Arlington, VA

Update at 4:15 p.m. — See the latest snow updates and photos here.

Update at 12:55 p.m. — Arlington County government offices and facilities are remaining open for the time being, but parks department programs in school and park facilities are cancelled after 2 p.m., the county says.

Update at 11:35 a.m. — Arlington Public Schools is dismissing two hours early tonight, as the onset of snow may be earlier than originally expected. From APS:

All APS schools and offices will close two hours early today. All essential employees should work their usual shifts. The Extended Day Program will stay open until 4 p.m.  Extracurricular activities, games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled.

Update at 11 a.m. — Arlington County says it’s salting bridges and hills in anticipation of the snow. The Office of Personnel Management, meanwhile, says federal offices will have an early dismissal by 1 p.m. today.

Earlier: A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect from noon to 7 p.m. today, as the D.C. region braces for the first significant snowfall of the season.

The snow is expected to start falling this afternoon and to impact the evening rush hour. Fairfax County and other school systems have announced early dismissals today, though as of 9:45 a.m. Arlington had not made any such announcement.

Some 1-2 inches of snow is expected locally.

More from the National Weather Service:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 7 PM EST THIS EVENING… * WHAT…WET SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS AN INCH OR TWO. * WHERE…IN DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. IN VIRGINIA, ARLINGTON/FALLS CHURCH/ALEXANDRIA. * WHEN…FROM NOON TO 7 PM EST TUESDAY. THE HEAVIEST SNOW IS EXPECTED BETWEEN 3 PM AND 6 PM TUESDAY AFTERNOON INTO EARLY TUESDAY EVENING. * IMPACTS…SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY ROADS ARE EXPECTED, ESPECIALLY NORTHWEST OF INTERSTATE 95 INTO THE EVENING COMMUTE. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…SNOW RATES COULD EXCEED ONE INCH PER HOUR WITH VISIBILITY AROUND ONE-HALF MILE AT TIMES. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… SLOW DOWN AND USE CAUTION WHILE TRAVELING. WHEN VENTURING OUTSIDE, WATCH YOUR FIRST FEW STEPS TAKEN ON STEPS, SIDEWALKS, AND DRIVEWAYS, WHICH COULD BE ICY AND SLIPPERY, INCREASING YOUR RISK OF A FALL AND INJURY. &&

VDOT says it is pretreating local roads and highways. The transportation agency is advising drivers to be careful on the roads tonight and to consider leaving work early.

VDOT Asks Drivers To:

Continue to closely monitor weather, as forecasts can improve or worsen quickly. Stay tuned to local media for the real-time status of weather bands before traveling, due to the likelihood for limited visibility.

If road conditions become hazardous, delay travel for your safety and to give trucks time to treat roads. Leave earlier or delay trips to avoid driving during the height of the storm.

Before traveling, check road conditions along your route at www.511virginia.org, on the free app for Apple and Android, or call 511 from any phone in Virginia.

Be aware of the potential for slick spots on areas prone to freezing such as bridges, ramps and overpasses.

Allow extra time for trips, brake lightly and allow plenty of following distance. Ensure enough gas and plenty of wiper fluid, proper tires, medication, an emergency car kit, and always use your headlights.

Give trucks plenty of room to work, because they are large, heavy and slow.

More via social media:

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It won’t be nearly as disruptive as the year-long, round-the-clock lane closures on Columbia Pike, but VDOT is planning temporary closures on I-66 next week.

One lane of eastbound I-66 will be closed nightly — from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. — in the East Falls Church area on Monday and Tuesday, the state transportation agency said. There will also be multiple, brief closures of Sycamore Street and eastbound I-66 during that time.

The closure will allow the installation of bridge girders as part of the project to add a lane to eastbound I-66 between the Dulles Connector Road and Ballston.

More from a VDOT press release:

Bridge girder installation to widen I-66 East will require multiple brief closures of Sycamore Street in Arlington during overnight hours on January 6 and 7. Additionally, the left lane of I-66 East will be closed while crews install six bridge girders as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project.

