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Those living near Walter Reed Community Center may soon get a reprieve from the pickleball pop.

Next week, a 10-foot-tall acoustic fence will be installed at the multi-use pickleball and tennis courts at 2909 16th Street S., south of Columbia Pike.

It is set to go up between Monday, Aug. 28 and Friday, Sept. 1, weather permitting, per a county press release.

The fence caps off months of escalating tensions and comes more than a month after a splashy New York Times article about the neighborhood and its pickleball plight.

Already a pickleball hub, the community center is set to become home to dedicated pickleball courts as part of the Walter Reed Outdoor Pickleball Court project. After hearing from disgruntled neighbors, some of whom considered pursuing legal action, the county decided to add noise-mitigating features — including acoustic fencing.

Some residents welcomed these changes but pointed out they would take a couple of years — leaving them to deal with the noise until then. The fencing going up next week could reduce noises some two years ahead of schedule.

The fencing will be up until construction starts, says Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Jerry Solomon. It will be properly stored and reused when more acoustic fencing goes up as part of the pickleball project.

Beyond acoustic fencing, other elements of DPR’s plans to add dedicated pickleball facilities to Walter Reed have changed in response to public feedback. The department intends to add sound walls and landscaping, build six courts rather than nine and locate them further from neighbors.

Since the noise complaints began, DPR has taken other steps to reduce the incessant “pock” sound.

Last fall, the parks department reduced the court’s operating hours to open from sunrise or 7 a.m., whichever is later, to close at 10 p.m. This spring, it again reduced playing hours to match those of the community center. DPR added locks to the gates at close to ensure people do not sneak for after-hours play.

The biggest noise reduction, however, could be a temporary ban on play next Monday through Friday for the fence installation.

“Play will not be allowed on these days between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” the county said in a release. “If you are looking for alternative locations to play while Walter Reed courts are closed, please check out the County’s pickleball and tennis webpages.”


In Ballston, regardless of the season, workers have been spotted wielding leaf blowers.

Exactly who pays for this work, however, continues to be a mystery.

At least anecdotally, the continued popularity of remote work after Covid has had at least one downside for some residents: more exposure to the sound of leaf blowers. Former opinion columnist Jane Green noted the nuisance in a widely read piece two years ago, rallying 43% of respondents to the cause of banning gas-powered leaf blowers in Arlington, according to an ARLnow poll.

Then last month, a Ballston resident tipped us off to the noise, and in an ensuing unscientific poll a plurality — 41% — said the Ballston leaf blower issue was the most valid noise complaint among two others received by ARLnow.

In a follow-up interview, the anonymous resident, who lives near Welburn Square, says he has heard the leaf blowers ever since moving to his apartment three years ago. He has typically observed the activity around 8 a.m. near the parking lot for Truist Bank (920 N. Taylor Street).

“I frequently hear two leaf blowers running at the same time. I will look out my window and can see the workers wandering around the block spraying with the machines,” he said. “This occurs when there are no leaves and year-round.”

ARLnow scoped out the parking lot and a bank employee confirmed hearing the leaf blowers sometimes.

The bank branch manager stepped in and told ARLnow that the bank does not employ landscapers who use leaf blowers. He said he has never heard noise from leaf blowers nor, to his knowledge, have customers complained about them.

Next door, at the The Jefferson senior living facility, a concierge and two other employees said they have never heard residents or coworkers complain about noises from leaf blowers.

The concierge told ARLnow that he has only occasionally seen landscape workers blowing leaves and debris in The Jefferson courtyard area.

“They are just doing their job. The ones I have seen have only been within our property and do their work pretty quickly,” he said. “It’s also never early in the morning, I could see if this was happening early on in the day, but when I’ve seen them it has been in the afternoon.”

The Ballston Business Improvement District did not respond to questions about whether it had any insights into the mystery of the leafless leaf blowing.

While the hiring organization and the reason behind year-round leaf blowing in Ballston remains unknown, others, like Green, may sympathize. The former columnist wrote in 2021 that she heard leaf blowers daily while working from her apartment.

“Leaf blowers are a drain on quality of life. Their piercing noise shatters concentration or the enjoyment of the outdoors. They spew noxious gas into the air. They can destroy insect habitats,” Green said in her piece, which became the site’s second most-read article in 2021.

She encouraged residents to sign a petition to help put an end to the excessive noise. The petition is shy of its 2,000 signatures and short of its goal of 2,500 signatures. It was created by Quiet Clean NOVA, which advocates for regulations on gas-powered yard equipment.

