Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

‘BLM’ on Fairlington Bridge Restored — Residents of the Fairlington area used ties to restore a Black Lives Matters message on the bridge over I-395 over the weekend. The letters “BLM” had previously been placed on the bridge’s fence but later removed by an unknown party. Also this weekend, below the BLM letters someone scrawled “Trump 2020,” but that was later covered and “Black Lives Matter” written over it in chalk. [Twitter]

ACPD Details De-Escalation Training — “In response to community questions, ACPD has created this fact sheet highlighting how we train officers to de-escalate incidents and safely resolve situations.” [Twitter]

Update to Jim Pebley Obit — Per an email from former county treasurer Frank O’Leary: “You will be pleased to hear that, due to the actions of former commanders of our County’s namesake ship, it appears that Commander Pebley’s ashes will be spread at sea by the USS ARLINGTON. This is a singular honor and reflects the high respect the Navy feels for Jim. Nothing less than he deserves. There is an old adage, ‘The Navy takes care of its own.’ Perhaps, the same can be said of Arlington.”

Candidates on the Arts — “Arlington County voters will go to the polls on July 7 to determine who will fill the County Board seat of the late Erik Gutshall. In order to help voters understand each candidate’s stand on the importance of arts and culture in the County, Embracing Arlington Arts sent out a questionnaire for the three candidates to complete covering several issues pertaining to the arts in Arlington.” [Press Release, Embracing Arlington Arts]

TTT Now Serving Unlimited Weekend Brunch — “There’s a new all-you-can eat brunch in town. TTT in Clarendon, which stands for Tacos, Tortas and Tequila, has joined its Street Guys Hospitality brethren, including beloved Ambar, in offering unlimited eats on weekend mornings.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Reminder: Metro Stations Back Open — “Metro plans to reopen the Clarendon and Virginia Square Metro stations in Arlington, starting Sunday.” [ARLnow]

Nearby: Fairfax Teachers Revolt — “A day after one of the nation’s largest school systems announced its proposal for fall learning, teachers within Fairfax County Public Schools rose in revolt and refused to teach in-person, as the plan demands, until officials revise their strategy.” [Washington Post]

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Metro plans to reopen the Clarendon and Virginia Square Metro stations in Arlington, starting Sunday.

The stations — along with 15 others throughout the Metrorail system — closed in late March as the pandemic caused ridership to plummet and Metro started rationing cleaning supplies. Most are set to reopen this weekend.

“Metro today announced that 15 rail stations that had been closed as part of the transit agency’s Covid-19 response will reopen on Sunday, June 28,” the transit agency said in a press release. “In addition, beginning Monday, June 28, buses will be added to the system’s 14 busiest bus lines to provide more capacity and more frequent service as the region reopens.”

“After Sunday, Arlington Cemetery will be the only Metrorail station without regular service, as Arlington National Cemetery is closed to the general public,” the press release notes.

Arlington’s East Falls Church Metro station, meanwhile, will remain closed to rail service and parking due to ongoing platform reconstruction work. Shuttle buses, however, will resume serving the East Falls Church, McLean and Greensboro stations on Sunday.

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Morning Notes

Rent Protest Today — Starting at the shopping center parking lot at 5001 Columbia Pike, a caravan of cars adorned with signs will travel to local apartment complexes to support “rent cancellation during this pandemic plus two months following the ability for community members to work and pay rent,” among other aims. The protest is being organized by La ColectiVA and other groups. [Facebook]

Animal Control Rescues Turtle from I-395 — “A few days ago, we got a call about a turtle very close to traffic on I-395. When Sgt Ballena arrived, he found a young snapping turtle who’s beak was fractured and bleeding. He took the turtle to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, who will care for him until he can be released.” [Twitter]

Arlington Officers Injured During D.C. Protests — Despite an earlier comment by the police chief that no officers were injured, “a spokesperson for Arlington County Police told us, ‘one Arlington officer suffered a concussion and several others suffered bruises and abrasions.'” [WUSA 9]

Home Sales Downs, Prices Up — “May is usually one of the best months for housing sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of listings sidelined many potential buyers. The D.C. area had its slowest May for sales in a decade. But more sellers stepped up from April and prices continue to rise year-over-year… The median price of what sold in Arlington County was $622,500, up 1.2% from last May.” [WTOP]

