Press Club
Yellow Line Metro bridge over the Potomac (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Local officials are concerned that major work on the Yellow Line, starting in September, will cause significant problems — and are asking Metro to come up with solutions.

Last week, WMATA announced that the Yellow Line tunnel and bridge crossing the Potomac will shut down starting September 10 for up to eight months due to much-needed rehab work.

Additionally, for six weeks, rail service south of National Airport will also be shut down to continue work on the new Potomac Yard station.

The shutdown announcements were not unexpected. About a year ago Metro said its plan was to fast track the work, warning that the bridge was “beyond its useful life.” In October, Metro said riders should expect the shutdown to happen by fall 2022. At the time, though, timelines and the duration of the shutdown wasn’t entirely clear.

Now, we know that Metro is expecting seven to eight months of severely-reduced service. The Yellow Line won’t return to full operations until at least April or May 2023.

While Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) concedes that the work is very necessary, he’s concerned the long shutdown will cause major delays and disruptions for local commuters, as he wrote in a statement last week.

Announcements of the upcoming completion and opening of the Potomac Yard station and the Silver Line Extension are both good news for the region, and will bring substantial benefits to Northern Virginia.

The construction work needed to finish the Potomac Yard station and the closure of the Yellow Line tunnel over the Potomac for safety maintenance will result in major commute disruptions for many of my constituents beginning in September. I am especially concerned for those who commute through the Huntington and Eisenhower Ave. stations, and increased bus service from WMATA and its regional partners will be key to minimizing the impacts on these riders. I urge WMATA to maximize Blue Line service to the extent possible to help compensate for increased traffic as Yellow Line riders shift their commutes during this work.

Capital projects and infrastructure maintenance are important to provide safe, reliable service to the region, but especially given the recent disruptions from the pandemic and 7000 series car issues, it is vital that WMATA do everything possible to look out for riders affected by this work.

Christian Dorsey, County Board Vice-Chair and former WMATA board member, said in a statement to ARLnow that he’s asking WMATA for solutions, in particular requesting the agency to work with Arlington Transit to provide bus alternatives to train service.

WMATA’s closure of the Yellow Line between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations in September reflects both valuable and necessary investments in our transportation infrastructure and a tremendous disruption to transit riders. The shutdown will come at a most unfortunate time as our region attempts to return to our pre pandemic normal. WMATA must increase Blue Line service to the greatest extent possible, but even then, the capacity limitations of the Rosslyn crossing mean that the transit experience to the Pentagon, our National Landing activity centers, and to National Airport will be degraded. To mitigate these impacts, we need WMATA to provide sufficient increases in bus service crossing the Potomac and to work with transit providers like Arlington Transit (ART) to offer comparable alternatives to the vital service the Yellow Line provides.

Both Metro and Arlington Transit tell ARLnow that they are working together to “develop travel alternatives,” but specific plans will not be announced until the Yellow Line construction plans are finalized.

More information isn’t expected until “early summer,” according to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

In 2021, an average of more than 10,000 riders used one of the four Arlington Yellow Line stations (Reagan National Airport, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Pentagon) on a daily basis, according to Metro statistics.

Arlington’s neighbor Alexandria is also preparing for the shutdowns, particularly as it relates to the new Potomac Yard station on the Yellow Line. Service is supposed to start in the fall, but Metro’s announcement noted that work to connect the tracks to the rest of the rail system will take until the end of October.

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Morning Notes

A Ukrainian flag on display at a house in the Westover neighborhood (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Date Set for Yellow Line Work — “Yellow Line Tunnel and Bridge Rehab, beginning Sept. 10, 2022: This work will require a shutdown between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations, closing the Yellow Line crossing of the Potomac River for seven to eight months.” [WMATA]

No APS Boundary Change Drama — “With Arlington’s student enrollment now projected to be considerably lower in coming years than once anticipated, School Board members this week are likely to call off a planned elementary-school-redistricting process that had been slated for the fall. ‘Small boundary adjustments’ may still be needed, but a countywide look at elementary-school-boundary switcheroos would be off the table.” [Sun Gazette]

Concern for Missing Arlington Woman — “The Arlington County Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance locating a missing Arlington woman. Lindsey… 38, was last seen on February 28 in the 4100 block of Fairfax Drive. Police and family are concerned for her health and welfare. [ACPD]

It’s Wednesday — Rain in the morning and early afternoon. High of 48 and low of 38. Sunrise at 6:30 am and sunset at 6:11 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington County government headquarters in Courthouse (file photo)

Many county services and operations will be shuttered on Monday (Feb. 21) for Presidents Day, which is officially called George Washington Day in Virginia.

