Opposition is taking flight against new route changes proposed at Reagan National Airport as residents and multiple members of Congress raise concerns.
The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) earlier this year announced plans to adjust National Airport flight paths to avoid parts of the federal no-fly zone around D.C., to “address Secret Service concerns.” But Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.) says the new paths means more noise.
“I hear from constituents on airplane noise issues consistently,” Beyer told ARLnow.com this weekend. “On this issue and in general, my constituents are frustrated that their concerns are not being heard and their interests not considered meaningfully by FAA, and rightly so. We must ensure that the community is involved in these decisions, which is exactly why the Community Working Group was created to begin with.”
The changes would adjust northbound departing planes at DCA’s Runway 19 to fly further westward. This would push more planes over land in Arlington — a plan residents fiercely criticized when it was first proposed three years ago, echoing long-standing concerns about the sound shaking homes and interrupting sleep as airlines switched to new navigation techniques to optimize routes, resulting in more flights early in the morning and late at night.
The FAA presented the same proposal again this past June, announcing the changes would go into effect in August to quell concerns from the Secret Service about planes zooming too close to the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. However, Beyer says the agency failed to consult the Reagan National Community Noise Working Group about the idea.
Beyer, who represents parts of Alexandria and Arlington, wrote a letter last week saying he understood the need to prevent planes from flying into federally restricted airspace, but noted that he remained “concerned about the process — specifically, the failure to give meaningful consideration to community interests — involved in a decision that will further concentrate the airplane noise in Arlington, Virginia.”
Maryland Democrats Sen. Benjamin Cardin, Sen. Chris van Hollen, and Rep. Jamie Raskin also wrote a letter this summer saying the surprise proposal represented a “failure to give meaningful consideration to community interests, the absence of an environmental review, and the negative impact” on neighborhoods.
“I join my Maryland colleagues in urging the FAA to halt implementation of the proposed changes to DCA flight procedures (both approach and departure changes) until it can demonstrate a need for these changes, as well as considering the concerns of the affected communities per the standard environmental review process,” Beyer wrote in his letter last week.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) held a series of regional meetings in October to gather public feedback on the proposed flight paths. Arlington and Montgomery County also opened bidding for a contractor who can recommend the best ways to solve the noisy dispute — after teaming up last year to fund a study on aircraft noise.
The issue over which jurisdiction should bear the brunt of the airport’s noise has at times created a tug-of-war between Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. The issue re-surfaced as some residents worry Amazon’s arrival in Arlington and the airport’s expansion project mean more flights could be added to the airport. (Last year, officials denied they have plans for additional flights.)
Raskin and Beyer are both members of the Congressional Quiet Skies Coalition, which advocates for “meaningful solutions” to aircraft noise and has previously called for DCA to limit its growth and study the impact of the noise.