Could HQ2 Be Downsized? — Amazon prizes in-person interactions among employees, but there are still questions as to whether the company will proceed with the second phase of its 4+ million square foot permanent second headquarters in Pentagon City. [Washington Business Journal]

Orange Line Platform Work Moving Along — “Two weeks into the summer shutdown, construction activity is well underway at Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations. So far, construction crews have focused on demolition work, including the removal of all tiles from the platforms, mezzanines and pedestrian bridges.” [WMATA]

Two Recent Drownings Near Chain Bridge — While D.C. Fire and EMS warns of dangerous waters near the Chain Bridge, the department said another grim discovery was made Thursday. “There have been 2 drownings in the past 3 weeks near Chain Bridge and a body was recovered today,” DCFEMS said. [Twitter]

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(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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Morning Notes

County Scaling Down Capital Improvement Plan — “As the County continues to experience the economic impacts of COVID-19, County Manager Mark Schwartz intends to present the Arlington County Board with a short-term proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) rather than the traditional 10-year plan.” [Arlington County]

Metro May Require Masks — “Metro riders may not see service fully restored until spring 2021, but the WMATA is now making plans to gradually get trains and buses running more frequently. News4’s Adam Tuss has learned that officials are considering requiring all riders to wear face masks on buses and trains and applying social distancing measures.” [NBC 4]

Real Estate Market Falters — “Home sales across the region took a tumble in April as the first impacts of COVID-19 were felt… The District of Columbia (down 31 percent) and Arlington (down 25 percent) were hardest hit, but all jurisdictions except the small city of Fairfax posted double-digit declines in closed sales.” [InsideNova]

APS Asks for Public Feedback on Data — “Beginning May 12, APS is inviting community members to review the data that will be used in the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Process. This review of data by Planning Unit — the geographic building blocks APS uses to establish school attendance zones — will help ensure that the final data reflects what you know about your neighborhood.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Swim Season Cancelled — “With the logistics to pull off the 2020 Northern Virginia Swimming League season proving too numerous and complicated in a COVID-19 world, officials have pulled the plug on summer competition.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy of Peter Golkin

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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.

Read More

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Police are investigating a death on the Metro tracks in Arlington over the weekend.

Arlington County firefighters were dispatched to a Metro tunnel near the Pentagon City station shortly after 8:30 a.m. Sunday, according to ACFD spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli, after a track inspector found a person on the trackbed.

Medics pronounced the individual dead on the scene and the investigation was turned over to Metro Transit Police, Tirelli said. A Metro spokesman did not respond to a request to comment from ARLnow.

Blue and Yellow line service was suspended between National Airport and the Foggy Bottom and L’Enfant Plaza stations, respectively, until shortly after noon Sunday. At the time Metro’s Twitter account described the incident as a “police investigation” and “an unauthorized person on the tracks.”

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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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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Morning Notes

Don’t Ride Metro Unless You Must, Says Metro — “Effective… Wednesday, March 18 — and continuing until further notice — Metro service will operate as follows: Rail system hours and service levels are further reduced to support essential travel only. DO NOT TRAVEL UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Follow guidance from your state and local authorities. New hours: Weekdays 5AM-11PM, Sat/Sun 8AM-11PM. Trains will run every 15 minutes on each line at all times.” [WMATA, Twitter]

Utility Disconnections, Evictions Suspended — Arlington County has suspended water disconnections, Dominion has suspended power disconnections, and courts in Virginia has suspended evictions, giving those who are unable to pay their bills during the coronavirus outbreak a chance to stay in their homes. [Twitter, Dominion, Press Release, Twitter]

Police Can Now Enforce State Crowd Ban — “I just issued an emergency order with @VDHCommissioner to enforce Virginia’s statewide ban of more than 10 patrons in restaurants, theaters, and fitness centers. Please use common sense. If you were considering ignoring this limit — don’t.” [Twitter, Gov. Ralph Northam]

Compass Coffee Lays Off Most Employees — “”Compass Coffee, a DC based company just laid off 180 of their 200 employees abruptly.” [PoPville]

Vintage Restaurant Group Shutters Locations — The operator of iconic local restaurants Ragtime, Rhodeside Grill and William Jeffrey’s Tavern is closing its locations until further notice. [Twitter]

