Booing at Meeting About I-66 Tolling — VDOT representatives were booed by residents at a meeting about the plan to convert I-66 to high occupancy toll lanes inside the Beltway. VDOT wants to have the tolling in place by 2017. In addition to residents, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is skeptical of the plan, worried that it may discourage travel at Dulles International Airport. [InsideNova, WTOP]
Opera Troupe Leaving Arlington — Forced to find a new home due to the closure of Artisphere in Rosslyn, the opera troupe UrbanArias will perform at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE in D.C. during its 2015-2016 season. [InsideNova]
Barbie Doll Convention Held in Crystal City — More than 1,000 collectors descended on Crystal City for the 2015 National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention last week. The event included auditions for a Barbie-themed Broadway production. [Daily Mail]
Marine Completes Hand-Cycle Journey to Arlington — Double amputee Marine veteran Toran Gaal completed his cross-country ride to Arlington National Cemetery this past weekend. Gaal made the more than 3,000 mile journey, which raised money for other wounded Marines, on a hand-cycle. [NBC Washington, Stars and Stripes]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Traffic Switch on Columbia Pike — VDOT crews will open a new ramp from Washington Blvd to Columbia Pike tonight. Crews will also activate a new traffic signal on the Pike and remove an old one. The Pike/Washington Blvd bridge replacement project is expected to wrap up this summer. [VDOT]
Rep. Beyer’s First Bill Passes — Rep. Don Beyer’s (D-Va.) Science Prize Competition Act has passed with bipartisan support. The bill “will encourage federal agencies to use prize competitions to incentivize innovative scientific research and development.” It’s Beyer’s first bill to pass the House of Representatives after replacing the retired Rep. Jim Moran. [Twitter, U.S. House of Representatives]
County to Consider Board Reduction — The Arlington County Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed reduction to the Board of Equalization of Real Estate Appeals. The body hears appeals on real estate assessments, which are down by half from their peak in 2009. The proposal would cut the seven member board to five. [InsideNova]
Petition Against Gun Store Created — Residents have created an online petition against a gun store that’s set to open in Cherrydale. Think of the children, the petition creators say. “It is unconscionable, in an era where our children are forced to practice ‘lock down’ drills designed to train them how to protect themselves from armed intruders, to locate a gun shop anywhere in the vicinity of schools,” the petition states. “The fear of armed intruders permeates their education, and placing a shop that sells guns and/or ammunition within immediate distance of schools is confusing to students at best, and sparks fears of access to them at school at worst.” So far, the petition is more than 2/3rds of the way to its 1,000 signature goal. [Change.org]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Construction on the project to replace the Washington Blvd bridge over Route 110 next to the Pentagon is now underway.
The $29.5 million endeavor will replace the existing bridge — built in 1941 and now “considered structurally deficient,” according to the Virginia Department of Transportation — with a new structure that expands the shared-use path to 14-feet wide, add an 8-foot sidewalk and is longer, wider and taller than the existing bridge.
While construction has begun, traffic impacts won’t start until May.
“VDOT will maintain a minimum of two lanes in each direction on both Routes 27 and 110, other than temporary night closures to install bridge girders,” VDOT said in a press release. “Pedestrian traffic will be shifted to a temporary bridge in 2016.”
When complete, the bridge will include homages to the military, with four medallions commemorating the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. This is the second Washington Blvd bridge VDOT is replacing with a medallion-adorned new structure — just down the road, the new bridges over Columbia Pike will have medallions commemorating Arlington’s Freedman’s Village.
The new bridge was originally scheduled to start construction in 2014 and wrap up this year. VDOT has adjusted its timeline, and now expects to complete the bridge by May 2018.
