Arlington, VA

(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Six highway workers along I-66 in Arlington were injured, four seriously, after an alleged DUI driver plowed into their work zone overnight.

The crash happened around 12:30 a.m. on I-66 near the N. Quincy Street overpass. Virginia State Police say the driver of a GMC Yukon veered into an active work zone, striking the half dozen workers before slamming into a light pole.

The driver was arrested for DUI and two passengers who allegedly tried to flee the scene were apprehended by Arlington County Police nearby, according to VSP. The six workers and two of the GMC occupants were brought to local hospitals, but all are expected to survive.

Initially, some of the injuries were reported to be critical and potentially life-threatening. A task force of Arlington and Fairfax County medics treated and transported the eight injured people.

More from VSP:

At 12:29 a.m. Thursday (Dec. 5), Virginia State Police responded to a crash within a Highway Work Zone in the westbound lanes of I-66 at Quincy Street near Exit 72 in Arlington County.

A GMC Yukon traveling west on I-66 swerved into the active Work Zone and struck six highway construction workers. The vehicle continued off the right side of the I-66 and crashed into a light pole.

There were three occupants in the GMC. The driver and a passenger in the GMC fled the scene on foot. State police and Arlington Police apprehended the two near the scene.

Arlington County Fire transported a total of eight individuals. Four of the highway workers are still being treated at Fairfax Inova for serious, but non-life threatening, injuries. Two other highway workers and the two male GMC passengers were transported to George Washington University Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

The driver of the Yukon, Kevin L. Blyther, 44, of Centreville, Va., has been charged with driving while intoxicated, one felony count for failure to stop at the scene of a crash involving an injury and one count of driving on a suspended/revoked license. Blyther is being held at the Arlington County Adult Detention Center.

There was a Virginia State Police vehicle positioned in the work zone with its blue lights flashing and the work zone was equipped with additional safety equipment and amber flashing lights to alert motorists of the active Highway Work Zone.

The crash remains under investigation.

This is not Blyther’s first serious run-in with the law. In 2017, he was arrested in Centreville following what police described as a six-hour barricade situation and domestic assault.

VDOT, meanwhile, is thanking social media users for an “outpouring of support” for the contractors who were struck.

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A portion of Lee Highway in Rosslyn will be closed during the day this week for paving.

The southbound section of Lee Highway, adjacent to the Custis Trail between N. Lynn Street and Fort Myer Drive, is expected to be closed from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

The work is part of the Lynn Street Esplanade and Custis Trail widening project.

More from a Virginia Dept. of Transportation press release:

Southbound Route 29 (Lee Highway) between North Lynn Street and Fort Myer Drive will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 20 and Thursday, Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day for paving as part of the Lynn Street Esplanade and Custis Trail Improvements project, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Traffic will be detoured via North Lynn Street and Fort Myer Drive back to southbound Route 29.

During the closures, traffic coming from the Key Bridge will still be able to proceed through the Fort Myer Drive/southbound Route 29 intersection. The Custis Trail will also remain open to bicyclists and pedestrians during the work.

A quarter-mile of a wider Custis Trail from North Lynn Street to North Oak Street opened to bicyclists and pedestrians in August. The overall Lynn Street Esplanade and Custis Trail Improvements project is scheduled for completion in spring 2020.

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(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) The reconfiguration of Clarendon’s worst intersection is one step closer to finishing as crews begin paving.

Working began repaving the roads that together form the notoriously dangerous “Clarendon Circle” — a.k.a. the intersection of Wilson, Clarendon, and Washington Blvds — this past weekend.

The paving work will continue for the rest of this week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is expected to close some traffic lanes and cause temporary detours, the county’s Department of Environmental Services warns on its webpage for the project.

“Increased traffic congestion is expected, and drivers are encouraged to seek alternate routes and avoid Clarendon Circle during this work if possible,” DES said on its website.

On Monday, for instance, through traffic on Wilson Blvd was blocked and redirected to Washington Blvd. On Tuesday, steam and a burning rubber smell clouded the intersection as crews directed traffic around a cluster of paving equipment.

Work on the project is expected to wrap up by Veterans Day, this coming Monday.

The county has long aimed to redesign the intersection to be safer for pedestrians and cyclists and less confusing for motorists, with a goal of reducing crashes. The project design selected will realign Wilson and Washington Blvd, shorten crosswalks, and widen sidewalks.

Construction kicked off last year after the Arlington County Board awarded a $2.5 million contract to Ardent Construction Company.

Since then, the county has made several changes to the tricky nexus of roads, including cutting off N. Irving Street and banning left turns onto Wilson from Washington — though many drivers at least initially ignored the ban.

Image 1-5 via Arlington County

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The county has kicked off its four-block traffic calming project along N. Stafford Street, north of Washington-Liberty High School.

