There’s a renewed push for action on the decades-old plan to build a boathouse in the Rosslyn area.
County and federal officials want the public to know that although the project has stopped and restarted several times, it definitely hasn’t been scrapped.
Arlington County has been working on various forms of the boathouse project since the 1990s. It has collaborated with the National Park Service because the county’s shoreline along the Potomac River technically is NPS property.
In October, the county requested that the Commonwealth of Virginia quitclaim any interest it has in the street that fronts the property at 1101 Lee Highway. The county had purchased the Lee Highway land parcel in 2014 for $2.4 million with the listed intent of using the land for possible boathouse-related purposes.
The county requested the quitclaim because it’s unclear exactly who owns and maintains this small portion of the land along the former Lee Highway right of way. VDOT now has to approve the quitclaim — which has no fiscal impact to either party — and the county believes that should happen by or shortly after the new year.
The county points out that this section of land also is the only service vehicle access point if a boathouse is built. Public parking and drop-offs would be located in a safer area further away from the busy intersection with N. Lynn Street and the I-66 off-ramp.
Any progress on the boathouse plan is theoretical until NPS completes an environmental study — as required by law — showing how such a project would impact the area’s natural and cultural resources.
NPS launched an environmental impact statement (EIS) in 2012, with funding secured by former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The study involved getting community feedback on locations for a potential boathouse.
But the EIS was put on hold and NPS is investigating whether it can instead do an environmental assessment, which is a similar but less intensive study that takes less time to produce. The EA would incorporate the information already gathered during the now-stalled EIS.
NPS launched a transportation study last year to determine what impact a boathouse would have on the area’s existing transportation network. The agency has been collaborating with Arlington County and VDOT for that study and in compiling a final report on the transportation impacts.
Although 1101 Lee Highway was intended to be a location for a boathouse facility, that’s actually not set in stone. That parcel of land is called an “upper site” and cannot effectively host a boathouse on its own without a nearby “lower site” near Theodore Roosevelt Island where boats could be stored and launched. If NPS deems another site better suited for a boathouse, Arlington County could use the Lee Highway land for something else.
“In addition, or as an alternative use, the county may put other passive or recreational uses on the parcel,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “We need to wait until a final determination is made by the National Park Service on the parcel, so other uses aren’t actively being pursued.”
A study for another hot project — the Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola — in relatively the same area was released last month, but Baxter says it’s far too early to consider that an option for the land parcel. In fact, she said it’s premature to even comment on the feasibility of a possible gondola project because the study hasn’t even been reviewed or vetted by county staff.
As far as the next steps for moving forward with the boathouse, NPS hopes to announce a decision about the environmental study and its possible transition to an environmental assessment by early 2017.
If the agency announces it is able to go forward with an EA instead of an EIS, it could potentially reveal a preferred boathouse site at that time as well, although the location decision is not required until the final environmental study results are released.
(Updated at 4:40 p.m)
Students at Virginia Tech’s Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center have joined Arlington County planners in brainstorming ideas to revitalize the Rosslyn waterfront.
Rosslyn residents and visitors currently have no direct walkway to the Potomac River or even a path to reach the Key Bridge to get into Georgetown, without crossing busy roads and on-ramps.
“Most cities and counties have recognized the value of their waterfronts as a gathering place,” Arlington’s planning supervisor for urban design and research Kris Krider said in a news release. “But the waterfront below Rosslyn has little pedestrian access and must overcome the barrier of busy highways and large numbers of drivers . . . who just whiz by with seemingly no interest in stopping to explore the area.”
Virginia Tech associate professor Paul Kelsch and doctorate student Jodi LaCoe developed three options the students could choose from as the base for their designs:
- Bike, Bathe, and Beyond — “a connection to existing bike paths leading people to the site in addition to some form of bathing.” This could include things like a structure for storing one’s bike; showering and heading to work; a new spa along the bike path; or swimming in a cleaner Potomac River or a public pool.
