Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Pence Visits Arlington, Again — Vice President Mike Pence again visited Arlington, this time the southern half of the county. The one-time Arlington resident gave a speech at an event for the “Alliance Defending Freedom” at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City hotel. As with his visit to Clarendon last week, the veep arrived via motorcade, accompanied by a sizable security detail. [White House, Twitter]

Arlington Company Facing Lawsuit — Employees of Arlington-based Evolent Health “have asserted in class-action lawsuits that the health care consulting company… has failed to pay them overtime for periods in which they worked more than 40 hours a week.” The company denied the allegations in court filings. [Insider Louisville]

Trans Events Coming to Crystal City — “An opening reception for people planning to participate in the [National Transgender Visibility March] will be held Thursday, Sept. 26, to be followed by a Friday, Sept. 27, Torch Award Ceremony in which prominent transgender and gender non-conforming leaders and activists will be honored. Both events will take place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.” [Washington Blade]

Nearby: Serious Crash on Route 50 — Westbound Arlington Blvd was closed near the Arlington border Tuesday afternoon for a serious motorcycle crash and a subsequent Fairfax County Police investigation. The crash happened near the intersection of Arlington Blvd and Olin Drive in Falls Church. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) Police and firefighters are on scene of a potentially serious motorcycle crash at the busy intersection of Route 1 and S. Glebe Road, near Crystal City.

The driver of a car struck a motorcycle shortly before 11 a.m. Images from the scene show medics treating the injured motorcycle rider and preparing to place him or her on a stretcher, while a car with a shattered windshield and significant front-end damage sits nearby.

Drivers should expect delays near the intersection due to blocked lanes. As of around 11:30 a.m., southbound Route 1 is currently blocked and eastbound S. Glebe Road is being diverted onto S. Eads Street, according to scanner traffic. A traffic camera at the intersection that initially showed the crash scene appears to have been turned off.

The rider’s injuries “are considered critical but non-life threatening,” according to Arlington County Police. Detectives are in the process of documenting the scene and investigating the cause of the crash.

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(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) The ramp from eastbound Route 50 to the Roosevelt Bridge is closed due to a serious crash involving a motorcycle.

The exact circumstances around the crash are unclear, but initial reports suggest a motorcyclist lost control and crashed into a guardrail around 12:40 p.m., potentially suffering broken bones and other injuries.

The rider was transported via ambulance to a local trauma center in critical condition, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant. Arlington County Police later clarified that the rider’s condition was critical, but with non-life-threatening injuries.

Map via Google Maps

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A motorcyclist died Saturday after a Friday night crash on Washington Blvd near the Pentagon.

Police say a van struck the motorcycle, driven by a 54-year-old man from Hampton, Virginia, while changing lanes to exit the highway. The van’s driver remained on scene.

The fatal crash happened during Rolling Thunder weekend. Police are now asking witnesses to come forward with additional information.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team (CAT) is investigating a fatal vehicle crash involving a motorcycle.

At approximately 7:46 p.m. on May 24, 2019, police were dispatched to Washington Boulevard near the ramp to Pentagon-South Parking for the report of an accident with injury. Upon arrival, it was determined that a motorcyclist was traveling on Washington Boulevard when the driver of a van changed lanes to exit the highway, causing an impact between the vehicles.

The motorcyclist, identified as Luis Martinez, 54, of Hampton, Virginia, was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. He succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased in the early morning hours of May 25. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Police ask that anyone with information related to this investigation contact Detective K. Nucelli at (703) 228-4048 or [email protected]  Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

Also this weekend, three D.C. firefighters were struck by a truck on the 14th Street Bridge during Friday’s evening rush hour.

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A man died early Tuesday morning after crashing his motorcycle on I-395 in Arlington.

The crash happened around 2 a.m. on northbound I-395 at the Washington Blvd exit, just prior to Pentagon City. The force of the crash ejected the rider, who died on scene, and caused the motorcycle to catch fire.

More from Virginia State Police:

At 1:58 a.m. Tuesday (April 23), Virginia State Police were called to the scene of a single-vehicle crash in Arlington County. Based on witness accounts, a motorcycle was traveling north on I-395 at a high rate of speed when it ran off the left side of the highway and struck the cement Jersey wall. The motorcycle then crossed over all northbound lanes of I-395 and continued off the right side of the interstate at the Exit 8A ramp. The motorcycle struck the guardrail and its rider was ejected. The impact with the guardrail caused the motorcycle to catch fire.

The motorcycle’s operator died at the scene. State police is still in the process of locating and notifying the next of kin.

The crash remains under investigation.

A crash reconstruction effort closed the ramp during the early morning hours.

Photo via Google Maps

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(Updated 2:15 p.m.) A crash involving a motorcycle and a subsequent fire prompted the temporary closure of the westbound lanes of Arlington Blvd near Courthouse around noon today.

Firefighters were called to the scene around 11:55 a.m. for a crash between a motorcycle and an SUV. First responders reported that the motorcycle was on fire as they arrived on scene.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said all lanes re-opened at 1 p.m. and that the motorcycle rider was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

“The driver of the vehicle did not sustain any injuries, remained on scene and was cited with unsafe lane changes,” added Savage.

Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant told ARLnow that firefighters had doused the flames “quickly.”

At 12:45 p.m. two lanes were still shut down under the 10th Street bridge and firefighters were again hosing down the motorcycle, which had by that point been placed on the bed of a tow truck.

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Motorcycle riders represent just a small portion of traffic on the roads, but they’re consistently involved in more fatal accidents than anyone else — some researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute are looking to change that.

VTTI is teaming up with Transurban, the company building and operating toll lanes on Northern Virginia’s busiest highways, to try and spur the development of new technology to make the roads safer for motorcyclists.

Transurban announced at Virginia Tech’s Ballston research center yesterday (Tuesday) that it would be donating $400,000 to VTTI to kick off the “Motorcycle Technology Evaluation Challenge,” known as “MotoTEC.”

The goal is to pair small technology companies and startups working on devices and software that could be used for motorcycle safety with some needed funding and, perhaps more importantly, the expertise of Virginia Tech’s researchers. VTTI hopes to find some promising technology to test along Transurban’s express lanes on highways like I-495 and I-95, giving it a big boost in making it to market.

“This is all about: What can get on the road fastest to make the most impact?” said Andy Schaudt, project director for VTTI’s motorcycle research group.

Schaudt says the current challenge for tech companies looking to make motorcycles safer is that many have gone overlooked, even amidst the global embrace of “connected cars.” After all, he points out that “there aren’t a lot of places to put sensors” on a motorcycle.

That’s where MotoTEC can come in. Schaudt hopes to convene a steering committee made up of transportation researchers and industry experts alike to evaluate technology with potential, then put out a call to companies looking for a boost.

He expects to hold a “pitch competition” if VTTI gets enough of a response, and he hopes to “keep the funnel wide” in accepting all manner of technologies as possibilities. Jennifer Aument, president of Transurban North America, suggested that solutions could include things like a system to connect a rider’s helmet to road sensors or technology to somehow make work zones safer for motorcyclists.

“It’s about finding something with a big impact,” Aument said. “Our single focus is on how to save lives.”

Depending on what technology wins out, Schaudt said testing could start as soon as this fall. Should it need a little more time to develop, however, he said VTTI could instead wait for the next “riding season” to start next spring.

No matter the exact timeline, Schaudt says the goal is that “within one year of program starting, we want results ready to share.” He noted that testing out the efficacy of various technologies can often be “extremely expensive” for small companies, and he thinks VTTI can play a big part in making that process a lot smoother.

“This all goes towards expediting deployment,” Schaudt said. “If they have the right support, they can start putting it on roadways and benefitting motorcycle riders right away.”

Aument added that the research work could even have a more immediate impact along the highways Transurban is working on.

With construction on the I-395 toll lanes picking up in earnest, necessitating work zones that become especially dangerous for drivers and motorcyclists alike, she said her company would be eager to embrace any low-tech solutions VTTI proposes to improve signage or lane markings and make everyone safer on the roads.

“We’re looking for solutions in our work zones right away, so if they find something interesting, we want to hear about it,” Aument said.

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Morning Notes

Motorcycle Crash Closes Columbia Pike — Columbia Pike was closed in both directions for just over two hours this morning while police investigated a serious accident. A motorcycle reportedly crashed into a minivan between S. Frederick and Dinwiddie street, near the Arlington Mill Community Center. The motorcycle rider was seriously hurt and two people in the van were also taken to the hospital. [WJLA, Twitter]

Man Arrested for Threatening FCC Chair’s Family — A California man has been arrested and charged with sending emails that threatened to murder FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s family, over his support of the rollback of net neutrality rules. Pai has two children and lives in Arlington. Per an affidavit, one of the emails “listed the names and addresses of three preschools located in or around Arlington, Virginia, followed by the following sentence: ‘I will find your children and I will kill them.'” [Gizmodo, Washington Post]

Car Fire in Cherrydale — A car caught on fire in the garage of an apartment building in Cherrydale early this morning. No one was hurt. The cause of the fire is under investigation. [Twitter, Twitter]

Plane Evacuated on DCA Tarmac — “Passengers were forced to evacuate a United Airlines plane at Reagan National Airport on Sunday after smoke was reported in the cabin… The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said that about 1 p.m. Sunday, Houston-bound flight 6122 was taxiing for takeoff when emergency crews were called for a report of smoke in the cabin. The plane’s emergency slides were deployed, and all passengers and crew members exited ‘without incident.'” [Washington Post, Fox News]

Lee Highway Planning to Move Forward? — “It’s been delayed, delayed and delayed some more. But, Arlington’s top elected official promises, the long-awaited study of development options along the Lee Highway corridor will be up and running by the end of the year.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy R. Johnson

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A motorcyclist died in a crash last night on I-66, near Arlington’s western border.

The crash happened just before 10 p.m.

“According to witnesses, two motorcycles were westbound on I-66 and traveling at a high rate of speed,” Virginia State Police said in a brief press release. “One of the motorcycles rear-ended a car traveling west on I-66. The impact of the crash caused the motorcycle to run off the interstate and strike the guardrail.”