County government, the courts and libraries are all closed on Monday. This also includes county vaccine clinics and COVID-19 testing sites. The test positivity rate in Arlington has dropped below 5% as demand for tests has slowed considerably since earlier this winter.

All community centers, including the Long Bridge Aquatics and Fitness Center, will also be closed on Monday.

Arlington Public Schools are not in session on the federal holiday, but trash and recycling collection will happen as scheduled on Monday.

Seven ART bus lines will continue to run, but on a Saturday schedule. The remainder of the ART bus lines will not operate on Monday.

Metro trains will operate on a Saturday schedule, meaning stations open at 5 a.m. and close at midnight with Blue, Orange, Yellow and Silver line trains running every 24 minutes. Metro buses will be on a Saturday supplement schedule with a few additional routes than a normal weekend.

All parking will be free at Metro-owned parking facilities. And for those free parking fans, all county parking meters will not be enforced in honor of America’s first president.

While in most other states the third Monday in February is known as “Presidents Day,” in Virginia, the official state holiday is called George Washington Day.

America’s first president’s birthday is actually Feb. 22 and that’s the day the federal government first designated as a national holiday starting in 1885. Nearly a century later, in 1971, the holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February to also celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who was born Feb. 12. Hence, the rise of “Presidents Day.”

But here in Virginia, the federal holiday and free parking is specifically in honor of the Commonwealth’s native son, George Washington.

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Metro’s Yellow Line, which runs through Crystal City and Pentagon City, could see major disruption next year due to needed repairs.

The proposed Yellow Line Bridge and tunnel rehabilitation project will include repairs to the bridge and the tunnels between the Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations.

WMATA’s project website said the bridge is now showing “excessive wear and corrosion,” while “decades of water infiltration and underground moisture have eroded the steel-lined tunnels.” Both the bridge and the tunnels “date to original construction [of the Metro system] more than 40 years ago.”

The transit agency warned that long-term repairs are necessary to avoid structural failure.

The project will also upgrade the fire suppression system on the bridge, which is currently past its useful life according to WMATA. Further remediation work in the tunnel will repair cracks.

Schedule of Metro station work, including Yellow Line shutdowns, photo via WMATA

The exact timeline for the project is still unclear. Andrew Off, Vice President of Project Implementation and Construction, said a shutdown of the bridge is expected sometime in fall 2022.

“We expect to start sometime at the end of the next calendar year,” Off said. “We’re still working through with our general contractor on the specific construction duration for the Yellow Line Bridge closure.”

Meanwhile, further south on the Yellow Line, Off said a two-week closure is likely as WMATA connects the new Potomac Yard Metro station.

“We’ll have a scheduled two-week or 16-day shutdown in late summer or early fall in support of connecting the new Potomac Yard infill station to our existing system,” Off said.

The station had been scheduled to open next spring but was pushed back to September 2022 after an error was found in the project’s design. Alexandria leaders are still hopeful the project could be moved up to earlier in the year.

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Morning Notes

Metro Service Still Affected by Derailment — “On Thursday, October 14, there will be no rail service between Rosslyn and Pentagon stations due to the ongoing investigation into Tuesday’s derailment. In addition, Orange and Silver line trains will single track between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom. Customers should expect delays in both directions. Free local shuttle buses will operate between Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations, with free express shuttles between Rosslyn and Pentagon stations.” [WMATA]

Portion of Train Removed from Tunnel — From NBC 4’s Adam Tuss: “Almost 24 hours after the Blue Line derailment — a section of the derailed train is on the move. Only 3 railcars here. We were told the 4th railcar was the one that derailed. There were 8 railcars total.” [Twitter]

