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JUST IN: Van on Fire Near Arlington Forest Church

(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) Firefighters battled an intense vehicle fire today in front of the Arlington Assembly of God Church, along Route 50 in the Arlington Forest neighborhood.

Initial reports suggest that a food truck caught fire, though the vehicle was later reported to be a work van. A traffic camera showed flames and a thick column of smoke coming from the van as firefighters arrived on scene. The smoke could be seen from as far away as Crystal City.

The fire was extinguished after a few minutes and no one was injured. The fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause.

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UPDATED: Man Struck By Car on Route 50

Update on 1/11/19 — The victim was an 83-year-old Arlington man, police announced today.

The pedestrian has been identified as Maynard Thaxter, 83, of Arlington, VA. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Police continue to seek witnesses and ask that anyone with additional information contact Detective S. Whalin at [email protected] 703-228-4159. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

Original article: A man has been struck and killed by a vehicle on Route 50.

The crash happened around 10:15 a.m. on the westbound lanes of Route 50 at N. Manchester Street, near the western end of Arlington County.

Traffic camera images showed a man lying motionless, face down in the street and bleeding from the head, while a man kneeled beside him, holding a phone. A Jeep could be seen stopped in the left-hand lane behind the victim; it is unclear whether that is the vehicle that struck the man and whether the man on the phone was the driver or a passerby.

Later, a white sheet was placed over the body.

All lanes of Route 50 are blocked and are being diverted onto N. Manchester. The closure is expected to last an extended period of time while police investigate the crash.

Arlington County recently completed a safety improvement project for the intersection, intended “to reduce speeding and accidents along Arlington Boulevard.”

Update at 2 p.m. — The westbound lanes of Route 50 have reopened.

Update at 2:25 p.m. — Police have issued the following press release about the fatal crash.

The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a fatal pedestrian crash that occurred on Tuesday, January 8 at the intersection of Arlington Boulevard and N. Manchester Street. At approximately 10:18 a.m., police responded to the area for the report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in the westbound lanes of Arlington Boulevard. Members of the Critical Accident Team responded to the scene and are conducting an ongoing investigation into the cause of the crash.

The pedestrian, an adult male, was pronounced deceased at the scene. The identity of the pedestrian is being withheld pending proper identification and notification of next of kin. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene.

Police are seeking witnesses to the crash and ask that anyone with additional information related to this investigation contact Detective S. Whalin at [email protected] or 703-228-4159. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477)

Editor’s note: Readers may find some of the images in the photo gallery above disturbing.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Crash on Route 50 Causing Backups

A crash at the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and Route 50 is causing significant backups.

The crash was reported around 5:45 p.m. As of 6 p.m., all westbound lanes of Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) were blocked and traffic was backing up past Courthouse.

So far there have been no reports of serious injuries.

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Arlington Boulevard Trail Changes in Lyon Park Spark Hope for Cycling Advocates

Arlington County is working on some modest improvements to the Arlington Boulevard Trail in Lyon Park, renewing hopes among cycling advocates that the trail will someday provide a fully contiguous alternative to Route 50.

The county is currently planning a series of changes on the trail as it runs near Arlington Boulevard’s intersection with N. Pershing Drive, near the Day’s Inn hotel in the area. Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services says it hopes to complete the following alterations sometime this fall:

  • Construction of a new, ADA-accessible curb ramp at the corner of N. Pershing Drive and Wainwright Road (the frontage street between Arlington Blvd and the Days Inn hotel)
  • Addition of on-street markings along the eastern portion of Wainwright Road to separate trail users from motorized traffic.
  • Removal of parking on the eastern portion of Wainwright Road.
  • Connection of the Wainwright Road on-street trail to the existing Arlington Boulevard Trail as it approaches 2nd St N.

The county envisions the new curb ramp connecting the trail to the new on-street trail along Wainwright Road, which will then connect to the rest of Arlington Boulevard trail running past the Washington and Lee Apartments.

“Arlington County expects that the markings/bollards used to delineate the trail along Wainwright Road will be short-term,” the county wrote in a NextDoor post. “Given the availability of funding, Arlington County plans to build out a curb separated trail adjacent to Wainwright Road to further increase the safety of this portion of the trail.”