For now, the mystery remains.

“It seems like a waste of money that generates noise and air pollution for no reason. It seems to make no sense to me,” the Ballston resident said. “I understand if this was happening in the fall when there are leaves everywhere, but this happens year-round. It’ll be the middle of the winter with snow on the ground.”

The reporter, Hallie LeTendre, is a summer intern. Today is her last day at ARLnow.

An Army helicopter flies over Boundary Channel near the Pentagon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington County and neighboring jurisdictions are taking over ownership of a complaint system for reporting noisy choppers.

That means residents can continue to report loud aircraft noise to the U.S. government as it works to lessen noise by raising helicopter altitudes and altering flight paths.

These changes, announced in April, respond to years of resident complaints to Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) Two years ago, he called on the federal government to study noise levels in the D.C. area and come up with recommendations.

One of these was the PlaneNoise, Inc. platform — consisting of an automated phone line, website and smartphone application — that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set up last year to track issues.

The system collected data that informed plans from the FAA and the Helicopter Association International to fly helicopters on new, higher paths. When this plan was announced, local officials announced the pilot complaint system would become a permanent feature and municipal coffers would pay for it.

This weekend, the Arlington County Board is slated to approve a Memorandum of Understanding among Fairfax County and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church about sharing the costs of the platform.

Through the agreement, Arlington would pay $15,052 to Fairfax County, matching what Fairfax and Alexandria are paying. Falls Church is contributing $1,500. This will maintain the system through April 30, 2024.

During an April press conference, Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Libby Garvey said the county is “very pleased” the helicopter noise complaint platform would become a permanent feature.

“We are especially pleased that our residents could participate meaningfully in this process, and now will continue to,” she said. “In a democracy, it is crucial that people have a voice in how their government affects them.”


One inevitability of running a local news outlet is that you’ll get plenty of people contacting you with complaints about stuff, some more newsworthy than others.

In general, we’re disinclined to use our limited reporting resources as a cudgel against pet peeves that lack greater significance or safety concerns to the community at large. More often, the better stories tend to be those that come from tips sent because something seems interesting, not because it bothers the tipster personally.

Recently, though, there has been a noticeable uptick in a certain type of tip: those complaining about noise.

Noise is a constant concern in a place like Arlington, which has no shortage of noisy things from airliners to helicopters, bars to buses.

Noise complaints abound in our 26 square miles, but those that have a more limited local impact and fall into a category that might be described as “annoying but to be expected where you live” often do not rise to the level of local coverage.

Arguably, the following three noise complaints could get that categorization. But after receiving each in notably short succession, we’re going to let readers decide which, if any, has the most merit and might deserve additional scrutiny.

First up: (1) the use of leaf blowers in Ballston when there are, in fact, few if any leaves on the ground.

You folks should do a story on excess use of gas powered leaf blowers in [Ballston]. I live off Welburn Square, and when I work at home I hear pairs of workers with leaf blowers frequently, like every few days. This happens literally year round, every month,–80% of the time there are no leaves!

Are these county workers? It seems like a waste of taxpayer money plus unneeded air pollution and sound pollution.

I’ve attached a photo from this morning. No leaves!! Yet two guys with gas powered blowers wailing.


Welburn Square apartment resident.

Next: (2) nightly runway closures at DCA steering late flights closer to residential towers in nearby Crystal City.

As a longtime resident of Crystal City, my high-rise building, and others on the northern end of Crystal Drive, are directly along the flight path of aircraft currently departing the 15/33 runway that’s being used during the evenings while the main runway is worked on. Since the project started,  aircraft depart that runway perhaps 1000′ from my building regularly during the late evening until nearly 3AM … and then resume a few more times before 6AM when the main runway is cleared for regular daytime traffic. (It’s intolerable for us in Waterford House and Crystal Gateway, but likely is worse for the residents of Crystal City Lofts and Water Park Towers.)

In addition to working professionals, several buildings in this part of Crystal City count many senior citizens as homeowners and/or renters. Taken together, we are all directly – and adversely – impacted being in such immediate proximity to the overwhelming noise of aircraft taking off on 15/33 that pass so close to our buildings during the overnight hours. I think you’d agree that long-term sleep deprivation and the related health consequences – at any age – certainly is not the answer. :(

According to a 2022 airport diagram[1], DCA runway 15/33 is 5200×150′ while 4/22 is 5000×150. Runway 4/22 is another ‘cross’ runway but departs over the Potomac River and does not put departing aircraft so close to residential buildings during their initial climb-out from DCA. Given the nearly identical length of these runways, it would be nice to know why DCA is not able to use that runway instead and therefore prevent disrupting the residents of northern Crystal City.

