Arlington, VA

(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) A second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station could be built and opened by the end of 2023, under a proposal under consideration by the Arlington County Board.

Developer JBG Smith, the preeminent property owner in Crystal City, has proposed a public-private partnership that would accelerate the construction of the station entrance by at least 1-2 years. The proposal is set to be discussed at this weekend’s County Board meeting and potentially voted upon in mid-July.

The new entrance — a long-standing goal of county transportation planners — would be located adjacent to JBG property at the intersection of Crystal Drive and 18th Street, a block from the existing entrance and across the street from the Virginia Railway Express station.

The unsolicited proposal would have JBG and its contractors first conduct preliminary engineering and design work from October to April 2021. The cost of the work is projected at $3.73 million and would be funded by an existing $5 million Northern Virginia Transportation Authority grant.

“The scope of work includes further development of the design from the Basic Concept stage that has been developed by WMATA in coordination with the County to the 30% design of the additional station entrance at 18th Street and Crystal Drive,” notes a county staff report. “The new entrance will include elevators, stairs, a fare payment area with fare vending machines, a kiosk, and a passageway to a new mezzanine.”

Should the County and WMATA then approve the design and cost estimate, JBG would proceed with final design work, before construction of the new entrance starts in the early spring of 2022. Construction is then expected to wrap up by the end of 2023, according to a project schedule.

The staff report notes that the unsolicited proposal from JBG was submitted in May 2019, and the county has not received any competing proposals since.

“The [public-private partnership] process is advantageous because it will move up the overall design process and ultimately the construction by as much as 12-18 months as compared to traditional project delivery methods which can help ensure the Project is completed by 2025 to meet the County’s commitment on the Project to its funding partners,” the staff report says.

The state and federal governments have previously pledged tens of millions of dollars to the project, as part of the incentive package put forth to land Amazon’s second headquarters.

“Funding includes $82.5 million of federal and state transportation grants associated with the State’s Amazon commitment for transportation infrastructure,” the report says.

HQ2 is temporarily located in office space in Crystal City leased from JBG; the company is coordinating the development of Amazon’s permanent campus, which the tech giant will own, in nearby Pentagon City.

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With very few people riding Metrorail during the coronavirus pandemic, Metro announced today that it will expand its previously-planned closures and shut down the Silver Line over the summer.

Metro has already been planning to close Arlington’s East Falls Church station, along with the Vienna and Dunn Loring stations, for platform reconstruction work. It’s now also closing the West Falls Church station, which had previously been slated to remain open during construction.

Additionally, Metro says it will be combining the platform work with a separate project to link up the current Silver Line with the new “phase II” stations.

As a result, all stations west of Ballston will be closed from Memorial Day weekend through the fall, and several new shuttle bus lines will replace the rail service.

A number of station closures are already in place as a result of the pandemic and low ridership, including the Clarendon, Virginia Square and East Falls Church stations. Though the normally-busy Ballston station is now the only open station in Arlington west of Courthouse, Metro says ridership is way down.

“As a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, ridership at stations west of Ballston totals about 1,200 customers per weekday — less than 5% of normal ridership,” the transit agency said.

More from a Metro press release, below.

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Morning Notes

Reminder: Metro Station Closures — The Clarendon, Virginia Square and East Falls Church Metro stations are closed starting today. The closures will impact several ART bus routes, as well. [Arlington County]

Kaine Lauds Passage of Coronavirus Relief Bill — In a statement late Wednesday night, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the Senate “will backstop the American economy by protecting workers and their families.” [Press Release]

County: Hold Off on Spring Cleaning — “Although it is tempting to use the increased time in our homes to start ‘spring cleaning,’ please delay these activities or hold on to these items during this challenging time. Refuse collection crews are dealing with an increased volume of waste and disposal requests, while incorporating new protocols to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.” [Arlington County]

First Coronavirus Case at Pentagon — “A Marine assigned to the service’s headquarters office at the Pentagon has tested positive for COVID-19… becoming the first service member assigned to the Defense Department’s home base to contract coronavirus. The Marine tested positive March 24, Capt. Joseph Butterfield told Military Times, after a period of isolation spurred by symptoms in his wife.” [Military Times]