The cycling advocacy blog WashCycle noted that these changes come a few months after Washington Gas replaced a pipeline in the area, leading to the repaving of the trail and the removal of some bollards nearby.

The blog hailed these latest proposed changes, noting that the trail is currently “discontinuous and below standard” and referred back to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s proposal to someday add three miles worth of trail along Arlington Boulevard as evidence of the trail’s potential for growth.

“The boulevard trails, like the ABT, MacArthur Boulevard Trail and the planned or under-construction South Capital and Washington Boulevard Trails, don’t get quite the coverage that the rail or stream trails get; but they’re [arguably] more important for transportation as they go right through the areas where people live and work,” WashCycle wrote. “The ABT has a long history and, as WABA points out, plenty of potential. It can, or already does, connect to eight trails including Rock Creek, Mt Vernon, W&OD and Cross County. As proposed by WABA, it could be a real backbone for Arlington County biking. It would be great to see this once again become a must-see trail.”

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South Arlington Water Main Breaks Cut Off Service for Thousands Overnight

A series of water main breaks in South Arlington sent workers scrambling last night into this morning, though the county now seems to have made all the necessary repairs.

The problems started around 7 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday), when the county’s Department of Environmental Services received word of pipe problems near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street.

A short time later, workers encountered another water main break not far away at S. Park Drive, just off Route 50.

By 10 p.m., they reported several other water main breaks along the pike running up to S. Dinwiddie Street as well, and determined that the S. Park Drive problem was “related” to the previous breaks. DES spokeswoman Katie O’Brien told ARLnow that the subsequent breaks all stemmed from work on the first one, located along the 5000 block of Columbia Pike.

“After the break was repaired, crews were pressurizing the water main which caused it to break again,” she said. “As a result, this caused two additional breaks in the area.”

O’Brien estimates that anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 people were left without water during the work. However, as of roughly 9 a.m., all the mains have been repaired.

DES is warning of continued repaving work in the area through the afternoon, however.

Photos 1 and 3 via @ArlingtonDES, photo 2 via @LuckyLyzzie

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Morning Notes

Fire at Retirement Home — A fire broke out in the laundry room of the Sunrise at Bluemont Park senior assisted living facility Sunday morning. The blaze was quickly extinguished, but not before filling part of the building with smoke. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Serious Crash on Arlington Blvd — Arlington County police investigated a crash involving critical injuries and a reported vehicle rollover last night on Route 50 at N. Pershing Drive. One person was transported to a local hospital. [Twitter]

DEA Staying in Pentagon City — “A federal judge has ruled against an Alexandria building owner’s efforts to lure the Drug Enforcement Administration from Pentagon City… Judge Loren Smith’s judgment, issued Thursday, effectively clears the way for the General Services Administration to award a new lease for the DEA to CSHV Lincoln Place LLC, the agency’s current landlord at 600-700 Army Navy Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]

Dragonfly Population Booming — “Your eyes are not deceiving you – there really are more dragonflies (and their cousins, damselflies) in the local area this summer. And according to Arlington naturalists, that’s a good thing.” [InsideNova]

No, Arlington’s Recycling Program Is Not Ending — Apparently a rumor has been circulating that Arlington County was ending its recycling program. A local TV station fact checked that and found, unsurprisingly, that the rumor is not true. [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Construction Wraps Up on Route 50 Intersection Improvements

Construction has wrapped up on improvements to Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) at the Manchester Street and Park Drive intersections.

According to Eric Balliet, transportation spokesperson for Arlington County, the road and lane closures around the project have come to an end and landscaping work on the surrounding area is expected to begin this fall.

The intensity of traffic in the area led the county to develop a series of improvements to reduce speeding and accidents along Arlington Boulevard. New improvements include ADA curb ramps, sidewalk improvements, high-visibility crosswalks and upgrades to the signals. New curbs and gutters, along with new trees, were added at the Park Drive intersection.

Improvements were made to the street, with new asphalt pavement and lane striping. The storm drainage pipes at the site were also upgraded.

The project had been in the design process since 2011, with construction beginning late in 2017.

