VDOT is planning a community meeting to discuss changes that might be coming to the “Shirlington Circle” interchange of I-395.
The meeting is planned from 7-9 p.m. next Wednesday, June 12, at Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.). The transportation agency says it will reveal options for reducing congestion and crashes while soliciting public comments.
More from VDOT:
Join the Virginia Department of Transportation on Wednesday, June 12 to learn about and give input on alternatives identified by a study assessing safety and operational improvements at the I-395 Shirlington interchange (Exit 6), as well as at the following:
- The ramp from South Glebe Road (Route 120) to southbound I-395
- The intersection of South Shirlington Road and South Arlington Mill Drive
- The intersection of Gunston Road and Martha Custis Drive
The study has collected data on traffic volumes and vehicle movements, and identified safety and operational issues. Learn more about the study’s identified alternatives, which aim to reduce congestion and crashes as well as boost the interchange’s overall performance. The study is being financed with federal funds and is expected to be finalized in fall 2019.
Residents are invited to stop by Drew Model Elementary School, 3500 23rd Street South, Arlington, VA 22206 between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to view displays and learn more about the study. A presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. VDOT staff will be on hand to answer questions.
Give comments at the meeting, or e-mail or mail them by June 24, 2019 to Ms. Olivia Daniszewski, EIT, Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.
Image via VDOT
Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.
By Cheryl W. Moore
(Updated at 9 a.m.) Several years ago, my then 13-year-old son announced that he had been hit by a car on Washington Blvd. in Westover. He quickly added that he wasn’t hurt; a car had lightly tapped him when he was riding his bike. That memory came back to me when I heard that Arlington County is collaborating with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on repaving a portion of Washington Blvd in the Westover neighborhood near where I live.
A lot has happened in the years since my son’s incident. New retail establishments have made Westover a magnet for more visitors, and there are more walkers, drivers and cyclists on Washington Blvd. Reed Elementary School will undoubtedly add to the congestion when it opens in 2021.
All of these factors raise the likelihood of accidents involving pedestrians, cars and bicycles. Last fall, a woman was struck by a car while she was in a crosswalk, resulting in serious injuries. That accident spurred many calls for improvements on this busy street.
While Arlington County takes safety concerns seriously, staff also know that Arlington residents want to be involved in decisions affecting their neighborhoods before they are set in stone (or in this case, asphalt). The challenge is how much and what kind of public engagement, for which kinds of projects, will be most effective. County staff say they are trying to be clearer about expectations for community involvement.
The Westover repaving project is one example of how county staff are trying to engage the community more effectively. When staff learned that Washington Blvd was going to be repaved between N. McKinley Road and N. Frederick Street, they saw an opportunity to improve lane striping, replace crosswalks and add bike lanes. A routine repaving project might generally involve communicating with the community. However, the Department of Environmental Services (DES) staff determined that this project required a higher level of involvement, due to multiple uses of Westover Shopping Center and the project’s potential to change the character of the road.
Community members had feedback opportunities at two open houses at the Westover Library, a “pop-up” at the Westover farmers market, and via an online survey (which garnered 900 responses). Not surprisingly, the main concern was for greater safety, including better visibility of pedestrian crossings.
Three different proposals included such elements as high-visibility crosswalks, bike lanes on one or both sides of the street, back-in parking and reducing the number of parking spaces. From the final plan submitted to VDOT, it’s clear that community feedback had an impact. For example, the back-in parking concept was not favored by a majority of the community, so it was eliminated. It was also decided to include a bike lane only on the eastbound side of the street.
VDOT is permanently closing a ramp that allowed drivers heading southbound in the HOV lanes of I-395 to merge into the main southbound lanes near the Pentagon.
The closure, which is expected to happen later this week, will mean that drivers who take the southbound HOV lanes of the 14th Street Bridge from D.C., but who want to get into to the main lanes in Arlington, will need to take the earlier exit, closer to the bridge.
The closure is part of the 395 Express Lanes project.
More details from a VDOT press release:
The slip-ramp connecting the HOV lanes to the regular (or general purpose) lanes on I-395 South near the Pentagon will close permanently starting on or about June 1, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Drivers wanting to access the southbound general purpose lanes from the southbound HOV lanes on this stretch of I-395 will need to use the slip-ramp located north of the Pentagon, near Boundary Channel Drive after crossing the 14th Street Bridge from D.C. into Virginia. Motorists traveling to the Pentagon or Crystal City — or non-HOV drivers who missed the exit near Boundary Channel — must take the exit at Eads Street. Drivers heading to the I-395 general purpose lanes should then follow signs to Army/Navy Drive and Hayes Street.
