Memorial Bridge Repairs Starting Soon — Temporary repairs to the Arlington Memorial Bridge are expected to begin later this month. The repairs are expected to take six months and will allow the closed lanes on the bridge to reopen. [Washington Post]
Stratford School Historic Designation Meetings — The Arlington School Board held a work session last night and is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Thursday regarding a possible historic designation for the Stratford Junior High School building. The building currently houses the H-B Woodlawn secondary program, but is slated to be renovated back into a community middle school. Superintendent Patrick Murphy is recommending the School Board defer action on a historic designation until later. [Preservation Arlington, InsideNova]
Big Test Score Jump at Elementary School — Good news about Carlin Springs Elementary, which has a largely Hispanic and low-income student body and has struggled with standardized tests in the past: “Some grades… had double-digit increases in their state test passage rates after a concerted effort to prepare disadvantaged students for the exams and closely track student performance on practice tests.” [Washington Post]
Marine Corps Marathon Security — The 40th Marine Corps Marathon is two and a half months away, but local police departments are already gearing up for it. The event requires tight coordination among law enforcement agencies, including the Arlington County Police Department. [ESPN]
First Week of Summer — This is the first full week of summer and the first full week of summer break for Arlington public school students. High schools, middle schools and elementary schools let out for the summer on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week, respectively. School will begin again on Tuesday, Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day. [Arlington Public Schools]
Realtors: Presidential Election Will Have Little Impact — The upcoming 2016 presidential election won’t have much of an impact on the real estate market, most local realtors interviewed by the Sun Gazette said. According to one: “It affects the market some because we have turnover, but nobody leaves Washington. Those who leave office become lobbyists and buy bigger houses. If there is a change in parties, those coming to town rent.” [InsideNova]
Arlington to Reach Out to the ‘Casual’ Cyclist — Arlington County is working with a Vancouver-based communication firm on a video documentary project that will reach out to and encourage casual cycling as a means of transportation. The idea seems to be to deemphasize the Lycra-clad image of “Capital ‘C'” cycling in favor of more casual, fashionable and lower-speed cycling. However, in the comments of the linked article on the county’s Mobility Lab blog, some “lifestyle” cyclists don’t seem to like the idea of dividing cyclists into two different groups. [Mobility Lab]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
Arlington’s representatives on Capitol Hill are calling for action after additional restrictions were put in place on the structurally deficient Memorial Bridge.
Starting this morning, both outside lanes of the Memorial Bridge were closed to traffic and a 10-ton load limit put in place, closing the bridge to bus traffic. That follows an inspection that found corroding support beams and “significant deterioration” of the bridge’s concrete deck.
The 83-year-old, 2,100-foot-long bridge opened in 1932. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and — since it connects the Lincoln Memorial with Arlington National Cemetery and Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House — it is considered a national symbol of reunification of the North and the South following the Civil War.
The National Park Service, which oversees the bridge, is planning 6-9 months of emergency repairs starting next month. It says that with the restrictions, the bridge is safe for drivers and pedestrians. The load limit will “help extend the life of the deck for passenger vehicles,” NPS said.
The Park Service is currently seeking $250 million from Congress for permanent repairs and rehabilitation.
Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, along with Rep. Don Beyer, called the state of the historic bridge the “latest evidence of federal neglect.” In strong statements, the lawmakers said it’s time for Congress to fund crucial transportation infrastructure projects.
From a press release:
Senator Mark Warner (VA), Senator Tim Kaine (VA), Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC) and Congressman Don Beyer (VA-8) called for stronger federal infrastructure investment, citing the closure of a second lane on the iconic and congested Arlington Memorial Bridge as the latest evidence of federal neglect.
“There is nothing more emblematic of Congress’ failure to invest in our nation’s infrastructure than the bridge that brings people into our nation’s capital, a national memorial, falling apart. Memorial Bridge has already been labeled ‘structurally deficient’ and one lane was closed just last week due to safety and infrastructure concerns. Today, we have news that another lane will be shut down. It’s time for Congress to stop kicking the can down the road and pass a federal transportation bill to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, starting right here in DC,” said Rep. Beyer.
The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that it will close a second lane of traffic on the bridge, which stretches from Arlington National Cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial and is a major artery across the Potomac. The rush hour effects of the six-month closures will be dramatic.
