Arlington, VA

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A summer of headaches for Blue and Yellow line riders will kick off this weekend with changes along the Blue Line — and more Metro closures ahead.

Arlington Cemetery will close this Saturday and Sunday while crews install a grade crossing. Because of the construction, Blue Line trains will run as Yellow Line trains going to Greenbelt, and riders heading toward or returning from Largo Town Center will need to catch the Silver Line, Metro says.

Free shuttle buses running every 10-15 minutes will ferry passengers between the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.

“To get to Rosslyn from the Pentagon (and stops south) customers should travel across the Yellow Line bridge and transfer at L’Enfant to an Orange or Silver Line train,” Metro spokesman Ian Jannetta told ARLnow.

Jannetta said the station’s shutdown will not affect the opening hours of Arlington Cemetery itself, and is for crews to build a way for rail inspection vehicles to access the tracks.

“This will be especially useful during the summer platform work, which will cut off hi-rail vehicle access to the system from the Alexandria rail yard,” he said.

The summer shutdown referred to will begin next Saturday, May 25, Metro will close the following six stations in Alexandria, below Reagan National Airport, until September 8 for planned reconstruction of the station’s crumbling platforms:

  • Eisenhower
  • Van Dorn Street
  • King Street-Old Town
  • Franconia-Springfield
  • Braddock Road
  • Huntington

The airport’s own Metrorail station will remain open during the “summer shutdown,” and passengers who can travel there by rail are encouraged to do so to curb the worsening traffic from ride-hailing cars and ongoing construction that’s expected to last until 2021.

“It’s very key to our success that folks continue using public transit — the normal train service going north and free shuttle buses going south for the summer to be successful,” a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority told WTOP yesterday (Thursday.)

Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP), a division of Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS), is advising commuters to “add at least 30 minutes to their commute times during the shutdown” and consider alternative transportation options like biking or carpooling.

During rush hour, free shuttle buses will run every five minutes between the affected stations and direct shuttles will run to the Pentagon. The shuttles will run every 10 minutes during non-rush hours.

Metro will also be making parking free at Franconia-Springfield, Huntington, and Van Dorn stations during the shutdown.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is paying $3.6 million to beef up other transportation methods like additional bus service in Alexandria.

Arlington did not receive grant money, but has said ART may add bus service during the shutdown.

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Morning Notes

Merlene Accuses Favola of Sexism — “Normally, Democratic debates in deep-blue Arlington are wonky, congenial, staid, even boring affairs, where the candidates at least pretend to be cordial to each other. And tonight’s 31st State Senate district Democratic debate, between incumbent Sen. Barbara Favola and challenger Nicole Merlene, largely held to that model for the entire debate… until the closing statements, when basically all hell broke loose.” [Blue Virginia, PDF]

Metro Closure This Weekend — “[On] May 4 and 5, Metro will be closed south of Reagan National Airport– six stations in all. Trains will be replaced by free shuttle buses at Braddock Road, King St-Old Town, Eisenhower Ave, Huntington, Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield.” [WUSA 9]

Arlington and Amazon Emails Revealed — “Arlington County officials worked closely with Amazon.com Inc. to present a good public relations strategy in the weeks leading to their passage of the company’s $23 million incentive package, emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show. The emails indicate some county officials were trying to develop a cozy relationship and wanted to help Amazon navigate challenges and smooth over some criticism.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Man Donates Flag Tie to New U.S. Citizen — Arlington resident Marc Johnson was trying to sell a patriotic American flag tie on Ebay after cleaning out his closet, but ended up donating it to the would-be buyer when he learned that the buyer was planning to wear the tie to his swearing-in ceremony to become an American citizen. [Washington Post]

Arlington Sheriff’s Office Turning 150 — “The 150th anniversary of establishment of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will be commemorated on May 7 as part of National Correctional Employees Week. The Arlington Sheriff’s Office was established at a time when Arlington (then known as Alexandria County) was being separated from the town (now city) of Alexandria and into its own self-governing locality.” [InsideNova]

