The East Falls Church Metro station could get more bus stops in the future, if the Virginia Department of Transportation agrees to an Arlington County plan.
The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Saturday (December 16) to ask VDOT to redraw a limited access line for I-66 next to the Metro station’s park and ride lot, and make it parallel to the highway.
The highway’s limited access lines restrict uses on some of the land that surrounds it, which is intended to make the highway safer and easier to maintain. The land in question bounded by the line is currently used as a park and ride bus loop.
Metrobus and Fairfax Connector are planning more bus service connecting the station to Seven Corners, while Alexandria is exploring a bus rapid transit service to Tysons Corner, with a stop at the East Falls Church Metro station. Staff said the growth of bus service means this change is necessary.
“It is because of these myriad transit pressures, as well as ongoing coordination with VDOT related to moving more people more efficiently, that the County is requesting a change in the limited access line to allow for more land that can be used for purposes other than highway needs at the East Falls Church Metrorail Station,” staff wrote in a report. “By enacting this shift now, the County can feasibly plan, with its partners, for future bus-to-rail transfer capacity at the East Falls Church Metrorail station on land that is now used as a park and ride facility, and that will be used as a park and ride facility for the foreseeable future.”
Because VDOT owns the land, it has the final say on any line shifts.
Photo (top) via Arlington County, (bottom) courtesy Elvert Barnes
As part of an expansion to 24 more stations, users at Rosslyn, Clarendon, Courthouse, Crystal City will now be able to access the free wireless internet. Free Wi-Fi is now offered at 30 underground Metro stations throughout the system.
Metro said it expects that all other underground Metro stations — which includes the likes of Ballston, Virginia Square and Pentagon City — to have free Wi-Fi by mid-2018.
And for those riding Metrorail on New Year’s Eve, special late-night service will run until 2 a.m. for those returning from festivities. And in addition, track work will be suspended from 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve through closing New Year’s Day.
“We are pleased to offer extended hours on Metrorail during New Year’s Eve as a service to our customers who will be ringing in the New Year,” Metro general manager/CEO Paul Wiedefeld said in a statement. “I also want to thank our employees who will be working to provide the public with a safe and responsible option to get around.”
Stepped Up Drunk Driving Enforcement — During the holidays, from Dec. 13-31, Arlington County Police will be increasing DUI patrols as part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign. [Arlington County]
Step Forward in Plan for Second Rosslyn Station — “Metro officials are taking a small but symbolic step in their hope of someday building a second station in Rosslyn. On Thursday, the Metro board is expected to approve an application to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to request $2 million in grant money that would help the agency study ways to increase capacity on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines in Northern Virginia.” [Washington Post]
More on Freddie’s Award — The Arlington Human Rights Commission is scheduled to present their 2017 Human Rights Awards today. Among the winners was Crystal City staple Freddie’s Beach Bar. Owner Freddie Lutz said of the award: “I’m just extremely honored having grown up in Arlington County and went from elementary school to high school in Arlington County to be recognized in this way.” [Washington Blade]
Grumbles About Delivery Trucks on the Pike — Delivery trucks often park on Columbia Pike, blocking one of two, including during rush hour. Frustration over delivery trucks parking on the Pike led one resident to tweet a short video illustrating the issue. [Twitter]
The Arlington County Board unanimously approved a plan to allow new apartment and condo buildings near Metro stations to potentially provide less off-street parking.
Developers can now substitute car parking spaces at certain new apartment and condo buildings built in the Rosslyn-Ballston and Crystal City-Pentagon City Metro corridors for bike and car-sharing. Any tweaks will still be subject to Board approval on a case-by-case basis, and do not affect parking at existing buildings.
It also standardizes a practice that county staff said has evolved in recent years, of approving projects with less parking. Any reduction will only be supported if staff believe local transportation infrastructure can handle the extra demand on transit and parking, or if a project invests in new transportation options.