New Noise Enforcement Tools — “Arlington government officials have added new tools in an effort to address nighttime noise violations from restaurants and bars. The new policy is designed to target ‘the ones who consistently refuse to comply’ in resolving noise complaints, County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac told County Board members on Oct. 22.” [InsideNova]
Beyer on Aircraft Noise — “Today, Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) sent a letter to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration expressing concerns about its recent announcement to make changes to flight paths at DCA to accommodate Secret Service needs without giving meaningful consideration to community interests.” [Press Release]
Video: Amazon Truck Towed in Crystal City — “Can’t say we didn’t warn you… controversial Advanced Towing removes an @amazon truck from ‘National Landing.'” [Twitter]
Housing Supply Down, Prices Up — “The Arlington County, Virginia, housing market continues to get more expensive, and potential buyers continue to have fewer and fewer houses and condos to consider.” [WTOP]
What Goes Into an Arlington Nat’l Cemetery Burial — “If you live near Arlington, you may be familiar with the sound of cannon fire early in the morning. The Presidential Salute Battery fires cannons for military ceremonies in Washington and is the only unit of its kind in the Army. ” [WAMU]
Nearby: Nats World Series Scam — Per Fairfax County Police: “Our Detectives are investigating an increasing number of scams involving the sale of @Nationals World Series tickets. Please use caution when purchasing tickets from sources other than @MLB authorized dealers.” [Twitter, FCPD]
Arlington Rooftop Bar Reopens — After being shut down by county building inspectors, Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill in Courthouse reopened Tuesday evening, just in time to watch the Nationals sweep the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLDS, to advance to the first World Series in D.C. since 1933. [Twitter]
Housing Still Hot Near HQ2 — “The median sale price for all home types in the 22202 [zip code, which includes the Pentagon City and Crystal City area] jumped nearly 40% in September compared with the same time last year, reaching $685,000… That makes it nine straight months of home price appreciation for the 22202 area. Arlington County as a whole saw a modest 12% year-to-date increase, $590,000 for all home types.” [Washington Business Journal]
Retail Job Fair Next Week — “Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, Washington D.C.’s international shopping destination, invites job seekers to attend its Retailer Job Fair on Tuesday, October 22. From 11 a.m.-7 p.m., candidates can visit the Metro and First Levels to pick up applications, meet with store representatives and apply onsite.” [Press Release]
DCA Fee to Help Pay for Expansion Project — “Project Journey, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s $1 billion capital improvement effort well underway at Reagan National Airport, will be paid for in part by airline passengers. At its meeting Wednesday, the MWAA board will be asked to approve the submission of a new Passenger Facility Charge application… The $4.50 fee is collected by airlines as part of their airfare and remitted to the airport of origin.” [Washington Business Journal]
Caps Dogs Star in Arlington Photoshoot — “In the 2020 Capitals Canine Calendar, you will see 12 months of Washington ice hockey players posing with dogs of all sizes, ages and bark levels… There was plenty of four-legged mischief during the October shoot at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Arlington.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Nearby: New Restaurant in Arlandria — “The new Taqueria Senora Lola is now open at 3901 Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria. Owner Oswaldo Salinas said the restaurant — adjacent to Salinas’ other eatery, Lilian’s Restaurant, opened two weeks ago and had a grand opening event this past Saturday.” [ALXnow]
Bezos Talks HQ2 — “[Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos was pressed on why Amazon would seek to build its headquarters in a dense area like Arlington, given the potential disruptive impacts of the company’s army of new workers moving into the area. But he reiterated that he’s ‘glad it’s not in the suburbs,’ arguing that the new HQ’s location demonstrates Amazon’s commitment to environmental sustainability.” [Washington Business Journal]
No Plan to Change Lee Highway Name — “Speculation that the currently active Lee Highway Alliance has a name change as part of its planning for re-imagining that major road is unfounded, according to its vice president, Sandra Chesrown.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Pedestrian Tunnel to DCA? — “Plans are slowly coming together for a pedestrian connection linking Reagan National Airport to Crystal City, one of the crucial transportation improvements Arlington pitched when luring Amazon to the area… A crucial decision the county will need to make: whether the pedestrian connection will be a bridge or a tunnel.” [Washington Business Journal]
Solo Commuters on the Decline — “Compared with 2004, the number of [D.C. area] commuters driving alone is down; transit use is up. 58% drive alone — down 13 percentage points.” [WTOP]
Arlington Company Moving to Tysons — Woman-owned consulting firm eGlobalTech moved its headquarters to Tysons after outgrowing its Arlington office. [Tysons Reporter]
Reminder: PARK(ing) Day Today — PARK(ing) Day will transform 13 parking spaces around the county into pop-up parks today. [ARLnow]
Water Main Break Near Courthouse — Updated at 8:10 a.m. — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews working on a 3-inch main at 2000 N. Adams St. The area includes high-rise buildings and some 100 customers could be affected. Traffic is detoured around the work site.” [Twitter]
Gun, Drug Arrest at Pentagon City Metro — A man is facing a litany of gun and drug-related charges after being arrested by Metro Transit Police officers for alleged fare evasion at the Pentagon City station this past Thursday. [Twitter]
APS Hits Full Bus Driver Staffing — “The school year began with full staffing of drivers and bus attendants, who serve 18,000 eligible students over 154 routes, using 200 buses.” [InsideNova]
DCA Starbucks Closing Permanently — “Beginning on or about Monday, September 9, Starbucks on the Ticketing level of Terminal B/C will close to make way for construction of a steel-framed glass divider.” [Reagan National Airport]
Nearby: Alexandria Metro Stations Reopening — “Alexandria Metrorail stations will reopen at 5 a.m. on September 9, with full service following Metro’s summer Platform Improvement Project. Metro closed all four Metrorail stations in Alexandria (as well as two in Fairfax County) for safety repairs on May 25.” [City of Alexandria]
Spike likes playing frisbee, playing with a chew toy, and sniffing out explosive chemicals in Reagan National Airport.
