A new Maryland law greases the wheels for Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) train service to come to the new Crystal City station set to open in 2024.
HB 1236 — First Step for MARC Commuters Act — calls for the Maryland Transit Authority to “engage in good-faith negotiations” for a pilot program that would extend MARC service into Arlington and Alexandria. It could one day allow workers at Amazon’s HQ2 to commute in via rail from Baltimore or the Maryland exurbs.
The National Landing Business Improvement District calls the act a good “first step.”
“Passage of the First Step for MARC Commuters Act is significant progress towards realizing a bold vision for a truly regional commuter rail system,” BID president Tracy Sayegh Gabriel tells ARLnow. “Though National Landing is already well served by WMATA and VRE, the addition of MARC service will greatly enhance access to employment and affordable housing opportunities for residents throughout Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.”
The new Virginia Railway Express station in Crystal City is planning to open in 2024 and is being specifically designed with MARC and Amtrak trains in mind, in hopes that these negotiations bear fruit. Amtrak, too, is “exploring” adding regional service to the station.
Maryland State Delegate Jared Solomon, who co-sponsored the bill, tells ARLnow that it provides “legal authority” for MTA to negotiate with Virginia and train companies. Virginia has been much more “forward-looking” with its rail infrastructure than Maryland, he said, adding the he hopes the bill leads to an agreement in the near future.
“It’s a win-win-win for the region,” Solomon said.
HB 1236 actually passed both houses of the Maryland General Assembly back in March 2020, but Governor Larry Hogan vetoed it. He cited the nearly $3 billion pandemic-related shortfall in the state budget and a bill of this nature being “not financially feasible nor responsible at this time” as reasons.
The veto was overridden by both houses of the Maryland General Assembly within the past two weeks, turning the bill into state law.
The Crystal City BID — now the National Landing BID — and JBG Smith, Crystal City’s predominant property owner, provided testimony in favor of the bill last year.
The BID’s statement cited the arrival of Amazon and projected job growth over the next decade as reasons for why MARC train service needed to extend across state lines. The BID also noted the planned future investments in rail infrastructure, specifically the replacement of Long Bridge.
JBG Smith mentioned that MARC’s existing service prevented residents in Maryland jurisdictions from fully taking advantage of job and economic opportunities in Arlington.
“By providing for a ‘one seat ride’ to National Landing, HB 1236 would substantially improve conditions for existing Maryland commuters,” wrote Andy VanHorn, the company’s Executive Vice President of Development.
The law retroactively took effect on July 1, 2020 and is set to remain on books until June 30, 2022.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Arlington Enters N. Va. Police Pact –“The Northern Virginia Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Committee is pleased to announce the creation of the Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT). The purpose of this team is to investigate critical incidents involving law enforcement officers within the cooperating jurisdictions.” [ACPD, DCist]
Dems Staying in Arlington for Inauguration — “Since most won’t be traveling into the District of Columbia due to public-health restrictions, members of the Arlington County Democratic Committee are being asked to take part in special events in Arlington to mark the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.” [InsideNova]
Amazon to Open HQ2 to Teachers — “Amazon.com Inc. is taking a new step toward building up its future workforce, offering D.C.-area teachers the opportunity this summer to tour its second headquarters and shadow HQ2 staff while completing a graduate-level computer science course with George Mason University.” [Washington Business Journal]
Amazon Wants to Vaccinate Va. Workers — “Amazon.com Inc. has offered to aid Virginia in inoculating the masses by vaccinating its tens of thousands of employees deemed essential during the health crisis… The company said it has the infrastructure to provide vaccinations to its more than 25,000 full and part-time laborers at fulfillment centers, warehouses and grocery stores across the state.” [Washington Business Journal]
New Candidate for 45th House District — “Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker will not seek reelection and is running for the 45th District [state House of Delegates] seat currently held by Del. Mark Levine as he runs for Virginia Lieutenant Governor.” [ALXnow]
