Arlington, VA

(Updated at 9:45 p.m.) Traffic throughout Arlington has reached apocalyptic levels as the closure of the Beltway’s Inner Loop continues well into the night.

Shortly before 2 p.m., a tanker truck overturned as part of a multi-vehicle crash just prior the American Legion Bridge. The cleanup from the crash and the hazmat response from a fuel spill prompted the complete closure of I-495 northbound before the bridge, sending tens of thousands of drivers bound for Maryland and D.C. into Arlington to try to make it across the remaining Potomac bridges.

In Fairfax County, that has meant gridlock on main eastbound arteries like Chain Bridge Road and Georgetown Pike. In Arlington, it has resulted in the following almost unthinkable traffic scenarios as of 9 p.m. on an otherwise clear and calm day:

  • Both directions of I-66 are jammed between Glebe Road and the Roosevelt Bridge.
  • Northbound N. Glebe Road is a virtual parking lot for more than two miles from just past Washington Golf and Country Club to Chain Bridge. The backups have been getting longer as the night goes on.
  • Northbound Military Road is a solid line of traffic from Zachary Taylor Park to the Glebe Road on-ramp. Police have shut down access to the road at Nelly Custis Drive, according to a tipster.
  • Side streets in the Old Glebe neighborhood are filled with cars attempting to find shortcuts.
  • Eastbound Route 50 is “in gridlock from Pershing Drive.”
  • Numerous highway on-ramps throughout Arlington have been closed by police to try to control traffic.
  • Eastbound Lee Highway is backed up to the MOM’s Organic Market.
  • Multiple intersections in Rosslyn are reported to be near-gridlock near Key Bridge, with police on scene directing traffic.
  • Northbound I-395 is crawling past Pentagon City.

The Inner Loop remains completely closed and is expected to remain closed until midnight or later.

The nightmare traffic has led to hours in the car for commuters and some frayed nerves. Police have responded to numerous reports of road rage incidents, as well as crashes on traffic-clogged streets.

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Maps via Google Maps

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(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Firefighters were called to a home in the Old Glebe neighborhood this morning (Tuesday) for reports of a fire, only to discover faulty equipment was simply filling the home with smoke.

First responders were called to the 4500 block of N. Dittmar Road around 9 a.m. today. Fire department spokesman Ben O’Bryant said they then discovered a “haze of smoke” in the home.

However, they subsequently found that a “bad HVAC unit” was the culprit, not any actual fire.

Photo via Google Maps

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(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Firefighters extinguished a house fire in Northwest Arlington this morning.

First responders were called to a home along the 3700 block of N. Vernon Street around 10:20 a.m. today (Tuesday) in the Old Glebe neighborhood. Smoke was seen coming from the home, prompting firefighters to ask for a “Rapid Intervention Team” to be dispatched to help quickly bring the fire under control.

The fire was concentrated near the back of the home, according to the county fire department.

Department spokesman Ben O’Bryant told ARLnow that no one was inside the home when the fire broke out.

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The Old Glebe Civic Association is eyeing an expansion, planning to scoop up a few additional streets from neighboring Country Club Hills.

The group is currently hoping to add about three blocks to its boundaries, targeting homes that aren’t currently part of any civic association. In particular, the OGCA is looking at adding homes along Dittmar Road as it meets 35th Street N., N. Abingdon Street as it meets 36th Street N. and two cul-de-sacs off N. Vermont Street (one on 35th Road N. and one on 36th Street N.).

OGCA President Rich Samp told ARLnow that those streets are “one of the few areas in the whole county not included in any civic association,” after residents there decided decades ago decided not to join one. But considering that the streets sit adjacent to Old Glebe’s current boundaries, with part of Dittmar Road already ensconced within the civic association, Samp felt it made sense to push for the minor expansion.

“It’s a good idea to have all the neighborhoods in Arlington engaged with the local community… and we’re always trying to do things to make the neighborhood more cohesive,” Samp said. “And having entire streets, such as all of Dittmar Road, in the civic association probably helps to create more of a cohesive neighborhood sense.”

