A pedestrian tunnel connecting the Pentagon City Metro station to the northeast corner of the intersection of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street S. is close to finally opening.
The tunnel was slated to open in 2015 after $1.3 million worth of repairs and upgrades but remained closed. It was initially built by a developer in 1984 but was never opened to the public due to “reasons related to safety, operational and legal issues,” according to Arlington County.
The Arlington County Board on Saturday will consider an agreement with WMATA for the county to take responsibility for maintaining and operating the tunnel. If approved, it will be considered by the WMATA board next month and the tunnel could open as soon as March 1.
The tunnel will only be open from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays. More from a county staff report:
Repairs and signage are complete and the tunnel is ready to open for public use… Opening the pedestrian tunnel will provide an additional access/egress point to this busy Metrorail station, one of the County’s highest ridership stations and to the adjacent retail shopping mall, Fashion Centre.
WMATA requires a formal agreement with a public or private entity that wants to have direct access and pedestrian connection to a Metrorail station. WMATA and County staff completed negotiation of the attached Agreement, which specifies the terms, conditions and obligations of the connection to the Station. The Agreement states that the County is responsible for maintaining the pedestrian tunnel and the connection to the Station mezzanine in a clean condition, free of rubbish, leaves, snow, ice and graffiti. Also, the County is responsible for all maintenance repairs and upgrades to the pedestrian tunnel and the connection. Furthermore, the County will ensure that the pedestrian tunnel and the connection are, at all times, safe for pedestrian access to the Station and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
WMATA’s Board is scheduled to approve the Agreement in February 2017. Opening of the pedestrian tunnel is targeted for March 1, 2017.
The Deed of Easement established the hours of operation for the tunnel as 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays only. The entry gate at the stairs to the pedestrian tunnel and the glass doors to the Metro mezzanine will be locked at all other times and when the Station is closed. A recent County proposal to expand the hours of operation for the tunnel was not supported by all signatories to the Deed of Easement. Staff can revisit this issue in the future.
Fire on Ballston Sidewalk — Last night around 6:45 p.m., Arlington County police and firefighters responded to a fire on a sidewalk in Ballston, near the intersection of 9th and N. Stuart Streets. Initial reports suggested that a woman had deliberately set something on fire. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Metro Police Seeking Man Who Set Fire at Station — Metro Transit Police are looking for a man who lit something on fire in the Pentagon City Metro station Wednesday morning. The man is later seen on video boarding a train and displaying a sign. [WTOP]
Smoke Closes Pentagon City Station — Smoke in a tunnel near the Pentagon City Metro station prompted a large emergency response and a temporary closure of the station last night. The smoke was caused by an electrical issue. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]
Urban Chicken Issue Still Clucking — The issue of whether Arlington should allow more households to raise egg-laying hens in their yards isn’t quite dead yet. The issue was raised briefly at an Arlington Civic Federation meeting and county staff say they’re willing to consider it if residents bring it up again. [InsideNova]
Man Arrested for Upskirt Photos — Updated at 10:35 a.m. — Arlington County Police yesterday arrested a man who allegedly took photos up a woman’s skirt as she was on the Courthouse Metro station escalator. The man smashed his phone after he was confronted by the woman and some passersby surrounded him to stop him from leaving. [NBC Washington]
Virginia on Best States for Business Ranking — Virginia is losing ground on CNBC’s Best States for Business rankings, placing No. 13 this year after being No. 5 in 2013. Some blame economic conditions caused by military and federal budget cuts. CNBC said high costs and “weak infrastructure” hurt the Commonwealth’s standing. Virginia did, however, rank No. 2 on a cumulative Best States for Business list from over the past 10 years. [Richmond Times-Dispatch, CNBC]
Lots of $1 Million Home Sales — There were 53 properties in Arlington that sold for more than $1 million in June. All but four of those properties were single family homes. [InsideNova]
Pokemon Lure at Food Truck Event — The Crystal City Business Improvement District is getting in on the Pokemon Go craze. The BID says it’s placing a Pokemon “lure” at its Food Truck Thursday event today. [Twitter]
Coming Soon: ARLBBQ — Later this month ARLnow will be hosting our first “ARLBBQ,” featuring free beer, food and games for all in attendance. The event is taking place outside on the 16th floor loft of The Bartlett in Pentagon City. Want an invite to this RSVP-only event? You’ll need to subscribe to our email newsletter.
