Yesterday, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) joined other D.C. metro area legislators in writing to members of the House Appropriations Committee to support airplane noise mitigation provisions in the fiscal year Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.
Beyer is a member of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, and urged the committee to fund health studies on the effects of airplane noise. The legislators cited past studies that have linked excessive exposure to noise with hypertension and learning difficulties.
Beyer requested that appropriators include language directing the Federal Aviation Administration to expedite its review of current noise standards.
“Airplane noise is a pervasive problem around the United States, but especially in Northern Virginia neighborhoods below ever-shifting flight paths in and out of DCA,” said Beyer in a statement. “To date, the FAA has not satisfactorily addressed the situation, while the problem has worsened in many communities. It is past time for Congress to take action, and I hope my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee heed our call.”
Legislators also signed a bipartisan letter urging the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority — which operates Reagan National and Dulles International Airport — not to add more flight traffic at DCA.
They point out that Reagan National has experienced six consecutive years of passenger growth and outpaced passenger volume at Dulles in both 2015 and 2016. In fact, they say domestic commercial passenger traffic since 2000 has increased by 50 percent at Reagan, but it decreased by 9 percent at Dulles.
Congress is preparing to work on legislation to reauthorize the FAA for this year. The delegation said that maintaining the current rules will allow Dulles and BWI to continue to grow and serve long-haul destinations, while also not subjecting National to additional traffic.
“Our airports enable Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia to access the global economy in ways that create jobs and opportunities for the region,” the letter reads. “Part of the rationale for the relocation of major corporate headquarters such as SAIC, Hilton Hotels, Nestle USA and Volkswagen of America is the connectivity our regional aviation system provides.”
Both the House and Senate are expected to consider FAA reauthorization proposals in the coming months. The current FAA authorization expires at the end of September.
Arlington County and other D.C. area jurisdictions are under a Dense Fog Advisory this morning.
From the National Weather Service:
… DENSE FOG ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EDT TODAY… * VISIBILITIES… ONE QUARTER MILE OR LESS. * IMPACTS… AREAS OF DENSE FOG WILL CAUSE SUDDEN REDUCTIONS IN VISIBILITY AND RAPIDLY CHANGING CONDITIONS. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A DENSE FOG ADVISORY MEANS VISIBILITIES WILL FREQUENTLY BE REDUCED TO LESS THAN ONE QUARTER MILE. IF DRIVING, SLOW DOWN, USE YOUR HEADLIGHTS, AND LEAVE PLENTY OF DISTANCE AHEAD OF YOU. &&
The fog is causing some delays at Reagan National Airport, the airport tweeted this morning.
Some fog this am causing minor delays. Check with your airline for your flight status. Happy Monday! pic.twitter.com/IOwGZBOY20
— Reagan Airport (@Reagan_Airport) March 27, 2017
Pike Booster ‘Disappointed’ By Transit Delay — Cecilia Cassidy, executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, said the group is “very disappointed” by the latest delay in bringing enhanced transit service to the Pike. Cassidy said the cancellation of the streetcar cancelled much of the planned development along the Pike and that the delays in providing a viable transit alternative have put other development into a holding pattern. [WAMU]
More on DCA Plans — The airports authority has released more details about “Project Journey,” its $1 billion plan for upgrading Reagan National Airport. “Scheduled to mobilize in summer 2017, Project Journey includes construction of two new security checkpoints that fully connect the concourse level of Terminal B/C to airline gate areas, buildout of an enclosed commuter concourse to replace the 14 outdoor gates currently serviced by buses from gate 35X and future improvements to roadway and parking configurations.” [Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority]
Good News, Bad News About Tech in Arlington — Arlington has risen in the rankings of the best places in the U.S. for women in tech, from No. 34 to No. 22 this year. However, women in tech in Arlington still earn less than men, there are significantly more men than women employed in tech in Arlington and overall tech job growth in Arlington over the past four years is flat. D.C., meanwhile, ranked No. 1 on the list. [DCInno]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Big Changes Coming to DCA — The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has revealed updated designs of the coming changes at Reagan National Airport. Among the changes are a new commuter terminal, replacing the outdoor commuter gate 35X, and a new structure to house security checkpoints, which will be positioned before travelers enter the airport’s main terminal B/C hallway. [WTOP, WTOP]