Samp says civic association members started knocking doors in the proposed expansion area a few weeks back to gauge neighbors’ feelings on the mater, and the reaction was broadly “positive.”

“The worst we heard was that some people expressed indifference, but the majority view was, ‘We’d love to join,'” Samp said.

The Arlington County Civic Federation requires civic associations to collect signatures to kick off the expansion process, so Samp says his group did just that. Now, he’ll need to win a green light from from both the civic federation and, eventually, the County Board to make it official.

“I don’t have a great sense for how long it’ll take,” Samp said. “But knowing how slowly the wheels of our group, and the government generally, turn, it’ll probably be a couple of months.”

Samp admitted that adding these neighborhoods is “hardly an earth-shattering step” for his group, but he does hope it can be the first expansion of many to come for the civic association.

“To go to more homes, it would’ve taken just huge amount of canvassing,” Samp said. “So we thought this would be a nice way to start it.”

Photo via the Old Glebe Civic Association

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N. Glebe Road is closed in both directions after a car struck and shattered a utility pole, bringing wires down.

The collision took place just after 11:30 a.m. today (Tuesday) on the 3700 block of N. Glebe Road in the Old Glebe neighborhood. The driver of a white car struck the pole while heading south, then veered across into the northbound lanes. The car was left with significant damage to its front end.

Officers from the Arlington County Police Department closed N. Glebe Road in both directions and diverted traffic onto side streets. In a tweet, the Arlington County Fire Department said closures will be in effect for an “extended time.”

No injuries were reported. Several dozen Dominion customers in the area are currently without power, according to the company’s outage map. Crews from Dominion arrived on scene to assess the damage around noon.

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Map showing location of car break-insArlington County Police are investigating a series of more than a dozen car break-ins in the Old Glebe neighborhood of north Arlington.

The break-ins were reported this morning in the area of the 4600 block of 41st Street N.

“Overnight approximately 15 unsecure vehicles were entered and rummaged through for valuables,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “At this point in the investigation, no significant items have been reported missing. Police remain on scene investigating and are canvassing the area.”

“If anyone has additional information regarding this investigation, they are asked to call the non-emergency number at 703-558-2222,” Savage added.

Photo via Google Maps

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Police car (file photo)An alleged peeping tom led police on a foot chase in the Old Glebe neighborhood Wednesday night.

The chase started after officers responded to the 3900 block of N. Abingdon Street around 6:30 p.m. for a “report of a man hiding in the bushes” near a house.

From an Arlington County Police crime report:

Upon arrival, an officer observed the suspect on the property. The suspect saw the officer and fled the scene on foot. A brief foot pursuit was initiated but the officer lost sight of the suspect. A perimeter was established and a K9 track was conducted with negative results. The suspect is described as a black male in his early thirties, approximately 5’8″-6’0″ tall with a black beard. He was wearing a black hoodie and blue running pants with a white stripe at the time of the incident.

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Morning Notes

Children playing soccer near Arlington Hall (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Murder Victim Feared Her Estranged Husband — Bonnie Black, who was found dead in her home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood on April 17, feared her estranged husband, court documents show. After months of continuing to live in the neighborhood a free man during the investigation, David Black is now in jail, charged with murder. [NBC Washington]

Wakefield, W-L Fall in Football Playoffs — The playoff runs for the Wakefield and Washington-Lee high school football teams have ended early. Wakefield could’t hang on to a 6-0 lead at halftime, falling to Potomac Falls 21-6, while W-L lost 44-20 to Westfield. [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Arlington Wants I-66 Widening Delayed — This week the Arlington County Board is scheduled to decide its position on the plan for tolling on I-66. At its Saturday meeting the Board made clear that it wants to delay the widening of the highway as long as possible. Meanwhile, responding to questions from county officials, VDOT says it’s not able to fully enforce existing HOV restrictions on I-66 because the enforcement causes significant traffic delays. Nearly half of the clogged rush hour traffic on I-66 is believed to be HOV rule breakers. [WTOP, WTOP]

