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Clouds over the Pentagon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Expect to see lots of emergency activity around the Pentagon this weekend. But don’t worry, it’s just a drill.

The emergency response training exercise is scheduled to take place from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday and will include first responders from a number of jurisdictions.

“Expect flashing lights/sirens near the Pentagon Transit Center,” Pentagon police said on Twitter.

The Pentagon Metro station will be closed until around 2 p.m. as a result of the exercise. Buses going to or from the Pentagon will be relocated to the Crystal City and Pentagon City stations.

More from a WMATA press release:

On Saturday, September 24, Metro will temporarily close the Pentagon Station to bus and rail service from opening until approximately 2 p.m. due to a security exercise at the request of the Pentagon. During this time, people in the area may notice a large amount of emergency personnel; however, customers should be aware this is only an exercise.

During the temporary station closure, Metrobus service that normally serves the Pentagon Transit Center will instead be relocated to Pentagon City. Express shuttle buses operating to/from Huntington and Franconia-Springfield to Pentagon due to major construction on the Blue and Yellow lines will be diverted to Crystal City where customers can transfer to/from the rail system.

While Pentagon Station is closed, Blue Line trains will bypass the station, passing through without stopping. Customers may wish to use Pentagon City Station as an alternative.

Bus and rail service will resume to the Pentagon at approximately 2 p.m. at the conclusion of the exercise. Metro will notify customers through our social media channels @MetrobusInfo @MetrorailInfo, online on the Status and Alerts page, and through MetroAlerts text and email messages. Customers are encouraged to sign up for MetroAlerts to be notified about the latest service information.

Metro’s customers service team will also be available to assist customers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to provide real-time information online or by phone. Metro’s customer service team responds to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social posts, emails and chat conversations. Customers may also get information by calling 202-637-7000 or visiting wmata.com.

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2018 Marine Corps Marathon (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

In 39 days, some 30,000 runners will descend on Arlington for the first in-person Marine Corps Marathon since the onset of Covid.

The in-person race on Oct. 30 — canceled in 2020 and 2021 — comes with a new Pentagon City location for the gateway to the Runners Village, the sprawling area providing “essential pre-start support” to runners, including portable restrooms, baggage drop-off and a water station.

“We are excited to announce the new Runners Village Gateway for the MCM and MCM50K is now located at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Fern Street,” organizers said in an email. “This new Runners Village Gateway is only a change in location for participants.”

The village used to be located in the Pentagon North Parking lot.

A map of the Runners Village Gateway (via Marine Corps Marathon)

The start line for marathoners is located on Route 110, just before the Memorial Drive. Runners will cross the finish line in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial in the Rosslyn area.

Participants taking the Metro are encouraged to use the Pentagon Metro station, but now can also ride to the Pentagon City Metro station. Metro will be opening at 5 a.m. on event morning, except for the Arlington Cemetery station which will open at 8:30 a.m.

Signage and volunteers will help direct runners to the village.

Those who drive will have free parking available at the underground lot near 23rd Street S. and Crystal Drive. A shuttle will transport runners to the Runners Village Gateway and at the Finish Festival to transport them back to their cars.

Additional, paid parking can be found at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

Course map for the Marine Corps Marathon (via Marine Corps Marathon)

The Runners Village for the 10K is located on the National Mall, near the start line for that race. Registration is still open for the 10K, according to the website.

Registration is also open for the one-mile Kids Run. The race, open to children ages 5-12, will take place on the Long Bridge Park esplanade next to the recently opened Long Bridge Aquatics and Fitness Center. This race was held at the Pentagon North Parking Lot in prior years.

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Police car speeding to a call at night (staff photo)

(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) A carjacker was reportedly foiled by a manual transmission early this morning.

The attempted carjacking happened around 12:20 a.m. at the Boundary Channel Drive and I-395 interchange, between Long Bridge Park and the Pentagon. Arlington police radio traffic suggests that the would-be carjacker might have been flummoxed by the stick shift of the car he was trying to take, though that has not yet been confirmed by police.

Arlington police were assisted by Virginia State Police, Pentagon police, U.S. Park Police and the Fairfax County Police Department helicopter in searching for the suspect, who fled the scene on foot.

No injuries were reported.

Additional information on the carjacking was released by police this afternoon, seemingly confirming the stick shift report.

