(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Nestlé is moving its U.S. corporate headquarters from Southern California to Rosslyn, the company announced today.
The move, a boon to Arlington in its effort to reduce the county’s office vacancy rate and its reliance on government-related employment, will finally bring an anchor tenant to 1812 N. Moore Street.
The 35-story office building, owned by Monday Properties, was completed in 2013 after being built “on spec” and has remained vacant since, awaiting a major tenant. Nestlé will be initially leasing 40 percent of the building, just over 200,000 square feet on the top nine floors, with the option to expand to over 250,000 square feet, according to a press release.
“Monday Properties is proud to welcome Nestlé, one of the world’s finest companies, to our landmark property, 1812 North Moore Street, in the heart of Rosslyn,” said Anthony Westreich, CEO of Monday Properties, in a statement. “This transaction is particularly special to my family and me because we have been intimately involved in the early development of Rosslyn, dating back to the early 1960s. My father, Stanley Westreich, and his partners developed many of the first high rise projects in Rosslyn, having overseen the Gannett Company’s relocation in 1984 to Rosslyn at our 1000 Wilson Boulevard project just one block east of 1812 N. Moore Street.”
Nestlé will be investing $40 million in the relocation and estimates that it will be creating about 750 jobs locally. The company chose Rosslyn over 20 potential locations across the country after being offered $10 million in grants from the state, and $4 million in grants and $2 million in infrastructure improvements by Arlington County, the Washington Post reported.
The Washington Business Journal was the first to break the news, ahead of a 3:15 p.m. press conference with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Rosslyn. Less than weeks ago ARLnow.com predicted that 1812 N. Moore Street would get its first tenant this year.
Arlington is not the only beneficiary of Nestlé’s move. St. Louis stands to gain 300 jobs as Nestlé centralizes its information technology operations in the city, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported today. But Arlington is the big winner, gaining high-paying jobs and a prestigious corporate tenant that will further boost the county’s business reputation.
A big part of the draw: the highly-educated workforce in the area. Nestlé USA’s CEO cited “benefits for our current employees as well as a great talent pool for the future” in an Arlington County press release. That echoes what Monday Properties says is driving leasing along Arlington’s Metro corridors.
“Nestlé’s announcement comes on the heels of a number of high-profile corporate commitments to the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, which has transformed and attracted one of the country’s most desirable pools of top talent for companies looking to leverage for future growth,” the property owner said.
More from the press release:
“It is an honor to have Nestlé as our anchor tenant at 1812 North Moore Street,” said Tim Helmig, President and COO of Monday Properties. “The magnitude of securing one of the most widely recognized corporate brands in the world reinforces our initial strategic business plan which was to develop an office project that would attract prestigious corporate tenants to occupy what is arguably the highest quality designed office project in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. As companies such as Nestlé increasingly look to procure first-rate amenities and easy accessibility to Washington, D.C., they’ll find that Rosslyn offers a business-friendly environment unparalleled with lifestyle opportunities for its employees.”
Soaring 390 feet, the LEED Platinum certified 1812 North Moore Street building is metropolitan Washington, D.C.’s tallest building with unprecedented visibility and recognition in the marketplace. Of incomparable caliber, distinct design and boasting the most efficient floor plates of any trophy building in the area, the building offers 537,000 square feet spanning 35 stories. The project’s remaining floors (encompassing over 300,000 square feet) provide future tenants with quality view space which is situated within a neighboring “who’s who” tenancy, including but not limited to Grant Thornton, Sinclair Broadcasting, Sands Capital, Raytheon Company, and BAE Systems.
“Rosslyn has clearly arrived,” noted Austin Freeman, Monday Properties Regional Portfolio Manager, who added “Companies are searching not only for quality and efficient real estate solutions, but want to be situated in a premier, transit accessible location that can attract and retain employee talent. 1812’s centralized location and Rosslyn’s unparalleled access to the entire metro DC region has resonated with corporate decision makers. When a company of Nestlé’s stature and global reach enters the market, it says a lot for the Rosslyn, Virginia story.”
On the heels of the Nestlé transaction and as a result of projected increases in defense spending under the Trump administration, Monday Properties expects to see sustained momentum in commercial real estate leasing within Rosslyn over the coming months. Monday has transacted on over 650,000 square feet of leasing activity in Rosslyn over the past 18 months.