Photo by Jackie Friedman. Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Updated at 7:10 p.m. — There were 10 passengers in the stalled elevator, we’re told. They were freed after about 40 minutes on the elevator.
@ARLnowDOTcom I was on the elevator with 9 other people!! Stuck for about 40 mins with off and on light smoke
— Liza Parrish (@lizaparrish) June 28, 2016
Earlier: A large number of fire department vehicles have responded to the Courthouse Metro station for a possible elevator issue.
Initial, unconfirmed reports suggest a number of people are stuck on an elevator that’s filling with smoke due to an electrical or mechanical malfunction. There’s also a report of light smoke in an elevator service room.
Firefighters and Metro elevator technicians are working to safely get the elevator to ground level, where the passengers can be evaluated by paramedics, according to scanner traffic.
There is thus far no indication that Metrorail service has been affected.
— Alli Henry (@GenY4Transit) June 28, 2016
#ACFD on scene of a stalled elevator w/ several occupants at Courthouse Metro. Removal of people underway.
— ACFD Firefighters (@IAFF2800) June 28, 2016
Wreath Shortfall Projected for Cemetery — Wreaths Across America projects it will be 30,000 short of its goal of 230,000 wreaths to place on graves at Arlington National Cemetery this year. The organization is hoping more donors step up before its fundraising deadline tomorrow. [Fox News]
Arlington Ranks No. 2 for Roommates — Among major U.S. localities, Arlington ranks No. 2 for having the highest percentage of adults living with roommates. According to the website, 23 percent of 18-39 year olds in Arlington live with a roommate. That compares to 21 percent for the No. 4 city, Washington, D.C. [Priceonomics via Greater Greater Washington]
Barbershop Chorus to Sing at Metro Stations — The Arlingtones, a barbershop chorus, will be performing barbershop music at three local Orange Line Metro stations this month. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Potomac Yard Station Delayed Again — The new $268 million Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria is now not expected to be complete until 2020. The City of Alexandria is paying the project’s costs with a combination of local funds, developer contributions, state grants and federal funding. [Washington Post]
New Target Fills Niche — The new Target store in Rosslyn “fills an urban retail niche” as a type of “21st century general store.” Expect to see more such stores around, writes transportation planner Dan Malouff. [Greater Greater Washington]
Kudos for ‘Horrors’ — The Arlington Players production of “Little Shop of Horrors” is worth seeing, says a reviewer. The production “retains its quirky charms and benefits from strong performances and production values.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The 23-year-old man, an employee of escalator contractor KONE, got his leg trapped between the framework of the escalator and a steel plate just before 2:00 a.m., according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.
She was unable to say whether the escalator was moving at the time of the incident.
Firefighters freed the man and rushed him to George Washington University Hospital with a “serious right leg injury,” Marchegiani said. The injury was not considered to be life threatening.
No additional details were immediately available.
For the third time in a week, Arlington County firefighters are responding to the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of smoke in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
D.C. firefighters are also responding to the Foggy Bottom station.
Iwo Jima Anniversary — Today marks the 70th anniversary of the famous photo of Marines raising the flag during on Iwo Jima during World War II. Veterans of the battle gathered at the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn, which depicts the flag raising, to mark its anniversary last week. [Stars and Stripes]
Impromptu Marriage at Fire Station — A Marine and his fiance got married at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 Saturday night. Firefighters got the call at 6:00 p.m. that the Marine, who was deploying the next day, was in desperate need of a hall after their venue was closed due to broken pipes. Firefighters were able to hastily mop the floor and set up chairs in one of the station’s bays before the bride and groom arrived for the short ceremony. [Facebook]
Man Falls on Tracks at Ballston Metro — Around 8:15 this morning, a man somehow fell onto the outbound tracks at the Ballston Metro station. Bystanders were able to hoist the man back onto the platform. According to scanner traffic, he suffered a head injury.
