Clarendon Ballroom Battles Alt-Right Blitz — After beating up on Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation earlier this month, the alt-right faction seeking to hold inauguration rallies and parties in Arlington has focused its attention on the Clarendon Ballroom. The Ballroom, one alt-right leader alleges, turned away their planned “DeploraBall” due to political pressure. The Ballroom, however, says the organizers never actually signed a contract. Since then, the Ballroom has been receiving “hundreds of slanderous, dangerous, vulgar and threatening posts and tweets,” along with threatening phone calls. [NBC Washington, Washington Post]
Library Director’s Christmas Playlist — Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh has released her annual “mix tape of seasonal favorites” on the library blog. This year’s list is a Spotify playlist that starts with Diana Krall’s rendition of “Let It Snow” and concludes, on a unique-to-2016 note, with “World Spins Madly On” by The Weepies. [Arlington Public Library]
Six Fired by Metro in EFC Derailment — Following an investigation, Metro has fired six track inspectors and supervisors and demoted several others in the wake of July’s East Falls Church train derailment. Additional firings are in the works. [WJLA]
Arlington Community Foundation Grants — The Arlington Community Foundation has approved grants to 26 local nonprofits and school, totally nearly $100,000. [Patch]
Reminder: Metro Surge Starts Today — Metro’s SafeTrack Surge 11 starts today, bringing what officials say will be “the worst of anything our riders have experienced so far” to the Orange and Silver lines. [ARLnow]
Critical Missing Person — On Friday the Arlington County Police Department put out an alert for a missing person who is “unable to care for herself and is in need of medical attention.” The woman, Amanda Pham Pulver, is described as “5’4″, 115 lbs, black & white hair with dark eyes. Last seen in 3800 block of N. 13th St.” [Arlington County, Twitter]
Leasing Inquiries Up After Election — Arlington landlords are reportedly getting more office leasing inquiries, a trend that began shortly before the election and is continuing afterward. “Tenant tours have increased dramatically over the last 90 days,” said the head of major Rosslyn landlord Monday Properties. [Bisnow]
Behind the Scenes at DCA Lost and Found — From an interview with the lost-and-found property technician at Reagan National Airport: “We’ve had teeth, a prosthetic leg, a power saw, a dog kennel. There’s a fax machine on the shelf. Oh, and rubber butt padding — someone came back and got that.” [Arlington Magazine]
Arlingtonian Lands White House Internship — An Arlington native is among those who landed a prestigious internship at the White House this fall. Olivia Pavco-Giaccia, a member of the class of 2016 at Yale, was on a list released by the White House Press Office last week. Pavco-Giaccia has previously achieved notability and recognitions for her female-oriented science startup, LabCandy.
Metro’s next round of SafeTrack “surge” work begins Monday and it’s expected to have a major impact on Arlington commuters.
Surge #11 is scheduled from Nov. 28 to Dec. 21. The 24-day project will involve track work and single-tracking between the West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations, on the Orange and Silver lines.
The first 14 days of the work are expected to be especially disruptive as Metro will be unable to run additional trains to make up for the reduction in service. That’s due to the location of the track work and Metro’s rail signaling service, officials said.
“There will be a severe reduction in train service,” said Joe Leader, Metro’s Chief Operating Officer. “The first two weeks of this surge will be the worst of anything our riders have experienced so far since we started Safetrack.”
Riders should expect “very crowded trains and platforms.” Trains running through Arlington may be so crowded that riders will be unable to board during rush hour.
Additional ART buses and Metrobus shuttles will run along Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor to help provide additional capacity during the surge. Arlington County is also encouraging commuters to telecommute during the project.
Ultimately, the track work is expected to result in a smoother ride and more reliable service along the Orange and Silver lines.
“It’s going to be intense for the first two weeks,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, during a press conference at the West Falls Church Metro station. “It’s short term pain for a lot of gain and it’s something that we’ve got to do.”
