As its police force shrinks, the Arlington County Police Department is leaning on state police when extra officers are needed to maintain its nightlife detail.
Virginia State Police troopers will be helping Arlington fill staffing holes in the local nightlife team that works with bars and restaurants in Clarendon and Crystal City to keep establishments and patrons safe and to help keep order when things get out of hand.
The number of acting police officers available to staff ACPD’s various divisions has dropped amid retirements, reports of low morale, and attrition to more lucrative and less demanding private-industry jobs. In response, ACPD has turned to VSP troopers who are willing to help out with the nightlife detail, according to the county.
This past weekend the County Board approved a mutual aid agreement between the two forces that codifies compensation for troopers.
The agreement will help keep staffing for the detail steady, not add to it, ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.
“The overall staffing for the Nightlife detail is remaining the same,” she said via email, adding that ACPD does not disclose the specific number of officers. “The MOU with [VSP] provides ACPD the option of utilizing troopers to fill vacancies in the Nightlife detail, when necessary. The department began exploring additional staffing resources for the Nightlife detail in September 2021 due to a reduction in ACPD’s functional staffing.”
As part of the memorandum, troopers will be reimbursed at an overtime rate for their hours worked as well as for vehicle mileage. The county will also pay a 10% fee to VSP for “administrative and accounting costs associated with the provided services,” the report said.
The detail patrols spots in Clarendon and Crystal City as part of the Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI), which was founded in 2016 to tackle alcohol-related crimes in Clarendon and has since expanded to Crystal City.
Through ARI — in which police patrol area bars, train employees and meet with businesses — Clarendon’s crime rates have dropped, according to the county. The detail also looks out for misbehaving bar patrons, who can be banned from all establishments that participate in Arlington’s Bar Safe program as a result of public drunkenness or more serious crimes.
Between January and September, there have been 32 Bar Safe violations, according to Arlington police data. Rates peaked in the summer, when bars fully reopened, as did the number of fake IDs. The detail confiscated 572 fake IDs during the same time period.
While many alcohol-related crimes dropped from 2019 to 2020 due to COVID-related business closures, the detail has noticed the nightlife crowd increasing every month since the state reopened, according to a monthly police report.
With that, new safety problems have arisen: last month, there were six reports of spiked drink in Clarendon and Crystal City bars.
The collaboration between ACPD and VSP was not the only agreement that received County Board approval. On Saturday, the Board approved a mutual aid agreement with U.S. Capitol Police after 50 Arlington officers helped secure the U.S. Capitol building during the “Justice for J6” rally this fall.
The rally on Sept. 18. was held in support of those charged after the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by a large pro-Trump mob. It was widely reported as a flop that did not draw the expected crowds while still costing government agencies hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The county says both of these mutual aid agreements exemplify ACPD’s commitment to regional partnerships.
“The Police Department is an active member, throughout the region, in providing mutual aid assistance,” a county staff report said. “This effort allows for the appropriate utilization of resources both within and outside of the County. Our commitment to regional partnerships greatly enhances the safety and well-being of the citizenry.”
A busy street in the East Falls Church neighborhood is slated to get safer crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.
Arlington County has selected N. Sycamore Street between Langston Blvd and 19th Street N. — near the East Falls Church Metro station and not far from the W&OD Trail — as site of a new Complete Streets project. This segment “presents intersection crossing challenges for bicyclists and pedestrians,” according to the project webpage.
The intersection of N. Sycamore Street and Washington Blvd, within the project’s boundaries, was the site of a fatal crash last Wednesday. Prior to the crash, the street segment has seen one serious collision between 2013 and this summer: one with severe injuries in 2019, according to Arlington County crash data.
The webpage for the project went live two weeks ago, says Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Kathryn O’Brien. County staff will soon solicit public feedback that will be used to develop a concept plan.
“Existing Conditions Feedback will kick off later in November,” O’Brien said. “This feedback, along with other data and planning guidance, will help staff formulate a concept design. Once staff have developed a community-informed concept, that concept will be shared for additional public feedback.”
Funding for changes to N. Sycamore Street, first identified as having a need for safety upgrades in 2011, was included in the 2022-24 Capital Improvements Plan adopted this summer. It’s been a long road to get the project on the schedule, however.
Staff developed preliminary plans in 2015 and, in 2016, twice applied unsuccessfully for transportation grants for the 2018 fiscal year, O’Brien said.