Ethiopian Restaurant Coming to Courthouse — Chercher Ethiopian restaurant is expanding from the District to a new location at 2000 14th Street N. in Courthouse. It will be the first Virginia outpost for the acclaimed Ethiopian restaurant. Its owner says he chose Courthouse because the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor lacks Ethiopian dining options. [Washington Business Journal]
Tornado Drill Today — Yesterday was the first day of spring and today, at 9:45 a.m., Virginia is holding its annual statewide tornado drill. The drill is “a yearly opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems.” [Virginia Dept. of Emergency Management]
Va. Pols Speaking at Arlington Dems Dinner — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello and state Attorney General Mark Herring will be the headline speakers at the Arlington Democrats’ annual “Blue Victory Dinner,” formerly known as the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, on April 8. The other Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, “had a conflict and will not be able to make it.” [InsideNova]
School 5K to Close Streets — Roads will be closed in Arlington’s Williamsburg neighborhood Saturday morning for the second annual Discovery/Nottingham Friendship 5K. [Arlington County, Discovery Elementary School]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
Passengers at the region’s airports could have an easier time during their travels thanks to a new partnership between the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Crystal City startup incubator 1776.
The partnership, announced last month, means the two organizations will work together to find and mentor firms that look to use technology to make air travel more efficient. That technology includes proposals that can benefit airports, transit agencies and more.
MWAA operates Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles airports, as well as the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the Dulles Toll Road. It also manages construction of the Silver Line project into Loudoun County.
“In today’s rapidly changing world of business and commerce, it is imperative that transportation providers, such as airports, take advantage of new technologies that help us meet the demands and expectations of our increasingly mobile customers,” said MWAA president and CEO Jack Potter in a statement.
Already, 1776 is affiliated with companies that look to improve the travel experience in and around airports. The startup incubator, which has an office at 2231 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, partnered with mobile application company Airside Mobile to add Automated Passport Control devices that help international passengers arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport be processed more quickly.
MWAA also has been innovating through a partnership with CLEAR, a firm that helps its members move quickly through airport security lines and advances the use of biometric technology for security screening.
Additionally, the authority has invested in mobile app technology to aid security screening and airport signage, and is developing patented processes and technologies to make airport operations more efficient.
“Startups and new technologies continue to rapidly disrupt the way we travel from point A to point B,” said Evan Burfield, cofounder and CEO of 1776, in a statement. “1776 is excited to partner with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to harness the latest innovations within the transportation and aviation industry.”
Resident Helps ACPD Arrest Break-in Suspects — On Saturday an Arlington resident spotted a group of people breaking into car and immediately called 911, leading to the arrest of three juvenile suspects. Police say such cooperation from the community can help them fight crime. Over the weekend more than 30 vehicles were “entered and rummaged through” in Arlington. [Facebook]
Alexandria Schools Closed Wednesday — Alexandria City Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday after more than 300 staff members requested leave. That coincides with Wednesday’s “Day Without Women” protest. Arlington Public Schools will remain open, a spokesman said, although Wednesday is an early release day for elementary schools. [Twitter, InsideNova]
Orange Line’s Abysmal On-Time Rate — Last year trains on Metro’s Orange Line were only on time 56 percent of the time. [Twitter]
Spotlight on Uyghur Cuisine — Crystal City’s Queen Amannisa is one of three restaurants serving Uyghur cuisine — with its mix of Chinese, Central Asian and Middle Eastern influences — in the D.C. area. Uyghur “is going to be the next big thing in the United States,” said a partner in the restaurant. [Washington Post]
Chick-fil-A Coming to DCA — A new Chick-fil-A restaurant is coming to Terminal C at Reagan National Airport, in the former Cosi space. [PoPville]
Grand Opening for Xfinity Store — On Saturday Comcast celebrated the grand opening of its new 6,700 square foot Xfinity store in Courthouse. The store replaces the former Comcast Service Center in Clarendon. The store “features a comfortable seating area and informational, interactive displays where customers can learn more about Comcast’s products and services, including Comcast Business services, the X1 Entertainment Operating System, Xfinity Home automation and security offerings and Comcast’s suite of mobile apps.”
