Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Labor Rule Violations Alleged at Temporary HQ2 Projects — “A union is charging that employers at six construction projects that will house Amazon employees or operations in Northern Virginia have evaded federal and state taxes by misclassifying workers, failing to carry workers’ compensation coverage and avoiding overtime pay.” [Washington Post]

Beyer Voting Yes on Impeachment — “The facts allow for no other interpretation: President Trump violated his oath of office to faithfully execute the laws. In order to cover up his offenses, he engaged in unprecedented obstruction of Congress’s oversight power and role as an equal branch of government.” [Press Release]

Voting Precinct Changes Planned — “Voters in two Arlington precincts will see their polling locations changed in 2020. Those in Overlee Knolls (Precinct 017) will move from the Reed School at 1644 North McKinley Road… Those in Rosslyn (Precinct 019) will move from 1911 Fort Myer Drive to the new H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program building.” [InsideNova]

How Arlington’s Streets Got Renamed — “If you harbor gripes that our county government gets too ambitious, consider an episode from the 1930s. In what probably ranks as the most disruptive Arlington project ever, our entire street grid was renamed.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Road Closures for Wreaths Across America — “The annual Wreaths Across America escort of handmade, balsam wreaths destined for Arlington National Cemetery will begin arriving in Arlington County on Friday… On Saturday, December 14th, several thousand volunteers will descend upon the Cemetery and help lay wreaths on every gravesite throughout the property beginning at 8 AM. The public can anticipate large crowds and heavy pedestrian traffic related to the event.” [Arlington County, YouTube]

Holiday Arts and Crafts Show in Crystal City This Weekend — “GRUMP is back for its 9th year, returning to The Shops at Crystal City at 2100 Crystal Drive. GRUMP Crystal City is where you can shop local from 50 exciting artists and makers and stop for a photo op with one of our many Yetis.” [Event Calendar]

Nearby: Police Warn of Abduction Attempt — “City of Falls Church Police are seeking a suspect in an attempted abduction… The suspect is wanted for questioning after he approached a juvenile outside of a grocery store and told the juvenile to leave with him. The suspect left when the juvenile’s mother returned.” [City of Falls Church]

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Arlington’s fleet of street sweepers will be hitting the streets less often due to budget cuts.

Shani Kruljac, operations manager with the the Department of Environmental Services (DES) Solid Waste Bureau, told ARLnow yesterday (Monday) that cuts in the fiscal year 2020 budget brought the county’s sweep fleet from five to four trucks.

“These cuts resulted in a reduction of residential sweeping service from seven passes per year to four passes, as well as a reduction in protected bike lane sweeping from seven to four passes per year,” she said.

The reduction only applies to residential neighborhoods, however. The sweeping schedule for commercial areas remains the same — 26 passes a year.

The new schedule went into effect with the new budget on July 1.

The next residential sweep is scheduled for this Friday, October 25 in Waverly Hills, Woodmont, Maywood, and Cherrydale (as well as the Cherrydale Nature Center.) Kruljac told ARLnow that DES also revised the neighborhood groupings for sweeping (“zones”) in July for greater efficiency.

Debris left on the street can make its way into storm drains and either clog them or pollute the waterways it washes into.

“We anticipate collecting 1,000 tons of debris on the new sweeping schedule this fiscal year, as compared to 1,500 tons collected in Fiscal Year 2019,” said Kruljac, when asked whether fewer sweepings meant more debris in the storm sewer system. “Whether or not the uncollected debris finds its way into the storm sewer system is dependent on the weather and other variables.”

She added that DES does not currently have plans to ask for more money to boost the sweeping schedule during the county’s upcoming fiscal year 2021 budget deliberations.

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Arlington County has pledged to inspect the Madison Manor neighborhood’s sewers more often after sewage flooded homes last month for the third time since 2001.

“Typically, our maintenance program calls for inspections of our sewer pipes every four years; however, we have more aggressive schedules of 1, 3 and 6 months for known problem areas,” said Jessica Baxter, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Services.

“Given the most recent blockage on April 7, 2019, Water Sewer Streets crews will now be monitoring, inspecting and cleaning this location on a six-month rotation,” Baxter added.

Sewage flooded five homes on N. Powhatan Street on April 7, which required crews to work through the night to address the underlying blockage, ARLnow previously reported.

“Three houses on the street were flooded with county sewage both in [2008] and in 2001,” wrote three Madison Manor residents in a letter to ARLnow this week. “On April 7, when the county sewage system failed us for a third time, five houses were affected.”

Tree roots blocking the sewer main caused the first two floods, Baxter said, with debris in the sewer main causing the most recent backup. The county lined the pipes in 2002 to protect from intruding tree roots, she said. It also added a second pipe segment downstream in 2008 to improve flow.

Each flood of raw sewage cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars, according to copies of bills and insurance claims reviewed by ARLnow.

One neighborhood resident, Anne Riley, said her home was flooded all three times, with the latest flood costing $18,000. She wrote in an email that she is submitting a claim to her homeowners insurance but will have to foot her policy’s $2,000 deductible.

“Three times in 20 years is ridiculous,” Riley said. “We don’t even know all we lost.”

Another neighbor, Dave Oaks, said he couldn’t supply receipts for the flood damages to his home in 2001 and 2008 because they were stored in boxes in the basement — which were destroyed in last month’s flood.

