(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.)
From 8:30-10:30 a.m. tomorrow, and from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Arlington officers will be participating in a special detail in the Crystal City and Clarendon areas, promoting the campaign and enforcing traffic law violations by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
“Approximately 25 percent of the traffic fatalities in the Washington area are pedestrians and bicyclists, with nearly 90 deaths per year,” ACPD notes in a press release (below). “Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to pay attention to one another and always proceed with caution and care for each other’s safety.”
On Tuesday, April 26, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. and on April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., officers with the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2016 Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program. This safety enforcement detail will be held in the Clarendon and Crystal City areas. This campaign will run from April 11, 2016 through May 8, 2016. Officers will enforce violations of traffic laws by motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Members of the media are invited to attend to cover the detail.
The detail is part of the 2016 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign and the Arlington County Police Department’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Awareness Program to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety across the region. These programs are designed to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Approximately 25 percent of the traffic fatalities in the Washington area are pedestrians and bicyclists, with 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.
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Once one of Arlington’s top 5 intersections for collisions — particularly those involving pedestrians and cyclists — the “Intersection of Doom” in Rosslyn now isn’t even in the top 25.
Safety improvements at the intersection have dramatically reduced accidents at the intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway, said Larry Marcus, the county’s head of transportation engineering, in a new county-produced video.
The county faced a challenge with the intersection: how to design quick and relatively inexpensive improvements at an intersection where 1,700 bicyclists per day try to cross a street also being crossed by 600 vehicles per hour exiting I-66.
“The obvious thing to do is separate these movements,” Marcus said.
Bicyclists and pedestrians now get a 10 second head start to start crossing Lynn Street while the traffic exiting I-66 waits at a red light with an illuminated no right turn signal. Pedestrians and cyclists then get a don’t cross signal while traffic turning right onto Lynn Street clears out.
Those relatively simple “operational improvements,” along with traffic enforcement and a public education campaign by Arlington County police, have dropped the intersection out of the county’s top 25 most crash-prone, Marcus says.
Despite the improvement, Marcus said the county is getting ready to begin a planning process for a more permanent solution to pedestrian-car conflicts at the intersection.
“There’s certainly an opportunity to build something,” he said.
The enforcement action will target motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians caught breaking traffic laws in Ballston, East Falls Church and Crystal City. It’s part of a fall bicycle and pedestrian safety awareness program.
With the days getting shorter and daylight saving time ending Sunday, pedestrian and bicyclist safety is an important law enforcement focus. Most fatal pedestrian accidents occur after dark.
From an ACPD press release:
Between October 27-29, 2015, the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2015 Fall Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program in the Ballston, East Falls Church and Crystal City areas.
Officers will be at the following locations:
October 27th – Fairfax Drive & N. Monroe Street from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
October 28th – 1700-1900 block of N. Sycamore Street from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
October 29th – 1500-2300 block of Crystal Drive from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
This enforcement detail is part of the 2015 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign which runs from October 26, 2015 through November 15, 2015. Officers will ticket motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic laws.
These programs are set up to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year 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 enforcement detail will take place during the morning rush hour and around lunchtime, at intersections in Rosslyn, Courthouse and on Columbia Pike.
Among the intersections where officers will be stationed is the so-called Intersection of Doom at Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street.
In addition to issuing citations, police personnel will be handing out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and again from noon to 1:00 pm, officers with the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2015 Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program. The pedestrian safety enforcement detail will be held in the Rosslyn, Courthouse and Columbia Pike areas. This campaign will run from March 23, 2015 through April 19, 2015. Officers will enforce traffic, bicycle and pedestrian laws at the intersections of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, N. Courthouse Road and N. 15th Street, Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike and S. Scott Street.
The detail is part of the 2015 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign and the Arlington Police Department’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Awareness Program to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety across the region. These programs are set up to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Approximately 25 percent of the traffic fatalities in the Washington area are pedestrians and bicyclists, with nearly 90 deaths per year.
Officers will ticket motorists who violate traffic laws or do not yield for pedestrians in crosswalks. In addition, pedestrians will be cited for jaywalking. Public Service Aides will hand out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who commute through these busy intersections.
The Arlington County Police Department has installed one of its movable-type signs — notably used to tell drivers “Don’t hit the car in front of you” in 2013 — at the intersection of N. Lynn Street, Lee Highway and the I-66 westbound off-ramp. The sign tells drivers to “Yield to Pedestrian,” a persistent problem as those coming off I-66 try to turn right on a green light toward the Key Bridge.
