A $17.2 million overhaul of the Boundary Channel Drive interchange along I-395 is in the works.
Plans call for overhauling the existing, difficult-to-navigate interchange near the Pentagon and Crystal City with two rotaries, to be installed on either side of I-395.
The 150 and 160-foot wide rotaries aim to merge traffic from Boundary Channel Drive and the Pentagon Access Road on the left, and the Boundary Channel and Long Bridge Drive on the right. The project would remove I-395’s two southbound loop ramp, and add a new multi-use trail, shared by cyclists and pedestrians, connecting the Mt. Vernon Trail to Long Bridge Park.
The project will be managed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and is expected to cost around $17 million.
The Arlington County Board will review an agreement for the project during its upcoming meeting this Saturday. As of Tuesday, the project was featured on the Board’s consent agenda, a place usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.
The Interchange serves the Pentagon (five million square foot office building with 25,000 employees), Pentagon City (12.7 million square feet of office, 2.3 million square feet of retail and over 13,000 residential units), Crystal City, Long Bridge Park plus its future park expansion and the future Aquatics & Fitness Center, which is expected to draw regional visitors from Maryland and the District of Columbia, as well as from the areas south and west of Arlington in Virginia. The existing interchange design is dated and will need to be redesigned to better serve the transportation needs of the existing and future land uses in the area.
The county held public meetings to showcase the designs in 2015, during which staff noted feedback “varied greatly.” The points staff said residents agreed on included:
- There needs to be fewer ramps onto I-395
- Rotary islands need to be designed to not allow cars to speed
- Pedestrian crossings need to be designed to reduce conflicts with cars and bicycles
County staff also noted that plan for the trail meets goals set by the newly-upgraded bike element of the Arlington County Master Transportation Plan to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to use the Mt. Vernon Trail.
“The Mount Vernon Trail connection is an extremely critical part of the project and will create a much-needed link between Long Bridge Park and the trail,” the staff report said.
Image 3 via Google Maps
One person was taken to the hospital after a hazmat incident at the Pentagon’s bus bay this morning.
Arlington County firefighters, including a hazmat team, were called to the bus terminal outside the Pentagon around 9 a.m. for a report of the driver of a Metrobus having medical symptoms after smelling a chemical odor on the bus.
A police officer also reported similar symptoms, according to scanner traffic. The officer was treated on the scene and released, but the driver was transported to Virginia Hospital Center for evaluation. The driver was reported to be in good condition, Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant said.
Firefighters did not find anything hazardous on the bus.
“Crews believe there might’ve been a refrigerant leak on Metrobus that caused a couple people to feel ill,” O’Bryant told ARLnow. “[The] bus was shut down, and no dangerous readings were found when crews ran meters through the bus.”
Shortly after the bus driver was transported, ACFD turned the scene over to WMATA.
Storms Expected Today — “Strong to locally severe thunderstorms are in the forecast Tuesday afternoon and evening, and the potential exists for this to be a significant severe weather event.” [Capital Weather Gang]
ACPD: Expect Police at Fair — “As in years past, the [Arlington County Fair] will have dedicated police staffing and resources and fairgoers can expect to see a visible police presence… There are no known threats to Arlington County, however, the public is encouraged to remain aware of your surroundings at all times.” [Arlington County]
Local Volunteer Firefighting Legacy — “Tucked inside the Clarendon fire station on N. 10th St. is a special closed-off room. By long-standing arrangement with the county, it is dedicated to honoring the station’s decades of reliance on volunteer firefighters. Today’s professionally staffed Fire Station 4 deploys ‘no active volunteers, but retains a volunteer presence.'” [Falls Church News-Press]
Hotel Near HQ2 Sells For Big Bucks — “Host Hotels & Resorts sold the Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City, a 299-room high-rise property at 550 Army Navy Drive, for $99.1M in a deal that closed July 1, according to Arlington County property records.” [Bisnow]
Deer Rescued from Fence — “Last week, Officer Solano and several neighbors were able to safely untangle this juvenile deer from a soccer net in a resident’s backyard. The deer immediately ran away, uninjured, back into the woods nearby.” [Twitter]
Man Brings Loaded Shotgun to Pentagon — “A Kentucky man taken into custody at the Pentagon last week had a shotgun, ammunition and a machete in his pickup truck, according to court documents… While speaking to the officers, [the man] made ‘incoherent statements about being in the area for ‘liberty business.”” [Fox 5]
The Pentagon’s police force will be holding a training exercise Saturday, prompting the closure of the Pentagon Metro and bus stations.
