VDOT Holds HOT Lane Meeting — Last night VDOT gave the first formal public presentation of its plan to expand the I-395 HOV lanes and convert them to High Occupancy Toll lanes. The meeting was held at Wakefield High School and addressed issues from toll pricing to transit improvements to sound walls. [WTOP, Fox 5]
Bike-on-Bike Crashes Problematic for the Law — A new article asserts that Arlington County Police normally do not file reports for bike-on-bike crashes. “This is a bike accident. Life happens,” an officer reportedly told a victim after one recent incident. Incomplete or nonexistent police reports have frustrated victims and attorneys seeking legal redress — and led to the hiring of private investigators who try to gather evidence and find witnesses. [Washingtonian]
Disability Advocates Protest in Arlington — Disability rights advocates made their frustrations personal yesterday by protesting in front of the Arlington home of Vanita Gupta, head of the U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division. [Disability Scoop]
Proposal: Allow Older Cabs in Arlington — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to consider a policy change that would allow older cabs on the road, among other changes. Currently, cabs entering service may be no older than two years old and then must be retired after reaching seven years old or 350,000 miles. Recognizing advances in vehicle reliability, the new policy would do away with the two year provision and set the maximum age of cabs at 10 years old. [Arlington County]
Free Donuts for Lawyers Today — It’s Be Kind to Lawyers Day and to mark the occasion Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike is offering a free “house donut” to lawyers today. Sugar Shack is also beginning a promotion that will give select customers free donuts to distribute to their favorite local teachers. “To participate, folks just need to use the hashtag #Treats4Teach to tell us on Facebook or Twitter why they should be picked to deliver donuts to their local school teachers and to which school,” said a press release.
Nice Weather at Last — After this morning’s rain, expect clearing skies and pleasant weather that should stretch into next week. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Arlington Asks for I-66 Corridor Grants — The Arlington County Board has selected five transportation projects for state potential grant funding. The county is seeking grants from a pool of $5 million allocated by VDOT for initial improvements along the I-66 corridor, ahead of the tolling of the highway. Among the projects Arlington is submitting for consideration: real-time transportation information screens along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, expanding certain bus routes, and a series of initiatives including vanpools and a travel planning app for smartphones. [Arlington County]
APS to Renovate Fenwick Center for High School Program — Arlington Public Schools will renovate the 50-year-old Fenwick Center along Columbia Pike for use by the soon-to-be-renamed Arlington Mill High School program. Moving the program will make room at the Arlington Career Center, next door from the Fenwick Center, for the new Arlington Tech initiative. [InsideNova]
Remembering James Kimsey — James Kimsey, the co-founder of AOL, died on March 1 at the age of 76. Kimsey spent his childhood in South Arlington and most recently lived at the very northern tip of Arlington, in a $30 million “castle” known as “The Falls,” which he built around the turn of the century. The house, one of the largest private residences in Virginia and one of the priciest properties in Arlington, was so big that it prompted Arlington County to build a new sewage line. [Falls Church News-Press]
Photo by Dennis Dimick
We’re in the midst of the pothole season — that bumpy time on local roads as the spring thaw starts and asphalt pockmarks form.
Arlington County says its crews have filled 2,440 potholes this season, a relatively low number compared to last year’s record-setting 12,100 potholes following a rough winter.
They’re not here to save the world but the County’s Pothole Busters are out to prevent some haunting damage to tires, rims and maybe even your car’s pricey suspension.
If there’s a growing rut in your neighborhood, pick up the phone and call the Department of Environmental Services’ (DES) customer care center at 703-228-6570 (after hours, use 703-228-6555) to report the offender. Or complete the County’s online “Report a Problem” form.
Issues related to state routes such as Washington Boulevard are forwarded to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
With the arrival of warm weather, DES Pothole Buster crews have ramped up repairs along Arlington’s 974 lane miles of roads. Some 2,440 potholes have been filled so far this season. Last year the County patched a record-setting 12,100 dips and depressions.
In the words of Pothole Buster deputy director of operations Mike Moon, the goal is for all our streets to be “safe, smooth and durable” after a blizzard’s worth of harm.