“Unlike other infrastructure, NPS roads and bridges like the Arlington Memorial Bridge are 100 percent funded by the federal government, and there are almost no alternative sources of funds for maintenance and improvements other than federal funds. With a cost of up to $250 million to replace the Memorial Bridge, it is no wonder that NPS is unable to do this work when it only receives $15 to $20 million for its transportation projects in the National Capital Region and only $240 for the entire nation. Our region must offer leadership and work with Members of Congress as far away as the western states that are also deeply affected. Beginning with our region, we must create a coalition of Members of the House and Senate determined to begin the uphill climb of rescuing priceless and essential federal assets like the Memorial Bridge that bring millions to the states by providing everything from workplace corridors to tourist sites,” said Del. Norton.
Nearly 68,000 vehicles cross the 83-year-old bridge on a typical work day. The cost to fully repair the bridge is estimated at more than $250 million over several months. Memorial Bridge is just one of more than 70,000 US bridges deemed “structurally deficient.”
“Today’s announcement that we have to close yet another lane of the Memorial Bridge highlights the decrepit state of our infrastructure,” said Senator Kaine. “This additional lane closure will cause unbearable congestion and delays for the approximately 68,000 drivers who use theMemorial Bridge to travel between Virginia and Washington every day. Today’s frustrating news represents a nationwide issue. It’s estimated that there are 4,800 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges in Virginia alone. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road and address our nation’s crumbling infrastructure by passing a bipartisan, long-term transportation bill.”
“How can Congress fail to act while the Memorial Bridge – which is not only a vital artery for local commuters, but also the entrance to our nation’s capital - is literally falling apart? This is not just embarrassing – it’s outrageous,” said Sen. Warner. “We have to get serious about fixing and upgrading our roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure. Until that happens, Virginia commuters will be stuck sitting in even more traffic – and crumbling and inefficient infrastructure will remain a serious drag on our economic growth.”
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Tech Leaders Want to Save Artisphere — Some 100 tech leaders and supporters have signed a petition asking Arlington County to reconsider closing Artisphere. Numerous tech-related events have been held at Artisphere in the past couple of years and the petition’s organizer says it’s a “unique” venue that has attracts tech networking events and conferences. [Technical.ly DC]
Memorial Bridge Lane Closures — Two center lanes of the Arlington Memorial Bridge will be closed nightly from April 20 through May 8. The lane closure, slated to be in place between 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., is for a “geotechnical inspection” of the bridge, according to the National Park Service.
ACPD ‘Chief for the Day’ — The Arlington County Police Department, which is currently seeking a successor for now-retired police chief Doug Scott, intends to replace him with a fifth grader — well, sort of but not really. While it conducts a real-life search for Scott’s replacement, ACPD is holding its second annual Chief-for-the-Day contest. The contest encourages submissions from fifth grade students in Arlington schools who want to serve as the honorary Chief of Police for a day. [Arlington County]
Endorsement for Cristol — Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy has endorsed Katie Cristol, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination for Arlington County Board. Morroy has also endorsed Democratic candidate Christian Dorsey in the race for two open County Board seats. [InsideNova]
A Maryland man has been arrested and charged with negligent homicide following a fatal crash on Memorial Circle.
The crash occurred in the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 11. According to police, a vehicle was heading outbound on the Memorial Bridge when it “lost control and overturned for unknown reasons” at the circle. At the time, the deceased — 36-year-old Katharine Jane Rahim of Reston — was said to be the vehicle’s sole occupant.
However, police now say the vehicle’s driver, 24-year-old Carlos Joel Alonso, fled the scene prior to the arrival of first responders.
“United States Park Police investigated the crash which revealed negligence of the operator resulting in the fatality of passenger,” according to a Park Police news release. “Alonso… left the scene [and] was found several hours later at Columbia Island Marina.”
Alonso, a Maryland resident, was arrested yesterday (Dec. 3) on charges of negligent homicide. He surrendered his passport and was released on bond, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 13.
Projected Subsidy Soars for Aquatics Center — The planned Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center could require more than $4 million per year in subsidies from the county government, according to new projections. That’s up from projections as low at $1 million per year. “Certainly there are other priorities that arguably should come before building a luxury pools facility,” said local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki. Construction contracts for the aquatics center are expected to be awarded early next year. [Sun Gazette]
County May Allow Less Office Parking, For a Fee — Arlington County is considering a system that would allow office developers to build less than the currently-required amount of parking, in exchange for a per-parking-space fee. The fee would then be used for public improvements in the area around the building, or for Transportation Demand Management Services for the building’s tenants. [Greater Greater Washington]
Memorial Bridge Could Have Looked Like Tower Bridge — The Arlington Memorial Bridge was originally proposed as a memorial to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, complete with a series of “medieval”-looking towers and turrets. [Ghosts of DC]
Arlington Carpenter’s Intricately-Carved Birds — Arlington carpenter Jeff Jacobs, 59, carves intricate wooden hummingbirds out of a single block of wood. He sells the birds at Eastern Market and the Clarendon farmers market. [Washington Post]
Flickr photo by Eschweik
(Updated on 12/4/13) A woman died early this morning in a single-vehicle accident on Memorial Circle.
