County to Invest $55 Million in Ballston Mall — Arlington County is planning its first-ever Tax Increment Financing district to help fund the renovations to Ballston Common Mall. Arlington plans to invest $45 million in the mall with its TIF, which will be repaid over time via increased tax revenue from the property. It also plans to make $10 million in transportation improvements, including improvements to the attached county parking garage and the narrowing of Willson Blvd in front of the mall. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington May Ask for Jefferson Davis Hwy Renaming — Arlington County is considering asking local state legislators to seek a name change for Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington. Also known as Route 1, the highway is named after the Confederate president thanks to state legislative decree in 1922. A draft of the 2016 Arlington legislative priorities list includes a proposal to rename “the Arlington portion of Jefferson Davis Highway in a way that is respectful to all who live and work along it.” [InsideNova]
Room For Economic Improvement — Arlington County’s building approval process remains cumbersome and overly time consuming, and the county lacks the kind of incentive resources — “weapons” — that other jurisdictions have for economic development. That’s according to Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins, at a recent panel discussion. [Washington Business Journal]
Per-Student Spending Down — Arlington County’s per-student spending is down to $18,616, from $19,040 last year, according to the Washington Area Board of Education. Arlington still has the highest per-student spending of any suburban Washington school system. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Southbound Route 1 was closed between 20th and 23rd streets, near Crystal City, due to a multi-vehicle crash this afternoon.
At least 9 vehicles were involved and medics responded for at least two injuries. One of the injured parties, a young mother, was transported to a local hospital after being trapped in her severely damaged Prius. Rescuers cut off the roof of the car to free her.
The crash was caused by a driver in a pickup truck who suffered a medical emergency while driving, according to initial reports.
The truck ran right through a line of southbound traffic approaching the intersection with 23rd Street, slamming into vehicles, losing a wheel and careening across the intersection before striking a pole and coming to a stop across the street from Legal Sea Foods, witnesses said.
“It was like a pinball machine,” a witness told ARLnow.com. The pickup truck driver was evaluated by medics on the scene but declined transport to the hospital, according to scanner traffic.
Southbound traffic was diverted onto 20th Street for about an hour. As of 3:10 p.m. two lanes of traffic were squeezing by, though there was still debris in the roadway and crews were still working to clear wrecked cars from the roadway.
The Prius driver is expected to be okay. She was returning home from work when the crash happened, said the woman’s father, who arrived on scene to pick up a child seat and stroller that had been in the car. Her two-month-old child was not in the car at the time, he said.
Suspicious Vehicle Investigation at Pentagon — An SUV hopped a curb and ran into a pole at the Pentagon’s south parking lot Sunday morning. All three occupants of the vehicle were reportedly sleeping when police arrived, but then tried to drive away. Arlington’s bomb squad helped to check out the vehicle, which was deemed suspicious due to loose wires seen hanging out of it. [MyFoxDC, ABC News]
Va. Advances Potential I-395 Express Lane Plan — Virginia transportation officials are getting closer to announcing a plan to extend the I-95 Express Lanes up through I-395. Arlington officials previously filed suit to block a similar state plan to convert the I-395 HOV lanes to High Occupancy Toll lanes. [WTOP]
APS Students Named National Merit Semifinalists — Ten Arlington Public Schools students have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Competition. [Arlington Public Schools]
Arlington to Seek Route 1 Name Change — Arlington County plans to seek permission from the state to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington, according to County Board Chair Mary Hynes. However, one local state lawmaker says it’s highly unlikely that the Republican-controlled state legislature would okay the removal of Confederate leaders from local road names. [Washington Post]
Woman Dies in GW Parkway Wreck — A woman died early Sunday morning in a single-vehicle crash on the GW Parkway. The crash happened after the woman drove off the southbound side of the parkway, between Route 123 and Spout Run, and struck a tree. [WJLA]
Candlelight Vigil for Wakefield Student — A candlelight vigil is planned tonight for Lucas Guajardo, the Wakefield High School student who died Friday. The vigil is being organized by students and is planned to take place at 7:30 p.m. on the George Mason Drive side of the school. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Guajardo’s family with funeral expenses. The junior, who was a running back on the Warriors’ football team, was found dead by his older brother Friday afternoon after an apparent suicide. [Twitter, GoFundMe]
Suicide’s Lasting Impact on Survivors — Bryan Price, a former Arlington Sheriff’s Deputy, shot and killed himself on May 17. His wife found Bryan’s body and says his decision to end his own life has torn her family apart. “If he had any clue what this would put us through… I honestly don’t think he could have done it,” Tara Price told a local TV station. [WHSV]
Grant for New Bikeshare Stations OKed — Arlington County will receive nearly $300,000 from the federal government to install eight new Capital Bikeshare stations along the GW Parkway. Among the locations set for a new Bikeshare station are Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, Gravelly Point Park and Reagan National Airport. [Arlington County]
Jefferson Davis Name Change Unlikely — The Virginia General Assembly is not likely to approve changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway any time soon. “Jefferson Davis was an avid racist and segregationist… But there’s not a whole lot of people clamoring about it except coffee-shop liberals in Arlington,” Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told the Sun Gazette. Plus, Arlington County already has numerous streets and schools named after slaveholders. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
APS Honored for Healthy Food Options — Arlington Public Schools has received the top award in the “Healthy School Meals” category of the 2015 Virginia School Boards Association Food for Thought Competition. [Arlington Public Schools]
Lighting Task Force Approved — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved the appointment of a citizen working group that will study the issue of athletic lighting in Arlington. After a public process, the group is expected to come back to the Board in 11 months with a recommendation as to whether all artificial turf fields in the county should have lighting, a controversial issue for many who live near such fields. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington County plans to ask its state legislative delegation to sponsor a bill that would rename Jefferson Davis Highway, the Washington Post reports.
While the likelihood of such a bill passing is slim, County Board Chair Mary Hynes said the county has received “a flurry of letters from residents” asking that the Confederate leader’s name be removed from the highway, also known as Route 1.
(County Board Vice Chair Walter Tejada did not respond to an inquiry from ARLnow.com last month, asking whether a name change resolution for Jefferson Davis Highway was a possibility.)
In 2012, the county renamed the stretch of road formerly known as Old Jefferson Davis Highway “Long Bridge Drive.” This time around, talk of renaming the highway comes amid a national conversation about the Confederate flag and whether it’s more a symbol of southern heritage — or slavery and racism. Last week, South Carolina’s legislature voted to remove the flag from the grounds of the state capitol.
Do you think Jefferson Davis Highway should be renamed?
Photo via Google Maps
Update at 10:25 a.m. — One southbound lane of Route 1 has reopened, according to Arlington County. A tow truck is on scene and all lanes are expected to reopen shortly.
An RV has caught fire on southbound Route 1 in Crystal City, causing police to shut down the southbound lanes to traffic at the tail end of this morning’s rush hour.
The fire started just before 9:00 a.m., according to scanner traffic, on the highway near the intersection with 15th Street S. The Arlington County Fire Department and Virginia State Police were the first responders to the scene.
According to ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani, three people were inside the RV when the fire started, but they all escaped the vehicle safely and no injuries were reported. The fire is believed to have been caused by a mechanical failure in the engine block, Marchegiani said.
“The driver didn’t notice the fire at first, just that the car was acting funny and he smelled smoke,” Marchegiani told ARLnow.com. “They happened to pass by a Virginia State Police officer who saw that the car was on fire and flagged them down.”
The roadway will remain closed temporarily. Drivers should avoid the area if possible.
(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) An accident involving a Metrobus and an overturned vehicle has shut down two lanes of northbound traffic on Route 1 in Crystal City.
Police and medics are on the scene at Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) near 23rd Street S. One person suffered an arm injury in the accident, according to police radio traffic, and was transported from the scene in an ambulance.
Drivers should expect some traffic impacts in the area.
Arlington police have released details of this morning’s pedestrian accident on Route 1 near Crystal City.
In a press release, police say a 38-year-old Arlington resident is fighting for his life after being struck by a taxi in the southbound lanes between 20th and 23rd Streets.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team responded to a pedestrian struck incident at 2:39 a.m. on December 6, 2013 in the 2200 block of Jefferson Davis Highway. The victim, a 38 year-old Arlington man, was transported by emergency personnel to GW Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Police preliminary investigation reveals that the victim was attempting to cross a five lane portion of Jefferson Davis Highway when he was struck by a taxicab driving southbound. A passerby reported the incident and the driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. As a result of the investigation, the driver of the striking vehicle was not charged.
The southbound lanes of Jefferson Davis Highway were closed for several hours during the investigation and were re-opened by 6:00 a.m.
Update at 3:15 p.m.: All lanes are now reported to be back open.
Arlington police are preparing to close Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) at the Reagan National Airport overpass, near Crystal City, due to a report of a downed power line.
Firefighters are on the scene and requested the busy artery be closed in both directions, according to scanner traffic.
No word yet on how long the road will be closed.
A report that Arlington backed out of an agreement with Alexandria to conduct an environmental assessment for the Route 1 transit corridor project is incorrect, according to a county government spokeswoman.
The two jurisdictions have been cooperating on a transit project that will bring bus rapid transit and, ultimately, a streetcar to the Route 1 corridor of Crystal City and Potomac Yard. But today Connection Newspapers reported that Alexandria officials were upset because Arlington supposedly withdrew from an agreement to pay $2.4 million of the $3.4 million cost of an environmental analysis.
In reality, says Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius, the environmental analysis is currently underway and Arlington County is paying its $1.78 million share of the $3.56 million cost. The Arlington county manager and the Alexandria city manager signed an agreement to split the cost of the analysis in 2010, she said.
At issue, according to Curtius, is an “Alternatives Analysis” that was optional under the agreement.
“Arlington recently informed Alexandria that we do not intend to do an Alternatives Analysis,” Curtius told ARLnow.com. “Such an analysis is required in order to apply for federal small/new starts funding. Arlington does not intend to apply for such funding for Route 1. We are continuing to work with Alexandria on how to proceed in a way that enables Alexandria to apply for federal funding for its part of the transit project, should it choose to do so.”