Images via VDOT
VDOT to Talk I-66 in Arlington — VDOT officials are expected to provide some specifics about their plan to upgrade I-66 inside the Beltway during a meeting with the Arlington Transportation Commission. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the County Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. VDOT is said to be considering converting a portion of I-66 into HOT lanes. The agency has yet to reveal whether it will push for additional lanes inside the Beltway as well. [InsideNova]
Arlington Prosecutor Takes Morrissey Case — Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos will be the lead prosecutor in the latest criminal case against Del. Joe Morrissey, who is currently serving a work-release jail sentence after pleading guilty to having sex with a 17-year-old. [Washington Post]
Cops: Don’t Drive Drunk After the Big Game — Arlington County Police are reminding residents not to drive drunk after the Super Bowl on Sunday. For those planning on downing a few brewskies, ACPD recommends designating a driver, calling a cab or taking public transit. “Don’t want to attend the Detention Center’s #SuperBowlXLIX viewing party? Plan ahead by designating a #SoberRide home,” the department said via Twitter. [Arlington County, Twitter]
Energy Journey Game This Weekend — Call it the Super Bowl of local government-sponsored, energy-themed, life-sized board games. This weekend, Arlington County is holding the latest installment of its “Energy Journey Game,” an interactive life-size board game that tests your “energy IQ.” It’s taking place at Wakefield High School starting at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. [Arlington County]
A Visit to Pentagon City’s DEA Museum — The Capitol Hill publication Roll Call has a gonzo journalism account of one reporter’s trip to the DEA Museum in Pentagon City. From the article’s prelude: “And suddenly, there was a terrible mall all around us and the sky was full of what looked like squat office buildings — all glass and concrete and blocking out the sunlight — and the sound of the Metro, which ran underneath the Pentagon City Mall and the Pentagon Centre and the Drug Enforcement Agency Museum at 700 Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Va.” [Roll Call]
Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk
Forecasters say accumulating snow may start falling by mid-to-late afternoon. VDOT says its crews are out in force treating roads, but drivers should consider leaving work early.
From a press release:
The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking northern Virginia drivers to prepare for today’s afternoon commute, which is expected to be much more difficult than this morning as rain and wintry mix increases to snow throughout the day.
Drivers are asked to commute and travel in the early afternoon if possible, prior to 4 p.m., to get ahead of increasing precipitation and dropping pavement temperatures expected this evening.
Between the morning and afternoon rush hours today, crews will apply a light application of salt, or mix of salt and liquid magnesium chloride, to problem spots such as bridges, ramps, hills and overpasses on main roads and in neighborhoods. Crews will continue to treat roads through the evening rush and overnight tonight.
Bridge and pavement temperatures are forecasted to be at or below freezing from 6 p.m. today through mid-day Tuesday. Drivers are asked to use caution, particularly in neighborhoods where slick conditions may develop this evening.
About 900 trucks will remain on duty this evening throughout Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington counties.
Reminders and resources:
- Slow down and allow for extra time to reach your destination
- Be aware of potentially icy areas such as bridges, ramps, curves and overpasses
- Check www.511virginia.org for road conditions
- Get more details on snow removal in northern Virginia
- Follow VDOT Northern Virginia on Twitter: @vadotnova
The Arlington County Board will vote on Saturday to apply to the Virginia Department of Transportation for $4.2 million in funds to help complete seven transportation projects. In addition, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is ready to reimburse the county for four transportation projects worth a combined $18.8 million.
The Board is expected to request $4.215 million in matching funds from VDOT for the following projects:
- $1.45 million for rehabilitation of the Shirlington Road bridge over Four Mile Run
- $800,000 for reconfiguration of the Boundary Channel Drive/I-395 interchange
- $530,000 for sidewalks and bike lanes on S. Walter Reed Drive from Arlington Mill Drive to Four Mile Run Drive over Four Mile Run (with a $591,000 local match)
- $245,000 for sidewalks on N. Carlin Springs Road from Edison Street to Vermont Street
- $500,000 for reconstruction of the intersections of Arlington Ridge Road at S. Lang and S. Lynn Streets (with a $595,000 local match)
- $235,000 for sidewalk and crossing improvements to Pershing Drive between N. Barton and N. Piedmont Streets (with a $245,000 local match)
- $455,000 for sidewalk and crossing improvements to Military Road from Nellie Custis Drive to 38th Street N.
The NVTA, which manages the allocation of funds from last year’s HB2313 transportation funding bill, already approved the four projects for which Arlington will receive funding, but NVTA spokeswoman Kala Quintana that the project agreements have recently been reached, and the authority is finally reading to start “mailing some checks.”
The four projects: $12 million toward the Columbia Pike Multimodal Project; $4.3 million for the Boundary Channel Drive interchange; $1.5 million for significant improvements to the Crystal City Multimodal Center on 18th Street S. between Bell and Eads Streets; and $1 million to purchase four buses for the ART 43 route, to mitigate the impacts the Silver Line has had on Blue Line commuters.
“[Arlington] can submit bills for reimbursement once they start turning dirt, purchase the bus, etc.,” Quintana said. “The project list was approved last year but the Authority needed to work with the jurisdictions to create the funding agreements… We are now ready to distribute, or have distributed these dollars. All they have to do is send us the bill and we will send them the money.”
Quintana said the NVTA is beginning work on the next two years of its six-year funding plan, which will distribute an estimated $203 million in FY 2015 funds among all the jurisdictions in Northern Virginia: Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park.