The Pentagon Force Protection Agency said Pentagon transit stations will be closed between 3 a.m.-2 p.m. The emergency-response exercise itself is slated to start at 8 a.m.
“If you see activities near the Pentagon, do not be alarmed,” the agency said via social media, “it is part of the exercise.
@PFPAOfficial will conduct an emergency-response exercise Sat., July 27, 8AM, @Pentagon. Pentagon Metro/bus stations will be closed 3AM-2PM. Buses will bypass the Pentagon & go2 Pentagon City. If you see activities near the Pentagon, do not be alarmed; it is part of the exercise. pic.twitter.com/e4uleHf0NI
— Pentagon Force Protection Agency (Official) (@PFPAOfficial) July 26, 2019
Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk
Construction on the Washington Blvd (Route 27) bridge near the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery is now complete.
Arlington County shared a video this week spotlighting the completion of the bridge this past May. The span was originally built in the 1940s.
“The substructure includes granite, which is not a very common material that we use in our bridges these days,” said VDOT Project Development Engineer Nicholas Roper, who is also a retired Army colonel.
Roper explained that crews were able to widen the bridge and add granite cladding to the structure, adding that, “three of the original piers from the 1940s still remain.”
As part of the reconstruction, VDOT added a sidewalk on one side of the bridge and a 14-foot wide path, which opened in 2017, on the other side for pedestrians and cyclists.
“It’s a place where daily residents of Arlington County and thousands of individuals… traverse the bridge,” said retired Army Col. Joseph A. Simonelli Jr., who chairs the county’s Military and Veterans and Committee, which recommended the name.
“It honors the 13,000 current Arlington veterans,” said Simonelli. “And the millions of veterans in our nation. And as a veteran, it makes me proud.”
After over a year of work, the new bus and slug lanes are finally open at the Pentagon’s south parking lot.
Yesterday (Tuesday), the new configuration opened with bus-only travel lanes, reconfigured commuter lanes and slug lanes — lanes designed for High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) carpooling.
The new, dedicated bus loop is designed to distance passenger vehicles and buses to make the lot safer and increase mobility.
“The changes to the South Parking Lot are going to have a positive impact on the thousands of commuters traveling to and from the Pentagon Reservation each day,” said Susan Shaw, megaprojects director for the Virginia Department of Transportation, in a press release. “This important feature of the 395 Express Lanes project reinforces VDOT‘s commitment to support travel choices and alternative travel modes throughout our roadway network in Northern Virginia.”
An average of 25,000 employees use the Pentagon lots, with more than 1,800 buses and 3,400 “sluggers” passing through the lot each day, according to the press release.
Other improvements include new pedestrian sidewalks, new signage, and new lighting.
Image via National Capital Planning Commission
If you worked at the Pentagon, the man behind the clippers at Blades Like New, a new barber shop at 2461 S. Clark Street in Crystal City, might look familiar.
For 14 years of the 25 total he’s spent working as a barber, Delonta James was working at a barber shop inside the Pentagon. But now, James is striking out on his own.
On April 11, James opened up Blades Like New as his own barber shop inside a Crystal City office building, right in the center of a military contracting hotbed where military uniforms are as common as suits and sundresses in the hallway.
James said his goal is to bring some of his military hair-cutting experience into a civilian atmosphere. For years, James worked in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) branch of the military, and both his father and sister were in the military. But now, James said he’s excited to do something new.
“It’s been awesome and it’s getting better,” James said. “We do all kinds of hair, but I’m focusing on military [haircuts].”
To that end, James said he’s planning to bring on another barber sometime soon to handle a broader range of haircuts.
Prices range from $18 to $22.
The barber shop is open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m.-5 p.m., with appointments available by email ([email protected]) on weekends.
James said his favorite thing about being a barber is the new stories and lessons people bring with them into the store.
“I love the communication,” James said. “You get different people in here all the time and you’re learning new things. People teach you new things. You find out about a lot of stuff barbering.”
Members of Congress are seeking $25 million to help defray costs at the county’s 9/11 memorials, including the Pentagon Memorial.
Arlington’s Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), along with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), are leading a request for $25 million they say is needed to fund the “9/11 Memorial Competitive Grants Program.”
