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by ARLnow.com October 23, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

Arlington County will spend just over $640,000 to re-configure an intersection in Courthouse neighborhood.

The County Board unanimously approved the construction project at its meeting Saturday.

The plan is to remove a one-way portion of roadway that serves as a shortcut to 15th Street N. in front of county government headquarters, and instead have Clarendon Blvd traffic access 15th Street via a 90 degree turn at the traffic signal-equipped intersection a bit farther down the road.

As currently configured the triangle of roadway leads to conflicts between cars and pedestrians, county staff says. The goal of the project is to improve “pedestrian safety, circulation and access in and around Courthouse Plaza.”

The new intersection will include additional trees, green space and other amenities for pedestrians and bicyclists.

More from a county press release:

Clarendon Boulevard is a key arterial street in the R-B corridor, and the intersection of 15th Street is central to the busy Courthouse Metro Station. The intersection is currently designed primarily to funnel automobiles onto 15th Street North, which often results in conflicts between pedestrians, vehicles and transit users.

New safety and streetscape improvements, which will include new concrete curb and gutter, ADA compliant sidewalks, storm structures and streetscape amenities, such as benches and bike racks, will make this area safer for all travelers. The project also will improve the circulation of the Courthouse Plaza parking garage and provide better access to the surrounding street network by extending the parking garage’s entrance to Clarendon Boulevard. The bus stop waiting area along 15th Street North will be expanded and the existing bus stop at Clarendon Boulevard/N. Wayne Street will be relocated to the far right of the intersection to facilitate safer pedestrian crossing along this street segment.

“These are the kinds of projects that make Arlington such a great place to walk,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “This intersection is going to function better for all who use it – and look a lot better – as a result of the improvements the Board approved today.”

Photo (1) via Arlington County, photo (2) via Google Maps

by Chris Teale October 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A major road construction project in Leeway-Overlee has drawn the ire of some nearby residents, who say there appears to be “no end in sight.”

The project by the county’s Department of Environmental Services involves adding a new sidewalk, curb and gutter to 24th Street N. between N. Illinois and N. Kensington streets, as well as new pipes to help with stormwater management. At the same time, similar work is being done on N. Illinois Street from 22nd Street N. to Lee Highway.

According to a preliminary construction schedule, completion had been scheduled for Friday, July 28.

But when an ARLnow reporter dropped by this morning (Wednesday), the new sidewalk was only partially installed, with numerous sections of pipe standing nearby waiting to be added. And the 5500 block of 24th Street N. was still closed to all traffic except residents.

One anonymous tipster said the work has been “going on for four months with no end in sight.” Another tipster who lives on the street said even worse things have been happening during construction.

“There has been flooding in neighbors’ yards,” the tipster wrote. “Toilets blown up and sewer drains put on people’s property without even giving them a courtesy heads up… Damaged cars. Houses full of mud. Flat tires and the list goes on.”

A DES spokeswoman disputed the claim that construction caused the flooding issues. Instead, she blamed a “high-intensity storm” on August 15 that “overwhelmed the drainage system in the neighborhood.”

“This is a low-lying area that has experienced flooding issues in the past,” the spokeswoman said. “The benefit of this Neighborhood Conservation Project is that we are improving the drainage system and providing additional capacity, which will reduce the likelihood of flooding in the future.”

Residents claimed the project has been put on hold in part due to budget overruns and in part because the project manager recently passed away. But the DES spokeswoman said the hold up stems from crews coming across underground utility lines.

“The county’s project manager did pass away recently, but this has not stopped construction,” she said. “We have encountered unexpected underground utility lines, which is a very common construction risk in urban environments such as Arlington, as most utility lines were installed more than 50 years ago (and some are privately-owned), so records are not always accurate.”

Neighbors said they are looking at retaining legal counsel to try and force some reimbursement from the county for the inconvenience.

The DES spokeswoman said county staff will meet with neighbors on Friday to discuss progress, and that work should be done “by the end of the year.”

by Chris Teale August 29, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Drivers in Westover and East Falls Church can expect traffic delays and detours in the coming weeks as the state and county repave and add bike lanes to Washington Blvd.

