(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) A new pedestrian walk light at a dangerous intersection could help ease safety concerns for those on foot.
A teen was struck by a car last year at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and N. Utah Street near Washington-Lee High School and suffered a serious head injury.
In the aftermath, Arlington County police conducted a pedestrian safety detail at the intersection to enforce traffic laws on scofflaw drivers. Still, reports of drivers ignoring pedestrians in the crosswalk continued.
As of last week, however, the county has installed new high-visibility walk signs and lights at the crossing to help pedestrians and bicyclists cross Washington Boulevard.
After pressing a button, the lights flash for approximately 10 seconds to warn drivers that people are crossing. An audio message tells crossers that the lights are flashing too.
And while the signals do not include stoplights for drivers, several did stop as required on Monday afternoon to let pedestrians cross while an ARLnow.com reporter was taking photos.
That’s according to Arlington County Police Department crime report. The incident happened just before 7 p.m. in the area of the Arlington Mill Community Center and the Columbia Pike Plaza shopping center.
The woman and man knew each other, police said. He was hurt by the collision but is expected to be okay. Warrants were issued for the driver’s arrest.
UNLAWFUL WOUNDING, 2017-02050199, 5000 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 6:50 p.m. on February 5, officers responded to the report of an assault and battery. Upon arrival it was determined that a male victim was standing outside a vehicle while talking to an occupant of that vehicle. Following a verbal dispute between two known individuals, the female driver accelerated causing the male victim to fall backwards and suffer non-life threatening injuries. The male victim was transported to Fairfax Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Warrants have been obtained. The investigation is ongoing.
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
(Updated at 2 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department is continuing to conduct traffic enforcement details around the county — and is finding no shortage of drivers who don’t stop for pedestrians.
Last week police issued 21 traffic tickets in just one hour on Washington Blvd in Virginia Square, near where a teen girl was struck by the driver of an SUV in December.
The operation utilizes an undercover officer who crosses the street in a crosswalk.
“Using traffic data, drivers in this 30 MPH zone were given 150 feet to see the pedestrian and stop their vehicle,” the department explained in an Instagram post. “Our pedestrian always waits for a safe break in traffic and never enters in disregard of approaching vehicles.”
The enforcement detail was similar to a pair in the fall, along Columbia Pike and Lee Highway, that resulted in 35 citations.
“The pedestrian safety enforcement campaign is one piece of our overall effort of ensuring the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists and maintaining the safe and orderly flow of traffic in Arlington County,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.com
“Through this high visibility enforcement, the goal is compliance with failure to yield even when police are not present,” she continued. “No matter how you commute, there are ways we can all be street smart while sharing our roadways.”
Savage said ACPD’s Special Operations Section is conducting two details per month, one during the day and one during the evening.
The enforcement campaign started to ramp up in early 2016 after the police department saw Montgomery County, Md. police successfully implement a similar strategy, which was created by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration.
Expect more enforcement in 2017, according to Savage.
“Additional officers are being trained and it is anticipated that the number of details each month will increase,” she said.
Pedestrian crosswalk enforcement was conducted this morning at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and N. Nelson Street. Using traffic data, drivers in this 30 MPH zone were given 150 feet to see the pedestrian and stop their vehicle. Our pedestrian always waits for a safe break in traffic and never enters in disregard of approaching vehicles. In one hour, 21 citations were issued for failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. Help make #ArlingtonVA safer by sharing our roads! No matter how you commute, there are ways we can all #BeStreetSmart!
A pedestrian tunnel connecting the Pentagon City Metro station to the northeast corner of the intersection of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street S. is close to finally opening.
The tunnel was slated to open in 2015 after $1.3 million worth of repairs and upgrades but remained closed. It was initially built by a developer in 1984 but was never opened to the public due to “reasons related to safety, operational and legal issues,” according to Arlington County.
The Arlington County Board on Saturday will consider an agreement with WMATA for the county to take responsibility for maintaining and operating the tunnel. If approved, it will be considered by the WMATA board next month and the tunnel could open as soon as March 1.