The NVTA estimates Arlington will receive an additional $11.2 million in direct funding through the transportation package, which is likely to be allocated to its Transportation Capital Fund.
Want a glimpse of how Arlington has changed over the past 65 years?
The video above, produced by VDOT, shows a drive across the Key Bridge and up Lee Highway in 1949, juxtaposed with the same drive in 2014.
You’ll notice the things that aren’t there any more: large billboards in Rosslyn, streetcar tracks, and a Gulf Oil gas station. You’ll also notice things that are still there — like the Lyon Village Apartments — and things that were yet to be built — like Rosslyn’s tall office buildings.
The I-beam, accompanied by a motorcade that will include a New York City fire engine, is expected to transported down the HOV lanes of I-395 Saturday afternoon. It will travel through the District, then Arlington, en route to the Marine Corps Museum in Triangle, Va.
From the Virginia Dept. of Transportation:
Motorists on I-95 can expect delays on Saturday, Oct. 4 due to a massive motorcade transporting an I-beam from the World Trade Center to the Marine Corps Museum.
The I-beam will be escorted by a New York City fire truck, with an estimated 500 to 1,500 motorcycles and support vehicles accompanying the truck. The convoy will enter Virginia from Washington, D.C. via the I-395 HOV lanes at approximately 3:30 p.m. Saturday. It will follow the southbound HOV lanes to a stretch of the new I-95 Express Lanes near Dumfries and use a new flyover ramp to merge onto the southbound I-95 regular lanes and exit at Joplin Road (Exit 150). VDOT will close the right regular lane of I-95 South near the merge and close the Joplin Road exit ramps in both directions.
Motorists will have two regular lanes in the area of Joplin Road and can expect traffic delays from approximately 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Motorists should also expect delays on Route 1 when the motorcade is traveling from Joplin Road to the museum.
The I-395/95 HOV lanes were already scheduled to be closed for 95 Express Lanes construction, beginning at 11 p.m. Friday, October 3 through 8 a.m. Sunday, October 5. The contractor, Fluor-Lane, will clear construction in the lanes Saturday afternoon to accommodate the motorcade. The HOV lanes will reopen in the northbound direction by 8 a.m. Sunday.
Fluor-Lane accelerated the opening of the flyover ramp to accommodate the motorcade and avoid the complete closure of I-95 that otherwise would have been required.
As seen above, the Arlington County Fire Department was presented with a steel beam from the World Trade Center in 2010.
The Arlington County Police Department has recorded a decrease in red light violations, and therefore ticket revenue, since fiscal year 2012.
The county currently has four working cameras, at N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway, Ft. Myer Drive at Lee Highway, N. Glebe Road at Fairfax Drive and Washington Blvd at Lee Highway. Each violation carries a fine of $50.
ACPD reports the red light cameras have brought in the following revenue for the last four fiscal years:
- FY 2014 — $236,792 (as of July 30)
- FY 2013 — $322,682
- FY 2012 — $444,427
- FY 2011 — $327,292
The police departments points to safety education campaigns as contributing to the drop in red light violations.
“We believe it’s a combination of people understanding and knowing locations of the cameras, along with being better and more aware drivers as the result of educational campaigns put on by our officers regarding traffic safety,” said police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “Safety is our biggest concern.”
Although they’ve been delayed for more than a year, seven new red light cameras are still in the works for Arlington. They will go in at five intersections shown to have high rates of red light running: two cameras at Columbia Pike and Glebe Road, two at Jefferson Davis Highway and S. 23rd Street, one at Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive, one at Lee Highway and George Mason Drive, and one at Washington Blvd and Glebe Road.
ACPD says the delay has been, in part, due to a Virginia Department of Transportation approval process. The county recently re-submitted information VDOT requires for the approval and hopes to hear back soon. However, VDOT spokeswoman Joan Morris told ARLnow.com the agency submitted its comments to ACPD July 1, and it is “not opposing any of the proposed sites since the signals are maintained and operated by the County.”
Once construction begins at the camera sites, ACPD plans to begin another educational campaign. The department typically offers a one month grace period when drivers will merely get a warning for running red lights at the intersections with newly installed cameras. Violations after the grace period will result in tickets.
County Quietly Chooses Auditor — The Arlington County government hired an internal auditor to improve transparency in finances and operations. County officials say specifics about the hire will be released in September. [InsideNova]
CEB Deal Questioned — Last month, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) announced it would anchor The JBG Cos.’ planned Central Place office tower in Rosslyn. But the head of Boston Properties believes that’s not a win. He says Rosslyn’s vacancy rate will grow because of the huge space CEB will leave behind at 1919 N. Lynn Street. [Washington Business Journal]
Pike Lane Closures — VDOT will keep the right lane of eastbound Columbia Pike near S. Quinn Street closed, except from 6:00-9:00 a.m., through this Friday for construction. Additionally, VDOT is closing the entrance to S. Quinn Street from Columbia Pike for two days for the installation of a new Arlington County sanitary sewer manhole and pipe. Wednesday, August 6, and Thursday, August 7, no traffic can enter or exit S. Quinn Street from the Pike.
