Arlington, VA

(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Parks officials have signed off on some big changes at Theodore Roosevelt Island, including the rehabilitation of a troublesome section of the Mt. Vernon Trail and the addition of several new landing spots for small boats and kayaks.

The National Park Service announced yesterday (Monday) that it will move ahead with a variety of construction projects on the island, located off the George Washington Memorial Parkway near Rosslyn, after settling on some final designs and certifying they’ll have minimal environmental impacts on the island.

Some of the changes will be relatively small, like the addition of some new signs and markers detailing Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy — the island is home to the lone memorial to the nation’s 26th president in D.C. Others will be more substantial, such as the total overhaul and realignment of a boardwalk-style bridge on the Mt. Vernon Trail, which runs from underneath the Roosevelt Bridge to just south of the island’s parking lot.

The park service’s plans call for a “replacement of the bridge deck and railing to provide a smoother riding surface.” That will likely come as good news to area cyclists, who have nicknamed it “the Trollheim Bridge” for its treacherous surface — TheWashCycle blog described it as a the “notoriously slippery part of the Mt. Vernon trail that has caused literally thousands of crashes” in a post last year.

The main, 1,400-foot-section of the bridge also meets an additional 90-foot section toward its north end, creating an awkward “T” intersection for cyclists. The realignment work will eliminate that intersection, creating a new left turn lane as well.

Other walking trails on the island will see some improvements under the plans as well. The NPS is hoping to improve connections between the pedestrian bridge and the island’s Memorial Plaza and create “universal access to the entire Swamp Trail, including access to the comfort station.” That small rest stop is also set to see a refresh under these plans.

The NPS is also hoping to add a total of four landings for canoes, kayaks and row boats on the island. Each one will be about 12 feet wide, and provide “access for approximately 4-5 kayaks/canoes,” according to the park service’s documents. The plans also call for the construction of a roughly 100-foot-long “floating dock” for larger craft, to be located at the island’s northeast corner, once the home of a ferry landing.

The park service noted in an environmental analysis of these proposed changes that, currently, “boaters and kayakers anchor or beach their non-motorized watercraft on unmarked areas along the shoreline.” Officials fear that the “practice impacts natural and archeological resources and has the potential to expose boaters and kayakers to underwater hazards in shoreline areas,” reasoning that the new landings should alleviate that issue. The area could also be in line to see increased boating activity, should the NPS’ plans to build the long-anticipated Rosslyn boathouse continue to advance.

Additionally, the park service wants to add some more vegetation and trees to the largely wooded island. Some new shrubs will be designed to cover up existing “social” bike trails on the island’s north shore line; other tree plantings will replace the roughly 200 ash trees the NPS had to remove last summer due to an “emerald ash borer infestation.”

The NPS says it’s still searching for funding for the entire range of projects on the island, but some will move ahead in the near term. The Mt. Vernon Trail bridge improvements, for instance, are currently out for bid by federal officials and could be completed by sometime in 2020.

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Google traffic map on 8/15/16Both drivers and Metro riders are finding a slow go on their way to work this morning.

The trouble started tragically this morning just before 5 a.m., when motorcyclist crashed on the Roosevelt Bridge. The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at a local hospital and the bridge was closed to traffic for a crash investigation.

Route 110 and the GW Parkway have been backed up all morning as a result of the closure. Lanes have since reopened, but residual delays remain.

As of 8:30 a.m., there was also heavy traffic on I-395, Washington Blvd, and on Route 50 and I-66 from Glebe Road to D.C.

Meanwhile, on Metro, as of 9 a.m. the Yellow Line was only running from Huntington to the Pentagon due to a switch problem causing heavy congestion on the Green Line. Yellow Line riders heading into D.C. are being forced to continue their commute either via the Blue Line or buses.

Metrobuses in Arlington are also experiencing delays, due to the heavy traffic.

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Morning Notes

Blood moon Wednesday morning  (Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber)

Tallula, EatBar Closing — Tallula and EatBar, which first opened in 2004 in Lyon Park, will be closing on Sunday, Oct. 26. The restaurants’ owner says they were “unable to reach an agreement with the landlord on renewing Tallula’s lease.” [Eater, Facebook]

Civ Fed Skeptical of Housing Effort — The Arlington County Civic Federation’s revenues-and-expenditures committee released a scathing critique of the county government’s “Public Lands for Public Good” affordable housing effort. The committee’s report said Arlington “couldn’t, and shouldn’t, try to solve all the region’s problems on its own.” It also said that “the county appears to be placing greater weight on the desires of non-residents who wish to move to Arlington ahead of the needs and wishes of its own citizens.” [InsideNova, PDF]

E-CARE This Weekend — Arlington County will hold its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) on Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The event allows residents to “safely dispose of household hazardous materials, bikes, small metal items, shoes, clothing and other recyclable items.” [Arlington County]

Pop-Up Dinners in D.C. for Ballston Restaurant — Before it officially opens in Ballston early next year, Pepita — a new “Mexican cantina” from former Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella — will be holding a series of “pop-up dinners” to test its menu. The dinners will held starting Oct. 30 be at Isabella’s G Sandwich restaurant at 2201 14th Street NW in D.C. [Washington Post]