Tips for Motorists:
In the mornings:
- Southbound motorists traveling on the I-395 HOV lanes from Washington, D.C. should move into the general purpose lanes immediately after crossing the 14th Street Bridge at the ramp near Boundary Channel Drive. Don’t wait to switch lanes until after you pass the Pentagon, as this slip-ramp will be closed.
In the afternoons:
- For HOV motorists traveling southbound from D.C., nothing changes.
- For non-HOV drivers, exit the HOV lanes after crossing the 14th Street Bridge at the ramp near Boundary Channel Drive.
- Anyone heading to the Pentagon or Crystal City – or non-HOV drivers who missed the exit near Boundary Channel – should take the exit at Eads Street. Follow signs to Army/Navy Drive and Hayes Street to return to the I-395 South general purpose lanes.
Getting to I-395 South from the Pentagon:
- Non-HOV drivers should take North Rotary Road to South Washington Boulevard to the I-395 southbound general purpose lanes.
- HOV drivers should take the Eads Street ramp near the Pentagon to get directly onto the I-395 HOV lanes.
To help plan, drivers can find maps, videos and other educational information at www.expresslanes.com/projects/395.
This planned ramp closure is part of the new I-395 Express Lanes configuration, which will provide eight miles of faster, safer and seamless travel from the I-95 Express Lanes north to the D.C. line, as well as direct connections to the Pentagon and Crystal City. The new express lanes are scheduled to open in late October 2019. Information on how Express Lanes work and how to get an E-ZPass can be found at www.ExpressLanes.com.
The 395 Express Lanes are a public-private partnership between VDOT and Transurban. See more details on the project and related lane closures.
After over a year of work, the new bus and slug lanes are finally open at the Pentagon’s south parking lot.
Yesterday (Tuesday), the new configuration opened with bus-only travel lanes, reconfigured commuter lanes and slug lanes — lanes designed for High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) carpooling.
The new, dedicated bus loop is designed to distance passenger vehicles and buses to make the lot safer and increase mobility.
“The changes to the South Parking Lot are going to have a positive impact on the thousands of commuters traveling to and from the Pentagon Reservation each day,” said Susan Shaw, megaprojects director for the Virginia Department of Transportation, in a press release. “This important feature of the 395 Express Lanes project reinforces VDOT‘s commitment to support travel choices and alternative travel modes throughout our roadway network in Northern Virginia.”
An average of 25,000 employees use the Pentagon lots, with more than 1,800 buses and 3,400 “sluggers” passing through the lot each day, according to the press release.
Other improvements include new pedestrian sidewalks, new signage, and new lighting.
Image via National Capital Planning Commission
Virginia needs to do more to catch people evading tolls, county officials said at an Arlington Transportation Commission meeting last Thursday.
Virginia Department of Transportation officials attended the meeting, with plans to boast about boosted speeds on I-66, but local officials were more concerned about what some saw as underenforcement of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) rules.
David Caudill, the division administrator for tolling for VDOT, explained that the current enforcement relies on Virginia State Police counting heads in passing cars in conjunction with checking a beacon that lights up on a gantry if the passing car registered as HOV.
But Commission member Audrey Clement said that fewer people are receiving citations for I-66 toll violations than would be even if there were a 99 percent toll-compliance rate.
“There were 702 HOV citations for a year, that averages to 2.7 citations for every eight hours of tolling. That’s three per day,” said Clement. “So we’re concerned that this phenomenon is being undercounted and underenforced, and that may be driving up tolls.”
According to VDOT staff, there are at least four state troopers assigned to enforcement on I-66 every day. Rather than just being able to focus on HOV rules, however, troopers also respond to emergency calls and traffic violations like speeding.
Caudill recognized that there is a lapse in toll enforcement and said that during enforcement “blitzes” the HOV usage rates drop by 3 percent, giving VDOT a rough estimate for how many drivers are ducking out of the toll.
“It’s a challenge, I’ll admit that,” Caudill said. “[It is] challenging to look at the light, count number of heads, and then chase them down… We’re not catching everyone, not by any means.”
VDOT staff said the group is partnering with Transurban to put together a pilot program for an electronic sensor system.
“We think there’s an opportunity there for better enforcement,” Caudill said, “[and] it does impact the tolls, probably.”
Clement was not alone in expressing her disappointment at the lack of enforcement. Chris Slatt, chair of the Transportation Commission, said the lapse in enforcement goes against what VDOT told Arlington when the toll lanes were first proposed
“When VDOT was here before tolling went into place, one of the main reasons presented [to us] was HOV violations were rampant then,” Slatt said. “We were told that this was going to be the solution to HOV violation problem, that we were going to do enforcement. And yet here we are, having this conversation again.”
Caudill said the new HOV lanes have also led to complications — for instance, electronic passes mean officers can’t get an estimate on toll-violators by just counting heads.