History of Harry W. Gray House — “On this day in Arlington history: May 1, 1881 Harry W. Gray and his family move into their house. He and his family took years to build it and it is the only one of its kind for miles… The house remains a sturdy structure, its longevity a testament to Gray’s workmanship.” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

DEA Staying in Pentagon City — “The Arlington County Board today approved an incentive grant that will keep the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, in Pentagon City following a lengthy federal competitive bid process. The agency occupies more than 511,000 square feet of space, and employs about 3,000 people at its Pentagon City location.” [Arlington County]

‘Take Your Child to Work Day’ for Cristol — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol’s new baby boy made his public debut at Thursday’s meeting for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. [Twitter]

Activists Still Pressing for Tree Removal Explanation — “Remember back last year, when top Arlington officials said they would provide the public – in writing – with the reasons the government would not take further steps to protect removal of a tree that had become symbolic to environmental activists across the county? You may have forgotten, but those activists have not.” [InsideNova]

‘Notable’ Trees Recognized — “Arlington has more than 750,000 trees of at least 122 species that provide $6.89 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in the form of pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings, and avoided stormwater runoff. The Arlington County Board will designate 24 of these trees as Notable Trees at its April 25 Recessed Meeting. [Arlington County]

Water Main Break in Fairlington — Some 100 Arlington households were without water service for part of Thursday due to emergency water main repairs in the Fairlington neighborhood. [Twitter]

Gerber Incentives Pass — Gerber’s move to Arlington is one step closer thanks to an incentive package unanimously approved by the County Board on Tuesday. The package is divided between money from the state’s Commonwealth Opportunity Fund (COF) — $862,500 — and money earmarked for nearby infrastructure upgrades — another $862,500.

Nearby: Alexandria Peeved By Metro Surprise — “A month after Metro learned additional closures would be needed at the end of this summer’s Blue and Yellow line shutdown, Alexandria’s City Council lit into the agency’s top leaders Tuesday night about why the Virginia city and the public only learned of the extended work through a news release last week.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Arrest Made in Rosslyn Stabbing — “Police identified the [stabbing] suspect as Isiah Hill, 61, of Washington D.C. and obtained warrants for Aggravated Malicious Wounding and Abduction. At approximately 2:15 p.m. on December 12, the U.S. Marshals Service, with the assistance of the Arlington County Police Department, took the suspect into custody in Washington, D.C.” [Arlington County]

Isabella Restaurants File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy — Embattled chef Mike Isabella’s restaurant group has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. Barring a last-minute rescue, most of his restaurants, including Pepita, Yona, and Kapnos Taverna in Ballston, are likely to close by Dec. 27. [Washingtonian]

Home Sales Still Down in Arlington — “A total of 198 properties went to closing across the county in November… That’s down nearly 22 percent from a year before, coming on top of a 13-percent year-over-year drop in October sales. But year-over-year average sales prices were stable in two of the three segments of the market.” [InsideNova]

Another Big Metro Shutdown Planned — “Next summer’s shutdown of the Blue and Yellow lines south of Reagan National Airport will run from May 25 through Sept. 2, 2019. Additional Blue Line single-tracking between Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield is planned from Sept. 3 through Sept. 29.” [WTOP]

Video: Dogs and Santa in Shirlington — “About 100 dogs got their pictures taken with Santa Claus by a professional pet photographer at Dogma Gourmet Dog Bakery and Boutique in Arlington, Virginia. From large Golden Retrievers to pint-sized Chihuahuas, the pups were dressed for the holidays.” [Voice of America]

Photo courtesy Ray Villarreal

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Metro is planning a full Yellow Line shutdown starting next week, and is warning riders of hefty delays along the Blue Line the two-week-long construction work.

The rail service hoping to complete major renovation work on the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River, prompting the closure. In all, the work will run from Nov. 26 through Dec. 9.