The tunnel will only be open from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays. More from a county staff report:
Repairs and signage are complete and the tunnel is ready to open for public use… Opening the pedestrian tunnel will provide an additional access/egress point to this busy Metrorail station, one of the County’s highest ridership stations and to the adjacent retail shopping mall, Fashion Centre.
WMATA requires a formal agreement with a public or private entity that wants to have direct access and pedestrian connection to a Metrorail station. WMATA and County staff completed negotiation of the attached Agreement, which specifies the terms, conditions and obligations of the connection to the Station. The Agreement states that the County is responsible for maintaining the pedestrian tunnel and the connection to the Station mezzanine in a clean condition, free of rubbish, leaves, snow, ice and graffiti. Also, the County is responsible for all maintenance repairs and upgrades to the pedestrian tunnel and the connection. Furthermore, the County will ensure that the pedestrian tunnel and the connection are, at all times, safe for pedestrian access to the Station and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
WMATA’s Board is scheduled to approve the Agreement in February 2017. Opening of the pedestrian tunnel is targeted for March 1, 2017.
The Deed of Easement established the hours of operation for the tunnel as 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays only. The entry gate at the stairs to the pedestrian tunnel and the glass doors to the Metro mezzanine will be locked at all other times and when the Station is closed. A recent County proposal to expand the hours of operation for the tunnel was not supported by all signatories to the Deed of Easement. Staff can revisit this issue in the future.
The Arlington County Police Department issued 20 citations and made one arrest during its pedestrian safety enforcement detail on Columbia Pike this morning.
The enforcement was conducted on the Pike at S. Oakland Street from about 10 a.m. to noon.
According to ACPD, 17 drivers “were stopped and issued a summons for failure to yield to the pedestrian,” while two were issued citations for not wearing a seatbelt and another was cited for not having a driver’s license.
One person stopped by officers was wanted for failing to appear in court for not having a driver’s license. That person was taken into custody, said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
The department conducted a similar enforcement detail last week on Lee Highway at N. Edison Street and issued 15 citations for failure to yield, Savage said.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) November 22, 2016
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) November 22, 2016
Photo (top) courtesy ACPD
On Thursday, from 10 a.m. to noon, cops will “ticket motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic laws” on Lee Highway near N. Edison Street, in the Hall’s Hill/High View Park area.
A second enforcement detail is planned along Columbia Pike next week, on Tuesday, Nov. 22, according to an ACPD press release, below.
During the month of November, the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2016 Fall Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program. The safety campaign will be held in Hall’s Hill and Barcroft areas of Arlington County. This campaign is part of the 2016 Fall Street Smart Pedestrian, Motorist, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign which will run from October 31st through November 27th.
The goals of the campaign are to change motorist and pedestrian behavior, and reduce pedestrian and bicyclist injuries through education and enforcement. Officers will ticket motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic laws at the following locations:
- November 17th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Lee Highway and Edison Street
- November 22nd from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Columbia Pike and Frederick Street
The Street Smart programs are designed to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in the Metropolitan area in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Pedestrians and bicyclists account for a quarter of the traffic fatalities in the region, nearly 90 deaths per year.
Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to pay attention to one another and always proceed with caution and care for each other’s safety.
The pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston will be closing to the public on Wednesday, according to a sign at the bridge’s entrance.
The bridge, which connects Ballston Common Mall with the Ballston Metro station, is set for demolition as part of the mall’s ongoing renovation project.
There’s no word yet on a specific date for the demolition.
“No final date has been determined, but they are targeting the end of November or early December,” county spokesman Andrew Pribulka told ARLnow.com.
The bridge will be reconstructed with a new, modern design. The new bridge is expected to open by the fall of 2018.
The Arlington County Board has approved adding pedestrian-only streets and low-speed “shared streets” to its transportation repertoire.