The sign is the latest in a multi-departmental effort to reduce accidents at the intersection. Last month, a temporary, no-turn-on-red signal was installed. The timing of the lights has been altered to give pedestrians and cyclists — coming from the Custis Trail to the west and the Mt. Vernon Trail to the east — a head start before cars begin turning.
In the future, more permanent measures like taking away a travel lane on Lee Highway and extending the curbs have already been approved and are in design phases.
When the sign was initially installed, it was blocking the pedestrian walk signal, but it has since been moved, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
“The sign has been moved and strategically placed next to the signal,” he said. “A pedestrian brought [its placement] to our attention. It’s a good thing that citizens are paying attention to that sign and taking some safety precautions because that’s intersection is known to have quite a bit of interest.”
Photo [email protected]
The County Board approved an easement at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Hudson Street, allowing the county’s Department of Environmental Services to extend the curb at the intersection, improving sight lines for crossing pedestrians and shortening the time they are walking in the street.
“These curb extension go out about six feet from the edge of the sidewalk curb line at the corners of intersections and they shadow the ends of the on-street parking,” DES Program Manager Bill Roberts told ARLnow.com. “Curb extensions have been built along Wilson Boulevard, Clarendon Boulevard and throughout the commercial corridors at most of the marked intersections over the last 10 years … and within the residential neighborhoods at the higher-volume pedestrian crossings.”
This final curb extension — in front of the recently opened Don Tito restaurant — is the culmination of the Clarendon Central Park revitalization that began in 2013. County officials held a ribbon-cutting for the new park in November of that year, but the work on the last pedestrian improvement is expected to take a month this spring.
In addition to making it safer for pedestrians in the heavily foot-trafficked corridor, the extensions will have ADA-compliant ramps.
No on-street parking will be removed as a result of the curb extension, we’re told. Construction is expected to take about a month.
Photo via Google Maps
The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is planning to reshape the sidewalks of Rosslyn next year.
Recently, BID employees have tagged newspaper boxes around the area for removal by tomorrow (Friday), but Rosslyn BID Urban Design Director Lucia deCordre said they will soon be replace by modern newsbox corrals in high-pedestrian areas, instead of the current semi-scattered layout around various parts of Rosslyn.
The corrals, new benches designed with slots placed to resemble the lights of Rosslyn’s skyline, parklets for outdoor dining and WiFi-enabled streetlights are among the elements the BID is planning on bringing to Rosslyn, starting in the spring. No active newsboxes will be removed, the BID says — the notices were placed on the boxes to have the vendors contact the BID about the plans for the corrals.
“We’re really looking to give a facelift to the sidewalks,” deCordre told ARLnow.com today. “We did an inventory of everything we have out there with streetscape, how to make them more pedestrian friendly and hang out a little more and support the retail.”
The BID is in the process of submitting plans to Arlington County to install prototypes of several of the designs at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Oak Street. If approved, the prototypes would be installed in the spring, and, if it’s successful, more elements will be introduced all over the BID’s footprint, which extends to N. Quinn Street.
“We’re going to take a full block and at least get one or two of the pieces so we can see how it all interacts together, how it works together,” said Mary-Claire Burick, the president of the Rosslyn BID. “It’s really all about the pedestrian experience. This really just takes us to that next step of that really modern, high-end contemporary feel.”
Some of the design elements will also have functions for those in the neighborhood. One of the mobile phone charging kiosks is already operational at the corner of N. Moore and 19th Streets, and Burick said it’s “very popular.” The streetlights would be enabled with WiFi, creating a network throughout the district.
Disclosure: Rosslyn BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
The change has been advocated by the Bluemont Civic Association (BCA) for years, and the neighborhood’s representatives have posited that the lane reduction, coupled with sidewalk expansion, will make the corridor more walkable without increasing traffic congestion.
The project, which Arlington County says is in design phase with reconfiguration set for spring 2015, will reduce westbound and eastbound traffic to one lane each, while adding a center lane for left turns and bike lanes on either side of the street. The plan also calls for consolidating bus stops in this stretch to reduce possible congestion.
Currently, there are no funded plans to expand the sidewalks.
County staff is holding a general community meeting on Nov. 20, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at Arlington Traditional School (855 N. Edison Street), to discuss the plans. The county also plans for a “robust community notification process throughout the corridor,” before the restriping and repaving work begins.
The plans to reduce the lanes on Wilson Blvd was initially recommended by the BCA’s Sidewalk Safety Task Force and supported by the BCA in October 2012. Arlington decided to incorporate the plans when it made its restriping and repaving calendar for this year.