Gov. Announces New Jobs for Arlington — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has announced that Vorsight, a “sales effectiveness” tech firm in Rosslyn, will be expanding its corporate headquarters, creating 112 new jobs in Arlington. [Governor of Virginia]
New Apartments in Crystal City/Pentagon City — More than 1,100 new apartments opened in the Crystal City and Pentagon City area in 2016. More than 3,000 additional apartments are in the development pipeline. [Bisnow]
History of Churches in Arlington — Arlington’s first church was the Chapel of Ease of Arlington Plantation, built in 1825 by George Washington Parke Custis. The church was located near what is now the Sheraton hotel at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Orme Street. It was burned by union troops during the Civil War. [Falls Church News-Press]
Govs. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) helped to dedicate the newly-named Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University’s Arlington campus Monday afternoon.
The school is now named after Dwight C. Schar, founder of homebuilder NVR, Inc., who donated $10 million to GMU.
Among those in attendance at the event was Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette.
More from a GMU press release:
Mason renamed the school this year in honor of Schar, a Virginia businessman who gave a $10 million gift to boost the school’s reputation nationally and amplify its research, programs and experts.
“Our Commonwealth is strong today because of leaders like Dwight Schar,” McAuliffe said before an audience of approximately 300 people on the Arlington Campus. “You have made this not only a better Commonwealth, but a better university and a better country.”
McAuliffe also announced that the Schar School has entered into an agreement with The Washington Post to conduct regional and state polling in Virginia.
The governors spoke at a ceremony alongside Mason President Ángel Cabrera, Rector and former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly and Schar School Dean Mark J. Rozell.
Cabrera talked about the importance of giving the school a name that commands respect.
“Someone with a name that indicates real values and leadership,” Cabrera said. “This is a transformative gift, and promises that he will be here for the long run with us. This gift will help us propel this school to a whole new level.”
Cabrera said the school will “create a new generation of leaders who can make good things happen in our society.”
The Schar School educates about 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year and has more than 80 faculty and more than 13,000 alumni.
The school offers a range of public policy and government topics, including regional economics, global terrorism, security, public health, transportation, and many other areas. The faculty includes Carnegie and Guggenheim Fellows, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a former congressman, and the former head of the CIA and NSA.
Kasich, in his third appearance at Mason this year, said Schar is setting an example of how to use his wealth in meaningful ways to help his community.
“There are moments in time when we can rise to the higher level, when we live a life a little bit bigger than ourselves,” Kasich said. “Dwight has been very generous to this school. People won’t talk much about his business career or how much money he made. They’re going to talk about his generosity, the moments he lived his life bigger than himself.”
Kasich, McAuliffe at GMU Today — Govs. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) will help dedicate the newly-named Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Arlington this afternoon. The school is being named after Dwight C. Schar, founder of homebuilder NVR, Inc., who has pledged $10 million to GMU.
Vornado Considering Short-Term Stays — Remarkably, the 699-unit Bartlett apartment tower in Pentagon City is more than 60 percent leased only a few months after opening. To temporarily fill vacant apartments, however, owner Vornado is asking for permission to open 50 units to short-term visitors, turning those units into a kind of extended stay hotel. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Raid Near DJO — Residents in the Williamsburg neighborhood near Bishop O’Connell High School say there was a police raid at a house on the 2800 block of N. Tacoma Street on Friday. An Arlington County Police spokeswoman would only tell us that “officers were executing a search warrant pursuant to an ongoing and active criminal investigation.”
Clement Accuses Dems of Stealing Signs — Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement says he signs are being stolen and she’s pointing the finger at Democrats. The chair of the local Democrats says some of their signs have disappeared as well and called on whoever is removing any candidate’s signs to stop. County Board John Vihstadt believes the sign stealer is someone opposed to roadside signs in general. [InsideNova]
Ann Broder Dies — Former Arlington School Board member and longtime local activist Ann Broder has died at her Arlington home. She was 87. Broder was married to the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Broder, who died in 2011. [Washington Post]
Sign Regulations Updated — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved changes to its comprehensive sign plan that loosens signage regulations on buildings with older sign plans. The Board voted to make its sign regulations a bit more flexible in 2012, but the changes did not apply to existing sign plans. [Arlington County]
Marriage Jubilee Mass in Arlington — Arlington’s outgoing Catholic bishop, The Most Rev. Paul Loverde, celebrated the church’s annual Marriage Jubilee Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington on Sunday. Among those in attendance were “150 couples celebrating their 25th anniversary and 109 couples celebrating their 50th anniversary.” [Associated Press]
Va. Voter Registration Deadline — Today is the last day to register to vote in Virginia before November’s election. [NBC Washington]
Virginia tourism officials have started a new marketing push to bring more LGBT travelers to the Commonwealth.
