Arlington Pitching Brainpower to Amazon — Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins plans to emphasize Arlington’s highly-educated workforce — 70 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher — in trying to woo Amazon’s new headquarters to the county. [Washington Business Journal]
Animal Control Called for Normal Raccoon — Someone called animal control to report a raccoon “acting strangely” on the 600 block of S. Carlin Springs Drive last week. An animal control officer responded and determined that “its behavior was normal.” [Twitter]
Snowblower Application Deadline Nearing — Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation loans out snowblowers to groups of residents, on the condition that they agree to clear sidewalks for neighbors in need, in front of bus stops, etc. The application deadline for this coming winter is Oct. 13. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA
Arlington’s snow removal ordinance requires that sidewalks be shoveled within 24 hours of the end of a snow event with six inches or less of accumulation. As far as the county is concerned, Tuesday’s snowstorm ended at 2 p.m., and thus the sidewalk deadline today is 2 p.m.
If you’ve procrastinated, you might be in for a tough task. Temperatures in the low 20s means that uncleared snow and sleet has turned into a barely penetrable mat of ice.
— Russell Imrie (@tweedyBard) March 15, 2017
Approved this past summer, the new policy had snow crews clearing major roads and neighborhood streets concurrently, a change from the previous practice of only tackling neighborhood streets after arterial streets were totally clear.
The old policy led to complaints (and snow vigilantism) from residents that by the time crews got to their neighborhood, the snow had become so compacted or icy that it was hard for the plows to fully remove.
So how did the snow crews do? Let us know below. (As of 8 a.m., the snow clearing effort was still underway, with crews in the fourth and final phase, cleaning up remaining trouble spots.)
Arlington County brine trucks could be seen pretreating roads around Clarendon earlier this afternoon. VDOT, meanwhile, says it’s preparing for a potentially messy Thursday evening and Friday morning commute.
“Road crews are conducting anti-icing activities today and tomorrow,” VDOT said in a press release. “Please watch for crews as they stage along roads prior to the storm. Crews will treat roads with salt and sand as needed once the storm begins Thursday afternoon, plow in areas where and if snow totals reach two inches, and will remain on duty throughout the course of the storm.”
The snow is not expected to amount to much — maybe just a dusting to an inch. But even a small amount of snow could cause slippery conditions and virtual gridlock.
With snow expected tomorrow afternoon, crews have been pre-treating the roads today and will continue this evening and tomorrow. #ARLwx
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) January 4, 2017
Our first snow is almost here! Expect snow to impact Thurs PM & Fri AM rush. Check wx & modify trip times. https://t.co/nmHVmLCRGN
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) January 4, 2017
Hmmm, guess what's coming our way! pic.twitter.com/dptq5SHqHy
— Doug Kammerer (@dougkammerer) January 4, 2017
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) January 4, 2017
It might not be necessary with this storm, but Arlington County is urging residents this year to park in a parking lot or on the odd numbered side of local streets when it snows.
The county recently released the following video on the topic.
There’s no snow in the forecast — sorry to those with dreams of a white Christmas — but Arlington County says it’s ready for the next big snowfall, whenever it may come.
The county has released a video saying that its snow crews — 46 trucks and 92 drivers on staff — are prepared to plow neighborhood streets earlier when 6+ inches of snow is expected to fall.
That’s a change from before, when county snow crews would wait to plow neighborhood streets only after higher-traffic streets were cleared. That led to neighborhood streets icing over and becoming difficult to plow, and that led to complaints from residents who had to wait days until their streets were cleared.
The change, which will “send more plows into neighborhoods sooner,” was approved over the summer.
Arts Truck, Grants Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved $215,810 in grants to local arts organizations and nearly $70,000 for the purchase and deployment of a new mobile art studio. [Arlington County]
Snow Plowing Policy Change — Starting this winter, Arlington County will plow residential streets at the outset of snowstorms, reversing its previous policy of only focusing on major arterial routes before moving on to residential streets after the snow stops and major roads are clear. [InsideNova]
Ballston Mall Redevelopment Authority Approved — Arlington County is creating its first Community Development Authority. The CDA will be focused on making infrastructure improvements around the future Ballston Quarter mall — the new identity of Ballston Common Mall, which is being renovated. As part of a public-private partnership, the county plans to spend around $55 million to improve local roads, public plazas and the public Ballston parking garage. [Arlington County]
Chamber Supports Aquatics Center Plan — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has penned a letter in support of building a scaled-down version of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. “One of Arlington’s main assets is the employee talent pool we have residing in our county,” wrote the Chamber’s president. “The proposed facility will help attract and retain this talent, as well as the businesses looking to employ them.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
County Looking at Fire Station Alternatives — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with Arlington Public Schools that would allow it to build a temporary fire station on the grounds of the new H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn. However, in response to parent concerns the Board directed county staff to look into potential alternative locations. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Couple: Snow Melter Fumes Contaminated Our House — A couple who lives near Bluemont Park says diesel fumes from a snow melter that the county was using about 40 yards from their home this past winter has contaminated the home. The county paid for the couple to live in a hotel while the snow melter was running, in the wake of January’s blizzard. Now the couple wants the county to pay for a thorough cleaning of the home. [Washington Post]
Henry Gate to Reopen — The Henry Gate along Route 50 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will reopen to military bicyclists and pedestrians on Aug. 1. Among other expected benefits, the gate is expected to serve military users of Uber and Lyft; the ride hailing services are not available on the base. [Mobility Lab]
Police Escort Ducklings Across Road — An ACPD officers and a couple of “alert citizens” helped a mother duck and her ducklings cross N. Stafford Street on Friday. [Twitter]
More on Clarendon Drug Bust — One of the regular meetups for the alleged Clarendon drug ring was Whitlow’s on Wilson, where two of the suspects worked. “It was shocking, disappointing and frustrating to hear that any of this activity took place around our business and the neighborhood,” said Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams, noting that most other Clarendon bars were also named as areas of drug activity. [NBC Washington]
Board Approves Changes to Ballston Building — Originally proposed as an office building, the last building in the Founder’s Square project in Ballston will instead be built as a mixed use building, with a mix of retail, office and apartments. [Arlington County]
That’s nearly $4 million more than was spent the previous winter, when the county almost ran out of salt due to a succession of snow storms.
