Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Police Searching for Groping Suspect — “N. Glebe Road at 24th Road N. At approximately 7:45 p.m. on April 1, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 7:30 p.m., the female victim was walking in the area when the unknown suspect approached her from behind and grabbed her buttocks. The victim turned around and yelled at the suspect, who fled on foot prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County]

Beyer Concerned About Small Biz Loan Program — “U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) this evening held an urgent conference call with representatives of over a dozen Virginia lending institutions to discuss questions and concerns about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan program.” [Press Release]

Caps Player Helping to Feed First Responders — “Caps player Garnet Hathaway may be off the ice during this pandemic, but he’s leaning into giving back. He’s got a program that is providing meals to Arlington County’s first responders.” [Fox 5]

Should Some Lanes Become Pedestrian Zones? — With greatly reduced levels of traffic, and guidelines for those out and about to maintain six feet of distance from one another, some localities are mulling temporarily repurposing vehicle travel lanes into pedestrian zones. A few residents are calling on Arlington to consider something similar. [Twitter, Twitter]

Follow ARLnow on Instagram — Stuck at home and want to see more of what’s going on around different parts of Arlington? Follow our Instagram account for daily updates from ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott. [Instagram]

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A bus station on Washington Blvd is temporarily closing for improvements to an intersection a couple blocks north of the Virginia Square Metro station.

The intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Nelson Street is considered a “hot spot” of crashes, according to an Arlington County project webpage. It’s located on the northeast corner of Quincy Park, one block from Washington-Liberty High School, and several blocks from intersections that have seen a number of notable crashes involving pedestrians.

“Three pedestrian crashes occurred at this location in the three-year analysis timeframe,” staff said in a webpage for the project. “Traffic speeds are generally higher than the posted speed limit. Auto and pedestrian volumes at this location are also relatively high for the facility type.”

The County plans to install rectangular rapid flashing beacons for pedestrians and to make additional crossing and curb improvements to make the intersection more accessible. The changes will also make the sidewalk wider on the northern side of Washington Blvd.

A county staff presentation from December suggests construction will take place over the course of this spring and summer. WMATA says the bus stop at the intersection will be discontinued starting today (Monday) and passengers should board or exit at N. Quincy Street and N. Lincoln Street a block west and east respectively.

Other parts of Washington Blvd have also gone through changes to make the street safer, including the nearby intersection of N. Utah Street.

Map via Google Maps

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Arlington is planning to host an open house to mark the start of the development of the county’s Vision Zero Action Plan.

Last July, the County Board directed County Manager Mark Schwartz to develop goals and an action plan for a comprehensive analysis of traffic safety in Arlington as part of the County’s Vision Zero goals — the name for a series of initiatives aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities.

Details on the plan were vague at the time, though similar plans have been enacted in Alexandria, where some changes like traffic calming measures and lane reductions have been famously controversial.

The open house is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28, from 5-8 p.m. at Washington-Liberty High School (1301 N. Stafford Street). An event listing said visitors will be able to learn more about current Vision Zero plans and share their priorities for improving transportation safety in Arlington.

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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Arlington could finally make progress on a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Four Mile Run near Shirlington that’s been under discussion for nearly two decades, according to county staff.

Staff told the Transportation Commission at a Jan. 9 meeting that the current bridge, which carries two lanes of vehicular traffic in each direction on Shirlington Road, has inadequate bicycle-pedestrian facilities, with only a 3-5 foot sidewalk available.

Pedestrian access on Shirlington Road has been a thorn in the county’s side for years, with efforts made in the past to widen nearby sidewalks and make them more pedestrian-friendly — while the bridge bottleneck remained.

The bridge itself is still in good condition, staff said, so rather than reconstruct the bridge staff said a new bicycle and pedestrian-only bridge constructed 20 feet to the west would provide an alternative transit route without cutting into traffic on the Shirlington bridge.

The project, staff noted, has already been fully funded in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, but not plans have moved forward.

An open house for the pedestrian bridge project is scheduled for Feb. 11 from 6-8 p.m., in which nearby civic associations will be invited, though the location of the open house was not announced. Staff said renderings for the bridge will be available at the open house.

“We are starting to implement what came out of the Four Mile Run area plan,” staff said.