Virginia Tourism Corp. yesterday announced it has a new LGBT travel website, which notes that “Virginia is for all Lovers.”
Visitors to the website can find LGBT-friendly hotels, restaurants, shops, wineries, breweries and attractions. The site also has a “Virginia is for Lovers Pride Shop” with hats, pins and T-shirts for sale.
“Virginia is proud to be an open and welcoming destination for every visitor attracted by our scenic mountains and beaches, as well as our world-renowned restaurants, wineries and breweries,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “I am pleased the Virginia Tourism Corporation has created this landing page to connect travelers with inclusive, LGBT-friendly establishments across the Commonwealth.”
The website came out of recommendations from the LGBT Tourism Task Force, which McAuliffe put together last year.
Members of the LGBT community make up about 5 percent of Virginia tourists, according to Virginia Tourism Corp. They also take longer trips to Virginia and spend more money in the Commonwealth than all other visitors there, the tourism authority noted.
“A vacation in Virginia is all about doing the things you love to do with the ones that you love, and we are thrilled to offer this new resource for the LGBT community, their friends, and their families, to help them plan the perfect vacation in Virginia,” Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corp., said in a statement.
Image via Virginia Tourism Corp.
Two nonprofit organizations teamed up over the weekend in Arlington to provide voter registration to former felons after Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe restored the voting rights of about 200,000 Virginia ex-offenders.
The League of Women Voters in Arlington and National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice held a voter registration event on Saturday at the Macedonia Baptist Church.
In order to secure voting rights again, the former felon must have completed his or her sentence along and finished supervised probation or parole.
“In my old life, I was just here. I didn’t feel as if I was part of the country, a citizen,” said Virginian Terry Garrett, who previously served time for shoplifting. “Whoever people voted in, I didn’t get to have a say. Today I know that I am an important part of society, and every vote counts. Now, I am a citizen and part of this country. Everyone should keep that right. No matter what.”
But the day before the event, the Virginia Supreme Court voted to overturn the governor’s executive actions, stating that McAuliffe does not have the authority to issue a blanket rights restoration. As a result of the decision, the court ordered that anybody who registered to vote as a result of the governor’s executive orders to be removed from the registry.
The governor is currently in the process of individually restoring the voting rights of formerly incarcerated individuals.
Despite the uncertainty after the decision, the event still went on as planned with 14 people coming to restore their voting rights. League member Karen Kimball said the court’s decision may have contributed to the low turnout, noting the possibility of individuals being confused or deterred from registering as a result.
“The League considers this event a success because it highlighted an important segment of our community whose right to apply for restoration of voting rights is too frequently unknown by former felons or ignored by them,” Kimball said. “The League believes that having and exercising the right to vote is part of their rehabilitation process and enables them to be full participating citizens in our community.”
Photos Courtesy Karen Kimball
The announcement rippled through Virginia politics, with elected officials from a local level on up weighing in on the decision.
Among Democrats representing Arlington in Richmond or across the Potomac, many were quick to praise the pick.
Said Sen. Mark Warner, in a statement:
I enthusiastically applaud Secretary Clinton’s choice. Without reservation, I can say there is no one of higher integrity and trustworthiness.
I first met Tim Kaine in law school 37 years ago, and our paths crossed years later in Virginia politics. Whether serving as mayor of Richmond, Virginia’s lieutenant governor, governor, and now as U.S. senator, Tim has always shown a commitment to serving others.
He always finds reasons for hope and optimism in every situation, and he is centered by his faith and his family. Our country, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, will be very well-served by electing Tim Kaine as Vice President.
Said Gov. Terry McAuliffe:
I am thrilled to congratulate my friend Senator Tim Kaine on his selection to join the Democratic ticket with Hillary Clinton. As a Mayor, Lieutenant Governor, Governor and United States Senator, Tim Kaine has demonstrated that he is the right choice to help lead our country forward as Vice President of the United State. His experience, intellect and dedication to making life better for people from all walks of life will make him an enormous asset to Secretary Clinton throughout the remainder of this campaign and as a leader in her administration over the next four years. This is a proud day for every Virginian.