The project, between Lee Highway and 15th Street N. in Cherrydale, is part of the county’s “Neighborhood Complete Streets” program.

A key feature of the project is the implementation of a “chicane,” or curved design, on the street. The Institute of Transportation Engineers suggests curving a street slows traffic by forcing drivers to “steer back and forth instead of traveling a straight path.”

The traffic calming is necessary because the current road design allows drivers to speed down it.

“The existing roadway is long and straight, has a lot of topography which creates a lot of slope, and these are characteristics of the road that allow vehicles to pick up speed,” said an Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) official at a recent meeting about the project.

The official noted that observed speeds on the road were not enough to justify “vertical” traffic calming measures like speed bumps, but did call for something “less obtrusive,” like the chicane.

The county is planning to remove remove three to five parking spaces to make room for the chicane changes.

The project includes other upgrades and changes.

Crews could be seen yesterday (Thursday) replacing the stop signs at the intersection of N. Stafford Street and Lee Highway. One worker noted the sign was “rusty and outdated,” and the replacement sign would have “better reflectivity so drivers know to stop.”

Workers will also soon be installing a new curb ramp at the intersection of 19th Street N. and N. Stafford Street, plus a new all-way stop at the intersection of 17th Street N. and N. Stafford Street, according to DES spokesman Eric Balliet.

The traffic-calming project is intended to:

  • Slow vehicle speeds
  • Reduce/eliminate crashes
  • Meet engineering best practices
  • Provide a better pedestrian experience

Arlington officials picked N. Stafford Street for the project after asking for public nomination of dangerous streets across the county. According to the project page, it was the “top ranked street from the first round of [Complete Streets] applications.”

In a public survey by DES, 41% of responders said they would feel “safer” with the proposed changes on N. Stafford Street, while 11% said they would feel “much safer.”

A spokeswoman for the Arlington County Police Department said police have not recorded any crash at the intersection of N. Stafford Street between Lee Highway in the last four years.

The N. Stafford Street improvements are being considered a pilot project. County staff will observe and measure conditions on the street for at least one year, per the project website.

The project will cost an estimated $20,000 for striping, signage, and concrete work. Funding was allocated in the county’s FY 2019-28 Capital Improvement Plan.

Photos via Arlington County

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A pair of roads on the southern end of Crystal City opened to two-way traffic earlier today.

The new traffic pattern comes after several months of construction to facilitate the change. It’s the third phase in a multi-year process of opening former one-way streets in Crystal City to two-way traffic, through construction and and roadway restriping.

As we reported in 2011:

The first phase of the project will add a southbound lane to the portion of Crystal Drive between 12th Street and 15th Street, just north of the Crystal City water park. It will also convert a one-way section of S. Clark Street between 12th and 15th Streets to a two-way road. Construction on this phase of the project is expected to begin in the spring of 2012 and wrap up in winter 2012.

A second phase is expected to begin construction in fall 2012. That phase will add a southbound lane to the one-way portion of Crystal Drive between 23rd Street and 27th Street. Changes will also be made to 27th Street, which runs between the Courtyard by Marriott and the Hyatt Regency hotels.

“The Crystal Drive Two-Way Conversion project will begin to establish the street network needed to support future development and transit improvements planned by the Crystal City Sector Plan and Crystal City Multimodal Study,” Arlington County said on the project website. “The intent of the project is to improve the navigability of Crystal City by converting Crystal Drive and the surrounding street network from a one-way to a two-way directional roadway.”

In addition to converting traffic lanes, the project will also add new traffic signals, street trees, ADA-compatible intersection upgrades and a new southbound bicycle lane.

The vision of “future development and transit improvements planned by the Crystal City Sector Plan” mentioned in 2011 seems to be coming to fruition, with a new slate of major redevelopment projects announced this week; the removal of Route 1 overpasses being discussed; and the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway expected to expand to Pentagon City in the near future.

More on today’s changes, from Arlington County’s website:

On Friday, Oct. 4, after the morning rush hour, Crystal Drive between 26th and 27th Streets South will be changed from one-way northbound to two-way traffic. 27th Street between Crystal Drive and South Clark Street also will be changed to two-way operations.

This section of Crystal Drive will have one travel lane in each direction. 27th Street will have two eastbound lanes to access Crystal Drive and Potomac Avenue, and one westbound lane providing direct access to the Hyatt and Route 1.

Police and the County’s construction team will be on-site throughout Friday to monitor the switch and help direct traffic. If possible, avoid this area during the changeover on mid-day Friday, and be prepared for the new traffic pattern when using these streets in the future.

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Drivers should expect delays on I-395 this weekend as a series of weekend lane and HOV closures continue.