The ACPD crime report, below, also notes that the suspect allegedly tried to carjack a second victim, who then struck the suspect with his vehicle and drove off before calling police. Despite an extensive search, the suspect was not located and no arrests were made.

More from ACPD:

ATTEMPTED CARJACKING, 2022-09190006, Boundary Channel Drive at I-395. At approximately 12:18 a.m. on September 19, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted carjacking. Upon arrival, it was determined the female victim was driving on the ramp for northbound I-395 from Boundary Channel Drive when the unknown male suspect approached on foot from the median. The male suspect allegedly began banging on the victim’s windshield and demanded she exit her vehicle while holding an unknown object. The victim exited her vehicle and ran down the ramp. The suspect then entered the victim’s vehicle but was unable to operate it. While officers were on scene, an additional victim contacted the Emergency Communications Center to report an attempted carjacking. The male victim stated he had been travelling on the ramp for northbound I-395 from Boundary Channel Drive when a suspect matching the description given by the first victim jumped in front of his vehicle, banged on the hood and demanded he exit the vehicle. The victim accelerated his vehicle, making contact with the suspect and left the area before contacting police. The suspect was last seen running across I-395 towards the exit for the George Washington Memorial Parkway. A perimeter was established and a lookout was broadcast for the suspect. Police helicopters assisted with a search of the area which yielded negative results. The victims were not injured. The suspect is described as a White male with a slim build, approximately 30 years old, 6’0″, with dark buzzcut hair, wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and dark pants. The investigation is ongoing.

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American flag over the start of the Arlington 9/11 Memorial 5K in 2017

(Updated at 3 p.m.) A pair of large events are planned for Saturday, resulting in road closures in Rosslyn and the Crystal City area.

First up, the Rosslyn Jazz Fest, scheduled from 1-7 p.m. in Gateway Park, will close the following roads from 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

  • EB Langston Boulevard, from Fort Myer Drive to N. Moore Street
  • Fort Myer Drive driveway access, from 19th Street N. to N. Moore Street

“Traffic is expected to be impacted in the area and motorists should seek alternate routes to reduce road congestion,” the Arlington County Police Department said. “Attendees are encouraged to use Metro and other forms of multimodal transportation. The Rosslyn Metro Station (Orange, Silver, and Blue lines) is located within walking distance to the event.”

Later that day, a more extensive set of road closures will be put in place between 3-5 p.m. for the 20th Annual Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff, & ECC 9/11 Memorial 5k race.

From a police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department will close the following roadways around the Pentagon and in Crystal City to accommodate the event:

From approximately 3:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

  • Army Navy Drive, from S. Eads Street to 12th Street S.

From approximately 5:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

  • S. Eads Street, from Army Navy Drive to 12th Street S.
  • S. Fern Street, from Army Navy Drive to 12th Street S.
  • S. Hayes Street, from Army Navy Drive to 12th Street S.
  • Army Navy Drive, from S. Joyce Street to S. Eads Street
  • S. Joyce Street, from Army Navy Drive to Columbia Pike
  • Columbia Pike, from S. Oak Street to Washington Boulevard
  • S. Washington Boulevard, from Arlington Boulevard to Columbia Pike
  • S. Washington Boulevard, from SB George Washington Parkway
  • Route 110 S., from I-66 and Wilson Boulevard to Army Navy Drive
  • Marshall Drive, from Iwo Jima Access Road to Route 110 S.
  • Southgate Road, from Oak Street to Columbia Pike
  • The ramp to Army Navy Drive from NB I-395 Exit 8A, Arlington Ridge Road, and N. Washington Boulevard
  • The ramp from NB I-395 Exit 8C to Pentagon City / Crystal City

“Race attendees and spectators are encouraged to use Metro or other forms of multimodal transportation,” said the release. “The Pentagon City Metro Station (Blue and Yellow lines) and Crystal City Metro Station (Blue and Yellow lines) are located within walking distance to the racecourse. Paid parking is available at the Pentagon City Mall garage for those choosing to drive.”

Street parking in the area of both events will be restricted, with temporary “No Parking” signs placed along various streets, police said.

There’s also a third major event that will be coming through the county Saturday morning: the D.C. Bike Ride, the route for which goes over the 14th Street Bridge and loops around near the Pentagon.