County May Ask for Paper, Plastic Bag Tax Authority — Despite failing efforts in previous years, Arlington County’s draft legislative agenda seeks to again ask the Virginia General Assembly for the authority to levy a small tax on single-use paper and plastic bags. The proposal may exempt bags for certain items, like newspapers, dry cleaning and prescription drugs. [InsideNova]

Historic House for Sale — A 145-year-old house known as “The Hill” is now for sale in Arlington’s Old Glebe neighborhood. Originally a summer home for a prominent D.C. family, the four-bedroom house is on the market for $1,568,000. [Preservation Arlington]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Fort Ethan Allen replica cannon (photo courtesy Arlington County)Fort Ethan Allen Park (3829 N. Stafford Street) will host Civil War re-enactments as part of a daylong showcase this Sunday for new interpretive features at the park.

Starting at 10:00 a.m., members of the Arlington County Board and the Old Glebe Civic Association will be on hand to unveil a replica cannon, three new viewing areas and nine new interpretive signs, all built as part of the Fort Ethan Allen Interpretive Project. In addition, a built-to-scale bronze replica of the original Fort Ethan Allen — which was built by the Union as part of the defense of Washington, D.C. — will be unveiled for the public.

The project was funded after Old Glebe requested it as part of the Neighborhood Conservation Program and the Board approved it in 2010. Construction began last fall.

The event will include speeches from county officials and community members, refreshments, a tour of the fort, and it will conclude with a hike from Fort Ethan Allen Park to one of the two other remaining Civil War forts in Arlington, Fort Marcy.

Photo courtesy Arlington County

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Police are investigating the death of an 87-year-old resident of Arlington’s Old Glebe neighborhood.

From a police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating the suspicious death of an Arlington County resident.

The body was discovered at 10:17 a.m. on October 13, 2012 inside his residence in the 3700 block of N. Wakefield Street by a family member. The investigation is ongoing at this time.

The man has been identified as Mack L. Wood, 87, of Arlington, VA.

As of 9:00 a.m., Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told ARLnow.com that he did not have any additional information about the incident.

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County staff is recommending that the County Board approve AT&T’s request to put new cell phone antennas in a pair of North Arlington church steeples.

Last month the company went before the board to request permission to replace older antennas and equipment at 15 existing cell sites around the county. The equipment will allow AT&T to offer high speed ‘Long Term Evolution’ (LTE) data service to cell phone customers in Arlington. The board approved the replacement at 13 of the sites, but withdrew two for further consideration after a number of neighbors voiced opposition.

The two sites in question are both churches: the Westover Baptist Church (1125 Patrick Henry Drive) and Walker Chapel United Methodist Church (4102 N. Old Glebe Road). AT&T already has cell phone antennas in the steeples of both churches, but neighbors objected to what they saw as the possible health risks of the new antennas. Those opposing antennas at Walker Chapel also cited the historic nature of the 140-year-old church, even though the building itself is just over 50 years old.

Ultimately, county staff sided with AT&T, which argued that the new antennas will not be substantially heavier than the existing antennas — thus posing no anticipated structural problems — and will remain compliant with FCC regulations regarding radio frequency exposure.

“AT&T will contribute less than five percent of the maximum permissible exposure allowed,” staff wrote in the board report. The company agreed to annual, independent electromagnetic emission tests at all 15 sites to ensure compliance.

Last week’s revelation that the World Health Organization now considers cell phone use to be “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” however, will likely only serve to increase the resolve of antenna opponents. Even if the County Board wanted to decide the matter on the basis of health concerns, however, it is legally prohibited from doing so. According to the board report, federal law “prohibits localities from basing decisions on the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions if the facility complies with FCC regulations.”

The board is scheduled to consider the cell antenna requests on Saturday.

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