Arlington, VA

Arlington and the Virginia Department of Transportation are looking at how to improve the situation along the notably crash prone stretch of Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) between Glebe Road and Fillmore Street.

Between 2014 and 2018, VDOT said there were 247 total crashes with 61 crashes resulting in injuries, a few severe but none resulting in fatalities. Most of these crashes were concentrated around intersections.

“This segment of Route 50 experiences congestion in the morning and evening peak periods and a high number of crashes,” VDOT noted. “Route 50 averages 62,000 vehicles a day within the study limits.”

In an online presentation, VDOT proposed three alternatives with a variety of sub-options to cut down on conflict points — places where vehicles intersect. Two of the options would add new raised medians to Route 50, and each of them had sub-options that would limit left turns or turn Irving Street or Fillmore Street into one-way streets.

The three primary alternatives are:

  • Wide Raised Median Separating EB and WB Route 50: the widened, raised medium would reduce conflict points at intersections without signals and at trail crossings. The only four-way intersections would be at Irving Street and Fillmore Street, where there are traffic lights. This alternative also includes left-turn lanes along Route 50 at Irving Street. The increased separation between eastbound and westbound travel lanes, and the additional turn lanes, would require the widening of Route 50.
  • Narrow Raised Median Separating EB and WB Route 50: the narrower median accomplishes the same reduction in conflict points as the first alternative, but would also not include left-turn lanes at Irving Street, meaning there would be reduced widening requirements. Left-turns at Irving would be prohibited and the third lane would likely see more use. But while this plan would improve the situation at Irving Street, VDOT warned that it would not reduce conflicts at Fillmore Street and could create higher traffic volumes and delays there.
  • No Left Turn at Unsignalized Intersections: the final alternative would add no median, but extensive signage prohibiting left turns along the street at all intersections without a signal. The widening impact would be low or non-existent, but VDOT warned that enforcing the new restrictions would be more difficult.

The sub-options to the first alternative include prohibiting any turning onto Irving Street and no left-turns at Fillmore Street, or flipping those so there are no left-turns onto Irving Street and no turning at all onto Fillmore Street.

Traffic signal improvements are also proposed.

VDOT data presented at the meeting said that two of the sub-options within the first alternative — which includes a wider raised median —  would have the highest chance of improving safety conditions, resulting in a total 69% reduction in conflict points, while the other two options reduce conflict points by 63%.

The first alternative is also the most costly, however, at an estimated $14-18 million budget. The second alternative, the narrow median, is cheaper at $12-14 million, while the third alternative is cheapest at $5-7 million.

“Cost estimates will be prepared for alternatives under consideration,” a VDOT official said in the video. “Improvements identified as part of the story have not yet been funded and there’s no timeline for construction”

Other potential additions to Route 50 would be new service roads along either side of the highway. One would be on the south side of Route 50 would extend past S. Old Glebe Road, which would eliminate five residential driveways onto the main lanes. The other would be on the north side of Route 50, extending an existing road west of Irving Street.

Comments on the project can be submitted online until Friday, May 29. Recommendations are scheduled to be finalized and posted online this summer, with Arlington County submitting a SMART SCALE funding application in August.

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(Updated at 3 p.m.) A portion of Old Dominion Drive is closed after a large free fell and landed on a passing car.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. just east of the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and N. Thomas Street, near Dorothy Hamm Middle School and The Horizons Apartments.

The tree fell on a car heading eastbound on Old Dominion Drive, crushing most of the frontend. The driver, who suffered minor cuts and some chest pain, told ARLnow that he did not notice the tree falling until it was too late.

“It was very shocking,” said the driver, Michael. “If I did not have my seatbelt on, we would not be talking right now.”

As of 2 p.m. the road was still closed in both directions, as VDOT crews with chainsaws, a front loader and dump trucks were working to clear the large tree from the roadway. Police are also on scene, helping to direct traffic.

Elsewhere in Arlington, there have been numerous reports of downed trees, branches and wires amid today’s gusty winds.

A tree that fell this morning near the intersection of 23rd Street S. and S. Dinwiddie Street, near Wakefield High School, closed the road and knocked out power to the neighborhood. As of 2 p.m. Dominion’s website reported 124 customers in the area were still without power, with no estimated restoration time.