Said Del. Alfonso Lopez:
Secretary Clinton has made a wise choice in Tim Kaine as her running mate. He is an extraordinary public servant who has dedicated his life to helping others. In his administration, I coordinated and supervised Congressional and Federal Relations for the Commonwealth and the Governor. In that position, I saw firsthand his intelligence, innate decency and ability to get folks from all points of view to work together.
A tireless champion for the citizens of the Commonwealth, Tim Kaine takes a pragmatic and results-oriented approach that has earned him respect on both sides of the aisle. He is a strong addition to the Democratic ticket and will be a true asset to a Clinton Administration.
Simply put, my old boss and friend U.S. Senator Tim Kaine is one of the best public servants and one of the best individuals I’ve ever encountered. In a world that sometimes feels like it has lost its way, the nation will benefit greatly from the leadership, compassion and infectious optimism of Tim Kaine.
Said state Sen. Adam Ebbin:
— Adam Ebbin (@AdamEbbin) July 23, 2016
The speculation about who Gov. McAuliffe might appoint to replace Kaine in the U.S. Senate, should he and Clinton win the presidential race in November, has already started.
Gondola Meeting Held — Local residents attended a meeting last night in Rosslyn about the study into the feasibility of a Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola system. The architecture firm leading the study says its goal is “proving the system isn’t going to be just a toy for tourists” and “to prove that it can be transit and it can be a great experience.” One Arlington resident quoted by WTOP, Dave Schutz, said his goal was “to free my wife from that deepest inner circle from hell, which is the Georgetown Hospital parking garage.” [WTOP]
Tech Startup Moves from D.C. to Rosslyn — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was on hand Wednesday to announce that civic engagement software maker Phone2Action would be moving from D.C. to leased office space in Rosslyn and bringing some 142 jobs with it. [Washington Business Journal, Patch]
Arlington Featured in Book About Walking — Arlington County is one of nine communities features in “America’s Walking Renaissance,” a new book about walkable cities in the United States. [Arlington County]
Arlington Runner Achieves Goal — An Arlington resident with cerebral palsy has achieved her goal of completing 34 races by her 34th birthday. [WUSA]
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe today announced that Grant Thornton LLP, a “leading U.S. professional-services firm,” will invest $15.75 million in Arlington when it moves here. The investment will create 348 new jobs in Arlington, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“Retaining Grant Thornton in Virginia is a big win for the Commonwealth, as we continue to make Virginia the best place in the country for business and workforce development,” McAuliffe said. “The firm’s consolidation is a great testament to the business advantages of Arlington County and we are excited to announce that this project is, not only retaining nearly 1,000 jobs in Virginia, but also creating 348 additional jobs. I am pleased with our success and will continue to work with industry leaders to ensure the new Virginia economy is innovative, diverse, and competitive in the global marketplace.”
The county and the state competed against the District of Columbia for Grant Thornton’s new office. More from the press release, after the jump.
McAuliffe Under Investigation — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department for possible illegal campaign contributions. [CNN]
Board Accepting Feedback on Blue Ribbon Panel — The County Board’s so-called Blue Ribbon Panel was supposed to help the Board set county priorities without getting bogged down in bureaucracy and process. Instead, the panel’s implementation has been delayed and the county is now asking for public feedback on the panel and its charge. [Arlington County]
The Legacy of ACFD’s First Black Firefighters — The Halls Hill/High View Park community held an event this past weekend to honor the Arlington County Fire Department’s first black professional firefighters. Some members of the original group of 14 black firefighters to staff Arlington’s Fire Station No. 8 were on hand for the event. [InsideNova]
Don Rockwell Profiled — Don Rockwell, the mysterious proprietor of the influential Don Rockwell online restaurant forum, lives along Columbia Pike and dines out just about every day for lunch and dinner. At the end of the profile, Rockwell lists some of his favorite local restaurants and dishes. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by James L.
