Arlington, VA

Nearly one week after advocates flooded the County Board with concerns that planned stormwater investments in the Capital Improvement Plan favor Arlington’s wealthier neighborhoods, staff returned to the County Board to argue that the proposed investments were addressing important issues below the surface.

The renewed push for improving the County’s stormwater capacity is tied to historic flooding that took place last year and devastated many Arlington homes and businesses. County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a $50.8 million stormwater bond, among other bonds, to be sent to voters in the November election.

Some speakers at the earlier meeting criticized the bulk of that investment, $26.9 million, for going to the Spout Run watershed that runs through affluent communities around Lee Highway. The watershed was identified by county staff as a location with some of the highest concentration of recent flood damage to homes.

In a work session with the Arlington County Board yesterday (Thursday) Dept. of Environmental Services Director Greg Emanuel said the stormwater investment was based on the status of pipes below the surface and not the economics of the neighborhoods above.

“As you know, we’re trying to apply an equity lens on all our policy decisions,” Emanuel said. “[For] investments to infrastructure, unlike services with transit, we believe should be based on system-condition and need or identified deficiencies. We believe that should be regardless of demographics or geography, basically who is on the surface.”

Emanuel argued that, just as earlier investments had cut down on flooding around Four Mile Run in South Arlington, the proposed investments in northwest Arlington would provide lasting relief to residents struggling with flood issues. It would also benefit a wider swath of the county, he said.

“This decade, our proposed investments are predominately proposed for watersheds in the northwest part of the county based on modeling and actual experience,” Emanuel said. “It’s an interconnected system. Improvements such as detention in upper parts of a watershed will provide benefits to everyone in a system downstream of that, down to Four Mile Run.”

Speakers last week criticized the county for focusing on benefits to low-density neighborhoods, but Emanuel said the County’s modeling indicated that’s where the most severe flooding is.

Arlington is “investing the most where the most flooding is occurring, which is the northwest watersheds,” Emanuel said. “Of course, it’s not just there, we’re doing important things like dredging and important flood controls on the southern end near the mouth of Four Mile Run.”

Emanuel’s assertion that the northwest watershed was the most in need of stormwater investment went mostly unchallenged by the County Board.

County Board member Christian Dorsey questioned why areas like Alcova Heights, Douglas Park, and Aurora Highlands weren’t listed as priorities when data showed flooding calls from those areas. Emanuel said the calls from those areas — Douglas Park in particular — were mostly from sewage backups. While those could be caused by too much water from storms getting into the system, Emanuel said it still left those areas ranked at medium or low severity compared to other places.

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A woman has been injured after striking a deer along Spout Run Parkway tonight.

The crash happened between the GW Parkway and Lorcom Lane, during a foggy evening commute.

Initial reports suggest the woman was bleeding profusely from the face after the force of the impact shattered the car’s windshield. The deer was found dead nearby.

Traffic maps show increasingly heavy westbound traffic on Spout Run, starting shortly after the exit from the GW Parkway.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Local Brews for Crystal City Oktoberfest — “Oktoberfest is returning [to Crystal City] in 2019 with a new partner, local Arlington brewery New District Brewing. The second annual celebration, which will feature a selection of local beers, live entertainment, and a variety of food trucks and vendors serving traditional German fare, will take place on Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 1-4 p.m. at The Grounds, located at 12th and South Eads Street in Crystal City.” [Press Release]

D.C. Developments Now Touting Proximity to Arlington — The announcement of a large, new mixed-use development in the District touts its 750 market-rate residential rental units, 42,000 square feet of co-working space, and “great access to… emerging areas, including National Landing.” [Twitter]

Catholic Newspaper Reducing Publishing Frequency — The Arlington Catholic Herald will be moving from weekly to biweekly publication, as part of a series of changes that also includes expanding the number of households to which the paper is sent. [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Sewage Leak Along Spout Run — “Residents are advised to avoid a generally inaccessible portion of Spout Run due to a sanitary sewer main break east of the Spout Run Parkway-Lorcom Lane fork. County staff are on site establishing a bypass.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Federal officials think they have a good shot at winning $126 million in grant funds to make a series of badly needed repairs on a long section of the GW Parkway, and Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation is throwing its weight behind the effort.

