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An end date is in sight for construction work around the Ballston Metro station.

After two years of navigating the active work site and catching the bus from temporarily relocated stops, transit riders could have access to the updated transit facilities and adjacent public areas sometime next month.

“Right now we have our sights on completion in late October,” said Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

Over the course of four phases, Arlington County aimed to improve the experience of waiting for a bus, getting dropped off by a car, and walking and cycling around the transit hub. The project added:

  • New bus shelters, sidewalks, landscaped planters and benches
  • More bike parking
  • An expanded public space along Fairfax Drive
  • A dedicated “kiss-and-ride” curb space
  • A dedicated shuttle bus curb space and bus shelter
  • Bus stop flag poles
  • Real-time bus information displays

Construction on the four-phase project started in June 2020 and was expected to end in November 2021. But a half dozen “unforeseen conditions” came up during construction, delaying completion by nearly a year, according to a county report.

Before it can sign off on the project, the county says the following three intersections need to be repaved “due to design changes and unforeseen utility work,” per the report.

  • Fairfax Drive and N. Stuart Street
  • Fairfax Drive and N. Stafford Street
  • 9th Street N. and N. Stuart Street

This will cost about $249,000, bringing the total cost of the project to around $5.7 million. The Arlington County Board is set to review a request to authorize this additional spending during its meeting on Saturday.

Contingency funding approved in the initial budget covered the cost of the other surprises. Staff said electric and telecom lines along Fairfax Drive had to be relocated and it took longer than expected to get Dominion Energy to remove existing street light poles.

The underground Metro platform and garages were also closer to the surface than staff initially estimated. To avoid hitting these structures, construction plans had to be updated and one planter had to be redesigned.

Other planters had to be remade because of how the site slopes, while additional pre-made planters had to be purchased because original estimates fell short.

A curb along N. Stafford Street needed to be realigned and a bus landing rebuilt to ensure getting on and off the bus was safe and accessible to people with disabilities.

Pors said county staff are looking forward to wrapping up.

“Obviously, we’re very excited for the completion of this project,” Pors said.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has also finalized where buses will depart from. The listed changes are set to go into effect this Sunday, Sept. 18:

1A to Vienna: Bay F
1B to Dunn Loring: Bay F
2A to Dunn Loring: Bay C
10B to Hunting Point: Bay G
22A to Pentagon: Bay G
23A, 23B, 23T to Shirlington/Crystal City: Bay H
23A, 23T to Tysons: Bay A
25B to Southern Towers/Mark Center: Bay D
38B to Farragut Square: Bay B

Meanwhile, the county is currently working to design proposed west entrance to the Ballston Metro station, located at N. Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street, almost a quarter of a mile west of the existing entrance.

Arlington has sought alternative funding sources to cover the ballooning cost of the project, which it attributes to inflation and having more complete designs.

Some transit advocates have argued that funding for the section entrance should be redirected to cheaper upgrades with greater impact, such as sidewalks, protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes.

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An ART bus and driver (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Metrorail riders could soon enjoy free transfers to Arlington Transit (ART) buses.

The Arlington County Board this Saturday is set to consider covering bus trips for SmarTrip card users who start their one-way trips on the Metro.

This move is part of a broader effort by the county, the region and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to recover ridership rates, which plummeted during the pandemic.

Ordinarily, transfer trips cost $1.50 rather than the full $2. Individual jurisdictions get to decide whether to offer a discount.

“The WMATA Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget includes an increase of the rail to bus transfer discount from $0.50 to $2.00,” notes a staff report to the County Board. “If adopted by Arlington County, the increase in the discount would result in rail-to-bus transfer fare on ART of $0.00 and would align with the WMATA transfer discount.”

Arlington County Transit Bureau Chief Lynn Rivers tells ARLnow that her department supports these free rides because they are a “win-win” for the county, where users need a blend of rail and buses to navigate its Metro corridors and suburbs.