Oaks noted the damages from this year’s flood will “run into the tens of thousands” and shared the costs he’s incurred so far:

  • Remove the filth, damaged furniture and contents, salvage and store remaining contents, de-water, dry and disinfect, remove the bottom 3 feet of drywall, all flooring, doors, and baseboards, haul off all the debris (initial estimate ~$8,500)
  • Rebuild walls, doors, baseboards, flooring, re-set bathroom fixtures, paint (initial estimate ~$11,500)
  • Replace washer, dryer, water heater (estimate ~$2,800)
  • Replace contents (no idea since we haven’t finished our inventory)
  • $500 insurance deductible

Neighbor Karen Lewis cited similar costs for the April flood. She told ARLnow that she spent $9,900 so far to inspect the furnace and remove her basement’s contaminated drywall, carpeting, downstairs shower, and hot water heater.

“Our homeowners insurance company estimates the rebuilding costs will be at least $16,000, before even beginning to replace our destroyed or contaminated furnishings and possessions,” she said.

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Have you seen Arlington utility workers feeding what looks like a giant flat worm into your neighborhood manhole?

The process is part of a project to repair sewers countywide. This week, you’ll spot workers on the 6000 block of 2nd Street N., and between W. Glebe Road and S. Fern Street on S. Glebe Road, according to Peter Golkin, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Services.

Above is a video that takes you down the sewer to see the process for yourself. The February video shows work on the four-mile “relief” sewer line along S. Glebe Road, which failed an inspection in 2015 because the pipe’s eroded interior. Digging up and replacing even 75 percent of the pipe could take up to a year and cost millions of dollars, workers said, which is why the county reuses pipes like this one by fixing the inside.

Workers feed a giant, flat polyester and fiber glass bag into sections of the pipe via the manholes. Then they heat up the so-called “cured in place pipe” with steam or hot water to cook resin in the bag. As the beat is “cured” for several hours it begins inflate around the interior of the pipe and harden.

The whole process takes about a day from start to finish and the newly outfitted pipes have an estimated lifespan of 50 years, per the county’s website. Relined pipes also have a better “flow capacity,” meaning they can move more sewage. But best of all, they prevent utility workers from having to rip up the streets.

“As you’d imagine, the savings in terms of money and time are substantial with relining,” Golkin told ARLnow. “At least half the cost, not to mention fewer months and traffic disruptions.”

Arlington hires contractors every year as part of a $16-million-dollar Capital Improvement Program to reline about seven miles of the county’s sewers.

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The County Board is set to approve a construction contract that would install the final “missing link” of sidewalk along Old Dominion Drive.

Sidewalk installation would run along the eastbound side of Old Dominion Drive, between N. Thomas Street and Fire Station No. 3. The fire station is approximately 440 feet from Military Road.

Proposed sidewalk enhancements include “ADA curb ramps, crosswalks, and provisions for future streetlights.”

This is the last section of sidewalk installed on Old Dominion Drive east of 37th Street N. County documents note that the project has been coordinated with the nearby Stratford School Project.

Tree removal along Old Dominion Road began earlier this year in anticipation of sidewalk construction.

The County Manager’s office has recommended approving the $789,324 contract to the Capitol Heights, Md.-based Sagres Construction Corporation.

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Editor’s Note: Earlier this month we ran an article based on a county-produced video that profiled the Arlington Department of Environmental Services. Within hours, the video was pulled down. County spokespeople later explained that the video was accidentally uploaded in an incomplete form. The video has since been re-uploaded, and we’re posting it and much of the original article again for the benefit of readers.

With about 375 full-time employees and an operating budget of more than $70 million, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services is in charge of maintaining the county’s streets, street signs, street lights, water lines, and sewers. It also collects your trash and leaves, runs the county’s snow plows and operates transit programs.

A new video (above) from Arlington County explores the many ways DES is a part of our every day lives.

The video contains a number of staggering facts about the infrastructure within our 26 square mile county, the smallest self-governing county — geographically — in the United States.

For instance, Arlington maintains 961 lane miles of roads, some 100,000 traffic signs, 526 miles of water lines, and enough sanitary sewer lines to stretch from here to Boston, Mass. Also featured in the video: a new remote-controlled camera that searches sewer lines for pipes that have broken due to tree roots and other factors.

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Update at 3:20 p.m. — The county has removed the video. The video was not supposed to have been made public yet, says Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy.

The Department of Environmental Services may be Arlington County government’s largest single department.

With about 375 full-time employees and an operating budget of more than $70 million, the department is in charge of maintaining the county’s streets, street signs, street lights, water lines, and sewers. It also collects your trash and leaves, runs the county’s snow plows and operates transit programs.

A new video (above) from Arlington County explores the many ways DES is a part of our every day lives.

The video contains a number of staggering facts about the infrastructure within our 26 square mile county, the smallest self-governing county — geographically — in the United States.

For instance, Arlington maintains 961 lane miles of roads, some 100,000 traffic signs, 526 miles of water lines, and enough sanitary sewer lines to stretch from here to Boston, Mass. Also featured in the video: a new remote-controlled camera that searches sewer lines for pipes that have broken due to tree roots and other factors.

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An employee with the county’s Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau was struck in the head by a falling branch this afternoon while working at Washington Boulevard and North Nicholas Street, in the Highland Park neighborhood near Westover Village.

The accident happened around 1:00 p.m. when a backhoe struck part of a tree, causing the branch to fall about seven feet onto the employee’s head, according to Arlington County Chief Fire Marshal Benjamin Barksdale.

Although the accident initially sounded serious, Barksdale says the employee was taken to Virginia Hospital Center with only a minor head wound.

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