The total roadway snow removal expenditure — the figures quoted here do not include removing snow from bus shelters or sidewalks — for Fiscal Year 2015 was only $2.7 million, according to Arlington County. As of April 25, the FY 2016 bill was $6.5 million, about $5 million of which was associated with the cleanup from January’s Snowzilla blizzard, as the county revealed last month.
Why was this year’s bill so much higher? It’s mostly attributable to equipment rental costs, we’re told.
“The majority of this cost increase was associated with heavy contract equipment used during the January 22-29, 2016 blizzard,” explained Mike Moon, Chief Operating Officer of Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services.
“The amount of contract equipment deployed for this event far exceeded the requirements for the previous year and cost more than $4.0 million,” Moon continued. “With more than two feet of snow, heavy contract equipment was needed for the effort, which included hauling snow in our commercial corridors (Rosslyn, Ballston, Crystal City).”
Last month Arlington said that it can potentially recoup $2 million from federal disaster assistance funds, though the reimbursement process is a lengthy one.
Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said in March that the county is considering changes to its snow removal efforts in the wake of January’s blizzard. Among the changes being considered is the purchase of additional heavy equipment and a new snow melter.
Flickr pool photo (top) by Starbuck77
The county has been soliciting resident feedback on its snow removal effort and there has been no shortage of opinions: some 3,000 constituents responded to an online survey alone.
In response, County Manager Mark Schwartz yesterday presented an initial report for the County Board, outlining a number of snow removal changes that are being considered.
Among the proposed changes:
- Plow both major roads and residential streets simultaneously during large snow storms, rather than only focusing on major roads and leaving residential streets snow-covered until after the storm.
- Adding “backup drivers” for large snow storms.
- Better utilizing staff and contractors “to minimize snow piling at intersections and sidewalks and reduce missed streets.”
- Improving training and oversight of contractors “to minimize obstructive snow piling.”
- “Improving technology used to track, monitor and communicate progress during snow and ice removal.”
- Better utilizing volunteers and coordinating with Arlington’s civic associations.
Longer term changes also being consider include:
- Adding a snow removal staging area in north Arlington and adding new equipment like backhoe plows and a new snow melter.
- Odd-even parking requirements, enforcement of snow emergency routes and opening parking garages during large snow events to reduce obstructions on residential streets for snow plows.
Schwartz is expected to present a more comprehensive report later this year.
It’s much diminished from its post-blizzard glory, but the big snow pile next to the Ballston mall parking garage is still hanging on despite temperatures well into the 70s.
The snow pile was melting steadily when we visited it yesterday afternoon. The ground around it was gray, from the dirt deposited as the glacier-like pile recedes.
The pile was created by local snow crews, which dumped the snow they were removing from roads there and in a number of other locations around Arlington.
With a high of 80 predicted today and tomorrow, the snow pile may not be long for this world. Which means it won’t match the longevity of its snow pile cousin — which survived until April in the same location six years ago.
‘Sound of Music’ Star Recalls Arlington Upbringing — Showbiz star Nicholas Hammond, who played Friedrich von Trapp in the “Sound of Music” 50 years ago, recently recounted his childhood in Arlington. “I loved growing up there, in a much simpler time,” he told Charlie Clark. “My brother and I had paper routes. Your parents thought nothing of kids going off on their bikes pre-dawn and throwing papers onto front-door steps. We’d play ball, or go on our bikes or explore the woods. It all seemed very safe.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Local Masseuse Working Out Trump Stress — Locals are stressing out about the idea of Donald Trump becoming the next president of the United States. Reports the Post: “Amanda Long, an Arlington, Va., massage therapist… has grown accustomed in recent weeks to clients laying down on her table and bellowing, ‘Can you believe this guy?’ Long allows her clients to vent for a few minutes before she tries to quiet them, if only so they can relax and she can attend to their aches.” [Washington Post]
Comcast Outage in Crystal City — Comcast customers in parts of Crystal City and South Arlington were without their TV, voice and internet service for most of the day yesterday. Service has since been restored, we hear.
