Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Va. Denied Reimbursement for Riot Response — “The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied requests from Maryland and Virginia for an emergency declaration to cover expenses associated with responding to the Capitol riot and increasing security around President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. FEMA’s decision — which both states plan to appeal — could mean the states would not receive federal funds for providing law enforcement personnel and other support.” [Washington Post]

Barriers Block Bridge — “Gate being put up at the Memorial Bridge. It’s now completely closed until Thursday morning.” [Twitter]

VP Pence Says Farewell — From outgoing Vice President and former Arlington resident Mike Pence: “Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Vice President these past four years, it has been the greatest honor of my life. On behalf of our Wonderful Second Lady, Karen Pence, and our entire Family, Thank You and God Bless America.” [Twitter]

Beyer Rips Trump One Last Time — From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.): “At long last, Donald Trump will leave office tomorrow. His presidency and administration will be remembered for unprecedented incompetence and corruption.” [Twitter]

Change of Plan for 3rd-5th Graders — “We have decided to transition 3rd-5th grade students to the ‘concurrent instruction’ model, similar to the model adopted for secondary students… Students will be able to continue in their current class, with their current teacher, regardless of the model they selected.” Meanwhile, APS Superintendent Francisco Durán said in a School Talk email that “we do not have new student return dates to announce yet.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Changes for Annual Homeless Count — “Nicole Harmon, who oversees housing assistance for Arlington County, Va., says her county will make a number of changes when it conducts its count on the night of Jan. 27. ‘Safety is one of our primary concerns,’ she said. ‘We’re no longer able to take vans, where you could load up six to eight volunteers and staff to go out and perform the count.'” [NPR]

Car vs. Tree Crash Near Pentagon City — “A driver crashed into a tree near a condo building at 1515 S. Arlington Ridge Road this morning. We’re told the driver, who was shook up and evaluated by medics, mistook the gas pedal for the brake.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Arlington is continuing its final preparations for a presidential inauguration unlike any other.

In wake of the U.S. Capitol riots and a still-raging pandemic (though, cases are currently on a downward trajectory), tomorrow’s inauguration of President Joe Biden will be a scaled-down and highly militarized affair.

A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. are either completely shut down or have significantly altered traffic patterns.

Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. D.C.-bound lanes on the Roosevelt Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to a Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of D.C. road closures.

Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Road/MacArthur Blvd, according to the advisory.

Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland. Despite the unprecedented bridge closures today, traffic on N. Glebe Road leading to Chain Bridge appeared little changed from a typical weekday, suggesting that between the pandemic and the inauguration many would-be commuters were staying at home.

Traffic on the Key Bridge was heavy this morning (as seen in the photo above), as was the traffic being diverted from the 14th Street Bridge.

The county is advising residents to use the live cameras that are set up to monitor traffic.

On Friday, a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers said that this inauguration “will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history” and local law enforcement is trying to have a response “that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far.”

Reiterating previous statements, the Arlington County Police Department says there will be an increased “visible and non-visible” police presence in the county tomorrow. ACPD also remains in contact with neighboring law enforcement agencies about changing information and intelligence.

At this time, there are still no known threats to Arlington County, and the department still hasn’t committed to providing resources outside of the county on Inauguration Day, per ACPD spokesperson Ashley Savage.

Newly unsealed court documents, meanwhile, reveal that members of Oath Keepers militia, a far-right extremist group currently being investigated by the FBI, booked rooms for January 5 to 7 at the Comfort Inn hotel in Ballston, ahead of the January 6 storming of the Capitol.

In a Facebook message referenced in the documents, a Oath Keepers member said that the location would allow them to “hunt at night.”

Earlier this month, Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti told ARLnow that the county was aware of at least one local hotel hosting Trump supporters. The situation was monitored, he said, but no behavior there rose to a level of concern at the time.

ARLnow contacted Comfort Inn and was told by an hotel employee that management “definitely does not want to comment” on the allegations included in the documents.

We also have reached out to the hotel’s parent company Choice Hotels, but have yet to hear back as of publication time.

Jo DeVoe contributed to this report.

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(Updated on 1/17/21) A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. across the Potomac River are closing due to presidential inauguration security measures.

Virginia State Police is working with the United States Secret Service to close Roosevelt Bridge, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, the I-395 Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge starting Tuesday morning through Thursday at 6 a.m., according to a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers.

The Arlington Memorial Bridge closed Friday night but then reopened, according to news reports. The HOV span of the 14th Street Bridge was set to close Saturday morning until Thursday, according to the Secret Service, but was open as of noon on Saturday.

Those closures would leave the Key Bridge in Rosslyn and the Chain Bridge from N. Glebe Road as the main routes from Arlington into the District for two days.

“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history. We worked together to push for a response that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far,” reads the lawmakers’ statement.

It was issued by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, and Jennifer Wexton.

“It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum,” the lawmakers added. “All of us want the transfer of power to be as peaceful as possible, and we thank all of the men and women in uniform helping to make this historic occasion safe.”