Photo from Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Ballston Mall Garage Floods — “The heavy rain that roared through our region Tuesday evening did more than just saturate the ground. A parking garage near the Ballston Mall in Arlington County was transformed into a figurative beach complete with waves.” [WJLA]

Officials Reconsidering No-Left-Turn Sign on Route 50 — The late Carrie Johnson’s last act of civic activism may be bearing fruit. County officials are reaching out to the community in an effort to reconsider a no-left-turn sign on Route 50 at N. Irving Street. [InsideNova]

Proclamation for Gun Violence Awareness Day — At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Board presented the group Moms Demand Action with a proclamation declaring June 1, 2018 to be National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Arlington. [Twitter]

VHC Planning Too Rushed, Critics Say — “Plans to have the Arlington Planning Commission and County Board pass judgment on Virginia Hospital Center’s expansion plans in early July have run into community opposition, with critics saying any action then would be premature and would interfere with vacation plans of those who hope to influence the outcome.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Crime Report: Water Bottles Fly in Road Rage Incident

A driver experiencing a bout of road rage flung “cups, water bottles and other materials” at another car during the Tuesday morning commute on Route 50.

The driver apparently became enraged when another driver did not get out of her way fast enough, prompting more aggressive driving and the tossing of cups and bottles.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED VEHICLE, 2017-12190071, Arlington Boulevard at Henderson Road. At approximately 8:30 a.m. on December 19, police were dispatched to the report of an aggressive driver. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim changed lanes to allow the suspect vehicle to pass, however the suspect continued to allegedly drive aggressively and began throwing cups, water bottles and other materials at the victim vehicle. The suspect vehicle fled prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as an Asian or Hispanic female in their 20’s or 30’s, wearing sunglasses. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

ROBBERY, 2017-12190244, 3100 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 7:28 p.m. on December 19, police were dispatched to the report of a purse snatching just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim exited the metro was walking in the area when the suspect approached her from behind and grabbed the victim’s purse, knocking her to the ground, and fled on foot. Multiple witnesses pursued the suspect on foot, and the victim’s property was recovered and nothing was reported missing. Units canvased the area with negative results. The victim was uninjured. The suspect is described as a thin, black male, approximately 5’10-6’0, wearing a black hoodie, black pants and glasses. The investigation is ongoing.

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING, 2017-12180050, 800 block of S. Florida Street. At approximately 9:05 a.m. on December 18, police were dispatched to the report of destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect(s) threw a brick through the window of an occupied residence, causing damage. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2017-12170267, 700 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 11:49 p.m. on December 17, police were dispatched to the report of a possible burglary alarm. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect gained entry to a business and stole items of value. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6’0-6’4, 190-230 lbs., wearing a dark beanie, black coat, black gloves, black pants and black shoes. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2017-12150247, 2600 block of Arlington Boulevard. At approximately 7:50 p.m. on December 15, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. an unknown suspect(s) forced entry to a residence and stole items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING, 2017-12170214, 5100 block of 7th Road S. At approximately 7:00 p.m. on December 17, police were dispatched to the report of destruction of property just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect(s) threw a rock through the window of an occupied residence, causing damage. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

VEHICLE TAMPERING (series), 2017-12150104, 12150139, 12150154, 12150166, 5900 block of 35th Street N., 6500 block of 36th Street N., 6500 block of 28th Street N. 3500 block of Potomac Street N. Between 1010 p.m. on December 14 and 7:30 a.m. on December 15, approximately four mostly unlocked vehicles in the area were entered and signs of tampering were apparent in most of the vehicles. One vehicle (2017-12150124) was reported stolen and contents from inside the vehicle were located in the area. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

PEEPING, 2017-12140057, 3900 block of N. Abingdon Street. At approximately 6:28 a.m. on December 14, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person after the victims contacted the Emergency Communication Center to report a suspect allegedly peeping from their backyard. The suspect fled by vehicle prior to police arrival. With the assistance of Fairfax County Police, a perimeter was established and an Arlington K9 conducted a track of the area. A responding officer observed a suspect matching the description provided by the witnesses, conducted a traffic stop and the suspect was taken into custody without incident. Kareem Thomas, 43, of Laurel, MD, was arrested and charged with Attempted Peeping. As a result of the investigation, the suspect was charged with Peeping and Stalking related to a January 4, 2017 incident (2017-01040035).

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Busy Route 50 Intersection Set For Revamp

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.