HQ2 Construction Still on Track — “Construction of the first of Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 towers remains on schedule, but the planning process for the green space around them may slow as the spread of the novel coronavirus forces public meeting cancellations. Clark Construction, lead contractor on Amazon’s first 2.1 million-square-foot office building, said that work at Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City is advancing with added coronavirus safety measures.” [Washington Business Journal]

Governor Orders Elective Surgeries Delayed — “Governor Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA today directed all hospitals to stop performing elective surgeries or procedures to help conserve supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Ballston’s Punch Bowl Social in Trouble — “Cracker Barrel announced Wednesday that eatertainment brand Punch Bowl Social has closed all of its 19 locations and laid off most of its restaurant and corporate staff and that it would not prevent foreclosure on the brand.” [FSR Magazine, Marketwatch]

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A trio of Metro stations in Arlington will close starting on Thursday, as Metro experiences low ridership and dwindling cleaning supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Closing are the Clarendon, Virginia Square and East Falls Church stations, along the Orange and Silver lines. They’re among 17 stations Metro is closing.

More from WMATA:

Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced the strategic closing of 17 additional stations, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, in an effort to conserve critical resources and protect the health and safety of Metro employees and the public. This follows drastic measures already taken to reduce travel on Metro to essential trips only, leading to a Metrorail ridership decline of 90 percent.

These steps will help reduce the risk of exposure to employees and save critical cleaning supplies for the remaining stations. While Metro increased its on-hand warehouse inventory of essential supplies, such as hospital-grade disinfectant, wipes, hand sanitizer, and other items used by Metro’s frontline employees, suppliers are experiencing delivery delays. Metro is taking action to make its current 2-3 week warehouse supply stretch until massive orders placed in late January are received.

Each Metrorail station has multiple escalators, faregates and other high touch surfaces that are being cleaned daily, including some stations with multiple entrances. By reducing the number of entrances, Metro will be able to better protect its workforce and customers and prolong the inventory of these critical supplies needed to keep the system open.

Metro said the Virginia Square station is being closed due to its close proximity to the Ballston station, while the Clarendon and East Falls Church stations are closing due to low ridership — 299 and 239 trips on Monday, respectively.

The Arlington Cemetery Metro station was previously closed due to low ridership.

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(Updated at 8:45 p.m.) An arrest has been made after a deadly stabbing at the Pentagon Metro station Monday morning.

The incident happened shortly before 9 a.m. According to initial reports, a person was stabbed in the neck on one of the platforms. Police are now looking for the suspect.

The victim was pronounced dead at a local hospital, Metro Transit Police said later Monday morning. The station was closed for a police investigation, with trains bypassing the station, but reopened around 2:30 p.m.

This is the second reported homicide in Arlington so far this year.

A passerby described to ARLnow a gruesome scene.

“I walked when the police were running into the Metro,” said the witness. “I almost stepped in the blood and looked over to see the man lying motionless on the ground… [there was] blood everywhere on the ground.”

That was repeated by others on social media:

Monday night, Metro Transit Police reported that they had made an arrest in the case: a 27-year-old man who will now face second degree murder charges.

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Morning Notes

Warren Blasts Bloomberg at Arlington Event — “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Thursday that Michael R. Bloomberg should not be the Democratic presidential nominee because of newly surfaced comments he made 12 years ago in which he said the end of a discriminatory housing practice had helped contribute to the 2008 financial crisis.” [New York Times]

Warren Draws Big Crowd at Wakefield — Last night’s Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign event at the Wakefield High School gym drew national media, a crowd of thousands and lines that stretched around the block. The gym’s scoreboard was programmed to say “ELIZABETH WARREN” and “20:20.” Warren later addressed the overflow crowd outside the school.