Nearby: No Go for MoCo Schools — “Montgomery County students’ return to schools will be pushed back again as local COVID-19 cases continue to surge. During a meeting on Tuesday, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted 7-1 to delay its reopening plan for the third time, pushing back the Feb. 1 start date until at least March 15 — more than a year after buildings closed.” [Bethesda Magazine]
Modification to Red Top Development — “As currently proposed, the building would have 269 residential units instead of the previously-approved 247. The unit mix will span from studios to two bedrooms, and the ground-floor units will have private entrances, including a lone three-bedroom unit. The development will also include 134 vehicular spaces and 108 bicycle spaces on a below-grade level.” [UrbanTurf]
Spotted: First Snowflakes of the Season — The first snowflakes of the season in Arlington fell yesterday. Though the few flakes that briefly fell did not amount to any degree of accumulation, it was enough to prompt a few social media posts. [Twitter, Twitter]
Rental Assistance for Day Laborers — “Arlington County Board members on Dec. 12 are expected to reallocate funds from the Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) to support rental assistance for day-laborers in the community. The plan will move $32,000 of the county government’s annual grant of $208,643 to SEEC to directly focus on rental assistance by making direct payments to landlords.” [InsideNova]
Inmates, Deputies to Be Tested — “Sheriff Beth Arthur announces all Sheriff’s Office staff and inmates housed at the Arlington County Detention Facility will be tested for COVID-19 on December 10th and 11th by the Virginia National Guard.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: MoCo May Nix Indoor Dining — “Indoor dining at restaurants in Montgomery County could soon be shut down, a new measure to combat the spread of COVID-19. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced his proposal on Wednesday afternoon during a media briefing held with county and medical officials across the state.” [Bethesda Magazine, Washington Post]
Arlington’s ‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Talks — “For me, I like the hole-in-the wall bars. Just like, a dive bar where I can just like, grab a beer. Like I love drinking Guinness or some sort of Allagash White or something like that. If I were to go to a bar in Arlington to watch a game, I don’t know — maybe like, First Down in Ballston or like Spider Kelly’s.” [Washingtonian]
CaBi Comes to DCA — “The Capital Bikeshare station at National Airport is live! Traveling to the airport just got a whole lot easier.” [Twitter]
National Landing BID Expanding — “The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) today announced two new executive appointments and three promotions within the organization.” [National Landing BID]
Fmr. Interim Superintendent Leaves APS — Arlington Public Schools staff wished goodbye to Cintia Johnson, the long-time school staffer who recently served as interim superintendent. [@APSVirginia/Twitter]
Chamber Continues Supporting Dillon Rule — “As part of its 2021 package of legislative priorities, the Chamber of Commerce is continuing its position that the ‘Dillon Rule’ needs to be maintained, and urged members of the General Assembly to do nothing that would lessen it. Leadership of the business organization comes and goes and other policy positions evolve over time, but the Chamber’s support for the Dillon Rule has remained steadfast over the decades.” [InsideNova]
Hospital CEO Staying On, For Now — “Virginia Hospital Center is experiencing some leadership changes — and holding off on others. VHC president and CEO Jim Cole, who’s held the position for 25 of his 35 years with the Arlington hospital, has continued and will remain in the top slot for now after announcing a year ago his intention to retire in September 2020.” [Washington Business Journal]
‘Section 230’ Explained With ARLnow — So what is Section 230, exactly? Per cybersecurity law professor Jeff Kosseff: “[An] example is that I go to my favorite local news site, @ARLnowDOTcom, and post a terrible, defamatory rumor about my neighbor… Neighbor can sue me, but a suit against ARLnow would fail because ARLnow was not responsible in whole or in part for creating or developing my defamatory post.” [@jkosseff/Twitter]
Nearby: Bethesda Encouraging ‘Streeteries’ — “A fund with $1.25 million from federal aid money might help. The county is considering using that money to give outdoor ‘streeteries’ — blocked-off streets filled with tables and chairs for patrons to eat outdoors — tools to prepare for operating during winter, such as heaters.” [Bethesda Magazine]