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Flag displayed at the Pentagon in remembrance of 9/11 (file photo)

Arlington County’s annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony is taking place in Courthouse.

A live feed of the event, which started around 9:30 a.m. and features local officials and members of the police and fire departments, is available below. The full event should be viewable upon its conclusion.

American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 184 people. It a clear late summer day, not unlike today.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to attend a private memorial service at the Pentagon Sunday morning, with the Secretary of Defense and family members of the victims, to mark the 21st anniversary of the terror attacks.

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The long-planned 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center is delayed another year and is now hoping for a 2026 opening.

The $100 million education center is set to be located within the soon-to-be expanded Arlington National Cemetery and along Columbia Pike, which is being realigned to accommodate the cemetery’s expansion.

However, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) project got off to a late start with construction being pushed from the early fall of 2021 to the spring of 2022.

That has also moved the education center’s timeline back about a year, executive director Jim Laychak told ARLnow. The aim is now to start construction on the education center in 2024 with a hoped-for opening in 2026 — 25 years after the terror attacks.

“That [realignment and expansion] project frames the site for the future visitors’ center, so we are dependent on that and its timeline,” Laychak said.

When the facility was first announced in September 2015 and when renderings were displayed at the Pentagon City mall in 2016, the goal was to open in 2019 or 2020.

In terms of design, the plans for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center haven’t changed much since last year. There have been some adjustments to the exterior, said Laychak, but those are still under review.

The education center will feature a modern design with exhibits on the first floor, “interactive biographies” of those who died at the Pentagon on 9/11, a second-floor conference room with views, a rooftop terrace, and ample parking.

Laychak, who also oversaw the building of the Pentagon Memorial, says this project is being funded in much the same way as the memorial — a combination of public and private funds.

The education center has raised about $14 million in private donations so far, an increase of about $9 million since this time last year. That includes a $2.5 million donation from Amazon.

The project still needs another $85 million though, Laychak said. The hope is to receive about $70 million from the federal government.

The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center, much like the memorial, is a deeply personal project for Laychak. His brother Dave was killed at the Pentagon on 9/11. This weekend will mark the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attack and his brother’s death.

“All of them are [tough],” Laychak said last year about the 20th anniversary. “One is not any more or less meaningful than the other, though you start to realize how much life has gone on without Dave.”

He’ll be in attendance at the Pentagon Memorial again this year for a small service for family members and invited guests.

The memorial and education center are important reminders, Laychak said, of a tragic day that changed history and defined a generation that fought the wars that followed. For such a pivotal moment in history, however, it’s notable that newer generations have not had the same searing memories of that fateful day.

Laychak briefly told a story about how he was leading a school tour at the memorial a few years ago and many of the kids didn’t know the details of what had happened at the Pentagon on 9/11.

“We need to remember those stories and remember what happened, especially these days with social media and all of the misinformation, conspiracy theories,” said Laychak. “We are going to get [the education center] done. It’s a project we believe in.”

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A retired flight attendant will be pushing a beverage cart from Dulles airport to the Pentagon next month in honor of his colleagues who were killed on 9/11.

It was the evening of September 10, 2001, when Paul “Paulie” Veneto arrived back in Boston on Flight 175. He was working as a flight attendant for United Airlines at the time and the Los Angeles to Boston was his normal route. But his shift was up, so he and the rest of his crew switched.

“The next morning, September 11, the next crew went out the trip I had just finished,” he told ARLnow over the phone. “So, I knew all of those crew members.”

In remembrance of his former colleagues and all the crew on the four flights that were hijacked on that fateful day, Veneto will be pushing an airplane beverage cart 30 miles from Dulles International Airport to the Pentagon. That’s the path of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon and killed 184 people.

Veneto is set to begin the journey on Sept. 8 with his arrival set for Sept. 11, 21 years after Veneto himself narrowly avoided becoming a 9/11 victim. The cart will be adorned with the names of all those crew members that died that day attempting to save lives.

“You hear about all the police and fire and they all deserve credit, they did extraordinary things,” said Veneto. “But I knew people were suffering not hearing about the heroics of those crew members.”

Last year for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, he embarked on a similar, though much longer, journey. It took him 230 miles and about three weeks to push a beverage cart from Boston Logan International Airport to Ground Zero in New York.

He encountered numerous obstacles making that trip, including hurricane-like rain, hills, heat, and railroad tracks, but what he remembers by far the most are the people lining the route and cheering him on.