“We made a promise in the days after 9/11 — to never forget,” Beyer told ARLnow through a spokesman. “These memorials represent that promise, to never forget the bravery, the sacrifice, and the honor we saw that day.”
The program is part of the 9/11 Memorial Act which the Senate unanimously approved last year. The bill allows the Department of Interior to award grants to 9/11 memorial sites helping cover costs like “continued operation, security, and maintenance.”
Recently, four Republicans and 15 Democratic representatives from New York and Virginia signed a letter requesting Congress allocate the $25 million needed to “fully fund” the program as part of the government’s annual budget cycle.
“The Pentagon Memorial is open 24 hours a day, and, to meet the volume and demand of visitors, the Pentagon Memorial Fund develops a wide variety of educational materials and programs,” the letter says
Pentagon Memorial spokesman Jerry Mullins said that over a million people visit the memorial each year, and staff creates resources like teacher guides and lesson plans for grades 9-12 as well as take-away materials available at the site.
He said funds are needed to develop the Visitor Education Center and expand the educational programming in general.
“It’s really for the school-age kids who really have no memory of the attacks,” he said. “It’s an opportunity once again that this country will never forget what happened that day.”
Renderings for the visitor’s center from 2016 featured a glass wall showing where Flight 77 struck the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Officials said at the time they expected the building to be open by 2020.
The memorial’s website is also asking for donations for the Center which is says will instruct generations to learn about the attacks “and the unprecedented response in the minutes, hours, weeks, and now years later.”
Construction work around some of the Pentagon’s parking lots is prompting a new round of traffic changes and detours in the area.
Work focused on the new I-395 express lanes previously prompted the closure of the west side of S. Eads Street from Army Navy Drive to where it nears the Pentagon’s south parking lot at S. Rotary Road. Starting yesterday (Tuesday), workers are now moving to the east side of S. Eads instead, allowing traffic to use both sides of the street once more in the area.
Drivers will now be able to access the 395 HOV lanes as normal once more, but there are still some detours planned for the area, according to a press release.
During the morning rush hour, from 6-9 a.m., drivers will be able to use S. Rotary Road to access I-395’s southbound HOV lanes, but won’t be able to access a section of the western side of S. Eads Street. Anyone on 395 will be able to turn left to reach the Pentagon’s south parking lot, or turn right onto S. Eads.
During the afternoon rush hour, from 3-8 p.m., both sides of S. Eads Street will be fully accessible.
TRANSPORTATION ADVISORY: EFFECTIVE 1/22/19. NEW traffic pattern on Eads St. to begin on or about 1/22/19. Both lanes will open up with restrictions as construction continues. Please use caution and pay attention to updated signage and traffic control officers. #395expresslanes pic.twitter.com/7xfjuUTqjL
— WHS Transportation (@WHS_Transport) January 22, 2019
Signs will be posted to guide drivers about all these changes, and construction is expected to continue through the spring.
A full 395 HOV shutdown is also scheduled for this weekend, starting at Friday (Jan. 25) at 11 p.m and concluding Monday (Jan. 28) at 4 a.m.
Metro is shutting down three Arlington stations on the Blue and Yellow lines this weekend, in order to allow for some major lighting improvements set to make each station substantially brighter.
The Pentagon, Pentagon City and Crystal City stops will all be closed both Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 12-13), WMATA announced last week, work that is sure to create substantial disruptions on both lines.
Metro plans to run Blue Line trains on its regular weekend schedule between the Franconia-Springfield and Reagan National Airport stations and between Arlington Cemetery and Largo Town Center each day, with free shuttle buses providing a bridge between the closed stations. After the cemetery closes at 7 p.m. each day, Blue Line service will end at the Rosslyn station.
As for the Yellow Line, Metro expects it will only run trains between the Huntington and National Airport stations, with free shuttle buses on that line too.
The exact details for the shuttle buses are as follows, per a WMATA press release:
- Blue Line Shuttle (No stop at National Airport) – every 5-10 minutes between Braddock Rd, Crystal City, Pentagon City, Pentagon, Rosslyn
- DC-Airport Express Shuttle – every 5-10 minutes between Reagan National Airport and L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station in Downtown DC
- Pentagon-Airport Shuttle – every 15 minutes between Reagan National Airport, Crystal City, Pentagon City, Pentagon only
Metro is warning anyone hoping to use the rail service and shuttle buses to allow an extra 30 minutes of travel time to reach their destinations this weekend.
