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A bus parked at a new bus bay outside of the Ballston Metro station (file photo)

Update at 5:25 p.m. — Metrorail service has been restored on the Orange and Silver lines after a power outage in Ballston that lasted around half an hour. Riders should expect residual delays, Metro said.

Earlier: Metrorail service on the Orange and Silver lines has been suspended due to a power outage.

WMATA said shortly before 5 p.m. that “a power outage at Ballston” has prompted a suspension of train service between Clarendon and West Falls Church/McLean.

So far there is no word on when service might resume. Shuttle buses have been requested to the affected stations, the transit agency said.

Dominion’s website currently lists an outage in Ballston with an estimated restoration time of 8-11 p.m.

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The Ballston Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A hazardous materials situation at the Ballston Metro station over the summer likely exposed riders to toxic gas from batteries.

That’s according to a report at this afternoon’s Washington Metrorail Safety Commission meeting.

As detailed in WMSC’s Twitter thread, the incident happened the evening of Thursday, Aug. 11 and involved old backup batteries in the station’s Train Control Room that were boiling over due to improper charging. On top of that, gas was released into the station because of a faulty ventilation system, according to WMSC.

A fire alarm went off after gas was detected coming from the room, prompting an evacuation and a fire department response that was later upgraded to a full hazmat response. But at least one train stopped at the station and let out riders during that time, exposing them to the toxic gas, WMSC said.

The hazmat response was noted on social media by at least two local journalists, but did not otherwise get much attention at the time.

Following the incident, Metro “developed a number of corrective actions to address issues identified during this investigation,” according to WMSC’s thread, which is compiled below.

The first report today, W-0189, relates to an evacuation for life safety reasons at Ballston Station on August 11.

On August 11, 2022, toxic gas from overheated Metrorail batteries filled part of the Ballston Station. These batteries support the uninterruptible power supply – or UPS – for the station’s Train Control Room.

The Arlington County Fire Department determined that a fire alarm was due to gas coming from the battery room at the southeast end of the station.

The Metrorail personnel involved in the response did not know about the battery safety switch outside the room that can be used to cut power.

After forcing entry into the room, Arlington County Fire upgraded the response to a hazmat response. This was 47 minutes after the initial alarm.

At that point, responders communicated that trains should bypass the station and riders should be evacuated for their safety.

During the time the station was evacuated and closed to riders for their safety, one train stopped at and serviced the station, placing riders in hazardous conditions.

n addition, Metrorail did not follow its emergency response processes. This includes the incident command process. Information was also not consistently and clearly shared.

Rail Controllers made general announcements on the Ops 4 channel for some trains to turn off environmental systems when bypassing Ballston Station. No similar announcements regarding the environmental systems or bypassing Ballston Station were made on the Ops 2 channel.

Train Operator who serviced Ballston Station during the evacuation was in the Ops 2 radio territory when the announcements were made on Ops 4 The Ops 2 Rail Controller made an announcement on their channel only after the Train Operator serviced the station during the evacuation.

The investigation shows that Metrorail had kept the UPS in service beyond the end of its useful life, allowing it to run to failure.

The battery charger was not working properly. This led to excess energy being fed into the batteries. In addition – the ventilation unit in the room was not operating correctly, and the separate exhaust fan was also not working.

The batteries overheated. System data indicates the toxic gas release began approximately 15 hours after the improper charging began. The acid in each battery began to boil.

The WMSC had raised similar ancillary room maintenance concerns to Metrorail in the spring, and further documented these issues in our August 4, 2022 Train Control Room order, the week prior to this event.

Metrorail had committed in the spring to special inspections of ancillary rooms for these types of ventilation system deficiencies, but had not continued those inspections until after the WMSC’s order.

Metrorail opened the battery disconnect to separate the batteries from the UPS at about 12:30 a.m. The battery bank later cooled down and stopped emitting the toxic gas.

The power cutoff was delayed due to unclear labelling of cutoffs and insufficient training and communication of actions to take in emergencies related to battery-supplied systems.

Metrorail developed a number of corrective actions to address issues identified during this investigation. In addition Metrorail is implementing CAPs tied to the Emergency Management and Fire and Life Safety Programs Audit, August 4 order, and other related findings.

