Next month, Arlington County will hold a community event to kick off a three-year parking pilot program that prices parking by demand in a few highly trafficked corridors.
The pilot would electronically monitor parking space usage alter parking prices based on the day, time and the number of people competing for a metered parking space along the Rosslyn-Ballston and Crystal City-Pentagon City corridors. It would also give drivers real-time information on spot availability and price.
In the meeting description, Arlington County says the three-year pilot project could “improve the user experience for metered parking spaces in two key commercial and residential corridors in Arlington.”
“Join the project team for a Community Kick-Off meeting to learn more about the pilot project, the technology we’ll be using to inform the project, and share your input on the pilot project’s goals to help us understand your priorities for metered parking spaces in the Rosslyn-Ballston and Route 1 corridors,” per the website.
According to the event page, meeting attendees will be able to:
- Learn about the pilot’s background and purpose
- Get briefed on the status of metered parking in the two Metrorail corridors
- Learn what technology will be used and what data will be collected, and how this will inform the project’s next steps
- Get a first look at a demonstration site
Arlington County Board members approved the program in late 2020 after hashing out concerns from some opponents about how this would impact people with lower incomes. Members were convinced by the case staff made that lower-income people are less likely to have one or more cars and could save money on parking by choosing to park on less-popular streets and for shorter time periods.
Ultimately, however, the pilot project is intended to sort out these concerns and “map out any mitigations that are necessary,” parking planner Stephen Crim said at the time.
Project proponent Chris Slatt said at the time that variable-price parking ensures that spots are generally available where and when people want them. He pointed to the city of San Francisco, which found that the program made it easier for people to find parking. This reduced double parking, improved congestion and lowered greenhouse gas emissions.
An online Q&A about the project lists as goals, “Drivers spend less time looking for on-street parking” and “Vehicle miles travelled resulting from on-street parking search or ‘cruising’ are reduced.” That will come at a cost, though, as parking rates are increased in busy areas.
The virtual community kick-off meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 23 from 7-8:30 p.m.
The old Transportation Security Administration buildings in Pentagon City, vacant and awaiting redevelopment, could get put to a new, temporary use.
Avis Car Rental is looking to add rental operations to the pair of offices and their underground garages at 601 and 701 12th Street S. The business, which currently has a location at 2600 Richmond Hwy, has filed two applications, one for each building, with the county.
The TSA announced in 2015 that it would be leaving its headquarters for offices in Alexandria after the expiration of the five-year lease it signed in 2013. That stalled and amid the pandemic, the agency switched course and instead moved to Springfield, opening its headquarters in 2021.
At the time of the announcement, Arlington was coping with relatively high office vacancy rates driven in part by the departure of major tenants — including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Science Foundation — in search of cheaper leases.
Avis proposes an alternative use until the owner of the office buildings, Brookfield Properties, razes these towers and builds four new towers with a mix of residential, office and retail uses. Brookfield’s redevelopment plans, first filed in 2019, are currently on hold.
“The proposed Vehicle Rental Use will further Arlington County’s goals and aims for a resilient commercial market,” attorney Matthew Weinstein, representing the car rental company, wrote in an application. “The Property is currently operating as a vacant office building until future redevelopment. The Vehicle Rental Use will improve existing conditions by activating space that would otherwise remain vacant for the short to mid-term. Moreover, the Vehicle Rental use will benefit the National Landing area by allowing customers arriving at National Airport to have a reliable and efficient option for renting vehicles during their visit to the Washington, D.C. area.”
Avis plans plans on using 50-250 spaces daily per garage, but is leasing some 922 parking spaces between the two TSA buildings to have extra space “depending on the operational needs,” such as handling overflow from other facilities, Weinstein writes.
Customers will access the facility from the lobbies of both buildings, where there will also be service counters. Avis plans to serve customers and rideshare drivers and rent an estimated 40-50 vehicles per day. The proposed hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
“The Applicant’s vehicle rental facility network works cohesively to ensure each rental facility is meeting customer demands and the Applicant’s operational needs. This means that at certain times each vehicle rental facility in the Applicant’s network will back up and supplement each other depending on demand and operational requirements.”
