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A new bridge in Glencarlyn Park (courtesy Dennis Dimick)

Update at 4 p.m. on 3/15/22 — President Joe Biden has signed a $1.5 trillion spending bill with funding for three projects in Arlington. 

In the 10 months it took for the funding to pass, Arlington County substantially completed two of the projects: repaving parts of the Bluemont Junction Trail and replacing a pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park.

The county moved forward with them in the interim due to safety concerns and the uncertain nature of federal funding, Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow on Tuesday.

The funding will pay for any remaining work and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is considering how to repurpose any unspent funds on similar projects, she said. 

Earlier: A $1.5 trillion spending bill that cleared Congress on Friday has funding for three projects in Arlington.

The bill includes $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine’s fight against Russia and will fund the federal government through September, avoiding an impending government shutdown. Now the 2,741-page bill is headed to the desk of President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it this week.

The bill also sends Arlington County more than $1.4 million to pay for a health initiative and two parks projects, for which Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) requested federal assistance last May. In total, the spending package has $5.4 million earmarked for 10 projects in Northern Virginia, at Beyer’s request.

“This funding will translate to significant, beneficial projects in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax County,” he said in a statement on Friday. “I am thankful to my colleagues who enacted the legislation to fund these initiatives, and to the local leaders who worked with me to identify and develop the initial requests. These projects will make a real, positive difference in our region.”

Arlington County’s Department of Human Services is getting $390,000 to purchase two medically equipped vehicles for a forthcoming mobile crisis response team. While not yet in existence, the team will be responsible for responding to behavioral health crises and providing on-site treatment.

The team was a recommendation of the Police Practices Group, which identified about 100 ways policing could be reformed in Arlington, including some ways the county could remove police officers from its mental health crisis response.

The county earmarked $574,000 in the current budget to staff the team with a physician’s assistant, nurse and clinician, and to buy a transport van and operating supplies.

DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick says the vehicles will be purchased once the County Board officially accepts and allocates the federal funding, which will take a couple of months. The mobile crisis response team, meanwhile, is “not up and running yet,” he said.

“County residents do have access to Community Regional Crisis Response services, however, which is a mobile crisis response,” he said. “And our Emergency Services staff can and do go into the community when need arises and staffing allows.”

The county will receive $325,000 to fund repaving and repairs for a segment of the Bluemont Junction Trail and adjacent connector paths. A 2018 trails assessment determined the Bluemont Junction Trail needed significant investments, as the condition of the asphalt is deteriorating in many sections.

The section paid for by the federal government spans the intersection of N. George Mason Drive and Wilson Blvd to the intersection of the trail with the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

This project is divided into two phases, according to the county. The first phase, completed late last year, updated the main trail and most of its connecting paths. The second phase will update three remaining trail connectors, which need to be realigned to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Phase two construction is expected to begin and end this spring and early summer.

Arlington budgeted $550,000 in its 2022-24 Capital Improvements Plan for the project.

The county will also receive $800,000 for the replacement of a pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park. The bridge, lost during the July 2019 flash flooding, was recently installed. The project was part of the adopted 2021 Capital Improvements Plan.

Outside of Arlington, local earmarks in the bill will support storm sewer and climate resilience improvements in the City of Alexandria and Falls Church City and improve information technology services in Fairfax County. It will also support a pilot program for the deployment of body-worn cameras in the Alexandria Police Department and safety improvements to the GW Parkway.

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Pothole on Lorcom Lane in 2014 (file photo)

March: when it can be nearly 80 degrees one day and under 40 degrees the next. And in Arlington, the month marks the start of pothole filling and street repaving season.

There are 1,059 lane miles of roadway in Arlington County, and every March, the Arlington Department of Environmental Services launches its effort to fill in potholes caused by winter freezes and repave about 7-8% of roads.

The 2022 repaving season is kicking off with fewer pothole service requests while DES aims to repave 74 lane miles of road, spokesman Peter Golkin tells ARLnow.

This goal is about on-pace with the number of miles the department has repaved in recent years, according to data from DES.

But first, crews are attending to the potholes. Street repaving will begin later this month.

“March is generally the unofficial start of the pothole filling season as winter storm weather recedes and staff can focus on road conditions rather than storm response,” Golkin said.