Finally: (3) the daily playing of the National Anthem at a Navy facility in the Penrose neighborhood, which allegedly “started last fall” and “can be heard from several blocks away, through windows, and is played every day.”

I am writing in about the Naval Support Facility at 701 S Courthouse Rd, Arlington, VA. Several months ago, the facility began playing the National Anthem every morning at 8am.There are speakers pointed directly into the neighborhood. While it may have simply been an oversight, I wanted to bring Arlington County’s noise ordinances to your attention.

According to Arlington County, the Naval Support Facility is located in Zone S-3A. Arlington’s noise control regulations require that noise for Zone S-3A is below 95 decibels for “impulsive noise” during daytime hours (7am – 9pm weekdays, 10am – 9pm weekends) and below 90 decibels during nighttime hours. Please note they also define impulsive noise as lasting less than 1 second [Noise Ordinance, page 2]. All other noise needs to remain below 60 decibels during daytime hours and 55 decibels during nighttime hours. The Naval Support Facility plays the National Anthem at an audio level far beyond the permissible levels.

Additionally, I would like to bring your attention to the prohibited acts in the Arlington County noise ordinance. [Noise Ordinance, page 6]. I live approximately 600 feet from the Naval Support Facility, and the noise is extremely loud, even with the windows closed. This is a direct, clear violation of Arlington County’s noise ordinances.

“My neighbor has tried bringing this to Arlington County, but they won’t preemptively come out to the facility to witness the noise, so they won’t enforce their own rules,” the anthem tipster told ARLnow.

Which of the above complaints do you think has the most merit?

Map via Google Maps

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A group formed to address noise issues associated with National Airport says allowing more and longer flights is a bad idea.

A bill introduced last week in Congress would “allow 28 more flights daily and permit airlines to offer more long-distance service out of National Airport, where federal rules allow only a handful of flights to operate beyond a 1,250-mile perimeter,” the Washington Post reported.

A subsequent (unscientific) ARLnow poll found that just over 50% of respondents “definitely” support the bill, while another 15% support it with reservations. But the DCA Community Noise Working Group said Tuesday in a letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation that it “strongly objects to any changes to the DCA perimeter rule.”

“DCA was designed as a regional airport and is situated in the middle of densely populated and noise-sensitive residential areas,” the group wrote. “While expanding the perimeter to permit non-stop flights to cities such as San Antonio or El Paso may benefit a limited few in terms of convenience, many thousands more D.C. area residents would suffer the negative impacts of those flights.”

A spokesperson for Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tells ARLnow that local lawmakers have expressed objections to the bill.

The bill “would dangerously overload DCA’s operational capacity and the very significant noise impact on the area,” said Aaron Fritschner, Beyer’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

“There’s a reason this bill is getting pushed by people who represent Delta [Air Lines] hubs over the objections of people who actually work with [the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority] and the local community to strike the balance for the different things people want from DC’s airport system,” he added.

Arlington, D.C., Montgomery County (Md.) and Alexandria residents, especially those who live along flight paths near the Potomac, have long engaged in a tug of war over aircraft noise associated with National Airport. The complaints have led to noise studies, tweaks in flight paths, and — last year — a provision in a law, inserted by Beyer, that calls for NASA to accelerate work on quieter and more climate-friendly aviation technology.

The full letter from the Community Noise Working Group is below.

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Amid community pressure, Arlington County is taking a closer look at ways to improve safety in Green Valley.

Some residents are pushing for more action from the county on two fronts: dealing with nuisances and more actively policing criminal activity. In response to the mounting concerns, an internal county workgroup is beginning to meet this week to find ways to do just that.

The nuisances are related to drinking and smoking as well as public urination and loud music associated with some of the people who hang out around the John Robinson, Jr. Town Square, neighbors tell ARLnow. The criminal issues relate to gun violence, which some neighbors tie to the unaddressed open-air substance use.

Throughout the day, people can be seen hanging out in the area. Yesterday (Tuesday), for instance, ARLnow observed a handful of people sitting in folding chairs outside of The Shelton, an affordable housing building, while two other groups were congregated in the town square, talking and listening to music.

Neighbors, including Yordanos Woldai, say they don’t have an issue with people hanging out. They just want people not to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana outdoors, urinate in public or play music during quiet hours.