“This project was deferred as part of the FY 2021 CIP, due to revenue constraints because of COVID,” she said.
Since 2011, staff have studied the street twice and have some hypothetical designs on hand as a result.
In 2015, the county received a grant to study ways to improve pedestrian and cycling access to the East Falls Church Metro station, once a popular station to ride to that is still recovering from the pandemic-era hit to commuting. A new $2 million, 92-spot bike facility to accommodate cyclists made its debut in August 2020.
Four years later, the county received a grant to study a gap in the W&OD Trail, where trail users are routed through Benjamin Banneker Park and residential streets.
Improved crossings at 19th Street N. could be an interim solution to the gap, according to the project page.
Although this transportation project’s scope is bound by 19th Street N. and Langston Blvd, eventually, the county envisions improved bicycle amenities further up and down N. Sycamore Street.
“The 2019 adopted Bicycle Element of the Master Transportation Plan recommends N. Sycamore Street as an enhanced bicycle facility between Williamsburg Blvd and the East Falls Church line,” the project page says.
The project is funded with a mix of Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, local and state funding, plus bond funds.
Hat tip to Stephen Repetski
There’s been a rash of reported drink spiking incidents in Clarendon and Crystal City, according to Arlington police.
The Arlington County Police Department says that it received six reports last month from women who believed their drinks were spiked.
“In each case, the female victims reported experiencing loss of consciousness and memory loss after visiting various nightlife establishments in Clarendon and Crystal City on weekend evenings and believe their drinks may have been tampered with,” the department said in a press release this morning (Friday).
Drink spiking, when someone puts alcohol or drugs into someone else’s drink without their knowledge or permission, is illegal in Virginia.
“These incidents remain active criminal investigations and the preliminary investigations have not identified a link between the reported cases,” ACPD said.
Police shared the following nightlife safety tips in response to the spate of spiking.
ACPD wants you to have a safe and enjoyable night out and is sharing these tips to help safeguard your drink:
- Never leave your drink unattended
- Avoid sharing drinks with others
- Do not accept drinks from strangers
- If someone you do not know offers you a drink and you accept, go to the bar with them and have the drink served directly to you
- If you did not see your drink poured, do not drink it
- Keep an eye on your friends and their drinks
If you think your drink may be spiked or observe an individual spiking a drink, take action right away by calling 9-1-1.
If you suspect drink spiking or drug-assisted sexual assault, help is always available. Crisis response resources are available 24/7:
- Arlington County Police, 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency
- Doorways Dating/Domestic/Sexual Violence Hotline, 703-237-0881
- Inova Forensic Assessment and Consultation Team (Forensic Exams), 703-776-4001 (ask to page a FACT Nurse)
ACPD has partnered with County agencies to establish the Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI) to raise the standards of restaurants that serve alcohol, streamline processes within the County Government and maintain Arlington County as a safe destination for nightlife and entertainment. ARI provides training on various topics, including drink spiking, to improve patron safety. Restaurants can email the Restaurant Liaison for information on future training opportunities.
Photo via Georg Pirrung/Wikimedia Commons
If you’re a long-time local with kids, you know the drill. But for others, a refresher on Arlington’s Halloween habits may be in order.
Unlike some local jurisdictions in other parts of the country, Arlington does not designate a day and time for trick-or-treating. Instead, the annual, costumed candy-gathering spree traditionally takes place on Halloween (Oct. 31), starting just before sunset (around 6 p.m.).
The door knocking typically ends around 8 p.m., though some stragglers will remain out later.
This year, Halloween is taking place on a Sunday, so trick-or-treaters will be unencumbered by evening rush hour traffic. But Arlington County is still urging caution for anyone out that night.
Here are some general tips for planning your Halloween evening, from past years:
- Children should be accompanied by an adult.
- Choose a neighborhood or street you’re familiar with or is known for getting in the spirit.
- Houses with the outside lights are the ones expecting and ready for trick-or-treaters.
- Expect the older, non-costumed crowds later in the evening.
- If you’re passing out treats, turn the outside lights off when you run out.
Additionally, the Arlington County Police Department recommends that parents check the candy gathered by their kids, and offered the following safety tips.
- See and be seen! Select bright costumes, add reflective tape and/or carry flashlights and glow sticks.
- Plan your trick-or-treat route in advance. Stick to familiar neighborhoods and well-lit streets.