The closures are the result of bridge work associated with the 395 Express Lanes project. Crews have also been at work building sound walls along much of the highway in Arlington.

More on the closures and the bridge work, from VDOT:

Motorists are advised that lane closures will continue on the general purpose lanes along north- and southbound I-395 this weekend, Sept. 6-8, from King Street (Exit 5) to S. Washington Boulevard (Exit 8A) for bridge rehabilitation work. The HOV lanes will also close to accommodate this bridge work starting Friday night and through the weekend. All lanes will reopen, including the HOV lanes in the northbound direction, in time for Monday morning’s commute.

Drivers traveling to D.C. this weekend are urged to use alternative routes or plan extra travel time. Local traffic may still use the general purpose lanes, but should expect closures.

What Drivers Should Expect:

  • A single general purpose lane on I-395 North will close from 7 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday. Double lane closures will occur during nighttime hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • One HOV lane will close beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday, followed by the closure of both HOV lanes at 11 p.m. All lanes will reopen in the northbound direction on Monday at 4:30 a.m.
  • Ramp from northbound Glebe Road to I-395 South will close from 11 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Sunday. Motorists should follow detour signs to I-395 South.
  • Single and double lane closures will occur along I-395 South during nighttime hours.
    Weekly updates with specific closure information will be available at: ExpressLanes.com and VDOT’s 395 Express Lanes Web Page.
  • The reversible 95 Express Lanes, from near Edsall Road to past Garrisonville Road in Stafford, will operate according to their normal schedule.

The 395 Express Lanes, an eight-mile extension of the 95 Express Lanes to the Washington D.C. line, are scheduled to open this fall. Learn how Express Lanes work and how to get an E-ZPass at www.ExpressLanes.com.

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Morning Notes

Class of 2023 Moves in at Marymount — “The Office of Campus and Residential Services (OCRS) at Marymount University is welcoming new students as they move into residence halls on campus during 2019 Move-In Day on Wednesday.” [Press Release, Twitter]

New Medians Coming to Clarendon Circle — New medians are in the process of being built on Washington Boulevard as construction on the Clarendon Circle project continues. [Twitter]

Civ Fed Ponders Serving Those Who Cannot Attend — Asked about a lack of diversity among its membership, the new president of the Arlington County Civic Federation replied in part: “I feel that some of the residents not being served might never have the time to attend a Civic Federation meeting due to jobs and family concerns, but through member organizations and nearby civic associations, some of their issues can be addressed even though the faces of these residents might not appear in the audience.” [InsideNova]

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Those traveling to, from and through Arlington may need to pack their patience this weekend, depending on the route and time of day.

Both directions of Route 50 will be closed in the area of Wilson Blvd in Seven Corners, from Friday night to Monday morning, to allow VDOT to lift a new, 87-foot Wilson Blvd bridge span into place. Drivers are being encouraged to avoid the area if possible.

More from a VDOT press release:

Eastbound and westbound Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) at the Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) interchange and eastbound Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) between the eastbound Route 50 service road and the westbound Route 50 service road will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday, August 2 to 5 a.m. Monday, August 5 to safely demolish the Wilson Boulevard bridge deck over Route 50 and install the new bridge deck, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Eastbound Route 50 traffic will be detoured via the eastbound Route 50 service road back to Route 50, and westbound Route 50 traffic will be detoured via the westbound service road back to Route 50.

Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.

Drivers can expect delays and are advised to use alternate routes.

The work is part of the Wilson Boulevard over Route 50 bridge rehabilitation project. After the weekend closure, drivers can expect single-lane closures on Route 50 and the eastbound Wilson Boulevard bridge until late fall. The project is scheduled for completion this winter.

Also this weekend, “significant lane closures” are planned along I-395.

The work, part of the 395 Express Lanes project, will close multiple northbound lanes at night, starting Friday. Drivers are being encouraged to use the HOV lanes of I-395, which will be switched to the northbound direction starting at 8 p.m. tonight.

More on the I-395 work, from VDOT:

Northbound I-395 from Duke Street (Exit 3) to past the Pentagon City/Crystal City exit (Exit 8C) will have nighttime lane closures Friday night, August 2 through Sunday night, August 4 for bridge work. The I-395 HOV lanes will be switched to northbound at 8 p.m. Friday and will remain northbound all weekend.  The 95 Express Lanes from Edsall Road to Garrisonville Road will operate on a standard schedule; on Saturday from midnight to 2 p.m., the 95 Express Lanes will operate in the southbound direction while the I-395 HOV lanes are open northbound.

Photo via VDOT/Twitter

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A portion of Old Dominion Drive in the Rock Spring neighborhood, near the McLean border, is scheduled to be closed during the day this week for “urgent” repairs.

The road will be closed near the 37th Street N. intersection from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Friday, according to VDOT. The agency says a detour will in place.