The black labrador retriever is one of four — soon to be five — explosives detection canines patrolling the airport. This morning (Monday), Spike led a public demonstration at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint to show off his nose and teach the public about airport bomb dogs for National Dog Day.
Daniel La Rose, Spike’s handler, says the daily grind of ensuring the safety of the travelling public is made better for Spike by making sure every activity feels fun and rewarding.
“It has to be interesting for the dog,” La Rose said, “he needs to feel productive.”
Activities include searches throughout the airport, and sometimes aboard aircraft and checked baggage areas. A lot of the work is what La Rose calls “cutting the wake” — walking past crowds as the dog sniffs through the wafted scents, kind of like going through the wake of a boat.
The dogs smell in ingredients, Daniel La Rose said. A lot of lotions, makeup and perfumes share some chemical elements with explosives, so La Rose warned that passengers wearing heavy perfume for their plane trip may attract the attention of explosives dogs.
Spike needs frequent stimulation. La Rose said it looks easy, but the daily job is a lot of work finding ways to keep the dog constantly positive and active.
Sometimes the Spike will be taken through areas where dummies are planted for the dog to find, to keep him training and to earn playtime with La Rose. The dogs work for play, La Rose explained, not treats. Every day is a game of hide and seek, with a few minutes playing with a tennis ball or a loving pat on the head the reward for a job well done.
Arlington Companies in Inc. 5000 — “Inc. Magazine named 34 Arlington companies to its annual list of the nation’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies, the Inc. 5000, while five were part of the exclusive Inc. 500.” [Arlington Economic Development, InsideNova]
Predator or Victim of Injustice? — “On Monday, the Circuit Court in liberal Arlington County will be the scene of a heavy-handed morality play, with prosecutors seeking lifelong incarceration for a young gay man who has already paid an extraordinary price for youthful, nonviolent sexual indiscretions.” [Washington Post]
DCA Construction Update — “Floor framing is underway on a new concourse to replace #Gate35X that will offer new shopping and dining choices and 14 gates with direct jetbridge access to your flight.” [Twitter]
Focus on County’s Vehicle Maintenance Shop — “At 2700 S Taylor St., you’ll find Arlington’s Recycling Drop-Off Center, Earth Products Yard, Inert Materials and Scrap Metal Drop-Off Facility (get your free paper shredding!), Fire Training Academy, and more. It’s also home to the Equipment Division, a full-service vehicle maintenance and repair facility that operates 17 hours a day.” [Arlington County]
Profile: HQ2’s People Person — “Despite being head of workforce development for Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, Ardine Williams has yet to sit in on an interview with any potential HQ2 employees. While Amazon plans to have 400 workers in its Arlington offices by the end of this year, Williams appears much more focused on the 25,000 it looks to hire in the next decade.” [Washington Business Journal]
Photo courtesy @artsytatiana
A new Capital Bikeshare station is slated to arrive at Reagan National Airport sometime next year, officials say.