The project by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which owns and operates the street, is set to begin in the next couple of weeks with repaving between Lee Highway and N. McKinley Road.

After that repaving is complete, staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services will install green bicycle lanes, bollards and way-finding signs for bicyclists. At some points, the lanes will have a buffer as wide as two or three feet from traffic. The county and VDOT coordinated on a design plan for the new striping earlier this year.

At one stage, the plan had been for continuous bike lanes along Washington Blvd. But those plans were nixed earlier this year and revised.

Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to shorter stretches. Westbound the lane will run between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets. Eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.

Staff said they anticipate between 16 and 19 parking spaces on the street will be lost out of around 150 in total. In turn, Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church (6201 Washington Blvd) is expected to increase its parking capacity to 15 spaces.

DES staff said the project has a number of benefits for those in the area:

  • Enhance bicycle infrastructure where it does not currently exist
    • Help stitch together the expanding Capital Bikeshare system (a new station was installed at the East Falls Church metro station in 2016 and two new stations will be installed in Westover in 2017 and 2018).
    • Connect to existing bicycle lanes on Washington Boulevard between Westover and Lacy Woods Park.
    • Create a nearly two-mile stretch of bicycle lanes from Sycamore St. to George Mason Dr.
  • Narrow unnecessarily wide travel lanes to help calm traffic.
  • Install a dedicated left turn lane for westbound Washington Boulevard at N. Ohio Street to help reduce backups.
  • Sidewalks will be more comfortable for walking due to buffering provided by the new bicycle lanes.
  • Pedestrian safety improvements at key intersections with highly visible markings for crosswalks (pending VDOT approval). Center line “Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk” signs may also be installed.

During the work, DES says parking will be prohibited on Washington Blvd and detours will be in place.

Next year, staff will collect additional usage data to track cars, bicycles, pedestrians and parking.

Image (top) via VDOT, (middle) via Google Maps

by Chris Teale August 24, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Arlington County has completed a series of modifications to Wilson Blvd between N. Patrick Henry Drive and Glebe Road, with the goal of improving pedestrian safety along the corridor.

The changes over the past year include “re-striping, sign installation, concrete work for curb ramps, bollards installation… marking additional crosswalks with marked median/islands, and other short-term improvements.”

The changes, which are within the Bluemont, Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods, follow a lane reduction that provoked criticism from some residents who said they made traffic congestion worse. Others, however, said the reduction from four lanes to two travel lanes and a turn lane improved safety without much of a traffic impact.

The recent changes included extending the two-lane configuration — which includes new bike lanes on either side of the road — one extra block, from N. Manchester Street to N. Larrimore Street.

Going forward, the plan is to hire a contractor to conduct a long-term transportation study of Wilson Blvd from N. Glebe Road to the county line, to “create a long-term vision for the physical configuration” of Wilson Blvd. Following the study, more extensive changes to the road configuration may be made, including making the recent improvements — described as a “pilot” program — permanent.

County staff said the study will look to collect data on usage on Wilson Blvd and adjacent streets, and seek residents’ input to identify changes to the road.

by Chris Teale August 10, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Emergency repairs to a 6-foot-deep sinkhole near the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall could cause traffic headaches today (Thursday).

The sinkhole opened suddenly yesterday near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, but was quickly covered ahead of repairs to allow cars to keep driving over it.

A contractor at the scene said the hole is about 3 feet wide and 6 feet deep.

To accommodate contractors’ vehicles and tools, the westbound right lane of Wilson Blvd and the parking lane are closed, while the eastbound left-turn lane at the intersection will be used as a westbound lane. With renovations to the former Ballston Common Mall on the other side of the street also closing lanes, it means Wilson Blvd will be down to one lane in each direction.

Originally, there had been plans to close one lane in each direction on N. Randolph Street too, but the contractor said that would no longer be the case.

Complicating matters in that area of Ballston will be the construction crew’s removal of a stoplight just outside the mall. The contractor on the sinkhole repairs warned that the two projects could combine to make traffic a little “hectic” in that section of Wilson Blvd.