ACFD Battles Fire in Fairlington — Firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax together helped to battle a kitchen fire in a Fairlington condominium this morning, preventing it from spreading further. S. Abingdon Street near Abingdon Elementary was blocked for part of the morning as a result of the emergency response. [Twitter, Twitter]
ACPD Cracks Down on Fake IDs — An Arlington County Police Department campaign to crack down on fake IDs, in partnership with Clarendon bars, has netted more than 450 fakes since May. At one point this summer, according to a manager, Don Tito collected about 20 fake IDs per week. [WJLA]
Metro Pulls 4000 Series Cars — Metro has removed all 4000-series railcars from service to due safety concerns. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said he asked the agency to prioritize 8-car train service on the Blue Line while the railcars are out of service. Metro’s general manager “assured me there’d be very little impact to BL riders,” Beyer tweeted. [WMATA, Twitter]
Sietsema Lauds Ambar — Ambar’s new Clarendon outpost not only lured the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema west of the Potomac River, but it received 2.5 out of 3 stars from the restaurant critic. Sietsema’s main gripe: too much noise. “Surely the same folks who dispense so much good will and satisfying food can solve a problem like disquiet,” Sietsema wrote. [Washington Post]
Post Profiles Old Dominion Neighborhood — The Washington Post’s continued anthropological study of Arlington’s neighborhoods in the real estate section has this week brought it to the Old Dominion community. A pair of recent homebuyers said they liked that Old Dominion “had a neighborhood feel and was also walkable.” [Washington Post]
Big Wins for Arlington at NAIOP Awards — Arlington County fared well at the 2016 NAIOP Northern Virginia commercial real estate awards on Wednesday. Among the local projects being recognized were the Bartlett in Pentagon City, WeWork/WeLive in Crystal City, Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services building along Washington Blvd and Opower in Courthouse. [NAIOP]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Above Average Teacher Salaries? — Arlington Public Schools teachers are paid somewhere between the market average (for the D.C. area) and 14 percent more than the market average, according to a new report that will be presented to the School Board on Thursday. [InsideNova]
Potomac Yard Metro Station Clears Hurdle — The planned Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria has received environmental approval from the federal government. The project will now enter the design and construction phase. [City of Alexandria]
Police Release Sketch of Sexual Assault Suspects — Fairfax County Police have released sketches of two men accused of abducting a 50-year-old woman they met at a restaurant on Columbia Pike in Falls Church. Police say the men sexually assaulted the woman before dropping her off along Route 50 in Arlington. [WJLA]
New Finance Director Named — Arlington has named Stephen Agostini, the former Chief Financial Officer of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as the county’s new Director of Management and Finance. [Arlington County]
Arcing Insulator at Rosslyn Metro — An electrical issue on the Metrorail tracks outside of the Rosslyn station caused delays on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines during this morning’s rush hour. The arcing insulator prompted single-tracking and a large fire department response. [WJLA]
Beyer to Shadow DCA Worker — Today, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is expected to “accompany contracted wheelchair agents to learn first-hand their role helping passengers with disabilities at Reagan National Airport.” The workers and their union, 32BJ SEIU, are fighting for a $15 per hour wage. Currently, they receive as little as $6 per hour plus “unreliable tips.”
Samsung Collecting Note 7 at DCA — Electronics manufacturer Samsung has set up a booth at Reagan National Airport to collect their now recalled and discontinued Galaxy Note 7 phones, which are banned from flights due to a propensity to randomly go up in flames. [Twitter]
I-395 HOT Lane Update — VDOT updated the Arlington County Board yesterday on its “managed HOV/toll lanes” project slated for I-395. County staff is currently studying traffic and noise impacts to Arlington and the project’s allocation of at least $15 million per year to transit along the corridor, which the county believes is insufficient. [Arlington County]
Tech Incubator Founder Moves to Arlington — Evan Burfield, the founder of D.C.-based tech incubator 1776, has moved to Arlington with his wife and one-year-old daughter. Burfield chose a $1.6 million home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood outside of Crystal City, calling it “a great buy on an up-and-coming area.” 1776 has a location in Crystal City that Burfield said is performing well. [Washington Business Journal]
Police: Arlington Man Called Reporter the N-Word — An Arlington man, 21-year-old Brian Eybers, has been arrested in Charleston, South Carolina on disorderly conduct and drug-related charges. A local TV reporter in Charleston says Eybers called him the N-word and then stood in front of his news van, blocking it from leaving. [The State]
Tonight’s evening commute was much worse than usual for many local residents.
A combination of factors — track problems on multiple Metrorail lines and a fuel spill that blocked the Outer Loop of the Beltway in Maryland — led to very crowded Metro stations and trains and very heavy traffic, particularly on I-395.
The latest Metro woes come as WMATA is reportedly considering raising fares to close a big anticipated budget shortfall.
Currently: There are significant Metro delays, traffic is a nightmare, the outer loop of the Beltway is blocked and the Nationals are losing pic.twitter.com/yGU5Pxbzec
— Arlington News (@ARLnowDOTcom) October 11, 2016
Yellow Line: Expect residual delays in both directions due to an earlier switch problem at National Airport.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) October 11, 2016
Orange Line: Single tracking btwn Smithsonian & Federal Ctr due to a track condition outside Smithsonian. Add'l delays in both directions.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) October 11, 2016
— Yumi Kim (@YumiKimSK) October 11, 2016
Next SafeTrack Surge Begins Tomorrow — Metro’s ninth SafeTrack maintenance “surge” will begin tomorrow and will result in single-tracking between the Vienna and West Falls Church station on the Orange Line through Oct. 26. Riders should expect longer wait times on the Orange Line; in Arlington, the East Falls Church station is expected to experience the worst delays. [DCist, NBC Washington]
Fire Dept. to Donate to AWLA — Arlington County fire stations collected more than 650 pounds of pet supplies and food during ‘Operation FirePaws.’ The items will be donated to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. [Arlington County]
Additions for Phoenix House — Following a successful capital fundraising campaign, substance abuse rehabilitation facility Phoenix House, in Ballston, will be adding a new fitness and health center and expanding and renovating its adolescent boys program.