Meanwhile, plans to redevelop the TSA buildings have been on hold since 2020, at the request of Arlington County planners, Brookfield previously told the Washington Business Journal. At the time, they were working on a new sector plan to guide future development in Pentagon City.
The plan that was in place when Brookfield filed preliminary redevelopment plans reached the end of its useful life in light of Amazon’s second headquarters. Despite some vocal opposition, the Arlington County Board approved a new plan that focuses on residential infill development and “ribbons” of tree- and plant-lined walking paths.
Brookfield did not return a request for comment about an updated timeline for redevelopment.
Thanksgiving week is here and, based on past polls, that means about 45% of you are traveling.
Our 2015 morning poll on the topic found that most local Thanksgiving travelers — about 75% — will do so by car, while 20% will travel by plane.
With that in mind, we have three key tips for Thanksgiving road and air travelers.
1. If driving, leave earlier or later in the day
Expect plenty of traffic if you’re planning to drive to your destination on Wednesday, but you can avoid some of it by leaving earlier in the morning or later at night. The same applies for those driving back on Saturday or Sunday.
“Based on the traffic data, periods of heavy congestion are most likely to occur from mid-morning to evening on Wednesday, Nov. 23, afternoon on Saturday, Nov. 26, and all day on Sunday, Nov. 27,” said a VDOT press release last week.
Based on a VDOT map of past travel trends, there is likely to be a fair amount of traffic in and out of Northern Virginia on Tuesday as well, particularly around the evening rush hour.
VDOT will be suspending most work zones and lane closures from Nov. 23-28, but that will only marginally ease the traffic onslaught.
2. Reserve your airport parking now
However, you’re unlikely to find much — if any — parking by the time Wednesday rolls around. Fortunately, as of publication, online reservations were still available for Terminal 2 and economy parking.
Meanwhile, if you’re flying out of Dulles International Airport, don’t forget that the new Silver Line extension to Dulles is now open.
3. Drive carefully (and if you don’t, State Police might stop you)
With so many people on the roads, sometimes after having a few drinks, Thanksgiving weekend is sadly a time of many serious crashes nationwide.
That’s why authorities regularly encourage drivers to be extra careful this time of year.
Virginia State Police announced this morning that it would be conducting extra patrols and enforcement for Thanksgiving. More from a press release, below.
For many Virginians, gathering with family and friends is the true meaning for Thanksgiving. Some will even travel long distances to share in these wonderful family moments. Just as important as it is to make sure those pies and casseroles make it to the dinner table safely, motorists need to make their own safety a priority, as well. Virginia State Police is reminding all drivers and passengers of all ages to buckle up this holiday weekend. Preliminary data show that 54% of those who have died in traffic crashes this year were not wearing a seatbelt or safety restraint.*
“The fact that more than half of those who have lost their lives in traffic crashes this year were not wearing a seatbelt is a tragic and inexcusable reality for Virginia,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Your family wants you to arrive safely and clicking a seatbelt can help that happen. Virginia State Police and your loved ones want you to arrive at your destination safely – ditch distractions, comply with posted speed limits, never drive buzzed or drunk, and, again, always buckle up.”
The parking garage over I-66 near Ballston is falling apart and needs repairs, says the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The garage sits above I-66 between N. Stafford and Quincy streets, next to Washington-Liberty High School. It serves as the primary parking area for the school and is the site of a seasonal flea market, called the Arlington Civitan Open Air Market.
VDOT has launched a public engagement period to brief locals on the garage’s deteriorating condition and the $2.7 million in planned improvements. Through next Monday, Nov. 7, people can provide comments online in a survey and by email or postal mail.
The Commonwealth seeks public input on repairing and rehabilitating the parking garage over I-66 at Washington-Liberty HS. And yes, galvanic cathodic protection is on the menu. https://t.co/dZQmSIbbWl pic.twitter.com/ZSWuwTpuN7
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) October 28, 2022
The state transportation department says it aims to minimize traffic disruptions and keep most parking spaces available during construction. VDOT expects to send out the project for bid next summer and to start work in the fall of 2023, with construction wrapping up in about six months.