Camera Truck to Drive Around Arlington — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Starting [today]: A County contractor’s camera truck will be driving around Arlington for two weeks (weather permitting), gathering imagery and and GPS data exclusively for evaluation of roadway conditions. They come in peace for all mankind.” [Twitter]

Amazon to Fund Transit-Accessible Housing — “Amazon will fund a new grant program to help local governments and nonprofit developers pursue affordable projects near transit stations, directing $500,000 of its recently announced $2 billion Housing Equity Fund to this effort… said Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey… ‘Providing this source of funding, that’s not going to need to be paid back, is really going to be the key in unlocking innovative projects to help meet our goals.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Anniversary Event at Tomb of the Unknowns — “When Arlington National Cemetery marks the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknowns next month, members of the public will be allowed to place flowers there for the first time, the cemetery said Tuesday… ‘This is a rare opportunity for the public to walk next to the Tomb … a privilege otherwise given only to the sentinels of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, ‘The Old Guard,” who stand watch over the site 24 hours a day, the cemetery said.” [Washington Post]

New DCA Security Checkpoints Unveiled — “The public got its first look Wednesday at the buildings that will be home to new security checkpoints set to open next month at Reagan National Airport — an upgrade that officials hope will speed screening times and ease congestion in time for the holiday travel season. The checkpoints are set to open Nov. 9 and will be housed in separate 50,000-square-foot buildings across from Terminals B and C.” [Washington Post]

Nearby: SROs Reinstated in Alexandria, For Now — “After significant outcry from a school system concerned about weapons in schools, the Alexandria City Council took a dramatic 4-3 vote around 1 a.m. this morning (Wednesday) to temporarily return school resource officers (SROs) to two middle schools and Alexandria City High School until the end of this school year.” [ALXnow]

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(Updated at 9:15 a.m.) A theft suspect in Pentagon City ran onto the tracks Sunday afternoon, causing major delays for riders.

The theft was reported around 2 p.m., from a store on the 1200 block of S. Hayes Street, a block that includes the Pentagon City mall and the Pentagon Centre shopping center.

The man was spotted by officers at the Pentagon City Metro station and fled onto the tracks. Officers were unable to locate him during their initial search, but he was seen again at the Metro station around 4:45 p.m. Arlington County police along with Metro Transit Police and Pentagon police were then able to establish a perimeter and take him into custody.

Trains were halted in the area and a shuttle service established before the suspect, a 27-year-old Maryland man, was finally taken into custody.

More from ACPD and social media:

LARCENY (Significant), 2021-07180152, 1200 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 2:08 p.m. on July 18, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business, allegedly selected merchandise and left without paying. The suspect fled from responding officers into the Pentagon City Metro and entered the tracks. The tracks were searched with negative results. At approximately 4:42 p.m., the suspect was observed inside the Pentagon City Metro. A perimeter was established, and with the assistance of Metro Transit Police and Pentagon Force Protection Agency, the suspect was taken into custody and transported to an area hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. While in custody, he provided false information to officers regarding his identity. Deallen Price, 27, of District Heights, MD was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny, False ID to Avoid Arrest, Obstruction of Justice and Trespassing.

Monday’s Arlington crime report included a number of other notable incidents, including:

  • A woman was arrested Friday afternoon after robbing a store at the Pentagon City mall and handing the stolen items to a teen boy while fleeing into the Pentagon City Metro station.
  • A man drove onto the sidewalk and struck a man he had recently argued with at a Buckingham area restaurant early Sunday morning.
  • A man in his 50s or 60s exposed himself to a man along Wilson Blvd in Ballston Friday afternoon, then started masturbating and following the victim while continuing to masturbate.
  • A man grabbed a woman inappropriately and pulled her towards him, while she was sitting outside a business in the Clarendon area early Saturday morning.

More from the Arlington County Police Department, below.