The National Park Service, which maintains the road, is currently applying for a hefty U.S. Department of Transportation grant to fund rehabilitation work on a roughly eight-mile-long stretch of the parkway, as it runs between the Spout Run Parkway in Rosslyn and I-495. Now, both of Virginia’s senators and three local members of Congress are lending their support to the funding push, in a bid to finally afford some changes on the aging roadway.

“The proposed project will address serious deterioration of the GWMP and implement significant safety improvements,” the lawmakers wrote in a Jan. 8 letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “This project will improve a critical link in the National Capital Region’s transportation network while preserving the historical and cultural characteristics that make the parkway one of the most scenic roadways in the country. These proposed improvements will increase the safety of visitors while significantly extending the life of the parkway.”

Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (both D-Va.) both signed the letter, as did Virginia Reps. Don Beyer (D-8th District) and Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District). Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s lone, non-voting representative in Congress also added her support.

The NPS says the construction work, set to cost about $150 million in all, will start at the parkway’s Spout Run Parkway exit and include:

  • Making drives smoother by replacing the asphalt pavement
  • Replacing guardrails and repairing walls
  • Repairing stormwater management systems to keep excess water from damaging the road
  • Constructing new concrete curbs
  • Rehabilitating parts of two historic, scenic overlooks
  • Lengthening entrance and exit lanes at some interchanges

Officials also hope to use the cash to replace the stormwater drainage grates that line the parkway, which have long made for a bumpy ride for drivers. They’re also envisioning adding four “emergency turnarounds,” in order to allow police to more easily redirect drivers who stop on the road due to a crash or inclement weather.

The construction would also include improvements at the parkway’s interchange with Chain Bridge Road in McLean, like adding a new traffic signal to the area.

The lawmakers note in the letter that this northern stretch of the parkway was first built in 1962, and with more than 33 million vehicles using the road each year, it’s badly deteriorated in the decades since.

The NPS is hoping to win the funding through the Department of Transportation’s “Nationally Significant Federal Land and Tribal Projects” program. In a release, park service officials said they believe the project “will compete well” for cash through that program, given the parkway’s “significance” and the fact that the NPS has already wrapped up schematic design work for the construction.

If all goes well, officials hope to kick off construction sometime next year.

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Some major renovations are on the way for the GW Parkway as it runs from Rosslyn to I-495, and transportation planners want to hear from you about how the highway can improve.

The National Park Service, which maintains the road, is accepting public comments on the project from now through July 14. The effort is a long way from kicking off — the NPS has yet to even find funding for the construction — but officials are dubbing it a “major rehabilitation” of that section of the highway as it nears “the end of its design lifespan.”

According to a press release, the construction work will start at the parkway’s Spout Run Parkway exit and include:

  • Making drives smoother by replacing the asphalt pavement
  • Repairing stormwater management systems to keep excess water from damaging the road
  • Improving safety by strengthening roadside barriers and constructing new concrete curbs
  • Rehabilitating parts of two historic, scenic overlooks
  • Lengthening entrance and exit lanes at some interchanges

The park service’s current plans also call for the replacement of the stormwater drainage grates that line the parkway, which have long made for a bumpy ride for drivers. The construction would also include improvements at the parkway’s interchange with Chain Bridge Road in McLean, such as adding a new traffic signal to the area.

Anyone looking to comment on the project can do so on the NPS website, or attend a June 27 open house from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Turkey Run Park in McLean.

NPS is tentatively planning on kicking off construction sometime in 2020.

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A Starbucks customer foiled a would-be armed robber — twice — over the weekend.

According to an Arlington County Police crime report, a man walked into a business on the 3100 block of Lee Highway just after 5 a.m. Sunday morning, brandished a firearm and ordered everyone to the back of the store. A customer with a venti-sized dose of audacity then intervened.

“A patron physically challenged the suspect causing the suspect to exit the business,” said the crime report. “The suspect immediately re-entered the business brandishing the firearm. Once confronted again by the patron, the suspect fled the scene on foot.”

“Arriving officers canvased the area and a K9 track yielded negative results,” the crime report continued. “No injuries were reported. The suspect is described as a black male, 20-30 years old, approximately 6’0, wearing a black winter jacket with a fur hood. The investigation is ongoing.”

Though police did not specify a business, a tipster said the robbery took place at the Starbucks in the Lyon Village Shopping Center, along Spout Run Parkway.

Asked about a possible surveillance image of the suspect, ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said the department has “nothing for release at this time.”

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A car flipped on Spout Run Parkway this morning, rolling down a steep slope into the woods nearby.