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The Pentagon City Metro station (file photo)

Update at 2:55 p.m. — Metro is single-tracking past the station and expected to resume normal service soon, with fire department units clearing from the scene.

Blue Line service has been suspended at Pentagon City due to a small fire producing smoky conditions at the station.

Arlington County firefighters are on scene. The fire — reportedly caused by trash catching on fire behind a wall — is reported to be out but there’s still residual smoke in the tunnels.

The fire department activity is also said to be affecting traffic in the area.

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Morning Notes

Ballston at twilight with storm clouds looming (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Issues at Court House Station — Noted in a new Washington Metrorail Safety Commission report on the maintenance, cleaning and inspections of automatic train control systems: “For example, at Court House Station on the Orange and Silver Lines, a technician noted racks that were dusty and covered with black soot and noted that an electronic-friendly vacuum cleaner was required for proper cleaning, but no work order was opened. The records also showed missing manuals and reference documents, but no work order was opened.” [WMSC]

Anniversary of Pentagon Officer’s LODD — “Pentagon Police Cpl. George Gonzalez died in the line of duty one year ago today. At the Training Range named for him, members of his Pentagon Force Protection Agency platoon honored Gonzalez again on Tuesday.” [WJLA]

School Board Race Fundraising — “For the period through June 30, independent James ‘Vell’ Rives IV outraised Democratic endorsee Bethany Sutton by $14,286 to $13,132, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Elections. But from those figures you have to subtract the $7,000 loan that Rives gave his campaign, and also chop off a couple of thousand dropped in by Sutton family members to hers, when parsing the data.” [Sun Gazette]

Light Pole Knocked Down on the Pike — “Scanner: Columbia Pike temporary shut down at S. Wakefield Street after a vehicle ran into a county light pole, knocking it down. Driver reported to be injured, but not seriously.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — After a stormy Thursday night comes another hot day with rain and strong storms in the evening and overnight. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:15 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The U.S. Air Force Memorial and surrounding construction at twilight (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Cristol Calls Out Displacement ‘Lie’ — “Time will tell, as it always does, but Arlington elected officials say the public and some activists are mistaken if they believe there will be wholesale displacement of residents of the Barcroft Apartments complex in South Arlington. At a May 14 meeting, County Board Chairman Katie Cristol – not one normally known for getting rattled while on the dais – decried as a ‘lie’ the displacement rumors at the sprawling, 1,334-unit apartment complex.” [Sun Gazette]

Crash Last Night on GW Parkway — From Alan Henney: “Another auto went over the wall on the northbound side of the GW Pky prior to the Key Bridge in Arlington. Amazingly driver is out uninjured after his auto slid down the embankment.” [Twitter]

Marymount University Commencement — From Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S.: “It was my tremendous privilege to give the commencement at @marymountu, a university that like many around the U.S. hosts Saudi students. It was my absolute honor to receive an honorary doctorate, thank you to the faculty and Dr. Becerra for this special day.” [Twitter, Sun Gazette]

Metro CEO and COO Resign — “The WMATA Board of Directors has accepted Paul Wiedefeld’s decision to make his retirement effective today. In addition, Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader has resigned, effective immediately.” [WMATA, DCist]

New Skyline Development Proposal — “Madison Marquette has filed plans to convert two Baileys Crossroads office building into live/work lofts, advancing a vision to resuscitate the huge multibuilding cluster known as Skyline Center. By repurposing the mostly emptied office spaces — which meet planning and code requirements to serve as apartments and/or offices for small firms — Skyline can once again become ‘the gravitational center for the area.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Body Cams for Falls Church Police — “Police officers with the City of Falls Church will now be equipped with body-worn cameras beginning this month.” [WJLA, City of Falls Church]

It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 77 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Metro Delays Due to Safety Snafu — “Metro’s Chief Safety Officer reports that nearly half of Metro’s 500 rail operators have lapsed recertification… In consultation with the Board of Directors, Metro management is taking immediate corrective action to remove from service 72 train operators who became out of compliance prior to May 2021. This will result in a temporary reduction in Green and Yellow line service from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes due to an operator shortage.” [WMATA]

