The Democrats running for Arlington County Board and the Virginia House of Delegates say they are united with the Board in its desire to rename Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway.
Arlington County Board candidate Erik Gutshall and incumbent House of Delegates candidates Mark Levine, Patrick Hope, Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Alfonso Lopez praised the County Board’s stand. In a statement, an excerpt of which is below, all five applauded what they described as “a powerful statement from the Arlington County Board rejecting racism and bigotry.”
The county will need to first obtain the legal authority to rename both stretches of state highway within its borders, an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled General Assembly. But the incumbents pledged to try to do so, so the county can choose “who in our history we want to honor and celebrate.”
Erik Gutshall, Democratic nominee for Arlington County Board, said “I am proud to live in a community that has long shared the values of diversity and inclusion. I fully embrace the County Board’s determination to garner local control of the names of our roadways, as I know Arlington’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly do.”
“It’s long past time for us to rename highways that were labeled to send a hateful and divisive message to people of color in our community,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez (49th District), House Democratic Whip. “I look forward to working with the Arlington County Board to make sure they have the necessary authority from the General Assembly to make these important changes.”
Delegate Patrick Hope (47th District) said, “I have long-supported the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway in Arlington and commend the Arlington County Board for this bold statement of leadership. I look forward to supporting legislation to grant Arlington and all localities the freedom to rename buildings, roads, and to remove monuments that do not reflect our values.”
“Giving localities the authority to rename highways — like Jefferson Davis Highway — is long overdue,” said Delegate Rip Sullivan (48th District), “This is not about erasing or trying to change history — indeed, we must never forget the evil that led to our Civil War. Rather, this is about a community choosing who in our history we want to honor and celebrate. Arlington County should have that choice. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ This matters, and I applaud the County Board for choosing not to be silent on this important issue.”
“I’m very pleased that the Arlington County Board is committed to renaming the Jefferson Davis Highway, ” said Delegate Mark Levine (45th District). “Changing those street signs will no longer honor the Mississippi traitor (with little or no connection to Arlington) who was President of a rebellious group of states that seceded from the union to enforce and protect their cruel and odious institution of slavery. Street signs bearing the current name of this highway do a gross injustice to Arlingtonians who are loyal to their nation and who abhor slavery. I know the vast majority of us are looking forward to seeing these signs no more.”
(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) Arlington is thinking about renaming two state highways named after Confederate leaders, but needs authorization from the state legislature to do so, according to a statement released by the Arlington County Board late Thursday afternoon.
In the statement, County Board Chair Jay Fisette says the county is “united against racism and bigotry” in the wake of the events in Charlottesville this past weekend.
“Arlington rejects the hateful speech and actions of the KKK, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the alt-right movement,” the statement says. “We will not allow a resurgent hate movement that distorts history and threatens our future to take us backward.”
The statement goes on to say that the county is seeking legislative authority to rename Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) and Lee Highway.
“Arlington is committed to seeking the authority from the General Assembly to rename both Jefferson Davis and Lee highways within our boundaries,” said the statement. “Our legislative delegation is committed to putting legislation forward on Jefferson Davis Highway. Arlington believes that local governments should have the authority to name any roadways within our borders.”
Arlington’s ability to actually get the authority, however, is in serious doubt due to Republican majorities in both the House of Delegates and state Senate. Arlington has previously placed authority for renaming Jefferson Davis Highway on its list of legislative priorities, to no avail.
Fisette notes that the renaming of Washington-Lee High School is also under consideration, but falls under the jurisdiction of the School Board.
The full statement is below.
The tragedy that unfolded in Charlottesville, where three people lost their lives, has shaken the conscience of our community and of our nation.
The Arlington County Board condemns the act of domestic terrorism that cost Heather Heyer her life, and mourns her death and the deaths of the two Virginia State Police troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates, who died in the line of duty. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and with the many who were injured that day.
As many yard signs across Arlington proclaim: “hate has no home here.”
It is appropriate, in the wake of the Charlottesville events, that our community and many others are reconsidering the public memorialization of Confederate leaders. This Board has received numerous letters from concerned residents pleading that these leaders of rebellion against the Union not be publicly memorialized – particularly noting Jefferson Davis Highway, Lee Highway and Washington-Lee High School.
Because we are a county, Arlington currently does not have the authority to rename state highways such as Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway. We do have the authority to name local roads, and we exercised it in 2012 to rename Old Jefferson Davis Highway as Long Bridge Drive.