“Having lived in Arlington for such a long time, I am not aware of any other residential neighborhood where this conduct is allowed to happen in plain sight and not be addressed by the police,” Woldai tells ARLnow. “Children have to walk on the streets at times because there is no way to pass and there are broken beer bottles on sidewalks and grass.”

A few of the people hanging out told ARLnow that nearly everyone on the square yesterday likely came from outside Green Valley to this area to be together. Many grew up in the neighborhood but have since moved away.

One man, who appeared to be drinking beer from a plastic cup, put his hand out close to the ground and raised it up slowly to show how much of early childhood, marked in growth spurts, he spent in the neighborhood.

“They feel they are very much part of the community,” Woldai said. “I love the idea that people come to Green Valley to connect with old friends… It’s the illegal activities that are bothersome.”

Woldai addressed the Arlington County Board on Saturday about her concerns and said she had the support of 37 neighbors. This includes Lily Bozhanova, a Bulgarian immigrant who has lived in the area for five years with her family.

“My children are 5 and 7-year-olds. We often go to the spray park there and I sometimes have to explain to my children why they see people smoke or drink plein air. It’s not good but they see it every day and it’s a deterrent for going in the area,” she told ARLnow.

Bozhanova says she tries to avoid the area in the evening and lately Googled whether bullets can pass through brick.

“I shouldn’t be looking up to see whether my house can sustain gunshots. Brick is relatively safe, by the way,” she said.

Although she is grateful for the life she has built, she says, “it’s not exactly the American Dream we were trying to achieve moving here.”

Frank Duncan, a longtime resident of The Shelton (3215 24th Street S.) said he was shot last summer. A relative was also shot not long after.

“That’s the story about the life we live here,” he said.

Still, he said he cannot move away because it will be hard to find space in another low-income apartment building. He says he does what he can to promote safety in part by volunteering as a crossing guard for Drew Elementary School students.

Woldai ties the shootings to the nuisance issues.

“When people know there isn’t really a police presence in a neighborhood where you can drink and smoke marijuana, it attracts more serious crimes,” she said. “That has been a serious concern for residents living near the town square.”

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The federal government says it will direct helicopters to fly higher and on new paths to spare residents of Arlington and neighboring locales from excessive noise.

These changes respond to years of noise complaints about helicopters buzzing overhead, many of which are going to and from the Pentagon.

The new measures were announced yesterday (Tuesday) morning at a press conference at the Fairlington Community Center. The event featured remarks from elected officials, federal agency representatives and the helicopter industry, which were later included in a press release from U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

“Since I took office over eight years ago, helicopter noise has been a constant source of complaints from constituents across Northern Virginia,” Beyer said in a statement. “Here in the nation’s capital with military, medical, commercial and other aviation, aircraft noise will always be with us — but there are things we can do to help reduce the impact on residents.”

He said the actions taken yesterday directly respond to community input.

“I thank the many people whose efforts helped inform the actions we are announcing today, as well as our partners across levels of government who are acting to reduce helicopter noise in Northern Virginia,” he said.

Meanwhile, a system for logging complaints — developed last year from recommendations in a 2021 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report — will be sticking around so residents can continue filing complaints.

Arlington County and neighboring jurisdictions will jointly pay to keep the complaint system operating.

Local elected officials in attendance included Arlington County Board members Katie Cristol, Matt de Ferranti and Takis Karantonis and Vice-Chair Libby Garvey, who gave a speech.

“We are especially pleased that our residents could participate meaningfully in this process, and now will continue to,” she said. “In a democracy it is crucial that people have a voice in how their government affects them.”

Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Libby Garvey speaks at a press conference announcing new flight patterns to mitigate noise on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 (courtesy photo)

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said the system is “far more than a nicety to assuage frustrated residents.”

“This tool gathered data that was used by the [Federal Aviation Association] to make important changes that will mitigate helicopter noise across our region,” he said. “Our residents weren’t just listened to — they were heard.”

The FAA reviewed data the system collected last year as well as studied by the GAO, Arlington and Montgomery counties, and the Dept. of Defense, which suggested helicopters could fly higher.

After studying this body of work, the FAA and the Helicopter Association International decided to draft new, higher flight patterns.

“It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we’re all in the same room with the same access to information and working toward the same goal,” Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Policy, International Affairs and Environment Peter Hearding said in a statement.

Jeff Smith, Chair of the Helicopter Association International Board of Directors, agreed.

“Best practices from this program, along with the data collected from this new initiative, can and will make a noticeable difference in this community,” he said. “This pilot program is a perfect case study for how government and industry can work together to address issues and deliver tangible results.”