“The motorcyclist died at the scene,” the press release continued. “The driver of the car was not injured in the crash.”

State police are investigating the crash. The name of the deceased has not yet been released.

Photo via Google Maps

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Police and firefighters are on scene of a motorcycle crash on Shirlington Circle over I-395.

A motorcycling “wiped out” while driving around the circle, according to scanner traffic, and suffered a number of injuries. The injuries are believed to include broken bones but are not life-threatening.

One lane of Shirlington Circle traffic is squeezing by the crash scene; it is unclear if any ramps are blocked.

The crash comes as thousands of bikers descend on the area for the annual Memorial Day weekend Rolling Thunder rally.

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It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means that it is also Rolling Thunder weekend here in the D.C. area.

Thousands of bikers are expected to stream into the area over the next couple of days. The event, intended to raise awareness of American service members who were prisoners of war or remain missing in action, is prompting a number of road closures in Arlington.

The first of the planned closures is on 23rd Street S. between S. Eads and Fern streets. Starting today and running through Sunday, the Crystal City Sports Pub and Crystal City BID are hosting a free outdoor concert series dubbed “Crystal City Thunder,” from 4-8 p.m. each night.

More from the Arlington County Police Department:

Motorists using S. 23rd Street can detour around the closure by using S. 22nd Street (one block north of S. 23rd Street) via S. Eads Street or S. Fern Street, depending on their direction of travel.

Parking will also be restricted in the same location from 3:00 PM Friday afternoon until 9:00 PM Sunday night, except for motorcycles.  Motorcyclists are encouraged to back their cycle to the curb and line up in an orderly fashion to maximize the space.  Vehicles in violation will be subject to tow. If you are towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communication Center at 703-558-2222.

Barrels and other traffic management equipment will be deployed in the area.  Motorists are reminded to follow police direction and be aware of the extra motorcycle traffic associated with this event and the Rolling Thunder Rally.

The police department is also warning of “severe” traffic impacts from a temporary closure of eastbound I-66 Saturday morning, “to allow veterans of the Vietnam War to travel to the Arlington National Cemetery.”

The Arlington County Police Department is informing the public that traffic on I-66 Eastbound on Saturday, May 26, 2018 from 8:15 a.m. to approximately 9:30 a.m. will be severely impacted by temporary closures to allow veterans of the Vietnam War to travel to the Arlington National Cemetery. Route 110 southbound and Washington Boulevard (Route 27) near Columbia Pike will also incur temporary traffic disruptions.

In addition, between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., traffic in the Crystal City area may experience delays as another veterans’ group is escorted through the area.

On Sunday, Washington Blvd and the Memorial Bridge will be closed to traffic for the Rolling Thunder Rally. More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department and Virginia State Police will close part of Washington Boulevard near the Pentagon on Sunday, May 27, 2018, for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally.  From 7:00 a.m. to approximately 4:00 p.m., Washington Blvd. (Route 27) will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge.

In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.

Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area during the Memorial Day weekend.

For questions or concerns, please contact Lieutenant Steve Meincke at 703-228-4148.

AAA Mid-Atlantic, meanwhile, is reminding drivers to keep an eye out for motorcyclists during the event.

During the Memorial Day holiday weekend, waves of motorcyclists, as far as the eye can see, will participate in the annual Rolling Thunder procession to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.   As a result, “motorists could encounter possible delays if operating in the vicinity of this event and may wish to consider alternative routes,” warns the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). With an upturn in motorcyclists in the region this weekend, area motorists should know how to detect and respond to so many bikers sharing the road, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. For safety’s sake, motorists should also listen for the sound of motorcycles approaching in blind spots during Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom XXX.

Tragically, “motorcyclists are overrepresented in crashes and fatalities,” highway safety advocates warn.  Advocates point the finger of blame at the rising age of motorcyclists, traffic congestion, and distracted driving as overarching factors in the number of roadway deaths of motorcyclists. Other factors include alcohol impairment and recreational marijuana and drug impairment.  “In 2016, one-quarter of motorcyclists who died had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, the highest percentage of any vehicle type,” according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). “Data suggest that trend continued in 2017.”

“Across the nation and around the Washington metro area, motorcyclists are disproportionately vulnerable to losing their lives and limbs in traffic crashes,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Although the average motorcyclist rides his or her bike between 3,000 to 6,000 miles per year, motorcycle riders and passengers are ‘about 27 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash, and six times as likely to be injured,’ research shows.”

Watch out for motorcyclists during Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom XXX. Motorcycle fatalities soared to the highest level in a decade in Virginia during 2017, according to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) data. All told, 107 motorcyclists lost their lives in crashes on Virginia roads in 2017, as motorcycle fatalities increased nearly 50 percent over 2016, when 72 motorcyclists died in motorcycle-related crashes across Virginia, according to the 2017 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts report. Of the 1,794 motorcycle riders injured in crashes in 2017, almost half, 830 bikers or 46.2 percent, were age 41 or above. Motorcycle crashes comprised 1.7 percent of all traffic crashes in the state, but 12.7 percent all fatalities.

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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