“The more that people are on rail, the better it is for us,” she said. “We really endorse people to use public transit other than single occupancy vehicles. This is another way of doing that — by making another portion free.”

Ridership in Arlington plummeted from 49.5 million bus and rail trips in the 2019-20 fiscal year to 16.1 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year, which ended in June, per the report. This year, Arlington launched two pilot programs to increase ridership while offering reduced rates to low-income riders and students.

The free rides would cost the county $242,000, but Rivers said the tradeoff is that the program could generate more paying Metro customers.

The free transfers, if approved, would go into effect on Oct. 1.

The transfer discount is not the only opportunity for free rides on ART buses this fall. Arlington’s transit service has started testing out zero-emission buses (ZEBs) from several manufacturers as part of a pilot program, and is offering free fares to those who happen to board.

The battery-powered buses will tackle some of ART’s most challenging, hilly routes. The pilot program started Monday and is expected to continue into early 2023.

“The pilot will allow ART to collect data and assess vehicle performance during actual operation in the County,” according to a press release from the county. “Operators will drive ZEBs to test battery performance, range and response to Arlington’s geographic features including steep hills.”

A battery-powered bus by GILLIG (via Arlington County)

In-service test buses will have signs indicating the route and the free fare. Passengers are able to provide online feedback on their ridership experience on these battery-powered buses.

The schedule for this month’s test rides is as follows:

A schedule of free bus rides via a pilot program during September (via Arlington County)

On Friday, the GILLIG battery electric bus will be parked on the 2100 block of 15th Street N. from 1-3 p.m. so people can see it, ask questions and learn more about the pilot program.

Arlington will repeat these pilot rides with two to three additional manufacturers this fall and winter.

Transitioning to zero-emission buses would help the county meet its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, the press release says. Arlington is also working to use renewable electricity for all of its government operations by 2025.

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) A handful of main roads in Arlington may be getting speed limit reductions.

At its meeting this Saturday, the Arlington County Board is slated to vote to advertise a potential reduction in the speed limit on four arterial streets, per a staff report.

The reductions would target road segments with high volumes of pedestrians walking to and from transit stations, schools, apartment buildings and commercial areas, the county says. Among them:

The segments also have more serious and fatal crashes than other roads, the report said.

The selected segment of Washington Blvd, south of Clarendon, sees lots of foot traffic due to the public transit stops on both sides of the road connected by controlled and uncontrolled marked crosswalks, according to the county.

The corridor had 39 crashes in a 5-year period, and is one of the roads in Arlington’s Vision Zero High Injury Network, which accounts for 78% of all serious or fatal crashes. North of Arlington Blvd, the speed limit on Washington Blvd is already 30 mph.

S. Joyce Street, in the Pentagon City area, also has “steady” pedestrian activity due to a transit stop. The county says more people will walk, cycle and scoot along the road — which passes near the Air Force Memorial — once Columbia Pike is realigned to expand Arlington National Cemetery.

Lower speeds here “are essential” for lowering the risk of severe collisions, since the lane widths are limited and have no shoulders, per the report. To improve walkability on this stretch of S. Joyce, the county widened sidewalks and installed new lighting in 2013.

The Dept. of Environmental Services also recommends lowering speeds on the segment of Columbia Pike from S. Dinwiddie Street to the Fairfax County line to account for increased walking and transit use associated with new transit stations. Columbia Pike, with 85 crashes in a five-year period, of which six involved pedestrians, is also part of what has been designated the “High Injury Network.”

Continuing east on Columbia Pike, the speed limit is currently 30 mph.

Meanwhile, a high volume of people walk and cycle across Lorcom Lane to go to and from Dorothy Hamm Middle School, per the report. The school also has foot traffic outside school hours and on weekends, for events such as the Cherrydale Farmers Market, which started last year, despite complaints from some neighbors.

This road saw 18 crashes in six years, and of those, speeding contributed to three crashes.