“I’m glad to hear pilot programs at least are in the works to try to get a handle on this, because HOV violators are slowing down legitimate HOV drivers,” said Slatt. “[They’re] driving up costs of people legally paying tolls, and taking money that could be used for multimodal transportation projects to keep us all moving.”
Detours start today along the Washington and Old Dominion Trail to allow for construction of a bridge over Lee Highway.
The trail will be closed between Little Falls Street and Lee Highway and is scheduled to remain closed until fall 2020, when the new bridge is scheduled to open, according to VDOT.
Pedestrians will be detoured north and turn right onto Fairfax Drive, while cyclists will be sent south to Jefferson Street, which does not have a sidewalk.
The new bridge over Lee Highway is planned to offer a safer crossing at a busy intersection for the over 2,000 people who use the trail in this area on peak days.
The W&OD isn’t the only trail facing closure soon. Starting May 6, the Custis Trail is scheduled to close at the I-66 underpass near Bon Air Park to allow for the construction of an additional I-66 East lane.
Trail users will be diverted to an existing pedestrian bridge to the east.
Like the W&OD closure, the Custis Trail closure is expected to last until fall 2020, at which point the trail will be shifted slightly south for visibility and safety improvements.
Both projects are part of VDOT’s Transform 66 project.
Drivers heading northbound on I-395 should expect lane closures and periodic traffic stoppages tonight near Pentagon City.
The traffic impacts are due to a planned overhead sign installation.
By midnight, only one northbound lane is expected to remain open, causing delays for anyone heading in the direction of D.C.
More from a VDOT press release:
Motorists are advised that I-395 North will be reduced to one lane during overnight hours on Tuesday, April 16 near S. Washington Boulevard. Periodic traffic stoppages of up to 30 minutes will occur between Midnight and 4 a.m. These closures are needed for crews to install an overhead sign structure as part of the I-395 Express Lanes Northern Extension Project. Work is weather dependent.
- Beginning at 10 p.m. tonight, a single lane will close on I-395 North
- Additional lanes will close at 11 p.m.
- Intermittent traffic stoppages on the northbound lanes are scheduled to occur after Midnight
- All lanes will reopen by 5 a.m.
- As construction progresses this spring and summer, motorists should expect single lane closures on the I-395 HOV lanes weekdays between the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and closures on the general purpose lanes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The 395 Express Lanes, which involve extending the current express lanes eight miles north to the D.C. line, are scheduled to open this fall. Learn how Express Lanes work and how to get an E-ZPass at www.ExpressLanes.com.
The 395 Express Lanes are a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Transurban. See more details on the project and related lane closures.
(Updated at 11:40 p.m.) The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) says it intends to replace deteriorating sound walls along I-66 in Arlington.
The sound wall replacement is part of the larger project to expand the highway, a spokeswoman told ARLnow Thursday.
“If your community has a noise wall today, it will have one in the future,” VDOT’s website says. “Existing dilapidated noise walls within the project limits will be replaced with new noise walls.”
A January study on estimated noise impact noted that at least three of segments of “the existing metal noise barriers are in a state of ‘disrepair.'”
— Patrick Hope (@HopeforVirginia) March 31, 2019
Communities affected by widening of I-66 eastbound between Exits 67 and 71 were mailed ballots in February to vote on the sound walls, according to VDOT’s website on the project.
Spokeswoman Michelle Holland told ARLnow that the ballots were sent to neighbors who would receive a new wall, not a replacement. Holland said that voting process is still “underway.”
More than 50 percent of the respondents were needed to approve the sound walls.
Construction of the noise walls is expected to start this summer and continue until next fall, according to a presentation for neighborhoods.
The County Board approved the sound walls in February, including a plan to build a connection from Custis Trail onto the N. Harrison Street bridge in Bluemont after officials acknowledged sound walls would block off the trail.
Photo via VDOT
Update at 12:30 p.m. — The National Weather Service reports 3.3 inches of snow accumulation in Ballston as of about 12:20 p.m.
Earlier: It’s a winter wonderland out there, but most roads remain passable.
Traffic is light around Arlington, with schools, the federal government and all county facilities like community centers closed. But with 2 inches of snow on the ground as of 8:30 a.m., no major crashes or problems have been reported on the county’s mostly snow-covered roads.
Residential trash and recycling collection has been cancelled for the day and will resume Thursday, delayed by a day for the rest of the week.
VDOT is still urging drivers to stay inside today, with snow changing to sleet, freezing rain and then just rain this afternoon.
“Drivers are asked to avoid travel for safety today as a winter storm moves through the region with a range of precipitation,” VDOT said. “Pockets of heavier snow may limit visibility and stick to the pavement, and a mix of freezing rain may quickly make roads slick.”