A Wind Advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Man Arrested After Door Incident at DCA — “A passenger on a flight operated by Frontier Airlines was taken into custody at Reagan National Airport Saturday, after allegedly using the emergency slide to exit the airplane, officials said.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Metrobus Rides Are Free, For Now — “To help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Metrobus riders will be required to board using the rear doors and will not have to tap their fare cards, according to a letter sent to employees Sunday.
The change, which begins Tuesday, means rides essentially are free.” [Washington Post]

Don’t Flush Wipes Down the Toilet — From Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey: “Do NOT put wipes, paper towels etc in the toilet! They severely damage water treatment.” [Twitter, CNN]

County Trying to Help Small Businesses — “To mitigate some of the challenges and hardships experienced by small businesses as a result of COVID-19 related closures and modifications, Arlington County is finding new ways to reach out to business owners with counsel, resources and other options.” [Arlington County]

County Offers Help with Utility Bills — “If you are struggling to pay a County utility bill (water/sewer/refuse) at this time, please call the DES Customer Contact Center at 703-228-5000, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You may be eligible for special payment arrangements without accrual of additional late fees.” [Twitter]

Coronavirus Fraud Task Force Formed — “In response to the increased threat of fraud presented by the coronavirus, federal and Virginia state law enforcement leaders announced today the formation of the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force.” [Press Release]

Marymount Mulls Commencement Alternatives — “This Wednesday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the online-only class period that started this week will be extended through the end of the spring semester, including final exams. It was also decided that the traditional commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 2020 would be canceled.” [Press Release]

Overnight Lane Closures in Rosslyn — “N Lynn St, SB Lee Hwy and the ramps to and from I-66 in Rosslyn will see overnight work requiring lane closures or full closures Mon night 3/23 – Thu night 3/26 in relation to the Lynn St Esplanade project.” [VDOT, Twitter]

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A portion of the W&OD Trail is being put back onto a temporary pavement trail and off sidestreets as VDOT continues work on a new trail bridge.

The new detour will take trail users, who previously had to travel on nearby streets, on a 200-foot temporary pavement path adjacent to the new bridge under construction.

The bridge will separate trail users from traffic at the intersection of Lee Highway and Fairfax Drive in the East Falls Church aera, with the aim of enhancing safety for both trail users and motorists.

“This section of the W&OD Trail serves approximately 1,500 trail users on weekdays and over 2,000 on weekends,” VDOT said on its website. “On weekdays, the W&OD Trail is a significant commuter route, carrying a steady flow of cyclists in both directions, tying together much of the region’s trail network. On weekends, the trail is a prime recreational resource for thousands of cyclists, runners, walkers, and more.”

A press release noted that the new configuration will mostly remain in place until the project is completed, though the previous detour onto side streets could come up again during some phases of construction.

Meanwhile, work continues on the bridge with an expected opening this fall. New abutments and bridge beams have been installed, VDOT said, with crews currently working on installing steel onto the deck. Concrete pours are expected to finish by late April.

“W&OD Trail bridge construction is part of the Transform 66 Inside the Beltway Eastbound Widening Project, which is adding a travel lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 and installing approximately 12,000 linear feet of new and replacement noise barriers,” VDOT said. “The project also includes constructing a new direct access ramp from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro Station at the Route 7 Interchange, which is scheduled to begin in spring 2020.”

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The main lanes of I-395 may be a bit busier on weekends for the next couple of months.

VDOT is planning to shut down the I-395 Express Lanes from Edsall Road to the D.C. line, starting this weekend, for a construction project. The shutdown will start around 11 p.m. on Fridays until early Monday morning, and is set to take place over the course of at least 10 consecutive weekends.

The closures will help with road work at Shirlington Circle, in Arlington, and the ramps to and from Seminary Road in Alexandria.

More from a VDOT press release:

The I-395 Express Lanes from near Edsall Road to the D.C. line are scheduled to close for at least ten consecutive weekends, beginning this weekend, March 6-8. These weekend closures are planned to begin at 11 p.m. Friday nights until 4 a.m. Monday mornings, and are needed for crews to complete hydro-demolition and bridge deck overlay placement at Express Lanes entrances and exits at Shirlington Circle and Seminary Road, as well as drainage, utility work and other construction activities. Closures will not occur over Easter weekend, April 10-12.

Travelers should plan ahead and allow extra travel time or take alternate routes. Work is weather dependent and may be rescheduled in the event of inclement weather.

File photo

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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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