The county considered, but decided not to lower speeds on segments of S. Walter Reed Drive, S. Four Mile Run Drive and Wilson Blvd from N. Glebe Road to the Fairfax County line — where the limit is currently 30 mph.

At its upcoming meeting, the Board is also expected to enact some speed reductions in Courthouse and Glencarlyn, which were advertised last month. The planned speed limit changes are:

  • Fairfax Drive from Arlington Boulevard to N. Barton Street (30 mph to 25 mph)
  • 5th Road S. from S. Carlin Springs Road to the Fairfax County line (35 mph to 25 mph)
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The Wild West of e-bikes and e-scooter parking is being tamed.

Last month, Arlington County began installing 100 special street parking spaces for shared and private micro-mobility devices. And shared transportation providers such as Bird, LINK and new arrival Veo are footing the bill.

Some locals have long complained that scooter parking blocks pedestrian and, at times, vehicle traffic. These “corrals” are intended to address this problem, now that Arlington permits the operation of up to 350 e-bikes and 2,000 e-scooters.

Each hitching post consists of three bike rack half-loops, which provide six parking spaces, surrounded by flex-posts that make the installation more visible to drivers.

“Scooter and bike corrals are designated parking spots in public areas for people to start and end rides safely,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors. “They are important to keep sidewalks clear for people walking, and aim to cutdown on tripping hazards and other risks for people sharing public spaces.”

About 20 existed in the county as of this past December. Planning and scouting for this new batch of corrals began last year, with the county on track to install 100 corrals by the end of this year and another 100 per year for the next three fiscal years, Pors said.

From start to finish, the process to choose a location and install a corral takes four months and costs about $1,000. The county is funding it with the $80 fee per device per year that micro-mobility companies pay to operate in Arlington.

These stations are being placed where cars are already restricted, such as curbs near intersections, to improve visibility.

“This particular example of placement also helps maintain visibility, so everyone traveling can keep a clear line of sight around high-traffic areas regardless of their mode of transportation,” she said.

As a bonus, drivers don’t lose street parking.

Of the corrals in place, most are located along the Rosslyn-Ballston and Route 1 (Crystal City/Pentagon City) corridors, where the bulk of rides have started since e-scooters and bikes arrived in 2018.

“The team is selecting corral locations throughout the county based on data showing where micro-mobility trips are being made,” Pors said.

The county, meanwhile, is taking suggestions for more locations — and maybe a different name, too.

 

Cycling advocate Gillian Burgess said in a tweet that she would like to see additional corrals in Arlington’s more suburban neighborhoods, where sidewalks are narrow and are easily blocked by bikes and e-scooters.

“They should put a corral by every crosswalk, to increase visibility,” she said. “They could start at [N. Nelson Street] at the crosswalk for the Custis Trail, which is also a hub stop.”

https://twitter.com/NeilBakesBikes/status/1567202084591747076

Although the corrals are placed where cars cannot park, one Twitter user observed that some drivers will just stop somewhere else — like a bike lane.

https://twitter.com/zacycles/status/1567267663084244999

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Veo e-bikes at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Rhodes Street in Rosslyn (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Hundreds of additional e-bikes are arriving in Arlington.

The Chicago-based Veo is in the process of deploying 400 new e-bikes across the county. It’s the latest e-bike company to move into Arlington, joining Lime. Next month, Veo will also launch 300 e-bikes in Alexandria.

“Arlington and Alexandria have long been at the forefront of urban mobility as adopters of the region’s bikeshare system over a decade ago,” Veo CEO Candice Xie said in a press release. “We’re working closely with local leaders to increase the use of shared mobility in the region and bring new riders into the fold with our class 2 e-bike.”

While the bikes are dockless, there are a number of hubs in the county. Most of them are centered in Metro-accessible locations, per a map provided by the company to ARLnow.

The bikes themselves are class 2 throttle-assisted, making them the only shared e-bikes in the county with a throttle. Most e-bikes are pedal-assisted, so they act like regular bikes but with an electric motor. Throttle-assisted allows the user to accelerate up to 20 miles per hour without pedaling.