Work on repairing the sinkhole is expected to be complete around 4 p.m.

by Chris Teale August 9, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

The project to extend the Interstate 395 Express Lanes from Fairfax County through Alexandria and Arlington to the D.C. line celebrated its ground-breaking ceremony this morning.

The toll lanes will be extended for eight miles north from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road to the vicinity of Eads Street in Arlington, near the Pentagon.

The Virginia Department of Transportation partnered with toll road manager Transurban and contractors AECOM Engineering Company and Lane Construction to deliver the project. Construction is now underway and scheduled for completion in fall 2019.

The project will add a third reversible HOT lane on I-395, accessible for free by vehicles with three or more occupants and an E-ZPass Flex transponder, or for a toll by all others.

The lanes will generate funding for other transportation options in the region. Using toll money, Transurban will pay $15 million each year to local jurisdictions to help them pay for improvements. Among other projects, the south parking lot at the Pentagon is set for an overhaul, as are several nearby bridges.

The ceremony, atop a Pentagon City parking garage, marked the official start of construction. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) was joined by Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne and elected officials from across the area, including Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette and fellow Board member Libby Garvey.

Layne said such partnerships between state government, local agencies and federal stakeholders have been crucial to move the project along, heralded as the largest in the United States.

“We knew what the construction was going to be, but it took collaboration and trust to get this project underway,” Layne said.

McAuliffe hailed the project for solving a “major headache for so many commuters going into and out of the District, and going to and from our great Pentagon.”

He added that as Virginia’s population continues to grow — with people attracted by its low taxes, strong business environment and other amenities like breweries and wineries, McAuliffe said — projects to improve congestion on the Commonwealth’s roads are vital.

“This is finally going to be solved, and this is going to be a game-changer for residents of Northern Virginia,” McAuliffe said.

For its part, Transurban promised to be good partners throughout construction and beyond.

Jennifer Aument, Transurban’s group general manager for North America, said workers are committed to the safety of all road users during work, and urged drivers in the area to avoid distractions, wear their seatbelt and watch their speed around the construction zone.

Aument also said Transurban would be a “good neighbor” and work with nearby neighborhoods to minimize any other disruptions.

“Now, we’ll get to work,” she said.

Work has already got underway in the existing I-395 high-occupancy toll lanes. On Monday, August 7, VDOT announced full night-time closures of the lanes in both directions from the southbound HOV exit ramp near Boundary Channel Drive to the northbound exit ramp from the 95 Express Lanes near Edsall Road.

And weather-permitting, some southbound regular lanes of I-395 will be closed overnight this week between Duke Street and Edsall Road. VDOT advised drivers to travel safely and pay attention to signs posted on the road.

by ARLnow.com August 2, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

‘Open Road’ Coming to Rosslyn — A new location of Open Road, from the restaurant group behind Circa, is expected to open in Rosslyn next year. Open Road is expected to have a large, covered outdoor patio area. [Washington Business Journal]

Milkshake Shipped from Cleveland for Cancer Patient — Using dry ice and overnight shipping, a popular Cleveland restaurant shipped one of its famous milkshakes to a terminal cancer patient in Arlington. A photo of the patient, Emily Pomeranz, enjoying the shake in her hospice room has gone viral. [Facebook, Fox 8 Cleveland]

Street Work Schedule — Arlington County will be performing micro-sealing work on a number of streets this month as part of its preventive maintenance program. Among the roads with planned nighttime closures: Shirlington Road, Washington Blvd, N. George Mason Drive, N. Pershing Drive, S. Arlington Ridge Road and Army Navy Drive. [Arlington County]

Arlington Had a Little Italy — Arlington County once had its own Little Italy, a “makeshift village occupied by Italian quarrymen and their families on the banks of the Potomac, accessible only by footpath.” The former quarry site is located along the Potomac Heritage Trail, according to an article posted earlier this summer on WETA’s Boundary Stones local history blog. [WETA]

Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards

by ARLnow.com July 17, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

County officials say the reduction of a westbound turn lane on Arlington Mill Drive near Shirlington is a pilot program and the backups it’s causing will be resolved by traffic signal adjustments.