“During rush hour, trains will run about half as frequently as usual, due to capacity limits at the Rosslyn tunnel,” Metro wrote in a release. “Customers may experience crowding.”

Blue Line trains will run every 16 minutes on weekdays through 8 p.m., then switch to 20-minute headways. Riders can also expect 16-20 minute headways on weekends.

The transit agency will offer free shuttle bus service to compensate for the shutdown, including:

  • Between Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon and between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza from opening until 8 p.m.
  • Between Franconia-Springfield and L’Enfant Plaza and between Crystal City and L’Enfant Plaza, rush hour only.

Metro is urging riders to consider Virginia Railway Express service between Franconia-Springfield, Crystal City or King Street to L’Enfant Plaza or Union Station, or local bus options instead.

The shutdown will also coincide with a weekend shutdown of five Green Line stations from Dec. 1-2, when the Navy Yard, Waterfront and Archives stations will be closed, along with the Yellow and Green Line platforms only at Gallery Place-Chinatown and L’Enfant Plaza.

This construction is Metro’s last planned major construction work of the year, and comes on the heels of a Veteran’s Day shutdown on the Blue and Yellow lines that prompted huge traffic woes for travelers hoping to reach Reagan National Airport.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Expect major delays on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines this holiday weekend, as the rail service is shutting down both the Crystal City and Reagan National Airport stations to allow for some major construction work.

Starting today (Friday) and running through Monday, Metro will run shuttle buses between the Pentagon City and Braddock Road stations to compensate for the closures. Trains will operate on substantially extended headways as well, particularly on Saturday and Sunday, and Metro is warning of heavy delays across the two lines.

Metro plans to upgrade several switches leading up to the airport station, as well as “install new concrete grout pads beneath the rails along the aerial structure there,” according to a press release.

Full details from the release:

On Friday & Monday:

  • Blue Line trains will operate in two segments: between Franconia-Springfield & Braddock Road every 12 minutes during daytime hours and between Pentagon City & Largo Town Center every 12-16 minutes.
  • Yellow Line trains will operate in two segments: between Huntington & Braddock Road every 12 minutes during daytime hours and between Pentagon City & Mt Vernon Square every 12-16 minutes.
  • Buses will replace trains between Braddock Rd, National Airport, Crystal City and Pentagon City. Additional Express shuttle buses will operate between Braddock Road and Pentagon City from 5 a.m. – 8 p.m. and between Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon from 5 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Rush Hour Promise will not be in effect for trips on the Yellow and Blue lines on Friday, November 9, but will remain in effect for customers on other lines.

On Saturday & Sunday:

  • Blue Line trains will operate in two segments: between Franconia-Springfield & Braddock Road every 12-15 minutes during daytime hours and between Pentagon City & Eastern Market every 24 minutes all day.
  • Yellow Line trains will operate in two segments: between Huntington & Braddock Road every 12-15 minutes during daytime hours and between Pentagon City & Mt Vernon Square every 24 minutes all day.
  • Buses will replace trains between Braddock Rd, National Airport, Crystal City and Pentagon City. Additional express shuttle buses will operate between Braddock Rd and Pentagon City from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturday and from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Metro scheduled the shutdown for Veterans Day weekend, after originally planning it for last weekend, in order to reduce the impact on commuters. However, some stations still saw big crowds on Friday as people adjusted to the closures:

Metro recommends that commuters turn to local bus service if possible, or even VRE train service between Franconia-Springfield, Crystal City or King Street in order to reach L’Enfant Plaza or Union Station.

Anyone heading to DCA this weekend may also want to allow for extra time. The airport is already facing transportation challenges associated with “Project Journey,” major renovations primarily impacting Terminal B/C, and the Metro closure could worsen those conditions substantially.

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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A four-day construction project for Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines has been rescheduled to reduce the impact on commuters.

Work on replacing a series of switches and installing new concrete pads outside of Reagan National Airport will close the Reagan National Airport and Crystal City stations. The project was originally scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2 to Monday, Nov. 5 but has been moved to the following weekend, Metro announced today (Friday).