SUV Rollover Near Columbia Pike — An SUV crashed and rolled onto its side at Walter Reed Drive and 13 Street S., near Columbia Pike, on Friday night. The vehicle’s occupants were unhurt and were able to get out on their own, according to a fire department spokesman. Also Friday night, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on N. Glebe Road near Pershing Drive. The victim was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. [Twitter]
Benjamin Banneker Park to Expand — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved the purchase of a 8,375 square foot lot and home adjacent to Benjamin Banneker Park in East Fall Church. The $688,710 purchase will allow the park to expand, following the deconstruction of the house. [Arlington County]
James Hunter Park Cost Infographic — What caused the James Hunter dog park in Clarendon to cost so much? Washingtonian has created an interactive graphic that details some of the park’s features and their price tag. [Washingtonian]
Condo Parking Space Kerfuffle — At Saturday’s County Board meeting, the last item of the day, before the Board adjourned early due to the snowstorm, was a site plan amendment for the Virginia Square Condominiums building. The site plan amendment was proposed by the condo association to try to ameliorate a dispute over the size of two parking spaces. ARLnow.com live tweeted the absurdist theater that followed. [Storify]
Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson
Update on 2/21/15 — This project has been approved. See the county press release here.
Millions of dollars in construction work to improve the flow of traffic near the Crystal City Metro Station could begin in a matter of months.
The Arlington County Board will vote at its meeting tomorrow to award a $2.7 million contract for construction on S. Bell Street and 18th Street. The work would include building four bus bays on 18th Street S. under Jefferson-Davis Highway and converting S. Bell Street to a two-way road between 15th and 18th Streets.
The project was originally split in two — the bus bays and surrounding street improvements and converting Bell Street to a two-way road — but the county decided to consolidate to reduce construction impacts and improve coordination, according to the staff report.
The bays allow buses and shuttles to park at an angle along the street, as opposed to stacking parallel to the curb and clogging traffic.
“Construction of the transit and street improvements are important for improving safety and traffic flow in the area, as well as supporting the Crystal City Sector Plan and the [Crystal City-Potomac Yard] Transitway,” the staff report states.
If approved, construction is slated to begin in April and take about 12 months. The contract includes a 15 percent contingency — 5 percent higher than standard because of unknown complications that could come from digging up the street.
According to county Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet, the new bus bays are needed for hotel and employer shuttles that drop off around the Metro station. The Transitway, when fully realized, will turn northbound Crystal Drive into a dedicated bus lane during rush hour. Those shuttles currently stop and drop off passengers on Crystal Drive, and they will be temporarily moved during construction.
One lane of travel each way along 18th Street S. will remain open during construction. The contractor that won the contract, Ardent Company, submitted a $2.3 million bid, more than $800,000 less expensive than the second-place bidder in a nine-bid race. The county determined Ardent to be a responsible bidder.
In addition to the bus bays and S. Bell Street work, the construction will add to the area:
- A median under Jefferson-Davis Highway, to prevent what the county calls “prevalent” jaywalking near where the bus bays will be placed;
- Bus shelters and benches at each of the four sawtooth bays;
- Sidewalk improvements on both sides of 18th Street S.;
- Replacing the asphalt roadway with concrete to withstand increase stress from bus traffic; and
- Reconfiguring the S. Bell Street and 18th Street intersection to improve safety and circulation
The Metro tunnel began to leak in the fall because a stormwater-retention system built by the county was overflowing, Metro spokeswoman Caroline Laurin told WUSA9. The county built that system in the median of S. Hayes Street as part of street upgrades for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
WMATA has placed pieces of sheet metal where the leaks are occurring, deflecting the water down the wall and away from passengers.
“When that retention pond overflows, water enters our station,” Laurin told the TV station, which first reported the leaks after seeing a tweet from a curious Metro rider. “This temporary solution will be in place until Arlington County can address the issue with the storm water retention structure.”
Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which oversaw the road construction, said WMATA approved the work it did around the Metro station, and denies that it is to blame for the leaky tunnel.
“It’s not unusual to have leaks in tunnel systems, especially systems like the Pentagon City Metrorail tunnel that are 40 years old,” Katherine Youngbluth, the project manager for the S. Hayes Street improvements, told ARLnow.com in an email. “The rain garden facility that was constructed as part of the County’s Pentagon City Multimodal project (and all other aspects of the project that were adjacent to WMATA facilities) was fully vetted through WMATA’s review and approval process and received a permit for all construction work.”
Youngbluth said the county has known about the leak since the fall, but has only had preliminary talks with WMATA about whose responsibility it is to fix the leak. The county is “continuing to explore technical studies and solutions that are available for an investigation of this type” and doesn’t yet have a timeframe or cost analysis for the repair, she added.
The multimodal improvements wrapped up last year, and included new sidewalks, crosswalks, street lighting, landscaping, new street crossing areas and bicycle amenities to go with the rain garden. The total project cost was $9 million.
