(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A series of public meetings will be held next week to discuss a possible new pedestrian connection between Crystal City and Reagan National Airport.
The meetings are scheduled to take place Tuesday, September 5 on the 11th floor of 2011 Crystal Drive, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. Both meetings will have the same agenda, with staff from the Crystal City Business Improvement District looking to gather public feedback on the proposed pedestrian link.
RSVPs for either meeting are requested but not required.
“Imagine walking from Crystal City’s main street to the airport in just under 5 minutes,” the meetings’ event page says. “The CC2DCA Pedestrian Connection Feasibility Study that is investigating this possibility.”
Earlier this year, the BID issued a Request for Proposals asking for consultants to study a possible connection. The deadline for sending those proposals, which included the studying of optimal alignments, real estate, regulations, costs and necessary approvals, has since passed.
BID officials say a new pedestrian crossing would help leverage various transportation improvements in Crystal City, including the revamped VRE station and a proposed new Metro station entrance on Crystal Drive. Reagan National is also set for a $1 billion refresh, with construction there expected to conclude in 2021.
Map via Google Maps
The county’s long-term plan for Rosslyn includes a multi-block, pedestrian-only stretch of 18th Street N. to replace the skywalk system that extends east to N. Arlington Ridge Road.
The Board laid the foundations for that plan last year when it approved adding pedestrian-only streets and low-speed “shared streets” for bicycles, pedestrians and other transit options to its transportation repertoire.
And in a conversation with WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi this afternoon (Thursday) about a proposal to make a street in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood pedestrian only, Cristol said pedestrian-only streets could help Rosslyn draw more non-residents to the area.
“It would foster and facilitate the conversion of this urban core from an area that people travel through to an area that people travel to, and participate in commerce and can live and work and recreate and shop and patronize businesses in a safe and lively environment to do that,” Cristol said of the pedestrian-centric plan.
She added that such pedestrian-only streets are influenced by wanting to see a “European or pre-1920s U.S. vision of city uses other than vehicular.”
The plan has already had an impact on future development in that area. In July, the Board deferred a plan to reconfigure the nearby Rosslyn Metro Center shopping mall after staff found it would “hinder achievement” of the so-called 18th Street Corridor.
Cristol said that while it is important to think about making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, the county is not looking to punish those who would prefer to drive.
“This conversation for us in Arlington is a little bit less about how do we restrict people’s ability to use their cars, and how do we expand travel options and safety for everyone using our streets,” she said.
Cristol said the county’s use of shared streets, which encourage more pedestrians, bicyclists and transit as well as cars traveling at lower speeds, is something it will continue to explore. Shared streets have features like different paving materials, larger sidewalks and improved crosswalks, and already exist in places like Penrose Square off Columbia Pike.
Almost every project approved in the county has elements of that in its streetscape, and Cristol said there are “definitely a lot of opportunities for this kind of shared street category” in areas like Courthouse. Sections of 14th and 15th Streets N. in the neighborhood are slated to become shared streets.
The Crystal City Business Improvement District announced today (Monday) it is looking to study the feasibility of a new pedestrian link between Crystal City and Reagan National Airport.
In collaboration with other stakeholders in the neighborhood, the BID issued a Request for Proposals asking for consultants to study a possible connection.
Respondents will need to study optimal alignments, private and public real estate considerations, regulatory requirements, costs and financing and implementation, including the necessary agency and stakeholder approvals that would be required. Proposals are due August 4.
“Crystal City is the area’s most accessible neighborhood – with Metro, [Virginia Railway Express], connections to every major area highway, bike paths and an airport you can literally walk to,” said Angela Fox, Crystal City BID president and CEO, in a statement. “A new pedestrian connection will bring the airport even closer, from a 15-minute walk to a four-minute walk and transform the area into a unique multimodal transportation hub serving as a major economic development catalyst for Crystal City, Arlington County and the Commonwealth.”
In their announcement of the RFP, BID officials said the new pedestrian crossing would help leverage various upcoming enhancements to Crystal City’s transportation infrastructure, including the revamped VRE station and a proposed new Metro station entrance on Crystal Drive. Reagan National is also set for a $1 billion refresh, with construction there expected to conclude in 2021.
County officials say the reduction of a westbound turn lane on Arlington Mill Drive near Shirlington is a pilot program and the backups it’s causing will be resolved by traffic signal adjustments.
Arlington Mill Drive was recently re-striped at the “T” intersection with S. Walter Reed Drive. One of the two left turn lanes from Arlington Mill to Walter Reed was removed and blocked off with bollards, a move intended to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
There is heavy bike and pedestrian traffic at the intersection, which connects two sections of the Four Mile Run Trail.
But the lane removal has caused traffic to back up during peak times, according to several accounts. Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey wrote about the backups last month, proclaiming the lane reduction to be part of the county’s “semi-official ‘drivers must suffer’ policy.”
Last week a Twitter user also reported significant evening rush hour delays.
— HT Gold (@Skywarpgold) July 11, 2017
Also, only half of that line got through the light before it turned red. Before the single line was two, and all cars could get through.
