Arlington, VA

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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Morning Notes

VDOT Repaving Planned This Month — “Upcoming @VaDOTNOVA night paving into August: Glebe Road, Spout Run Parkway, Washington Boulevard, Route 1 aka Richmond Highway aka the roadway formerly known as Jefferson Davis. Dates tentative, subject to change.” [Twitter]

ACPD Still Not Meeting Staffing Goal — The Arlington County Police Department has, on net, added a few new officers over the past year. But staffing challenges remain, echoing challenges for police departments across the region: ACPD currently has 352 officers despite a staffing goal of 374 officers. [NBC 4]

Arlington Hiring Public Safety Positions — Arlington County is currently hiring school crossing guards and 911 dispatchers.

Lee Highway Apartment Complex Sold — “A 50-year-old apartment complex along Route 29 in Arlington County has traded hands for the first time in 20 years. Connecticut-based Westport Capital Partners, through the entity WM MF Horizons Property LLC, acquired the Horizons Apartments from an entity connected to Dweck Properties to in a deal that closed June 26 for $71M, Arlington County property records show.” [Bisnow]

Rosslyn-Based Firm Buys Clyde’s — “It’s official: Clyde’s Restaurant Group, a 56-year-old institution in Greater Washington’s restaurant scene, is now a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Co. Graham, which is led by members of the Graham family that formerly owned The Washington Post, did not disclose a sale price.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: More People Biking in Alexandria — “More than halfway through this summer’s Blue and Yellow Line shutdown… bicycle volume [has] almost doubled on the Metro Linear Trail, a smaller, along-rail trail which connects the King Street and Braddock Road stations.” [DCist]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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The future of a highway marker on Jefferson Davis Highway is uncertain after state and local officials voted to rename the roadway.

The monument was erected in 1946 on the shoulder of the highway, which soon will be named Richmond Highway in place of the name of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The stone marker is located along Route 1 near the Pentagon. An Arlington County spokeswoman told ARLnow that it is on VDOT land and that “unless VDOT has information otherwise, the County Manager’s Office has no information at this time on how the marker will be handled.”

When reached for comment, a spokeswoman for VDOT said the department didn’t have specific details about the marker’s future, “but we are working with the County to determine the next steps for this particular piece.”

The renaming is part of a broader movement to strip Confederate references from neighborhoods, public schools, and a special education program in Arlington.

The county agreed to pay $17,000 to cover the cost of new street signs for Route 1 — the updated signs are expected to be placed in October — after the Arlington County Board approved the renaming in April. It’s unclear if any of those funds will be used for the marker.

An inscription on the Route 1 marker indicates the United Daughters of the Confederacy was the organization that placed it along the highway.

Arlington County also removed a Confederate memorial after requests from residents in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville white nationalist rally. The plaque commemorated a Civil War lookout post and was also placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Photos courtesy of Twitter user 202FSUNole

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VDOT is planning a community meeting to discuss changes that might be coming to the “Shirlington Circle” interchange of I-395.

The somewhat labyrinthine interchange has been the scene of several notable crashes over the past few years. VDOT has been studying ways to improve it over the past few years.

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

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