In his remarks, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Real Property, Ronald Tickle, said the Pentagon is committed to being a good neighbor.

“The Department looks forward to further collaboration to mitigate helicopter noise in the National Capital Region, while continuing to meet mission requirements,” Tickle said.


(Updated at 11 a.m.) Arlington County is suing three residents and the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association over their attempt to stop buses from being parked near their homes.

The county charges that they used the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) process improperly to prevent the approval of a special use permit to allow 29 Arlington Transit (ART) buses to park on a county lot across the street from Washington-Liberty High School while a new ART bus facility is built in Green Valley.

The county says the BZA doesn’t have the authority to hear their case and, without an allegation of harm or potential harm not shared by their neighbors, the residents are not “aggrieved parties” and are thus improperly using the appeal process to block the county’s plans.

“The Applicants sought their appeals simply as a way to undermine the County Board’s authority and to prevent the County Board from approving a special exception use permit for the Subject Property, thereby weaponizing the stay required by Va. Code… and in effect usurping the legislative power of the County Board,” per the lawsuit.

But the residents, who live in two of the five homes on a ridge overlooking the parking lot, argue the county is suing them preemptively while running afoul of its own zoning ordinances. Further, they say the bus activity will seriously undercut their property values and quality of life and suggest the county should buy their homes.

The lawsuit says that one resident’s BZA appeal asked the body to “compel the County Board to purchase some of the Applicant’s properties.”

Both the county and the residents declined to comment to ARLnow on the ongoing lawsuit, set for a hearing in Arlington County Circuit Court later this month.

Arlington County bought the largely industrial site, also known as the Buck site after its previous owner, in 2015 for $30 million to serve a variety of needs.

Arlington Public Schools parked “white fleet” vans there and, as part of an agreement in 2022, the county moved the vans from a part of the site zoned for “light industrial” uses to another zoned for “mixed use,” and park the ART buses in the “light industrial” zone.

This violates an ordinance, a site plan and a deed of covenant governing the property dating to 1985, the civic association alleged in a letter to the County Board in May 2022. The letter says county staff made procedural and substantive missteps that should have invalidated the county’s special use permit application and subsequent action to abandon the right-of-way of a former street on the site.

The civic association alleges that this change came after the county already violated zoning ordinances related to parking and landscaping by conducting motorcycle maneuvering training and storing dumpsters in parking areas while, in landscaped areas, letting trees die and English ivy take over.

As for the new use, they say the noise is unbearable, emissions from the Compressed Natural Gas-powered buses are “toxic,” and vibrations shake nearby homes — leading to their properties becoming “unmarketable” and “uninhabitable.” The BVSCA posted the following video of an ART parking exercise on the site last year.



Residents say the county’s real estate office proposed reducing their property assessments by up to $190,000 and heard from four realtors who say they’d be reluctant to list these properties.

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Pickleball being played outside at Walter Reed Community Center (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

More neighbors are threatening legal action because of the infamous pickleball pop.

A resident living near the Walter Reed Community Center tells ARLnow that the noise coming from the nearby pickleball courts is “excessive” and constant, to the point that that a group of neighbors is “contemplating a lawsuit of our own” against the county.

“Our community center, with its 9 courts, has become ‘pickleball central,'” Ashley, a resident who lives near the community center, wrote to ARLnow in an email. “We believe the excessive playtime that generates a loud, constant popping sound negatively impacts our quality of life and property value.”

ARLnow received an additional call from a nearby resident, reiterating many of these claims and decrying the loud “pop” made when a pickleball hits a paddle.

The eight households involved all live on 16th Street S., across the street from the community center. They have joined together in asking the county to do something about the crowds and noise coming from the pickleball courts, per Ashley. She’s asked that her last name be withheld for privacy reasons.

In recent weeks, the residents met with Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation, a couple of County Board members, and the Columbia Heights Civic Association to make their concerns known.

So far, discussions haven’t produced the outcome they are hoping for: enforcing court hours, closing some pickleball courts, and reconsideration of plans to potentially add more courts. They believe that the noise coming from the courts is in violation of the county’s noise ordinance.

The group says they’re considering legal action along similar lines to what the Old Glebe Civic Association has discussed, as previously reported by ARLnow.

“None of us want to put an end to pickleball. Everybody has a right to use the park and its services,” Ashley said. “It’s just excessive. It’s loud and it’s very intrusive.”