APS Changes Bell Schedules — “The School Board in Arlington, Virginia, voted to lengthen the school day by a little less than 10 minutes and to rearrange school start and end times in the first change to the county school system’s bell schedule in more than two decades. At its Thursday meeting, the board unanimously voted in favor of the adjustments.” [WTOP]

Psaki Spat With Arlington GOP — Outgoing White House Press Secretary (and Arlington resident) Jen Psaki “acknowledged that there have been instances in which she shared information with the Secret Service about threats… She said that no one has physically come to her home, but added, ‘There is a circulation of my address among the Arlington Republican Party.’ The Arlington GOP in a statement to The Hill said it ‘has not publicly disseminated any Biden Administration official’s home address.'” [The Hill]

Rosslyn Tunnel Congestion Revisited — “The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) is pressing leadership of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority not to forget about congestion at the Rosslyn tunnel. In a May 6 letter to (outgoing) Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld, NVTC chair Carek Aguirre urged the transit agency to ‘recognize the strategic importance of moving swiftly to design a solution to relieve train congestion’ at the tunnel.” [Sun Gazette]

Wakefield Rowing Storms State Tourney — “At Saturday’s regatta… the Warriors stood just as deep as any other school on the Occoquan River and stepped into the dynasty conversation themselves, with the boys’ and girls’ top varsity eight boats each rowing to titles.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Trucker Protest Returning — “The People’s Convoy is slated to be in D.C. by Tuesday, as they’re currently in Ohio. Further, a convoy leader tonight took to the microphone to try and squash fear over being hit with eggs in the city, saying: ‘I happen to like eggs.'” [Twitter]

DCA Using UV to Zap Covid — “Reagan National and Dulles International airports now have ultraviolet disinfection technology to combat the spread of viruses including Covid… The airports authority’s statement of work specifically called for the technology to disinfect the air in 39 spaces at National and 73 spaces at Dulles, including ticketing and baggage claim areas, security checkpoints, transit platforms and gate hold rooms.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Real Estate is Really Expensive — “There may be an end in sight at some point for rising single-family home values in Arlington. But so far, it hasn’t been reached. The average sales price of the 100 single-family properties that went to closing in April was $1,348,813. That’s up 14.5 percent from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

Missing Falls Church Teen — “City of Falls Church Police seek information to help a teen return home. Abigail… is 16 years old and was last seen at her home in the City at about 3 a.m. on Sunday after an argument with family. Abigail is about 5 feet tall, has black brown hair and a nose ring.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Monday — Rain and storms, some severe, in the afternoon and evening. High of 77 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:16 pm. [Weather.gov]

Photos courtesy Will Wiard, Geoff Collins, Dave Statter and Kelly Harrington

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Morning Notes

Hawk withdrawing (Photo courtesy of Huskerdont/Flickr)

Towers Coming to Site in National Landing —  “Developers have closed on the purchase of a vacant site near Crystal City and Potomac Yard in Arlington, a transaction that paves the way for a new two-building project there.” [Washington Business Journal]

Anti-Vaccine-Mandate Rally Growing — “The event, called ‘Defeat the Mandates: An American Homecoming,’ plans a march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial… [A spokesperson] says the group has more than 36,000 signups; a permit application filed with the National Park Service… says it expects 20,000 people.” Organizers have been encouraging attendees to stay in Arlington. [Washingtonian]

Keep Uncollected Bins Out — “Curbside recycling/trash/organics collection resumed Monday, Jan. 10, following last week’s storms. Keep any carts left unemptied this week at the curb through Saturday, Jan. 15. The County’s contractor is making progress collecting about twice the regular tonnage but runs are slower, trucks fill faster and Covid has affected staffing.” [Arlington County]

MLK Mass This Weekend — “On Sunday, January 16, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, will celebrate a Mass in Observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More. The annual Mass honors the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader who was slain almost 54 years ago.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]

Shred and Recycling Material Drop-Off — Each Arlington resident can shred up to two boxes or bags of paper or unload a small truckload of inert materials for free at a regularly held recycling event this Saturday. [Arlington County]

Return of 7000 Series Delayed Again — “Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld said today he will not resume the placement of 7000-series trains into passenger service for about 90 days to allow Metro engineering and mechanical experts time to focus on root cause analysis and acquire technology to measure 7000-series wheelsets. During the 90-day period, Metro will accelerate efforts to restore 6000-series railcars to increase the availability of newer cars in the fleet and improve reliability for customers.” [WMATA, Washington Post]