- Never send children out alone. Younger children should be with a trusted adult. Ensure older children take friends and stay together.
- Walk on sidewalks and cross at corners, using traffic signals and/or crosswalks.
- Motorists are encouraged to slow down, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn on your headlights earlier in the evening to spot children from greater distances.
With Covid still haunting us, the county also suggested some alternatives to trick-or-treating for those worried about their health. Barring that, “the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible,” the county said.
This year’s Covid-related recommendations were a bit less stringent than last year.
“If you’re planning to hand out candy this year, it is recommended that you stand at least 6 feet away from the candy bowl, consider wearing a mask (especially if you are unvaccinated), and encourage kids to choose sweets one at a time,” said a county press release. “When trick-or-treating, [the Virginia Dept. of Health] encourages staying outside, bringing hand sanitizer, and for unvaccinated children to wear a mask (or have one with them in case they visit crowded locations).”
Arlington is offering a few kid-friendly, pre-Halloween activities this year, including a “ghosts campfire” at Fort C.F. Smith Park (2411 24th Street N.) set for Friday evening and a “fear factor” event at Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road) Sunday at noon.
It’s been a common occurrence lately, documented by public safety watchdog Dave Statter: Virginia State Police engage in high-speed chases on I-395 but abandon them at the D.C. line.
That’s because VSP’s loose restrictions for initiating a chase tighten when troopers reach state lines.
“Sworn employees may initiate a pursuit when a driver fails to stop after the sworn employee has given a lawful order to stop by activating emergency lights and/or siren,” according to state police chase policy. But anyone being chased for a possible misdemeanor or traffic violation, who manages to reach D.C., is in the clear.
“Unless the violator’s offense is a felony, sworn employees will discontinue pursuit at the state line,” the policy says. “If the violator is being pursued in connection with a felony offense (in addition to felony eluding police), the pursuit may continue into the District of Columbia or any adjoining state except Kentucky with the approval of a supervisor.”
It almost is a nightly event — @VSPPIO giving a driver a high speed escort into DC via I-395N. This pursuit was at 1 am and, as usual, was cut off at the 14th Street Bridge. @WTOPtraffic @WTOP @ARLnowDOTcom @CordellTraffic #police #traffic #vatraffic #dctraffic #395cam #STATcam pic.twitter.com/UjFFaWbMLh
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) October 15, 2021
Another high speed escort into DC. @VSPPIO chased a stolen vehicle from I-495, north on I-395 and across the 14th Street Bridge. This one was so fast & so far ahead it was hard to follow. @WTOPtraffic @ARLnowDOTcom @CordellTraffic #police #pursuit #traffic #vatraffic #395cam pic.twitter.com/sGULmDpUbz
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) October 20, 2021
Asked about which types of incidents typically lead to troopers calling things off at the 14th Street Bridge, and which lead to chases continuing into the District, VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller said “there’s no one-size-fits-all answer that I can provide.”
“In accordance with Virginia State Police policy, each pursuit is assessed on a case-by-case basis,” she said. “The trooper and supervisor will assess the pursuit based on the variety of factors that are known and unknown at every stage of the pursuit, which will then determine if/when it is in the best of the interest of the public to terminate a pursuit.”
Sometimes, of course, police are able to stop fleeing drivers before they enter the District. Statter posted video of state police stopping a vehicle and making an arrest with guns drawn on I-395 near the Pentagon this past weekend.
.@VSPPIO with guns drawn on a traffic stop on I-395N across from the Pentagon. No delays, but be careful, only left lane gets by. @WTOPtraffic @ARLnowDOTcom #police #traffic #vatraffic pic.twitter.com/h7hu708aGf
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) October 23, 2021
If VSP chases a suspect in Arlington County, local police can and have helped nab suspects, but Arlington County Police Department policy specifies officers can only give chase when there’s a serious crime involved. While both have jurisdiction on state highways in Arlington, VSP predominantly handles enforcement there, ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage says.
Arlington officers can only give chase if there is probable cause that a driver or occupant has committed a violent felony or an offense involving the use or threatened use of a firearm, or has warrants on file for either reason. Additionally, ACPD officers can give chase if the pursuit could “abate a danger of a substantial likelihood of death or serious bodily injury,” the policy reads.
When they reach county lines, officers don’t have to stop, but they should consider their “level of familiarity” with the area, per the policy.