While some states require a license to operate a throttle-assisted bike, Virginia is not one of those states. The Commonwealth does require “protective headgear,” though.

“Our class-II e-bikes were inspected in person by both [Arlington and Alexandria]. After approval, we applied for the unallocated e-bike permits and were granted permission to operate,” a Veo spokesperson wrote ARLnow.

The company is currently in more than 40 markets, but Arlington is only the second locality in the area. The University of Maryland and College Park, Maryland was the first launch location in the D.C. area, introducing Veo e-bikes in 2019.

“Veo has been securing sustainable, long-term partnerships with universities and cities across the country since 2017,” wrote a company spokesperson. “We currently provide service to over 40 markets — ranging from the university markets like UMD, to the country’s largest urban areas like New York City and Los Angeles. Arlington and Alexandria are great markets for micromobility, and Veo is excited to see how our class II e-bikes can improve mobility for residents, workers, and visitors.”

In late 2019, the County Board adopted regulations that allowed for the permanent use of e-bikes and scooters in the county. This includes allowing them on the W&OD and the Mount Vernon trails.

Currently, a total of up to 1,000 e-bikes are allowed to operate in the county.

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Members of the public can weigh in on proposed improvements to a stretch of S. George Mason Drive that’s being studied.

The road renovation project from Arlington Blvd to the Fairfax County border is part of the South George Mason Drive Multimodal Transportation Study, which aims to “identify improvements” along this “key corridor,” according to the project’s website.

Residents can provide online feedback on proposed design concepts through Sunday, Aug. 7.

The stretch of the roadway being studied is divided into three segments:

  • between Arlington Blvd and Columbia Pike
  • between Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive
  • between S. Four Mile Run Drive and the Fairfax County border
A plan showing the first design concept for the three road segments (via Arlington County)

Earlier this month, the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services released its preliminary designs for the three road segments. The first option for all three segments would separate cyclists and cars into different lanes on both sides of the road, and widen the sidewalks and the vegetation buffers on both sides to six feet, according to the concept plans.

However, this design would increase the number of lanes pedestrians have to cross, as well as remove sections of on-street parking and require additional right-of-way behind the curb. Buses would also have to enter the bike lane to pick up passengers, instead of pulling up to the curb, according to an online community meeting.

A plan showing the second design concept for the first road segment between Arlington Blvd and Columbia Pike (via Arlington County)

The second option for the segment from Arlington Boulevard to Columbia Pike would widen the west side sidewalk to a 12-foot, multi-use trail and the east sidewalk to six feet. It would also narrow the driving lanes while keeping the parking lane on the east side. The new multi-use trail would connect several county parks, such as Alcova Heights Park and trails like the Arlington Boulevard Trail.

However, this design would remove parking on the west side and require signal phasing changes to reduce conflict with people on the multi-use trail.

A plan showing the second design concept for the second road segment between Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive (via Arlington County)

The second design option for the segment from Columbia Pike to S. Four Mile Run Drive would be largely similar except it would keep the two parking lanes on both sides of the road.

A plan showing the second design concept for the third road segment between S. Four Mile Run Drive and the Fairfax County border (via Arlington County)

The second design plan for the third road segment would narrow all the driving lanes between S. Four Mile Run and the Fairfax County border to 11 feet and the central median to 14 feet, but it would widen the vegetation buffers on both sides and the sidewalk on the west side to a 12-foot, multi-use trail.

However, this plan may result in tree removal due to narrowing the central median, as well as the removal of some parking spots at intersections and driveways. The county would need to consider more design details, such as how the new road would interact with the driveways of houses along the road segment.

The corridor study is set to conclude between October and November this year. The county then plans to apply for grant funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

Photos via Google Maps

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A temporary roundabout on Military Road (staff photo)

A temporary roundabout along Military Road has garnered strong feelings as a deadline for community feedback nears.