“It was unbelievable… there were whole towns, fire trucks, everyone waiting for me,” Veneto said. “It was crazy.”

He had military veterans, police, and those who lost people that day coming up to him to tell him their stories of how 9/11 impacted them.

That’s when he realized he needed to do the beverage cart push again, this time following the path of Flight 77 that ultimately went from Dulles to the Pentagon. He and his team have scouted the route already, which is mostly a bike path and “pretty flat.” He doesn’t foresee any major issues, though does caution he’s “expecting the unexpected.”

While a beverage cart can weigh a couple of hundred pounds, Veneto said that pushing one down the road has nothing on navigating one through the aisle of a full aircraft attempting to avoid legs, arms, and knees.

Veneto’s journey will start at about 8 a.m. on Sept. 8, when he will go down the ramp at Dulles, en route to the Pentagon. The plan is to arrive in Arlington in the afternoon of the 21st anniversary of the attacks.

For those who want to track Veneto or, even, cheer him along the way, a real-time map will be providing photo and updates on where he is.

Veneto, who struggled with drug addiction after 9/11, said he gets inspired to remain sober by remembering those colleagues and friends who lost their lives that day. He hopes others might as well find some strength in the memories of the crew members to battle whatever challenges they are facing.

“I get the strength from looking at [their pictures] and thinking of what they must have went through that morning,” he said. “They were the first responders.

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A drone hovering near the Pentagon (courtesy of Dave Statter)

The beacon of light in the Arlington sky early Sunday morning wasn’t a UFO, but an authorized Pentagon drone flight.

At about 2:41 a.m. this past Sunday (Aug. 7) morning, some people spotted a dot of light hovering above the general vicinity of Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon.

As former-news-reporter-turned-safety-advocate Dave Statter pointed out on social media, the skies above this section of south Arlington are a general no-fly zone for anything other than military aircraft and commercial flights heading to or from National Airport. He, then, theorized that this was an “authorized [drone] flight (or someone really looking for trouble).”

Turns out, he was right about it being an authorized flight.

“I can confirm the drone activity observed in the early morning hours on Aug. 7 and 8 was part of a Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) security exercise and was approved drone activity,” a Department of Defense spokesperson told ARLnow in an email.

“Due to operations security, we cannot discuss the specifics of the activity,” the spokesperson said, in response to requests for more details about the exercise.

Drone flights, both authorized and not, do happen on occasion here despite the restrictions.

Arlington County used drones to count the deer population, with permission from federal agencies. Just last month, meanwhile, an unauthorized drone flight prompted a ground stop and flight delays at Reagan National Airport.

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Morning Notes

Ballston at twilight with storm clouds looming (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Issues at Court House Station — Noted in a new Washington Metrorail Safety Commission report on the maintenance, cleaning and inspections of automatic train control systems: “For example, at Court House Station on the Orange and Silver Lines, a technician noted racks that were dusty and covered with black soot and noted that an electronic-friendly vacuum cleaner was required for proper cleaning, but no work order was opened. The records also showed missing manuals and reference documents, but no work order was opened.” [WMSC]

Anniversary of Pentagon Officer’s LODD — “Pentagon Police Cpl. George Gonzalez died in the line of duty one year ago today. At the Training Range named for him, members of his Pentagon Force Protection Agency platoon honored Gonzalez again on Tuesday.” [WJLA]

School Board Race Fundraising — “For the period through June 30, independent James ‘Vell’ Rives IV outraised Democratic endorsee Bethany Sutton by $14,286 to $13,132, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Elections. But from those figures you have to subtract the $7,000 loan that Rives gave his campaign, and also chop off a couple of thousand dropped in by Sutton family members to hers, when parsing the data.” [Sun Gazette]

Light Pole Knocked Down on the Pike — “Scanner: Columbia Pike temporary shut down at S. Wakefield Street after a vehicle ran into a county light pole, knocking it down. Driver reported to be injured, but not seriously.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — After a stormy Thursday night comes another hot day with rain and strong storms in the evening and overnight. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:15 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Wonky GPS directions and old road design are some of the factors that have led some drivers to haphazardly cross several lanes of highway traffic at an I-395 exit, leading to multiple crashes.