Arlington Mill Drive was recently re-striped at the “T” intersection with S. Walter Reed Drive. One of the two left turn lanes from Arlington Mill to Walter Reed was removed and blocked off with bollards, a move intended to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

There is heavy bike and pedestrian traffic at the intersection, which connects two sections of the Four Mile Run Trail.

But the lane removal has caused traffic to back up during peak times, according to several accounts. Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey wrote about the backups last month, proclaiming the lane reduction to be part of the county’s “semi-official ‘drivers must suffer’ policy.”

Last week a Twitter user also reported significant evening rush hour delays.

(The backups seem to be short-lived; a brief evening rush hour visit by a reporter last week did not reveal any long lines.)

In a statement released to ARLnow.com, officials with Arlington County’s Dept. of Environmental Services said that the lane re-striping is a “test” that is being evaluated ahead of a larger intersection improvement project, slated for next year.

The test will help traffic engineers determine adjustments to the traffic signal timing, which should alleviate any delays, officials say. Potentially complicating the plan, however: there is already heavy traffic on Walter Reed Drive during the evening rush hour, which could be exacerbated by changes to the traffic light cycle.

The full statement from DES, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com July 17, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]

Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]

County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]

Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]

Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]

Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

by Chris Teale July 13, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) A construction crew hit a gas line in the Dominion Hills neighborhood this afternoon.

Trucks from the Arlington County Fire Department and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue responded to the 6000 block of 9th Road N. after reports of the gas leak just after 2:30 p.m.

According to scanner traffic, the crew hit a two-inch gas line while doing work on the road, but the gas leak was stopped within about a half hour, as police were preparing to evacuate homes in the area. The odor of natural gas was still in the air shortly after the leak was stopped.

Fire trucks and traffic cones blocked off 9th Road N. between N. Livingston Street and N. Liberty Street. As of 3:30 p.m., Washington Gas crews were on the way to make repairs.

by ARLnow.com June 29, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Turn Lane Removed from Arlington Mill Drive — There is now only one left turn lane from S. Arlington Mill Drive to southbound S. Walter Reed Drive, after the roadway was reconfigured to remove a second turn lane. Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey writes that the need for the change is unclear but the result has been traffic backing up during peak periods. “It does play into a recurrent theme in A-town: Drivers must suffer,” he writes. [InsideNova]

Water Main Break Near Shirlington — Water main repairs are underway along the 2600 block of S. Arlington Mill Drive, near Shirlington, after a water main break this morning. Some 20-50 customers are affected and repairs are expected to take until around 3 p.m. [Twitter]

North Rosslyn Profiled — The Washington Post has profiled the North Rosslyn neighborhood, finding that many of its residents are “empty nesters, couples with young children and working professionals,” who are attracted to the events, businesses and connectivity that Rosslyn has to offer. [Washington Post]

New Mobile Homepage — We’ve revamped our homepage experience for mobile and tablet users to be more like the desktop homepage experience, with full articles and photos. Do you like the new configuration or wish we could go back to the older, simpler setup? Let us know in the comments.

by Katherine Berko June 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

The Washington & Old Dominion and Custis trails are set for further construction this summer, with the hope of increasing safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and public transportation users.

The improvements will reduce the distance of crossing some streets, upgrade curb ramps and bus stops, create high visibility crosswalks, improve trail crossing alignments and update traffic signals to meet Arlington County’s standards, among other changes.

Lanes would also be reconfigured on the W&OD Trail at its crossing with S. George Mason Drive and on the Custis Trail at N. Quinn and N. Scott streets.

The changes that the trails would undergo were recommendations made in the county’s Shared Use Trail Traffic Control Study, completed in 2010.

Three sections along each trail are set for improvements. Along the W&OD Trail, the areas are:

  • The intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and S. George Mason Drive
  • S. Four Mile Run Drive at the Barcroft Sports Center (4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive)
  • The intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and S. Oakland Street

The sections set to be under construction along the Custis Trail are:

  • The intersection of Lee Highway and N. Scott Street
  • The intersection of Lee Highway and N. Quinn Street
  • The trail crossing at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Oak Street

The Arlington County Board has approved the costs for the trail renovations, which will be funded primarily by the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.