A History of the Balls — ‘Our Man in Arlington’ columnist recounts the history of the Ball family, local landowners since the Revolutionary War and the namesakes for Arlington’s Ballston neighborhood. [Falls Church News-Press]
Photo courtesy Noah Kaufman
SafeTrack, combined with the recently-added ability to travel between Arlington and D.C., has resulted in a “a 540 percent increase in the average number of trips beginning or ending in Arlington, a 22 percent jump in overall Car2Go trips in the region, and a 63 percent increase in average weekly memberships,” according to Car2Go.
“Car2Go membership in Arlington and D.C. has passed the 57,000 member mark, making it one of the largest in North America,” the company added.
That’s a reversal from earlier this year, when Car2Go said it was struggling to gain traction in Arlington.
Car2Go is rolling out upgraded versions of its cars in the area through the end of the year. The new cars are still the same Smart Fortwo model, but with faster unlocking, Bluetooth access for wireless calls and music, seat warmers, roomier interiors, a bigger trunk, improved safety features and a faster motor.
Hazmat Incident, Arrests on I-66 — Two people were arrested on drug charges Saturday after their SUV broke down on I-66 and police found a suspicious liquid in and a suspicious smell coming from the vehicle. Lanes of westbound I-66 were shut down while a hazmat team investigated the substance. [WUSA, NBC 4]
Man Arrested for Sexual Assault on Orange Line Train — A man allegedly exposed himself and then tried to force a woman to perform a sex act on an Orange Line train Monday afternoon. The incident happened as the train was approaching the Dunn Loring station, but the man was reportedly arrested in Arlington and held at the county jail. [WTOP]
APS Still Searching for More Space — Arlington Public Schools officials have been busy trying to add more high school seats as a student capacity crunch continues and is expected to get worse at the top grade levels. For now, APS appears to be focused on adding seats at existing high schools and adding additional capacity through new high school programs, like the just-launched Arlington Tech program, as opposed to opening a fourth comprehensive high school. [InsideNova]
Photo (above) of Rosie the Riveter event at the Netherlands Carillon courtesy Valerie Crotty
Northern Virginia Transit Ridership Down — Amid Metro’s woes, transit ridership across Northern Virginia has dropped significantly. Metrorail ridership was down 6.7 percent for the one year period ending June 30, while Metrobus ridership is down 4.6 percent. Arlington Transit bus ridership, however, was up 13.8 percent. [InsideNova]
Arlington Family Gets Lost Cat Back — A new Arlington family whose cat jumped out of their moving van and ran away at a Michigan Welcome Center has been reunited with their wayward feline. The welcome center’s employees managed to safely trap the cat five days after it escaped. [NBC Washington]
Free Chips and Queso Today — California Tortilla restaurants are offering free chips and queso today, to commemorate the impending end of summer. Customers must say the password “easy cheesy” and make another purchase to get the free stuff. [Facebook]
CIA’s Local VC Firm Profiled — Courthouse-based In-Q-Tel, which functions as the Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital arm, “operates in the shadows.” The firm is run as a taxpayer-funded nonprofit, investing in companies whose technology could benefit the CIA or the military. [Wall Street Journal]
Carlee Takes University Job — Former Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee, who most recently served as Charlotte, N.C.’s city manager, has taken an assistant professor position at Old Dominion University’s Strome College of Business in Norfolk. [Charlotte Observer]
Crash Closes 395 Ramp — A multi-vehicle crash closed the ramp from northbound I-395 to northbound Washington Blvd during this morning’s rush hour. The ramp reopened just after 9 a.m. [Arlington County, Twitter]
Metro Delays This Morning — There were delays on the Yellow, Orange and Silver lines this morning due to “unscheduled track repairs.” [Washington Post]
Jefferson Davis Highway Name Change? — The Virginia attorney general’s office has determined that Alexandria can legally change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway in the city, while Arlington cannot remove the Confederate leader’s name from Route 1. One local lawmaker says he wants the name to change, for various reasons, but adds that he doesn’t have a problem with routes named after Robert E. Lee. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
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