In an apparent effort to dispute the report about rising tensions between the two jurisdictions, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes and Alexandria Mayor William Euille have issued a joint statement regarding their transit partnership.
Arlington County and the City of Alexandria have been transit partners for more than 35 years. Together, we’ve ensured safe, efficient transit options for hundreds of thousands of people … every day.
Throughout our region’s history, federal and state transportation funding has been the backbone of supporting transit projects. Unfortunately, that landscape has changed dramatically in just the last few years, greatly impacting local transit planning across the country. All of us have to reassess transportation projects, determine how we can fund them, and make some tough strategic decisions.
The City of Alexandria has decided to focus its attention and its funding on the planned infill Metrorail station; this investment will benefit not only the City, but the entire region.
Arlington needs a streetcar system in Crystal City to support development there — and has funding available through a special tax district.
We are both committed to providing more transit options for people who live and work in the Route 1 corridor. Our strategies are not exactly the same at this point in time. We look forward to working together collaboratively as we continue to move people efficiently through our communities and the region.
County Urges Residents to Buy CO Alarms — Arlington County Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Fitch is urging residents to buy, install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms. The recommendation, in the form of a press release, came one day after five people died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Oxon Hill, Md. [Arlington County]
Route 1 Transit Corridor Tension — Arlington and Alexandria are at odds over the proposed transit corridor along Route 1, reports Michael Lee Pope. Arlington has, for some reason, backed off a promise to kick in $2.4 million for an environmental analysis for the project, according to Pope. [Arlington Connection]
United Exempts Foreign Service from New Pet Fees — Rep. Jim Moran is applauding a decision by United Airlines to exempt the cost of transporting pets overseas for the country’s more than 5,000 Foreign Service workers. Last month United announced new charges to transporting pets, but at the time exempted only military personnel. “The policy change could have added thousands of dollars in moving costs to Foreign Service personnel,” Moran’s office said in a press release.
No Drones Over Arlington — Despite a report that the Arlington County Police Department has been cleared by the FAA to operate drone aircraft, the department says they’re drone-free. “The Arlington Police Department cleared is in Arlington, TX,” said department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “ACPD has no plans [for] ever using drones.”
Update at 4:35 p.m. — The flooding has cleared up and all lanes have reopened, according to Dr. Gridlock.
Route 1 is closed just south of Potomac Yard in Alexandria due to flooding in the roadway.
High water and mud spilled onto the roadway from an adjacent construction site, a tipster tells us. Earlier rains have since stopped, but so far no word as to how much longer Route 1 will remain shut down.
Traffic is reportedly being rerouted onto Potomac Avenue, which runs behind Potomac Yard and into Crystal City.
Photo courtesy David Hyde
The Arlington County Board’s recent vote to change the name of Old Jefferson Davis Highway to “Long Bridge Park” was preceded by a thorough dissing of the former namesake by Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman, the Sun Gazette reports this morning.
“I have a problem with ‘Jefferson Davis,'” Zimmerman said of the former Confederate president. “I don’t believe Jefferson Davis has a historic connection to anything in Arlington… He wasn’t from Virginia. I don’t really see why we need to honor him.”
Though last week’s vote may be a victory for the anti-Jefferson Davis crowd, it only renames a narrow, pothole-ridden backroad that connects Crystal City with a future county park. The much larger and more heavily-traveled State Route 1 will continue to be known as Jefferson Davis Highway.
Meanwhile, another state route — Route 29 — is named after an even more prominent, but slightly less controversial Confederate leader: Robert E. Lee. While Jefferson Davis Highway runs north-south through south Arlington, Lee Highway runs east-west across north Arlington. Both serve tens of thousands of commuters each day.
Though the Civil War figures prominently in the history of Arlington, should these roads be renamed for something or someone not associated with slavery and the losing side of a horribly costly war? Or should we preserve our history, warts and all?
A drab piece of vacant land that serves as the decidedly unspectacular southern entryway to Crystal City will soon be getting a new look.
The 30,000 square foot, triangular lot at the intersection of Crystal Drive and Jefferson Davis Highway will be getting “a large-scale lighting and landscape enhancement that will create a truly enticing gateway experience.”
“The project adds new turf, 28 trees, and beautiful LED lighting features laid out in an interesting and attractive geometric pattern that continues up the façade of the southernmost building in Crystal City,” according to the Crystal City Business Improvement District. Nearly 50,000 drivers per day pass by the entryway. The revamped look will communicate “the excitement and vibrancy of Crystal City,” according to the BID (see illustration, below).
A groundbreaking will be held on Monday, Oct. 3. Construction is expected to wrap up by Thanksgiving.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
A man with a bullhorn barked pronouncements of doom in passing, in case motorists were not able to see the graphics on the side of the half dozen RVs in the convoy.
We spotted the convoy driving south on Route 1 in the Crystal City area around 3:45 p.m. No word on where they were headed.
Update at 4:45 p.m. — Commenter CW has identified the likely culprits, who believe the apocalypse will come on May 21.