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
Sunday is the 33rd annual Army Ten-Miler race, part of which takes place in Arlington.
The race begins at 7:50 a.m. on Route 110, and the course takes runners into the District before returning to Arlington in the I-395 HOV lanes. The race ends in the Pentagon north parking lot.
The following road closures will be in effect in Arlington:
- Route 110 between Rosslyn and Crystal City will be closed in both directions at 5:00 a.m. (Use the George Washington Memorial Parkway as an alternative)
- I-395 HOV northbound from Crystal City to the 14th Street Bridge will be closed at 6:00 a.m.
- Eads Street from Army Navy Drive into the Pentagon/northbound I-395 HOV lanes will be closed at 5:00 a.m.
- I-395 southbound HOV exit to S. Eads Street / Pentagon south parking lot will be closed at 5:00 a.m.
- Route 27 in both directions from George Washington Memorial Parkway to I-395 will be closed at 7:00 a.m.
- Army Navy Drive from S. Eads Street to S. 12th Street at 8:00 a.m.
- 12th Street from S. Eads Street to Long Bridge Drive at 8:00 a.m.
- Long Bridge Drive will be closed from S. 12th Street to Boundary Channel Drive at 8:00 a.m.
All roads should reopen by 2 p.m.
The Pentagon north parking lot will be restricted to “Authorized Vehicles Only” from 4:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Pentagon employees and visitors to the Pentagon Memorial can park in the south parking lot, which is accessible by Columbia Pike and S. Fern Street.
Runners and spectators are encouraged to use Metro, which will open two hours early, at 6 a.m., for the event. Metro offers the following tips for traveling to and from the race on Sunday:
- While the closest Metrorail station to the start of the race is Pentagon Station on the Blue and Yellow lines, to avoid crowds, riders are encouraged to consider using Pentagon City instead.
- Pentagon Station will be available for “exit only” from 6 a.m. until 8 a.m.
- In the event of crowded conditions at Pentagon Station, trains may temporarily bypass the station. (In the event of crowding, some customers may be directed to use Pentagon City instead.)
- Please take note of service changes on the Red Line.
- Additional Blue Line trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Stadium-Armory from 6 a.m. until 8:40 a.m., and from 11:15 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.
- Metro recommends purchasing a SmarTrip card in advance loaded with enough value for the entire day to avoid long lines and speed your trip. SmarTrip cards can be purchased at fare vending machines located at station entrances.
All Metrobus service that usually runs to and from the Pentagon will be diverted to Pentagon City until about 2 p.m.
County Board Stalls on VRE Decision — The Arlington County Board, at a Tuesday meeting that stretched into early Wednesday morning, declined to endorse one of the options for a proposed new Virginia Railway Express station in Crystal City. VRE officials, county staff, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and Arlington’s Transportation Commission backed Option 2, which places the station closer to the Crystal City Metro station and transit center. Some local condominium residents and the Planning Commission, citing concerns about noise, wanted Option 3 — which places the station behind an office building — to be considered as well. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Michelle Obama Stops By Arlington for Salon Opening — Former first lady Michelle Obama and her Secret Service entourage were among “a crowd of about 40 VIPs” who came to Arlington Tuesday night for the opening of a new salon. The business, Aesthetics Salon, is owned by stylist Yene Damtew, who was part of Obama’s “glam squad” while she was in the White House. Aesthetics Salon is located at 2412 26th Road S. in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood just south of I-395. [Washington Post]
Clarendon Day Closures — Expect lots of road closures in central Clarendon on Saturday for the annual Clarendon Day festival, which is taking place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. On Sunday morning Wilson Blvd will be closed from Clarendon to Rosslyn for the Clarendon Day 5K, 10K and Kids Dash races. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
More on Proposed Columbia Pike Bus Revamp — “Recently Metro unveiled the latest proposed changes to the Metrobus network which includes a major restructuring to the 16 series bus lines on Columbia Pike in Arlington. The long-awaited restructuring is aimed at simplifying and improving bus service in the corridor.” [Greater Greater Washington]
County Seeking Pike Bus Feedback — While WMATA continues to collect feedback on the proposed Columbia Pike bus changes via an online survey, a public meeting is scheduled tonight (Thursday) to discuss the changes in person with residents. The meeting is taking place at the Arlington Mill Community Center from 6-8 p.m. [Arlington County]
Local Nonprofit Lender Steps Up Loan Volume — “Arlington-based Capital Impact Partners said Wednesday it provided $75 million in private financing in the second quarter of 2017, the largest quarterly loan volume in its history. The nonprofit community development financial institution backs projects that support increased access to health care, education, affordable housing and healthy food in the United States.” [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
Metro is seeking feedback on proposed changes to numerous bus lines, including the plans for new Columbia Pike service as well as other services that run through Arlington County.
