Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Incubator Leaving Crystal City — “Startup incubator 1776 plans to open its new D.C. location this year and will ultimately shut down its Crystal City location. 1776 spokesman Lucas McCanna said the company will relocate to ‘the general McPherson Square area,’ but declined to give a specific address.” [Washington Business Journal]

AAA: Worst Times for Independence Day Travel — “Holiday travelers hailing from the area will face absolute gridlock along key freeway segments starting [today], July 3. Topping the list of the worst corridors for those departing Wednesday, July 3, is Interstate 270 northbound.” [Press Release]

Arlington County Holiday Closures — All Arlington County government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be closed Thursday for the Independence Day holiday, though trash and recycling will still be collected. Also, “metered parking is not enforced but street parking near the US Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima), Long Bridge Park, and the Air Force Memorial will be restricted. Motorists should look for temporary ‘No Parking’ signs.” [Arlington County]

Memorial Bridge Closed to Pedestrians — In addition to other July 4 road closures around Arlington, Memorial Bridge will be closed to both vehicles and pedestrians throughout the day Thursday. [Twitter, National Park Service]

ART Bus Holiday Schedule — “ART will operate holiday service on Thursday, July 4, 2019, in observance of Independence Day. ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 will operate on Sunday schedules. All other ART routes will not operate and the ART customer call center will be closed.” [Arlington Transit]

Superintendent Search May Be Drawn Out — “Arlington’s new School Board chair, who will be focused in coming months on the selection of a new superintendent, asked for patience in the community as the process plays out. ‘Finding the right leader and the best fit for our community will take time,’ Tannia Talento said July 1 as she rotated in as chair of the School Board for the coming year.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) The National Park Service is ready to move ahead with plans to make Memorial Circle safer and easier to navigate.

NPS finalized a study last week, stating its plans did not negatively impact the surrounding environment or historical character of the area. The agency can now move forward on making the nexus of roadways safer for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

“The National Park Service is very pleased this project has advanced to a stage where we’ll be able to implement these improvements as soon as funds are available,” a spokesman for the federal agency told ARLnow.

NPS chose the most aggressive of three proposed plans to modify Memorial Circle and the roads around it, S. Arlington Blvd and Washington Blvd.

The plan chosen, Alternative C, calls for changes like re-striping Memorial Circle down to one lane of traffic instead of two, thus reducing conflicts between drivers in the circle and approaching the circle.

The plan also includes a proposal to enlarge and shorten the text on signs in the circle, making them easier to read. Additionally, new yield signs would give vehicles inside the circle the right of way.

NPS also proposed adding walk signals for pedestrians and flashing beacons for drivers at six intersections where the study notes near-misses are common. Officials estimated 600 crashes occurred near Memorial Circle between 2005 and 2012.

The agency would also re-stripe S. Arlington Blvd down to two lanes before it approaches the crosswalk just north of the circle to make crossing safer for pedestrians.

To help reduce weaving between lanes and merging traffic north of the circle, NPS would:

  • Re-stripe Washington Blvd, reducing it to one lane
  • Re-stripe S. Arlington Blvd to two lanes and Washington Blvd to one lane where the roadways merge, allowing traffic to continue without changing lanes
  • Remove the S. Arlington Blvd exit ramp and far left exit lane to S. Washington Blvd
  • Widen the northern ramp off of S. Arlington Blvd up to 12 feet to allow two lanes of traffic to exit, making the left lane exit-only and the right lane a shared exit/through lane
  • Possibly remove one or two trees along the exit of the S. Arlington Blvd ramp

The plan also calls for widening northbound Washington Blvd to fit a third lane as it merges into the circle.

The widened road would make room for a concrete island, directing two of Washington Blvd’s three northbound lanes onto Memorial Bridge and one lefthand lane into the circle. NPS said Washington Blvd could be widened up to 20 feet, pending design specifications.

The existing concrete island where the Memorial Bridge meets the circle’s east side would be split into two. These two new concrete islands would direct the left westbound lane coming off Arlington Memorial Bridge into the circle and syphon the other westbound lanes onto S. Arlington Blvd.