Bike Rack at EFC Metro Has Cost Millions — “Metro has spent $3.8 million and taken five years to build two unfinished bike racks — at East Falls Church and Vienna Metro Stations. WMATA originally budgeted $600,000 for each rack, but the price tag has soared to $1.9 million each. The covered bike shelters will house 92 bikes, putting the price tag at more than $20,000 per bike… The projects were supposed to be completed in December of 2015 but remain unfinished in 2020.” [WJLA]

EPA May Move Out of Arlington — “The Trump administration is planning to move the Environmental Protection Agency from leased space at Potomac Yard to the federally owned William Jefferson Clinton complex in downtown D.C… The GSA plans to shift workers from One Potomac Yard in Arlington starting in March 2021, boosting occupancy in the Clinton building by about 1,200 employees.” [Washington Business Journal]

Megamansion Skews Arlington Real Estate Stats — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington was more than $2 million, though that figure was skewed by the nearly $45 million sale of an estate along the Potomac River, the priciest home sale ever in the D.C. area. [InsideNova]

Arlington Startup Sells to Texas Firm — “Mobile Posse announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Digital Turbine, a mobile delivery and app advertising company headquartered in Austin, TX. The acquisition by Digital Turbine builds on both firms’ strategies of creating frictionless mobile app and mobile content solutions for carriers and OEMs, thus creating effective advertising solutions for brands and app developers.” [Mobile Posse via Potomac Tech Wire]

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Morning Notes

EFC Metro Closing This Weekend — The Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church Metro stations will be closed this weekend, “due to preparation for the Summer Platform Improvement Project.” Per Metro: “Customers on Ballston-bound Orange Line trains who are continuing on to West Falls Church should exit the train at Virginia Square for a same platform transfer.” [WMATA]

Pentagon City Armed Robbery Spike — “So far in 2020, there have been five total armed robberies in Pentagon City. Last year, there were seven for the entire year.” In response to the recent string of parking garage carjackings, Pentagon City mall says “we have increased our security presence to ensure a safe and secure environment.” [WJLA]

Arlington’s Ultra-Low Unemployment Rate — “How low can it go? That may be the question for Arlington’s unemployment rate. The jobless figure squeezed down to 1.6 percent in December, ending the year at its lowest rate of 2019 and – for the umpteenth month and year in a row – lowest in the commonwealth.” [InsideNova]

NFL Star Returns to Arlington — “M. J. Stewart, @Buccaneers Cornerback and Arlington native stopped by his alma mater @APSVirginia!” [Twitter]

Arlington Dems Want Record Turnout — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee is aiming to increase the community’s  2020 voter-participation rate nearly 10 percent from 2016’s presidential race, building on past efforts and launching new initiatives to get there. ‘We’re pulling out all the stops,’ party chair Jill Caiazzo said on Feb. 5.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Pupatella Coming to D.C. — “The rumors are true: Pupatella will bring its wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas to Dupont Circle, occupying the prime indoor/outdoor space that housed Rosemary’s Thyme for nearly 18 years. Owner and Naples native Enzo Algarme says his team is angling for a spring opening.” [Washingtonian, PoPville]

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Trackbed lighting installation is prompting the closure of four Orange and Silver line stations in Arlington this weekend.

The Ballston, Virginia Square, Clarendon and Courthouse Metro stations will be closed Saturday and Sunday, WMATA says on its website.

Shuttle buses will run between East Falls Church and Rosslyn throughout the course of the weekend.

On either end of the Orange and Silver lines, trains will run every 12-15 minutes, as usual. At night, the last train on each of the Orange and Silver lines will run some 35-40 minutes earlier than usual, to accomodate shuttle schedules.

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The Arlington County Board has approved a nearly $5.5 million contract to revamp the area around the Ballston Metro station.

The project — a refinement of an earlier plan, which we last reported in 2014 — will build nine bus bays, covered bus shelters and new seating areas.

More from Arlington County:

The Board voted unanimously to approve a $5.45 million contract, including $909,080 (20 percent) contingency, with Ardent Company, LLC for major improvements to the bus stop and seating areas along North Fairfax Drive and North Stuart Street. The project will expand pedestrian circulation spaces, and add real-time information displays to nine bus stops in the area. Antiquated streetlights will be upgraded, landscaping added and the existing bus driveway on Fairfax Drive will be replaced with four new saw-tooth bus bays. The North Stuart Street sidewalk will be made more accessible to persons with disabilities.

The project, included in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan, will be funded with a combination of federal, state and local funds. It is expected to begin in early spring 2020 and last for 18 months.