Lady Warriors Fall in States — The Wakefield Lady Warriors received a police escort as the team left for the state basketball tournament in Hampton on Wednesday. The team lost to three-time defending state champs Princess Anne by a score of 51-42 yesterday. [Twitter, Virginian-Pilot, Twitter]
APS Statement Affirms Welcoming Environment — Following accusations of discrimination and bullying at Yorktown High School, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy has released a statement affirming the school system’s commitment to “a welcoming, safe and caring learning environment for each and every student.” Wrote Murphy: “The hallmark of our work is that ALL students should experience freedom from harassment, judgement or prejudice.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Don’t Forget to Prune Shrubs and Trees — “It’s the ideal time of the season to use your pruning tools to improve the health and growing habits of your woody plants. The effort will make your gardening easier later in the year.” [Arlington County]
Water Main Break Affects DCA Traffic — A water main break closed an access ramp to Reagan National Airport from the southbound GW Parkway this morning. [Fox 5]
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
New Clarendon Cafe Has ‘Oatmeal Program’ — Baba, the new Balkan-themed cafe in the basement of Ambar in Clarendon, has an “oatmeal program,” says its owner. Baba will serve La Colombe coffee, two types of “fancy oatmeal,” as well as oatmeal packages for takeout. [Washingtonian]
School Board Wants to Lift Pay Cap — It’s unclear why the Virginia General Assembly capped the pay of Arlington School Board members at $25,000, but the School Board is hopeful that a measure making its way through the legislature will pass, allowing members to raise their salaries in 2021. [InsideNova]
Accenture Acquires Part of Endgame — Consulting and professional services firm Accenture has acquired the federal government services business of Arlington-based startup Endgame for an undisclosed sum. [WTOP]
Longtime Arlington Teacher Dies — Margaret (Peggy) Huddleston, a Washington-Lee grad and longtime W-L teacher and guidance counselor, has died at the age of 92. [Falls Church News-Press]
Delays Likely at DCA — Between high winds in the D.C. area, and flight cancellations and delays due to the snowstorm in the Northeast, there may be significant impacts on flights at Reagan National Airport today. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
A temporary staging area meant for the drivers of Transportation Network Companies — like Uber and Lyft — headed to Reagan National is causing some confusion and traffic headaches in Crystal City.
Some residents have complained about the airport’s “TNC waiting area” at 26th Street and Crystal Drive. Reagan National recently designated the area as a place for drivers to park while it puts the finishing touches on a new lot, according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs.
Dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers were spotted idling, parking and honking their horns in the area when an ARLnow reporter visited earlier this morning.
Although the waiting area is only slated to remain in use until March, it has upset some locals. Peeved residents have taken to Twitter to complain about drivers creating traffic jams and dangerous situations.
In response, the airport has created an entrance and exit in the lot to “reduce the likelihood of bottlenecks,” increased police patrols “to ensure that TNC drivers are not causing backups,” and has started closing the the lot when it is full “to mitigate unnecessary congestion,” Gibbs said.
Additionally, the airport has asked residents to report parking complaints by calling the Airports Authority Police at 703-417-2400.
Taxi drivers already have a place at the airport to queue up, but that lot is often completely full with cabs.
— Kara Westercamp (@KaraWestercamp) January 6, 2017
— MWAA (@dcairports) January 7, 2017
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 7, 2017
The Federal Aviation Administration is scrapping a proposal to shift the northerly flight path from Reagan National Airport closer to Rosslyn, according to Rep. Don Beyer’s office.
The FAA sought feedback on the plan during a public meeting at Washington-Lee High School in September. The plan, which was intended to reduce noise in the Foxhall Village neighborhood of D.C. while placing flights more directly over the Potomac River, was met with skepticism from Arlington residents. County Board members pointed out that aircraft noise in Arlington was already on the rise under the current flight path.
Rep. Beyer (D-Va.) sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in October, outlining “serious concerns with many aspects of the plan.” The congressman hailed the FAA’s decision to terminate the proposed changes.