Other changes include:

  • Adding rumble strips and raised pavement markings to avoid “last-minute weaving” and provide more guidance to drivers
  • Installing more speed limit signs and increased police presence to crack down on speeding

NPS has implemented traffic improvements to the area before. In 2012, the agency moved a sidewalk and installed rumble strips, among other changes, on the GW Parkway in a bid to make the roadway safer.

“Whether you are a frequent commuter, visitor to Washington, D.C. or someone recreating, we want the Memorial Circle area to be a safe and accessible experience for everyone,” said Charles Cuvelier, the Parkway’s superintendent, in a statement about the latest round of improvements.

Work continues nearby on structural repairs to Memorial Bridge, a project NPS started last year.

Image 2 via Google Maps, images 1 and 3-5 via National Park Service

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Morning Notes

Experts See More Amazon Jobs Heading Here — “Given Amazon’s Northern Virginia incentives allowing for as many as 38,000 jobs over 15 years, CoStar Managing Consultant and Senior Real Estate Economist Paul Leonard expects it will absorb much of the planned New York payroll, despite Amazon’s company line that ‘nothing has changed’ for National Landing.” [Bisnow]

More on I-395 Incident — Arlington County Police say it was a juvenile suspect, driving a stolen car without a driver’s license, who caused a big crash on I-395 before leading police on a foot chase during Tuesday’s evening rush hour. [Arlington County]

Inside Look at Memorial Bridge Work — Workers are laboring to restore the Arlington Memorial Bridge to its former glory, one piece of 90-year-old granite at a time. [NBC Washington]

Copa Kitchen & Bar Opening Today — The latest restaurant to open at Ballston Quarter is Copa Kitchen & Bar, which is expected to serve customers from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. today, according to a social media post. [Instagram]

Where’s the Weather? — Our faithful weather bar, which has graced the top of our site for many years, is out of commission, for now. IBM, in its infinite wisdom, killed the source of our data. Why, Watson, why? We’re working to restore the current conditions display with a new data source, but it’s probably going to take a few months. [Weather Underground]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

USPS Decides to Relocate Rosslyn Post Office — “The U.S. Postal Service will relocate the Rosslyn Station Post Office, located at 1101 Wilson Blvd, to a yet-to-be-determined location as close as reasonably possible to the current site.” [USPS]

Netherlands Carillon to Go Quiet, Temporarily — “Bells that have been ringing high atop an Arlington hill for nearly 60 years will soon go temporarily silent as they embark on a journey thousands of miles long… The 50 bells will be taken down by crane and sent by ship to a foundry in the Netherlands, where they will be cleaned and retuned.” [WJLA]

New Memorial Bridge Lane Closures — “Work is moving ahead on the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which means that the overnight traffic pattern will change to accommodate construction lanes. Starting on Monday, March 11, the National Park Service will reduce the number of lanes that drivers can access from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m.” [WTOP]

Ballston Tech Company Acquired — “Comcast today announced it has acquired BluVector, a company that uses advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide cybersecurity protection to companies and government agencies.” [BluVector]

‘Pizza With Police’ Event Planned — “Pizza with the Police, similar to the popular Coffee with a Cop series, is an informal event designed for Arlington’s residential and business communities to meet and interact with members of the police department, ask questions, discuss their public safety concerns and get to know their neighbors.” [Arlington County]

Amazon VP Tweets from Crystal City — “Delicious lunch at Federico Ristorante Italiano in #CrystalCity! It was fun to hang out with @FreddieFlamingo and see one of the great local restaurants that the future #AmazonHQ2 employees will be able to enjoy very soon!” [Twitter]

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A driver struck a woman with their car while she was crossing the G.W. Parkway just south of the Arlington Memorial Bridge yesterday (Thursday), in what’s long been a troublesome stretch of road for pedestrians.

The woman was in the middle of a crosswalk just south of the bridge at the time of the incident, according to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado.

The crash happened around 11 a.m. yesterday, and the woman suffered “non-life threatening injuries,” Delgado said.