Earlier this month, Old Glebe Civic Association also began considering legal action due to the ending of a pilot program that had closed a pickleball court at Glebe Road Park. The court’s recent reopening has made the noise issue even “more contentious,” with the civic association’s leadership saying that “a solution short of litigation appears unlikely.”

Ashley said when she and her neighbors read that story, it seemed like confirmation that their situation also would not be resolved without some sort of legal action. Ashley has lived in her home on 16th Street S. for about five years, but it was this past summer when the noise became “maddening.”

Pickleball has taken Arlington — and the U.S. generally — by storm over the last few years. This year, however, the sport seemingly grew beyond the county’s current capacity, prompting a tug-of-war between those who want more pickleball facilities, neighbors concerned about noise, and the players of other sports — particularly tennis — who stand to lose courts to the pickleball juggernaut.

Ashley said that there were times over the summer and into the fall when she could hear the pop of the ball hitting the paddle starting at 5 a.m. and not stopping until 11 p.m — 18 hours a day.

Reading the comments on previous ARLnow pickleball stories, she knows her complaints can seem ridiculous to some, but she insists they are legit.

“It sounds really comical, but when you live across the street from an endless stream of just popping, it’s not funny,” she said.

Ashley and other neighbors met with local parks and rec officials in October, a meeting the department confirmed to ARLnow. The neighbors asked DPR to limit court hours, close some courts to pickleball to allow other sports to be played, and better monitor the noise coming from the courts.

They also expressed their disappointment in not being formally consulted about the possibility of new courts coming to Walter Reed.

“We were not consulted as a community, nor do we support this plan,” she said.

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Blue Angels/Thunderbirds flyover in 2020 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Don’t be alarmed if the sky over Arlington fills with low-flying aircraft and smoke tomorrow morning.

Arlington National Cemetery says residents can expect U.S. Air Force aircraft performing “low-level aerial demonstrations, which will produce smoke and noise.” The flyover will take place around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Military aircraft frequently fly over the area as part of funerals at the cemetery. The flyovers are almost always loud and often unannounced, though the cemetery does provide a heads up on some — as in this case — via social media.

The banging metal covers on Wilson Blvd near the intersection of N. Randolph Street (staff photo)

A set of utility covers in the middle of Wilson Blvd that have bothered residents for nearly a decade may finally get a permanent fix.

For Alex Korolkoff, the banging noise from cars and buses driving over the covers is so loud — even on the 10th floor of his Ballston apartment building — he’s resorted to fans and white noise machines to drown it out.

Carlos Moran said the “constant heavy banging” coming from near the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, across from Ballston Quarter mall, “affect our quality of life” and prevent him from sleeping in his home.

Another nearby resident compares the situation to war.

​”It feels as if we are being held hostage, like POWs, in our very own apartments, bound by our leases and forced to live with the continual banging,” they wrote ARLnow. The noise happens day and night given that the metal covers are along one of Ballston’s most highly-trafficked corridors.

The banging is particularly loud when bearing the brunt of buses and trucks, with the noise bouncing off Ballston’s high-rises.

“There’s such disruption that we deal with 24/7, while trying to work from home, we can’t sit on our small balcony without it being even louder, and sleeping is difficult,” one nearby neighbor wrote ARLnow. “The noise is truly endless because traffic never ceases.”

And it’s been a problem for nearly a decade. ARLnow first reported on the loose plates in 2013, when they were deemed a “temporary measure” and would be fixed soon. The covers were also listed as one of Arlington’s most wanted road repairs.

Nine years later, though, they are still there, loose, and driving some neighbors nuts.

The plates are the responsibility of nearby apartment building Ava Ballston, both Arlington County and the building’s parent company AvalonBay — which happens to have its headquarters across the street — confirmed to ARLnow. The flat sheets of metal are protecting Dominion Power equipment that help provides electricity to the building.

Over the years, ARLnow has received periodic emails from Ballston residents complaining about them.

One 2019 note speculated that the surrounding apartment complexes might have a hard time renting out units because of the noise. Another from October 2021 called the plates “steel drums.”

Another annoyed neighbor wrote in November 2021 that they put together a petition with more than 110 signatures of neighbors asking the county to do something to “right the wrong for a longstanding steel plate noise issue… it is distressing for those residents who need to rest, sleep, and work from home.”

ARLnow’s initial 2013 story was also spurred by an email from a reader.

“The noise within the apartments is now incredibly loud,” wrote a resident of the building that was then-called Archstone Ballston Square in March 2013. “This is a project that residents and the county were told would go on a few weeks — it’s [now] nearly 18 months later.”

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