County and airport officials say they’ve agreed on a site adjacent to a parking garage, near Terminal B, for the Bikeshare station. The plan is now awaiting final approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
Officials scouted the location for its proximity to the Mt. Vernon Trail, which they hope will make connecting to the airport easier for cyclists.
“I know it’s been on the books since 2014 when I joined BikeArlington,” said Henry Dunbar, who heads the organization in charge of local Capital Bikeshare stations. “So it’s always been on the back burner, but we’re now really committed to it.”
Dunbar said Arlington is currently home to 92 Capital Bikeshare stations. The new station is part of Bike Arlington’s plan to add six more stations countywide, as well as a few dozen new bikes.
Funding for all the new stations comes from a 2014 grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Lands Access Program. Dunbar says VDOT needs to approve the final equipment purchases this year, which he hopes will allow construction to begin in 2020.
“The approvals for this project’s award are being worked through this month,” said VDOT spokeswoman Jenni McCord, who added that the state agency is working with eh county to ensure that the station complies with federal standards like environmental requirements.
The project already has the greenlight from the airport itself.
“We have been pursuing the establishment of a bike facility for quite some time,” said MWAA spokesman Robert Yingling. “The only thing left to do is establish an agreement on how the site is constructed.”
The airport has several racks for people to park privately-owned bikes. But some racks are currently inaccessible due to the on-going construction replacing the dreaded 35X gate and adding a new security screening area.
It’s not clear how many people would use the future Bikeshare station. Yingling pointed out many travelers have luggage which wouldn’t fit on a bike. But Dunbar is optimistic that light-packing travelers will want take advantage of a cheap commute that avoids the area’s frequent traffic headaches.
“There are also thousands of people who go to the airport every day who work there,” he said.
Yingling added that, “for most airports it’s not practical to have a bicycle station on campus.” But he noted DCA is special: the Arlington airport is located in an urban area, with connections to nearby trails.
“As far as I know, it’s the first one for a U.S. airport,” said Dunbar of the upcoming station.
Map via Google Maps/Bike Arlington
A rally for airline workers rights drew hundreds to Reagan National Airport, including a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls.
Labor union UNITE HERE helped organize the rally in support of airport catering workers, who are planning a large-scale strike if their demands for better wages and benefits are not met. Presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were among those on hand to support the workers, along with other labor unions and local officials.
“No one should have to choose between healthcare and paying the rent,” Warren called out amid cheers.
The Massachusetts senator’s speech on Tuesday echoed her support for more corporate regulations.
“Giant corporations believe if they just push hard enough the unions will just go away,” she said. Since entering the race in February, Warren has since risen in recent polls to second among the crowded field.
Tuesday’s crowd was equally loud for two-time presidential candidate Sanders, who was ushered to the podium among chants of “We Love Bernie!”
“At a time when corporate profits are a record-breaking level, our demands are simple,” said the senator, who rose to popularity for his stance on economic inequality. “Pay your workers a living wage and provide… affordable healthcare for your workers,” Sanders said.
Sanders noted workers in the D.C. area “cannot live on $10 hour” wages due to the rising costs of living and housing.
Presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio also received a warm welcome and led the crowd in chanting of “working people first!”
“I hear they made $15 billion in profits last year,” de Blasio said of recent airline earning reports. “Are are they sharing that?”
The catering workforce authorized the strike earlier in June, but airline workers must gain approval from the federal National Mediation Board for large-scale strikes due to the potential impact on travelers. Workers are seeking to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the private companies who contract them to assemble the food for airlines: LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet.
The companies have said they cannot meet the demands for increased wages and benefits, telling the Huffington Post that could “more than double” their costs.
About a thousand union members in red shirts with slogans like “One Job Should Be Enough” gathered in Terminal A to hear the speakers. But it’s not the first time DCA has seen labor unrest. In 2016, service workers nearly went on strike for a $15 minimum wage.
“We’re going to fight like hell,” UNITE HERE president D. Taylor told the cheering crowd Tuesday night. “We’re going to kick the hell out of American [Airlines].”