Arlington, MoCo Hire Consultant — “Montgomery and Arlington counties have hired a consultant to develop alternatives to the flight paths at Reagan National Airport that have led to dramatic increases in noise complaints from residents across the region. ‘This will be a game changer,; said Ken Hartman… Montgomery County’s point person on the airplane noise issue.” [Washington Post]
Biden Breaks 100K Mark in Arlington — “It likely won’t be the highlight of his political career, but Joe Biden will go down in history as the first presidential candidate to win more than 100,000 votes in Arlington. Biden garnered 102,510 of them, according to unofficial tallies reported immediately after the election… Trump’s performance, both in total votes and in percentage of the vote, slightly outperformed his 2016 tally in Arlington.” [InsideNova]
What the School Bond Will Fund — “The $52.65 million will be used for the following projects: $24.3 million for planning and design to meet 10-year projected capacity needs at all school levels; $15.4 million for major infrastructure projects such as HVAC replacement for schools; $7.65 million for building refreshes and kitchen renovations at ATS, Key and McKinley; $5.30 million for security entrances at Taylor, Gunston, Jefferson, Williamsburg, Wakefield.” [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Firefighter Follows in Fallen Father’s Footsteps — “The son of a Washington, D.C. fallen firefighter is following in his dad’s footsteps. When Anthony Phillips Jr.’s father died in the line of duty on May 30, 1999, he never thought he would do that work that took the life of his father 21 years ago. But, never say never… Phillips just graduated from the Arlington Fire Academy Recruit Class 78.” [WJLA]
Some Fog This Morning — Updated at 8:55 a.m. — From a National Weather Service tweet last night: “Some patchy dense #fog is developing over portions of central and northern Virginia. Remain alert if traveling overnight, as visibility could quickly fall to a quarter mile or less.” A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect until 10 a.m. [Twitter, Twitter]
Nearby: Downtown D.C. in Trouble — “Now,empty streets are the norm. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the District’s once-thriving downtown area into a ghost town over the past nearly eight months… Downtown D.C.s’ economy has been crushed by the pandemic, though it has made a slight recovery since the BID issued its last report in July.” [DCist]
Frederick-to-Arlington Transit Proposal — “Proposed transit service connecting Arlington to Frederick (Md.) and points in between remains on the table, but barely, after scoring low in a recent cost-benefit analysis conducted by the Virginia and Maryland state governments… As envisioned, the transit route would start at Frederick six times each workday morning and terminate an hour later at the Pentagon, with intermediate stops at Monocacy, Urbana, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Montgomery Mall and Rosslyn.” [InsideNova]
Women Groped in Aurora Highlands — “At approximately 7:18 p.m. on November 3, police were dispatched to the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 6:30 p.m., the victim was running in the area when the suspect approached her from behind and grabbed her buttocks. The victim yelled, and the suspect fled on foot, then entered the passenger side of a vehicle and left the area.” [ACPD]
Data Breach Affecting Hospital — “Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, has recently learned of an information security incident experienced by one of its vendors… [an] unauthorized party may have acquired a backup of the database that compromises certain limited elements of VHC’s donor and fundraising information, as may be the case with other nonprofits affected by this incident worldwide.” [Press Release]
Grand Opening for New Business — Paint Nail Bar (1520 Clarendon Blvd) is holding its grand opening celebration this weekend, from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday. “Champagne and light bites will be served and all attendees will receive a goody bag,” the business says. [Facebook]
Tea Returns to the Ritz — “The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City is now offering Afternoon Tea, bringing a time-honored tradition at an affordable price – all with safety and the health of guests in mind. Offered in their fyve restaurant, featuring globally inspired dishes, the hotel’s Afternoon Tea service is available at three price points, perfect for adults and children celebrating a special occasion or looking for a weekend respite from the day-to-day.” [Press Release]
More Nice Weather on Tap — “Quite a stretch of tranquil weather ahead of us as high pressure dominates into early next week, resulting in dry conditions and temperatures running 5 to 10 degrees above normal for early November.” [@NWS_BaltWash/Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]
In two days, Montgomery County will start allowing alcohol consumption in select parks as part of a pilot program.