Additionally, Metro announced this afternoon that the Pentagon Metro station will be closed, and bus service there suspended, on Inauguration Day.

“Blue and Yellow Line trains will continue to operate but will pass through the station without stopping,” Metro said. “The Pentagon Transit Center, served by six Metrobus lines, will also be closed. Buses will be relocated instead to Pentagon City, on the east side of Hayes Street S. and 12th Street S. for the day.”

Arlington Cemetery station is also closing, along with a number of D.C. stations, starting today.

Virginia Railway Express trains, meanwhile, will not be running Monday through Wednesday, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and “enhanced security measures” related to the presidential inauguration.

Arlington County Police Department recently announced an “increased police presence” on Inauguration Day in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

While Arlington Acting Police Chief Andy Penn didn’t commit to any road closures in Arlington as of yet, he did say discussions are ongoing.

Much of D.C. will be shut down, though, including many roads and the National Mall.

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(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) After two years of construction, the Arlington Memorial Bridge is completely open for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The 90-year-old bridge, which connects Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial, was renovated to save it from potentially closing for good in 2021. The $227 million rehabilitation project, one of the largest infrastructure projects in National Park Service history, will give the bridge another 75 years of service, officials said on Friday.

According to NPS, although the bridge is officially open, workers will continue putting final touches on the bridge and the Memorial Circle, replanting staging areas, completing small projects on the deck and installing bird netting.

In addition to the heavy infrastructure work on the bridge, a key Potomac River crossing, NPS repaved, improved crossings, added new signs and made the area easier and safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate, officials said.

The overhaul closed lanes and created traffic headaches for the 68,000 daily commuters that use it — by pre-pandemic counts, at least.

Local members of Congress — including Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Reps. Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton — pushed for funding the project, after the discovery of corrosion led officials to close outer lanes and impose a weight limit.

In a joint statement issued Friday, the lawmakers said they worked to save the bridge because a closure would hurt their constituents.

“Memorial Bridge is now fully operational, and stands not only as a historic and functional monument, but also as a symbol of the kind of progress that is possible on rebuilding key transportation infrastructure through smart government investment,” they said in a statement.

Warner added that the project’s funding only came together as a result of a long-running, concerted effort among lawmakers and local officials.

“In 2015, we were warned that Memorial Bridge — a critical artery between Virginia and the nation’s capital — was literally falling apart,” said Sen. Warner. “Today’s reopening is a testament to years of work by the region’s congressional delegation, our local partners, and the National Park Service. Commuters can now rest easy knowing that this nearly 90-year-old landmark will carry them safely over the Potomac for years to come.”

The completed project preserves a national memorial to the sacrifices of veterans, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt said.

“The completion of this project marks one of the largest infrastructure projects in National Park Service history, which was done on time and on budget,” Bernhardt said. “I hope that all Americans are brought together to remember and honor our veterans every time they cross this bridge into the capital of our nation.”

Flickr pool photo (top) by Kevin Wolf, photo (bottom) courtesy of Office of Sen. Mark Warner

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Morning Notes

New Name for Green Valley Park — “A year after it was first proposed, the renaming of Nauck Town Square in honor of a longtime Green Valley civic leader looks headed to success. The name ‘John Robinson Jr. Town Square’ has won the support of the Park and Recreation Commission, Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Commission, Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) and the civic associations of Green Valley, Shirlington and Douglas Park.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Blasts Trump Taxes –“The revelation that Donald Trump paid almost no personal income taxes for many years is not surprising, but it is outrageous. Far more important, however, is Trump’s use of the government for his personal benefit rather than that of the American people.” [Press Release]

Memorial Circle Changes — “The National Park Service is taking action to make the roads and trails at Memorial Circle safer. Starting today, drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists will see higher visibility crosswalks, new signage & flashing beacons, clearer lane markings & repaved road markings.” [@NationalLanding/Twitter]

Officials Seek Info About Abandoned Dog — “Do you recognize this dog or vehicle? On 9/24 @ 8pm, a person in this vehicle abandoned a dog in a crate near the 5000 blk 7th St S. If you have information regarding this dog or vehicle, please contact Animal Control.” [@AWLAArlington/Twitter]

Rainbow Over Arlington After Sunshower — “Courthouse rainbow spotted from our office with a view.” [@ArlingtonVaPD/Twitter]

Heavy Rain Tonight — “A slug of heavy rainfall is set to drench the Washington area and points east during the middle of the week, with an inch or so likely… It seems likely that a band of heavy downpours arrives [this evening], then perhaps lasting much of the overnight and tapering down from west to east Wednesday morning.” [Capital Weather Gang]

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The Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project is halfway complete.

The bridge is back open today after a total closure over the weekend (delayed from earlier this month) that allowed crews to replace concrete support structures and panels, along with other work, on the southern side of the span.

The National Park Service released a new video (above) highlighting work so far on the $227 million project, which kicked off last fall. The video notes that the bridge is “a symbolic link between north and south” and “a symbolic entrance to our nation’s capital.”

