The line is scheduled to shut down between the Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m Sunday for more than 100 people to participate in a “full-scale response drill” for a “simulated” train derailment, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Travelers should use the Blue Line to enter D.C. instead.
“The exercise, which will take place on the elevated track approaching the Pentagon station over the Potomac River, will allow emergency responders to test their capabilities on the aerial structure in coordination with water rescue teams,” WMATA said in a news release. “In addition, the drill will simulate real-world conditions to test coordination and communication between on-scene responders, Metrorail operations staff, Metro Transit Police and support personnel.”
Members of the Arlington County Fire Department, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Alexandria Fire Department, U.S. Park Police, U.S. Park Service, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire & Rescue Department and Prince George’s County Fire Department are expected to take part.
The drill is set come about a month after a “minor” train derailment at the East Falls Church Metro station.
Emergency Exercise at the Pentagon — The Arlington County Fire Department will be joining other agencies for an full-scale training exercise at the Pentagon today. The simulated helicopter crash and mass casualty response exercise will take place at the Pentagon heliport along Washington Blvd from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. [WTOP]
Police Warn of IRS Scam Calls — Scammers posing as local law enforcement officers or IRS agents have been phoning Arlington residents recently. “These individuals accuse the victims of owing money to the IRS which must be paid immediately using iTunes gift cards, or other means,” according to a press release. “In some cases, scammers have deliberately falsified the information transmitted to the victim’s Caller ID display to disguise their identity as the non-emergency police line.” [Arlington County]
New Ad Displays Coming to Metro Stations — The Rosslyn, Ballston, Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations will be getting new digital displays that will play video advertisements targeted at transit riders. [Borderstan]
Rental House Includes Tiki Bar — A listing for a rental home in the Ashton Heights neighborhood includes a “new tiki bar” in the backyard and off-street parking for four cars. The 4 BR / 3 BA home is listed for $4,500 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington, Zillow]
Actress to Campaign for Hillary In Arlington — Bellamy Young, who plays the First Lady on ABC’s “Scandal,” will stop by Hillary Clinton’s Arlington field office in Dominion Hills next Saturday morning, as part of a series of campaign events in Northern Virginia.
Metro Transit Police are opening an investigation into the cause of July’s train derailment at the East Falls Church Metro station.
About 75 passengers were on an Orange Line train on July 29 when it derailed around 6:30 a.m. The passengers were able to offload “without further incident,” Metro said the day of the derailment.
Though Metro’s safety department was investigating the cause of the incident, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld asked Metro Transit Police to open a parallel inquiry “following a briefing in which investigators advised him of concerns arising from employee interviews, inspection reports, rail defect tracking, and video recordings,” according to a press release.
“The administrative review uncovered information that warrants further investigation by Metro Transit Police,” Wiedefeld said in a statement. “While Safety Department investigations determine cause and accountability, it is even more important to understand if other issues must be addressed with the way track inspections and maintenance have been conducted.”
Wiedefeld added that the transit agency uncovered information that “raises potentially serious concerns” in the cause of the derailment.
More about the investigation from a Metro press release:
Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld announced today that the investigation into the East Falls Church derailment, which began as an administrative review by the Safety Department, has been expanded to include an investigation by Metro Transit Police.
Wiedefeld directed the Metro Transit Police Department to open a parallel investigation into the matter following a briefing in which investigators advised him of concerns arising from employee interviews, inspection reports, rail defect tracking, and video recordings.
“The administrative review uncovered information that warrants further investigation by Metro Transit Police,” Wiedefeld said. “While Safety Department investigations determine cause and accountability, it is even more important to understand if other issues must be addressed with the way track inspections and maintenance have been conducted.”
Metro’s General Counsel, Patricia Y. Lee, has engaged two former Assistant U.S. Attorneys as Special Investigators to support the internal administrative review. Adam Hoffinger, a former AUSA for the Southern District of New York, and Peter White, a former AUSA for the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, will work closely with Lee on this matter. Both have extensive prosecutorial experience with complex cases.
“The public has a right to know that the tracks on which their trains run are being properly inspected,” said Wiedefeld. “The information uncovered to date raises potentially serious concerns, and we will take all actions necessary to get answers and hold people accountable.”
Wiedefeld assured riders today that the SafeTrack program underway (in which Metro tracks are being inspected and repaired) has been and will continue to be subject to quality controls from multiple internal and external groups to ensure all track work meets Metro’s high standards. (At the time of the derailment, East Falls Church interlocking had not yet been addressed as part of SafeTrack.) Metro is engaging an outside engineering firm to conduct a comprehensive review of its track inspection program.
“While we continue the due diligence to identify the cause of any conditions that may have contributed to this incident, Metro is simultaneously repairing the system and providing better rules, training, quality control and line management,” said Wiedefeld.