Under a series of proposed changes put forward for Metrobus in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, Metro has put forward a plan to “restructure” service on Columbia Pike, in keeping with Arlington’s transit plan for the Pike.
A so-called “Premium Transit Network” is planned for the Pike and is set to open next summer instead of the cancelled streetcar. It will offer limited-stop service and “new or enhanced connections between Crystal City, Pentagon City and Skyline City.”
The buses are set to have a unique look, have additional service in Arlington to keep up with demand and consolidate all current Metrobus routes — the 16A, 16B, 16G, 16H, 16J, 16K and 16P — under the new network.
Other proposed changes to bus lines that run through Arlington are:
- 4A, 4B (Pershing Drive to Arlington Blvd)
Provide additional 4B trips in response to ridership, with the 4A operating only during weekday rush hours, with weekday midday and evening service eliminated. The county has proposed the 4A become a local ART bus route in FY 2020.
- 7A, 7F (Lincolnia to North Fairlington)
Modify service to operate via Pentagon City between the Pentagon and Shirlington to serve Pentagon City. New timetables will reflect an increase in the time between buses of approximately five minutes to accommodate additional travel time between the Pentagon and Pentagon City.
- 10E (Hunting Point to the Pentagon)
Eliminate 10E service to Rosslyn, and have the route operate between Pentagon and Hunting Point in Alexandria only.
- 22A, 22B (Barcroft to South Fairlington)
Modify Route 22A to operate via Pentagon City between the Pentagon and Shirlington to serve Pentagon City. New timetables would reflect an increase in the time between buses of approximately five minutes to accommodate additional travel time between the Pentagon and Pentagon City. Route 22B would be eliminated, with alternate service on Metrobus 22A and 22C.
Service would be every eight minutes during rush hour between Pentagon City and the Braddock Road Metro station on all trips to better match Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines.
Per a Metro press release, there are several ways community members can have their say:
- Complete an online survey.
- Fill out a paper survey and drop it in collection boxes located near the fare gates at Metrorail stations closest to the impacted routes. There is no need to take multiple surveys.
- Provide feedback to outreach staff September 6 – September 21, at designated times and locations on-board buses or at Metrorail stations.
- Attend an open house Tuesday, September 26, 2017, beginning at 5:30 p.m. followed by a public hearing from 6 – 7 p.m. Speaker registration is onsite only. Venue: Metro Headquarters Building (600 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001)
The deadline for providing feedback is 9 a.m. on Monday, October 2.
(Updated 2 p.m.) Some changes are coming to several Metrobus routes through Arlington County next year, as the county prepares for the Columbia Pike “Premium Transit Network.”
At a work session with the Arlington County Board on Thursday, county staff put forward a plan that would end seven lines that run through Arlington in FY 2019, which begins on July 1, 2018, and save the county $5.8 million:
- The 4A between Seven Corners and Rosslyn
- The 16B, E and P along Columbia Pike
- The 16G, H, K along Columbia Pike
A spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the changes along the Pike would help make way for the so-called “Premium Transit Network,” which is projected to cost $6.9 million and launch next summer after delays. The various routes would be consolidated under that network, which the spokesman said would “result in more bus service in the county, not less.”
The new bus system was put together after the Columbia Pike Streetcar project was cancelled in 2014, with Board members at the time promising a system that would be just as good, if not better.
To try and lessen the impact of the service cuts, staff proposed improving the frequency and hours of the 4B that largely overlaps the 4A, and similar efforts for the 16A on Columbia Pike. Those improvements would cost just under $850,000.
The 4B would then be discontinued as a Metrobus route in FY 2020, saving the county $1.7 million, and made an ART route.
The 16X service from Columbia Pike to Federal Triangle in D.C. via the Pentagon would have its hours improved, at a cost of $3.2 million to county coffers. The 15K and 15L routes between the East Falls Church and Rosslyn Metro stations would also be realigned.
All told, the various service reductions and increases will cost the county just over $2.6 million more in its Metrobus subsidy, bringing that figure to $40.5 million in FY 2019.
The possibility also exists that the 22A, B and C routes through Barcroft and South Fairlington could be converted into locally-run ART routes. That would save $2.4 million in the county’s Metrobus subsidy, but would require funds to be made available through ART instead.