Motorists can help by staying cautious and alert as additional trucks and crews are out repairing what at times may look like a supernatural asphalt assault.
For updates on Pothole Busters progress, follow @ArlingtonDES on Facebook and Twitter and look for the hashtag #PotholeBusters.
More than a foot of snow has already fallen across the Arlington area, according to the National Weather Service. And it’s only going to get worse.
Wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, whiteout conditions and up to another foot of snowfall are possible through late tonight, says the Capital Weather Gang.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), most roads throughout the area are in “moderate to severe” condition, meaning that a layer of snow or ice partially or fully covers the roadway. VDOT added that workers in Northern Virginia will attempt to clear interstates, high-volume roads and subdivisions throughout the day.
Residents are being strongly urged to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. Most seem to be heeding the advice, as traffic is nearly nonexistent even on normally busy roads in Ballston. Still, some people are making a go of it, despite VDOT’s advice. A pair of drivers were observed struggling to climb a hill on Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn around 7:30 a.m. this morning.
Though the snowy conditions thwarted drivers across the area, Dominion has not reported any widespread power outages throughout the area since the blizzard began.
Here’s what some other ARLNow readers reported on Twitter throughout the night and early this morning:
— Joel Holland (@joelkentholland) January 23, 2016
— Matt Madigan (@maddogrow) January 23, 2016
— Cameron B Sutton (@cbsutton70) January 23, 2016
— Tim Regan (@MrTimRegan) January 23, 2016
— mohamed amine idriss (@maicsimo) January 23, 2016
— Heather (@dcheatherc) January 23, 2016
— Elizabeth Rosas (@ElizaMRosas) January 23, 2016
— Hieu Nguyen (@HieuN78) January 23, 2016
— JJ Atala (@jjatala) January 23, 2016
— Katharine Hale (@KatharinehHale) January 23, 2016
@ARLnowDOTcom heard some thundersnow!!
— Jackie (@LittleNewton) January 23, 2016
That’s the message from Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) as a possibly record-breaking blizzard looms over the area. Most roads in Arlington were at least partially snow-covered as of 4:50 p.m. this afternoon, and conditions are only getting worse as the snow piles up.
So far, locals seem to be heeding VDOT’s advice. As of 4:30 p.m. today, there were 19 crashes and 60 disabled vehicles reported by the department among Prince William, Loudoun, Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax counties since midnight last night.
It's been relatively quiet but we are seeing vehicle accidents. Non-emergency travel is discouraged. pic.twitter.com/hWA4WXPML5
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 22, 2016
But the full brunt of the storm has not arrived yet, according to the Capital Weather Gang. Conditions are expected to worsen overnight and into tomorrow morning as snowfall becomes heavier and winds pick up.
Summer Reading Becomes Winter Donation — Arlington Public Library staff presented the The Reading Connection with a check for more than $2,400 yesterday morning. The dollar amount represents a $1 donation for each person who completed the library’s 2015 summer reading program. [Arlington Public Library]
Toll Time for I-66? — The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recommended funding for projects that would bring toll lanes to I-66 and add a second entrance to the Ballston Metro Station, among other developments. [WTOP]
Sneak Peek at Latest Synetic Play –Synetic Theater has chosen a cast for its upcoming wordless performance of Romeo and Juliet. Check out photos of the performance, which will star longtime Synetic players Zana Gankhuyag and Irina Kavsadze, on the theater company’s website. [Synetic Theater]
Snow Forecast Intensifies — Computer models from late last night suggest “very substantial to historic” snowfall totals on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Just how much snow are we talking about? Analysts say we could see as much as 12 to 30 inches of the white fluffy stuff. [Capital Weather Gang]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
VDOT has a new plan for High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395, the Washington Post reported late Friday.
The news comes nearly five years after the state scrapped plans to build HOT lanes on I-395, following a legal battle with Arlington County. In a lawsuit, the county argued that HOT lanes, as then planned, would exacerbate pollution from and congestion on I-395, negatively impacting Arlington residents.
Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane told the Post that the new plan comes with guaranteed funding for carpooling and transit from private partner Transurban. Construction could start as soon as 2017 and would involve adding a third lanes to the existing HOV lanes while keeping the highway’s overall footprint mostly the same, the Post reports.
No word yet on a reaction from local officials.
Meanwhile, Arlington County has given its endorsement to a controversial plan for adding tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway during peak travel times. By a vote of 3-2 — John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey voted against it — the County Board adopted a resolution supporting the “Transform 66” project.
Last month Fairfax County offered conditional support for the plan, while calling for the widening of I-66. Loudoun County officials oppose the plan, which has faced heavy criticism from suburban commuters.
The plan calls for changing HOV rules on I-66 from requiring at least two people per vehicle during rush hour (HOV-2) to giving drivers the option of either having three people in a car (HOV-3) or paying a toll during peak hours.
In their endorsement, County Board members said they hoped that the changes would prevent the possible widening of I-66 inside the Beltway. The county wants VDOT to at least commit to not considering widening from two to three lanes in each direction through Arlington until 2025 at the earliest.
Lane has previously been quoted as saying the widening of I-66 through Arlington is inevitable.
After the jump, the press release from Arlington County on the I-66 project endorsement.
Arlington Ridge Ramp Closure — The ramp from Arlington Ridge Road to Washington Blvd and I-395, and from Washington Blvd to Arlington Ridge, will be closed during nights and mornings this weekend, starting at 9 p.m. tonight. VDOT will be milling and paving the ramp as part of a $2.2 million project to repair the Arlington Ridge Road ramp bridges. Construction is scheduled to end by 11 a.m. Sunday. Detours will be in place during the closure. [VDOT, Google Maps]
Weenie Beenie Serves a Top Dog — The borderline historic Weenie Beenie stand near Shirlington is one of the “21 best hot dog joints in America,” says Thrillist.com, besting event Ben’s Chili Bowl. [Thrillist]
Another Endorsement for Cristol, Dorsey — The urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington says Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey are the best choices for Arlington County Board. GGW says Cristol is “great on transit” and “a pleasure to work with” and Dorsey is “clearly superior to the other two options, Audrey Clement and Mike McMenamin.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Ashton Heights Profiled — WaPo’s real estate section profiles the Ashton Heights neighborhood of Arlington, calling it “cozy” with “charming older homes, a child-friendly atmosphere and accessibility to the city.” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by xmeeksx
(Updated at 2:00 p.m.) A VDOT worker is in critical condition after being struck by a car on I-395 Tuesday night.
The crash happened around 10:20 p.m., on southbound I-395 near the Ridge Road overpass. According to initial reports, the worker was setting out traffic cones to warn drivers of an accident ahead when he was struck by a vehicle.
The man was transported to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Weather may have been a factor — it was raining at the time of the crash.
On Wednesday afternoon, Virginia State Police issued the following statement about the crash.
Virginia State Police are investigating a pedestrian crash that occurred late Tuesday evening (Sept. 29) in Arlington County.
At 10:16 p.m., Virginia State Police were on scene of a traffic crash in the right southbound lane of Interstate 395, less than a mile south of the Ridge Road overpass. Safety Services Patrol Supervisor Mike Musgrove responded to the scene to assist the trooper by blocking oncoming traffic and directing traffic safely around the crash scene.
At approximately 10:23 p.m., a 2005 Toyota Matrix traveling south on I-395 lost control and ran through the traffic cones and flares ( that were set up as a perimeter to direct oncoming traffic around the initial crash). The Matrix struck Musgrove, who was standing next to his safety services patrol vehicle. The Matrix then struck the safety truck and guardrail.
Musgrove was transported to GW Hospital in Washington, DC, where he is currently being treated for life-threatening injuries. Musgrove is a VDOT contract employee. His vehicle emergency lights were activated at the time of the crash.
The driver of the Matrix, Charles R. Hepburn II, 39, of Alexandria, Va., was not injured in the crash. Hepburn was charged with reckless driving.
No one from the initial crash was injured in the incident.
Both crashes remain under investigation.
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.