Police believe that the right lane of traffic had stopped for the woman, but a vehicle in the left lane didn’t, Delgado added. Arlington Fire Department spokesman Ben O’Bryant said the woman was conscious when first responders arrived, and she was transported to a local hospital “in good condition.”

The stretch of the parkway leading up to the bridge has often been the scene of dangerous crashes involving pedestrians. Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012 alone.

Park officials are even in the process of weighing a variety of changes along the parkway and the nearby Memorial Circle to make them a bit safer for pedestrians.

In fact, some of the potential improvements would target crosswalks on the parkway south of the bridge, like making them a bit more visible for drivers or even narrowing the parkway to one lane as it approaches crosswalks.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Memorial Bridge Potholes — Large potholes made for dangerous driving on the under-construction Memorial Bridge over the weekend, but crews started repairing the bridge’s pockmarked surface Tuesday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Poke Restaurant Coming to Ballston — Local restaurant Poke It Up is expanding with a second location. The restaurant, which first opened in the Pentagon City mall food court, is now planning to open this summer at 4401 N. Fairfax Drive in Ballston, next to a new soup shop, Zoup. [Eater]

Shutdown Costing Local Economy Big Bucks — “About $119.2 million per day is removed from the gross regional product each day the shutdown drags on, according to local economist Stephen Fuller, thanks to lost pay of federal workers, contractors and suppliers and the multiplied economic effects of their lost spending. That daily hit… drops to $46.4 million per day once federal workers are ultimately repaid their lost wages.” [Washington Business Journal]

Overturned Vehicle in Crystal City — A driver managed to flip his or her vehicle in a crash last night on 18th Street S., near the Crystal City Metro station. [Twitter]

Board Set to Endorse VRE Funding — “Arlington County Board members on Jan. 26 are expected to endorse a request by Virginia Railway Express (VRE) for state funding to support construction of a new Crystal City station. The transit agency will seek grant funding from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, which if approved could cover up to 70 percent of the cost of construction. VRE will fund the rest.” [InsideNova]

Changes to State Inspection Stickers — “The stickers are smaller, in response to complaints that the new sticker placement on the bottom left of the windshield, which started in 2018, resulted in reduced visibility for drivers.” [Tysons Reporter]

Nearby: Alexandria Warns About Opioids — “The City of Alexandria has responded to four suspected opioid overdoses in the last 72 hours, including two fatalities. While recreational use of opioids is always dangerous and illegal, City officials are urging residents to be aware of the medical safety of the drugs, including heroin, that could be extremely concentrated or mixed with something unusual that is resulting in life-threatening situations.” [City of Alexandria]

Flickr pool photo by Eschweik

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Transportation officials are proposing a host of safety improvements for Memorial Circle, a confusing confluence of roads connecting Arlington National Cemetery to the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

The circle has long been the site of all manner of dangerous crashes, particularly those involving cyclists and pedestrians looking to access the nearby Mt. Vernon Trail or cross into D.C. But the National Park Service has drawn up a series of changes for the roads in the area designed to address the issue, including traffic pattern changes to transform the circle into something more like a traditional roundabout.

“The project area is at a major convergence of regional roadways and modes that interact through a complex series of roadway merges (on-ramps), weaves, diverges (off-ramps), and intersections, resulting in traffic congestion and crashes,” NPS planners wrote in a November environmental assessment. “The proposed action would change the way area users access and circulate through the area by car, bicycle, or foot.”

Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012. Lawmakers previously secured some safety improvements for the G.W. Parkway and the circle to try to address the issue. The new NPS proposal would address not only the circle itself, but also the roads approaching the area from both the north and south: S. Arlington Blvd and Washington Blvd.

Perhaps the most substantial change park officials are proposing would be cutting back on one lane of traffic in the circle, in order to “allow the circle to function more like a modern roundabout,” the NPS wrote. That means that drivers in the circle would have the right of way, and anyone entering the circle would need to yield to them.

The NPS also plans to split up an island on the east side of the circle, near where it meets the Memorial Bridge, allowing two westbound lanes coming from the bridge to “bypass the circle and head north onto S. Arlington Boulevard” and one lane of traffic to proceed and enter the circle.