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Morning Notes

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]

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Morning Notes

Video of Weekend ATV Riders — For the second consecutive weekend, dirt bike and ATV riders took to county roads. This time, there’s clear video of the riders taking up all lanes of traffic on Route 50 and performing stunts. [WJLA]

Operation Firesafe in Full Swing — Arlington firefighters are hitting the streets for Operation Firesafe, which is the annual free door-to-door smoke alarm and fire safety canvassing program. Firefighters travel throughout the county on Saturdays from April through October to check residents’ fire safety and to install smoke detectors. Arlington residents can request a free smoke detector online. [Arlington County Fire Department]

Teen Leadership Program Applicants Wanted — The Leadership Center for Excellence is looking for motivated rising high school juniors and seniors for its summer Leadership Arlington Youth Program. [InsideNova]

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UPDATE: Man Charged After Multi-Vehicle Crash That Closed Route 50

Route 50 was temporarily blocked at Fillmore Street during the evening rush after multiple crashes that might have been the result of an attempted hit-and-run by an impatient driver.

It started with a crash near the intersection of S. Fillmore Street and 2nd Street S. around 5:15 p.m. A resident who lives near the intersection described what happened, in an account that matched police radio traffic.

“A car attempted to pass another car on [a] narrow street [with a] cop coming the other way,” said the resident, Casey Phillips. The driver “tried to go between the two cars and hit a pregnant lady driving an SUV. Then [the] vehicle fled and wound up causing [a] much larger accident at the intersection of Fillmore and 50.”

At least four vehicles were damaged in the crashes, including the Toyota sedan driven by the suspected hit-and-run driver. Another witness, who spoke to police and to ARLnow.com, said the man tried to push through traffic at Route 50 and Fillmore and almost struck his van, as well.

The suspect was stopped just north of the intersection and handcuffed, reportedly by the officer whose cruiser was nearly involved in the first crash. An Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman could not immediately confirm whether he was arrested and will face charges.

The spokeswoman said that one person — understood to be the pregnant woman whose vehicle was struck near 2nd Street S. — was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

While the Route 50 closure lasted only a few minutes, N. Fillmore Street was blocked between Route 50 and 1st Street N. for at least an hour while multiple tow crews worked to haul away some of the vehicles involved in the incident.

Update at 4:55 p.m. — The driver, a 27-year-old Alexandria resident, was arrested and is facing multiple charges. From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ATTEMPTED MALICIOUS WOUNDING OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, 2017-02150218, Arlington Boulevard at N. Fillmore Street. At approximately 5:15 p.m. on February 15, an officer on routine patrol was driving south in the 200 block of S. Fillmore Street when a vehicle crossed the double yellow line and allegedly attempted to strike the marked patrol vehicle. The officer was able to avoid the collision and activated his emergency lights in an attempt to stop the vehicle. The suspect vehicle continued on, striking a vehicle traveling northbound. The suspect vehicle continued to drive north on S. Fillmore Street and entered the intersection with Arlington Boulevard against a red light. The suspect vehicle then struck two other vehicles. The officer was then able to stop the vehicle and take the driver into custody without further incident. Sulaiman Kanu, 27, of Alexandria Va, was arrested and charged with Attempted Malicious Wounding of a Law Enforcement Officer and Attempted Malicious Wounding (3 X).  He is being held without bond. One victim was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

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Police Investigate Three-Car Crash Along Route 50

(Updated at 10:30 p.m.) Police and firefighters responded to a serious three-vehicle crash on Arlington Blvd (Route 50) Thursday afternoon.

The collision happened on Route 50 near Glebe Road sometime after 4 p.m. One person was trapped and knocked unconscious in the crash, according to scanner traffic.

Rescuers freed the victim from the car and transported him or her to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital. It was not immediately clear how extensive that person’s injuries were.

Authorities shut down a portion of Route 50 shortly after the crash.

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Photos: Five-Vehicle Crash on Route 50

Police and firefighters responded to a five-vehicle crash on westbound Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) this afternoon.

The crash happened around 3:30 p.m. in the area of N. Columbus Street. No serious injuries were reported.

A nearby resident said crashes are common on this stretch of Route 50.

“Happens too often,” said Michael Thomas.

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