- A Food-Boat Wharf — “a place where future food boats could moor along the river’s edge and sell to Rosslyn workers looking for a delectable waterside lunch.”
- Urban Drive-In Theater — entertainment for people “coming by foot, bike, or car to watch movies or other performances.”
In all, 18 students submitted their designs, with most of them electing to base their ideas on the “Bike, Bathe and Beyond” program. According to the county’s website, the suggestions include:
Paige proposed moving the parkway farther inland, cutting into the slope with a large retaining wall that supports a new traffic circle for access to the Key Bridge. The former roadbed is utilized for storm water management and two swimming pools along the waterfront for lap and family swimming. The former eastbound lane of the parkway provides vehicular access and parking for the new facility.
Charlston seeked to explore and provide a connection between the perceived boundaries of the Rosslyn business district and the Rosslyn waterfront. At present time, the transportation infrastructure within Rosslyn acts as a hindrance to convenient access to the Potomac River. By occupying the void beneath Key Bridge and connecting the Mount Vernon Trail and the Potomac Heritage trail, this project aims to bridge the gap between the city and the river’s edge.
This project is designed as a place of seclusion in the midst of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. The bike path connects to the city sidewalks and provides a way to traverse the steep hill. The existing George Washington Memorial Parkway is pushed into the Potomac to create a secluded water channel and clear land for development. The bath is set into the hillside and contains spa facilities as well as a series of indoor pools for year round relaxation.
Sebastian’s project is situated in the coastal side of the Mount Vernon Trail facing the Arlington riverside. The goal is to encourage users of the trail to use the project as a station in their commute or exercise regimen throughout the year. The building features an outside pool fed by a constructed wetland and a sports facility meant for everyday use.
Dominion Admits Culpability for Potomac Oil Spill — Last week’s mysterious oil spill that ran from the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, down the Potomac past Reagan National Airport, came from a Dominion Power substation in Crystal City. The company is taking responsibility for the mineral oil spill, which killed 21 birds, mostly Canada geese, and prompted a large Coast Guard and Arlington County cleanup response. [Washington Post]
Loverde Issues Statement on Scalia’s Death — Diocese of Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde issued a statement on the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend. Loverde said “we are all deeply saddened” by Scalia’s unexpected death, lauding him as “a man so deeply rooted in his faith, so brilliant in the law and in jurisprudence, so clear and precise in his judicial statements, so wholly committed to his family, so engaging with colleagues and friends, often with great humor.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]
D.C. Denies St. Paddy’s Bar Crawls — The annual Shamrock Crawl bar crawl will be coming to Clarendon next month. Arlington police helped keep a lid on crime and rowdiness associated with the bar crawl last year. In the District, however, concerns about bad behavior prompted officials to deny permit applications for the D.C. version of the Shamrock Crawl and another St. Patrick’s Day-themed crawl. [Borderstan]
Garvey on Kojo Show — On Friday, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey was a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi Politics Hour, which is broadcast on WAMU (88.5 FM). Garvey spoke to Nnamdi and NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood about the proposed widening of a portion of eastbound I-66, as well as related topics like Metro and transit. [YouTube]
W-L Shot Put Record Smashed — Washington-Lee High School junior Benedict Draghi has convincingly set a new school record for shot put. At a recent track meet, Draghi recorded a throw of 61 feet and 4.75 inches. The performance was good for first place at the meet and it blew away the school’s 50-year-old previous indoor shot put record by nearly 10 feet. [InsideNova]
Old Guard Offers Horses for Adoption — The Army’s Old Guard, based at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, is offering two caisson horses for adoption. The horses, Quincy and Kennedy, have served in military funerals and ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery for almost a decade. [WJLA]
Volunteers Remove Wreaths from Cemetery — Despite bone-chilling cold temperatures, on Saturday volunteers picked up tens of thousands of holiday wreaths that were placed on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in December. The cleanup was postponed from January due to the blizzard. [WUSA 9]