Details:

  • The left lane of I-66 East will be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. on the nights of Monday, Jan. 6, and Tuesday, Jan. 7.
  • There will be a full 20-minute closure of I-66 East shortly after midnight the night of Monday, Jan. 6, so that girders can be delivered to the work area.
  • Vehicle and pedestrian traffic on Sycamore Street under I-66 will be stopped for up to 20 minutes at a time between midnight and 4 a.m. multiple times each night. Stoppages are planned for northbound traffic on the first night, then southbound traffic the second night.
  • Pedestrians will be directed to the opposite sidewalk to proceed through the work zone.

All work is weather dependent.

Drivers and pedestrians are urged to use caution and expect possible delays. Real-time traffic conditions and information is available at www.511virginia.org or through the 511 Virginia mobile app.

The I-66 Eastbound Widening Project will add a travel lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 and install approximately 12,000 linear feet of new and replacement noise barriers. The project also includes building a new bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29) for the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail, and constructing a new direct access ramp from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metrorail Station at the Route 7 Interchange.

The additional eastbound lane is scheduled to open to traffic in fall 2020, and the overall project is expected to be complete in fall 2021. Learn more about the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project and sign up for project updates and lane closure alerts at Transform66.org.

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(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) Though it’s likely to be more wet than wild in Arlington, Wednesday morning’s commute may still be made more difficult by snow.

Up to an inch of snow is expected to fall overnight, though temperatures are expected to stay above freezing. Roads are expected to remain mostly clear locally, but the first snowfall of the season may nonetheless cause some concerns for motorists during the morning rush.

More from the National Weather Service:

…POTENTIAL WINTER COMMUTING HAZARD FOR THE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC METRO AREAS WEDNESDAY MORNING…

There is a potential for hazardous commuting conditions for the Wednesday morning commute. A period of accumulating snow is POSSIBLE Wednesday morning across the Baltimore MD/Washington DC metro areas, with up to an inch of snow accumulation possible on area roads, with the highest chances north and west of Interstate 95.

If this threat does materialize during the Wednesday morning rush-hour, many roads could quickly turn slippery and visibility may be reduced. This could lead to dangerous traveling conditions, multiple accidents, and extensive delays.

If commuting Wednesday morning, be aware of the POSSIBILITY of significant travel disruptions. Plan ahead by allowing for extra travel time, and consider using public transportation and telework options.

VDOT and Arlington County’s Dept. of Environmental Services say crews are not able to pre-treat roads due to today’s rain, but will begin mobilizing tonight in preparation of the snow.

“Salt crews will standby overnight to treat bridges and steep slope arterials if necessary,” said DES via Twitter.

VDOT is urging drivers to be cautious once the flakes starts falling.

The worst of the weather is expected north of the immediate metro area. Arlington is outside the area of a Winter Weather Advisory issued Tuesday afternoon.

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The Virginia Dept. of Transportation is studying possible upgrades to Route 50 between Glebe Road and Fillmore Street.

The 0.7 mile stretch, which is notably crash prone and difficult for drivers making left turns and pedestrians trying to cross the street, is a candidate for what VDOT has dubbed “Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions.” Possible upgrades range from new turn lanes to pedestrian enhancements to — perhaps — even roundabouts.

VDOT is holding a public information session about the possible changes on Thursday (Nov. 14) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road).

More from VDOT:

The concepts being studied will be based on public input and may include improving turn lanes, traffic signal timing and operations, and access management for properties and streets along the corridor. Other concepts being studied may also include pedestrian, bicycle and transit enhancements, turn restrictions and “Innovative Intersections” such as roundabouts and interchanges. Stop by between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to view displays and learn more about the project. A presentation will begin at 7 p.m. Project staff will be available to answer your questions.

“This stretch of Route 50 has long backups and delays during weekday peak commute times and several high crash locations due to the high number of access and conflict points,” VDOT said on a webpage for the study. “Route 50 averages 62,000 vehicles per day within the study limits.”

An online survey for the project asks, among other things, which multimodal facilities are needed along the Route 50 corridor. The multiple-choice options include sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian signals, shared-use bicycle lanes, bus shelters and a park and ride lot.