Big Changes Planned for Ballston Church — The Central United Methodist Church at 4201 Fairfax Drive in Ballston is planning a complete redevelopment of its 30,000 square foot property. Preliminary plans have been filed to build “a new church, a new preschool space, and a seven-story, 132-unit apartment building — 60 percent market-rate and 40 percent dedicated affordable.” [Washington Business Journal]
McAuliffe Signs Bills at Wakefield HS — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed two pieces of education legislation at Wakefield High School yesterday, as pictured above. The new laws “will lead to an overhaul of the state’s high school graduation requirements, aiming to make high school more relevant to the working world” and better supporting students who start a career after high school. [Washington Post, Twitter]
Reagan Airport Bridge Closed This Weekend — Starting at 11 p.m. tonight, through early Monday morning, drivers heading to Reagan National Airport will not be able to access it via the Route 233 bridge over Jefferson Davis Highway. Ongoing construction prompted the planned closure. [Patch]
Solar House for Sale — A “one-of-a-kind luxury home” is for sale in Cherrydale. The five-bedroom house features a 10KW photovoltaic solar panel array, an energy recovery ventilation system, two-story screened porch, two-car garage, third floor loft with wet bar, a 560 square foot rooftop deck, exercise room with yoga/MMA flooring and an outdoor shower. It’s listed at just under $1.9 million. [Truplace]
Reminder: Chamber Hosts Candidate Forum Monday — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is hosting a County Board candidate forum this coming Monday. The forum, featuring a discussion of topics important to the Arlington business community, is taking place from 6-8 p.m. at the Rosslyn Hyatt (1325 Wilson Boulevard). Democrats Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall, and independent Audrey Clement, are set to participate in the forum, which will be moderated by ARLnow.com editor Scott Brodbeck. Tickets are $10. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Photo via Arlington County
McAuliffe to Sign Bills at Wakefield HS — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will sign two pieces of school-related legislation during a visit to Wakefield High School Thursday morning. McAuliffe will sign SB 336/HB 895, which updates and modernizes high school graduation requirements, and SB 573/HB 279, which makes it easier for those in Career and Technical Education fields to become adjunct teachers.
Clement Calls for More Paving — Perennial candidate Audrey Clement, who is running as an independent for County Board, is calling for Arlington County to accelerate its street paving. “There are way too many potholes and cracked and broken pavements for Arlington residents to drive or walk safely to work, school, or shopping centers — let alone to bike,” Clement said. [Audrey Clement]
County Regroups After Crowdfunding Fail — Arlington County tried to raise $10,000 in donations to make the Glebe and Lang Street Community Garden accessible to those with disabilities. After raising only $465, the county is looking for matching funds in its budget to build a scaled-down version of its original plan. [Washington Post]
Basketball Star Selling Lyon Park Home — Trajan Langdon, who recently was named Assistant General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets, is selling his Lyon Park home for $2 million. Langdon was a first round draft pick who struggled in the NBA but went on to stardom in the Euroleague. The home includes a soda machine and a giant walk-in shoe closet. [Real House Life of Arlington]
Proposed CIP Doesn’t Include New High School — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan includes additions to Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools, which will add 800 seats, but does not include a plan for a new high school. Even with the additions, Arlington’s public high schools are expected to be overcapacity by the early 2020s. [InsideNova]
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Governor McAuliffe recently issued an executive order restoring to 206,000 felons who successfully completed their sentences the rights to vote, sit on juries, run for office and become a notary public.
Previous governors explored this question and found that their Constitutional clemency powers required the restoration of these rights to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Some Republicans are arguing McAuliffe is making a blatant political play to help boost Hillary Clinton’s chances win Virginia in November. But some form of restoration of voting rights is an issue with support on both sides of the political aisle.
By using an executive order, however, Governor McAuliffe did an end run around the General Assembly on an issue that clearly should have been subject to public debate and scrutiny. McAuliffe also left open the very real possibility the next governor could modify or eliminate the order altogether which would raise even more Constitutional questions about whether an individual had some, or all of these rights, or not.
The use of the executive order eliminated the opportunity for public scrutiny on important questions. Should individuals be required to apply for the rights or should they be automatic? Should we differentiate between repeat violent offenders and nonviolent first-time offenders? Should rapists be eligible to sit on a jury during a rape trial? Or should people convicted of fraud be given a public trust like being a notary public?
But elected representatives were denied the ability to debate any issues surrounding whether any or all the rights should be restored or in what manner. And not surprisingly, Republicans in the General Assembly are preparing to sue the Governor on the grounds his actions were unconstitutional.
The people of Virginia should be wary whenever a Governor attempts to unilaterally re-write the Virginia Constitution. When Democrat Governor Kaine explored the same question, his legal counsel determined such an executive order would re-write Virginia law and set a very troubling precedent of ignoring his oath to uphold the Constitution. Governor Kaine was right to defer to his oath.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
Basket, a startup that produces a mobile app for saving money while grocery shopping, has moved from the District to Clarendon.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, County Board Chair Libby Garvey and Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins were among the officials on hand today to welcome the company to their new digs at 1220 N. Fillmore Street.