The stations will be closed from Friday, Nov. 9 to Monday, Nov. 12, which is Veterans Day. The change will reduce the commuting days impacted by the work from two to one.

During the closure, shuttle buses will replace trains between the Braddock Road and Pentagon City stations. Metro warned that customers on the Blue and Yellow lines will likely experience additional crowding due to less frequent service during the repairs.

Later in November, repairs to the Yellow Line Bridge will shut down the Yellow Line completely for ten days. Between Nov. 26 and Dec. 9, the Yellow Line will not be functioning and customers wishing to travel between Virginia and D.C. will need to use the Blue Line.

File photo

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Metro officials are sending an unusual, and perhaps alarming, message to commuters ahead of two weeks of major construction on the Silver, Orange and Blue lines: stay away, if you can.

Starting Saturday (Aug. 11) and running through Aug. 26, Metro will shut down the Blue Line completely starting at the Arlington Cemetery station, and single-track between the McPherson Square and Smithsonian stations. Officials expect that will result in 20-minute headways on the Orange and Silver lines “at all times,” and it’s urging riders to “only use Metrorail if you have no other option.”

That’s sure to create huge headaches for commuters all over Arlington, but county officials say there just isn’t much they can do to mitigate the impact of the track work.

“There’s just no way we can replace the capacity that’s going to be lost,” County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey, who also serves on Metro’s Board of Directors, told ARLnow. “There are alternatives, but the only way this is really going to work is if people who can and are able to find alternatives, do so.”

Dorsey suggested that some commuters could turn to Metrobus, or perhaps to Arlington Transit — Metro recommends ART’s 42 line between Ballston and the Pentagon and the 43 line between Courthouse and Crystal City, as both could help commuters transfer to the Yellow Line, which will have some enhanced service.

Dorsey added that the county will be able to bump up service on some ART routes reaching the city, but only slightly, noting “we just don’t have enough buses to be deployed” to fully compensate for the construction work.

Fundamentally, however, Dorsey expects “extreme crowding” and “incredible chaos” at Metro stations in D.C.’s urban core, particularly during the first few days of the track work before commuters fully adjust. That’s why he’d rather see people turn to teleworking, if possible, or adjust their commutes to arrive in D.C. a bit later than normal.

“We want to make sure to level-set expectations, and let them know that getting them there within an acceptable time frame not going to be possible,” Dorsey said. “But this is being done with the expectation, too, that fewer people will be affected at this time of the year.”

Yet some of Metro’s (many) critics suggest that WMATA isn’t doing all it could to make life easier for commuters as the work gets going. Stephen Repetski, a close Metro observer and contributor at Greater Greater Washington, has suggested that WMATA could “turn back” trains at select Silver, Orange and Blue stations, in order to ease the pain at stations outside of the work zone.

In particular, Repetski believes Metro could reverse trains at Arlington stations like Ballston or Clarendon, which would be a boon for county commuters. He argues that failing to do so “will result in severe, and unnecessary, service cuts for riders.”

But Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly wrote in an email that turning back trains at Ballston, Clarendon, Foggy Bottom or stations in the eastern half of the city “would not address the capacity issues in the downtown core, requiring customers traveling to/from downtown D.C. to offload and board already crowded trains.”

“In this scenario, it could create dangerous crowding conditions on platforms as trains would likely be too crowded for customers to board,” Ly wrote.

As for McPherson Square and Smithsonian, Ly says “the location of the work zone” makes turning trains around at the stations a real challenge.

“The work zone…extends beyond the platform at both McPherson Square and Federal Triangle,” Ly wrote. “Turning a train would block trains coming through the single track, while a train offloads and turns back. For service efficiency, we would need both platforms to turn trains back.”

All those specifics aside, Dorsey reiterates that two solutions remain the simplest for commuters: “Either don’t ride, or temper your expectations.”

“If you’re able to do one or both, then you’ll be fine,” Dorsey said.