Read More

Morning Notes

Planning Process for Pentagon City Underway — “Amazon.com Inc.’s vision for Pentagon City is decidedly futuristic, anchored by a helix-shaped building that looks straight out of a sci-fi novel. Arlington County’s existing plans that guide the neighborhood’s growth, meanwhile, date back to the days of disco… The open question is how much more development the tech giant will inspire.” [Washington Business Journal]

SUV Overturns on GW Parkway — From WTOP yesterday morning: “NB George Washington Pkwy before the Key Bridge, crash involves one on its side with the left lane only squeezing by.” [Twitter]

GMU to Partner with Local American Legion Post — “Realizing a need existed to help veterans and their families in similar situations, leaders at the law school established the Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS) in 2004…. A new partnership with American Legion Post 139, which will be standing up a new building in Arlington, will allow the clinic to further increase its impact.” [George Mason University]

New Apartment Building Opening — “AHC Inc., a leading developer of affordable housing in the Washington-Baltimore metro region, is pleased to introduce a new apartment community in Arlington, VA, called The Apex. Featuring a total of 256 apartments, the $100 million development has started to welcome its first residents and is currently accepting applications.” [Press Release]

Arlington Housing Remains Pricey — “The city of Falls Church in Virginia remains the most expensive housing market, by official jurisdiction, with a median price of $820,000 last month. But among larger jurisdictions, Virginia’s Arlington County remains the most expensive, at $600,000 last month.” [WTOP]

Instant-Runoff Voting Challenges — “Technical, legal and financial complexities likely will mean any start to ‘instant-runoff’ County Board voting in Arlington will be pushed back to 2022 at the soonest. ‘It’s not practical for this year. The earliest this could possibly be used is next year,’ said Arlington Electoral Board secretary Scott McGeary, summing things up during a Feb. 6 Electoral Board meeting.” [InsideNova]

Reminder: Blue Line Work Starts Tomorrow — “Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday… platform reconstruction work [is] being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station.” [ARLnow]

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Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday.

The closing of the Blue Line, which runs through parts of Arlington, is due to platform reconstruction work being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station. Additionally, work is being done at the Addison Road station in Maryland. The project was announced last year.

Both the station and the Blue Line are planning to reopen on May 23.

A shuttle bus will run between the Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations during the project. The shuttles will run every 12 minutes Monday through Friday and every 15 minutes on the weekends. They will not stop at Arlington Cemetery after 7 p.m.

The construction work is part of a massive effort to reconstruct, modernize, and update station platforms throughout the system.

The work being done at the Arlington Cemetery station will include adding slip-resistant tiles, brighter LED canopy lighting, and lighted handrails on stairs. There will also be new platform shelters equipped with charging ports, improved platform speakers and PA system, better information screens, and renovated bathrooms.

This is the same type of work that closed down parts of the Orange Line and the entire Silver Line over the summer.

Normally, this type of work and necessary shutdown happens during the summer time when Metro ridership is historically lower. But with ridership down as much as 90% due to the pandemic, the Blue Line shut down is being initiated earlier in the year.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Firefighters Getting Vaccinated — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “As @ArlingtonVA moves into Phase 1b of the #CovidVaccine rollout, we would like to thank @ArlingtonDHS and @VDHgov for helping us provide the first round of Moderna vaccine to 67% of our workforce so far.” [Twitter]

Ideas for Plant-Based Dining — Here’s a new list of “13 vegetarian and vegan takeout options to kickstart 2021” in and near Arlington. [Arlington Magazine]

Man Brings Lots of Bullets to DCA —  “TSA officers at @Reagan_Airport stopped a man with 100 bullets in his carry-on bag at one of the security checkpoints last week.” [Twitter]

Reminder: Vote in the Arlies — If you haven’t already, vote for your favorite places, people, and businesses in the inaugural Winter 2021 Arlies. [ARLnow]

D.C. Dispatch Trouble for Crash Call — The fire department response to Tuesday night’s GW Parkway crash that sent two vehicles careening into the Potomac was delayed by cross-jurisdictional dispatch issues. [Twitter]

Downtown Stations to Close for Inauguration — “Metro will close 13 stations inside the security perimeter, with 11 stations closing on Friday and two additional stations on Saturday and continuing through the end of service on Thursday. During this time trains will pass through the closed stations without stopping.” [WMATA]

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Morning Notes

ANC and Addison Alternatives Announced — “Metro will offer free shuttle bus service and other travel alternatives during the spring closure of Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery stations on the Blue and Silver lines, the transit agency announced today. Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery will be closed from Saturday, Feb. 13 through Sunday, May 23, 2021, to allow for construction.” [WMATA]