— HT Gold (@Skywarpgold) July 11, 2017
(The backups seem to be short-lived; a brief evening rush hour visit by a reporter last week did not reveal any long lines.)
In a statement released to ARLnow.com, officials with Arlington County’s Dept. of Environmental Services said that the lane re-striping is a “test” that is being evaluated ahead of a larger intersection improvement project, slated for next year.
The test will help traffic engineers determine adjustments to the traffic signal timing, which should alleviate any delays, officials say. Potentially complicating the plan, however: there is already heavy traffic on Walter Reed Drive during the evening rush hour, which could be exacerbated by changes to the traffic light cycle.
The full statement from DES, after the jump.
(Updated 1:10 p.m.) Construction in Rosslyn has led many people on foot to make a dubious choice after the temporary closure of a pedestrian walkway: walking in a busy street.
Crews closed the temporary walkway on Wilson Blvd between N. Lynn and N. Moore streets, adjacent to the Central Place development, where work is ongoing on the new CEB Tower.
And during lunchtime Thursday, numerous people made the risky decision to walk on the outside of the walkway along Wilson Blvd, just inches from cars traveling west on that major thoroughfare.
A reader emailed to say that pedestrians had been “forced” to walk in the street, although the sidewalk on the other side of Wilson Blvd remains open for use.
A spokeswoman for the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services said the closure will last until June 29 for utility work. She said signs direct pedestrians to the opposite sidewalk.
The old Ballston pedestrian bridge is no more.
The bridge was torn down over the weekend, closing part of Wilson Blvd in front of the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall and prompting a new location for the Taste of Arlington festival. The demolition included the use of a large crane to lower sections of the bridge.
Today, a construction crew was working to clear leftover debris, while a large section of the bridge sat largely intact, fenced off along the sidewalk.
Via Twitter, one local resident called the dismantling of the bridge and its “Ballston” sign an “end of an era.” A new pedestrian bridge will be built nearby, however, with its opening set for the fall of 2018.
— Heather Plochman (@HeatherHoya) May 20, 2017
— Marisa (@maracasting) May 20, 2017
— Kristina Ingram (@KristinaIngram) May 22, 2017
The long-planned demolition of the pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston should begin soon, according to a spokeswoman for the developer.
An anonymous tipster reported seeing bricks being removed at the base of the bridge’s pillars where it connects to the mall, and wondered if demolition was beginning.
But a spokeswoman for developer Forest City, which is carrying out the mall’s revamp, said last week it is not doing any work on the bridge at this time. She added that demolition is scheduled to start soon.
“We are not doing any construction on the structural components that would affect the bridge,” the spokeswoman said. “The demolition should begin within the next 30 days, but we will notify the public once we have a solid date.”
The bridge is still on track to be reconstructed and reopened in time for the revamped mall’s opening in fall 2018.
On Friday, police will set up at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Kenmore Street from 3-5 p.m. to enforce traffic laws. They’ll ticket any driver, cyclist or pedestrian who commits a violation. On May 2, they’ll do the same at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Oakland Street from noon to 2 p.m.
ACPD will conduct the enforcement events as part of a larger D.C.-area safety campaign to reduce injuries and deaths by changing pedestrian, cyclist and driver behaviors. That campaign started yesterday and runs through mid-May.
Police note that cyclists and pedestrians make up nearly a quarter of the region’s traffic fatalities each year. They encourage everyone to safely share the roads and pay attention to one another.
No new projects to improve pedestrian safety — such as sidewalk fixes or streetlight installations — will be approved until at least December after a vote last week by a citizen committee.
The Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee voted April 13 to suspend its spring funding round due to “anticipated increases in construction costs for projects that have already been approved by the County Board,” neighborhood conservation program coordinator Tim McIntosh said in an email.
NCAC represents 48 of the county’s 57 civic associations and leads the development of neighborhood plans. It also recommends neighborhood-initiated improvements for county funding, like sidewalks, street beautification, pedestrian safety projects, street lights and parks.
The NCAC’s decision does not affect existing projects already approved by the County Board. McIntosh said design work and construction on several plans will continue this year, but that the committee “wanted to reserve a portion of its 2016 bond to cover any cost overruns which may occur later this year for projects going out for competitive bid.”
“The focus will be on continuing design work for approved projects and making sure sufficient funding is on hand to complete them prior to approving new ones,” McIntosh said.
In an email, an anonymous tipster was critical of the NCAC approvals process and said more must be done to help improve pedestrian safety.
“Clearly, the NCAC system isn’t working as a method to help improve pedestrian safety,” the tipster wrote. “These projects are getting conflated with beautification projects and are now shut down due to poor project controls. The queue of vital pedestrian safety projects, many in the NCAC process for years already (projects that have neighborhood endorsement) is growing rapidly as Arlington traffic increases and there is now no way to address these problems.”
McIntosh said no decision has been made about the fall round of funding, set to be voted on in December.
“[Neighborhood Conservation] staff and the NCAC will evaluate whether or not to have the December funding round later this year,” he said.
(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.