“Upon completion, Arlington County will take ownership and maintenance responsibility of the new furniture, information signage, and bus shelters,” a county staff report notes.

“As Arlington grows, it is essential that the County continue to improve our transportation infrastructure,” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said in a statement.

A separate plan calls for the Ballston Metro canopy to be replaced with a public art installation, “which will consist of a dozens of LEDs that can be individually programmed to respond to motion sensors that detect riders coming in and out of the station.”

The county is also currently working to kickstart a project to build a second entrance to the Ballston Metro entrance.

Photo via Google Maps

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Metro is planning to close the East Falls Church Metro station in the summer of 2020 for a platform rebuilding project.

The station is one of three in Virginia — including Vienna and Dunn Loring — slated to close from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Work will also take place at West Falls Church but the station will remain open.

Trains will single-track past the East Falls Church station, which will be closed to passengers. There will be reduced Silver Line service from McLean to Wiehle-Reston East as a result of the single-tracking.

The project follows this past summer’s shutdown of the Blue and Yellow Line in Alexandria, also for platform reconstruction. Like this year, shuttle service will be provided.

The work will include demolition and rebuilding of aging station platforms as well as “major infrastructure work along the 7-mile rail segment.”

“As the station platforms are reconstructed, Metro will use the time to make improvements that enhance customer experience with a higher level of safety, accessibility and convenience,” Metro said in a press release. “Key customer experience improvements include new slip-resistant tiles, brighter energy-efficient LED lighting, larger digital display screens, new stainless-steel platform shelters with charging ports and new surveillance systems.”

Metro says the shutdown approach ensures safety and efficiency.

“By utilizing an extended shutdown during summer months, Metro can provide contractors with 24-hour access to the work sites,” the transit agency said. “This approach improves safety while significantly reducing project duration as workers do not have to repeatedly set-up and break down equipment.”

After this project, two additional Arlington stations will be slated for a future reconstruction project: Reagan National Airport and Arlington Cemetery.

Photo courtesy Elvert Barnes

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) An entrance to the Pentagon Metro station is expected to close soon, temporarily and during off-peak hours, to allow for water infrastructure work following flooding at the station.

A pipe burst on Nov. 27, filling part of the station with several inches of standing water. Metro says a new water supply pipe will need to be constructed, as repairs are not feasible for the original pipe, which runs under the Pentagon itself and dates back to the station’s original construction.

An exact date for the start of the temporary closure was not given. Shortly after a contract to construct the new water line is awarded, the north entrance to the Metro station is expected to close “outside of weekday rush hours,” Metro said.

More from a press release:

Metro customers entering or exiting Pentagon Station during off-peak travel times will need to use the “South Entrance” escalators or the elevators due entrance configuration changes associated with the construction of a new water supply line to serve the station’s facilities, including employee restrooms and maintenance sinks.

Dating to the station’s original construction, the original water supply pipe failed on November 27, sending water streaming into the station through air ducts and elevator shafts. The rush of water dislodged some ductwork, and caused a partial ceiling collapse in a service room. The station was closed for several hours to remove several inches water that had accumulated on the mezzanine level.

Because the original water line runs beneath the Pentagon — an inaccessible location — Metro engineers have recommended abandoning the original pipe and constructing a new water line on a new route around the building.

The Pentagon has been an active and supportive partner to expedite the construction process and necessary security clearances for workers. Metro has already engaged its contractor community and expects to award a contract as early as next week. Once a construction contract is awarded and a formal schedule is developed, Metro will update customers on the expected duration of the project.

CUSTOMER INFORMATION

Due to construction activity and security considerations associated with the portable restrooms, Metro is advising customers who use Pentagon Station to expect entrance configuration changes during off-peak travel times. The changes will continue until a new water line is constructed and water service is restored to the station, a process that likely will take several weeks.

Specifically, outside of weekday rush hours, the station’s “North Entrance” will be closed and all customers will need to use the South Entrance, which will remain open at all times.

During rush hours–Monday through Friday, 5:00-9:30 a.m. and 3:00-7:00 p.m.–the North and South entrances will both be open and available for customers. Elevator service to the station will be available at all times.

Rail service on the Blue and Yellow lines is not affected by this project.

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