It took years to secure federal funding for the project, as warnings of the bridge crumbling and becoming unusable grew more dire.

More on the construction progress so far, from NPS:

Over the weekend, workers finished preparing the southside of the bridge for users and made changes to transition to the next phase of the rehabilitation project. The work included:

  • Moving the bridge’s center barrier.
  • Striping the southside of the bridge for drivers.
  • Moving the poles that support overhead lights guiding drivers in three reversible lanes.
  • Installing or uncovering new detour signs for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The total rehabilitation of Arlington Memorial Bridge began in fall 2018 and is on schedule.  So far, workers have:

  • Replaced the concrete structures that support the southside of the bridge.
  • Installed new pre-cast concrete panels to replace half of the bridge deck.
  • Placed new steel beams on the southside of the bridge.
  • Cleaned, repaired and reinstalled the bridge’s historic granite balustrade.

“Since its dedication in 1932, Arlington Memorial Bridge has served as a monument to national sacrifice and valor — a symbol of reunification, spanning the historic divisions of the North and South,” NPS said of the bridge, which connects Arlington and D.C. across the Potomac River. “As one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects in National Park Service history, the rehabilitation of Arlington Memorial Bridge will give new life to our Capital’s ceremonial entrance while respecting its character, history and national significance.”

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The Arlington Memorial Bridge will be completely closed during the first weekend of November as part of its multi-year, $227 million rehabilitation project.

The National Park Service said in a press release today (Monday) that the bridge will be closed to all traffic — including cars, pedestrians, and cyclists — to make space for repair work on the southern side of the bridge.

The closure will be in effect from 10 p.m. on Friday, November 1, to 5 a.m. on Monday, November 4.

The current, temporary lane configuration on the bridge is expected to remain the same following the re-opening of the bridge, with one lane open for eastbound travel to D.C., another lane open for westbound travel to Virginia, and one lane kept reversible for rush hour traffic.

“Drivers and cyclists should exercise caution and expect to see construction workers in the road 30 minutes before and after the scheduled times for traffic shifts,” said NPS spokesman Jonathan Shafer in a statement. “Detours for pedestrians and cyclists will be signed.”

Shafer also warned pedestrians and cyclists to stick to crosswalks and “refrain from taking shortcuts across these busy roads.”

The weekend shutdown follows two other shutdowns last year, which also closed the bridge to weekend travelers.

Since kicking off repairs last year on the bridge’s facade and structure, Shafter said crews have reached the halfway point, after finishing the following steps:

  1. Replacing the concrete structures that support the south side of the bridge.
  2. Installing new precast concrete panels to replace half of the bridge deck.
  3. Placing new steel beams on the south side of the bridge.
  4. Cleaning, repairing and reinstalling the bridge’s historic granite balustrade.

Earlier this year, NPS also announced plans to redesign Memorial Circle in front of the bridge, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

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Morning Notes

Local DJ Competing for World Championship — “Arlington resident Ross Volpe, known professionally as DJ Throdown, won the DMC U.S. Finals DJ Battle and will represent the U.S. on Sept. 28 in London at the DMC World DJ Championships.” [InsideNova]

Friday Fire Call at Ballston Harris Teeter — “ACFD on scene of the Ballston Harris Teeter for reports of flames coming from a seafood display. Firefighters on scene say it’s a malfunctioning refrigerator, per scanner. Expect emergency activity on N. Glebe Road.” [Twitter]

Broadband Provider Opens Office in Clarendon — “Boston-based Starry Internet, a new internet service provider deploying fixed wireless broadband, announced that it has expanded to Arlington, Virginia, with a new office space. The company’s 8,300-square-foot Virginia office is owned by Rooney Properties, and is located in the Clarendon neighborhood… Starry offers an internet-only product costing $50 a month with a 200Mbps download speed.” [Technically DC]

Employees Win Suit Against Fmr. Arlington Startup — “A group of former Trustify Inc. employees have been awarded $259,425.49 in back pay, lost wages and damages against the former Arlington private investigator company and its founder and former CEO, Danny Boice, according to a Sept. 4 order in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Tech Company Raises $2.5 Million — “Shift5, Inc. a cybersecurity company that builds hardware and software products to defend weapon systems, air platforms, and commercial transportation systems raised an additional $2.5 million in venture funding.” [PRNewswire via Potomac Tech Wire]

Memorial Bridge Construction Update — “Arlington Memorial Bridge is getting a makeover and some much needed structural support during its repairs… Adam Tuss got an exclusive look at the construction project on the Potomac.” [NBC 4]

ACFD Welcomes Retired Firefighter on 1,000 Mile Run — “On Saturday, September 14th, retired firefighter Justin Rowe will completed his 1,000 mile run from Maine to the Iwo Jima site (USMC Memorial) in Arlington. Tower 104 flew a flag to help welcome and congratulate him on this amazing achievement.” [Twitter]

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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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