For roads north of the circle, officials are proposing some improved signage at the various intersections, including “fluorescent yellow advance pedestrian crossing warning signs” at some and “rapid flashing beacon” signs at others.

But they’re also envisioning more dramatic improvements, like reducing Washington Blvd down to one lane, and removing both the “existing southern exit ramp connecting S. Arlington Blvd and S. Washington Blvd” and “the existing far left exit lane of S. Arlington Blvd.”

As S. Arlington Blvd exits the circle, the NPS also envisions reducing the road from three lanes down to two leading up to the crosswalk. The existing far left lane leading onto a ramp to S. Washington Blvd is slated to be removed, as is the exit ramp itself.

The NPS is planning similar pedestrian sign improvements for intersections south of the circle, as well as other lane reductions.

One major change would be the construction of a new concrete island where Washington Blvd enters the circle to its south, allowing two lanes of the road to bypass the circle and reach the Memorial Bridge, and one lane to enter the circle. That would require a slightly widening of the road in the area, the NPS wrote.

The plans also call for Washington Blvd to be reduced from four lanes to three south of the circle “in order to simplify merging patterns,” while the G.W. Parkway would be widened “to add an acceleration lane allowing traffic from Arlington Blvd to enter the parkway in its own dedicated lane before merging onto the two-lane parkway.”

Additionally, the NPS envisions relocating two bike and pedestrians crossings south of the circle. One, located as a trail crossing Washington Blvd, “would be relocated closer to the Circle, to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross where vehicle speeds are slower and where drivers are anticipating conflicts.” The other, designed to help people cross the parkway to the southeast of the circle, would be moved slightly further north of the parkway.

The NPS traffic analysis of these proposed changes suggest they’d generate “an overall improvement” in congestion on the roads, in addition to substantial safety upgrades.

People in the bicycling community are pretty skeptical of the latter assertion, however.

The NPS is accepting comments on the plans through Dec. 29.

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The Arlington Memorial Bridge is now set for a second full shutdown next weekend, as the lengthy rehab work on the aging structure inches forward.

The National Park Service announced today (Tuesday) that the bridge will be completely closed to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians starting at 9 p.m. next Friday (Dec. 7) through 5 a.m. the following Monday (Dec. 10). The NPS commissioned a similar shutdown in late September, and says another could be on the way in January.

Workers recently reduced the bridge down to three traffic lanes from its original six to allow for construction work as part of a $227 million effort to shore up the Potomac River crossing. Planners believe the work is necessary to avoid a complete shutdown of the Memorial Bridge in the coming years, and they expect work to continue through 2021.

“We’re closing the bridge to keep everyone safe,” Acting NPS Superintendent Blanca Alvarez Stransky wrote in a statement. “We need your cooperation in observing these closures. If anyone enters the work area during the closure, it will increase the amount of time we need to complete the work.”

The NPS is advising anyone who normally relies on the bridge to seek alternate routes next weekend, and even suggesting that boaters “approach the bridge with caution and avoid the area near its center span.” According to a release, workers plan to use the shutdown as a chance to “install a temporary support structure under the middle arch of the bridge” and “begin to remove steel from the center span of the bridge.”

Once the closure is over, the NPS says the bridge will return to its current, three-lane traffic pattern, with one eastbound lane, one westbound lane and a reversible third lane to match the direction of rush hour traffic.

The park service expects that traffic pattern will last until construction is over, and is also warning of an additional “limited number of full bridge closures on weekends and occasional, short full closures of the bridge at night.”

Photo via @NPSjennyas

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Morning Notes

Worker Rescued from Memorial Bridge — A man working on the Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project was injured this morning and transported to the hospital via fireboat and then ambulance. The injuries were reported to be non-life-threatening. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]

More Worries About Real Estate Prices Post-Amazon — “Amazon’s possible arrival in Northern Virginia and Queens, New York, has already sent shockwaves through surrounding real estate markets. Mara Gemond, a longtime Arlington, Virginia, realtor… Crystal City — until news broke that Amazon might be splitting its 50,000-employee second headquarters between there and Long Island City in New York. All of a sudden, the two-bedroom condo in a 1980s-era building that had been sitting on the market for nearly three months with no offers, even after a price cut, had a flood of interest.” [CNN, Washington Post, ARLnow]