Arlington is committed to seeking the authority from the General Assembly to rename both Jefferson Davis and Lee highways within our boundaries. Our legislative delegation is committed to putting legislation forward on Jefferson Davis Highway. Arlington believes that local governments should have the authority to name any roadways within our borders.
Because it is a city, neighboring Alexandria controls all roadways within its borders. The City Council voted in September 2016 to rename its stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway, and graciously included two Arlington residents in the advisory panel it formed to seek suggestions from the public for a new name. That panel will make a recommendation this fall, and the Alexandria City Council will act.
We expect that the name Alexandria selects will be suitable for our section of Jefferson Davis Highway as well. Anyone in Arlington who wants to suggest a new name for Jefferson Davis Highway can do so on the City of Alexandria’s website through September 25.
While we are not aware of any Confederate statues on County-owned land in Arlington, we support Governor McAuliffe’s recent proposal that all Virginia localities relocate Confederate statues in Virginia to museums, and be given the legal authority to do so.
Finally, the name of Washington-Lee High School and all other public schools in Arlington falls under the authority of the School Board. We know that the School Board will be speaking to this issue in the near future.
Although this is a painful time for us all, ultimately, Arlington’s story is an inspiring one of racial and social progress, of moving forward and overcoming the deep wounds inflicted by slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow and the legacy of segregation. Our past can never be erased, but we can and will continue to learn from it.
Arlington today is a vibrant, diverse and inclusive community that treats each individual with respect and champions human and civil rights.
We will not allow a resurgent hate movement that distorts history and threatens our future to take us backward. Together, we will continue to strengthen the bonds that unite us.
Arlington County Board Chair, on behalf of the County Board
McCullough said in a letter to the County Board and Arlington’s representatives in the Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday, August 15 that they must work to rename Jefferson Davis Highway, the name for U.S. Route 1 in the county from its border with Alexandria into Rosslyn. Such a change would require action by the General Assembly.
In doing so, he said, it would condemn racism and bigotry and distance Arlington from the Confederate president.
“Even one more day of Route 1 as Jefferson Davis Highway is 24 hours too long,” he wrote.
The question of whether to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway has swirled for several years, but local leaders have said passing a bill in Richmond to change the name is unlikely.
In Alexandria, a group is soliciting name suggestions for its stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway just south of Arlington. A letter from the Virginia Attorney General’s office last year said Alexandria does not need state approval to change the name as it is part of the Urban Highway System, so state bodies do not have naming rights.
McCullough’s full letter is after the jump.
Charlottesville Solidarity Rally Held — Arlington County Board vice chair Katie Cristol was among those who spoke at a “Rally of Solidarity for Charlottesville” in Courthouse yesterday. The rally was intended to “actively condemn bigotry and racial hatred through a series of speeches, songs, actions, and a moment of silence.” [Facebook, WJLA]
Alexandria Considering New Names for Route 1 — An Alexandria group charged with considering new names for Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) is soliciting suggestions through an online form and two public hearings. [City of Alexandria]
Flashing Lights on I-66 — If you drove on I-66 this weekend and noticed flashing lights from equipment overhead, don’t worry: you’re not getting a ticket. Instead, VDOT is testing new toll equipment. Non-HOV drivers are expected to begin paying a toll to use I-66 inside the Beltway in December. [VDOT, NBC Washington]
Old Oak Tree Saved — A “mighty” oak tree that pre-dates the Civil War was saved from being removed during the construction of a new home thanks to a petition by neighbors and a developer willing to consider their concerns. The tree, at the corner of N. Nottingham and 27th streets, is 18 feet in circumference and one of Arlington’s 100 designated “champion” trees. [Washington Post]
WeWork Offering Free Space on Mondays — Coworking provider WeWork is offering free workspace at its D.C. and Northern Virginia locations — including its Arlington location in Crystal City — on Mondays as part of a new promotion dubbed “#SummerMondays.” The promotion runs through the end of September. An RSVP is required. [WeWork]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
A car crashed into a side entrance of Target in Potomac Yard, just over the Arlington border in Alexandria.
The car came through a smaller door at the store at 3330 Jefferson Davis Highway at around 11:20 a.m. this morning. The driver and a passenger were extricated after a brief entrapment, according to scanner traffic. Both were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.