Officers from the U.S. Park Police responded to the southbound side of the parkway just after its intersection with Lorcom Lane around 10:45 a.m. today (Wednesday).

The driver appeared to lose control of the car before careering off the road and into the woods. There were no injuries reported.

Park Police were on scene, and by 11 a.m. a tow truck was on scene to remove the wrecked car. A police car occupied the right-hand lane nearby. There were no significant traffic impacts.

At least four other incidents of vehicles flipping or running into the woods along Spout Run Parkway have been reported over the past six years, including one incident last year of a motorcycle chase ending on the parkway.

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A wild police chase that started on I-66 has ended in Arlington.

Virginia State Police were chasing two motorcyclists who refused to stop after one was reportedly involved in a crash on the highway, according to scanner traffic.

The pursuit continued into Arlington and the motorcyclists took the Glebe Road exit into Ballston. With a Fairfax County Police helicopter overhead tracking their movement, the bikers briefly stopped in Ballston and then made their way north, past the area of Washington-Lee High School and onto Lee Highway, according to police radio traffic.

One of the suspects was reportedly taken into custody after he damaged his motorcycle and tried to flee on foot into the woods at the intersection of Spout Run Parkway and Lorcom Lane.

The other continued to flee down residential streets, allegedly driving onto front lawns and zooming past pedestrians. By apparent coincidence, the motorcyclist rode right by where the first suspect was arrested, and was himself then stopped and taken into custody on Spout Run Parkway

Police temporarily closed portions of the parkway to traffic during the incident.

Virginia State Police pursued the suspects through the county; per Arlington County Police policy against chasing suspects for minor crimes, ACPD units were instructed not to pursue.

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A car ran down an embankment and into a ravine along the Spout Run Parkway this afternoon.

The crash happened around 12:30 p.m., near a turnaround halfway between Lee Highway and the GW Parkway.

Witnesses told ARLnow.com that the driver tried to take the turnaround at a high rate of speed; her car careened across the eastbound lanes of the parkway and into the woods, taking down at least one tree and winding up near the stream.

The driver was able to get out of the car on her own and is expected to be okay. As of 1 p.m. towing crews and U.S. Park Police were still in the process of removing the car from the woods. The car was barely visible from the road due to thick foliage.

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Morning Notes

August wildflowers (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Woman Takes Stage to Find Bathroom — An apparently intoxicated woman climbed on stage during a recent Signature Theatre production in Shirlington, made her way backstage and asked a cast member for directions to the bathroom. [Playbill]

Spout Run Closure — The eastbound lanes of the Spout Run Parkway will be completely closed from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today for road paving. No detours will be in place and “alternative routes should be used,” according to the National Park Service.

Arlington Murder to Be Featured on TV Show — This coming Sunday, at 10 p.m., the show “Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall” on Investigation Discovery will feature the 2012 homicide of Mack L. Woods Sr. in Arlington. [Patch]

Charleys Now Open in Pentagon City — A Charleys Philly Steaks restaurant is now open in the food court of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall food court. “Charleys brings a unique experience to the food court with its grilled-fresh-in-front-of-you flavor,” the company said in a press release.

Food Truck Stops Taking Cash — The Lemongrass food truck, which frequents Arlington, has decided to stop accepting cash. The truck now only takes credit and debit cards. [Washington Post]

Why Arlington Went to Paper Ballots — Arlington reintroduced paper ballots this year after dumping its electronic voting machines. Why did it get rid of the more modern tech? The WINVote system was found to be grossly insecure and the touchscreen devices were dubbed the “worst voting machines” in America. [Wired]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Spout Run Parkway (photo via Google Maps)The National Park Service this week is beginning a project to repave Spout Run Parkway.

The two-month project will result in lane closures and rush hour delays between the GW Parkway and Lorcom Lane.

From an NPS press release:

George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) will begin a roadway project on July 27, 2015, which is expected to last through late September, along Spout Run Parkway in both directions between GWMP and Lorcom Lane. The project will also include work on the southbound GWMP ramp to Key Bridge, and Rosslyn Circle Ramp onto northbound GWMP.

Throughout the 50-day project, motorists should expect single lane closures for a period of up to 10 days per lane in order to mill and overlay the road and replace the guard-rails. No detours will be in place, so please plan accordingly for delays, especially during rush hour. Every effort is being made to complete the work in a timely manner and minimize traffic delays.

Photo via Google Maps

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