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Morning Notes

Two ART Routes End Today — ART Routes 54 and 92 will cease operations after the end of the day today. Per a press release: “The two routes were eliminated as part of Arlington County’s FY 2019 budget and to improve efficiency of ART service. Both bus routes perform below ART’s minimum service standards of 15 passengers per hour.” [Arlington Transit]

Arlington Cemetery Station to Close This Weekend — The Arlington Cemetery Metro station will be closed this weekend so workers can install cables “for cellular communication,” WMATA says. Shuttle buses will be available but the Blue Line will only run from Franconia-Springfield to National Airport. [DCist]

Windy Run Improvement Project Complete — “There will soon be an official ribbon cutting to celebrate the renovated Windy Run. And in the meantime, the trail and park have re-opened and can be enjoyed by Arlington residents.” [Arlington County]

Suspected DUI Hit and Run in Clarendon — A man was arrested after an alleged DUI hit and run in Clarendon yesterday evening. At least two vehicles were struck, though the suspect’s SUV appeared to have suffered the most damage. [Twitter]

Arlington is No. 2 on New Livability Ranking — “Arlington placed second in its size category in the updated AARP ‘Livability Index.’ Arlington ranked behind only Madison, Wisc., in the ranking for communities with populations between 100,000 and 500,000. The survey, updated for the first time since 2015, used more than 50 data sources to score communities on areas ranging from housing and transportation to social engagement.” [InsideNova]

Photo by @thelastfc

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Service was restored between East Falls Church and Clarendon Metro stations after grinding to a halt Thursday morning (April 5) for several hours.

Service was restored at about 8 a.m., but delays are expected to last at least throughout the morning. Metro referred to the incident as both a track problem and fire department activity at the Virginia Square Metro station.

The Arlington Fire Department tweeted that the Virginia Square Metro station was evacuated at about 6:20 a.m. due to smoke in the tunnel.

At about 6:58 a.m., the department tweeted that fire department units were going back in service, that much of the smoke was clear, and that commuters should expect “residual delays.”

The suspended service affects the Orange and Silver lines directly, though Metro tweeted that blue line delays were possible considering the congestion built up from the other lines.

On the highways, drivers reported heavier than usual traffic.

“We all suffer when the Metro fudges up,” one driver told ARLnow, who was stuck on I-66 in what she said was unusually heavy traffic for that part of her commute.

Several would-be riders took to Twitter to report long lines for WMATA buses and shuttles, as well as a general sense of “chaos” and “meltdown” at certain stations.

File photo

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Shuttle buses will replace trains this weekend on a section of Metro’s Yellow and Blue Lines in Arlington County.

Buses will run between the Braddock Road and Pentagon City Metro stations from 7 a.m. Saturday through closing Sunday as crews install communication cables and rehabilitate platforms.

The Reagan National Airport and Crystal City Metro stations will be closed.

From a Metro announcement on the weekend work:

Blue Line trains will operate at regular weekend intervals between Pentagon City & Largo Town Center and every 15 minutes between Franconia-Springfield & Braddock Road. 

Yellow Line trains will operate at regular weekend intervals between Pentagon City & Mt Vernon Square and every 15 minutes between Huntington & Braddock Road. Customers traveling to/from stations north of Mt Vernon Sq should use the Green Line to complete their trip.

Free shuttle buses will operate between Pentagon City, Crystal City, National Airport and Braddock Road. Please allow 15 minutes of travel time for each station stop.

Stations closed: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Crystal City.

To allow for shuttle bus connections, the last train will depart Franconia-Springfield at 11:56 p.m. Saturday and 9:56 p.m. Sunday, 30 minutes earlier than normal.

Work performed: Communication cable installation and platform rehabilitation.

For those not wanting to get on the free shuttle buses, ART’s 43 bus between Courthouse and Crystal City offers an alternative, as well as the Transitway along U.S. Route 1 between the Braddock Road and Pentagon City Metro stations via Potomac Yard and Crystal City.

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