The crash left the front side of the car mangled, and set off an alarm in the store away from the main retail section. Customers continued to enter the store as normal, while police were out directing traffic around the scene but did not close any travel lanes in the parking lot.
Firefighters from the Arlington County Fire Department initially went to assist at the scene, but as of 11:45 a.m. had left. Police and fire units from Alexandria remained on scene.
Public Hearings Set for Sign, Rosslyn Streetscape Changes — At its meeting Saturday, the Arlington County Board set public hearings for changes to the county sign ordinance related to mixed-use retail centers and industrial districts, which would allow for more blade signs in certain places. The Board also set hearings for a plan that “would establish a cohesive set of streetscape furnishings to strengthen Rosslyn’s character, and encourage more pedestrian use and vibrancy in Rosslyn’s core.” [Arlington County]
Washingtonian Spends Day in Crystal City — The staff from Washingtonian magazine spent Friday — Bike to Work Day — in Crystal City, filing stories about everything from quirky neighborhood fixtures like a reasonably-priced strip club and a long-time puppet store to WeLive, TechShop and other places driving Crystal City’s innovation economy. The goal was to report “stories of a place that’s creating a new future for itself in the ashes of one that didn’t quite work out the way everyone thought.” [Washingtonian]
Bike to Work Day Record — This year’s Bike to Work Day set a regional record, with 18,700 registrants at 85 D.C. area pit stops. [Twitter]
Beyer Calls for Expulsion of Turkish Ambassador — On Friday Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) urged the Trump administration to kick the ambassador of Turkey out of the country in response to a violent confrontation between protesters and bodyguards for the visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey, meanwhile, today summoned the U.S. ambassador to complain about police treatment of the bodyguards who were seen beating up protesters. [Rep. Don Beyer]
D.C. Man Is Big Arlington Thrive Donor — A retired ophthalmologist who lives in D.C. has donated more than $750,000 to the nonprofit Arlington Thrive over the past few years, after reading about it in a Washingtonian magazine article. Arlington Thrive, formerly known as Arlingtonians Meeting Emergency Needs, “delivers same-day emergency funds to our neighbors in crisis, so they can be secure in their jobs, health, and homes and thrive in a caring community.” [Washington Post]
Board Approves Intersection, Stormwater Projects — The Arlington County Board has approved more than $2.3 million in contracts to improve safety at the intersection of Arlington Blvd and N. Irving Street and construct a “green streets” stormwater management system along Williamsburg Blvd. [Arlington County]
Arlington Represented on Route 1 Renaming Group — The former president of the Arlington NAACP and former president of the Arlington Historical Society have been appointed to an “Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Renaming Jefferson Davis Highway” formed by the City of Alexandria. The city is moving forward with its effort to strip Route 1 of its confederate monicker, but wants to coordinate with Arlington in case the county decides to lobby Richmond to allow it to rename the road. [WTOP]
Columnist Blasts Website Comments — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark says that reader comments about the candidates in the recent Democratic Arlington County Board caucus were “inflammatory” and “pea-brained.” He singled out ARLnow’s comment section and “the slightly-more-civil commenters in the Sun-Gazette.” Caucus winner Erik Gutshall, meanwhile, said he seldom reads the comments, opining that “some are thoughtful, but it’s like opening a horror show.” [Falls Church News-Press]
The redevelopment of North Potomac Yard in Alexandria gathered more steam last week, and residents in Crystal City are keeping an eye on its potential impacts.
North Potomac Yard is in the northeast corner of Alexandria, just across the Arlington County line, near a planned Potomac Yard Metro station. It is currently occupied by a Regal movie theater, a Target and other big box stores and restaurants.
The City of Alexandria is in the planning process for a massive mixed-use development at the 69-acre site, to include retail, residential units, a hotel and office space.
On February 22, city staff released the first draft three chapters of the updated plan, then the following day met with the Crystal City Civic Association at its general meeting.
Association president Christer Ahl told ARLnow.com that his members are most concerned that Crystal City will be left behind as nearby developments spring up in Arlington and Alexandria.
“Perhaps the larger issue which the project raises is whether it could contribute to the notion of Crystal City becoming a ‘backwater,’ stuck with many old buildings which at best might be renovated, while the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor and Potomac Yard in two very different ways will be full of exciting new development,” he said.
“Of course, this depends a lot on the attitude and priorities of the county, JBG/Smith and other developers, together with the near-term market situation.”