Garvey: Use Garages During Snowstorms — To speed up snow plowing on local streets, county leaders want to try to reduce the number of cars parked on the side of the road during snowstorms. To facilitate that, County Board Chair Libby Garvey has asked county staff to look into the idea of opening up Arlington’s parking garages as emergency snow parking areas. [InsideNova]
Winter Is Over — The groundhog was right: an early spring is here. It may still be officially winter, but all computer models are pointing to warmer-than-average weather through April. [Capital Weather Gang]
Cheesetique to Open in Ballston — Cheese-and-wine shop Cheesetique has signed a lease for the former Pizza Vinoteca space at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston. It’s Alexandria-based Cheesetique’s third location and its second in Arlington. Cheesetique opened in Shirlington in 2011. [Washington Business Journal]
Snow Forum Tonight — Amid a driving rainstorm, Arlington County will hold a public forum to gather feedback on its post-blizzard snow removal efforts. The forum is taking place starting at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Key Elementary (2300 Key Blvd). Arlington received more than 3,000 responses to an online questionnaire about snow removal, most from the 22207 ZIP code and 46 percent saying they were dissatisfied. [Arlington County]
More on Snow Feedback — At the County Board meeting Tuesday afternoon, County Manager Mark Schwartz said many residents expected to see a plow on their neighborhood street within a day or two of the historic storm. “There seems to be a disconnect between people’s expectations and our resources,” he said. “We simply don’t have the resources to do that.”
Palette 22 Up and Running in Shirlington — Art-themed street food restaurant Palette 22 opened its doors on Monday. Defying those dubious about its theme and small plate offerings, Palette 22 was busy when ARLnow.com walked by Monday night. (The other two busy Shirlington restaurants Monday: Busboys and Poets and Guapo’s.) At 6,000 square feet, Palette 22 will have to keep packing them in even after the opening hype dies down. [Washington Post]
Hillary Clinton Event in Courthouse Tonight — Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign will be holding an event in Courthouse tonight with women’s health advocate Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Richards will talk about what’s at stake for women in this election and highlight Hillary Clinton’s proven record of standing up for women’s access to affordable reproductive health care regardless of income, race, or ZIP code,” said a press release. The event is taking place at Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill (2424 Wilson Blvd) starting at 7 p.m.
Changes to Library Fines Proposed — Under a proposed change, Arlington Public Library’s daily fine structure for overdue materials would change — from 20 cents for children’s materials, 30 cents for adult written books and $1 for DVDs — to a flat 30 cents per day for everything. The flat rate structure would be similar to that of Fairfax County’s libraries and is expected to be a wash financially. [InsideNova]
Baseball Teams Joust at Barcroft Field — During a rain delay yesterday at Barcroft Field, the George Washington University baseball team and their opponents from Delaware State had a bit of a jousting duel, video of which was posted online. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Arlington County has released a behind-the-scenes look at its battle against “Snowzilla” last month.
With the help of snowplows, a snow melting machine and other equipment, workers cleared 2.37 million cubic yards from area streets during the January blizzard. That’s enough to fill 47 football fields with 30 feet of snow.
But “fatigue becomes a big issue,” Mark Gundersen, the county’s operations manager, said in the video. Snow removal crews worked 12-hour shifts for seven consecutive days, he noted.
“We have great pride in all our staff,” Gundersen said. “The staff has great pride in what they do, and it shows in their work.”
Image via YouTube/Arlington County
Arlington residents unhappy with the county’s snow removal efforts during last month’s blizzard are getting an opportunity to share their frustration with local officials.
The county is set to host a public “Snow Forum” at Key Elementary (2300 Key Blvd) in two weeks on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The discussion is scheduled to run from 7 to 9 p.m.
“We’re asking people to tell us about their experiences during and after Snowzilla, and to offer suggestions for how we can improve our efforts to quickly recover from snow and ice events,” Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement.
Those who were happy with the snow removal effort can, of course, also weigh in.
In addition to the event, the county is also asking locals to fill out its online snow survey by next Friday, Feb. 19. Officials will share results from the questionnaire at the meeting.
Residents can register for the forum online.
Photo via Arlington County
The blizzard of 2016 is long gone, but reminders of it are still piled high on the side of local roads and parking lots.
Life has largely returned to normal — students went back to school today for the first time since Wednesday, Jan. 20 — though there are scattered reports of continued mail delivery issues.
It was a Herculean task to clear two feet of snow from local roads. Though major arteries were plowed and made passable pretty quickly, as usually happens with large snow storms in Arlington the residential streets remained snow-covered and treacherous for days, prompting complaints.
Overall, how would you grade Arlington’s snow removal effort?