Photo courtesy John Sonderman
The first incident happened in Arlington County on March 28, aboard a Blue Line train to Franconia. The suspect, William Madison, Jr., was subsequently arrested and charged with indecent exposure on July 29. Then, on August 15, Metro Transit Police say Madison again exposed himself to a woman, this time on an Orange Line train in Fairfax County.
Police believe Madison might have committed similar crimes that went unreported, and are asking any additional victims to come forward.
From a Metro press release:
For the second time in less than three weeks, Metro Transit Police (MTPD) have arrested a Virginia man on charges of indecent exposure. The suspect, William Madison, Jr., 47, of Alexandria, is now facing charges in Arlington and Fairfax counties.
Madison was first arrested by Transit Police on July 29 after being located by the MTPD warrant squad. The original offense occurred in Arlington County March 28, 2016, aboard a Franconia-bound Blue Line train. Madison is accused of exposing himself to an adult female passenger aboard the train. Following his arrest, Madison was released on his personal recognizance.
At approximately 8:30 p.m. Monday, August 15, Madison allegedly exposed himself to an adult female passenger aboard a Vienna-bound Orange Line train. MTPD detectives were able to identify Madison using CCTV cameras and subsequently obtained an arrest warrant. Madison was re-arrested yesterday at Huntington Station while attempting to enter the Metrorail system. He was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, where he was held on a $1,000 secured bond.
Based on these circumstances, Transit Police detectives believe there may be additional victims. Anyone with information for investigators is urged to call the MTPD Criminal Investigations Division at (301) 955-3000.
The trouble started tragically this morning just before 5 a.m., when motorcyclist crashed on the Roosevelt Bridge. The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at a local hospital and the bridge was closed to traffic for a crash investigation.
Route 110 and the GW Parkway have been backed up all morning as a result of the closure. Lanes have since reopened, but residual delays remain.
As of 8:30 a.m., there was also heavy traffic on I-395, Washington Blvd, and on Route 50 and I-66 from Glebe Road to D.C.
May be worst Monday a.m. commute of the summer on west side of DC region after crashes on Legion & Roosevelt bridges.
— Dr. Gridlock (@drgridlock) August 15, 2016
All lanes now reopened but traffic is still impacted throughout County. Allow for extra travel time this AM. https://t.co/PB0STkXvGi
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 15, 2016
— WTOP Traffic (@WTOPtraffic) August 15, 2016
Meanwhile, on Metro, as of 9 a.m. the Yellow Line was only running from Huntington to the Pentagon due to a switch problem causing heavy congestion on the Green Line. Yellow Line riders heading into D.C. are being forced to continue their commute either via the Blue Line or buses.
Yellow Line: Trains operating btwn Huntington & Pentagon due to Green Line congestion.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) August 15, 2016
Metrobuses in Arlington are also experiencing delays, due to the heavy traffic.
4B, 38B: Due to traffic congestion along Clarendon Blvd, buses to Rosslyn/Farragut Sq are experiencing up to 35-minute delays.
— Metrobus Info (@Metrobusinfo) August 15, 2016
Wahlburgers Coming to Ballston — Wahlburgers, the burger chain founded by the show biz Wahlbergs (Mark, Donnie, Paul), is coming to Ballston next year. The eatery will be located near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road. [Washington Post]
SER Expanding to Capitol Hill? — The team behind SER restaurant in Ballston — or, at least, part of the team — is opening a new restaurant on Capitol Hill in the former Sona Creamery and Wine Bar space. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Releases Cause of Derailment — What caused a Metro train to derail near the East Falls Church station on Friday? The transit agency says it was a deteriorated section of track in which the rails became too wide. [Washington Post]
Dark Star Park Day — Yesterday Arlington County held its annual observance of Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn. The public park, built in 1984, is designed to have its shadows line up once a year, on Aug. 1. [Storify]
County Touts Innovation Recognition — Three Arlington County programs have been recognized for innovation from the Virginia Association of Counties. [Arlington County]
Road Rage on a Bike Trail — Road rage isn’t something that only happens with motorists. Occasionally, it happens among cyclists as well, as this story from an incident on the Mt. Vernon Trail demonstrates. [Storify]
Update at 2:45 p.m. — Orange and Silver line service will remain suspended between Ballston and West Falls Church through at least Saturday, Metro said this afternoon.
(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Two people were evaluated for injuries after a “minor” train derailment at the East Falls Church Metro station.
Orange and Silver Line service remains shut down between West Falls Church and Ballston as a result of the derailment, and will remain shut down through Friday evening, according to Metro. Shuttle buses are running between the stations.
About 75 passengers were on the train when the derailment happened, around 6:30 a.m. Train cars remained upright and the passengers were able to offload “without further incident,” according to Metro.