Ahl added that many in the area are also concerned with the impact on traffic along Crystal Drive and Route 1 from the new development, which could total as much as 7.5 million square feet.
The Alexandria City Council voted to approve the new Metro station in May 2015, to be located on the Yellow and Blue lines between the Braddock Road and National Airport stops.
While the new Metro station and the Metroway bus rapid transit route along Route 1 could take care of a lot of traffic impact, Ahl said, there were still concerns about the number of cars to hit the roads with the new development.
“If we assume that the new development goes hand-in-hand with the new Metro station, that should take care of a lot of the concerns,” Ahl said. “Alexandria very strongly focuses on being as pedestrian, bike and transit-friendly as possible, and conversely avoiding car dependency. In terms of vehicular traffic on U.S. Route 1 or Potomac Avenue leading into Crystal City, I guess the proof in the pudding is hard to predict.”
One other aspect that Ahl said troubled some association members is the potential loss of amenities like the movie theater and Target, which are major draws. But he said members will continue to monitor the situation and see how it evolves.
“To some extent, it becomes wait and see,” Ahl said. “Depending on their own inclinations and their own preferences, we’re speculating on whether it will be positive or negative in some sense. Some people would hate to see losing some of their existing favorite places, although they emphasized in our meeting that Target has a lease in place until 2028, so that might be the last thing that happens down there.”
According to a timeline, an advisory group tasked with updating the North Potomac Yard plan will present its final recommendations in April.
Images via City of Alexandria
APS Receives Top Ranking — Arlington Public Schools is the top school division in Virginia and in the D.C. area, according to new rankings from Niche.com. All three comprehensive high schools in Arlington ranked in the top 10 in Virginia, according to the website. [Arlington Public Schools]
Alleged Racial Confrontation at Metro Station — A local man says a trio of older white men confronted him last week in the Courthouse Metro station, a few days after the election, and told him “good thing you’ll all be gone soon” — an apparent racially-motivated comment — and “it’ll be great again soon.” [Patch]
Remy Releases Post-Election Song — Arlington’s best-known libertarian comedian/musician, Remy, has released a new original song on the topic of Donald Trump’s election. [Twitter]
‘Isolated’ Schools in Arlington — Two schools in Arlington County, and 136 schools statewide, are considered “racially and economically isolated,” according to a new report from a liberal Richmond-based think tank. [Washington Post]
No Name Change Push for JD Hwy — Seeking a name change for Jefferson Davis Highway, the formal name of Route 1 in Arlington County, is not part of the county’s recently-approved legislative agenda. The chance of the Republican-dominated state legislature allowing the name change in its upcoming 2017 session was “all but nil.” [InsideNova]
Joint Meeting of N. Va. Jurisdictions — County Board and city council members from Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church held a joint meeting last night, in which they discussed ways to cooperate and save money. Together, the three inside-the-Beltway jurisdictions have about 500,000 residents, as compared to Fairfax County’s population of 1.1 million. [Washington Post]
Crash Closes 395 Ramp — A multi-vehicle crash closed the ramp from northbound I-395 to northbound Washington Blvd during this morning’s rush hour. The ramp reopened just after 9 a.m. [Arlington County, Twitter]
Metro Delays This Morning — There were delays on the Yellow, Orange and Silver lines this morning due to “unscheduled track repairs.” [Washington Post]
Jefferson Davis Highway Name Change? — The Virginia attorney general’s office has determined that Alexandria can legally change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway in the city, while Arlington cannot remove the Confederate leader’s name from Route 1. One local lawmaker says he wants the name to change, for various reasons, but adds that he doesn’t have a problem with routes named after Robert E. Lee. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
County Backtracks on Uber Story — Arlington County is in the early stages of considering a plan to replace low-ridership ART service with some sort of partnership with ridesharing services, like Uber. However, the county is backtracking on an official’s statement that the service would be subsidized. “A recent press account quoted a County staff person as saying, incorrectly, that we will be subsidizing this service,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “No such decision has been made at this preliminary stage of analysis.” [Arlington County]
Advisory Group: Change Name of Jeff Davis Highway — An advisory group appointed by the City of Alexandria has recommended changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway. Alexandria’s “Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names” says the Confederate president’s name should be removed from Route 1 in the city. [Patch]
Ultimate Frisbee Vote — Arlington Public Schools is now the first school system in Virginia to make ultimate frisbee an official school sport. The Arlington School Board voted Thursday night to implement ultimate as a sport in middle and high schools, on an initial countywide budget of $90,000. [WTOP]
New ART Bus Route Launching Monday — The new ART 54 bus route will begin serving Dominion Hills, Madison Manor and East Falls Church on Monday. The new bus will run every 24 minutes on weekdays, during the morning and evening rush hours. [Arlington Transit]
Medicine Dispensing Exercise — Arlington residents are being encouraged to participate in the county health department’s mass medication dispensing exercise on Saturday. Volunteers are needed to form a crowd seeking medication (the county will be dispensing two types of candy during the exercise.) [ARLnow]
United Bank Purchasing Cardinal Bank — Two regional banks are coming together to form what may be the “most dominant community bank” in the D.C. area. United Bank, which has four Arlington branches, is purchasing Cardinal Bank, which has five Arlington branches. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
A two-vehicle collision resulted in an SUV overturning on Route 1 (Jefferson Davis) this morning.