Flickr pool photo by WolfpackWX
Authorities Still Investigating Oil Sheen on Potomac — In an effort to find the source of an oily sheen on the Potomac River near the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, the Coast Guard, state authorities and the Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services will be conducting a “dye test.” Non-toxic dye may be seen in the river today. At least 23 birds were were sent to a wildlife rescue organization for cleaning as a result of contact with the oil. [U.S. Coast Guard, Facebook, WJLA]
Two Displaced By Fire Near Clarendon — A structure fire Friday night on the 1200 block of N. Kirkwood Road, near Clarendon, has left two residents displaced. No one was injured in the blaze. The residents are being assisted by the Red Cross. [Twitter, Twitter]
Nauck History Project Seeks Contributions — As part of Black History Month, Arlington County is encouraging residents of the Nauck neighborhood to donate images and stories to the Nauck/Green Valley Heritage Project. The project has an online archive dedicated to preserving the community’s rich history. [Arlington County]
Arlington Makes AARP ‘Healthy’ List — Arlington County is among the top “medium population cities” for those ages 50+ to stay active and healthy, according to new rankings. [AARP]
Clement: Support Governor’s I-66 Plan — Frequent local candidate for elected office Audrey Clement is encouraging Arlingtonians to support the McAuliffe administration’s plan for tolling I-66 inside the Beltway. That plan, which calls for widening I-66 only as a last resort, is preferable to the call from outside the Beltway lawmakers to widen I-66 as soon as possible, Clement says. [Campaign for a Greener Arlington]
Arlington Woman Has Purse With $10K Cash Stolen — Police are looking for a suspect seen stealing a purse with $10,000 cash inside from a Fairfax County Dunkin’ Donuts. The purse was accidentally left behind by an Arlington mother who had saved for years to pay her 18-year-old daughter’s tuition at Penn State. [NBC Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
WMATA says it has placed a speed restriction on the bridge, limiting trains to just 15 miles per hour. The restriction is “part of Metro’s aggressive campaign to fix track conditions identified following inspections after the derailment of a non-passenger train in early August,” the transit agency said online.
Replacement of metal fasteners on the Yellow Line bridge is currently underway, Metro said, but may take 6-8 weeks.
“While it may seem like slow-going, we do not expect significant delays,” the agency said. “However, if there is another issue such as a disabled train, switch problem or medical emergency, the speed restriction may result in congestion prior to the speed restriction area.”
Additional 15 mph restrictions are in place on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines between Foggy Bottom and Farragut West, and in three sections on the Red Line. Readers and an ARLnow.com reporter have also observed trains running slowly in a portion of the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
In addition to the slow restrictions, Metro says it has also placed “medium restrictions” of up to 40 mph in certain parts of the Metrorail system.
— Adam Tuss (@AdamTuss) September 1, 2015
(Updated at 11:10 p.m.) One lane of Chain Bridge was blocked during tonight’s evening rush hour due to a grim discovery near the bridge.
An apparent dead body was spotted by hikers about 150 yards north of the bridge this afternoon. The body is said to be located on the rocks, close to the Potomac River.
Arlington County firefighters responded to the scene, and the fire department’s technical rescue team rappelled down the cliffs to access the body. A D.C. fire boat and a U.S. Park Police helicopter also assisted in the recovery operation.
At about 6:40 p.m., a member of the Arlington County Police Department was rappelling down the cliff, with assistance of a technical rescue team member, to investigate the scene, a police source told ARLnow.com.
Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck confirmed a “large emergency response” at the scene, on the Virginia side of Chain Bridge, and said that crews are likely to remain on scene for an extended period of time.
One lane of the bridge was open in each direction at the accident scene, with heavy traffic reported on both the Virginia and D.C. sides of the bridge.
Photos viewed by ARLnow.com, taken from a distance, show that the victim was a light-skinned male. He appeared to be bleeding from the head and holding a dark object in his hand.
Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment are organizing their annual Potomac River watershed cleanup next weekend, and are looking for a few extra pairs of hands.