The derailment happened as Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance work was being performed on one of the tracks between Ballston and East Falls Church.
Photo (top) courtesy John Sonderman
@ARLnowDOTcom What's going on at EFC Metro? Someone said it sounded like either a gunshot or explosion.
— Juliana (@LadyJazzSinger) July 29, 2016
#FollowUp Train derailment is at the platform & described as minor, passengers being held on the train until they can be safely offloaded.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 29, 2016
#FollowUp Approx. 75 people are on the train. The train is in the process of being unloaded now, with no passengers reporting injuries.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 29, 2016
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 29, 2016
EFC: All passengers offloaded w/o further incident. Two cars are derailed, remaining upright and in line. Use alternate travel modes #wmata
— Metro Transit Police (@MetroTransitPD) July 29, 2016
Orange Line: No train service btwn W Falls Church & Ballston due to a train derailment at E Falls Church. Bus shuttle established.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) July 29, 2016
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) July 29, 2016
I-66 still very slow both ways for several miles before East Falls Church Metro station where derailment occurred. Parallel routes OK.
— Dr. Gridlock (@drgridlock) July 29, 2016
Earlier Metro Closing Time? — Metro is considering closing at 10 p.m. on Sundays and midnight each other day of the week. The earlier closing times will help with track maintenance and safety, Metro says. But Arlington County Board member and Metro board member Christian Dorsey says there needs to be more public discussion of the change, saying that “We are a region that requires transit service as late as possible to keep up with commerce, to make sure that it’s not just a commuter system.” [Reston Now, WTOP]
Home Prices Up Five Percent — The median home sale price in Arlington is now $625,000, up 5 percent compared to one year ago, according to the real estate firm Long and Foster. [Patch]
Big Fire in D.C. — The smoke from a fire in D.C. yesterday afternoon was visible to much of Arlington. The fire damaged a small apartment building near Logan Circle and injured a dog. [Borderstan]
Arlington Firm Investigates DNC Hack — Arlington-based cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect says it has traced the hacker who claimed responsibility for stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee back to Russia. The firm says the hacker “is more likely a collection of people from the propaganda arm of the Russian government.” [Daily Beast]
Local DJ Profiled — DJ Neekola, one of the D.C. area’s most sought-after club and event DJs, is a Pentagon City resident who used to do IT work for the government. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Competing Convention Watch Parties — The Arlington GOP and Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans are hosting a Republican convention watch party tonight at Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill in Courthouse. The Arlington Young Democrats, meanwhile, are holding their own watch party for the last night of the GOP convention. That event is being held at Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon. [Facebook, Facebook]
Youth Hockey Team Profiled — As part of its “Harris’ Heroes” segment, TV station ABC 7 yesterday profiled the NOVA Cool Cats, a hockey team for youth with developmental disabilities. The team plays at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. [WJLA]
Road Rage Incident in Rosslyn — A man allegedly brandished a handgun and followed two women during a road rage incident on Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, after the female driver honked her horn while the man’s vehicle blocked her path. [Arlington County]
Lighting Task Force Needs More Time — A task force trying to determine whether to add lighting to the Williamsburg Middle School athletic fields says it will present its findings in January. The task force, chaired by former County Board primary challenger Erik Gutshall, was originally expected to wrap up its work in June. [InsideNova]
Bracing for the Next Two Metro Surges — There will be no Metrorail service at the National Airport station during the next two Metrorail maintenance surge projects, from July 5 to July 18. Blue and Yellow line riders can expect major service impacts and should consider alternative means of commuting, from biking to Uber to taking the bus. The new Metroway Bus Rapid Transit line from Alexandria to Crystal City will be free during the two surges. [Washington Post, NBC Washington, Twitter, WMATA]
Tributes to Cafe Asia — As ARLnow.com first reported, today is expected to be the last day in business for Cafe Asia in Rosslyn. The restaurant was a go-to lunch, after work and event spot for some of Rosslyn’s media and political types, who have been posting memories of Cafe Asia on Twitter and elsewhere. [Washington Business Journal, Twitter, Twitter]
Garvey Profiled in Weekly Standard — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who defeated challenger Erik Gutshall in the Democratic primary two weeks ago, has been profiled by the conservative political magazine the Weekly Standard. “From her fight for fiscal conservatism over a costly streetcar plan to her endorsement of Republican-turned-independent John Vihstadt (who eventually became a fellow Board member), it is no wonder that some of her fellow liberals are worried about the county’s direction,” the magazine wrote. [Weekly Standard]
Photo by Jackie Friedman
Power Restored at Market Common — Power is back on at the Market Common Clarendon shopping center, following last Tuesday’s transformer explosion and fire. The electricity is being supplied by mobile generators over the next two weeks, before the shopping center can be reconnected to Dominion’s power grid. [Facebook]
Fire at River Place — A fire broke out in the kitchen of one of the units at the River Place residential complex in Rosslyn Saturday afternoon. The fire charred the walls of the kitchen. Smoke spread to several floors of the building. [Twitter]
Some Inconvenienced By Latest Metro Surge — The second phase of Metro’s maintenance surge is entering its second full week and riders have mostly adjusted to the latest round of station closures and service changes — but some are feeling the effects more than others. The current phase of “SafeTrack” work will run through July 3. [WJLA]
AFAC Seeks Fresh Food Donations — The Arlington Food Assistance Center is asking gardeners to donate fresh produce to help feed families in need in Arlington County. [InsideNova]
At the end of the day Monday, 96 percent of the planned work had been completed, with three days remaining in the schedule, Wiedefeld said. Continuous single-tracking on the Orange and Silver lines is still slated to wrap up tomorrow (Thursday), as originally planned.