Business Buys Ballroom Building, Before Bar by Beer Boss Brings Big Bucks — “Monument Realty has acquired the former Clarendon Ballroom as the owners of popular beer garden The Lot plan to open a temporary event venue inside the building on Arlington County’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. MR 3185 Wilson Retail LLC, an affiliate of the District-based commercial real estate developer, acquired the building at 3185 Wilson Blvd. Dec. 11 for about $6.7 million, according to Arlington County land records.” [Washington Business Journal]

COVID Concerns Cause County Crew Changes — “You can now add snow removal to the long list of things that have had to change because of COVID-19. ‘This year, what makes it different than many other years, is the threat of COVID and really the concern of just keeping the employees safe, keeping them distanced enough to where they can do their work but also go home safely,’ said Jeremy Hassan, the chief operating engineer for Arlington County’s Water, Sewer, and Streets Bureau.” [Fox 5]

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(Updated at noon) Metro’s “barebones” Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal threatens to eliminate service on a number of bus lines running through Arlington.

Among the proposed cuts is the Metroway route between Pentagon City and the Braddock Road Metro stations.

Arlington and Alexandria have spent millions building the Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transitway that the Metroway line serves, with more than a dozen stops, primarily in the Crystal City and Potomac Yard area. An $27.7 million expansion of the Transitway to Pentagon City is in the works and set for construction.

The revenue-starved Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority shut Metroway down at the beginning of the pandemic in March, and has since experienced a system-wide 90% decline in ridership. The budget, as proposed, would extend the closure at least to mid-2022.

With Amazon’s choice of National Landing for its HQ2 headquarters in Pentagon City and Virginia Tech’s new Innovation Campus to be situated next door in Alexandria, the budget moves have caused concern for many, including Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the National Landing Business Improvement District.

“Transit access is at the center of National Landing’s vibrant future and is a critical component of keeping our community competitive, equitable and sustainable,” Gabriel told ARLnow. “Public transit is more essential today than ever before as it enables our region’s frontline workers to access their jobs and continue serving the community during the pandemic. As the backbone of our transportation network and the most efficient means of reaching our commercial centers, our economic recovery will similarly depend on the continued funding, reliability and effectiveness of WMATA.”

Metro, which has sought a second injection of federal relief funding since May, is also proposing to shutter 19 Metrorail stations — including Arlington Cemetery, Clarendon, East Falls Church and Virginia Square — as well as eliminate weekend rail service and reduce weekday hours to 5 a.m.-9 p.m.

Metro is proposing the elimination of the following bus lines in Arlington and Alexandria:

  • 4A and 4B from Pershing Avenue to the Pentagon
  • 7F and 7Y from Lincolnia to North Fairlington
  • 10A from Alexandria to the Pentagon
  • 16A, 16E, 16G and 16H on Columbia Pike
  • 22A, 22F from Barcroft to South Fairlington
  • 25B from Landmark to Ballston
  • 38B from Ballston to Farragut Square
  • 7M from Mark Center to the Pentagon

Other lines are set for reductions or modifications in service.

In neighboring Alexandria, Mayor Justin Wilson said the changes would harm those who most rely on Metro service.

“My hope is that the federal government enacts new COVID-relief legislation that provides support to transit agencies and local and state governments so that we do not need to inflict these cuts on transit and city services,” Wilson said. “If that doesn’t happen, this will very detrimental to our community. Many of our residents rely on these transit services to get to places of work, healthcare services and essential trips. It has taken generations to develop our transit system and dismantling it will be tragic.”

On Tuesday night, members of Metro’s Rider Advisory Council (RAC) said that the bus cuts were “dramatic” and “draconian.”

“I’m just really sad and scared about this,” RAC Member Rebekah Mason said. “It just seems really highly prejudicial and really not a way to treat riders who have jobs, other than white collar jobs.”

Doris Ray, a member of the WMATA Accessibility Advisory Committee, wants the agency to instead enhance bus service in light of potential rail cuts.

“I am concerned as many in the community about the ability of people who do not drive, particularly essential workers, but for everyone who doesn’t drive and rely on transit to be able to get around,” Ray said.

Photo via Donna Gouse

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