While Arlington police will maintain a lookout for a vehicle that flees from them on traffic or minor charges — searching the area without giving chase — the only other recourse in the moment is to notify state police and other local and federal law enforcement agencies.
As for joining other pursuits, the ACPD policy says “officers shall not join in a pursuit initiated by another jurisdiction that enters Arlington County unless the driver or occupant is wanted for any of the above-listed offenses.”
(Updated on 9/22/21) A serious but previously unreported Metro incident in Arlington was revealed during a safety meeting on Tuesday.
The incident on Saturday, May 8 involved a Metro rider who ignored signs and tried to walk between railcars between the Clarendon and Courthouse stations, according to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, which released details at its meeting this afternoon.
While between the railcars, the rider slipped and fell off the moving train, landing on the tracks, according to the commission. Somewhat miraculously, they were reportedly able to walk to the Clarendon station, avoiding the electrified third rail and passing trains, before getting back on a train and ultimately taking a bus to Tysons.
The commission noted during its meeting that Metro trains have a “stop” sign and the words “Do not open, emergency use only” on the doors between railcars.
Metro only became aware of what happened 11 hours later, around 9 a.m., when a family member of the rider called to report it. ARLnow could not find any tips or social media posts from the time that mentioned the incident.
An incident report from the commission suggests that the victim was the son of a WMATA employee and that he was seriously injured despite being able to make it to Tysons.
“The investigation identified the location where the person had fallen, and found a significant amount of blood in that area of the tunnel,” the report says. “Additional blood traces were found in the platform area where the injured person had been.”
Surveillance video showed the person in the Clarendon station about an hour after falling off the train. He “showed signs of being injured” in subsequent video at the Vienna and Tysons stations.
“The person was observed holding their right arm, did not have shoes on, and appeared in disarray,” the report says. He was later interviewed by Metro Transit Police Police at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where was treated for his injuries.
More from WMSC:
A customer who was walking between two railcars on a moving train using the end-of-car doors slipped and fell off the train.
— Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (@MetrorailSafety) September 21, 2021
Forward-facing video from a following train shows something on the roadway near the third rail just before Clarendon Station. Based on the totality of the evidence, this was most likely the injured person.
— Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (@MetrorailSafety) September 21, 2021
Approximately an hour after falling, the rider walked through the tunnel to the Clarendon Station platform. They waited on the platform, boarded another train to Vienna Station, then took a bus to Tysons Corner Station.
— Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (@MetrorailSafety) September 21, 2021
Metrorail has safety warning signage on end-of-railcar doors stating that the doors are for emergency use only. This includes a stop sign, and the words “Do not open, emergency use only”. pic.twitter.com/6jdMvTjFIn
— Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (@MetrorailSafety) September 21, 2021
“More travelers will soon be on our roadways as students begin walking, bicycling, and riding the bus to school when classes resume on Monday,” the department said in a release said. “With a little awareness and prevention, all travelers can arrive at their destinations in a timely and safe manner.”
It’s the first time APS students will be in class five days per week since before the pandemic.
Good morning! Our drivers are getting their buses ready to pick up students all over the county. They’ll see your students soon! Have a great first day! #APSBack2School #APSisAwesome pic.twitter.com/MJISzQAYvU
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) August 30, 2021
Motorists will see variable message boards on county roadways reminding them to slow down, avoid distractions and watch for students, according to the release. The “high-visibility transportation safety campaign in and around school zones and bus stops” is intended “to ensure the trip to class is as safe as possible.”
Police recommend families talk to their kids about safety, too.
“Safety is everyone’s responsibility and back-to-school is an opportune time to remind students about important steps that can help keep them safe while out in the community,” the department said.
The police department and Arlington Public Schools published a video with safety reminders.
The press release included the following safety tips for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
Transportation Safety Tips
Drivers are reminded to:
- Obey speed limits which may change during school zone times.
- Avoid distracted driving and keep your attention on the road.
- Watch for students walking and riding bikes to school.
- Don’t pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading passengers.On a two-lane road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
- On a multi-lane paved road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
- On a divided highway, vehicles behind the bus must stop. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction may proceed with caution.
- Have all vehicle occupants wear their seatbelts.
- Pick-up and drop-off students in designated locations.
Pedestrians are reminded to:
- Cross the street at marked crosswalks and never against a red light.
- Look before you cross and follow the direction of school crossing guards or APS staff members.
- Always walk on designated sidewalks or paths, never along the side of a road.