“The purpose of this project is to address various conditions identified through routine inspections that are likely to deteriorate further if not repaired soon,” a VDOT staff member said in a presentation. “Delaying action could allow some of them to become critical requiring much more extensive, expensive and disruptive repairs down the road. The repairs will ensure the structure remains safe for all users for years to come.”
The garage was built in 1982, and since then, there has been no major work performed beyond routine maintenance, VDOT Communications Coordinator Mike Murphy tells ARLnow.
After 40 years of exposure to the elements — including cycles of freezing and thawing, anti-icing salts, and high temperatures — the garage’s columns and surfaces are worse for wear, according to the state transportation department’s presentation. The presenter said these signs of deterioration are typical of structures this age.
Some columns on the garage’s lower level need significant repairs to ensure its structural integrity, the presenter said. Leaking water has caused the reinforcing steel within the concrete to corrode, causing the concrete to break in flakes.
In one phase of the project, traffic lanes on I-66 will be shifted to the outside lane and the shoulder to allow work along the median, per the presentation. Lane closures are expected to be limited to single lanes.
“The majority of repair work occurs on the lower level along I-66, which is isolated from parking areas of the garage,” the VDOT staff member said. “There will be no changes to local traffic patterns or pedestrian flow on N. Quincy Street, N. Stafford Street, or 15th Street N.”
No impacts to the Custis Trail — which runs parallel to I-66 under the garage — are anticipated at this time, Murphy said.
There has been even more drama in the Gold’s Gym parking lot near Ballston.
The parking lot has gained notoriety after featuring prominently into the Virginia Attorney General’s largely unsuccessful lawsuit against Advanced Towing last year and, more recently, being the scene of an alleged assault that led to the resignation of a D.C. deputy mayor this week.
The latest incident happened around noon yesterday (Thursday). Police were dispatched to the parking lot on the 3900 block of Wilson Blvd for a report of a man with a crowbar smashing the window of a car while someone was inside.
“At approximately 12:13 p.m. on October 13, police were dispatched to the report of a destruction of property,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, it was determined the male victim was inside his vehicle when the suspect approached and smashed the front passenger side window. The suspect fled the scene when he noticed the victim was inside the vehicle.”
The getaway vehicle was said to be a black Honda Civic, according to scanner traffic.
While the timing was conspicuous, given the highly-publicized case involving the D.C. official, police said it does not appear to have any connection to that incident and was likely an attempted theft.
“The victim’s wallet was in the passenger seat at the time of the incident and it appears this incident may have been an attempted larceny from auto,” Savage told ARLnow. “The investigation is ongoing.”
Photo via Google Maps
Residential Permit Parking enforcement is in full swing — but some residents say they’re still waiting for their renewed permits to arrive and are concerned they will be unfairly ticketed until then.
Enforcement began yesterday (Tuesday) in Residential Permit Parking zones: residential areas near commercial corridors where residents pay for permits to ensure they have a spot on their street.
Customers have to renew their permits annually, a process that typically begins in April. Otherwise, they risk getting ticketed when the county begins looking for the new fiscal year’s permit.
Black Tuesday, 8am tomorrow. 👇👇👇👇 https://t.co/yLPBqglSQr
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) September 5, 2022
But some residents took to Nextdoor to say they were still waiting on their permits when enforcement began yesterday.
“[A]ll I got was a receipt. I don’t even have temporary parking passes and they ticket in my zone,” said one commenter.
Others reported trouble reaching county staff to track down their permit.
“I finally received my stickers after much difficulty, multiple emails, and several phone calls,” another Nextdoor user said. “What used to take minutes each year has taken me hours this year, the price has almost doubled over the past few years, and I’m penalized for having a driveway, which now makes me eligible for one less permit.”
For a handful of registrants, that was due to a delayed printing order, but for others, it’s par for the course, according to Peter Golkin, a spokesman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services.