“Today’s decision by the FAA to terminate the proposed… departure procedure is a positive development in our ongoing quest to quiet the skies over northern Virginia,” Beyer said in a statement. “While the proposed path was intended to increase flight time over the Potomac River, it was significantly concerning that there was no clear understanding on the level and impact of plane noise on airport area communities.”
Traffic congestion at DCA is expected to be at its worst from 7-9 a.m. and 2-6 p.m. The peak holiday travel period is expected to last through Wednesday, Jan. 4.
From a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority press release:
Travelers using Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport this holiday season are advised of possible roadway congestion associated with record volumes of travelers flying at the airport. Drivers on airport roadways experienced delays during the 2016 Thanksgiving travel rush. Airport officials urge the public to plan ahead and consider alternatives to driving when making plans to use Reagan National between December 16, 2016, and January 4, 2017.
Suggested strategies and alternatives include:
- Riding Metrorail to and from the airport
- Using the second airport exit from the George Washington Memorial Parkway coming south from Washington, D.C. This route provides more direct access to Terminal A and Economy parking.
- Allowing extra travel time to reach terminals, lots and garages
- Avoiding airport roads if the airport is not your destination
Airport roadway congestion often peaks from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 2 to 6 p.m., coinciding with local rush hours and the busiest movement of airline passengers. Congestion often extends beyond these times on days immediately before and after major holidays.
Customers parking at Reagan National are advised to reserve parking in advance at flyreagan.com/epark and check parking availability on overhead signs or at flyreagan.com/parking.
Arlington Tops Clinton Vote Margin List — Arlington County, which has the highest percentage of residents with a college degree of any jurisdiction in the U.S. with a population over 50,000, also had the highest increase in vote margin for Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama in 2012. Clinton’s margin of victory in Arlington this year was 20.3 points higher than Obama’s. [Five Thirty Eight]
O’Leary on Clinton’s Victory Margin — Former Arlington County treasurer (and noted local election prognosticator) Frank O’Leary says the increase in the Democratic victory margin in Arlington reflects “a profound belief in government, particularly the federal government as the means of fulfilling the objectives expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution.”
DCA Ranks Poorly for Flight Cancellations — Reagan National Airport is the eighth-worst airport in the country for flight cancellations around the holidays, according to a new set of rankings. [WTOP]
Arlington Seeks Secret Santas — Arlington County is looking for volunteers to “brighten the holiday season for some of Arlington’s most vulnerable residents by taking part in the County’s annual Secret Santa program.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
The union leading the charge, 32BJ SEIU, says that wheelchair attendants, skycaps, baggage handlers, checkpoint agents and cabin cleaners at the airports “earn as little as $6.75 an hour plus unreliable tips.”
The strike was authorized during a rally at National Airport today.
“The entire crowd marched for nearly a mile outside DCA to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority headquarters to demand that the board ensure contractors pay their workers $15 an hour,” the union said in a press release. “The workers were part of a nationwide Fight for $15 day of disruption, including strikes and protests at 330 locations and at 20 major airports nationwide.”
— Bri Carter (@ABC7Bri) November 29, 2016
Among those participating in the rally were the workers, clergy, community groups and state delegate Alfonso Lopez.
“Given the vital role that airport workers play in keeping air travel running smoothly, safely, and on-time, it is disappointing that contracted workers at DCA are not paid a living wage for the critical work that they do,” Del. Lopez (D-Arlington) said in a statement. “In our nation’s capital, we can and should do better for those who help keep our economy moving. MWAA should act now to ensure that contractors are paid $15 an hour.”
Locally, the workers are employed by a private contractor, Huntleigh Corporation.
More from the press release:
“We work very hard to ensure that travelers have a safe and clean airport, but we are ready to go on strike to ensure we can provide for our families,” said Aynalem Lale, a wheelchair dispatcher at Dulles. “If I made $15 an hour, I wouldn’t have to work two jobs and would not have to sleep at the airport between jobs.” …
Four decades ago, every job in an airport was a good, family-sustaining one. Men and women worked directly for the major airlines, which paid a living wage, provided pensions and health care and respected Americans’ right to stick together in a union. That’s no longer the case. Today, most Americans who work at airports are nonunion and are employed by subcontractors that pay low wages, without any benefits. Their jobs now represent the failures of a political and economic system geared towards the wealthy few and corporate profits at any cost.