So far, county crews have filled 462 potholes, of which 360 were filled in February, he says. Meanwhile, there have been about 254 pothole service requests filed by residents since Jan. 1, according to data from the county.

The number of potholes on local roads has generally declined over the last five years due in part to milder winters, compared to the colder, harsher winters in years past that caused thousands of potholes. The winter of 2019 broke that downward trend with more than 5,100 potholes, however.

“2019 stands out for a 10-inch snow event and about a dozen events total whereas the past couple of years have been much milder,” Golkin said.

This year also saw a few winter storms and extended bouts of freezing temperatures, which precipitated hundreds of water main breaks in Arlington. But the “historically snowy January” gave way to a mild February and — overall — a milder than normal winter for the sixth time in the past seven years, according to the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

Total potholes filled annually from 2017 through 2021

But potholes are not just declining because of weather, says the county’s sewers and streets bureau spokesman. Another factor is the county’s stepped-up repaving schedule over the last eight years.

“As the County invests more in paving and the overall street Pavement Condition Index (PCI) increases, the overall number of pothole fill requests trend downward,” Golkin said.

The index increased from a low of 67 out of 100 in 2014 — the result of years of anemic repaving rates — to 80.2 in 2020. Arlington achieved this lift after tripling the number of annual road miles paved.

Now, the county aims to repave 72 to 75 lane miles every year in order to maintain a score between 75 and 80, per the adopted 2021-22 fiscal year budget.

Miles of streets planned for repaving versus repaved, since 2019

Road users can expect this work to start later this month and to continue through early fall.

“Paving season traditionally runs from the end of March to the end of September, but weather and contractor availability can push things back,” Golkin said. “A segment of planned paving may be shifted to another year for various reasons including nearby new utility work or a construction project nearby that’s fallen behind schedule.”

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Morning Notes

Dave Grohl Rocks Local Studio — “Dave Grohl doesn’t seem terribly interested in taking a day off. Shortly after the 9:30 Club announced the Grohl-led Foo Fighters would play a surprise show Thursday, the former Nirvana drummer reunited with D.C.-based punk rockers, at Inner Ear Studio — the legendary and soon-to-close Arlington, Virginia, recording studio owned by Don Zientara.” [WTOP]

Fmr. Fire Chief on Arlington’s 9/11 Response — “‘It was truly an all-hands-on-deck endeavor,’ Schwartz said at the historical society’s annual banquet, held Sept. 9 at Washington Golf & Country Club. ‘We’re all in this together. There’s not a single agency or even a single jurisdiction that can handle this by themselves.’ Schwartz pointed to the county’s then-fire chief, Edward Plaugher, for his work building relationships with agencies like the FBI. Plaugher ‘was ahead of his time’ in being concerned about terrorism.” [Sun Gazette]

Night Paving at Busy Intersection — “Nighttime paving continues overnight this week at the Langston Boulevard (Lee Highway)-Glebe Road intersection improvements project… lasting into Friday, Sept. 17.” [Twitter]

Nicecream Hits Rocky Road — Nicecream, the handcrafted ice cream shop that expanded after finding success with its first location in Clarendon, is closing its Shaw store in the District. [PoPville]

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The final plans are in for a trio of road projects in Arlington, and two out of three involve the removal of travel lanes.

The projects — in Rosslyn, Dominion Hills and Crystal City/Potomac Yard — are all part of the county’s 2020 road repaving schedule. Each has been singled out for changes to the lane striping via the county’s Resurfacing Projects for Complete Streets program, which aims to make streets safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians via inexpensive means during the regular repaving cycle.

The first project is planned in Rosslyn along Clarendon Blvd, from N. Rhodes Street to N. Oak Street, near the standalone Starbucks. The plans call for new sections of buffered and protected bike lanes, green paint for bike lanes through intersections, upgraded signage, and no reduction in travel lanes — though it will remove seven of 78 on-street parking spaces.

The Clarendon Blvd project is set to start construction this month.

The second project will reconfigure Potomac Avenue in the Potomac Yard area of Crystal City, from Crystal Drive to the county line. The project calls for upgraded bike lanes, an interim on-street pedestrian zone along a construction site, new turn lanes, and 34 new parking spaces. One of two travel lanes in each direction will be removed, though the road has relatively light traffic.