Former County Controversy, Now Hardly a Blip — In 2008, Arlington was roiled by a long political fight over accessory-dwelling units, or “granny flats.” The County Board was considering whether to allow homeowners to build ADUs, which often house elderly family members. The Arlington Civic Federation opposed it, with critics warning that ADUs could turn quiet neighborhoods into overcrowded slums. The County Board ended up voting to allow ADUs by permit, but set a limit of 28 approvals per year. Since then, “less than a dozen” have been built. [InsideNova]

Roosevelt Bridge Inspections — The District Department of Transportation is conducting inspection work on the Roosevelt Bridge today and tomorrow. Route 50 drivers can expect some short-term lane closures during non-rush hour periods while the inspections are performed. Work vehicles associated with the inspections will be parked along the GW Parkway.

Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber

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(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Traffic on eastbound I-66 was backed up to the Beltway this morning due to roadway damage on the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.

A photo sent to ARLnow.com from an I-66 commuter shows a section of roadway that has sunk a foot or more, creating a large gap. The damage is located on the east end of the bridge at the E Street exit, we’re told. In a tweet, DDOT says one lane is closed as a result.

That lane closure is causing big problems: even at 10:30 a.m. traffic on eastbound I-66 was very slow inside the Beltway, which in turn caused backups on Arlington arterial roadways that lead to the highway.

DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders says the damage was caused by a “utility cut in the roadway.” As of 5:30 p.m., DDOT had installed metal plates over the damaged section.

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The filming of a big Hollywood movie will temporarily close the Roosevelt Bridge on Sunday.

The closures are scheduled from 8:20 to 9:10 a.m., and again from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. From the D.C. film office:

On Sunday, May 5 there will be intermittent closing of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to allow for the filming of a major motion picture set in the District. MPTD has negotiated an agreement with the DC Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Arlington Police and the National Park Service to close the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.

The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge plays an integral role in the storyline. Aerial photography will be used to capture various angels (sic) of the bridge. While in the nation’s capital the production company will film other iconic sites.

VDOT is advising drivers to take alternate routes.

Drivers accessing the bridge from Virginia via I-66, Route 50 or the George Washington Parkway will be detoured. Virginia motorists heading into D.C. from I-66 have three options:

  • Take I-66 East to Route 110 to the 14th Street Bridge (this is the official detour motorists can follow).
  • Take I-66 East to Exit 73/Lee Highway to the Key Bridge.
  • Take I-66 East to Exit 72 to Spout Run Parkway to George Washington Parkway to the Memorial Bridge.

Motorists heading from D.C. to I-66 can use the same options in reverse.

During the closures, message signs on I-66 as far west as Centreville will advise motorists to use alternate routes.

Virginia State Police, Arlington County Police, and U.S. Park Service Police will be stationed at various traffic control points on Route 50, I-66 and the GW Parkway.

VDOT traffic engineers anticipate that the 8:20 a.m. shut down will create 15-minute delays and the 1 p.m. closure will create 30-minute delays.

While neither agency specified which movie is being filmed, ComicBookMovie.com speculates that the closures are for the filming of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a new superhero movie that’s set in D.C.

Hat tip to @shticksstickler

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Today may be Bike to Work Day, but Sunday might be an even better day to go car-free.

A number of road closures are planned for the annual Bike DC ride through the District and Arlington. The route, which starts at the Capitol, will take cyclists across the Roosevelt Bridge, up the GW Parkway and down to the Air Force Memorial, before returning to the District.

As a result, the following streets will be closed to vehicular traffic from about 7:00 to 11:00 a.m.

  • Roosevelt Bridge westbound
  • GW Parkway northbound from Memorial Bridge to Chain Bridge
  • Route 110 southbound from Rosslyn to Crystal City
  • Route 50 eastbound from GW Parkway to Lynn Street/Meade Street
  • Meade Street from Marshall Drive to Rosslyn
  • Marshall Drive between Meade Street and Route 110
  • Washington Boulevard eastbound from Memorial Bridge to Columbia Pike
  • Columbia Pike westbound from the Pentagon to the Air Force Memorial

In addition to those road closures, Sunday will also see the closure of a number of streets in the Ballston area due to the annual Taste of Arlington food festival.

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Heavy rain is making for a slow go this morning. Nearly the entire length of northbound I-395 is slow, and multiple accidents have been reported.

One accident, seen above, is blocking a left-hand lane on southbound I-395. Another accident, now cleared, caused a car to flip over in the westbound lanes of the Roosevelt Bridge, blocking traffic heading toward Virginia from DC.

Update at 10:20 a.m. — A three-vehicle accident involving a tractor trailer has been reported on Route 110 near the Pentagon. No injuries have been reported, but the accident is causing major backups on Route 110.

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The Roosevelt Bridge was blocked in both directions last night as D.C. police and Arlington firefighters investigated a suspicious package on the Virginia side of the span.

Authorities shut down the heavily-traveled thoroughfare around 7:30. The all-clear was given around 8:15.

The large backups that formed as a result of the closure cleared quickly once the bridge was re-opened.

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