The crash happened in rainy weather around 10:15 a.m., at the 27th Street S. intersection in Crystal City. An SUV flipped on its roof and a car suffered heavy front-end damage in the wreck.
Two ambulances have been called to the scene, but none of the injuries are reported to be life-threatening.
Northbound Route 1 is down to one lane as crews continue to clean up the wreckage and spilled fluids.
Hat tip to @SRod17
Arlington County firefighters are responding to a brush fire in Crystal City.
The smoky fire broke out in the median along Route 1, near the 23rd Street intersection.
Police and an Alexandria medic unit are on scene, attempting to use a fire extinguisher to control the blaze.
Update at 3:05 p.m. — The fire is reported to be out.
New Traffic Pattern on Route 1 — There’s a new traffic pattern for the lefthand turn from southbound Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway) to 23rd Street S. in Crystal City. The change was necessitated by operations of the new Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway. [Facebook]
Aurora Hills Library Eyed As School Site — The current Aurora Hills library and senior center is being looked at by Arlington Public Schools as a possible site for a new elementary school. Meanwhile, even though nearby Oakridge Elementary is over capacity, Superintendent Patrick Murphy says there’s actually a more pressing need for additional elementary capacity in north Arlington due to population growth around the Rosslyn-Ballston and Lee Highway corridors. [InsideNova]
Australian Company Says G’Day to Ballston — The Australian investment firm QIC has taken a 49 percent stake in Ballston Quarter, the soon-to-be-renovated shopping center currently known as Ballston Common Mall. The majority of the mall is still owned by Cleveland-based Forest City. [Washington Business Journal, Crain’s Cleveland Business]
Local Named New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess — The 2016 New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess is a 24-year-old Hoboken native who now lives in the D.C. area and works at Rosslyn-based CEB. [Hudson Reporter]
CEB Acquires Portland Firm — Rosslyn-based CEB is getting bigger. The company is acquiring Portland, Oregon-based Evanta Ventures for $275 million. CEB will be moving into a new namesake CEB Tower in Rosslyn after construction wraps up in 2018. [StreetInsider]
Arlington’s Top Bond Rating Affirmed — Arlington County has once again earned the highest bond rating from the three major rating agencies. “The County works hard to maintain these AAA ratings to finance critical County infrastructure projects with bonds that carry the lowest interest rates available,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. [Arlington County]
Photo via @WLHSIBProgram
The small street connecting S. Eads Street and Route 1 in Crystal City will permanently close at the end of next week to make way for an upgraded Arlington Rapid Transit (ART) bus facility.
On Friday, Jan. 29, 32nd Street will close. The tiny road is between two existing ART bus parking lots at 3201 and 3175 S. Eads Street. The combined pieces of land will create the new site for the bus facility.
The County Board approved the $14.2 million project in May, and construction began in September. When complete, the new facility will include a two-story building, a bus wash bay, a light maintenance bay, storage, parking and four compressed natural gas fueling stations.
The decision to close 32nd Street was approved at the same meeting as the new ART facility approval. In a report for that item, county staff determined “the Abandoned Street is no longer needed to provide public access from Jefferson Davis Highway to South Eads Street.”
The next closest street connecting S. Eads Street to Route 1 is via S. Glebe Road, which is approximately 0.2 miles south of the construction site.
Construction on the new ART facility is scheduled to take about 18 months and is expected to be completed in 2017.
Photo via Google Maps
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