The Potomac Avenue project is also set to start construction this month, and is reportedly now underway.

Finally, the last project will make changes to Wilson Blvd through the Dominion Hills neighborhood, from Bon Air Park to the county line. It calls for the addition of turn lanes, dedicated school and transit bus stop lanes, curb extensions for shorter crossing distances, buffered bike lanes, and marked bike lanes through intersections. It adds one parking spot to the stretch but removes one of two travel lanes in each direction.

The removal of lanes follows a prior, similar project along sections of Wilson Blvd from Bluemont to Bon Air Park, which was somewhat controversial at the time but only resulted in minimal traffic impacts for the average rush hour commuter.

The Wilson Blvd project is set to start construction later this summer or in the early fall.

The design process for the three projects involved two virtual open houses and rounds of public feedback, through which a number of modifications to the plans were made.

File photo (top). Street view images (1) (2) and (3) via Google Maps.

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(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) Arlington County will be holding a virtual public meeting tonight to discuss a trio of road projects set for later this year.

The county plans to repave and re-stripe portions of Wilson Blvd in the Dominion Hills and Boulevard Manor neighborhoods, Potomac Avenue in Potomac Yard, and Clarendon Blvd in the Courthouse and Rosslyn neighborhoods. The work is expected to take place this summer and fall, following the current public engagement process.

Arlington has been using its regularly-planned street maintenance to re-stripe roads in an effort make them safer, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists. It often involves the addition or enhancement of bike lanes, sharrows and crosswalks.

At an online meeting tonight from 6:30-7:30 p.m., held via Microsoft Teams, county staff will present the concept plans for its three 2020 projects while seeking public feedback.

More from the event page:

The Master Transportation Plan identifies routine street maintenance as an opportunity to provide cost-effective and easy to implement measures to improve safety and access for all people using the street. Community engagement is a core value in Arlington, and we wanted to provide opportunities for community members to share their feedback on the concept plans for the 2020 Street Maintenance season.

Please join county staff for an online meeting on Thursday, June 4 from 6:30-7:30 pm to learn about the project, ask questions and share feedback on the design concepts for the three 2020 Resurfacing Projects for Complete Streets.

Staff will present concepts for:

  • Wilson Boulevard – N Larrimore Street to McKinley Road (Dominion Hills/Boulevard Manor)
  • Potomac Avenue – S Crystal Drive to Alexandria City Line (Potomac Yard)
  • Clarendon Boulevard – N Nash to N Oak Street (Clarendon-Courthouse/Radnor/Fort Myer Heights)

The country recently repaved and re-striped portions of Lorcom Lane and Military Road. The work was done in conjunction with construction on the new Dorothy Hamm Middle School.

An online open house in April discussed all four projects.

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Over the course of a typical winter, Arlington County crews fill thousands of potholes on local roads.

The winter of 2019-2020 is not typical, however. Crews have thus far only filled 455 potholes around the county’s 26 square miles, as the unusually mild winter has resulted and far less of the thawing and refreezing that’s responsible for pothole formation.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which is responsible for road paving and maintenance, tweeted about the lack of potholes yesterday.

“Needless to say, Arlington roads are in better-than-usual shape for March because of the minimal effects of this winter,” DES spokesman Peter Golkin tells ARLnow. “We still have more than two weeks to go until official spring so perhaps we’re jinxing things. Snow is obviously possible in March and storms have happened even in April.”

“To keep things in perspective, we generally mobilize for 18 to 20 snow events per season,” Golkin continued. “So far we’ve prepared for four. Definitely beats a blizzard if you have to choose. When crews don’t need to fill potholes, they can take care of other road issues ahead of long-term paving.”

Paving season in Arlington is expected to start at the end of March and run into November.

“Weather-permitting, many streets will have that new surface smell soon,” said Golkin.

