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Chain Bridge Road Shut Down

Chain Bridge Road is expected to remain shut down for the next half an hour as firefighters work to rescue a man trapped in a van that knocked over a utility pole.

Initial reports suggest the driver of a delivery van knocked over a utility pole while backing out of a driveway on the 100 block of Chain Bridge Road, just north of Chain Bridge. Live power lines fell on the van, trapping the driver inside.

Firefighters are now working to free the man.

Police have shut down the road between North Glebe Road and the Fairfax County line. The road should open up shortly after the rescue is completed.

Update at 1:30 p.m. — The rescue is complete and power has been shut off to the power lines. A lane closure may remain as Dominion installs a new utility pole.

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Update on 12/13 — The work has been postponed due to high winds. No word yet on when it will be rescheduled.

The W&OD Trail will be closed next Tuesday between Carlin Springs Road and the Bluemont Junction Trail due to overhead work on power lines.

The trail will close starting at 5:00 a.m. on Dec. 14, and is expected to reopen the following day.

A trail that runs parallel to the W&OD, on the other side of Four Mile Run, will be available as an alternative route for trail users, according to county parks spokesperson Susan Kalish.

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Dominion is holding a public meeting from 5:00 to 8:00 tonight to discuss a major project that will run a new underground transmission line from Pentagon City to Clarendon.

The meeting will be held at the Lyon Park Community Center (414 North Fillmore Street).

Find more information here.

Arlington is still growing, population-wise, and that larger population is requiring more and more electricity to serve its needs.

To help meet demand, Dominion is planning a major project to run a 3.7 mile underground transmission line from Pentagon City to the power substation at 3245 Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon. The project also proposes to construct a new Radnor Heights power substation on the grounds of Ft. Myer.

The project “will support growth in Arlington County,” says Dominion spokesperson Le-Ha Anderson. But progress will come at a cost — burying the line will be an intensive 18 month process that will result in open-cut trenching and street closures along the proposed route.

“Because this is underground, we’re going to have to dig up the roadways,” Anderson said. “We’re going to do everything we can to minimize traffic and community disruption.”

Dominion is holding a public meeting a week from today to provide information about the project. The meeting will take place from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 29 at the Lyon Park Community Center (414 North Fillmore Street). The company held a public meeting for the Ft. Myer community last week.

If all goes as planned, construction will begin in January and end in June 2012. The end result, Anderson says, will be worth the temporary hassle.

“We’re improving service reliability to our customers in the Arlington area,” she said.

Flickr pool photo by Alykat

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(Updated at 3:15 a.m.) A brief but intense thunderstorm ripped through Arlington around 12:45 this morning, bringing with it high winds and driving rain.

A 54 mile per hour wind gust was recorded at Reagan National Airport during the storm, which covered area roadways with wet leaves and, in some cases, trees and utility lines. As of 3:10 a.m., 2,400 Dominion customers were without power in Arlington.

The most significant damage was reported in Arlington’s Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood, near Virginia Hospital Center. Downed trees and utility lines blocked numerous side streets, which were darkened by the power outage. County tree crews were out in the neighborhood with chainsaws and wood chippers at 2:30 this morning.

A large tree and live power lines also fell across George Mason Drive, next to the hospital. Police have shut down George Mason Drive between Washington Boulevard and 15th Street while Dominion cleans up the mess. The road is expected to remain closed through the morning rush hour.

Storm damage was reported in the following locations:

  • 1600 block of North George Mason Drive
  • 1900 block of North Glebe Road
  • 1400 block of North Greenbrier Street
  • 5500 block of 14th Road North
  • 1300 block of North Illinois Street
  • 1600 block of North Harrison Street
  • 1800 block of South Monroe Street
  • 2900 block of 16th Road South

Update at 9:55 a.m. — The number of Dominion customers without power is now below 300. However, the medical offices of Virginia Hospital Center (not the hospital itself) are among those in the dark. Dominion spokesperson Le-Ha Anderson says crews hope to have power restored there within an hour.

Update at 10:00 a.m. — WJLA meteorologist Adam Caskey says that after analyzing radar data, he believes there’s a slight possibility that a tornado hit part of Arlington.

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Morning Notes

Board Considering Restoration of Library Hours — The county board will consider restoring library hours in next year’s budget, members said at Saturday’s monthly meeting. However, the board also said there was not enough money in the current budget to restore hours this year. Library hours were reduced as a result of cuts in the 2010-2011 budget. More from the Sun Gazette.

New Power Transmission Line Proposed — Dominion wants to run a new underground power transmission line from the Clarendon area to the Pentagon City area. The project, set to begin early next year and wrap up by the middle of 2012, would also result in the construction of a new power substation in Radnor Heights. More from the Ode Street Tribune.

Fourth Grade Textbook Questioned — Fourth graders in Arlington Public Schools will continue to use “Our Virginia,” a history textbook that contains at least two dubious historical claims. One such claim is that thousands of black soldiers fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. The passage has prompted authorities in Loudoun County to suspend use of “Our Virginia,” but APS officials told the Washington Post that the school system will continue to use the book.

Flickr pool photo by Michael T. Ruhl

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(Updated on 9/30) Citing “serious” violations of occupational safety laws, Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry has slapped Massachusetts-based College Pro Painters with a $14,875 fine for a near-fatal electrical accident in Ashton Heights on June 16.

A painter in his mid-20’s nearly died after the ladder he was using touched 19,900 volt power lines at a home on North Highland Street. The employee was burned and knocked back nearly 9 feet by the electrical shock. He was without a pulse when paramedics arrived on the scene, but was resuscitated and eventually transported to the MedStar burn unit in DC.

At the time, College Pro Painters president Rodney Larmand told ARLnow.com that the company was “deeply concerned” and was “investigating the circumstances” that led to the accident.

According to a citation obtained by ARLnow.com under the Freedom of Information Act, state safety inspectors determined that the company “failed to ensure employees did not perform any work” that would cause ladders or other equipment “to be placed within 10 feet of any overhead high voltage line.”

The company also failed to work with the power company to make temporary safety arrangements before the work was performed, and “did not ensure first aid supplies were easily accessible,” according to state inspectors.

The company has the right to contest the citation, which was issued earlier this month. Larmand declined to comment on the fine, citing a scheduled meeting with state occupational safety officials on Wednesday.

He did, however, point out that College Pro Painters has a safety record that is “significantly better than industry standard.

“Our safety program is excellent and we plan to continue our current program with improvements and updates for 2011 that will take into consideration our learning from this unfortunate incident,” Larmand said.

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Police have blocked a stretch of North George Mason Drive between 16th Street and 15th Street after utility lines fell across the roadway.

The closure is adjacent to Virginia Hospital Center. George Mason Drive is a key route for ambulances heading to the hospital.

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A young man is in critical condition tonight after a ladder he was moving came into contact with power lines. It happened around 3:15 this afternoon on North Highland Street, near Route 50, in the Ashton Heights neighborhood.

The man, who’s in his mid-20s, was working as a contract employee for College Pro Painters, firefighters said.

According to Arlington County Fire Department spokesperson Jose Ortiz, the man was trying to position the ladder on a house he was working on, when it fell backwards onto 19,900 volt power lines. The man was severely burned and was knocked back nearly nine feet by the electrical shock.

The man was without a pulse when paramedics arrived but was resuscitated and brought to a nearby hospital, Ortiz said. He’s now being transferred to the MedStar burn unit in Northwest Washington. His injuries are described as life-threatening.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be investigating the accident. Authorities are keeping power on until OSHA investigators arrive on the scene.

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