“These guidelines reflect the fact that the increase in transportation options in our Metro corridors means that some new developments will require less parking,” Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “The guidelines will only apply in the Metro corridors, and only to new projects approved by special exception. They will have no impact at all on existing buildings. And it remains up to the Board, to approve the final parking ratio for each proposed project, based on the site-specific circumstances and the project’s characteristics.”
The new policy includes the following, per a county press release:
- Minimum parking requirements for market-rate units ranging from 0.2 to 0.6 spaces per unit depending on distance from the nearest Metro station entrance (ranging from 1/8 to 3/4 of a mile).
- Minimum parking requirements for 60-percent-of-Area-Median-Income and 50-percent-of-AMI committed affordable units, and no minimum parking requirements for 40-percent-of-AMI units.
- Reductions of up to 50 percent of the minimum parking requirements in exchange for providing bike parking, bike share, or car-share amenities on site, in addition to those already required by the county.
- A separate visitor parking requirement of 0.05 spaces per unit for the first 200 units.
- Allowances for shared parking between different land uses in mixed-use projects, like offices, retail and residential.
- Allowances for meeting parking requirements through the dedication of spaces at existing garages located within 800 feet of the new building and in the Metro corridors.
- Mitigation requirements for parking in excess of 1.65 spaces per unit.
- Relief from minimum parking requirements for sites with physical constraints like size, historic structures that must be retained and more.
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.
County Seeking Cash for EFC Upgrades — Arlington County is seeking $30 million in congestion relief funds from the future I-66 toll lanes to help fund some upgrades at the East Falls Church Metro station. Among the hoped-f0r changes: a second entrance to the station, from Washington Boulevard, and the addition of two new bus bays. [InsideNova]
New School Board Leadership — Barbara Kanninen has been elected by her colleagues as chair of the Arlington School Board for the 2017-2018 school year. Reid Goldstein was selected as vice chair. [Twitter]
Arlington Man Arrested for Murder — A 24-year-old Arlington man was arrested in Arlington last week and charged in connection with a 2016 homicide in Waldorf, Maryland. Authorities say Bryan Aquice was the second shooter in the case; he is one of four in custody for the crime. [NBC Washington, Southern Maryland News Net]
High School Football Schedules — Fall high school football schedules for Wakefield, Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Bishop O’Connell have been released. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
A new report says Arlington County should use ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to supplement under-performing ART bus routes and better connect residents with Metro stations.
Graduate students at George Mason University’s Schar School of Government and Policy compiled strategies to improve transit in the county, and concluded that using ride-hailing is one way to do so.
The report says the current fixed ART bus system is a disadvantage to some areas that are highly populated due to overcrowding, while there are service gaps for areas that are less densely populated. Based on their research, the ART 41 route from Columbia Pike to Courthouse is the busiest, while the 53, 62, 74 and 92 are all underused and failed to recoup much of their operating costs through fares.
The solution of using the likes of Uber and Lyft to supplement buses on routes that are underutilized is based on a similar program in Pinellas County, Florida called Direct Connect. Through the program, the county pays for half of a commuter’s Uber fare if it begins and ends at certain points and stays within a specific area.
A similar partnership can improve connections to the county’s Metro stations, GMU students concluded. While the report gives Arlington credit for the use of car- and bike-sharing with the likes of Capital Bikeshare and Car2Go, it says partnering with ride-hailing companies could be helpful for those who right now struggle to integrate Metro into their commutes.
“Mobile networks play a vital role in day-to-day life and real-time tracking of services has become a necessity for busy commuters,” the report says. “Developing this tool as a mobile application would create greater convenience for commuters.”
The report also said that the county could benefit from talking to the community. It suggests facilitating a two-way dialogue between riders and county staff, and using strategies like surveying riders at Metro stations and other major transit hubs.
“Arlington County, if it were to embrace advances in information technology and extend its history of community engagement even further, could implement cost-effective yet innovative transportation solutions in its neighborhoods,” the report says.
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.