The Four Mile Run plan also considered a, underpass running beneath the bridge, negating the need for cyclists and other trail users to cross busy Shirlington Road, though that was not discussed at the Transportation Commission meeting. Arlington County is currently working on a $15.5 million renovation project for Jennie Dean Park, adjacent to the future bridge.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Regular Schedule for ART Tomorrow — “ART will operate holiday service on Christmas Day (December 25) and New Year’s Day (January 1). On both days, ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 will operate Sunday service. All other ART routes will not operate. ART will operate regular weekday service on December 24.” [Arlington Transit]

Holiday Hours at Pentagon City Mall — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is “offering special holiday hours to accommodate busy holiday shoppers… Shoppers can have their gifts beautifully wrapped this holiday season for a nominal fee with all proceeds benefiting Arms Outstretched, a local nonprofit organization supporting wounded warriors. The gift-wrapping service will be located on the second level near Nordstrom.” [Press Release]

Travel Tips at National Airport — “The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is gearing up for another record holiday travel period at both Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. As the holidays approach, the Airports Authority expects to see heavier traffic and passenger volumes.” [Press Release]

Video Highlights ACPD Crosswalk Enforcement — “WATCH: The Arlington County Police Department routinely conducts pedestrian crosswalk safety enforcement campaigns using decoy officers and federal standards for safe stopping distances.” [Twitter]

Football Team Drops By Elementary School — “Earlier today, the @dcdivasfootball visited Long Branch to talk about who they are, following your passion, health/fitness, and then walked through a few drills. The D.C. Divas, which play in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), are one of the most well-known and successful teams in women’s tackle football.” [Instagram]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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The Arlington County Board is set to vote this weekend on a funding agreement that would advance the proposed Crystal City-National Airport pedestrian connector to a preliminary design phase.

The county plans to use up to $9.5 million in federal funds for an environmental impact study and preliminary design work.

The design work is expected to be complex: figuring out how to connect pedestrians along Crystal Drive, and potentially the VRE station, with the airport Metro station — across active train tracks, the GW Parkway and National Park Service land.

“The goal of the project is to create an intermodal connection, focusing on pedestrian access from the core of the Crystal City business district to DCA,” says a county staff report. “The funding agreement allows the County to use Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality federal funding, distributed through VDOT, to develop the required documents and level of design required for federally funded projects.”

“Although the terminals are less than 2,000 feet from Crystal Drive, current pedestrian access is a circuitous network of trails and road crossings that is difficult to traverse,” the report adds.

The project has been championed by the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which envisions a High Line-esque bridge, with park-like features. The primary goal, however, is to make it easy for people to get from Crystal City to the airport without a Metro or car trip — which is seen as an attractive amenity for office tenants and residents. The design work will determine whether a bridge or a tunnel is the best solution for that.

“This weekend’s Arlington County Board vote represents a key step towards advancing our vision for a bold new connection linking Virginia’s largest downtown and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport,” said Robert Mandle, Chief Operating Officer of the BID. “CC2DCA provides a unique opportunity to leverage existing transportation assets into a multi-modal hub, while also delivering a truly special and iconic piece of urban infrastructure.”

The state’s Commonwealth Transportation Board identified $9.5 million in federal funding in the wake of the Amazon HQ2 announcement. That’s on top of $500,000 in local funding previously allocated.

Once the funding is secured and this phase gets underway, the next phases for the Board to consider will be final design and construction. Last year a study by the BID estimated that construction would cost about $38 million, with annual maintenance fees of $100,000.

Map via Google Maps

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The Arlington County Board has signed off for NOVA Parks to apply for a $5.6 million grant that would widen a portion of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.

If approved, the project will widen two miles of the W&OD Trail between N. Roosevelt Street and N. Carlin Springs Road by eight feet. In addition, the trail will incorporate a “dual path” to divide walkers and cyclists.

“When I talk to trail users I hear the same complaint, which I will attribute to Yogi Berra, ‘No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded,'” said chairman of NOVA Parks Michael Nardolilli during Tuesday’s recessed County Board meeting.

Officials are expected to know if the grant, submitted to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), has been approved by June 2020. If it is, the County Board will review the project plans before giving an official vote on whether to begin construction.

Nearly a dozen people spoke in opposition the project during Tuesday’s meeting. Many stressed that the project it could destroy a large number of trees and damage storm water management, while others expressed disappointment in what they describe as NOVA Park’s lack of public outreach.