Between 2002 and 2012 outsourcing of baggage porter jobs more than tripled, from 25 percent to 84 percent, while average hourly real wages across both directly-hired and outsourced workers declined by 45 percent, to $10.60/hour from more than $19/hour. Average weekly wages in the airport operations industry did not keep up with inflation, but instead fell by 14 percent from 1991 to 2011.
America’s airports themselves are also a symbol of the concerted effort to erode the ability of working people to improve their jobs. President Reagan fired and permanently replaced 11,000 striking air traffic controllers in 1981, paving the way for a decades-long march by corporations and elected officials to systematically dismantle Americans’ right to join together on the job. By zeroing in on airports Nov. 29, worker-class families are looking to transform a symbol of their decline into a powerful show of their renewed force.
All told, the Fight for $15 has led to wage hikes for 22 million underpaid workers, including more than 10 million who are on their way to $15/hour, by convincing everyone from voters to politicians to corporations to raise pay. The movement was credited as one of the reasons median income jumped last year by the highest percentage since the 1960s.
Reminder: Metro Surge Starts Today — Metro’s SafeTrack Surge 11 starts today, bringing what officials say will be “the worst of anything our riders have experienced so far” to the Orange and Silver lines. [ARLnow]
Critical Missing Person — On Friday the Arlington County Police Department put out an alert for a missing person who is “unable to care for herself and is in need of medical attention.” The woman, Amanda Pham Pulver, is described as “5’4″, 115 lbs, black & white hair with dark eyes. Last seen in 3800 block of N. 13th St.” [Arlington County, Twitter]
Leasing Inquiries Up After Election — Arlington landlords are reportedly getting more office leasing inquiries, a trend that began shortly before the election and is continuing afterward. “Tenant tours have increased dramatically over the last 90 days,” said the head of major Rosslyn landlord Monday Properties. [Bisnow]
Behind the Scenes at DCA Lost and Found — From an interview with the lost-and-found property technician at Reagan National Airport: “We’ve had teeth, a prosthetic leg, a power saw, a dog kennel. There’s a fax machine on the shelf. Oh, and rubber butt padding — someone came back and got that.” [Arlington Magazine]
Arlingtonian Lands White House Internship — An Arlington native is among those who landed a prestigious internship at the White House this fall. Olivia Pavco-Giaccia, a member of the class of 2016 at Yale, was on a list released by the White House Press Office last week. Pavco-Giaccia has previously achieved notability and recognitions for her female-oriented science startup, LabCandy.
Thanksgiving Travel in D.C. Area — More than 1 million D.C. area residents are expected to leave town for Thanksgiving, and 9 out of 10 of them will be traveling by car. The worst day and time for traffic in the region is expected to be next Tuesday afternoon. [Washington Post]
Arlingtonians Spend Big for the Holidays — The average Arlington household is expected to spend $1,741 celebrating the holidays, according to a new survey. That’s the highest expected holiday spending in the region and the 13th highest in the U.S. [InsideNova]
GMU Renames Building in Arlington — George Mason University’s Metropolitan Building in Virginia Square has been renamed for one of the school’s Nobel Prize laureates. The building will be renamed Vernon Smith Hall in a ceremony tomorrow (Friday). The university-owned building, at 3434 Washington Blvd, also houses the new Virginia DMV office. [George Mason University]
Beer Coming to Donut Shop — It’s a combination that would make Homer Simpson drool. Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike has applied for a Virginia ABC permit to serve beer. The application was filed Nov. 7. No word yet on how soon the store may be offering cold brews to pair with its donuts.
Good Stuff Eatery Opening at DCA — Burger restaurant Good Stuff Eatery is opening a new location today in Arlington: specifically, at Terminal B of Reagan National Airport. [Good Stuff Eatery]
Students Win Video Contest — “A team of students from the Arlington Career Center has won the fifth annual student video challenge sponsored by the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA), taking home the top prize for the fourth year in a row.” [Arlington Public Schools]