More from Washingtonian:
Beginning Thursday, September 24, alcohol consumption will be allowed in nine designated parks as part of a pilot program approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday. It will run at least through May.
The change is one facet of the county’s “Picnic in the Park” initiative, which aims to bolster takeout business for nearby restaurants while providing venues for safe social distancing. The MoCo Eats website shows picnic-goers which restaurants will deliver to them, and each park has drop-off spots for drivers.
In Arlington, alcohol consumption is banned in parks, with the exception of serving beer and wine during permitted events in two parks: Rosslyn Gateway Park and Clarendon Central Park. On top of the restrictions, Arlington has a program called Park Safe in which repeat offenders of rules like the alcohol ban — often homeless individuals with substance abuse problems — can be temporarily banned from all county parks.
Montgomery County’s program is specifically aimed at boosting outdoor dining during the pandemic and does not legalize public intoxication. But it’s the latest example of how long-standing laws concerning where you can buy and consume alcohol have become malleable as a result of COVID-19, allowing restaurants to deliver cocktails and parking lots to turn into watering holes.
The pandemic continues to loosen some of the U.S.’s parochial insanity about drinking alcohol https://t.co/D1xDnOqgEV
— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) September 18, 2020
Arlington has thus far declined to close streets to give restaurants more room to seat diners outside, as D.C. is doing, but perhaps adopting Montgomery County’s new temporary park rules could be the thing to give local eateries a boost.
What do you think?
Dozens March for Racial Justice — “A group of about 100 people marched more than three miles on a hot August afternoon through Arlington demanding justice for victims of police brutality and calling on the county’s elected officials to bring police reform to the county.” [Patch]
Police Investigating More KKK Stickers — “Stickers that appear to promote the Ku Klux Klan have been found on traffic signs and utility boxes in Arlington over the past month, Arlington police said… They were found between July 2 and 28 in four locations, mostly in the Yorktown neighborhood, on the back of traffic signs and on a utility box.” [Washington Post]
Big Power Outage on Saturday — “A power outage in South Arlington has about 3,000 customers without power, according to Dominion Energy. The outage is affecting several neighborhoods between Columbia Pike and Interstate 395, including Arlington Mill, Columbia Forest, Douglas Park, and Nauck.” [WJLA]
Parents Rally Against School Plan — “All 12 school jurisdictions in the D.C. area have announced their intentions to start the 2020-2021 school year virtually, and not all parents are pleased with that decision. Vienna, Va. resident Jill Gartin rallied with other parents and students today at Arlington district headquarters to make their voices heard… ‘It’s been awful because I have five kids running on one wifi. It’s draining and the kids are miserable.'” [WJLA]
Ribbon Cutting for Vida — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony last week for Vida Fitness’ new Ballston location, its first outside of D.C. It’s only the second ribbon cutting pictured on the Chamber’s Instagram account (the first was Bowlero in Crystal City) since the pandemic started. [Instagram]
Meridian Pint Fighting for Survival — “As you all may have heard, there is a possibility we may have to permanently close our doors. With the effects of Covid-19 the restaurant industry is feeling an enormous impact, Meridian Pint is no exception. We did get a Payroll Protection Loan but those funds have since been fully depleted. We are asking for your help.” [Facebook]
Nearby: MoCo May Reinstate Restrictions — “COVID-19 cases have been increasing across the state while Montgomery County’s have plateaued to about 70 to 80 new cases a day. But now officials are considering whether to reinstate some restrictions to try to decrease the virus’s spread and reduce cases.” [Bethesda Magazine]
Yes, But Where’s *This* Story? — Wondering why something that happened over the weekend was not included in Morning notes? We may be planning to cover it later today. Or, if it’s something that we might not know about, you can tell us about it for potential future coverage.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Online Forums Devolve into Shouting Matches — Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark writes about how a Nextdoor post about kids not wearing masks during a baseball game erupted into a barrage of insults and debates among neighbors. Nextdoor is not alone in becoming a forum for heated local debates on hot button issues: last month the popular Fairlington Appreciation Society Facebook group shut down after flame wars broke out over issues related to the Black Lives Matter protests. [Falls Church News-Press]