The urgent repairs follow the flash flood emergency earlier this month.

More from VDOT:

Old Dominion Drive (Route 309) between North Edison Street and 37th Street North will be closed daily Monday, July 22 through Friday, July 26 for urgent slope repairs, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Old Dominion Drive will be closed between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day.

Traffic will be detoured via North Edison Street, 37th Street North, North Harrison Street, Williamsburg Boulevard and North George Mason Drive back to Old Dominion Drive.

Photo via Google Maps

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A week after devastating flash flooding, the lights are coming back on for some affected businesses in Arlington.

SER Restaurant in Ballston, which was inundated by water coming through the ceiling during the Flash Flood Emergency, is planning to reopen at 5 p.m. today (Monday), co-owner Christiana Campos told ARLnow.

The reopening comes after the local community rallied to raise more than $10,000 for SER in a GoFundMe campaign. SER says the donations are being used to help fund needed repairs while the owners work through the insurance claim process.

“Thanks to our hard working staff, our construction crew who have been working around the clock to fix the damage and thanks to the humbling outpouring of support from the community, we are so thrilled to being opening today,” Campos told ARLnow. “The power of this community is truly incredible.”

In Westover, where floodwaters destroyed merchandise and knocked out power, the two hardest-hit businesses — Westover Market and Beer Garden, and Ayers Variety and Hardware — first reopened in a limited fashion on Wednesday. Over the weekend, Westover Market announced it was back on utility power and off generators.

“Finally! Regular hours going forward!” the store exclaimed on Facebook. “Limited fresh produce [and] meats have been delivered! Every day we’ll inch closer to 100%. Thanks so much for all the incredible support! We need it! And please send support and prayers to the other businesses affected by the storm!”

A GoFundMe campaign for the Westover merchants has raised more than $67,500.

Also in Westover, the weekly farmers market was held over the weekend, thanks to quick repairs to 18th Street N., which was damaged by the flooding. On Saturday, the director of the company that organizes the market wrote the following letter to Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz, lauding the dedicated repair crews.

Mr. Schwartz —

I was notified late this afternoon that the emergency street repairs on 18th Street N. have been completed. Our nonprofit organization is very grateful for the County’s quick response to address the street damage caused by the torrential rain last Monday morning…

This section of the roadway serves on Sunday mornings as a key part of the Westover Farmers Market. We have been in contact with vendors all week regarding whether the Westover Farmers Market could take place, given the roadway damage caused by the storm. This evening I was able to send them an “all clear” message. So tomorrow morning’s market should run without a hitch. […]

Please send our thanks to the personnel in the Department of Environmental Services and to the contractors who assist them for a job well and quickly done. The neighbors who shop each week at this farmers market will benefit from their outstanding efforts this week.

Rob Swennes, Executive Director
Field to Table, Inc.

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(Updated at 2:44 p.m.) The county could soon take a step forward in its plan for road improvements along N. Pershing Drive, pending Board approval.

The Arlington County Board will review requests for several easements at an intersection in the Lyon Park neighborhood as part of the county’s N. Pershing Drive Street Improvements Project, which aims to add bike shadows and more safety measures for pedestrians along the road.

The easements are centered around the tricky intersection of N. Pershing Drive, 5th Street N., and N. Garfield Street. The county will use the easements to extend curbs, add grass along curbs and in a median, paint two new additional crosswalks in the intersection, and add a bus stop, according to a copy of its plans online.

The county began discussing the Pershing Drive project with neighbors in Lyon Park in 2016, per a recent staff report to the Board, and began piloting the program in October 2018.

Now the County Board is set to vote on approving the purchase of several easements that would allow the county to install sidewalks and curbs during the Board meeting this Saturday, July 13.

The three sets of easements are for roadside properties at:

  • the Lyon Park Community Center
  • a home near the intersection of Pershing and N. Garfield Street
  • a home near the intersection of Pershing and 5th Street N.

Arlington is offering to pay $23,000 for the two easements at the private Lyon Park Community Center (420 N. Fillmore Street), which will allow work on the sidewalk, curb, gutter, traffic signal, and utilities. The amount is based on the property’s deed value and the 800 square feet of space that the county will use.

The county is also seeking to pay homeowners on the corner of N. Garfield Street and Pershing Drive $7,300 for an 82 square foot easement on the curbside of their property.

Arlington is offering a third set of homeowners on the corner of Pershing and 5th Street N. $1,218 for 21 square foot area of their property.

Staff noted the payments to homeowners were “discounted” because “the interest sought is a sidewalk and utilities easement, and not a fee interest.”

The roadwork is located just blocks away another planned project at the Henry Clay Park where officials hope to add new swings, benches, and trees.

Images via Arlington County

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