The pilot project at Military Road and Nelly Custis Drive launched in October, with bollards in place to direct traffic around the center, and has reduced speeds on all approaches, according to data the county recently released. Benefits to pedestrians are less clear, as vehicle rates were varied and there were small sample sizes for pedestrian crossings.

The data collected on the roundabout’s use will be considered, as well as community feedback — which is being collected through this coming Monday, June 6 — when the county decides in October whether to make the roundabout permanent or to configure an intersection with a stop light instead.

A preliminary mock-up of a signal at the Nelly Custis and Military Road intersection (via Arlington County)

More than 100 comments flooded a Nextdoor post that outlined takeaways from a community meeting last month on the pilot.

“By my observation, all but one or two of the citizens present were opposed to the roundabout at the intersection of Military Road and Nelly Custis Drive,” one user wrote about a recent meeting on the roundabout. “The bottom line is that the County is dead set on ‘re-engineering’ that intersection. Returning the intersection to the way it was for 50+ years was not even contemplated, and it either will have a permanent roundabout or a three-way traffic signal.”

Another resident said “this roundabout is absolutely a solution looking for a problem.”

But other posters — especially those who use the roundabout as pedestrians and cyclists — expressed support, stating that the roundabout “is both more efficient and safer, for cars and for pedestrians.”

The Nelly Custis Drive intersection was identified in the county’s Vision Zero action plan as a location for improvements to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The roundabout is supposed to increase allow more vehicle traffic, shorten crossing distances for people walking through the intersection, provide predictable turning movements and reduce vehicle speeding.

“Our focus is meeting the project goals of increasing safe, accessible travel for people walking, biking, driving and taking transit through this intersection,” Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors said.

The Old Glebe Civic Association, which is located well to the north of the roundabout but along the commuter route of Military Road, has long fought against the pilot, saying the changes were unwarranted and there were no significant safety concerns at the intersection.

“Detractors contend that the new pattern has generated confusion and near-accidents, that it is difficult to navigate, and that the required merging of auto and cyclist traffic is particularly dangerous and difficult for cyclists… OGCA pledges continued opposition to the roundabout,” the association wrote in an April newsletter.

Prior to the pilot, Nelly Custis Drive met Military Road at the intersection in a T-shape, with a stop sign for traffic on northbound Military Road.

The OGCA previously said three crashes occurred over eight years, including two involving bicycles, out of the approximately 32 million vehicles that passed through the intersection during that period.

Per Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services data, about 11,000 vehicles pass through the intersection daily. In a presentation last summer, county staff said conversions to roundabouts reduce pedestrian crashes by 27%, while conversions from stop-controlled intersections reduce injury crashes by 82%.

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Traffic on the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge at the exits for Route 50 and the GW Parkway in 2021 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated on 6/2) Wider sidewalks may be coming to a major Potomac River crossing.

The long-awaited rehabbing of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, one of the main thoroughfares connecting Arlington to D.C., will result in a new paint job, updated overhead lights, and significant widening of sidewalks, a new D.C. Department of Transportation report says.

Later this week, the National Capital Planning Commission will meet to approve a new report that focuses on much-needed repairs and rehabilitation of 58-year-old bridge that carries I-66 traffic over the river.

Plan for expanded sidewalks on the Roosevelt Bridge (via National Capital Planning Commission)

The report calls for the bridge to be repainted to its original white color, as well as for updating the overhead lighting and doubling the sidewalk width for pedestrians on both sides of the bridge. It notes that the current sidewalk widths, varying between four and six feet, “do not meet safety standards.”

Neither do the current barriers separating pedestrians from traffic, which are steel columns that are only a few feet high.

“The existing traffic barriers between the sidewalk and traffic lanes provide minimal protection from pedestrians and do not meet current safety standards,” says the report.

While the bridge is owned, operated, and maintained by DDOT, Arlington County has a significant stake in this rehab project considering that it’s one of the main connectors to D.C.