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Morning Notes

School Shuffle Blowback Starts — “Alicia Rich, president of Key’s PTA, said she has been fielding texts and messages over WhatsApp from parents and staff members worried about the prospect of moving. ‘This issue is so huge for us,’ Rich said.
School system officials said they ‘urgently need’ the Key building as a neighborhood school because of the lack of space for students.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Office Market Improving — Arlington County landing Amazon HQ2, a selection announced one year ago this month, has helped move its office market in the right direction after years of struggles. The office vacancy rate in National Landing, the newly branded area comprising the Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods, dropped from 19.6% in Q3 2018 to 16% as of Sept. 30, the lowest level since 2012, according to JLL.” [Bisnow]

Chamber Supports Keeping Dillon Rule — “Facing a possible Democratic majority in the General Assembly, @ArlVAChamber is standing firm in its support of the Dillon Rule. Why? A Dem majority could allow localities like Arlington to raise the minimum wage.” [Twitter, InsideNova]

Storms Don’t Deter Trick or Treaters — From a family that tracks the number of trick or treaters visiting their Arlington home: “Despite threatening weather and a tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service… 2019 was our second best year ever with 161 visitors, 13 goblins behind the all-time high of 174 visitors in 2016.” [Facebook]

ACPD Helps With Snakes, Too — “Sgt. Morrison proves he’s a jack of all trades! Yesterday he responded to a citizen assist call and helped safely relocate this snake.” [Twitter]

Opera Fans Plan Outreach Effort — “Reports of the demise of a certain musical genre are not just premature. They are just plain wrong, supporters say. ‘Clearly, opera is not a dying art – the music is still transcendent,’ said Paul Dolinsky, a board member of Opera Nova, which on Oct. 27 held its annual fund-raising brunch at Washington Golf & Country Club.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Is Runner Up in Entrepreneurship Competition — “Ela Gokcigdem has good news to share about her ePearl noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. They were a big hit in the Big Apple… The 17-year-old senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington participated in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. More than two dozen competitors from around the country pitched their products to a panel of judges.” [WJLA]

Nearby: Road Closure Planned in Seven Corners — “The Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) bridge over Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday night, Nov. 4 to 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 5 for bridge deck work, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.” [VDOT]

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Morning Notes

Windy Day on Tap — After a windy night, more gusty winds are expected today. The gusts are expected to reach up to 40 miles per hour locally. [Twitter]

Lions Club Seeks County Lot for Xmas Tree Sale — “Christmas is coming early for the South Arlington Lions Club. Arlington County Board members on Oct. 19 are expected to allow, for the second year in a row, the service organization to use county-government property on South Four Mile Run Drive for its annual Christmas-tree sale.” [InsideNova]

Local Affordable Housing Group Expanding — “A leading affordable housing nonprofit in Arlington County is expanding its operations into Montgomery County, another sign of a growing regional focus on preserving or producing homes that lower-earning residents can afford.” [Washington Post, Press Release]

Earthquake Drill Today — “Participate in the world’s largest earthquake drill [today] at 10:17 a.m… Go to the lowest floor of the building, drop to your hands/knees, cover your head w/your arm, and hold on to shelter.” [Twitter]

VDOT Studying Changes to Route 50 West of Arlington — “The Virginia Department of Transportation is holding a public information meeting Monday, Oct. 21 on a study of potential safety and operational improvements for three miles of Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) between Jaguar Trail and Wilson Boulevard.” [VDOT]

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Officials are considering lowering Route 1 in Crystal City to ground level after Amazon moves in.

Details remain scant, but officials appear to considering a plan to remove several highway overpasses that span over roads from 12th Street S. to 18th Street S. in favor of at-grade intersections with traffic signals. Currently, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is studying the project.

“The study for Route 1 is still in very preliminary stages, where VDOT and Arlington County are looking at feasibility of different concepts, and the best potential balance to accommodate all modes of travel — buses, pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles, etc,” VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord told ARLnow Monday.

When asked, McCord said VDOT did not yet have a cost estimate for the potential project. However, a 2018 Virginia Economic Development Partnership presentation and an entry in the state’s Six-Year Improvement Plan indicate work could cost some $250 million.

McCord noted that the ongoing study for the project is funded with $2 million from the state.

Theoretically the changes wouldn’t affect the commuter route’s vehicle throughput, given that there are already traffic signals up and down Route 1 from Alexandria to Arlington. Pedestrians, however, would have to cross Route 1 at grade along 18th Street to get from the Crystal City Metro station entrance to points west.

Authorities are considering several changes to the streetscape around its HQ2 like a protected bike lane on S. Eads Street and new bus stops. As part of the state and local incentive package used to woo the company to Arlington, officials also pledged to fund a slew of transportation projects which could include this Route 1 revamp.

The 2018 presentation noted that $138.4 million (55%) of the projected cost could be paid for by the state as part of the incentive package for Amazon’s new second headquarters.

Lowering the (newly renamed) Richmond Highway predates Amazon with a reference in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan to turn the highway “into an asset of the overall multimodal transportation network.”

A diagram in the plan depicts Route 1 as more of an urban boulevard, lined with trees.

Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, head of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, said Monday that the way the highway cuts through the area “forms a physical and psychological barrier separating Crystal City and Pentagon City.”

The BID is expanding its boundaries and is currently considering renaming itself “National Landing” to reflect a unified identity of the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods, which are poised for significant growth with the additions of HQ2 and a new Virginia Tech campus just over the Alexandria border in Potomac Yard.

“As various public and private projects are developed throughout the area, there is an even greater need for enhanced connectivity and a safer way to move between the neighborhoods,” said Gabriel, of the possible Route 1 changes.

“Transforming the roadway into a multi-modal, pedestrian-friendly, and urban-oriented boulevard presents the largest and most comprehensive opportunity to create a truly walkable, connected, urban downtown,” she added.

When discussing the plan back in November, Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said it could “lead to the total reimagining of Route 1.”

Image 1 via Arlington County, Images 2-5 via Google Maps

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A $17.2 million overhaul of the Boundary Channel Drive interchange along I-395 is in the works.

Plans call for overhauling the existing, difficult-to-navigate interchange near the Pentagon and Crystal City with two rotaries, to be installed on either side of I-395.

The 150 and 160-foot wide rotaries aim to merge traffic from Boundary Channel Drive and the Pentagon Access Road on the left, and the Boundary Channel and Long Bridge Drive on the right. The project would remove I-395’s two southbound loop ramp, and add a new multi-use trail, shared by cyclists and pedestrians, connecting the Mt. Vernon Trail to Long Bridge Park.

The project will be managed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and is expected to cost around $17 million.

The Arlington County Board will review an agreement for the project during its upcoming meeting this Saturday. As of Tuesday, the project was featured on the Board’s consent agenda, a place usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.

Officials hope the redesign will better connect to the long awaited Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center and better serve area commuters, as staff noted in a report to the Board:

The Interchange serves the Pentagon (five million square foot office building with 25,000 employees), Pentagon City (12.7 million square feet of office, 2.3 million square feet of retail and over 13,000 residential units), Crystal City, Long Bridge Park plus its future park expansion and the future Aquatics & Fitness Center, which is expected to draw regional visitors from Maryland and the District of Columbia, as well as from the areas south and west of Arlington in Virginia. The existing interchange design is dated and will need to be redesigned to better serve the transportation needs of the existing and future land uses in the area.

The county held public meetings to showcase the designs in 2015, during which staff noted feedback “varied greatly.” The points staff said residents agreed on included:

  • There needs to be fewer ramps onto I-395
  • Rotary islands need to be designed to not allow cars to speed
  • Pedestrian crossings need to be designed to reduce conflicts with cars and bicycles

County staff also noted that plan for the trail meets goals set by the newly-upgraded bike element of the Arlington County Master Transportation Plan to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to use the Mt. Vernon Trail.

“The Mount Vernon Trail connection is an extremely critical part of the project and will create a much-needed link between Long Bridge Park and the trail,” the staff report said.

Image 3 via Google Maps

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Tonight and through the end of next week, drivers can expect delays along I-66 in Rosslyn from nighttime lane closures on both eastbound and westbound sides.

Crews will work until Thursday, September 26 — minus this coming Friday and Saturday nights — to set up concrete panels and a debris shield alongside the N. Lynn Street overpass as part of the Lynn Street Esplanade and Custis Trail Improvements project, according to a Virginia Dept. of Transportation press release.

Eastbound closures will occur on I-66 between the Exit 73 ramp to northbound Route 29 (Lee Highway) and Route 110 (Exit 75), while the westbound closures will go from the North Lynn Street ramp (Exit 73) to the western end of the Rosslyn Tunnel.