“We tell residents to expect the process to take a month from application to shipping to receipt of permit materials,” he said. “Every year a number of orders are lost or damaged in the mail or are returned as undeliverable even though the address is correct on the envelope. Those orders have to be investigated and put back into a queue.”
The concerns arose despite the county delaying and extending the permit renewal period.
“The new software system for parking permits was not ready for the usual renewal season start of April 1,” Golkin said. “The software had to be fine-tuned and tested and was finally ready in May.”
The county delayed enforcement until September to account for late-summer travel.
For those without their permanent 2022-23 tags, the county is emailing 45-day, temporary passes to customers who report that their permit materials were lost or not delivered, as well as those who placed their orders after mid-August.
There are a few measures residents can take to avoid a ticket during this period.
“Most RPP residents have off-street parking available in addition to their temporary passes. We encourage those residents with off-street parking to use it if possible, and for all customers to use valid temporary passes while they wait for permit materials to arrive in the mail,” Golkin said.
Those who are worried their temporary passes will expire soon can email [email protected], call 703-228-3344 or visit the Treasurer’s Office in-person at county government headquarters in Courthouse for assistance, he said.
“If a resident is concerned that a temporary pass is about to expire before an order arrives, email [email protected] and the situation will be investigated and a new temporary pass issued if necessary,” he said.
This is the latest blip for the permit parking program. The county reported technical difficulties with its software last year, when a handful of residents with newly constructed homes risked getting ticketed because the system did not recognize their newly created addresses.
The county modified the program in February 2021, reducing available permits for households with driveways, raising fees for additional vehicles and visitor permits while lowering prices for low-income residents, and allowing some multi-family buildings to join the program.
An idea to institute paid, two-hour parking in RPP zones was nixed after pushback from residents and some members of the Planning Commission.
A man upset after being confronted about parking illegally in the Courthouse area allegedly drew a weapon, police say.
The incident happened around 6 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday) near the intersection of Clarendon Blvd and N. Troy Street, a couple of blocks downhill from the Courthouse Metro station.
“At approximately 6:11 p.m. on August 24, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The investigation determined the suspect was illegally parked when the victim approached on foot and confronted him. The suspect then exited his vehicle and allegedly retrieved a weapon, which was later determined to be an airsoft gun, from the trunk. The victim safely left the area and no injuries were reported.”
“Upon arrival, officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident,” the crime report says.
Despite the gun ultimately being found to be a pellet gun, according to police, the suspect — a 28-year-old Fairfax man — was charged with brandishing. He was also charged with DUI and driving with a suspended license, and held without bond, per the crime report.
The County Board is set to consider construction of an underground garage topped with a turf field at The Heights building in Rosslyn.
After issues with the original project design for the garage, revisions to the plan ultimately have eased concerns, and county staff recommends the revised use permit be approved at the Arlington County Board meeting this Saturday (July 16), according to a Board report.
But the county’s Planning Commission still isn’t on board with the new plan.
The Arlington Public Schools proposal calls for 61 parking spaces in the underground garage, with a lighted, rectangular, synthetic turf field above. The field is part of an agreement between APS and the county to construct outdoor athletic facilities at the school, according to the Board report.
The previous proposal, submitted to the Board in May, had several issues, mostly concerning the adjacent 18th Street N., which runs parallel to Wilson Blvd. Under the previous design, the street would have been narrowed by eight feet, removing its southern on-street parking lane which could “cause significant operational issues for APS buses,” according to the report.
APS also originally proposed garage access to private vehicles for pickups and drop-offs during school opening and closing each day. The report stated that would pose “a significant operational and safety challenge.”
Additionally, the original proposal would build the turf field to provide access to the first floor of The Heights on the same level. However, that would diminish public and student access and visibility along other sides of the field.
To address those problems, APS would maintain the width of 18th Street N. and keep the parking lane next to H-B Woodlawn, constructing a 5-foot wide, 18-inch tall planter with a seat wall along the length of the garage facade, as well as adding trees on the curbs near the garage and relocating streetlights.
Despite the changes, the Planning Commission still urged the County Board to deny the permit. The commission unanimously agreed that the new proposal failed to conform to the West Rosslyn Area Plan, the Rosslyn Sector Plan and the Arlington County Comprehensive Plan, according to its report.