Four Courts Donates Extra Food to AFAC — “We just dropped off fresh produce @AFACfeeds… their need is still great.” [Twitter]

Marymount Extends Online-Only Classes — “In order to continue ensuring the health and safety of the campus community, Marymount University will extend its online-only class period to Tuesday, April 14 (previously March 30), as the greater Washington region sees increased cases of COVID-19.” [Press Release]

Macy’s Closes Stores Nationwide — “Macy’s is closing all of its stores nationwide, effective at the end of business Tuesday through March 31, to try to help curb the spread of COVID-19.” [CNBC]

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Morning Notes

List of County Gov’t Changes — “With cases in the region, including Arlington, we are taking critical steps to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), as the health and safety of our employees and our community is our top priority. While we will be making changes to some programs and services, we will continue to operate essential government services for our residents and businesses.” [Arlington County]

Visits Cancelled at County Jail — “All Professional Visits will be non-contact for a minimum of 30 days. All Personal Visits will be cancelled for a minimum of 30 days. All programs will be cancelled for a minimum of 30 days.” [Arlington County]

Jury Trials Postponed — “As of March 15, the Circuit Court has postponed all jury trials & released witnesses from subpoenas through March 31. Other hearings & sentencing dockets are also postponed. See attached. Arraignments & bond motions will still be heard.” [Twitter]

Metro Reduces Service — “As of 2 p.m., Friday, March 13, Metro has further escalated its response to Phase 3 of its Pandemic Flu Plan. Phase 3 is the highest level of response and will include all subsequent mitigation steps required during the public health emergency… Monday-Friday: Trains will operate every 12 minutes on each line throughout the day. The rail system will maintain normal hours, opening at 5 a.m.” [WMATA]

Visitor Restrictions at Va. Hospital Center — “Effective March 12, we have implemented new visitation restrictions to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19.” [Instagram]

Restaurant Delivering Free Meals — “Between the empty grocery store shelves, scary headlines, and mass closures, it’s hard not to feel like the world is ending. Which is why Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher wanted to do something to make people’s lives a little easier. So yesterday, he posted a message on Twitter: If anyone over the age of 70 needed a meal, his restaurant would make sure they got one.” [Washingtonian]

Few Crowds at Pentagon City Mall — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall was “almost dead” at noon on Saturday as most shoppers sayed away. Meanwhile, a reader took a video of people in full body suits in the Victoria’s Secret store; it’s unclear whether they were cleaning the store or otherwise. [Twitter, Twitter]

Crash on N. Glebe Road Saturday — A crash at N. Glebe Road and Pershing Drive sent a car careening into a lamp post, over a sidewalk and smashing into the parking lot of the Buckingham Center strip mall on Saturday. [Twitter]

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Arlington County is gearing up for the construction of new bus bays, bus shelters and seating areas close to the Ballston Metro station.

As construction starts on the improvements to the transit hub near the Ballston Metro station, Arlington County cautions that drivers should expect lane closures on streets near the Ballston Metro station over the next year and a half of construction.

The project website has an unflattering description of the current transit hub outside the Ballston Metro station, calling the bus shelters aging and crowded with congested bus bays and sidewalks. The area also suffers from no kiss-and-ride drop off for the Metro station, no dedicated shuttle bus area, and no wayfinding signage.

The plan is to replace the current infrastructure with new bus bays and bus shelters with modern furnishings, expanded seating, and real-time bus information. Improvements will also include:

  • Additional bike parking
  • Expanded public space on Fairfax Drive
  • Dedicated Kiss-and-Ride curbspace
  • Dedicated shuttle bus curbspace and bus shelter
  • Improved aesthetics
  • Improved wayfinding signage

The work is currently expected to start mid-to-late April, according to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet.

“We’re working to finalize permits now with a construction start this spring,” Balliet. “Work is planned to start along Fairfax Drive first.”

Construction is scheduled to be broken up into the following phases:

  • Phase 1 – Bus bays along Fairfax Drive
  • Phase 2 – Bus bays along North Stuart Street
  • Phase 3 – Plaza on North Stuart Street
  • Phase 4 – Plaza on Fairfax Drive

During the construction of the new bus bays, the project website said buses will be temporarily routed to the west side of N. Stuart Street, which will have temporary bus shelters for riders.

Once the work starts, the construction is expected to last 18 months with teams working from 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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