This is the 27th year of the annual watershed cleanup. It’s coordinated all along the river, from West Virginia to the Chesapeake, by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Last year, the cleanup day recovered 576,000 pounds of trash at 671 different sites. More than 14,000 volunteers participated.
Arlington’s contingent will meet Saturday, April 11 at 9:00 a.m. at the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Chain Bridge Road. The area is steep and rocky in spots, so ACE advises children younger than 10 years old to be left at home, and children younger than 16 to be accompanied by a parent.
Interested volunteers can sign up here. Next Saturday, they should wear long sleeves and pants, sturdy shoes that can get wet, work gloves, sunscreen and bottled water. All cleanup materials will be provided.
File photo courtesy Rob Laybourn
The store had been closed since May 2012 after being flooded with raw sewage. It reopened this morning following an extensive clean-up process and a complete renovation.
Harris Teeter employees held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:00 a.m.
The 44,000 square foot store will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It features a redesigned pharmacy, in addition to “all new flooring; new drywall and paint; updated equipment; wooden display cases; new fixtures; an expanded seating area; an expanded floral department; new prepared food stations including pizza, an Asian hot bar, and a made-to-order sandwich bar; and sustainable décor elements.”
Harris Teeter’s insurers are currently suing Arlington County for more than $1 million to recover losses caused by the sewage backup.
Photo courtesy Catherine Becker/Harris Teeter
The coordinated flyover of more than 30 World War II-era planes has been pushed back until this weekend due to rain.
The National Air Trainer Association, which organized the “North American Texan” 75th anniversary flight, delayed it until approximately 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, weather permitting.
If the visibility is not good enough tomorrow, NATA’s Tom Malone said, they will fly on Sunday.
The decision will be made at about 7:00 a.m.
There is a 40 percent chance of rain Saturday, and a 30 percent chance of rain Sunday, according to Weather.com.
Friday’s ceremony will celebrate the “North American Texan” plane’s 75th anniversary. Friday afternoon at approximately 12:30 p.m., the planes will reach Arlington by way of a flight path that follows the Potomac River, according to the North American Trainer Association, which is coordinating the event.
More than 15,000 Texans were built between 1938 and 1947, according to the NATA, and more than 400 of them are privately owned and still in flight. They were the most popular plane used in American fighter-pilot training in the 1940s and 1950s.
The formation is expected to be visible from much of Arlington and Alexandria. The forecast for Friday as of Tuesday afternoon is a 60 percent chance of showers.
Photo courtesy of NATA
New APS Teachers to Begin Orientation — More than 400 newly-hired Arlington public school teachers are set to begin orientation sessions next week. The school system says it has hired nearly 90 percent of the teachers necessary to keep up with attrition and a growing student body. [Sun Gazette]
APS Debuts Smartphone App — Arlington Public Schools has unveiled a new iPhone and Android app for parents. The free app “features news and headlines, upcoming events, sports scores… and easy access to APS services such as MySchoolBucks, the Extended Day portal, lunch menus and calendars.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Great Falls Drowning Danger — The waters at Great Falls claim an average of seven lives per year, including three since June. The waters are especially deadly because of strong undercurrents in parts that look calm on the surface. [Washington Post]
Photo courtesy Ryan Kaltenbaugh
Vincent Crapps, 24, is believed to have drowned after diving off cliffs on the Virginia side of the river. After an extended search and rescue effort, his body was found by Montgomery County (Md.) Police this afternoon.
Crapps was a member of the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment, better known as the “Old Guard.”
From a Montgomery County Police press release:
Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Major Crimes Division – Homicide and Sex Section are investigating a drowning that occurred on Saturday.
On Saturday, June 29, at approximately 5:30 p.m., Montgomery County Fire & Rescue received a call for a possible drowning of a 24-year-old male in the Potomac River near Bear Island. Montgomery County Fire & Rescue began a rescue mission. Montgomery County Police search and rescue officers responded to the area to provide assistance on land.