“TR Bridge has been a subject of discussion between our staff and DDOT for over a decade. Arlington has always strongly advocated for improving pedestrian and bicycle facilities on the TR Bridge,” Arlington County Director of Transportation Dennis Leach told ARLnow. “The existing conditions, both on the north side and south side, are pretty meager and really not up to current standards.”

There are also “long term goals” to further connect the sidewalks to more pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares.

On the north side, the walkway connects the Mount Vernon trail in Rosslyn to the Kennedy Center Reach ramp. However, on the south side, the sidewalk currently does not connect to any trail or pedestrian-accessible walkway. Leach acknowledges that taking the south side walkway from D.C. to Rosslyn the entire way currently ends in a dangerous place.

You end up in the middle of the ramp system between Arlington Boulevard, Route 50, 110, and the Parkway,” he says.

The National Park Service, Arlington County, and the Virginia Department of Transportation are working together to look into the possibility of connecting the south side of the Roosevelt Bridge sidewalk to the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn, Leach notes.

He also brought up that beyond day-to-day traffic, the Roosevelt Bridge is a particularly important connection between Rosslyn and the National Mall, be it for emergency response or for special events like the Fourth of July. The entire bridge length is about 3,200 feet or about .7 miles, so it is short enough to walk and bike across.

“Currently, the sidewalk infrastructure is insufficient to provide good, safe connections between the National Mall and Rosslyn,” Leach says.

Despite it being unsafe, DDOT tells ARLnow that they are “not aware”of any pedestrian-related incidents or accidents within the bridge sidewalk.

In terms of repainting work that also will be done, that has more to do with “a cohesive aesthetic” than safety.

“Staff recommends that the Commission note that DDOT would repaint all structural steel on the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to match its original white color designed to create a cohesive aesthetic between the bridge and nearby monuments and the Arlington Memorial Bridge,” reads the report.

Work isn’t expected to start for awhile, though. The project’s final design phase won’t completed for another year, a DDOT spokesperson writes to ARLnow in an email, until early summer 2023.  At this point, it’s anticipated that construction will begin at the end of 2023 or early 2024 and will take four to five years to complete, the spokesperson said.

However, the sidewalk widening will be among the first elements of the project to be completed and could happen by the end of 2024.

Currently, DDOT is in the midst of “emergency repairs” that has shut down three lanes of traffic through at least June.

Nonetheless, Leach is confident that when the project does happen, the widening of sidewalks and adding better barriers separating pedestrians from traffic on the Roosevelt Bridge will make Arlington a more pedestrian-friendly place.

“We’ve talked about this project for over a decade,” he says. “These long term collaborations actually yield results. And I think this bridge rehab will bring a really good result for the District, Arlington and the region.”

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Members of Congress from Virginia are pushing the federal government to help fund proposed changes to Route 1.

The changes, while still being hashed out by VDOT and local officials, would lower elevated portions of Route 1 through Crystal City to grade, turning it into a lower-speed “urban boulevard.” VDOT is also mulling at least one pedestrian bridge or tunnel at 18th Street S., near the Metro station, to improve safety.

With the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 on track to open in Pentagon City in 2023, state and local officials see a need to turn the area — collectively known as National Landing — into a more cohesive downtown and economic center. Key to that vision is revamping Route 1, also known as Richmond Highway, which effectively separates Pentagon City from Crystal City.

At last check, cost estimates for the project were around $200 million.

Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation would like to see the feds foot much of the bill, through funding from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill.

In a joint letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the lawmakers say argue that the Route 1 project meets all criteria for funding through the infrastructure bill.

“This grant request will allow Virginia to convert the Route 1 corridor in Arlington into a multimodal urban boulevard that prioritizes pedestrian safety in a walkable environment,” the wrote. “VDOT is developing multimodal solutions for Route 1 to meet National Landing’s transportation needs with the coming of Amazon and other related developments.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), along with Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.), and Robert Wittman (R-Va.).