Under a timeline put forward by county staff, construction would begin this summer on both projects. A contract worth a combined $1.67 million has been proposed for both, with just over $335,000 in contingency for any cost overruns.

by Chris Teale June 13, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

The busy intersection of Route 50 and Park Drive is set for improvements under a plan being considered Saturday by the Arlington County Board.

The intersection, in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, is slated for new sidewalks, upgraded traffic lights, high-visibility crosswalks and new trees, curbs and gutters.

The majority of improvements are slated for the intersection and a small stretch of N. Park Drive between Route 50 and a traffic circle. That’s also near a small strip mall that includes an Outback Steakhouse restaurant.

County staff estimate that 64,000 cars travel through the intersection daily, and the traffic volume and speed can make life difficult for bicyclists, pedestrians and those getting on and off buses. The intersection has also been the scene of numerous crashes.

Staff said the plan creates an “urban-style intersection that will reduce speeding and the incidence of collisions, and ultimately improve safety for all.

“The project will create better access and crossings for pedestrians, transit users, bikers and those traveling on the shared-use paths parallel to Arlington Boulevard,” they continued.

The County Board is set to award a construction contract for the plan at its meeting Saturday. The contract is worth just under $1.5 million, with $224,000 as a contingency for rising costs. More than $1 million of funding is through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Improvement Program, with the county adding $461,000 in general obligations bonds.

Under a timeline proposed by staff, construction would begin in August.

by ARLnow.com June 12, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

A key transportation goal of the Crystal City Sector Plan is close to becoming reality.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to consider a $6.3 million contract to demolish the elevated portion of S. Clark Street between 12th Street and 20th Street S.

While taking away a useful but relatively lightly used shortcut across Crystal City, the project will “normalize the street network and create more development space in the Crystal City area,” according to the county staff report.

More from the county’s webpage for the project:

The South Clark-Bell Street Demolition project is a goal of both the Crystal City Sector Plan and Crystal City Multimodal Transportation Study. It will improve safety for all modes of transportation and will establish the long-term street grid for the north and south portions of Crystal City along with the 15th Street South/South Clark-Bell Street Realignment project.

The elevated portions of South Clark-Bell Street will be demolished north of 18th Street South. South of 18th Street South, new open space will be created in the existing roadway right-of-way and new sidewalks, landscaping, and lighting along U.S. Route 1 will be provided. The project will also establish new building pad development sites for redevelopment of Crystal City, with the necessary infrastructure to transform the U.S. Route 1 corridor in Crystal City on the east side.

The project also includes traffic signal upgrades at 20th Street S. and Route 1.

The winning bid on the project was $6.3 million from Ardent Company, LLC, which was higher than the original $5.5 million county engineer’s estimate, but much lower than the only other bid published: $15 million from Fort Myer Construction Corporation.

If approved by the County Board, the contract would include a $1.3 million contingency for a total authorization of $7.6 million.

Construction is expected to begin this fall and wrap up in the summer of 2019.

Photo via Google Maps

by Kalina Newman June 5, 2017 at 3:15 pm 0

The first phase for the upgrades on the intersection between Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road are well underway after construction began March 6.

A spokeswoman for the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) said the installation of spaces for underground utilities should be done by the end of the year.

After that is complete, utility cables will be transferred underground from the overhead poles. Each individual wooden overhead pole will then be removed and any remaining existing overhead utilities will be rearranged.

Improvements include wider sidewalks, upgraded traffic signals, enhanced left-turn lanes and the installation of left-turn lanes for N. Glebe Road. The area will also get four new bus shelters with real-time arrival information, new streetlights and crosswalk markings.

Currently the construction hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays.

Workers may close a single lane of traffic in one or both directions along Lee Highway, Glebe Road or both during construction. Vehicles turning left or right might also be detoured as construction moves into the intersection itself.

Additionally, some bus stops in the area will be relocated and some sidewalks will be closed or rerouted to allow for construction. Off-street parking in the area may also be reduced in the coming months.

DES says it does not expect any changes to be made to the current design plan for the project.

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