“We are grateful that Arlington County is listening to us and working to make our ‘Main Street’ a safer and more pleasant place for all residents and visitors,” BCA President John Lau said in a press release. “Working together, the efforts of neighborhood residents and county officials have led us to this long-awaited first step for improving our neighborhood and an important Arlington corridor.”
While the county approved the requested changes to Wilson Blvd’s lane configuration, the BCA’s requests to have the power lines — with poles located on Wilson Blvd’s sidewalks — moved underground was deemed prohibitively expensive by the county. The BCA is also hoping that the improvements be extended for all of Wilson Blvd west of N. Glebe Road, something county staff said it will continue to explore.
“This is a demonstration project that will be monitored further by the County to determine whether a complete streets project — currently unfunded — is viable along the entire section of Wilson Boulevard, west of North Glebe Road,” the project website reads. “If successful, staff will continue to work with the community to develop this future potential project.”
The plan, when it was being discussed last June, received some concern for businesses located along the corridor. The sidewalk task force reported businesses were “extremely concerned” that reducing the number of lanes would “gum up traffic to the point where they would lose business.”
The BCA cited the stretch of Washington Blvd west of N. Glebe Road, which goes from four lanes to two and has higher peak traffic volume, as an example of why the Wilson Blvd proposal won’t significantly worsen traffic.
Images via Arlington County
A man who got drunk, sped down the wrong way of a one-way street in Clarendon and caused a crash that seriously injured a pedestrian earlier this year has pleaded guilty to a felony charge.
Pentagon City resident Benjamin Andruss, 37, pleaed guilty yesterday to felony DUI maiming. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.
The crash happened between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12. Prosecutors say Andruss had just left First Down Sports Bar in Ballston, where he had consumed 4-5 beers and three glasses of whiskey while watching afternoon football games. A friend encouraged him to take a cab, but Andruss insisted on driving.
Andruss drove from the Ballston Common Mall parking garage to Clarendon, revving the engine of his Mercedes-Benz at stop lights and “speeding the whole way,” prosecutors said. At the intersection of Wilson, Clarendon and Washington Blvds, he again revved his engine at the stop light, then accelerated straight through the intersection when the light turned green.
Andruss sped the wrong way down Wilson Blvd, past Spider Kelly’s and other bars. His Mercedes ran up on the sidewalk, striking the side of the Clarendon War Memorial. In his path was a pedestrian, a man around 30 years old who works for the U.S. Department of Energy.
The pedestrian tried to dive out of the way, but Andruss struck a parked car, which then struck the pedestrian. The man regained consciousness in the middle of the street.
From a statement of facts entered by prosecutors as part of the plea:
He was taken by ambulance to GW Hospital, where he was treated for numerous injuries to his head and left elbow. Both required serious treatment. His head required more than a dozen staples. His broken elbow required surgery, the insertion of a metal plate, and screws to ensure regained functionality. The elbow now has a permanent visible scar. And [the victim], despite weeks of physical therapy, has yet to regain – and may never regain – a full range of motion.
After the crash, the Defendant exited the vehicle and appeared to try to walk away. He was prevented from doing so by onlookers. The Defendant was described as unsteady on his feet, with slurred speech and bloodshot/glassy eyes. He repeatedly “fell” into an officer’s arms as they spoke. The Defendant admitted to drinking and refused to perform all field sobriety tests. He was placed under arrest at 9:20pm.
“Mr. Andruss made a series of poor decisions that evening,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Josh Katcher told ARLnow.com. “He drank too much, he didn’t take a cab, he drove recklessly from Ballston to Clarendon, and then he drove the wrong way, down the wrong street, at the wrong time.”
“Try to imagine this from the victim’s perspective: he’s minding his own business, walking down a sidewalk, when he hears an engine revving, sees a set of headlights speeding towards him, and has no more than a second to try to dive out of the way,” Katcher continued. “Next thing he knows he is on his back in the middle of the street with people looking down at him telling him not to move. This is the type of mayhem that happens when people drink and drive. There is no defense, no reason, and no excuse for this type of behavior.”
Andruss is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 6, 2015. He’s expected to receive a sentence of 1-5 years in prison.
This is not the only legal trouble Andruss is facing. Three days after the crash he was fired, and a week after that he was sued by his former employer, accused of making hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of improper purchases on his company credit card and withdraws from the company checking account, all while deliberately concealing evidence of his actions.