Cuts had been planned for FY 2018 under the county’s Transit Development Plan approved last year, but were pushed off to FY 2019. The county did not cut any Metrobus routes for FY 2018, and improved the frequency of the 2A route between the Ballston and Dunn Loring Metro stations.
That came in part due to funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s “Transform 66” project to widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.
Metro staff will analyze the actual costs and savings from the various changes, and bring forward a proposal to the agency’s board of directors. The board would then take public comment on any proposed changes region-wide before making a decision next year.
Image via county staff presentation
County residents will see their electricity and gas bills rise slightly as of July, while next month fares will increase on both Arlington Transit and Specialized Transportation for Arlington Residents.
And the County Board denied a request that the Education Center and adjacent planetarium be designated as a historic district, so that Arlington Public Schools can continue to keep the site as a contender for a fourth high school.
ART and STAR Fares To Go Up
Fares on ART and STAR will go up on June 25 to keep up with similar hikes for Metrobus and MetroAccess.
The ART adult bus fare will rise from $1.75 to $2 and the ART discount fare for seniors, students and people with disabilities goes from 85 cents to $1.
Local STAR trips will increase in cost from $3.50 to $4, while trips inside the Capital Beltway and trips beyond increase 50 cents each, from $5 to $5.50 and from $9 to $9.50, respectively.
ART’s iRide program offering discounts for teens would be extended to elementary school students, while the program allowing free use of ART by personal care attendants accompanying MetroAccess-certified riders would also be extended.
Board members said they have heard several complaints about the cleanliness and reliability of buses in the county, and urged transportation staff to keep on top of any problems. Board member Christian Dorsey, who also represents Arlington on Metro’s Board of Directors, drew a comparison between STAR and MetroAccess.
“I do think it’s essential with STAR that Arlington not accept the mediocrity that Metro has dealt with with MetroAccess,” he said. “It was once considered a shining star in the paratransit world, it needs to continue to do so.”
Education Center Historic District Denied
The Board voted to deny designating the Education Center and the adjacent David M. Brown Planetarium at 1426 N. Quincy Street as a historic district, in agreement with staff’s recommendation.
County Board member John Vihstadt said that while he appreciates the 1960s-era architecture, Arlington Public Schools should not have its options cut down when it faces capacity issues.
The board asked staff to work with their APS counterparts to look at possible adaptive reuses of buildings built in the “New Formalist” style, which the center is an example of.
“The school system, I believe, needs certainty and clarity now,” Vihstadt said. “If we defer, it leaves a cloud over the building, it leaves doubt, it leaves conjecture. If we recommend designation, it potentially hamstrings APS as to cost, as to timeframe, as to process.”
Gas and Electricity Bills Set For Slight Hike
Residents will see a slight uptick in their gas and electricity bills, a plan county staff said will generate more than $650,000.
The electricity tax rate will increase to $0.005115 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from $0.00341 per kWh, with the first 400 kWh per month excluded from taxation. The natural gas tax rate will increase to $0.045 per 100 cubic feet (CCF) from $0.030 per CCF, with the first 20 CCF per month excluded from taxation. The hike will be most keenly felt by those residents who use a lot gas and electricity.
A staff report on the plan notes that Arlington’s would still be among the lowest utility tax rates in Northern Virginia.
From the extra revenue, factored into the FY 2018 budget approved in April by the County Board, the cost of a full-time staff member will shift from the county’s General Fund to the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy, consultant costs are covered and more than $400,000 will go towards energy efficiency in county and APS buildings.
County Board chair Jay Fisette said the extra tax money is “all to do good things to move the community energy plan forward and meet the goals of that master plan.”
Fares for Arlington Transit and Specialized Transportation for Arlington Residents could increase next month, subject to County Board approval.
The plan would raise the ART adult bus fare from $1.75 to $2 and the ART discount fare for seniors, students and people with disabilities from 85 cents to $1.
Local STAR trips would increase in cost from $3.50 to $4, while trips inside the Capital Beltway and trips beyond would increase 50 cents each, from $5 to $5.50 and from $9 to $9.50, respectively.
All fare increases would go into effect on June 25.
Under the proposal, ART’s iRide program offering discounts for teens would be extended to elementary school students, while the program allowing free use of ART by personal care attendants accompanying MetroAccess-certified riders would also be extended. ART adult fare tokens would also be withdrawn from circulation, and could then be exchanged for Metrobus tokens or added to a SmarTrip card.
The fare rise would be in line with Metro’s decision to hike its Metrobus fares at the same level, and would offset increased operating costs of 6 percent for ART and 5 percent for STAR.
Staff recommended the County Board adopt the proposed change at its recessed meeting on Tuesday.