Second Copperwood Tavern to Open — Copperwood Tavern in Shirlington hasn’t even been open a year, but already its owner is looking to expand into Loudoun County. Reese Gardner has signed a lease for a 6,500 square foot space in Ashburn, which he says is closer to some of the farmers contributing to the restaurant’s farm-to-table menu. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by thekidfromcrumlin
Construction to Begin on Ballston Garage — Local developer The Shooshan Company says it is beginning construction on a 550-space parking garage at 4040 Wilson Blvd, site of a planned 20-story office building in Ballston. The building is the final component of Shooshan’s Liberty Center development. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Day Date Set — The annual Clarendon Day street fair will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, the Clarendon Alliance has announced. This year the event will add a bluegrass music stage next to the Clarendon Chili Cookoff. The layout is also being changed “to make it easier for people to find the cold beverages of their choice.” [Clarendon Alliance]
VDOT Warns of E-Z Pass Scam — VDOT says some Virginia E-Z Pass users have reported receiving emails demanding payment for a past due debt. The emails are a scam, the department says. It’s unclear how the scammer obtained the email addresses of E-Z Pass holders. [Reston Now]
New Arlington Book Released — “We Are Arlington,” a book featuring 180 pages of photos and history about Arlington and Arlington residents, is now on sale. The author is Bill Hamrock, co-owner of Pasha Cafe and Billy’s Cheesesteaks in Cherrydale. [Preservation Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The interchange of Route 50, N. Courthouse Road and 10th Street Road is on the verge of opening for good.
According to Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer McCord, the westbound Route 50 frontage road that gives drivers access to Courthouse Road and 10th Street is expected to open on Wednesday. The opening means all facets of the intersection — the ramps from Courthouse Road and 10th Street to Route 50 in both directions and the frontage road — will be open for traffic.
The $39 million project began construction in April 2011, and McCord said the last pieces, to be completed over the summer, will be “final punch list work that will require some daytime lane closures.” The project was originally projected to be finished by last fall, but the completion date was pushed back to this summer. Of the $39 million the project is said to have cost, Arlington County contributed $1 million and the rest came from state and federal sources.
In addition to the other changes, there will also be “a signalized ‘T’ intersection providing access from both directions of Fairfax Drive to the Courthouse Road ramp,” according to VDOT’s project page.
The National Weather Service has placed Arlington under a Winter Storm Warning, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has declared a state of emergency and the latest weather models from the Capital Weather Gang predicts 5-10 inches of snow for the immediate D.C. region by the end of the day Thursday, with 4-8 inches falling by 7:00 a.m.
WMATA has already announced that late-night bus service — after 1:00 a.m. — tonight has been cancelled and MetroAccess service for the disabled has been suspended tomorrow.
The county’s transit agencies, ART and STAR, will “continue to provide normal scheduled services as conditions permit.” The agencies will update their websites and send out alerts if and when service needs to be reduced or suspended.
County and state crews are already pre-treating the roads as predictions come in for not only heavy snow, but sleet and freezing rain in the morning on Thursday.
“The County’s snow crews and Office of Emergency Management are gearing up, and residents and businesses should, too,” Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a press release. “If you don’t have to drive during this storm, which is expected to be the most significant we’ve had this winter, please stay off the roads and let crews do their work. Check on neighbors who are housebound.”
The county is asking residents to move their cars off the street where possible, or to “coordinate with your neighbors and/or civic association to move all cars to one side of the street,” since plows need 15 feet to plow a road. If there is a power outage or trees down, the county is asking residents to use their website to report weather-related issues.
VDOT says that by midnight, more than 4,000 trucks will be stationed in Northern Virginia, ready to plow state-maintained highways and streets, like I-66, I-395 and Route 50.
No closures have been announced yet for school or the government — county and federal — but residents should continue to check throughout the night once the snow begins to fall.
Arlington is also reminding residents of the county’s snow removal ordinance.
The County’s Snow Removal Ordinance requires all Arlington property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within a designated time period. The ordinance also prohibits transferring or depositing snow and ice from private property onto public property. Individual homeowners who are physically incapable of complying with the Ordinance are exempt. Visit the County website for more information on the Snow Removal Ordinance. Remember to clear snow from cars and sidewalks into the adjacent yard, not the street.