It’s Friday — Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 46. North wind 8 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 29 mph. Sunrise at 7:25 a.m. and sunset at 5:10 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 27. North wind 7 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. On Sunday, snow is likely after 1 p.m. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy of Huskerdont/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Hiring sign and a long drive-thru line at the Langston Blvd Starbucks (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fundraiser for Westover Barber — “A barber at a beloved #ArlingtonVA barber shop needs help while he undergoes radiation and chemo.” [GoFundMe, Twitter]

Covid Officially on the Rise — “Arlington County, like much of Virginia, is now seeing a HIGH level of community transmission. It is recommended everyone age 2 and up wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.” [Twitter]

Santa Returning to Cherrydale — From the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department: “It is t-minus 3 days until that jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus, joins us for our parades through Cherrydale! Are you ready? We will be parading through North Cherrydale on Thursday, December 9th, and then South Cherrydale on Friday, December 10th. Both parades will take place from 6-8pm.” [Facebook]

Home Stretch for Big Bell Project — “The Netherlands Carillon has reached the final stages of a massive renovation project which brought the addition of three new bells and the retuning of the existing bells, making it a ‘Grand Carillon.'” The Carillon is currently expected to reopen in the spring. [WUSA 9]

Report: Metro Errors After Fatal Stabbing — “An investigation into Metro’s actions during the Aug. 3 stabbing incident at the Pentagon Transit Center determined that Metrorail failed to establish an on-scene command center and did not communicate effectively with its personnel at the Pentagon Station during the emergency. These delays led to a 13-minute gap between the report of an active shooter situation and the evacuation of the Pentagon Station platform. In addition, Metro lost track of station personnel during the emergency.” [Patch]

Helicopter Called in for Shirlington Sexual AssaultUpdated at 8:45 a.m. — According to Arlington County police this morning, a suspect was arrested last night in the following case: “4200 block of 31st Street S. At approximately 2:57 a.m. on December 7, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. The investigation determined that the known suspect sexually assaulted the known victim. Officers located the suspect in the area and he fled on foot. A perimeter was established and the area was searched with the assistance of the United States Park Police helicopter. The suspect was not located and the investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]

Little Snow Expected Today, After All — From the Capital Weather Gang: “Brutal — Watch DC’s snow event slip away in 16 GFS model runs. Early runs had rain– then it was snow– now it’s nada.” [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

It’s Wednesday — Today there is a chance of snow, mixing with rain after 10am, then gradually ending. Cloudy, with a high near 43. Sunrise at 7:14 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. Tomorrow there will be increasing clouds, with a high near 44 and a low of 35. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Construction cranes for Amazon HQ2 tower over Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Initial Plan Filed for Americana Site — “JBG Smith has filed a conceptual site plan application with Arlington County for 1400 Richmond Highway [the Americana hotel site in Crystal City], proposing a by-right 19-story building with 650 residential units above retail. There will also be 325 parking spaces across two below-grade parking levels.” [UrbanTurf]

Apartment Fire in Ballston — A fire broke out in the kitchen of a fourth floor apartment at the View at Liberty Center building in Ballston yesterday evening. The fire was extinguished by the building’s sprinkler system, but water damage was reported in the apartments and ground floor retail space below. The incident prompted a large fire department response and closed lanes on Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street. [Twitter]

Vax Rate Lags Among Younger Adults — “Pleading, cajoling, finger-wagging and threatening still don’t seem to be doing the trick in getting the 24-to-34-year-old age group in Arlington on board with COVID vaccinations. Data last week show that while 71 percent of county residents in that age group have received at least one jab of the vaccine… Countywide, just under 79 percent of 223,000 Arlington residents ages 5 and older have received at least one dose.” [Sun Gazette]

Thanksgiving 5K Along N. Pershing Drive — “The Arlington Turkey Trot 16th Annual 5k Fun Run will take place on Thursday, November 25, 2021. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures from approximately 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.” [ACPD]