Police temporarily closed roads near the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City this afternoon after a Metrobus collided with a tour bus on S. Hayes Street.
The Metrobus’ front windshield was smashed by the collision just after 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of S. Hayes Street and 15th Street S., while the tour bus had some damage near its back right tire.
One driver complained of neck pain after the crash, according to scanner traffic. There were no other injuries, and both buses were empty.
Police directed traffic around the incident but did not close any additional lanes, with the Metrobus blocking 15th Street S. for a time until it moved out of the roadway under its own steam. Some debris was left near the scene after the accident, but was cleared by officers.
Officers reopened 15th Street S. by 1:30 p.m., with the Metrobus moved out of the intersection into the right-hand southbound lane of S. Hayes Street. Traffic could get by in the other lanes.
World of Beer Gets Rebranded — The Ballston location of World of Beer is no longer part of the chain and has instead been rebranded as “Crafthouse.” The restaurant — along with former WoB locations in Fairfax and Reston — is now offering a full menu of American craft fare and a drink menu that includes local beers, bourbons, whiskey, wine and other spirits. [Reston Now]
County’s Stance on Rising Homeless Population — Via an Arlington County press release: “We believe that the increase in Arlington’s numbers this year do not reflect the long-term trend in our County,” said Arlington County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol. “Since 2008, when we launched the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, Arlington has cut its number of homeless persons by more than half. We’ve made great strides in housing veterans and chronically homeless individuals and families.” [Arlington County]
Metro Changes Next Month — Starting June 25, Metrorail’s operating hours are being shortened while rail and bus fares are increasing, rush hour rail frequency is decreasing and some bus routes are being discontinued. [WMATA]
Freddie’s Named Top Brunch Spot — Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, a gay bar in Crystal City that hosts a Broadway brunch on Saturdays and a Champagne brunch on Sundays, has been named one of the 100 best brunch spots in America by OpenTable. [OpenTable]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Pupatella Expanding to Richmond — Beloved Bluemont pizzeria Pupatella is expanding via franchising. One of the first places getting new Pupatellas: Richmond, where a local franchisee is opening four new locations. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
McAuliffe to Talk Self-Driving Cars in Arlington — On Thursday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be in Arlington to “give remarks at [a] workshop hosted by the Secretary of Transportation on autonomous vehicles,” according to the governor’s public schedule. The workshop is taking place at 1776 in Crystal City (2231 Crystal Drive).
People Are Increasingly Leaving the D.C. Region — All of the D.C. region’s population growth in the latest U.S. Census estimates were from births and international immigration. The region’s domestic migration is negative and increasingly so, with more people moving from D.C. than to D.C. Writes the WBJ: “The challenge for Greater Washington is there are other metro areas that offer jobs and high quality of life, and are also far less expensive — driving people away for what they see as greener pastures.” [Washington Business Journal]
Does Our Site Seem Faster? — We were working Saturday, moving ARLnow and our sister site Reston Now to a powerful cloud-based server from a traditional dedicated server. Things should be faster today, but if you notice any glitches please let us know. [Twitter]
Photo courtesy Erinn Shirley
A refreeze overnight will turn what melted following this morning’s snow and sleet storm into a hazard on roads and sidewalks.
Despite efforts to plow and salt the streets, VDOT is warning that barely-visible black ice could cause accidents during the Wednesday morning commute.
Metro, meanwhile, says Metrobuses will start the day on a “moderate” snow service plan due to anticipated slippery conditions. Service will be upgraded “as conditions permit.”
More from VDOT:
Road conditions across northern Virginia are improving as Virginia Department of Transportation crews plowed and treated roads around the clock. This evening though, snow and slush that melted through the day will refreeze.
Overnight, crews will focus on retreating icy areas with salt and sand, clearing shoulders, ramps and drainage areas, and continue to make passes through neighborhood streets as needed.
Drivers should limit any unnecessary travel tonight to avoid black ice, and give crews room to make their rounds. Make plans now for a cautious Wednesday commute.
If you must drive this evening and tomorrow morning:
- Stay focused and drive defensively.
- Reduce speeds significantly. Give yourself more than enough time to get to where you’re going.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding and hydroplaning.
Local roads remain partially snow and slush covered, though traffic is very light. ART buses are operating on a “severe” service schedule, while Metrobuses are operating on a “moderate” snow plan. The Metrorail system is open and operating on a Saturday schedule.
APS announced just after 4 a.m. that it would be closed today.
All APS schools and offices will be closed today. Essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time. All custodians report at 6 a.m. regardless of your regular shift. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics. For information about Arlington County programs and operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.