Workers at several other airports nationwide are also asking for permission to strike, according to a map shared by the union.
Catering employees Tenai Stover and Eric Brightley, who said they prepare the food and beverages served on DCA and Dulles flights as part of their work at LSG Sky Chefs, each described to ARLnow difficulty making ends meet given the meager pay.
Labor Action Planned at DCA — Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is among those expected to participate in a rally and picket at Reagan National Airport this evening, in support of airline catering workers who are seeking better wages and healthcare options. [Unite Here]
Restaurant Coming to Apartment Building — Update at 9:35 a.m. — Permit applications have been filed for a new restaurant that’s planned for the grounds of the recently-renovated Dominion Apartments at 333 S. Glebe Road. [Twitter]
Green Presidential Hopeful Visits Arlington — “The Arlington Greens recently welcomed one of their party’s presidential aspirants to the community. Dario Hunter, a member of the Youngstown (Ohio) School Board, participated in a roundtable discussion with Green Party members on July 16 at Central Library.” [InsideNova]
Author to Talk Hockey at Local Bookstore — “We’re bringing Sportsnet contributor and YouTube sensation Steve Dangle down to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, August 24, to sign copies of his hit book This Team is Ruining My Life (But I Love Them): How I Became a Professional Hockey Fan… One More Page Books, an independent bookstore in Arlington, Va. (which is run by Caps fans), will be hosting the signing from 2-4 p.m.” [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
Army Flying Secret Missions Over Region — “The Pentagon has revealed a few details about a secret Army mission that has Black Hawk helicopters flying missions over the Washington, D.C., area backed by active-duty and reserve soldiers. The mysterious classified operation was disclosed when the Army asked Congress for approval to shift funds to provide an extra $1.55 million for aircraft maintenance, air crews and travel in support of an ’emerging classified flight mission.'” [Bloomberg, PoPville]
Photo courtesy Clarendon Alliance/Instagram
(Updated on 07/22/19) Office Vacancy Rate Dropping — “The commercial vacancy rate in the County continues to improve. The vacancy rate as of the second quarter of 2019 stands at 16.6%, down nearly 5% from its historic high of 21% in 2015. Arlington Economic Development also announced it successfully closed 26 deals in FY 2019, representing 7.2 million square feet of office space and 43,000 jobs.” [Arlington County]
County Adopts New Bathroom Policy — “The Arlington County government has adopted what amounts to a […] policy for government-building restrooms and locker rooms. The policy, outlined to County Board members on July 16, will formally allow any individual to use a male or female restroom ‘that corresponds with gender identity or expression,’ county staff said.” [InsideNova]
Human Remains Found Near GW Parkway — Human remains, in a skull, have reportedly been found near the GW Parkway and Reagan National Airport, in the same area where a D.C. cadaver dog was hurt earlier this week, prompting a medevac flight. The dog is now recovering from serious injuries. U.S. Park Police are investigating the source of the remains. [Fox 5, Washington Post, WTOP]
New Provost, Plans for Marymount — “Marymount is proud to welcome the university’s new Provost, Hesham El-Rewini, Ph.D., P.E., who officially begins his duties on campus this week… ‘We have bold plans for the future of Marymount as we strive to become an elite Catholic institution that is nationally recognized for innovation,’ said Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University.” [Marymount University]
GoFundMe for Westover Residents — A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to benefit residents of Westover whose homes were damaged by flash flooding last week. So far more than $8,000 has been raised. [GoFundMe]
Big Crane Assisting With DCA Project — “A 250 ft. crane is being used to lift and put steel into place for a new 14-gate concourse that will replace Gate 35X” at Reagan National Airport. [Twitter]
Pentagon City Apartment Sold for Big Bucks — “Dweck Properties Inc. has picked up another multifamily property in Pentagon City, not far from where Amazon.com Inc. is settling into its second home. A Dweck affiliate paid $117 million July 9 for the Park at Pentagon Row, a 299-unit apartment building at 801 15th St. S.” [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf