Arlington, VA

This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

Arlingtonians are passionate about their trees and many are concerned about our tree canopy. We are, too!

Trees help our community in myriad ways. They keep us cool and shaded, soak up stormwater, support local wildlife and much more. We aren’t going out on a limb when we say there is a direct connection between trees and energy. Planting the right trees in the right places can keep your house and community cooler in the summer and reduce your energy bills.

Trees cast shade on buildings and pavement, lowering the temperatures and reducing the need for electricity to cool buildings during the summer.

Get a free shade tree planted in your yard without lifting a finger.

In 2009 the Tree Canopy Fund (TCF), was launched after Arlington County Board approval in 2007 with the goals of arresting the decline and restoring and increasing the County’s tree cover over time.

Administered by EcoAction Arlington and the Arlington County Urban Forestry Commission (UFC), the fund provides grants to individuals and community groups to plant trees on private property. More than 1,200 trees have been planted since the program started.

Click to learn more about the trees available and to fill out the application.

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Morning Notes

DEA Staying in Pentagon City — “The Arlington County Board today approved an incentive grant that will keep the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, in Pentagon City following a lengthy federal competitive bid process. The agency occupies more than 511,000 square feet of space, and employs about 3,000 people at its Pentagon City location.” [Arlington County]

‘Take Your Child to Work Day’ for Cristol — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol’s new baby boy made his public debut at Thursday’s meeting for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. [Twitter]

Activists Still Pressing for Tree Removal Explanation — “Remember back last year, when top Arlington officials said they would provide the public – in writing – with the reasons the government would not take further steps to protect removal of a tree that had become symbolic to environmental activists across the county? You may have forgotten, but those activists have not.” [InsideNova]

‘Notable’ Trees Recognized — “Arlington has more than 750,000 trees of at least 122 species that provide $6.89 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in the form of pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings, and avoided stormwater runoff. The Arlington County Board will designate 24 of these trees as Notable Trees at its April 25 Recessed Meeting. [Arlington County]

Water Main Break in Fairlington — Some 100 Arlington households were without water service for part of Thursday due to emergency water main repairs in the Fairlington neighborhood. [Twitter]

Gerber Incentives Pass — Gerber’s move to Arlington is one step closer thanks to an incentive package unanimously approved by the County Board on Tuesday. The package is divided between money from the state’s Commonwealth Opportunity Fund (COF) — $862,500 — and money earmarked for nearby infrastructure upgrades — another $862,500.

Nearby: Alexandria Peeved By Metro Surprise — “A month after Metro learned additional closures would be needed at the end of this summer’s Blue and Yellow line shutdown, Alexandria’s City Council lit into the agency’s top leaders Tuesday night about why the Virginia city and the public only learned of the extended work through a news release last week.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Arlington County is making the case, in a recently published video, that trees make good economic sense for residents.

For one, “homes on tree lined streets, versus streets that have no trees on them, sell faster and for more than homes” without trees, according to local real estate agent Eli Tucker, who also pens a sponsored real estate column on ARLnow.

Trees can increase a home’s value by 15 percent, Tucker said.

Another reason for keeping a tree canopy around your house: mature trees can help reduce the risk of flooding and can save on heating and air conditioning costs — to the tune of an up to 25 percent savings on energy costs.

The video was created by Arlington TV, the county government’s video production arm and cable channel.

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Crews have been cutting down trees along I-395 to make room for sound-mitigating walls expected to help buffer noise from expanding the highway’s HOV lanes.

Drivers may notice construction crews clear cutting trees and brush along I-395 where large new concrete wall panels are being set up.

The walls are being built because officials expect more traffic to result from their two-year project extending I-395’s Express Lanes through Alexandria and Arlington to the D.C. border.

The eight-mile, $475 million project converts two HOV lanes to HOT lanes, and adds a third HOT lane, between Turkeycock Run at Edsall Road to Eads Street near the Pentagon and is scheduled to finish later this year. The construction is taking place within the highway’s existing right-of-way.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) contracted Australia-based toll company Transurban to build and operate the project. VDOT directed ARLnow’s requests for comment about tree removal to Transurban.

Transurban spokesman Michael McGurk acknowledged residents may be upset about losing the trees, but the company”takes as much care as possible where it comes to tree removal” and is “committed to adding landscaping” along the walls.

McGurk also noted that the company is giving grants to communities for new tree planting or “other beautification projects” and that neighborhood can apply for a grant by March 31. He also said the wall construction is “on time and on budget” with southbound walls scheduled to be completed this summer, and northbound walls expected next spring.

The construction of the walls was preceded by a community outreach. In 2017, wall contractor AECOM polled residents who lived near I-395 in the Fairlington neighborhood if they wanted sound walls built to mitigate noise from the highway. The vote came at the same time the Fairlington Civic Association (FCA) wrote that its residents were concerned that the proposed 25-foot walls required 10 feet of clearance on both sides, likely necessitating tree removal.

The HOT lane expansion has been touted as a way to increase revenue for other local infrastructure upgrades, with Transburan pledging to pay $15 million each year to local jurisdictions for projects like renovating bridges and re-doing the Pentagon’s south parking lot.

Read Transurban’s complete comment below:

The project team takes as much care as possible where it comes to tree removal. We know how much the community cherishes the tree canopy and how important the trees are to our environment. VDOT and the 395 project team has committed to adding landscaping in identified areas along sound walls. And, Transurban, the operator of the 395 Express Lanes, has provided many of the neighborhoods along the corridor a grant to plant trees or to pay for other beautification projects. We invite any neighborhood in the 395 corridor to apply for one of our quarterly grants… The next deadline is March 31st.

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(Updated at 12:33 a.m.) A row of trees lining the railroad tracks near Long Bridge Park in Crystal City is no more after CSX crews began removing them last week, upsetting some residents who say they were an important part of the park’s aesthetic.

Dominique Williams lives nearby in Crystal City and says she comes to the park every day for an afternoon walk. After not visiting for the last week, she was shocked to see the trees gone when she went on a stroll earlier this week.

“When I saw it this morning I said what is going on?” said Williams, gesturing at the pile of broken limbs once a part of the trees she said gave a je ne sais quoi to her daily stroll.

“This takes a lot away from the park,” she said. “It had a vibe, really, and now it’s not there anymore.”

Crews could be seen cutting up stumps and gathering timber for the shredder along the train tracks on Tuesday.

Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow that CSX is removing the trees, not the county, as the land where the trees were growing belongs to the freight rail company.

CSX spokeswoman Sheriee S. Bowman said the company to aims to “positively impact the environment” but had to remove the trees due to an ongoing construction project to build a road running parallel to the tracks.

“This project was designed with the goal of disturbing as few trees as possible, but due to property limitations parallel to the tracks, some tree removal on CSX’s right-of-way was unavoidable,” said Bowman. “Upon completion of the road, CSX will plant 220 new trees and 188 new shrubs in the project area – more than the 217 that will be removed.”

More from CSX’s statement:

“We have chosen native tree and shrub species which will provide a more robust green space than what was previously in place. Additionally, crews will clean trash and debris that has accumulated in this area. The project has been scheduled in close coordination with Arlington County and CSX has maintained open lines of communication with the Crystal City Civic Association and local residents on local impacts. Construction for this project began on March 4th and should be completed by early May.”

Late last year the company notified the Crystal City Civic Association that it intended to remove trees for the construction of a planned access road near the park.

More from the civic association, via a December Facebook post:

CSX has submitted plans for County permits to install an access gate at the 12th Street entrance to Long Bridge Park and an access road along the tracks. This replacement is needed since the current access at the northern end of Long Bridge Park will end when the County’s construction of the Aquatics and Fitness Center starts. The issue will come before the County Board this Saturday, December 15, for approval.

CSX has shown that the gate and road will be built on its property. There will be no changes to the entrance to the park, 12th Street, or Crystal Drive. Beyond the end of the map shown, the road will run parallel to the tracks for about a half mile up to the signals. It will be asphalt from the gate down to the track level and gravel the remainder to the signals.

CSX designed the project with the goal of disturbing as few trees as possible, but due to the limited property parallel to the tracks, some removal on CSX Right of Way is unavoidable. However, the plan includes extensive tree and shrub replanting after construction with more trees and shrubs than are there today. After construction, the new access road (which will be on CSX ROW parallel to the tracks) will be used by light pickup trucks for the signal maintainers and track inspectors. Under normal circumstances, they would probably use the access road 2-3 times a week.

Another Crystal City resident said it’s important to balance business needs with the community but that her family will miss the trees when they come to the park now.

“You can’t stop progress but we would have liked if they kept the trees,” she said

Jim, a retired Fairfax resident who also uses the park, said “overall it’s a positive” that the trees are gone because it also led to the removal of litter and construction debris — what he described as a “garbage dump” — next to the tracks.

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Morning Notes

Student Population Predicted to Keep Rising — “Arlington school officials say they now anticipate the total student population to rise an additional 24 percent by 2028, and the latest round of projections has raised fears the school system could fall further behind in its efforts to keep up with elementary-school enrollment.” [InsideNova]

Amazon to First Come to Rosslyn? — “Amazon.com Inc. is said to be in talks to take some or all of the planned WeWork co-working space set to open in Rosslyn later this year as it plots its longer term growth at National Landing,” reports the Washington Business Journal. ARLnow has also heard from a commercial real estate source that Amazon will station its initial Arlington “HQ2” employees at the Rosslyn WeWork, while its temporary space in Crystal City is built out, but we have been able to confirm the rumor. [Washington Business Journal]

Local Elm Tree Honored — An American elm tree on S. Randolph Street “has become the first elm tree to be named a specimen tree in Arlington County.” [Arlington County]

Police Outreach Meeting Postponed — “Due to projected inclement weather, the North Outreach Team Quarterly Meeting scheduled for… January 29, has been postponed. Event details on the rescheduled meeting will be provided at a later time.” [Twitter]

Patient Stops By Fire Station to Thank Rescuers — “Andrew stopped by Fire Station 10 to show his gratitude after being extricated from his overturned Jeep last week on Route 110. Andrew was released from the hospital one day after the accident with no life threatening injuries.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Landmark Mall Development Update — “There are several years until any major construction activity occurs at Landmark Mall, but Alexandria and the mall’s owner are homing in now on the parameters that will guide the nearly 6 million-square-foot redevelopment… Buildings could rise as high as 250 feet, per one recommendation.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Christmas Tree Pickup Underway — For residents eligible for Arlington County’s trash collection service, the special curbside Christmas tree service is currently underway. Trees will be hauled away on the regular trash collection day through Jan. 11 and turned into mulch. [Arlington County]

Shutdown Could Hurt Local Businesses — “In Greater Washington, that could mean about 40 percent of approximately 362,000 federal workers — about 145,000 — would not receive roughly $15 million per day in pay, according to rough estimates… The shutdown is likely to hit industries that depend heavily on the discretionary spending of federal workers and contractors.” [Washington Business Journal]

Would-Be Local Amazon Locations — Among the places Amazon could have gone to in Northern Virginia, if it did not pick the Pentagon City and Crystal City area for its new office campus, were Alexandria near the Eisenhower Metro station and Rosslyn, with a prominent skyline view along the Potomac. [Washington Business Journal]

Ads on Virginia School Buses? — “Advertising on the back end of school buses? It could be coming to the Old Dominion. The state legislature again this session will consider a proposal by Del. Israel O’Quinn (R-Bristol) allowing school districts to place commercial advertising between the rear wheels and the rear of the bus.” [InsideNova]

Metro Touts Fewer Fires — “Metro will end 2018 with the lowest number of insulator-related smoke/fire incidents in years – 66 percent fewer compared to 2016 – despite record rainfall this year. Water infiltration in Metro’s tunnels has historically been the leading cause of such incidents.” [WMATA]

Pre-Boarding Snafu at DCA — “A couple says their holiday trip to Virginia was ruined by a traumatic incident on their flight home. A disabled husband was forced to pre-board alone, while his sick wife had to stay behind at the gate” for a Southwest Airlines flight at Reagan National Airport. [Fox 5]

Flickr pool photo by Maryland Nomadic

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Morning Notes

ACPD Helps With Bush Funeral — Arlington County Police Department motor officers “had the honor of assisting with escorts” for the George H.W. Bush funeral yesterday. [Twitter]