The fatal crash happened at about 1:20 a.m. A vehicle was heading outbound on the Memorial Bridge when it “lost control and overturned for unknown reasons” at Memorial Circle, according to U.S. Park Police. The deceased was identified by police as 36-year-old Katharine Jane Rahim of Reston.
“One vehicle was involved and the sole occupant, an adult female died at the scene,” police said. The bridge and the circle were closed for several hours this morning for an accident investigation.
The Memorial Bridge will be closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic tomorrow (Wednesday) due to the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.
The event — which commemorates the anniversary of 1963 march and rally that featured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — will start at 9:00 a.m. with a 1.6 mile march throughout the District, and will culminate with speeches at the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool.
Among the planned speakers are President Obama, former presidents Clinton and Carter, and civil rights leaders. The program at the Lincoln Memorial will take place from 11:00 to 4:00 p.m. and is open to the public. Gates open at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. Park Police will close the Memorial Bridge to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic starting around 3:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
Metro is urging those attending the event to not use the Arlington Cemetery station due to the closure. Arlington Memorial Circle will remain open during the closure.
The Memorial Bridge will be closed from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington Realize the Dream March & Rally.
The event, which will commemorate the anniversary of 1963 march and rally that featured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, will take place Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial.
The National Park Service says it’s taking “every effort… to minimize traffic delays during this event.”
“Variable message boards will be put in place in advance on Memorial Circle and the ramps from the George Washington Memorial Parkway to warn drivers of the [Memorial Bridge] closure,” NPS said in a press release.
Those heading to the rally are encouraged to take Metro to the Arlington National Cemetery station on the Blue Line.
Memorial Bridge in Need of Renovations — The 81-year-old Arlington Memorial Bridge, which was once a functioning drawbridge, is in urgent need of repairs. The repairs could cost as much as $250 million and close the span for three months. [Washington Post]
Free Stuff on Tax Day — Among other Tax Day offers around town today, April 15, California Tortilla is offering free chips and queso to anyone who comes in and uses the secret code “1040.” The restaurant has locations in Courthouse and Crystal City. If you’ve procrastinated and need some free tax advice, check out our three Q&A sessions with local tax pro Bobby Grohs.
Recognizing Arlington’s ECC Staff — Arlington County is recognizing National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which runs April 14-20, and lauding the work of the county’s Emergency Communications Center staff — the men and women you talk to when you dial 911. “We commend these professionals on their tireless efforts to support emergency responders and to provide critical services to the citizens of our nation,” the county said in a press release. [Arlington County]
Last night, around 10:00 p.m., an SUV somehow crashed through a barrier on the south side of the Memorial Bridge and landed in the Potomac River.
The driver, the SUV’s lone occupant, escaped the watery wreck and was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Charges are now pending against the driver, according to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks.
If you’ve ever feared making a wrong turn and driving off the side of a bridge, AAA Mid-Atlantic has some potentially helpful tips for you. From a press release:
Although they are considered worst-case scenarios, such crashes rarely happen, safety officials and experts say. But that’s of little consolation to local drivers when their vehicle suddenly goes deep six or becomes a leaking boat. What you do and how you react within moments of the crash into the abyss will determine whether you live or die in a watery grave, the auto club advises. “Add darkness and near freezing water, and your chances of escape have greatly diminished,” safety experts warns.
“Although less than one-half of one percent of all automobile crashes involves a vehicle being submerged under water, it is still a very frightening situation to motorists and their terrified passengers, especially young children and the elderly,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Previous research shows that between 400 to 600 persons lose their lives each year in the United States, as their vehicles plummet into a canal, river, or a ditch for that matter.”
Annually, almost ten percent of all drowning deaths in the United States can be attributed to being submerged in a car. If children are in the car, the driver or the adult should focus on getting the children out safely first and keeping them from panicking during the petrifying ordeal. In most crashes of this nature, the heaviest end of the deep-sixed vehicle – usually the end with the engine – will begin sinking first, pulling the car down at an angle, notes Popular Mechanic. That is, unless the water is 15 feet or deeper. In that case, the vehicle may land on its roof, compounding the dangers and risks for the occupants.