Residents can use the “Report a Snow Issue” form 24 hours after snowfall has stopped to report snow removal issues or areas that need attention. County staffers monitor the requests, but are unable to respond to every message.
Update at 4:20 p.m. — Arlington County has announced all facilities and programs, including those in schools, will close tonight at 9:00 p.m. The status for school tomorrow remains undetermined.
There’s little relief in sight for drivers and bus riders traveling down some rough portions of Columbia Pike.
Arlington County is planning to finish repaving the section of the Pike from S. Wakefield Street to Four Mile Run Drive by April, but so far the county has no plans to repave the increasingly pockmarked eastern portion of the Pike, including the “Pike Town Center” business district, within the next six months. Potholes are expected to be filled by this spring, but a full repaving could be several years away.
“Over the next several years, Arlington County will continue with utility undergrounding and street improvement projects, which will include roadway paving in three areas on Columbia Pike: Four Mile Run Bridge to County Line, South Oakland Street to South Wakefield Street, and South Garfield Street to South Rolfe Street,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher tells ARLnow.com. As of last year, the streetscape improvement project was expected to run through 2018.
Apart from the Columbia Pike streetcar, which is a separate project, planned street improvements for the Pike include a repaved roadway, better pedestrian facilities, more street trees and planted medians. But for some Pike residents and business owners, those improvements are too slow in coming.
“I do believe that the delays they are having with the transportation issues will eventually halt all momentum the Pike has had with growth,” said Sybil Robinson, who owns Twisted Vines Wine Bar and Bottleshop (2803 Columbia Pike). “Businesses that opened here with the promise of increased foot traffic and customer base may have to close since they’ve been just getting by for years now. We’re all trying to share the same small customer base that lives in the area. Once places start to close, you can forget new businesses coming here.”
Takis Karantonis, executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, says he appreciates the improvements but is worried about the “glacial pace” of some projects.
“While the driver’s experience on the Pike… is very challenging, it is the pedestrian realm what concerns us the most,” he said. “Utility undergrounding and streetscape improvements have been taking more time than anybody would have had anticipated. This is a challenge for everybody, but especially for businesses along our corridor… reliable timelines are of essence.”
Robinson said she’s heard complaints specifically about the rough roadway, but doesn’t actually think that particular problemn has has much of a direct impact on her business.
“We’ve definitely had customers complain about the road conditions, but as soon as they fix one problem spot, another pops up,” said Sybil Robinson, who owns Twisted Vines Wine Bar and Bottleshop (2803 Columbia Pike). “In terms of business impact, I don’t think it has hurt us too much. Most of our customers live on or near the Pike and the road conditions impact them on a daily basis going to and from work — so they know what to expect.”
Arlington County took responsibility for the maintenance of Columbia Pike from VDOT in 2010. John Antonelli, a Pike resident and an outspoken streetcar critic, says the county is shirking a neighborly duty by leaving the Pike in a state of disrepair.
“Arlington County has to understand that part of being a gateway community is to be a gateway,” he said. “Columbia Pike is a commuter road to the Pentagon and it behooves us as a good neighbor to ensure that our businesses and their employees and customers can get to and from as quickly as possible.”
“It’s a mess,” Antonelli added, about the Pike. “But it is more driveable now then it will be if they put the trolley in.”
One bit of good news for drivers is that VDOT is planning to repave Columbia Pike from S. Quinn Street to S. Orme Street next, as part of its Columbia Pike/Washington Blvd interchange project, according to VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord.
“We called in a team today to hook up our trucks with chains, spreaders and plows,” said Shannon Whalen McDaniel, spokeswoman for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. “We will also brine the roads throughout the night in preparation.”
VDOT, meanwhile, said “crews are pre-treating roads aggressively throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties today.”
“Crews will be out in force overnight and through the duration of the storm, treating icy roads and plowing snow,” VDOT said in a press release. “While VDOT is in full preparation mode, motorists are urged to make sure their vehicles are in proper driving condition for winter weather and have emergency kits. During the storm, motorists should avoid driving on the roads.”
WMATA says it will start the Tuesday on a normal weekday Metrorail and bus schedule, but may reduce rail service and suspend bus service later in the day as conditions deteriorate. MetroAccess service has been suspended for all of Tuesday.
“For your safety, travel only if necessary,” Metro said in an advisory. “If you must travel, plan to arrive at your destination before the worst of the storm, and be prepared to remain there until the storm passes. Check wmata.com before starting your trip or sign up for MetroAlerts to receive updated service information by email or text message.”