Arlington County Named LGBTQ ‘All-Star’ — “For the third year in a row, Arlington has received national recognition for its protections of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community members. The County scored 92 out of 100 on the Municipal Equality Index (MEI)… because it scored at least an 85 despite being in a state without supportive state-level LGBTQ protections, the County also earned ‘all-star’ recognition.” [Arlington County]

Bikeshare Station Coming to Gravelly Point — A Capital Bikeshare station was being installed along the Mt. Vernon Trail at Gravelly Point Park yesterday. [Twitter]

County, Volunteers Planting Trees — “This fall alone, the Tree Stewards has planted about 300 trees. The group planned on planting 900, but the ice and snow in early November steered it a little off track. Arlington County contractors picked up the rest of the job.” [WDVM]

Flickr pool by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

Reminder: Yellow Line Shutdown Starts Today — There will be no Yellow Line service today through Sunday, Dec. 9 as Metro works to repair the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac. Yellow Line riders can instead take the Blue Line and/or free shuttle service. [ARLnow, Twitter]

New ‘Clarendon Circle’ Traffic Restriction — Work on improvements to the busy “Clarendon Circle” intersection are underway and have resulted in at least one traffic pattern change. During construction, drivers will not be allowed to make the “tricky” left from eastbound Washington Blvd to Clarendon Blvd, and will instead have to follow a detour via N. Kirkwood Road. [Twitter, Arlington County]

Civ Fed Prepares Tree Canopy Resolution — “The Arlington County Civic Federation in December will weigh in on the development plan of Upton Hill Regional Park and, more broadly, on Arlington government policies on retaining or removing trees during redevelopment on public land. A resolution demanding a temporary halt to current development plans at Upton Hill was introduced at the Civic Federation’s Nov. 13 meeting and will be debated and voted on Dec. 4.” [InsideNova]

Minor Bluemont House Fire — Firefighters extinguished an out-of-control fire in the fireplace of a Bluemont house Saturday night. No injuries were reported but the home, on the 900 block of N. Frederick Street, suffered some smoke damage. [Twitter, Twitter]

Another Traffic Nightmare at DCA — As if the gridlock caused by the Veterans Day shutdown of the National Airport Metro station wasn’t bad enough, the traffic nightmare repeated itself Sunday evening, during one of the busiest travel days of the year. Some drivers reported spending hours trying to get to and from the airport. [NBC Washington, Twitter]

CBS Looks at Clarendon’s Vpoint Apartments — On Saturday morning, CBS News took a close look at the vPoint affordable housing project in Clarendon. The project, which converted a stand-alone church to a combination worship space and apartment building, is potentially a model for other communities struggling with affordable housing. At the time, however, the redevelopment faced lawsuits and other community opposition. [YouTube]

Amazon News Roundup — Arlington saw only modest successes in its quest to pitch itself as a tech hub over the past few years, but Amazon’s arrival changes that narrative in a big way. That said, half of the jobs Amazon brings to Arlington will be non-technical. Meanwhile, Amazon may benefit lower-income residents in New York City more than in Arlington, as subcontractors in New York will be subject to the state’s $15 per hour minimum wage; Virginia’s minimum wage is currently the federal $7.25 per hour minimum. And Nashville, some say, will be the biggest winner in terms of Amazon’s new presence boosting the local commercial real estate market.

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(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Parks officials have signed off on some big changes at Theodore Roosevelt Island, including the rehabilitation of a troublesome section of the Mt. Vernon Trail and the addition of several new landing spots for small boats and kayaks.

The National Park Service announced yesterday (Monday) that it will move ahead with a variety of construction projects on the island, located off the George Washington Memorial Parkway near Rosslyn, after settling on some final designs and certifying they’ll have minimal environmental impacts on the island.

Some of the changes will be relatively small, like the addition of some new signs and markers detailing Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy — the island is home to the lone memorial to the nation’s 26th president in D.C. Others will be more substantial, such as the total overhaul and realignment of a boardwalk-style bridge on the Mt. Vernon Trail, which runs from underneath the Roosevelt Bridge to just south of the island’s parking lot.