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Morning Notes

VDOT Repaving Planned This Month — “Upcoming @VaDOTNOVA night paving into August: Glebe Road, Spout Run Parkway, Washington Boulevard, Route 1 aka Richmond Highway aka the roadway formerly known as Jefferson Davis. Dates tentative, subject to change.” [Twitter]

ACPD Still Not Meeting Staffing Goal — The Arlington County Police Department has, on net, added a few new officers over the past year. But staffing challenges remain, echoing challenges for police departments across the region: ACPD currently has 352 officers despite a staffing goal of 374 officers. [NBC 4]

Arlington Hiring Public Safety Positions — Arlington County is currently hiring school crossing guards and 911 dispatchers.

Lee Highway Apartment Complex Sold — “A 50-year-old apartment complex along Route 29 in Arlington County has traded hands for the first time in 20 years. Connecticut-based Westport Capital Partners, through the entity WM MF Horizons Property LLC, acquired the Horizons Apartments from an entity connected to Dweck Properties to in a deal that closed June 26 for $71M, Arlington County property records show.” [Bisnow]

Rosslyn-Based Firm Buys Clyde’s — “It’s official: Clyde’s Restaurant Group, a 56-year-old institution in Greater Washington’s restaurant scene, is now a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Co. Graham, which is led by members of the Graham family that formerly owned The Washington Post, did not disclose a sale price.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: More People Biking in Alexandria — “More than halfway through this summer’s Blue and Yellow Line shutdown… bicycle volume [has] almost doubled on the Metro Linear Trail, a smaller, along-rail trail which connects the King Street and Braddock Road stations.” [DCist]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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Update on 8/13/19 — After initially being set to skip next weekend due to scheduled parking lot paving, the Courthouse farmers market is back on for Saturday, Aug. 24.

Earlier: A project to repave Arlington County’s large surface parking lot in Courthouse is now underway.

The first phase of the project, which will make some repairs in a small portion of the lot, is scheduled to take place through Wednesday. The bulk of the project is scheduled from Aug. 18-26, necessitating the lot’s closure and the one-week cancellation of the Courthouse Farmers Market.

Eventually, the parking lot is envisioned to become open, green space atop a new underground parking garage — though the repaving project suggests that plan is still far from becoming reality.

More from a county press release:

The Arlington County Police Department will close parts of the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center Surface Parking Lot, located at N. Courthouse Road and N. 14th Street in Courthouse, during July and August for the Department of Environmental Services to complete a milling and paving project.

Phase I Closures (July 14-17)

  • The small lot adjacent to the 1400 block of N. Uhle Street and a designated area in the northeast corner of the large metered lot will be closed to vehicles beginning at 1:00 p.m. on July 14 until July 17 to complete curb and vault repairs prior to milling and paving.

Phase II Closures (August 18-26)

  • The entirety of the large metered lot, the small lot adjacent to the 1400 block of N. Uhle Street and the 1400 block of N. Uhle Street will be closed to vehicles beginning at 1:00 p.m. on August 18 until August 26 to complete milling and paving work. The Courthouse Farmers Market will be cancelled on August 24.

Throughout the duration of the project, on-street parking will be available in the area, as well as parking in the public lot under the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center located at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard.

Motorists are advised to be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs in affected areas during Phase I and the entirety of lot during Phase II of the parking lot. Vehicles parked in these areas may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street or lot, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.

Photo via Google Maps

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(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) Washington Blvd is about to get a bit of a makeover as it runs between Bluemont and Westover, and county officials are looking for some input on potential changes for the area.

VDOT is planning on repaving the road between its intersection with N. Frederick Street and N. McKinley Road later this summer.

As part of that process, workers expect they’ll remove the brick crosswalks and median in the Westover area, as the road runs between N. McKinley Road and N. Longfellow Street. The county is currently working to replace all of its so-called “brick pavers” across Arlington in favor of crosswalks that are both easier to maintain and a bit more visible at night.

Accordingly, the county is looking to accept feedback on what sort of road features could replace those and make the area a bit safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Officials are holding an open house tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Westover Branch Library (1644 North McKinley Road) from 6-7:30 p.m. to accept suggestions.

The county is hoping to make it a bit easier to access the library, the nearby Post Office and the area’s popular businesses, like the Westover Beer Garden and the Italian Store.

“The county is considering several re-striping options, including high visibility crosswalks, bike treatments, and a limited change option,” staff wrote on the county’s website.

That should come as good news for some neighbors concerned about pedestrian safety in the area, especially after a driver struck an elderly woman with a car in a Westover crosswalk in November.