“The Commonwealth’s commitment to Amazon is to improve safety, accessibility, and the pedestrian experience crossing Route 1,” the lawmakers wrote. “Investment in National Landing will produce significant, measurable benefits to the economy, health, and safety of local citizens… This project satisfies all the merit criteria outlined in the federal grant opportunity, especially the priorities of providing economic, state of good repair, environmental, and equity benefits.

The letter also argues for the project’s fiscal benefits, including reducing bridge maintenance costs and providing acres of additional land for development.

“The transformation of Route 1 to an urban boulevard includes the removal of three bridge structures from the VDOT inventory, which will reduce long term maintenance costs,” the letter said. “Modifications to the I-395 interchange will remove a structurally deficient bridge and avoid future replacement or rehabilitation costs, while also extending the urban boulevard to the north which will contribute to lower speeds.”

“[The project] increases the accessibility to job centers through the proposed access improvements, which will benefit residents of all income levels,” the letter continues. “The project will create approximately 6.5 acres of excess right-of-way resulting in high value developable land.”

Another hoped-for benefit: fewer cars and better safety features.

“It will reduce the need for single-occupancy vehicle trips in favor of environmentally friendly options such as enhanced transit service, walkability, biking routes,” said the letter. “The project also includes multiple innovative solutions, such as a progressive design-build strategy and a pilot safety project to implement near-miss crash technology in National Landing.”

The completion of VDOT’s Phase 2 study of the proposed changes is currently expected to wrap up in early 2023. While the project has general support from the county and the business community, some residents have expressed concerns about whether taking away overpasses in favor of at-grade crossings actually makes things more dangerous for pedestrians.

Much of the congressional delegation, led by Kaine, also wrote a letter to Buttigieg supporting funding for an I-64 connector to ease congestion between Richmond and Hampton Roads.

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Arlington County staff present the details of County Manager Mark Schwartz’s $3.9 billion CIP for 2023-32 (via Arlington County)

From a new Columbia Pike library to a dedicated pickleball court, County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed 10-year $3.9 billion capital improvement plan would fund projects across Arlington.

The first 10-year plan for capital projects in four years would budget for infrastructure projects between 2023 and 2032. The CIP proposal, slated for adoption in July, is a 40% increase from the plan approved four years ago, Schwartz said in his presentation to the County Board Tuesday.

“This CIP proposal aims to address current and future capital needs in Arlington County as we emerge from the financial setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schwartz said in a statement. “We want to focus on key planned investments in addition to following through on commitments from prior plans to benefit county residents and businesses long-term.”

Stormwater projects would receive $331.3 million in funding, including $77 million for Spout Run, $14.7 million for Torreyson Run, $28.5 million for Crossman Run and $49.5 million for Lubber Run — all flood mitigation efforts. Streams and water quality funding is proposed at $52.1 million and maintenance at $50.2 million.

A slideshow outlining what Arlington’s investment in environmental goals looks like in the 2023-32 CIP (via Arlington County)

While Metro remains one of the largest investments in the CIP, at $356.4 million, the proposal also outlines $1.8 billion in non-Metro transportation funding. This includes $16 million for Vision Zero street safety improvements program, $64 million for bridge replacements and renovations, and $89 million for bike and walk programs.

Other highlights include:

The proposed CIP includes new park programs that focus on emerging needs and natural resiliency, a new fire station on the west end of Columbia Pike, and facilities consolidation to enable remote work for county staff.

Schwartz said the needs of the county have changed since the last 10-year CIP, as the county is in “a world shaped by the pandemic where we do our business differently.”

Michelle Cowan, deputy county manager overseeing the Department of Management and Finance, noted during the presentation that the finance department works entirely remotely now, potentially a harbinger of a money-saving reduction in the county’s office footprint.

“We have reduced our footprint which… allows us then to do some really strategic consolidations that you’ll hear about in other county buildings that could get us out of some aging assets,” Cowan said.