Officials chose to kick off work this weekend because they’re counting on “lighter post-holiday travel” patterns, easing demand for service reaching DCA. Metro made a similar assumption back on Veteran’s Day in closing the National Airport station, only to see huge traffic snarls as frustrated commuters turned to the roads instead.
This latest construction project is aimed at installing new LED lights in all three stations, part of a $50 million project that involves lighting upgrades at all of Metro’s 48 underground stations. WMATA says that stations generally become about six times brighter after the new lights are installed.
The station closures will also let Metro “perform additional track work, including concrete grout pad replacement, installation of radio communication cables and tunnel leak mitigation” at all three locations.
The troubled transit system remains beset by questions of how to best complete needed track work while improving service and luring riders back to its trains. Metro leaders are proposing some key rush hour service increases in WMATA’s new budget, but it remains an open question whether Arlington and other Virginia localities will be able to help pay for those changes.
Photo via WMATA
Commuters to, and through, Arlington from Northern Virginia’s western suburbs will soon have a new bus option.
The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, commonly known as PRTC, is starting up a new bus route to connect Haymarket to stops along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Starting Dec. 17, buses will stop at four locations in Haymarket, including a soon-to-be-completed commuter parking lot, and five stops in Arlington.
The new “OmniRide” route, approved by PRTC’s governing board earlier this month, will provide the first direct link between western Prince William County and Arlington’s urban core. PRTC currently runs buses connecting Woodbridge to Rosslyn, Ballston and Crystal City (and one route linking Gainesville to the Pentagon), but commuters along I-66 previously had to hop on Metro or another bus to reach the area.
“New routes always start with four trips in the mornings and four trips in the afternoons/evenings, and this route will follow that pattern,” PRTC spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo wrote in an email. “As ridership grows, additional morning and afternoon/evening trips can be added.”
Stops in Arlington will include:
- The intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Taylor Street, near the Ballston Metro station
- The intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Kansas Street, near George Mason University’s campus
- The intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Herndon Street, near the Clarendon Metro station
- The intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Veitch Street, near the Courthouse Metro station
- The intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Kent Street, near the Rosslyn Metro station
Del. Danica Roem (D-13th District) expects that the new bus route will be incredibly meaningful for her constituents in her western Prince William district — so much so that she says she was “over-the-moon ecstatic” when she heard the news that the route was becoming a reality.
Not only does she expect it will help Haymarket residents commuting to the Pentagon or other jobs around Arlington, but she sees plenty of local benefits too. The PRTC bus will provide yet another option for people traveling between Rosslyn and Ballston, and could ease some of the relentless traffic pressure on I-66 around Arlington.
“Arlington and Prince William County don’t exist in a vacuum without each other,” Roem told ARLnow. “We are connected. My constituents routinely work in and commute through Arlington. And Arlington relies on our highly skilled workers, just as they rely on Arlington to provide them with high-paying jobs to make those long commutes worth it… so I’m hoping this linking bus will enhance our connectivity, not just in terms of mass transit, but also in encouraging stronger working relationships between eastern Northern Virginia and western Northern Virginia. We need to realize we really are in this together.”
With no small degree of pride, Roem notes that the new bus route wouldn’t be possible had the General Assembly not acted to set a floor on the region’s gas tax this year, providing a stable source of funding for PRTC for the first time in years. Without that provision, included in the sweeping deal to provide dedicated funding for Metro, Roem expects PRTC wouldn’t have been able to afford the Haymarket-Arlington connection until next September.
However, she notes that new money will only get the new route “off the ground,” not fund it in perpetuity. Money from the I-66 tolls will eventually help keep the service running, but PRTC will still need to scrounge up additional funds until the toll money arrives, according to the transit service’s documents.
Even still, Roem has every confidence that PRTC will find a way to make the math work, especially because she fully expects to be popular among riders. She notes that many commuter lots in western Prince William are already thoroughly overcrowded, so there should be a constituency for the new route right away.
Additionally, Roem notes that Arlington Transit plans to honor PRTC’s tickets, allowing riders to easily connect from Rosslyn and Ballston to the Pentagon, or even Crystal City.
“Now, you’ve got yourself a commute connecting Haymarket all the way to the Pentagon,” Roem said. “And with Amazon coming in, we’re going to need a lot more mass transit going out to Crystal City. This is a small step in that direction.”