The Commonwealth and the county each provided $125,000 in economic incentives for the firm, which is planning to expand from 9 to 65 employees. Basket is investing $10 million on the new office and the expansion, officials said.
“This is exactly the kind of business we want to attract and grow here,” said Garvey.
The company decided to move to Arlington despite also being wooed by D.C.
“We looked at the number of jobs we would need, and how much we were supposed to grow, we decided we needed a lot more space,” said Andy Ellwood, the company’s president and co-founder and a former employee of the navigation startup Waze. “After moving out of our small coworking space we decided it was the right move for us.”
“We’re trying to build the new Virginia economy, so we have to bring in new innovators,” McAuliffe told ARLnow.com. “I want us to be the tech capital of the United States of America. We have all the education and resources. It’s important that we become less reliant on the federal government.”
McAuliffe’s pitch to tech companies considering Arlington or elsewhere in the Commonwealth: “Virginia has very low taxes, a great education system, and it’s close to the federal government,” he said.
The press release from the governor’s office, after the jump.
The compromise is intended to appease lawmakers from outside the Beltway, many of whom opposed the idea of tolling I-66 without adding capacity to the often clogged highway. It’s likely to rankle some residents in Arlington, where in the 1970s a citizens group formed to oppose the construction of I-66 in the first place. That group now advocates for a “wiser, not wider” I-66.
According to various news reports, the compromise calls for eastbound I-66 to be widened to three through lanes between the Dulles Connector Road the Fairfax Drive/Glebe Road exit, within the existing highway right-of-way.
Outside-the-Beltway lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, were calling for I-66 to be widened before being tolled. The McAuliffe administration’s plan for converting I-66 to high-occupancy toll lanes inside the Beltway during rush hour — tolls for vehicles with 1-2 occupants, free to those with 3 or more occupants — was in danger of being blocked in the Virginia General Assembly without the compromise. The plan originally called for widening to be considered as a last resort, after studying the efficacy of the HOT lanes in improving traffic congestion.
“If we don’t take this deal now, it’s not going to happen for a generation,” state Sen. Barbara Favola said, as quoted by NBC 4.
The deal will allow tolling on I-66 to begin in 2017 and the new lane to be in place by 2020, at a construction cost of $140 million, according to WTOP.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey released a statement on the plan shortly after it was announced, expressing disappointment.
We are disappointed with the news of the amended plan for I-66, which will immediately widen I-66. We respect that Governor McAuliffe and his administration worked hard to protect the earlier plan, which delayed the widening of I-66 until we had several years’ worth of experience with multimodal solutions. We appreciate that — aside from the decision to widen immediately — many of the original elements remain intact:
- Toll revenue is dedicated to multimodal improvements;
- NVTC (our region’s transit agency) receives the toll revenue;
- Local governments retain the authority to spend these funds on local projects; and
- Any widening occurs within existing right-of-way.
As the new plan moves forward, Arlington will be vigilant, working to ensure that appropriate environmental analyses are completed efficiently and comprehensively. We will do all we can to mitigate harm from the widening, and we will explore possible improvements to accompany the widening. As always. Arlington will be working to promote improved regional transit. We need frequent, reliable, and comfortable transit systems along the east-west corridor that get people quickly to where they want to go.
Update at 3:00 p.m. — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has weighed in with an interesting statement, suggesting that Arlington County’s opposition to a partial I-66 widening, as proposed, may not be too strong.
Arlington County had a longstanding agreement that I-66 would not be widened inside the Beltway. Today’s announcement by Governor McAuliffe changes that understanding, and with no public input so far.
My initial reaction is one of concern for Northern Virginians who have worked – many of them for decades – for an alternative approach to big highways. But I continue to learn details of the proposal and to listen to constituents on all sides of this issue.
Early conversations with elected officials who represent Arlington County indicate that Arlington is more open to this partial I-66 widening than in the past, and that the potential benefits from I-66 tolls will bring important transit and multi-modal benefits to the surrounding corridor. I remain dubious about additional asphalt, and await input from my Arlington and other constituents about today’s proposal.
Update at 11:55 a.m. — After the jump, the press release from Gov. McAuliffe’s office.