Virtual ‘Arlington Cares’ Event Tomorrow — “This free, virtual event will recognize the 2020 Community Service Award Winners and remind us of the importance of serving others. A heartwarming opportunity for all ages that will celebrate the overwhelming goodness that is within our community.” [Event Calendar]
Reduction in Homelessness Prior to Pandemic — “For the 20th consecutive year, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee has conducted a regional Point-in-Time (PIT) enumeration of the area’s residents experiencing homelessness and those who were formerly homeless. This year’s enumeration and survey occurred on January 22, 2020. Arlington saw a 7-percent reduction in overall homelessness, down from 215 persons in 2019 to 199 in 2020.” [Arlington County]
More Flood Damage in Waverly Hills — “After countless floods in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood soaked his basement, Tom Reich finally ordered a custom-made waterproof door to protect his home’s bottom level.
On Tuesday, the day before it was scheduled to arrive, yet another storm dumped buckets of rain on the region — and especially on 18th Street North. There, overwhelmed storm water mains sent three feet of water coursing down the street.” [Washington Post]
Beyer Furious at Response to Shooting Inquiry — “‘For nearly three years Bijan Ghaisar’s family and community have sought answers from federal authorities about why these officers killed Bijan and what consequences they will face. This response which tells us nothing after an eight-month delay is an insult to the people we represent,’ said [Rep. Don] Beyer. ‘The contempt such a pathetic answer shows for public transparency and accountability is unacceptable and will further damage the standing of the U.S. Park Police at a time when the region’s trust in them is already at an all-time low.'” [House of Representatives]
Report Businesses Flouting the Rules, Gov. Says — “As Virginia starts seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Ralph Northam reiterated Friday what has become a familiar message about limiting crowds, washing hand frequently and wearing face coverings. But he added a new fourth point: Report businesses flouting the rules to the local health department.” [InsideNova]
Freddie’s Closes Temporarily — “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close temporarily. One of our employees has tested positive for COVID-19. We are actively reaching out to customers and staff who may have been in contact since Wednesday July 8. We are beginning the process to have the restaurant fully sanitized so we may safely reopen as soon as possible.” [Facebook]
Nearby: MoCo Starting School Year Online — “Montgomery County students will begin the next academic year online, with a phased approach to bring them back to school buildings part-time by the end of November, according to the school district’s draft plan released Saturday.” [Bethesda Magazine]
Another Celeb Backs Ballston-Based Hungry — “Arlington catering platform Hungry Marketplace has raised $20 million from actor Kevin Hart, former Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb and others to fuel a 23-city expansion as the company’s revenues grow into the tens of millions of dollars.” [Forbes, Washington Business Journal]
Public Meeting for Athletic Field Feedback — “Help Arlington County ensure its athletic fields are utilized effectively and efficiently… Whether you play on an organized team or enjoy one of our many fields for casual recreation, share your thoughts and help us determine community needs.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: Region’s First Coronavirus Cases — “Maryland’s first three cases of coronavirus disease are Montgomery County residents who took an international trip together, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday. He said he has declared a state of emergency for Maryland, which has been preparing for the first cases of the disease.” [Bethesda Beat, WTOP]
Nearby: New Inova Facility Near Potomac Yard — “Inova Health System plans to open a new health care facility on part of Oakville Triangle, giving another try to the 13-acre site on Richmond Highway in Alexandria across from a planned Virginia Tech campus and a short distance from Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]