The timing of the closures are as follows, per VDOT:

  • Eastbound I-66 right lane: Sunday night, Sept. 15, Monday night, Sept. 16 and Tuesday night, Sept. 17 from 9:30 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning
  •  Eastbound I-66 left lane: Wednesday night, Sept. 18 and Thursday night, Sept. 19 from 9:30 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning
  • Westbound I-66 left lane: Sunday night, Sept. 22, Monday night, Sept. 23 and Tuesday night, Sept. 24 from 10 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning.
  • Westbound I-66 right lane: Wednesday night, Sept. 25 and Thursday night, Sept. 26 from 10 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning.

During construction drivers should expect delays and are advised to take alternate routes. Real-time traffic information and lane closure locations are available online.

The $9.3 million project will ultimately improve bicycle and pedestrian conditions along North Lynn Street with wider sidewalks, upgraded curb ramps, traffic signals, and more. Final completion is expected in spring 2020.

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) The N. Glebe Road bridge over Pimmit Run has been serving drivers, cyclists and pedestrians since 1973 but is due for some major maintenance.

At a public meeting tonight (Tuesday) at Williamsburg Middle School (3600 N. Harrison Street), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is scheduled to unveil new plans for the bridge. The improvements are aimed at improving safety and extending the overall life of the bridge.

According to a press release, improvements will include:

  • Repairing and resurfacing the bridge deck
  • Repairing, waterproofing and providing corrosion protection to abutments and piers
  •  Repairing, cleaning and painting beams
  •  Replacing railings along bicycle and pedestrian connection to trails
  • Upgrading guardrails and drainage

The bridge feeds into nearby Chain Bridge and sees an average of 12,000 vehicles each day.

The press release says the event will be an open house running from 6:30-8:30 p.m., with displays and information about the project’s design. A presentation will be made at 7 p.m.

The project is estimated to cost $7.5 million and will be financed by the State of Good Repair fund, a state and federal program used to address repairs on bridges considered structurally deficient on the National Bridge Inventory, according to the press release.

Construction is expected to start in fall 2020.

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Those traveling to, from and through Arlington may need to pack their patience this weekend, depending on the route and time of day.

Both directions of Route 50 will be closed in the area of Wilson Blvd in Seven Corners, from Friday night to Monday morning, to allow VDOT to lift a new, 87-foot Wilson Blvd bridge span into place. Drivers are being encouraged to avoid the area if possible.

More from a VDOT press release:

Eastbound and westbound Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) at the Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) interchange and eastbound Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) between the eastbound Route 50 service road and the westbound Route 50 service road will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday, August 2 to 5 a.m. Monday, August 5 to safely demolish the Wilson Boulevard bridge deck over Route 50 and install the new bridge deck, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Eastbound Route 50 traffic will be detoured via the eastbound Route 50 service road back to Route 50, and westbound Route 50 traffic will be detoured via the westbound service road back to Route 50.

Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.

Drivers can expect delays and are advised to use alternate routes.

The work is part of the Wilson Boulevard over Route 50 bridge rehabilitation project. After the weekend closure, drivers can expect single-lane closures on Route 50 and the eastbound Wilson Boulevard bridge until late fall. The project is scheduled for completion this winter.

Also this weekend, “significant lane closures” are planned along I-395.

The work, part of the 395 Express Lanes project, will close multiple northbound lanes at night, starting Friday. Drivers are being encouraged to use the HOV lanes of I-395, which will be switched to the northbound direction starting at 8 p.m. tonight.

More on the I-395 work, from VDOT:

Northbound I-395 from Duke Street (Exit 3) to past the Pentagon City/Crystal City exit (Exit 8C) will have nighttime lane closures Friday night, August 2 through Sunday night, August 4 for bridge work. The I-395 HOV lanes will be switched to northbound at 8 p.m. Friday and will remain northbound all weekend.  The 95 Express Lanes from Edsall Road to Garrisonville Road will operate on a standard schedule; on Saturday from midnight to 2 p.m., the 95 Express Lanes will operate in the southbound direction while the I-395 HOV lanes are open northbound.

Photo via VDOT/Twitter

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