Today, following an extended joint operation, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue recovered the victim’s body in the water at approximately 2:25 p.m. Montgomery County Police search and rescue officers were on scene during these recovery efforts. The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Montgomery County Police detectives are leading the investigation into the victim’s death. Investigation has revealed that the victim was diving off the cliffs on the Virginia side of the river when his friends noticed him go under the water and not surface. His friends called 911.
The victim has been identified as Vincent Crapps of the 3d United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), stationed at Fort Myer, Virginia.
Last night, around 10:00 p.m., an SUV somehow crashed through a barrier on the south side of the Memorial Bridge and landed in the Potomac River.
The driver, the SUV’s lone occupant, escaped the watery wreck and was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Charges are now pending against the driver, according to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks.
If you’ve ever feared making a wrong turn and driving off the side of a bridge, AAA Mid-Atlantic has some potentially helpful tips for you. From a press release:
Although they are considered worst-case scenarios, such crashes rarely happen, safety officials and experts say. But that’s of little consolation to local drivers when their vehicle suddenly goes deep six or becomes a leaking boat. What you do and how you react within moments of the crash into the abyss will determine whether you live or die in a watery grave, the auto club advises. “Add darkness and near freezing water, and your chances of escape have greatly diminished,” safety experts warns.
“Although less than one-half of one percent of all automobile crashes involves a vehicle being submerged under water, it is still a very frightening situation to motorists and their terrified passengers, especially young children and the elderly,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Previous research shows that between 400 to 600 persons lose their lives each year in the United States, as their vehicles plummet into a canal, river, or a ditch for that matter.”
Annually, almost ten percent of all drowning deaths in the United States can be attributed to being submerged in a car. If children are in the car, the driver or the adult should focus on getting the children out safely first and keeping them from panicking during the petrifying ordeal. In most crashes of this nature, the heaviest end of the deep-sixed vehicle – usually the end with the engine – will begin sinking first, pulling the car down at an angle, notes Popular Mechanic. That is, unless the water is 15 feet or deeper. In that case, the vehicle may land on its roof, compounding the dangers and risks for the occupants.
Although most vehicles will float for three or four minutes before they start sinking due to the surprising buoyancy of the vehicle in deep water and depending upon on the airtightness of the vehicles, time is still of the essence, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. The overarching concern is getting to dry land as quickly as possible. Your safety and the lives of your passengers depend upon that.
So, the first key to surviving such a mishap is remaining calm, according to safety experts. Underscoring this, the National Safety Commission puts it this way: “The first and most important thing to remember, if your vehicle is submerged, is to remain CALM – easier said than done-but it’s the most important thing you can do to stay alive.” However, the experts tend to vary on their tips. For example, the brothers Magliozzi, Tom and Ray, of NPR’s “Car Talk” say: “The correct way to get out of a sinking car is to float in the cabin until water is within about 2 inches of the roof. At that time pressure in and outside the car will be equal and it will be easy to open the door and swim out.”
- Don’t panic. Once your car hits the water it will not sink immediately (You will have at least one or two minutes before the car begins to sink, safety experts say).
- If possible, jump out while car is on surface.
- If your car is still floating, roll down the window and unbuckle your seat belt to escape.
- If your car is submerged, safety experts suggest remaining buckled up while you break the driver or passenger’s side window to escape.
- Allow the pressure of the water to equalize inside the sodden vehicle before attempting to open the doors or windows. Water weighs 62.4 lbs. per cubic foot.
- Move toward rear of vehicle where the air bubble is forming.
- Water pressure against the water-logged doors will make opening the doors very difficult until the pressure inside of the vehicle and outside of the vehicle are equal.
- Open your windows to allow yourself and your passengers to escape (Contrary to popular opinion, the “power windows won’t stop working within seconds after impact.” The power can stay on as along as 10 minutes).