Bicyclists are reminded to:
- Wear your helmet. Helmets are required for riders ages 14 and younger but are recommended for all.
- Keep right and ride with traffic.
- Secure your bicycle with a lock when not in use
General Safety Tips for Students
Safety is everyone’s responsibility and back-to-school is an opportune time to remind students about important steps that can help keep them safe while out in the community. Parents and guardians are also encouraged to role-play possible situations with students and discuss personal safety and awareness tips.
- Know their address, telephone number and how to contact a parent or guardian.
- Remain aware of their surroundings.
- Walk or bike with another person, whenever possible. Stay in well-lit areas.
- Limit the use of devices that may distract them.
- Avoid engaging with or answering questions from strangers.
- Immediately report anything that makes them feel unsafe to a trusted adult.
(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) A Canadian boxing gym franchise designed to help women develop strength and self-defense skills is opening its first Virginia location in Ballston.
“It was the right market at the right time,” she tells ARLnow.
30 Minute Hit aims to help women and girls ages 13 and older feel empowered and safe with 30-minute circuits that combine cardio and strengthening. The gym will cater to its female clientele by offering places for children to play, keeping sessions short and not on a class schedule and hosting community events, she said.
“A lot of women we talk to love boxing and martial arts but are intimidated in boxing gyms because it’s a male-dominated environment,” the franchise owner said. “[At 30 Minute Hit] you’re not competing. You’re in a safe space with other women.”
The facility is also in touch with the needs of busy moms and working women, she said.
“There will be a child play area, a place where you can park your kid with a book or a game,” she said.
Unlike other gyms, 30 Minute Hit will not have set classes. Instead, boxers of all experience levels can come anytime within open hours to complete a half-hour circuit, which consists of multiple two-minute rounds of boxing, kickboxing, general self-defense and core training across 13 stations.
McGiffert said the 30 Minute Hit location will not just help women get stronger — it will also build community, drawing on mix of young professionals and families in the area.
“We do community events and happy hours. One popular day is the day you can bring a non-female person to the gym like a son or husband to workout for a day,” McGiffert said. “We do a lot of things that go beyond the circuit.”
Those who are interested can sign up for a free trial for one circuit with coaching from an instructor. To access unlimited circuits, clients can pay $109 a month for a two-year membership, $119 a month for a one-year membership, or $129 month-to-month.
The gym is open Monday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon and 4-8 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 4-8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.
A mobility advocacy group is asking the county to build a three-year plan for funding projects that make non-car transit faster, more desirable and safer.
And the group, Sustainable Mobility, is trying to capitalize on signs that people are interested in bicycling and walking more coming out of the pandemic.
“We have to seize that opportunity before everybody gets into their cars again,” said Chris Slatt, the group’s president, who is also chair of the Transportation Commission and an opinion columnist on ARLnow. “This is an inflection point. Arlington has let too many opportunities pass during COVID-19 — we never achieved open streets, when people demanded more space to walk, sit and eat — we need them to do better now.”
Its recommendations respond to a draft document outlining the large projects that Arlington County intends to embark on over the next three years. This plan, called the Capital Improvement Plan, is winding its way through review processes and is set to be approved by the County Board in July.
Volunteers from Sustainable Mobility, or SusMo, combed through the transportation projects and identified a handful to nix, postpone or kick to developers for funding and implementation, which they say could free up about $17 million that could fund 20 projects or programs.
- Funding Vision Zero
- Speeding up transit
- Building safe routes to every school
- Building out the bike network for all ages and abilities
- Expanding and connecting the trail network
“None of what’s in our plan is really our idea,” Slatt said. “It is all things that are in sector plans, projects that… the county already has [identified], projects that were identified in the bicycle element of the Master Transportation Plan, or just ways to fund priorities that Arlington says they already have.”
- Changing the signals to reduce the time buses spend at intersections
- Completing the Arlington Blvd Trail
- Conducting a feasibility study of dedicated transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Columbia Pike
- All-door bus boarding and off-vehicle fare collection, to speed up buses
- A trail on the west side of Carlin Springs road, with a connection to the W&OD Trail, to provide a safer route to Kenmore Middle School
- Protected bike lanes on S. George Mason Drive between Route 7 and Route 50, providing a safe connection to Wakefield High School
- Additional capital funding for other Safe Routes to School projects
- Protected bike lanes on a portion of N. Highland Street in Clarendon
- A two-way protected bike lane on Fairfax Drive between Ballston and Clarendon
- Other “neighborhood bikeways”
Some projects are already in the County Manager’s draft Capital Improvement Program proposal, including a feasibility study for a trail underpass under Shirlington Road near the Weenie Beenie, and a new trail along the Arlington National Cemetery wall between Columbia Pike and Memorial Avenue.