The park service’s plans call for a “replacement of the bridge deck and railing to provide a smoother riding surface.” That will likely come as good news to area cyclists, who have nicknamed it “the Trollheim Bridge” for its treacherous surface — TheWashCycle blog described it as a the “notoriously slippery part of the Mt. Vernon trail that has caused literally thousands of crashes” in a post last year.

The main, 1,400-foot-section of the bridge also meets an additional 90-foot section toward its north end, creating an awkward “T” intersection for cyclists. The realignment work will eliminate that intersection, creating a new left turn lane as well.

Other walking trails on the island will see some improvements under the plans as well. The NPS is hoping to improve connections between the pedestrian bridge and the island’s Memorial Plaza and create “universal access to the entire Swamp Trail, including access to the comfort station.” That small rest stop is also set to see a refresh under these plans.

The NPS is also hoping to add a total of four landings for canoes, kayaks and row boats on the island. Each one will be about 12 feet wide, and provide “access for approximately 4-5 kayaks/canoes,” according to the park service’s documents. The plans also call for the construction of a roughly 100-foot-long “floating dock” for larger craft, to be located at the island’s northeast corner, once the home of a ferry landing.

The park service noted in an environmental analysis of these proposed changes that, currently, “boaters and kayakers anchor or beach their non-motorized watercraft on unmarked areas along the shoreline.” Officials fear that the “practice impacts natural and archeological resources and has the potential to expose boaters and kayakers to underwater hazards in shoreline areas,” reasoning that the new landings should alleviate that issue. The area could also be in line to see increased boating activity, should the NPS’ plans to build the long-anticipated Rosslyn boathouse continue to advance.

Additionally, the park service wants to add some more vegetation and trees to the largely wooded island. Some new shrubs will be designed to cover up existing “social” bike trails on the island’s north shore line; other tree plantings will replace the roughly 200 ash trees the NPS had to remove last summer due to an “emerald ash borer infestation.”

The NPS says it’s still searching for funding for the entire range of projects on the island, but some will move ahead in the near term. The Mt. Vernon Trail bridge improvements, for instance, are currently out for bid by federal officials and could be completed by sometime in 2020.

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With Thanksgiving coming up next week, holiday season preparations are right around the corner. Arlington residents in search of a Christmas tree can head to these spots to pick out the perfect pine.

The Optimist Club of Arlington will start its annual tree sale next at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23 in the Wells Fargo Bank lot along Lee Highway (2213 N. Glebe Road). The sales will end around Dec. 21 depending on availability, according to a press release.

Its hours are:

  • Monday to Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, noon to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The lot will also have wreaths, garland and White House Christmas ornaments available for purchase. All of the proceeds go to the club’s youth programs, which provide support and scholarships to local children.

For the first time this year, the Optimist Club will also be selling trees at a second location.

From Dec. 5-7, the club and the Ballston BID will operate a “pop-up lot” in the Ballston Gold’s Gym parking lot on Wilson Blvd. The lot is scheduled to be open from 3-7 p.m. and will offer smaller trees than the main Wells Fargo lot. A food truck is also set to serve food for tree shoppers.

The Arlington South Lions Club will begin its annual Christmas tree sale next Friday, Nov. 23, as well.

The sale will take place at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive from noon to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends until Dec. 24. Also planned is a Christmas Tree 5K on the W&OD Trail on Saturday, Dec. 1.

“Benefits from the Christmas Tree 5K and Lions Club Christmas Tree Sale will provide resources for sight preservation, disaster relief, Arlington Youth activities, the Arlington Free Clinic and the Arlington Food Assistance Center,” according to the Lions Club. “The Club will be providing Christmas trees to low-income families as well to provide joy during holiday celebrations.”

The Clarendon United Methodist Church (606 N. Irving Street), meanwhile, begins its tree sale on Saturday, Nov. 24 and runs until the lot sold out. Proceeds will go toward Rise Against Hunger, Wings of Caring and Arlington Thrive.

The schedule is:

  • Monday to Friday, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

Other usual Christmas tree sale locations to check out include Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (830 23rd Street S.) in Aurora Highlands, Whole Foods stores and local farmers markets. Spots outside of Arlington include the Middleburg Christmas Tree Farm and Almost Heavenly Christmas Trees, which has a location in North Ridge and another in Landmark.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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