Among the groups opposed to the widening is Arlington Tree Action Group, which called it — perhaps a bit hyperbolically — “the most environmentally destructive project that has ever occurred in Arlington’s public spaces.”

The Arlington County Board has moved consideration of a resolution that will allow NOVA Parks (formerly known as the…

Posted by Arlington Tree Action Group on Sunday, November 17, 2019

“My commission learned of this a week ago with no information about what was being planned,” said Phil Klingelhofer, chair of the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission, a county commission that is also concerned about the project. “[This] is in fact putting a multi-lane highway for bikes through the middle of the park.”

Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt said widening the trail would be great for the area’s bike community — citing recommendations from the county’s Master Transportation Plan — but also stressed the need for public engagement and environmental analysis.

“This whole conversation tonight has been one big, giant paradox,” said County Board member Eric Gutshall. “I can’t wrap my head around folks who are concerned about preserving nature and trees, allies to those interested in cycling and using alternative modes of transportation to be a part of larger, sustainable society — somehow, you’re against bicycling and trails.”

The County Board unanimously signed off on the application, with two recommendations for County Manager Mark Schwartz:

(1) Determine the data and analyses that NOVA Parks must submit to substantiate the safety and levels of service concerns along the subject street of the W&OD trail, and (2) initiate a process with NOVA Parks to determine the appropriate level of public engagement for the project along with the information that must be developed and presented…[including] plans to address environmental stewardship including impact on vegetation, flood risk management, erosion, and natural habitats.

“Our support for the seeking of funding, so those plans can be drafted, does not mean endorsement of the final design,” said County Board member Libby Garvey.

Nearby in Falls Church, NOVA Parks has begun a $3.7 million project to widen 1.2 miles of the W&OD Trail in Falls Church, funded mostly through a similar NVTA grant.

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Morning Notes

Scooters Can Officially Ride on Sidewalks, Trails — Details about the new, William Shatner-approved permanent e-scooter and e-bike regulations approved by the County Board over the weekend: “Motorized scooters and skateboards will have a top speed of 15 miles per hour, and e-bicycles will have a top speed of 20 miles per hour on streets and trails. When operating on public sidewalks, the top speed of all the devices is restricted to six miles per hour. The devices will not be allowed to operate on sidewalks where a protected bicycle lane is available and may be prohibited from other sidewalks.” [Arlington County]

Progress on Second Ballston Metro Entrance Plan — “At long last, Arlington seems to be making real progress on building a western entrance to the Ballston Metro station — and that includes finding a path to fund the stalled project. County officials plan to set aside an extra $25 million for the Metro station entrance, then ask for $33.5 million in regional transportation funding for the project.” [Washington Business Journal]

Ballston Harris Teeter Development OKed — “A mixed-use redevelopment approved today by the County Board will replace the Harris Teeter and the American Service Center on N. Glebe Rd. with apartments, a new grocery store, other ground floor retail and a new public open space… community benefits will include a $4.1 million contribution to affordable housing; new public street connections; improvements to the traffic signals at Randolph Street and Glebe Road, and the replacement of a large water main under Glebe Road.” [Arlington County]

Talento Not Seeking Reelection — “I have decided not to seek reelection to my School Board seat. Fulfilling my duties as a public servant take first priority for me and, while it is an honor to serve on the School Board, running a campaign while simultaneously fulfilling these responsibilities is not the best way for me to ensure our students have the future they deserve.” [Blue Virginia]

Jennie Dean Park Project Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a $15.5 million contract with MCN Build, Inc. to begin Jennie Dean Park’s long-awaited transformation.” [Arlington County]

Caps Host TAPS Families at Iceplex — “Late Thursday afternoon, family members of fallen soldiers got a chance to skate with Capitals players in Arlington, Virginia. The Capitals hosted the event with an organization called TAPS – the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.” [WJLA]

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Morning Notes

It’s Election Day — Voting today in Arlington will take place between 6 a.m.-7 p.m. at your local polling place. Most of the local candidates in competitive races penned essays describing why Arlington residents should vote for them. [Arlington County]

Almost A Century Since Suffrage — “Tomorrow represents 99 years of women voting in Arlington. Arlington’s celebrating with 19 events this year.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