The nightmarish crash from the Memorial Bridge is a reminder to motorists of the importance of carrying and keeping a sharp tool, such as a Philips screwdriver or a spring-loaded center punch, in their glove compartment or in the cabin of their vehicle. The tool is a life-saver. Here’s why: it allows you to break the tempered glass to extricate yourself and your passengers from the sinking vehicle. Other salient tips include:
- If the windows are blocked, try to push the windshield or rear window out with your feet or shoulder.
- Rescue the children or passengers who need assistance to help them to escape. If children are in the sinking or submerged car, unbuckle their seatbelts and or child passenger seat, starting with the oldest child first.
- Safeguard the kids. Push the children out of the vehicle ahead of you.
- Always keep a window-breaking tool in your vehicle in an easily accessible location, safety experts suggest.
- Remove heavy clothing before attempting to swim to safety.
- Swim to the surface as safely and quickly as possible (swim in the direction of the current if you’re in deep water).
- Push off for quick rise to the surface.
- If you can’t swim try to float. Use your body’s natural buoyancy to float. Make sure to raise your head to breathe.
- Call for medical attention as quickly as possible.
Ironically, just last week crews from the Federal Highway Administration reportedly began an “extensive inspection of the deck of the iconic 80-year-old Arlington Memorial Bridge, a process that is expected to continue through March 5. In September the 2,163 feet long bridge underwent a two month long renovation, costing $788,375, to repair and replace its entire driving surface.
Photos courtesy Mark P.
SUV Runs Off Memorial Bridge — An SUV drove off the Memorial Bridge and plunged into the Potomac around 10:00 last night. The driver was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. A bridge barrier was damaged and the bridge was closed by police until the early morning hours. [WJLA, Washington Post]
‘Ballston Southern Gateway’ Plan Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an addendum to its North Quincy Street Plan, which is designed “to transform the southern gateway of Ballston from an automobile-oriented area into a more pedestrian-friendly, great urban place.” The plan calls for higher residential and commercial buildings in the area around the Harris Teeters and the Mercedes Benz dealership. [Arlington County]
Supreme Court to Consider DNA Practice that Helped ACPD — The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider the constitutionality of a DNA practice that helped Arlington County Police link former Marine Jorge Torrez, accused of raping an Arlington woman and leaving her for dead, with the murder of two girls in Illinois. The high court will consider whether taking a DNA sample from someone arrested for a serious crime — before they’re convicted — is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. [Los Angeles Times]
Board: We Can’t Sway Cemetery Expansion — Responding to the concerns of tree lovers over the weekend, members of the Arlington County Board said they have little power to sway the Army’s decision to expand Arlington National Cemetery. As originally planned, the expansion would cut down nearly 900 trees from an old growth forest on the cemetery grounds. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently re-evaluating its plan after complaints from tree advocates. [Sun Gazette]
Transpo Plan a ‘Big Win’ for McDonnell — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) scored a big win with the passage of a compromise version of his transportation funding plan, according to Politico. But anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist decried the various tax increases in the bill, which could cost the average Virginia family between $10 and $15 per month. “The Democrats in the legislature mugged him good,” Norquist said of McDonnell. [Politico, Washington Post]
Photos: Demolition of Old Arlington Courthouse — On its blog, the library looks back at the demolition of the old Arlington County Courthouse building on Feb. 23, 1997. [Arlington Public Library]
Photo courtesy @mowdymichelle
Author to Discuss Potomac River — Local author Garrett Peck will discuss his book, The Potomac River: A History and a Guide, at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) tonight. The free event will be held at the library’s auditorium from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. [Arlington Public Library]
Yorktown Wins, Again — The Yorktown Patriots varsity football squad chalked up another big win on Friday. The team defeated the Herndon Hornets by a score of 51-21. Bishop O’Connell also won on Friday, beating the St. Mary’s Ryken 17-13 on the road. Washington-Lee and Wakefield both lost. [Sun Gazette]
Cuccinelli Coming to Arlington for Constitution Day — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will celebrate today’s Constitution Day observance with the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans. The group is hosting Cuccinelli at RiRa Irish Pub (2915 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon starting at 7:00 p.m. [Facebook]