Update at 6:50 p.m. — Arlington Public Schools is planning to open on a two hour delay Monday due to “possible icing conditions.”
Update for Mon, Feb. 11:
All APS Schools & Offices Will Open 2 Hours Late
Based on the current weather forecast and possible icing conditions for tomorrow morning, APS will open schools and offices two hours late tomorrow. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late. pic.twitter.com/yaRn1sJ2LN
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) February 10, 2019
Earlier: A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect Sunday night and Monday morning, with a combination of snow, sleet and rain expected to fall overnight in Arlington.
The Virginia Dept. of Transportation cautions that Monday morning’s commute may be challenging.
“VDOT asks that drivers be alert to a potential mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain to impact roads,” the agency said Sunday afternoon. “Crews have brined roads which will assist at the onset of the storm, but drivers are asked to prepare now for impacts to the morning rush hour. Crews will stage along roads beginning this afternoon.”
For Monday AM’s commute, please take the following into account:
👎 Roads may be icy
👍 Telework is a great option if you can
🤞 Schools may be closed/delayed (no we are not making predictions)
🤝 If you must drive, add in extra time to drive slower
🙌 Always use your headlights! pic.twitter.com/YMcO46EkcJ
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) February 10, 2019
More on the advisory, from the National Weather Service:
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 10 AM EST MONDAY… * WHAT…SNOW, SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF UP TO ONE INCH AND ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF LESS THAN A TENTH OF AN INCH EXPECTED. * WHERE…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALONG WITH PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MARYLAND, CENTRAL, NORTHERN AND WESTERN VIRGINIA AND EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA. * WHEN…FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 10 AM EST MONDAY. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…PLAN ON SLIPPERY ROAD CONDITIONS. THE HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS WILL IMPACT THE MONDAY MORNING COMMUTE. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW, SLEET OR FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. EXPECT SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES, AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. 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. THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS FOR THE STATE YOU ARE CALLING FROM CAN BE OBTAINED BY CALLING 5 1 1. &&
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect from this evening into Monday morning. Snow, sleet and freezing rain is expected, Accumulations of up to 2 inches of snow, and less than a tenth of an inch of ice is possible. Visit https://t.co/DtvXcTe0Qk for the latest information. pic.twitter.com/G8jjVwa4km
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) February 10, 2019
(Updated at 8:15 a.m.) Arlington public schools are opening on a two-hour delay Wednesday, due to expected icy conditions.
APS announced the delay Tuesday night “based on the current weather forecast and conditions,” leaving open the possibility that worse-than-expected road conditions Wednesday could prompt a cancellation. Fairfax County Public Schools announced earlier that its schools would be closed tomorrow.
Wednesday morning, APS affirmed the two-hour delay decision.
APS Will Open 2 Hours Late on Wed, Jan. 30: APS has reconfirmed that all schools and offices will open two hours late today. Essential personnel and food service workers should report to work at their scheduled time. pic.twitter.com/xcNRn5nco4
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) January 30, 2019
The federal government, meanwhile, will open on a three-hour delay.
1/30: Federal agencies in the DC area will OPEN with a 3-hour delay and have the option of allowing unscheduled leave/telework.
— OPM (@USOPM) January 30, 2019
Authorities are asking anyone driving overnight and in the morning to take extra precautions due to the likelihood of dropping temperatures turning wet roads into icy hazards. Around Arlington Wednesday, there were some reports of black ice, particularly on local roads.
“VDOT asks that drivers be aware of weather and road conditions prior to making decisions to travel tonight and Wednesday morning,” said VDOT’s Northern Virginia office, in a press release. “Plan for the potential need to delay commutes Wednesday morning, as low temperatures overnight will freeze precipitation and create potential hazardous conditions.”
At least one significant crash was reported Tuesday night — a multi-vehicle wreck on I-395 near the Pentagon — but it’s unclear if weather was a factor.
INCIDENT: Accident with Injury
LOCATION: NB 395 at the Pentagon
IMPACT: Multiple vehicle accident is causing major delays for northbound traffic on the highway, multiple Police and Fire Units on Scene
— Arlington Alert (@arlingtonalert) January 30, 2019
As if the deep freeze wasn’t bad enough, the National Weather Service issued a Wind Advisory Tuesday night.
…WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 9 AM TO 6 PM EST WEDNESDAY…
The National Weather Service in Baltimore MD/Washington has issued a Wind Advisory, which is in effect from 9 AM to 6 PM EST Wednesday.
* TIMING…Mid-morning through late afternoon Wednesday.
* WINDS…West 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.
* IMPACTS…Strong winds may blow down limbs, trees, and power lines. Scattered power outages are expected.
A Wind Advisory means that winds of 45 to 55 mph are expected. Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.