Specifically, the proposed elevation of the turf field is in conflict with the area plan’s goal of avoiding above-ground or ground level parking, while blocking some pedestrians from viewing The Heights building, which the commission called “a public-facing jewel for both Arlington, the greater D.C. area, and the Commonwealth.”
Although the Transportation Commission voted to recommend approval for the new proposal, it still had doubts about the increased height of the field’s impact on pedestrians on 18th Street N., as well as the plan to build 30 new employee parking spaces when school staff can park at an existing, nearby parking garage instead, according to the commission’s report.
Photo (below) via Google Maps
Five “Complete Streets” roadway project designs are ready for community feedback.
As part of Arlington County’s Complete Streets program, the projects aim to improve safety and access on local roads. The changes are usually made in conjunction with repaving projects and mostly involve re-striping the roadway, sometimes at the expense of parking or through lanes.
According to the project website, the five stretches of roadway that are up for improvements this year are:
- Wilson Boulevard — N. George Mason Drive to N. Vermont Street (Bluemont)
- Clarendon Boulevard — N. Garfield Street to N. Adams Street (Clarendon / Courthouse)
- Clarendon Boulevard — Courthouse Road to N. Scott Street (Courthouse / Rosslyn)
- S. Abingdon Street / 34th Street S. — Bridge over I-395 (Fairlington)
- N. Ohio Street — 12th Road N. to Washington Boulevard (Madison Manor / Highland Park-Overlee Knolls / Dominion Hills)
Those interested in giving feedback on the designs can fill out an online form on the project website through Wednesday, July 6. The final plans are expected to be released in late summer or fall.
S. Abingdon Street bridge
The county’s Department of Environmental Services plans to remove under-utilized parking from the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington.
The project would add buffer zones to the bike lanes to improve access for cyclists and safety for those using the sidewalks, while narrowing the travel lanes for speed control, according to its concept design summary.
Residents previously expressed concern about drivers speeding on the bridge while students walk to and from school.
The bridge is also part of a planned VDOT rehabilitation project, which will include adding concrete protective barriers and replacing bearings.
Wilson Blvd between N. George Mason Drive to N. Vermont Street
The segment of Wilson Blvd in Bluemont between N. George Mason Drive and N. Vermont Street, near Ballston, could see additional high contrast markings at high conflict crosswalks, according to the designs.
The plan is to reduce Wilson Blvd to one travel lane in each direction, with a center turn lane into N. George Mason Drive to better control vehicle speed.
The design plan also includes modifying markings to extend the left turn lane near N. George Mason Drive. The project would also add bike lanes and a continuous center turn lane east of the fire station.
The section of Wilson Blvd between George Mason and the Safeway grocery store saw similar changes last year.
Clarendon Blvd from N. Garfield Street to N. Adams Street
A segment of Clarendon Blvd is set for changes between N. Garfield Street and N. Adams Street, in the Clarendon and Courthouse area, including the removal of nine parking spots.
Apart from reducing parking spaces, the project team also plans to add high contrast markings at high conflict crosswalks. A bike box is set to be added at Clarendon Boulevard’s intersection with N. Garfield Street to make turning easier for cyclists.
The plan will also add parking protection to the bike lane between N. Garfield Street and N. Edgewood Street. A county summary says residents in the area expressed concern about speeding, unsafe pedestrian crossings and double parking in the bike lane.