Arlington County announced that it was closed for the day just after 5 a.m.
Arlington County government offices, programs, courts, & facilities are closed today, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. If possible, stay off the roads while snow and ice removal efforts continue throughout the day.
VDOT is asking drivers to stay off the roads if at all possible.
Crews and almost 4,500 pieces of equipment worked through the night and continue to treat roads with salt and sand, and to plow in areas where there is enough accumulation.
Interstates and primary roads have stretches of slush and ice as snow and sleet continue to accumulate between plow passes.
Secondary roads and neighborhood streets remain mostly snow-covered.
HOV restrictions are lifted this morning on I-66, I-395 and the Dulles Toll Road.
Drivers are advised to continue to stay off the roads. If you absolutely must go out this morning, reduce speeds, use extreme caution and be alert to icy and inclement conditions. Road temperatures are expected to remain below freezing all day with potential for continued refreeze.
Virginia State Police say they’re dealing with a number of crashes in Northern Virginia.
Virginia State Police are currently on the scene of 10 traffic crashes throughout Northern Virginia. Only two involve injuries – minor – and the remainder of them involve damage to vehicles. From midnight Tuesday through 7 a.m., Virginia State Police have responded to 15 traffic crashes – all of which involved damage to vehicles only and no injuries.
Motorists are reminded to give extra time for travel, slow their speed for conditions, not to tailgate – to provide additional stopping distance in slick conditions, and to always buckle up.
The federal government, meanwhile, will be opening today on a three-hour delay. From the Office of Personnel Management:
Federal agencies in the Washington, DC area are OPEN under 3 hours DELAYED ARRIVAL and employees have the OPTION FOR UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK. Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than 3 hours later than they would be expected to arrive.
The incident happened around 10 a.m. on S. Eads Street at 22nd Street S.
“The lid of a trash dumpster that was being pushed down the street was blown open by the wind striking the windshield of a Metrobus,” a Metro spokesman told ARLnow.com. “The bus operator was treated on site for minor injuries due to broken glass.”
The bus was not in service at the time and no other passengers were reported to be on the bus.
Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld last year announced a $3.1 billion “reality check” budget that includes fare hikes, longer wait times and cuts to bus routes throughout the D.C. area.
Among other changes in the 2018 fiscal year budget, riders would have to pay an additional 10 to 25 cents more for train and bus trips.
Metro would also consider eliminating the following routes that run through Arlington:
- 5A D.C.-Dulles
- 13Y Arlington-Union Station
- 15K, L Chain Bridge Road
- 17 A, B, F, M Kings Park
- 18 P, R, S Burke Centre
- 28X Leesburg Pike
The proposal would also modify the 16H Columbia Heights West-Pentagon City route to “provide two-way service 7 days a week between 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. with service every 10 minutes during weekday rush hours and service every 20 minutes at other times,” Metro said. The 16G and 16K would be eliminated.
Additionally, the proposed budget could shorten the 16X Columbia Pike-Federal Triangle route by eliminating service between between the Pentagon Transit Center and the Federal Triangle Metro Station.
Metro riders gathered at the transit agency’s headquarters last night to weigh in on the proposed cuts. Some daily commuters pleaded with Metro officials not to cut their stops, according to WAMU.
Still, the agency must plug a budget gap of about $290 million, a number it said was “larger than recent years due to growing expenses to operate and maintain the system, and declining ridership.”
Riders who want to weigh in on the proposed changes have until 9:00 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 6 to do so. Those interested can also fill out a survey to tell the agency how they feel about the budget.
It has been four years since Arlington County and WMATA opened the infamous $1 million bus stop at the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive. So where are the rest of the upgraded transit stations planned for the Pike?
They’re coming, starting next year, the county says.
“The County Board approved $13.3 million for the planned 23 stations in Arlington’s FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan,” says a county webpage for the project. “Construction of the transit stations is expected to begin in 2018 and proceed in phases through 2021.”
“That schedule still holds,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet confirmed to ARLnow.com on Monday. “Design of site-specific improvements for the first six stations is underway. Design and construction for the remaining stations will be coordinated with the County’s plans for Columbia Pike street improvements and utility undergrounding.”
The per-station cost is still pegged around $575,000, well under the cost of the original prototype station. Originally, the stations were planned to serve the Columbia Pike streetcar, but with that project’s cancellation the stations will now serve WMATA and ART buses.
County staff is expected to present proposed revisions to its Transit Development Plan for the Pike in the second quarter of this year, with possible improvements to bus service along the corridor.