The amendments to the county’s Master Transportation Plan were approved unanimously at the Board’s meeting on Saturday.
As we reported in September, the county’s long-term plan for Rosslyn includes a multi-block, pedestrian-only stretch of 18th Street to replace Rosslyn’s skywalk system. Additionally, sections of 14th and 15th streets in Courthouse are slated to become shared streets.
Before the Board’s vote on Saturday, the Master Transportation Plan did not permit either street type.
More information, from an Arlington County press release:
The Arlington County Board adopted today proposed amendments to the Master Transportation Plan Street Element, incorporating two innovative changes: a new pedestrian priority street type — a car-free street that provides pedestrians access to adjacent buildings — and “shared streets” — for pedestrians, bicyclists and low speed vehicular traffic. These amendments will accommodate street variations as envisioned in the Rosslyn and Courthouse Sector Plans and provide guidance for potential use in other parts of the County.
In the Rosslyn area, nine block-length pedestrian priority street segments are planned to replace the remaining skywalk segments, break up north-south blocks and enhance access to the Rosslyn Metro Station. Segments of 18th Street North (from North Lynn Street to North Oak Street) will accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists only, without regular motor vehicle access. Implementation of the pedestrian priority street segments are expected to occur over time as private properties on those blocks are redeveloped.
In the Courthouse Square area, segments of 14th and 15th Streets North (between North Uhle Street and Courthouse Road) will be prioritized as low-speed “shared streets,” emphasizing needs of both pedestrians and bicyclists through use of distinctive paving materials and level travel areas. These streets will be primarily intended for pedestrians, but open to slow-speed vehicle traffic.
“Arlington is a varied community that puts an emphasis on various modes of travel – be it walking, biking, taking transit or driving,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “These street variations are very exciting and an important step in improving access and safety for the many residents, visitors and commuters that walk and bike around Arlington each and every day.”
The Board voted 5 to 0 to approve the amendments.
In July 2015, the Board adopted an update to the Rosslyn Sector Plan that called for eventual development of several new street segments. In September 2015, the Board adopted the Courthouse Square sector plan update and its proposal of creating sections of shared streets.
The idea of new street types is the result of considerable public involvement. The two new street types were initially envisioned during the development of the sector plan updates, with the names and definitions further refined in hearings by the Arlington Planning and Transportation commissions.
Now that these changes have been accepted, the new street types can be applied elsewhere in the County when approved through a community planning process and action by the County Board.
Balcony Fire in Arlington View — Arlington County firefighters battled a small fire on an apartment balcony in the Arlington View neighborhood yesterday afternoon, following reports of an “explosion” sound. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Carpool’s New Owner Trying to Sell — The fate of Carpool is once again uncertain. The Ballston-area bar was supposed to close later this fall to make way for a new high-rise residential development. Despite County Board approval of the project, and the just-completed sale of the bar, developer Penzance is now reportedly trying to sell the site. [Washington Business Journal]
Student Population Growth Lower Than Estimate — The student population at Arlington Public Schools grew 3.6 percent from last school year to the beginning of this school year. That’s an increase of 914 students, the equivalent of a new middle school, but it is 262 students below APS projections. [InsideNova]
Pedestrian-Only Streets on County Board Agenda — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is slated to consider allowing pedestrian-only streets in Arlington. Currently such streets are not part of the county’s Master Transportation Plan. Pedestrian-only streets are being discussed for parts of Rosslyn and Courthouse. [Arlington County]
White Squirrel Hit By Car? — A commenter says an albino squirrel that was often seen in neighborhoods near Columbia Pike has been hit by a car and killed. [ARLnow]
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A new pedestrian bridge for those heading to and from the renovated Ballston Quarter mall and the Ballston Metro station has cleared a regulatory hurdle.
The Arlington County Board yesterday voted unanimously to approve a site plan amendment for the bridge, which will replace an existing pedestrian bridge. The old bridge is, in the eyes of the mall owners and the county, fairly pedestrian appearance-wise.