Metro Closure Causes DCA Gridlock — The closure of the Crystal City and National Airport Metro stations prior to Friday’s evening rush hour, amid a rush to get out of town for the holiday weekend, caused gridlock around the airport, the GW Parkway, Route 1 and other nearby roads. Arlington County Police were dispatched to the area to help with traffic control. [NBC 4, Twitter, Greater Greater Washington]

Chamber Welcomes Amazon — Among those welcoming Amazon to Arlington is the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. “This addition to Arlington is a significant step toward enhancing and maintaining the strength of Arlington’s commercial sector and diversifying our economic base,” the Chamber said in a statement. [Arlington Chamber]

Restrictions for West Glebe Road Bridge Traffic — “A routine inspection of the bridge on West Glebe Road at South Four Mile Run has uncovered deterioration, which will require a vehicle weight restriction of 5-tons, and closure of the sidewalks in both directions. Because safety is the priority, the restrictions are effective immediately.” [Arlington County]

Marymount U Prez Dances with Local Stars — “Dr. Irma Becerra has many accomplishments to her name. Dancing is not one of them, but D.C.’s Dancing Stars Gala could soon change that. Marymount University’s new president is one of eight local celebrities who will vie for $10,000 [this past] Saturday when the annual fundraising competition is held at The Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner.” [Fairfax News]

Arlington Resident Buys Airline — Sanford Rederer, a resident of North Arlington and Sarasota, Florida, has purchased Florida-based Island Air Charters. [Business Observer]

Pictured above: Crystal City as it once was — building and wayfinding sign in 2011 (Flickr pool photo by Chris Reed)

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Morning Notes

Mi and Yu Opening Update — According to its website, Mi and Yu Noodle Bar, which was originally expected to open in September in the revamped Ballston Quarter mall, is now slated for a February 2019 opening. The opening of the mall — and the numerous new restaurants that will call it home — was at last check delayed until late October. [Mi and Yu Noodle Bar]

Improvements for McKinley Road — “Arlington County Board members on Oct. 20 are expected to award a contract worth up to $426,700 for modify curbs and intersections and establish a median along McKinley Road from Wilson Boulevard north to 11th Street North. The project is designed to improved safety for pedestrians and bicyclists in the corridor, including students attending McKinley Elementary School.” [InsideNova]

Memorial Bridge Work, Woes — Rehab work is well underway on the Memorial Bridge, but long-term lane closures are continuing to cause — in the words of one commuter — “insane” traffic backups during rush hour. [Twitter, Twitter]

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Major construction work on the Arlington Memorial Bridge kicked off late last night (Sunday), snarling traffic for thousands of commuters headed into D.C. this morning.

Traffic cameras and maps showed heavy backups along both I-395 and Washington Blvd approaching the bridge for the morning rush hour. Other nearby roads, like the G.W. Parkway and Arlington Blvd, also saw heavy delays, no doubt worsened by the morning’s dreary conditions.

The National Park Service has closed three of the bridge’s six lanes to allow for the $227 million rehab project, which planners say is needed to avoid a full shutdown of the bridge in the coming years.

The NPS plans to keep one eastbound lane and one westbound lane open at all times, then reverse one lane to match the direction of traffic in the morning and afternoon rush hours. One of the bridge’s sidewalks will also be closed at all times as the work continues.

AAA is warning commuters to avoid the bridge if at all possible between now and the expected end of construction in 2021, reasoning that the delays for the 24.8 million vehicles to cross the bridge each year are too substantial to be ignored.

“If possible, avoid the Arlington Memorial Bridge altogether. Seek alternate routes and try other modes of transportation, if you can, while construction is underway,” John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, wrote in a statement. “Plan your trips across and around the Memorial Bridge. If you must use the bridge, do the right thing, drive carefully and slowly through the construction site, watch for construction workers, expect changing travel patterns and possible delays, exercise extreme caution, and minimize distractions.”

The NPS has details about the bridge’s new traffic pattern, and suggestions for commuters looking to avoid the bridge, available on its website.

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