Beyer Wins 8th District Nomination — Updated at 9:50 a.m. — “Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat, has fended off a primary challenge from Victoria Virasingh in the 8th Congressional District. Beyer will face Republican Karina Lipsman, who won a Republican convention last month… With 177 precincts of 182 reporting, Beyer leads, 77.82% to 22.18%.” [WTOP, Fox 5]
Statement from Beyer — “I am grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again making me their Democratic nominee to represent Virginia’s 8th District… This is a challenging moment for the Democratic Party, and I look forward to throwing myself into that fight and making the case for equality, shared prosperity, and progress.” [Twitter]
Singing Challenger’s Praises — From Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “Thank you to @Victoria4VA for running and raising important issues in our community. It’s never easy to step into the arena and, win or lose, we should all be grateful to those who do. I am sure we have not heard the last of Victoria!” [Twitter]
Man Drowns in Four Mile Run — “No foul play is suspected in the drowning death of a 52-year-old man in Four Mile Run, according to Alexandria Police. Police were called around 2 p.m. on Monday, June 20. Rescuers found the man in the stream near the 3900 block of Richmond Highway.” [ALXnow]
Neighbors Want Public Garage — “County, regional and state officials descended on Shirlington Road on June 15, ceremonially kicking off construction of a much-awaited and oft-debated maintenance facility for the Arlington Transit (ART) bus fleet… But the proposal still calls for using a parking garage on the parcel exclusively for staff use. ‘Given local parking challenges, a little creative thinking would open sections of the garage for public use, too,’ Stombler said.” [Sun Gazette]
Acquisition for Arlington Company — “Leonardo DRS Inc., the Arlington subsidiary of Italian defense and space contractor Leonardo SpA, said Tuesday it has agreed to merge with Israel’s Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. in an all-stock deal that will create a new public company.” [Washington Business Journal]
Storms Possible Today — From the Capital Weather Gang: “Heads-up for Wednesday afternoon + evening: HEAVY RAIN threat for parts of region and possibility of flooding. * Storms — possibly numerous — between 3 and 10p * It won’t rain the whole time but some areas could see multiple bouts of heavy rain — evening may be busiest.” [Twitter]
It’s Wednesday — Rain and storms in the evening and overnight. High of 86 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
Rent Keeps Going Up — “Arlington’s median apartment-rental rate remains highest in the metropolitan area and has fully rebounded from dropoffs during the early part of COVID, according to new data. With a median rental rate of $1,999 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,391 for two bedrooms in May, Arlington’s average rental… is now up just under 13 percent year-over-year.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Making Much Multifamily — From a spokesperson, about a new set of national rankings: “Multi-family units authorized in Arlington increased by 1,095.8% — a total addition of 2,838 units — between 2020 and 2021. Out of all midsize cities, Arlington experienced the 5th largest increase in multi-family home construction.” [Construction Coverage]
Group Decries Missing Middle ‘D-Day’ — From WAMU’s Ally Schweitzer: “With Arlington expected to enact zoning reforms allowing denser housing in more nabes, the group [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future] is ramping up its rhetoric in opposition. The group’s latest blast calls the expected vote day ‘D-Day.’ They’ve said the county is ‘declaring war’ on single-family nabes.” [Twitter]
Parking Removed for Transitway Extension — From the National Landing BID: “Parking lanes along Crystal Drive and 12th Street South will be closed to make way for the Transitway Extension Project beginning Wednesday, June 15, 2022.” [Twitter]
Pedestrian Struck in Bluemont — From Dave Statter last night: “Report of a pedestrian struck at Wilson Blvd & George Mason Dr. Appears to be a bicyclist. There was also bicyclist struck last week a block away. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVaPD handling.” [Twitter]
Amazon Buys HQ2 Phase 2 Site — “Amazon.com Inc. has acquired the roughly 11 vacant acres in Pentagon City that will soon be developed as PenPlace, the massive second phase of HQ2. The $198 million deal with JBG Smith, as expected, follows Arlington County’s late April approval of PenPlace, a nearly 3.3 million-square-foot project slated to include three traditional office buildings, a spiral Helix tower, three retail pavilions, a central park and an underground parking garage.” [Washington Business Journal]
Environmental Finding on HQ2 Site — “Crude oil particles have been found in the soil at Amazon.com Inc.’s PenPlace, the site of the second phase of its second headquarters buildout in Arlington County, per a public notice published Monday in The Washington Post… The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality conducted a risk assessment for the particles, finding that the amount poses ‘no material risk to current or future site occupants,’ according to the notice.” [Washington Business Journal]
It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day with some rain possible. High of 76 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:33 pm. [Weather.gov]