Arlington Gets Perfect LGBT Equality ScoreUpdated at 8 a.m. — “Arlington garnered a 100-percent rate in the 10th annual Municipal Equality Index, reported by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The average score for 11 major localities in Virginia was 88 on a zero-to-100 scale, compared to a national average of 67. Arlington was among 110 communities earning a perfect rating, up from 11… when the survey debuted.” [Sun Gazette]

Metro Woes Extend to 2022 — “Metro customers can expect to see current (reduced) rail service levels through December 31, Metro announced today.  With no timeline established to return the 7000-series fleet in the interest of safety, and 6000-series railcars awaiting parts due to global supply chain challenges, incremental service improvements will be made during December as parts arrive for older model railcars.” [WMATA]

Snow Possibility in Forecast — From the Capital Weather Gang: “DC first flakes? Watching possibility of disturbance/clipper passing thru cold air Sun-Mon timeframe. It could shift or fizzle and probably not a big deal even if it hits, but first feature this season we’re watching with some curiosity.” [Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Sunny today, with a high near 43. Northwest wind 9 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Sunrise at 7 a.m. and sunset at 4:49 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 47. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A woman standing in a ray of sunlight near Amazon’s under-construction HQ2 in Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Vacuum Leaf Collection Starts Today — “The county’s first pass is scheduled to kick off on Monday, Nov. 8 and will likely run through late November. The second pass will likely run through Friday, Dec. 17, according to a new fall leaf collection brochure.” [ARLnow]

Metro Woes Continue — “Metro’s limited train service will continue for the rest of November, officials said Friday, as the transit agency begins tests that it hopes will allow for the reinstatement of more than half of its fleet… Metro is pulling all of its available cars out of storage to help shorten waits, including 32 recently pulled from its Shady Grove yard. Waits between trains are about 15 minutes on the Red Line, 20 minutes on the Green Line and 30 minutes on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines, Metro said.” [Washington Post]

YHS Field Hockey Triumphs — “What already was an outstanding season for the Yorktown Patriots became the best in program history when the girls field hockey team won a region championship for the first time. Yorktown (19-1) captured the 6D North Region tournament with a 3-0 record, blanking the host and defending champion Madison Warhawks, 1-0, in the Nov. 3 title match of the high-school competition.” [Sun Gazette]

Speedy Campaign Sign Removals — “Good news on the campaign-sign-clearing front — it looks like most campaigns and political organizations have decided to remove their signage from medians far sooner than the rules allow. Arlington Democrats estimate they removed 80% of signage from medians on Wednesday, the day after voting took place. And a spot check across the community shows Republicans and independents were getting large chunks of their signs down, too, even though under law they have a week to do so.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — It will be sunny and warmer today, with a high near 66. Sunrise at 6:43 a.m. and sunset at 5 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 69. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Dark clouds move across the region, seen from the Shirlington pedestrian bridge over I-395 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Reduced Metro Service Continues — “Metro continues working to finalize plans in cooperation with safety officials to return the 7000-series railcars to passenger service and fully restore its rail system. As a result, Metrorail service will remain at the current reduced service levels through at least October 31, 2021. During this time, trains will operate basic service every 15-20 minutes on the Red Line and every 30-40 minutes on all other lines.” [WMATA]

APS Online Learning Update — “Arlington Public Schools leaders say they have triaged some of the most pressing fallout from a rocky rollout of the new online-learning initiative, but still have steps to take to ensure the program meets its promises to students and their families. ‘We have had a lot of regretful growing pains – that has been bad,’ frustrated School Board member Cristina Diaz-Torres said after an Oct. 14 update on the situation.” [Sun Gazette]

Charges Dismissed in Police Shooting — “A federal judge in Alexandria on Friday dismissed all criminal charges against two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar in 2017, saying that they reasonably feared that one of the officers was in danger and that their actions following a pursuit of Ghaisar were ‘necessary and proper.’ Prosecutors for the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney said they would appeal the ruling.” [Washington Post]

It’s Monday — ⛈ A chance of showers between 2-5 p.m., then showers and thunderstorms — some potentially strong, with heavy rain — in the evening. Partly sunny, with a high near 77. South wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Sunrise at 7:27 a.m. and sunset at 6:15 p.m. Tomorrow, it will be mostly cloudy and breezy, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms and a high near 65.

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