The CIP will continue to fund debt service obligations for the investment in housing at Barcroft Apartments, construction of Fire Station 8, which is scheduled to be completed in fall 2023, and the design and planning process for the proposed Arlington boathouse.

Preliminary construction funding for the lower boathouse site is included in the later years of the CIP.

This CIP returns funding levels for the Arlington Neighborhoods Program, formerly the Neighborhood Conservation Program, which are projects identified by individual neighborhoods and include street improvements, streetlights, parks, beautification and sidewalks. The program had steep cuts in previous CIPs.

The 2023-32 CIP proposal would provide $85.2 million in funding to the program. That includes $4 million of funding for projects in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, and would increase to $9 million in 2030 and 2031, Director of Management and Finance Maria Meredith said.

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Several items before the County Board on Saturday would tee up an Arlington Transit bus facility construction in Green Valley — to the chagrin of two communities.

The Board will consider approving the use of the new bus facility for commercial parking, temporarily relocating about 30 ART buses to a Virginia Square site during construction, revising a lease to accommodate the temporary storage, and making contract amendments.

Construction on the project off Shirlington Road, which is budgeted at $97 million, is set to start in late spring, per a board report.

The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association is concerned with the county’s plans to use the approximately 6-acre “Buck site” along N. Quincy Street for temporary bus storage. The association claims the property isn’t zoned as a bus dispatch and storage site, and it would be disruptive to the neighborhood.

County officials said in December that property is the only available and affordable site zoned for vehicle storage. Ahead of construction, 29 buses will go to the N. Quincy Street site, while 12 will move to a bus site on S. Eads Street, which opened in 2017 near Crystal City.

“Other sites were considered, both County-owned and private facilities, but these did not meet all the suitability criteria needed to maintain service delivery to our transit riders,” county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said in a statement. “If the Board approves the application for the use permit, the County has committed to being a good neighbor to minimize impacts to the largest extent possible and be responsive to concerns that may arise from this temporary use.”

Layout of the county-owned 1425 N. Quincy Street site with the temporary Arlington Transit (ART) bus storage (via Arlington County)

Currently, the county uses the site across from Washington-Liberty High School to park some fire and police vehicles, as well as a portion of the Arlington Public Schools vehicle fleet. An item before the Board this weekend would amend its lease with the School Board to move those vehicles to another part of the site.

The local civic association, however, is opposed to the plan.

“Our neighborhood — like any other in Arlington — should shoulder its fair share of uses that benefit the broader community, even if that sometimes means greater noise, traffic, and pollution,” BVSCA President James Rosen said in a statement. “But placing buses on the Quincy site fails to meet the standard for a good — let alone lawful — use of land the County paid over $30 million to acquire in 2017, of which the County has since written off $5 million.”

Before the county purchased the property, which is zoned for light industrial uses, it was home to family establishments like Jumping Joeys and Dynamic Gymnastics. The county, facing a shortage of land for school and government operations, saw the purchase as a possible school bus facility, which the surrounding community also opposed at the time.

“The noxious effects of the operation of ART buses… will not only put our health and safety at risk, but will compromise the livability of our neighborhood, and put our students and visitors in dangerous situations,” Rosen said.

Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services previously said the peak times of the high school and bus dispatches aren’t the same so it doesn’t think that student safety will be an issue.

Projected route activity for the temporary bus facility on N. Quincy Street (via Arlington County)

Through 2025, buses will be parked at and dispatched from the N. Quincy Street site on weekdays, with a majority of movement happening between 4 a.m. and 9 p.m., according to the board report. The buses parked on the site would serve six ART bus routes, mostly in north Arlington.

Maintenance and refueling activities would not occur on-site but buses may leave to be maintenanced at other county facilities on weekends.

Green Valley facility

As ART has increased its routes and hours of service over the last decade, and anticipates continuing to increase service over the next 20 years, the operations and maintenance facility in Green Valley is needed, according to a board report.

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