“Given the importance of quickly getting into this intensive track rehab program, I am pleased with the work getting done in Surge #1, and want to thank the entire region for their support over the last twelve days,” said Wiedefeld. “While the immediate benefit for any surge is safety, as we conclude the surges, customers should see an improvement in track reliability and overall ride quality along this area of the Orange and Silver lines.”
The work done included rail tie replacement, insulator renewal, fastener renewal and leak repairs, as detailed in a report released by Metro.
Although early indications suggested that SafeTrack was causing delays for most commuters, the din of complaints on social media largely faded as the work continued. Riders who spoke to ARLnow.com outside the Ballston Metro station last Thursday (see video, below) said their commutes weren’t overly affected by the changes — fears of major overcrowding and delays did not materialize, at least in their experience.
Stage two of SafeTrack will begin on Saturday with shuttle buses replacing trains between Eastern Market and Minnesota Ave/Benning Road on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines. Blue Line trains will only run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery in both directions. The work is scheduled to wrap up by July 3.
Photo by Jackie Friedman. Video by Omar DeBrew.
Working on the railroad is hard work.
That was in evidence this morning when a Metro contractor who was on the team performing “SafeTrack” maintenance work on the tracks near the East Falls Church station reportedly passed out from dehydration.
Firefighters and paramedics responded to the section of track along I-66 and transported the worker to a local hospital for evaluation.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the agency is taking steps to make sure its workers are well hydrated.
“Obviously, this is hard, physical labor on a hot and cloudless day,” Stessel told ARLnow.com. “We are providing water and sports drinks to all workers on site, and requiring frequent breaks — but the lack of shade is really the issue.”
W-L Defeats Yorktown for Soccer Title — Washington-Lee captured the 6A North boys soccer title last night with a 3-0 win over Yorktown. Both teams are still in the state soccer tournament: “The Generals face Virginia 6A South runner-up Grassfield in a state semifinal on Friday at Robinson while Yorktown will play First Colonial.” [Washington Post]
SafeTrack and Traffic Latest — I-395 and I-66 were jammed this morning and some local roads were similarly backed up with traffic as Metro’s SafeTrack work on the Orange Line continues. An ARLnow poll yesterday showed that 56 percent of respondents had a slower than usual commute during the first weekday of WMATA’s maintenance surge. Meanwhile, Metro says its was “pretty much at the maximum of what we could move” through the track work zone on Monday. [DCist]
Higher D.C. Minimum Wage Could Benefit Arlington — A conservative group claims in a new report that 1 in 5 D.C. businesses would consider moving to Arlington if the District enacts a $15 minimum wage. There are reports that the D.C. Council is poised to approve a measure today that would raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020. [Washington Free Beacon, Washington Post]
Board to Consider Fire Station No. 8 Plan — The Arlington County Board is set to consider the recommendation of the Fire Station No. 8 task force that the station should remain on Lee Highway rather than moving to public land near Marymount University. The existing fire station would need to be renovated and a temporary fire station constructed for use during the renovation, raising costs compared to the original plan to move the station. [InsideNova]
County Home Building Records Digitized — Arlington County has digitized its printed home building and alteration records, known as “house cards.” The records are now available online, searchable by address. [Arlington County]
Church Celebrates Final Service Before Demolition — About 80 members of the 86-year-old Arlington Presbyterian Church gathered for the final Sunday service before the congregation leaves for a temporary worship space down the block and the church is demolished to make way for affordable housing. [Washington Post]
Photo by Jackie Friedman
Today is the first weekday of Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance surge.
Via Twitter there are reports of crowded trains and long waits at stations, although Metro says early indications were that everything was going according to plan. Via Google Maps, traffic appears to be heavier than usual, with lots of red on the traffic map.
Whether you commute via Metro, car or otherwise, we want to know: was your commute slower than usual today?