The latest design renderings for the new bridge, from bridge architect StudioTECHNE, show a geometric steel-and-glass design that crosses above Wilson Blvd at an angle. Among the words used to describe the design in a presentation to the County Board were “sophisticated,” “iconic,” “vibrant,” “safe,” “well lighted” and “experiential.”
The bridge will feature the following improvements, according to the presentation:
- “Climate-controlled space with less slope that will improve safety and comfort of bridge crossing.”
- “Opportunities for sitting and viewing areas along the traverse of the bridge.”
- “Planters and sitting areas integrated into the bridge design at the sidewalk.”
- “An architecturally memorable design that blends function and artistic expression and creates an iconic civic presence in the heart of Ballston.”
“The new bridge will be not only more functional, but also more beautiful — it will be a real asset to Ballston Quarter and our community,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said, in a statement.
The existing bridge is expected to close to pedestrians mid-October, with demolition expected to begin shortly thereafter. Construction of the next bridge is expected to start at the beginning of March, following a public process to finalize the design. The newly-renovated mall and pedestrian bridge are scheduled to open on Sept. 13, 2018.
The old bridge’s demolition will allow for major changes to the façade of what’s currently known as Ballston Common Mall. From a press release:
Demolition of the existing pedestrian bridge will make way for a public plaza that is a key community benefit of the Ballston Quarter redevelopment.
Once the existing pedestrian bridge is removed, the mall façade that fronts on Wilson Boulevard will be transformed and the existing entrance to the mall will be eliminated. A 3,386 sq. ft. public plaza will be created at street level on Wilson Boulevard with steps and seating areas leading into another 2,500 sq. ft. of sunken, public plaza space with outdoor restaurant seating and event space.
Forest City Enterprises, developer of Ballston Quarter, will construct the new bridge with funding provided through the partnership between the County and Forest City. The reconstructed bridge will have public access easements that do not exist today, and it will be more functional and aesthetically pleasing than the current bridge.
Inside, instead of a traditional food court, the new mall will feature an “‘experiential food hub’ that will combine eat-in dining, prepared food sales and market elements,” perhaps similar to D.C.’s Union Market, the Washington Business Journal reported today.
The County Board also voted yesterday to formalize its public-private partnership with mall owner Forest City. The partnership means that a county-created Community Development Authority will pay up to $55.5 million in public infrastructure costs associated with the mall project, while receiving a portion of any increase in tax revenues associated with the mall.
(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) This is at least the second morning in a row that people have called Arlington County Police to report gridlock at the intersection of Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
Officers did not respond to the intersection today, saying that little could be done to ease the traffic. A traffic detail that was assigned to the intersection last year was discontinued, the department said, because it did not receive funding for it.
@fraziecb We did not receive funding to continue that detail in 2016.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 14, 2016
ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said that officers will be dispatched to the intersection as needed, but will not be assigned there on a regular basis.
Arlington offers were posted at a different intersection today — Washington Blvd and N. Utah Street, in the Ballston area — for high-visibility pedestrian and traffic enforcement. Despite a painted crosswalk, the intersection has been deemed a particularly dangerous one due to past crashes as well as fast-moving traffic and a high volume of pedestrians crossing the street.
Keep pedestrians safe by yielding to those in crosswalks! Officers conducting enforcement at Washington Blvd/Utah. pic.twitter.com/N7E8VnbefQ
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 14, 2016
Common failure to yield excuse: didn't see the pedestrian. Slow down and be alert for those walking and biking. pic.twitter.com/9SK2hyyKXD
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 14, 2016
The Board is set to consider a request to advertise hearings on the change at a meeting later this month, according to a draft proposal.
The proposal would add “Pedestrian Street” to the MTP’s existing four defined street types. A pedestrian street is described as “a car-free travel corridor that provides public pedestrian access to adjacent buildings and properties fronting the street and serves as a public meeting place and location for commerce, communication and other community activities.”