Although most vehicles will float for three or four minutes before they start sinking due to the surprising buoyancy of the vehicle in deep water and depending upon on the airtightness of the vehicles, time is still of the essence, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. The overarching concern is getting to dry land as quickly as possible. Your safety and the lives of your passengers depend upon that.
So, the first key to surviving such a mishap is remaining calm, according to safety experts. Underscoring this, the National Safety Commission puts it this way: “The first and most important thing to remember, if your vehicle is submerged, is to remain CALM – easier said than done-but it’s the most important thing you can do to stay alive.” However, the experts tend to vary on their tips. For example, the brothers Magliozzi, Tom and Ray, of NPR’s “Car Talk” say: “The correct way to get out of a sinking car is to float in the cabin until water is within about 2 inches of the roof. At that time pressure in and outside the car will be equal and it will be easy to open the door and swim out.”
- Don’t panic. Once your car hits the water it will not sink immediately (You will have at least one or two minutes before the car begins to sink, safety experts say).
- If possible, jump out while car is on surface.
- If your car is still floating, roll down the window and unbuckle your seat belt to escape.
- If your car is submerged, safety experts suggest remaining buckled up while you break the driver or passenger’s side window to escape.
- Allow the pressure of the water to equalize inside the sodden vehicle before attempting to open the doors or windows. Water weighs 62.4 lbs. per cubic foot.
- Move toward rear of vehicle where the air bubble is forming.
- Water pressure against the water-logged doors will make opening the doors very difficult until the pressure inside of the vehicle and outside of the vehicle are equal.
- Open your windows to allow yourself and your passengers to escape (Contrary to popular opinion, the “power windows won’t stop working within seconds after impact.” The power can stay on as along as 10 minutes).
The nightmarish crash from the Memorial Bridge is a reminder to motorists of the importance of carrying and keeping a sharp tool, such as a Philips screwdriver or a spring-loaded center punch, in their glove compartment or in the cabin of their vehicle. The tool is a life-saver. Here’s why: it allows you to break the tempered glass to extricate yourself and your passengers from the sinking vehicle. Other salient tips include:
- If the windows are blocked, try to push the windshield or rear window out with your feet or shoulder.
- Rescue the children or passengers who need assistance to help them to escape. If children are in the sinking or submerged car, unbuckle their seatbelts and or child passenger seat, starting with the oldest child first.
- Safeguard the kids. Push the children out of the vehicle ahead of you.
- Always keep a window-breaking tool in your vehicle in an easily accessible location, safety experts suggest.
- Remove heavy clothing before attempting to swim to safety.
- Swim to the surface as safely and quickly as possible (swim in the direction of the current if you’re in deep water).
- Push off for quick rise to the surface.
- If you can’t swim try to float. Use your body’s natural buoyancy to float. Make sure to raise your head to breathe.
- Call for medical attention as quickly as possible.
Ironically, just last week crews from the Federal Highway Administration reportedly began an “extensive inspection of the deck of the iconic 80-year-old Arlington Memorial Bridge, a process that is expected to continue through March 5. In September the 2,163 feet long bridge underwent a two month long renovation, costing $788,375, to repair and replace its entire driving surface.
Photos courtesy Mark P.