Videos, captured from a Crystal City high-rise apartment by former local news reporter Dave Statter, show drivers consistently and dangerously moving across four lanes of southbound I-395 traffic specifically to make the lefthand Route 1 exit (8C).

The situation is at its most perilous when a driver is coming from Boundary Channel Drive, takes the I-395 southbound on-ramp, and realizes the exit to Pentagon City, Crystal City and Alexandria is only a few hundred feet on the left. Meaning, in order to take it, the driver has to move their car over four lanes of high speed highway traffic in a very short distance.

Some of the numerous videos Statter posts look something like a real-life game of Frogger.

“Watching these people doing this crazy dance to get to the left hand exit,” Statter says. “It’s just a constant, constant thing.”

Even when we are talking, Statter spots two more drivers attempting to make the same maneuver, despite the fact that VDOT had recently put up a line of orange barrels in an attempt to prevent it.

He also seen plenty of drivers entering I-395 southbound from further down, like the onramp from the GW Parkway, but still realizing too late that they need to take exit 8C on the left.

Since Statter started training his cameras on this section of I-395 back in November, he says he has caught upwards of 18 accidents. All of which involve drivers trying to quickly take the left hand exit.

Statter says that part of the issue here is the design of the roads and the Pentagon, which was built nearly 70 years ago.

“There’s a lot of on-ramps in such a short period of time,” he says. “[It’s my impression] that’s not the standard for interstate highways of today.”

But a culprit also appears to be modern technology. At least until recently, app-based GPS directions like Google Maps and Apple Maps were telling drivers to engage in this dangerous lane-shifting.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Pastel colors in the skies over the National Mall during peak bloom weekend, as seen from Arlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Traffic Restricted on Deteriorating Bridge — “As a result of a bridge inspection today, Friday, March 25, engineers closed the existing southbound lane of the West Glebe Bridge between Arlington and Alexandria due to further degradation of structural beams.  The northbound lane of the bridge over South Four Mile Run will remain open, making the bridge one-way to traffic and requiring a detour for southbound automobiles. The bridge’s maximum load rating of 5 tons will remain in place with a critical need for heavier vehicles – primarily buses and dump trucks — to comply for public safety.” [Arlington County]

Graupel Covers Fields, Prompts Tweets — An ice pellet downpour covered the ground in parts of Arlington on Saturday afternoon: “Well that was wild… heavy downpour rain and graupel swept through near Clarendon.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Story Behind the Pentagon Chicken — “The Pentagon Building Operations Command Center initially considered using on-staff pest control to capture the chicken. But the pest control staff wasn’t scheduled to come on duty for another hour. The Building Operations Command Center, or BOCC, then came up with the idea to contact the emergency number at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.” [Patch]

Bullying Incident at Middle School — “After a bullying incident involving her 6th grade son with autism, an Arlington mother asked the school board Thursday night to do more to create an environment where such incidents don’t happen to any child. On Friday both mother Kathleen Clark and her son Colton described what happened to 7 News, and Kathleen talked about changes she hopes Arlington Public Schools makes to help children better know how to relate to others who are different from them in some way.” [WJLA]

Seventh Grade Hoops Team Goes Undefeated — “An Arlington Travel Basketball girls teams capped an undefeated 16-0 season in the Fairfax County Youth Basketball League with victories in postseason tournament-championship games. The seventh-grade girls squad, coached by John Lomas, won the Division I championship game, 51-42, over Lee-Mount Vernon.” [Sun Gazette]

Lease Above Courthouse Metro Extended — “Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc. (CNI) extends federal services division office lease in Arlington, VA. Represented by Edward Saa and Timothy Jacobs, CNI Federal experienced explosive growth in the 2020-2021 government fiscal year in awarded contracts necessitating a 10,000-SF office presence to service customers.” [Press Release]

More Afternoon ART Buses — “More of a good thing: Midday frequency gets a boost for ART 52 and 75 bus weekday routes starting Monday.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Stabbing in Seven Corners — “Fairfax County police officers arrested and charged a 21-year-old Falls Church man after two men were stabbed just before 2 p.m. yesterday (Thursday). Police were called to Seven Corners at Arlington Boulevard and Patrick Henry Drive for an assault and determined a man was involved in two separate assaults that escalated when he stabbed both men, police said.” [FFXnow]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 37 and low of 28. Sunrise at 7:00 am and sunset at 7:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

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