“A pedestrian street is [predominantly] paved with a hard surface suitable for walking and includes physical measures that prevent regular access by motor vehicles,” the proposal says.
There are currently no pedestrian-only streets in Arlington, but a few are proposed, including a new 18th Street corridor in Rosslyn that would replace the neighborhood’s aging skywalk system with a several blocks of a new pedestrian-only street between N. Oak Street and N. Lynn Street, with the Rosslyn Metro station in between.
In addition to pedestrian-only streets, the proposal updates the definition of an existing street type — a pedestrian and bicycle priority street. The newly-defined “shared streets” are intended to “allow people to comfortably walk within the roadway” thanks to “implicitly slow traffic speeds through the mixing of travel paths, physical measures and visual cues.”
A recently-approved plan for the Courthouse neighborhood calls for portions of 14th and 15th streets to be shared streets, primarily intended for pedestrians but open to slow-speed vehicular traffic.
If the request to advertise the changes is approved in September, the Planning Commission and the County Board are likely to hold hearing on the change in October.
Hat tip to Jim Hurysz
There were enough people jaywalking between the Starbucks and the Whole Foods in Clarendon that it apparently prompted Arlington County to install a
recently appeared mid-block on the Whole Foods side of Clarendon Blvd. It instructs pedestrians not to cross and to use one of the marked crosswalks up the block.
The block is often congested with traffic turning into the Whole Foods parking lot, making it even more dangerous for pedestrians trying to cross the street outside of a crosswalk.
Update at 1:05 p.m. — As readers are pointing out, the sign has, in fact, been there since at least 2014, as proven by Google Street View. It is not “new” except, perhaps, on a geological timeframe. The 2012 Street View image does not show the sign. The 2007 and 2009 Street View images both show people standing where the sign currently is, apparently waiting to cross the street.
Police Conduct Pedestrian Safety Detail — Arlington County Police conducted a pedestrian safety detail at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Utah Street, in Ballston, where a teen was struck by a car and seriously injured in April. In a tweet, a driver is shown receiving a ticket for failure to yield to a pedestrian. [Twitter]
Pure Barre Coming to Pentagon City? — Exercise studio Pure Barre is finalizing a lease on the ground floor of the new Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City. That was revealed during an opening party for the Bartlett on the building’s rooftop (see photo, above) Wednesday night.
Photo Shows Big Changes in Pentagon City — As seen in an old black-and-white photo, 56 years ago Pentagon City was mostly empty fields on the outskirts of Crystal City and the Aurora Highlands neighborhood. Development has transformed it into a Metro-accessible hub for shopping, apartment living and offices. [Twitter]
Arlington Mom Gives Birth Live on Facebook — An Arlington mother gave birth to her son live via Facebook Live for the TLC show “A Baby Story Live.” [Patch]
Light Pole Snaps During Storm — Earlier this week, a light pole in the park along Lubber Run snapped during a storm. [Twitter]
(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) This week, the Arlington County Police Department is holding its annual Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness campaign.
This morning and for part of the day Thursday, police will be conducting targeted, high-visibility traffic safety enforcement and public education in Clarendon and Crystal City.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) April 26, 2016
But is that enough to truly improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Arlington? In just the past week alone, two young people have been struck and seriously injured — while crossing in marked crosswalks along the pedestrian-heavy Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
In both instances, nearby residents complained that drivers were chronically ignoring crossing pedestrians, driving too fast and driving while distracted — and that police enforcement is virtually non-existent.
Those two incidents aside, local drivers will tell you that pedestrians in Arlington make a habit of darting out into the road mid-block and crossing against traffic lights, often oblivious to oncoming traffic.
So what should be done about this, to improve safety for all? Should the Arlington County Police Department issue more tickets to drivers and pedestrians in an effort to curb serious accidents and bad behavior on both sides?
(Note: this poll and discussion concerns drivers and pedestrians only. Say what you want about cyclists — and the drivers who sometimes cut them off — but the most pressing issue here is about what to do specifically about pedestrian and vehicle conflicts.)