some of those concerns. Even still, some questions about noise walls and public art lingered during a meeting on the project last year.
Planners will look to address those worries and more at an Oct. 11 meeting at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) from 6:30-8:30 p.m., where they’ll deliver a presentation on “final design plans and aesthetic details.”
If all goes as planned, construction is set to start on the bridge by spring 2019 and run through fall 2020.