‘Baby Trump’ Greeting Key Bridge Commuters — Arlington Democrats have inflated a 13-foot “Baby Trump” on the Virginia side of the Key Bridge as part of a get-out-the-vote message. [Twitter]

Anti-Trans Group is Based in Shirlington — “From the 12th floor of a glass office tower in the Washington suburbs, a campaign to sway the governor’s race in Kentucky on Tuesday is being waged with an alarmist claim that has little to do with the race itself: If Democrats have their way, soon boys will be able to compete against girls in school sports.” [New York Times]

Growing Season Over in D.C. Area — “As of this morning, the growing season has been declared to have ended across our entire forecast area. Frost and freeze [watches and warnings] will not be issued again until Spring 2020.” [Twitter]

Pedestrian Enforcement in Clarendon Tomorrow — “As part of the Street Smart campaign, officers will conduct high-visibility traffic enforcement… November 6th from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. [on the] 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard (Pedestrian Enforcement Detail).” [ARLnow]

Nearby: Va. Tech Unveils Plan for Potomac Yard — “Plans are starting to take shape for North Potomac Yard. Virginia Tech has submitted its first concept plan, showing what its Innovation Campus will look like just as the design of the Potomac Yard Metro station nears its final design phase.” [ALXnow]

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Local governments are rolling out their annual “Street Smart” campaign with a warning about a recent uptick in the number of people on foot killed by drivers.

This fall, the annual campaign by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) will highlight a 14% increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities between 2017 and 2018 regionwide, from 77 people killed in 2017 to 88 in 2018.

The regional government organization unveiled a wall featuring crash stories told by victims yesterday (Monday) at 12th Street and Florida Avenue NE in D.C. That’s where cyclist and safety activist Dave Salovesh was killed by a speeding driver earlier this year — spurring citywide protests and as well as calls for change in Arlington. The wall project is expected to tour Maryland and Virginia as well, per a MWCOG spokeswoman.

One of the victims featured in the awareness campaign is Ren Werbin (above), who was struck while crossing Wilson Blvd near the Ballston Quarter mall around 11 p.m. on February 1. The impact broke vertebrae in Werbin’s back and shattered her collar bone, shoulder, and leg.

“I went from having a neck brace, to having a full back brace, to having a full leg brace, and not being able to move my right arm,” said Werbin in an interview filmed for the project “My world completely changed.”

Werbin spent three months in the hospital recovering from her injuries. An Arlington County Police spokeswoman told ARLnow that an investigation found that the driver — described in an MWCOG press release as “a teen driver in a car full of friends” who “blasted through an intersection” — had a green light at the time and was not cited.

Another testimonial is from a Rosslyn resident who was struck in a crosswalk.

“It happened so fast,” she recounted. “I walked like a penguin for months. Finally, I walked like a normal person, but I was scared of the streets. The physical pain passes, but it was traumatic.”

The most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates while driving a car has become safer over the years, walking on roads has become more dangerous. And the majority of pedestrian who are killed are hit after dark — a concern that grows later in the year when the hours of daylight wanes in the fall.

Last November saw the highest number of pedestrians hit in the D.C. area (292) out of any other month, per data shared by MWCOG. In Arlington, the month with the highest number of pedestrian collisions (15) was October.

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Arlington is a hard-charging town, home to the headquarters of the world’s most powerful military and the second headquarters of one of the world’s most valuable companies.

Sometimes, however, the Type A-ness that helps make Arlington Arlington produces negative side effects. A prime example one might cite? More-impatient-than-average drivers.

That was on display this morning (Thursday) as Arlington County Police conducted another high-visibility pedestrian enforcement campaign near the FDIC offices in Virginia Square.

Video posted by ACPD shows an undercover police officer, wearing a brightly-colored t-shirt, walking across Fairfax Drive at N. Kansas Street in a crosswalk as two vehicles approach. Neither stop nor appear to slow down, narrowly missing the officer, who then signals for each to be pulled over and cited.

The law, however, requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in such cases.

In all, 25 summonses for Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian in the Crosswalk were issued this morning during the enforcement action, police said.

“Remember that the streets don’t belong to any one of us, they belong to all of us,” police said in a tweet shortly after the campaign concluded. “Share our roadways with all travelers by being a PAL: Predictable | Alert | Lawful.”

Screenshot via ACPD

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