It’s official: The Virginia Department of Transportation recommends turning Route 1, which is elevated over 12th, 15th and 18th streets, into an at-grade urban boulevard.
“An at-grade configuration for Route 1 provides most desirable characteristics that meet the multimodal and community vision for National Landing,” according to presentation materials from a virtual VDOT meeting Wednesday.
The news caps off one year of study, but is not much of a surprise, as the at-grade solution seemed to emerge as the likely recommendation over the last few months despite some concerns about it being more dangerous for pedestrians. But the newest version appears to take into account concerns among some over the number of lanes, pedestrian safety, and the possibility of traffic overflow onto local streets.
The surface-level Route 1 that VDOT envisions would have wide buffered sidewalks on both sides, six to seven narrowed travel lanes, a 30-mph speed limit, wide crosswalks for pedestrians and bicycles, landscaping and medians with pedestrian refuges.
That is a few lanes fewer than the nine-lane option for the intersection with 15th Street S. that VDOT floated earlier this year. Last night’s presentation said eight- and nine-lane options are “not conducive for pedestrians or the vision for Crystal City.”
According to the presentation, however, even these improvements will not significant reduce crashes and increase pedestrian safety, increase transit effectiveness, or reduce vehicle traffic along an at-grade Route 1.
VDOT indicated two things will be needed to make an at-grade Route 1 safer. First is a travel demand management (TDM) strategy to bring down traffic levels. Second, and in response to public comments, the department said it will consider a separated pedestrian crossing over or under Route 1 at 18th Street S.
A “comprehensive and effective TDM strategy that reduces traffic volumes 20% to 30% below existing volumes” will “reduce future congestion and future diversion of traffic to local and regional roads,” according to the presentation materials.
The pedestrian crossing study would look at cost, aesthetics, use, construction feasibility, maintenance and accessibility, the presentation said. Possibilities for grade-separated crossings include a pedestrian underpass, a tunnel connection to the Crystal City underground, or a pedestrian bridge over Route 1.
Both the TDM and pedestrian crossing proposals will be explored in a second phase of the study. The next phase will likely further examine the department’s third recommendation — based on a concept requested by Arlington County staff — to allow all turns at 15th Street S. but no left turns at 18th Street S., near the Crystal City Metro station.
Realizing the urban boulevard vision could cost $180 million, which is less than the $260 million VDOT projects would be needed to create a split-level highway for through-traffic and local traffic, as envisioned in the ten-year-old Crystal City Sector Plan.
The National Landing Business Improvement District has been a champion of turning Route 1 into an urban boulevard. It recently released renderings of a road transformed by protected bike lanes, pedestrian refuges and prominent sidewalks, as part of a new campaign, “People Before Cars,” which has featured outdoor signs and public advocacy.
The state transportation department is accepting public comments on these recommendations through July 12. A draft report will come out in August and a final report in September.
Across the country, vehicular fatalities are on the rise.
According to new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2020 had the highest number of crash fatalities in more than a decade, despite a 13% drop in overall miles driven.
“While Americans drove less in 2020 due to the pandemic, NHTSA’s early estimates show that an estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes — the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007,” the agency revealed last week. “This represents an increase of about 7.2 percent as compared to the 36,096 fatalities reported in 2019.”
Arlington has not seen the same level of fatal crashes, particularly those involving pedestrians, as neighboring D.C. But county leaders are still focused on reducing serious crashes via a new Vision Zero Action Plan approved by the Arlington County Board last month.
One way to get drivers to slow down is more active police enforcement — something that more than 80% of ARLnow poll respondents supported in 2016. But that’s a tough proposition with police departments struggling to recruit new officers and ACPD focused on more pressing criminal matters.
County officials have been asking the state for the authority to place more red light and speed cameras around Arlington. In a partial victory, state lawmakers and Gov. Ralph Northam passed a law last year that allows speed cameras at school crossings, something Arlington has yet to take advantage of.
Putting aside what the county can do within the bounds of state law at the moment, do you — in general — support placing more red light and speed enforcement cameras around Arlington?