SUV Runs Off Memorial Bridge — An SUV drove off the Memorial Bridge and plunged into the Potomac around 10:00 last night. The driver was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. A bridge barrier was damaged and the bridge was closed by police until the early morning hours. [WJLA, Washington Post]
‘Ballston Southern Gateway’ Plan Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an addendum to its North Quincy Street Plan, which is designed “to transform the southern gateway of Ballston from an automobile-oriented area into a more pedestrian-friendly, great urban place.” The plan calls for higher residential and commercial buildings in the area around the Harris Teeters and the Mercedes Benz dealership. [Arlington County]
Supreme Court to Consider DNA Practice that Helped ACPD — The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider the constitutionality of a DNA practice that helped Arlington County Police link former Marine Jorge Torrez, accused of raping an Arlington woman and leaving her for dead, with the murder of two girls in Illinois. The high court will consider whether taking a DNA sample from someone arrested for a serious crime — before they’re convicted — is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. [Los Angeles Times]
Board: We Can’t Sway Cemetery Expansion — Responding to the concerns of tree lovers over the weekend, members of the Arlington County Board said they have little power to sway the Army’s decision to expand Arlington National Cemetery. As originally planned, the expansion would cut down nearly 900 trees from an old growth forest on the cemetery grounds. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently re-evaluating its plan after complaints from tree advocates. [Sun Gazette]
Transpo Plan a ‘Big Win’ for McDonnell — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) scored a big win with the passage of a compromise version of his transportation funding plan, according to Politico. But anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist decried the various tax increases in the bill, which could cost the average Virginia family between $10 and $15 per month. “The Democrats in the legislature mugged him good,” Norquist said of McDonnell. [Politico, Washington Post]
Photos: Demolition of Old Arlington Courthouse — On its blog, the library looks back at the demolition of the old Arlington County Courthouse building on Feb. 23, 1997. [Arlington Public Library]
Photo courtesy @mowdymichelle
Park Police Seeking Hit and Run Info — The U.S. Park Police is asking for the public’s help with providing information about an early morning hit and run on Monday. Around 5:45 a.m. on December 31, a driver was involved in an accident with a motorcyclist while traveling on the Memorial Bridge. The motorcyclist is being treated for a serious leg injury and other non-life threatening injuries. Police need help finding the other driver involved. The person was said to be in a brown minivan, which may have damage along the front driver’s side. Call the U.S. Park Police tip line at 202-610-8737 or U.S. Park Police Dispatch at 202-610-7500 with any info.
Avant Bard Needs New Theater — WSC Avant Bard has spent the past two years as the resident theater company at Artisphere, but now the performance group is looking for a new home. Avant Bard has not been operating under an official lease at Artisphere, and received the news last month that it needs to find a new space before its play season begins in May. The county now wants to use the stages at Artisphere for shorter running productions. [Washington Post]
APS Holding Meetings about New Williamsburg School — Public meetings begin next week regarding the new elementary school that will be built on the Williamsburg Middle School site. There will be a work session next Wednesday, January 9, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the Williamsburg auditorium. On January 14, the public will get a chance to look at the concept designs from 6:00-8:00 p.m., and on January 17, the School Board and County Board will engage in a work session about the plan following a project presentation. Residents are welcome to attend all meetings. [Arlington Public Schools]
Boat Capsizes Under 14th Street Bridge — A boat capsized under the 14th Street Bridge just before Saturday afternoon’s storms. D.C. police rescued 19 people from the water. No injuries were reported. [Associated Press]
Work on Memorial Bridge Begins — The National Park Service is beginning a project to repair the concrete deck, curbs and sidewalks of the Memorial Bridge today. Drivers can expect lane closures on the bridge between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on weekdays, and throughout the weekend. [WJLA]
Yorktown Routs Wakefield — The Yorktown High School Patriots defeated the Wakefield Warriors 59-6 on Friday night. Arlington’s other high school, Washington-Lee, defeated Fairfax by a score of 13-7. [Sun Gazette, MaxPreps]
Upgrades Planned for Reagan National — The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is planning to spend $45 million to upgrade the aging Terminal A at Reagan National Airport. Planned upgrades include wider security checkpoints, more baggage handling areas, updated ticket counters and better bathrooms. The MWAA is also studying the possibility of adding more parking spaces at the airport. [Washington Examiner]
Eyes will be on the skies tomorrow, when the space shuttle Discovery flies to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. There are actually some spots in Arlington that are being touted as great places to watch the flight.
NASA listed of some of the top places to see the shuttle in the DC metro area. Long Bridge Park and Gravelly Point in Arlington both received mentions. The Memorial Bridge, which covers ground in both Arlington and DC, is also on the list.
The shuttle is expected to pass near a number of landmarks in the area, including Reagan National Airport. Although not on the official list, some places like the Air Force Memorial and Mount Vernon Trail might also make decent viewing locations.
The shuttle will depart from the Kennedy Space Station in Florida around 7:30 a.m., and is expected to fly over Arlington between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., before landing at Dulles. The exact route and timing of the flight will be weather dependent.
Discovery will be mounted on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, which is a modified Boeing 747, during its journey. On Thursday, the shuttle is scheduled to be moved from Dulles to the Udvar-Hazy Center for permanent public display.
Discovery was retired after completing its 39th mission in March 2011. NASA’s final space shuttle mission ended with Atlantis on July 21, 2011.
The Air and Space Museum will be updating its website regularly to list the shuttle’s locations. Those who don’t have internet access can receive updates via a phone hotline. Information about receiving updates can be found on the museum’s website.