Photo via @jurbanchuk
Metro has suspended Yellow Line service from between Pentagon City and Mt. Vernon Square. Green Line service is also suspended.
According to Arlington scanner reports, a Yellow Line train is disabled somewhere between the L’Enfant and Pentagon Metro stations. Medics responded to the Pentagon station due to reports of at least one person having difficulty breathing on the train, but the train is being evacuated in D.C. (photos below) and Arlington units have since been released.
A “mass casualty incident” was declared and rescues were being made at L’Enfant, according to the D.C. firefighters union. The mass casualty designation is likely due to the riders stuck on the disabled train, inside a smoke-filled tunnel. The fire that was the source of the smoke has since been extinguished.
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles told NBC 4 Tuesday evening that dozens of people have been taken to the hospital, including two people who are in critical condition at George Washington University Hospital. One person died as a result of the incident, Sarles said.
During the incident, Arlington firefighters responded to an electrical room at the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of smoke. It’s unclear if that smoke might have traveled through the tunnels from L’Enfant or is the result of a separate incident. Units on the scene say there’s a smell of smoke but no evacuations are necessary.
Blue, Orange and Silver Line trains are continuing to run through L’Enfant station without stopping, according to Metro. Still, riders should expect major evening rush hour delays.
That was easily the worst metro ride of my life pic.twitter.com/a5EnGeRzMQ
— Jonathan Rogers (@JRogers202) January 12, 2015
— Jonathan Rogers (@JRogers202) January 12, 2015
One of the three high-speed elevators on N. Moore Street — which are less than a year old — broke down about 8:15 a.m., according to scanner traffic.
A commuter who was rushing to work after being freed from the elevator said the group remained calm as they waited for help.
The entrapment was caused by a power surge that is under investigation, WMATA spokeswoman Caroline Laurin said.
The elevators went out of service in December 2013 because of an electricity-related glitch.
All three of the elevators on N. Moore Street were taken out of service after the incident and had resumed operation by 11:15 a.m., the WMATA representative said.
DES spokesman Eric Balliet said authority over the Rosslyn station elevators was transferred from the county to WMATA about a month ago.
The Ballston property manager that replaced planters to prevent people from sitting says benches will soon be installed in their place.
Stephen Gilbert, the vice president of marketing for Gates Hudson, the property manager of the building adjacent to the Ballston Metro station, said the company plans to install 15 benches near the station and next to the new planters by mid-August.
Additional “street furniture” is also planned for the busy bus stop.
“This is a cross promotion with the Ballston [Business Improvement District] and we are investing nearly $28,000 to improve the seating area,” Gilbert wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “The bus shelters currently in place and managed by WMATA and Arlington County are not adequate in our opinion.”
Gates Hudson replaced the planters earlier this month because, as an employee told ARLnow.com, “they’re meant to be planters and that’s it… A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.” Gilbert said that the new planters’ capstones “were only a small part” of Gates Hudson’s master plan for improving the space on N. Stuart Street.
“I ensure you that once you see what we have under construction you will see that we are creating a very convenient and comfortable space for commuters and pedestrians,” Gilbert wrote.
Several planters on the sidewalk of N. Stuart Street in Ballston, just outside the Ballston Metro station were recently rebuilt to stop people from taking a seat.
The planters were replaced by property manager Gates Hudson this month, and while the trees are still there, the flat surface around the soil has been converted into a sharply angled corner designed specifically to prevent people waiting for the buses from sitting down.
“They’re meant to be planters and that’s it,” a Gates Hudson employee told ARLnow.com. “There are many benches outside, and the goal was to have people sit there and not on the planters. A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.”
In a letter to the Arlington County Board, Metrobus rider Jana Lynott said the property owners around the Metro station had “vitriol” for transit riders who are perceived as loiterers.
“As a regular Metrobus 1A rider, I was offended by the insinuation that we riders were viewed as dirty loiterers that bring down commercial property values,” Lynott wrote. “I’m not convinced that my fellow transit riders are a scourge upon society that need to be dealt with through exclusive design… Why in Arlington, VA, a community that invests millions of dollars a year into recruiting new riders to our world-class transit system, would we possibly embrace such a backward notion of transit accessibility? Please. Do not let this exclusive design become standard practice in our community.”
Photos courtesy Jana Lynott