The county is also examining some potential improvements as the road runs between Westover and East Falls Church, including some new bike lanes, additional pedestrian crossings and clearer markings for existing crossings.

Officials are also planning on holding a “pop-up” engagement session at the Westover Farmer’s Market in the library plaza Sunday (March 3) if you can’t make this week’s meeting. Starting later this week, the county will also accept online comments through the end of March on its website.

Photo via Google Maps

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It was an exceptionally rainy summer in the D.C. area, but Arlington County was nonetheless able to complete all of its planned street paving.

“Arlington completed all planned paving projects on October 5, with slurry seal completed on October 19,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Kathryn O’Brien tells ARLnow.com. “The County paved 86.3 lane miles or 390 blocks this year and filled approximately 2,650 potholes.”

By contrast, the Town of Vienna reported earlier this week that it was unable to complete $100,000 worth of paving this year due to inclement weather.

Arlington has been playing catch-up on street paving over the past few years after paving as few as 25 lane miles per year around the turn of the decade, leading to a deterioration of local road conditions.

File photo

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Crystal City’s biggest property owner is now testing out a new pavement sealant in a bid to bring down temperatures and reduce the “heat island” effect increasingly plaguing urban areas.

JBG Smith just sealed a pair of its parking lots in Crystal City, in front of an office building at 241 18th Street S., with a new product dubbed “CoolSeal,” which is designed to bring down temperatures on the asphalt by as much as 10 degrees during even the sunniest months of summer.

The reflective pavement treatment is gaining popularity in the Southwest as a way to reduce the amount of heat bouncing off of wide swaths of pavement, though JBG officials believe this is the first time any company has tested out this particular asphalt coating on the East Coast. The company plans to study the impact of the treatment on the roughly 18,000 square feet of pavement over the next year or so, and could someday starting using at its bevy of properties across the D.C. region.

“One of the benefits of being a larger property owner with a diverse portfolio is the ability to try new things,” Brian Coulter, JBG Smith’s chief development officer, told ARLnow. “We think a lot about, ‘How do we improve the built environment and the experience of people on the ground?’ And this could really make a difference in that respect.”

Coulter says he’d never heard of CoolSeal until reading about it in a landscaping magazine a few weeks back, and the product instantly struck him as a good fit for his company.

Researchers have increasingly found that D.C. has some of the most intense urban heat islands in the country, with the high concentrations of parking lots and buildings driving up temperatures in more developed neighborhoods when summer rolls around. Coulter says he never saw the heat in Crystal City as especially problematic, but because the company owns so much property in the neighborhood, he felt it was a natural spot to test out CoolSeal on as large a space as possible.

“It’s a big enough area where you’re not just dealing with a couple parking spaces,” Coulter said. “It just felt like a continuation of some of the other experiments and interventions we’ve done there before, particularly around public art.”

JBG ended up using about 550 gallons of the coating, with workers applying it to the parking lots over the course of the first two weekends in October. The company estimates the effort cost about $50,000, in all.

Yet Coulter believes the experiment could end up being well worth the expense if it works as intended. He says the company plans to measure the sealant’s impact on the temperature on the parking lots, and the surrounding area, through the end of next summer to see how it works in practice.

Should it have a notable impact, Coulter expects JBG could use CoolSeal all throughout its properties in both Crystal City and Pentagon City, as part of the developer’s continuing efforts to link the neighborhoods together. The company has all manner of new projects underway in Crystal City, fueling Amazon HQ2 speculation with its dominance in the area, and is also backing the major PenPlace development in Pentagon City.

“We see those two areas as part of the broader neighborhood, and one way to better establish that is with the pedestrian experience,” Coulter said. “If this is done well, it will work well for the people who visit and the people who live there.”

He doesn’t think CoolSeal needs to be limited to just parking lots, either. He envisions everywhere from basketball courts to bike trails to the roofs of tall buildings being ripe for the heat-reducing treatment, and that goes for all of JBG’s properties around the D.C. area.

“We’re really excited about the possibility and potential of this,” Coulter said. “Because, clearly, if this has the type of impact we’re looking for, it really does fit in nicely with everything we’re trying to do.”

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