A wintry precipitation mix is expected to hit the region this evening (March 6) and continue into tomorrow morning, which Virginia Department of Transportation officials say could impact the morning commute.
Crews are treating the roads and are preparing for any necessary snow removal, though a tweet from the Capital Weather Gang notes that it is unlikely that much will stick. It’s more likely that there will be a buildup of slush.
VDOT has the following tips for the anticipated precipitation:
- Stay closely tuned to weather forecasts (see National Weather Service) overnight and through the day tomorrow.
- Consider teleworking or adjusting trips around the forecast. If roads are slick, delay trips for safety.
- Bridges, ramps, overpasses and lower-volume roads may become slick quickly with low pavement temperatures.
- Ensure gas and wiper fluid tanks are full, and have a good emergency kit. Here’s how: www.ready.gov/car.
- Be aware that low temperatures will mean continued potential for refreeze and slick road conditions.
Snow late tonight & Wed AM around DC likely to occur w/ temps above 32, so will be hard for a lot to stick. But if/when snow falls heavily, could cause slush to build-up. Wed AM commute could be affected w/ reduced visibility & some slick spots. More info: https://t.co/u55YqiQA8N pic.twitter.com/b9ftxEcLJM
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) March 6, 2018
Here is an update to our forecasted low-end snowfall amounts (left) and our forecasted high-end snowfall amounts (right) pic.twitter.com/l6rQsh3pP4
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) March 6, 2018
It’s that time again! ❄️ Be like our crews—plan now for winter weather to possibly affect your Wed AM commute. pic.twitter.com/nDwGGya38B
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) March 6, 2018
The contentious I-66 toll rollout only began about three months ago, but it appears that some non-HOV commuters have already found a way around the tolls.
Videos sent to ARLnow.com from a Rosslyn resident show commuters idling along the I-66 shoulder. It’s unclear whether or not the drivers are waiting for the toll to lower or if they are waiting for the tolling period to end all together. The evening tolling period is from 3-7 p.m., and our tipster tells us that this happens frequently just before 7 p.m.
A spokeswoman for Virginia State Police, which is responsible for enforcement on the highway, told ARLnow.com that “this has been an ongoing issue on Interstate 395” as well.
“State police take this issue very seriously and continue to enforce the law, but we are limited due to an ongoing shortage of troopers,” said the spokeswoman. Emergency calls take priority over tolling enforcement, she added.
Virginia law states that drivers cannot stop on the highway except in case of an emergency, accident, or mechanical breakdown.
Tolls as high as $40-50 have been reported on I-66 inside the Beltway since the HOT lane launch, despite initial predictions of tolls closer to the $7-9 range.
High winds are expected to wallop the Washington region tonight through Saturday and officials are asking the public to take precautions.
Wind gusts as strong as 60-70 miles per hour are possible from Friday from 4 a.m. through midnight, forecasters say. Wind gusts over 30 miles per hour are expected generally from tonight into Sunday.
The Virginia Department of Transportation issued its own advisory, warning that roadways could be dangerous and that road closures could be possible due to downed trees and power lines or other road debris. Crews will begin working overnight to fix any infrastructure damage, the agency said.
VDOT issued a warning to drivers, and a reminder to:
- Check road closures before you travel, and look at potential alternate routes.
- Reduce your speeds and assume there may be a road obstruction ahead.
- Move over for responders with blue, red, and amber lights, including VDOT and utility crews.
- Always use your headlights, remember wipers on, lights on is the law.
- Ensure gas tanks are full, and have a good emergency kit. Here’s how: www.ready.gov/car.
AAA Mid-Atlantic issued its own warning, including a reminder to treat non-working traffic signals as a four-way stop.
“Motorists who venture out during the Nor’easter should brace themselves for driving into tempestuous side winds, which would buffet them off course and off the road, and into blustery head winds and turbulent tail winds,” AAA said. “Drive defensively or stay off the roads until the mercurial storm passes over.”
More advisories from the agencies via social media:
Dangerously strong, and long-lasting winds coming – starting at, or soon after, midnight. Here's what to expect, & some actions to take to be ready. pic.twitter.com/OBKdiMEg1g
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) March 1, 2018
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) March 1, 2018
🚦 Tomorrow's high winds and rain main cause power outages in the area. Remember to treat all uncontrolled intersections as a FOUR WAY STOP. pic.twitter.com/5b25rMwNJp
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) March 1, 2018
The Arlington County Board approved $1.4 million in additional funding for the N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway esplanade and safety enhancement project.
The Virginia Department of Transportation came to county officials with a cost estimate significantly higher than the initial $7.95 million price tag, which was approved by the Board in December 2016.
The increase is due to lengthened construction time, increased materials and labor costs since the 2016 estimate and design changes relating to traffic plans, according to the county manager’s report. Initially, the call for construction bids in March 2017 only received one bidder, which was rejected “due to previous established restriction on the bidder by VDOT,” according to the manager’s recommendation.
The project will bring pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements, such as wider sidewalks and on-street bike lanes, as well as traffic management and street beautification to the N. Lynn Street and Custis Trail area. A public arts project, the long-delayed Corridor of Light project, will also be installed, but only at the four corners of the I-66 bridge.
Safety is a significant component of the project. The intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway, once dubbed the “Intersection of Doom,” has been the scene of numerous vehicle vs. pedestrian crashes over the past few years, though collisions are down since interim safety improvements have been installed
The Board unanimously approved the increase in budget at its Tuesday meeting. Project construction should wrap up by May 2020.
Single-lane, overnight closures will continue on I-66 inside the Beltway through the end of March, according to VDOT.
Crews are completing survey and “geotechnical investigation work” related to the I-66 eastbound widening project.
The single lane closures are scheduled for between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. nightly between I-495 and Fairfax Drive (Route 237). Shoulder closures are intermittently planned from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., weather permitting.
Real-time traffic information and lane and shoulder closure locations are available online.
More from the Virginia Department of Transportation press release:
The survey and geotechnical investigation work is needed prior to the start of construction that will add an additional through lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 between the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) and Fairfax Drive (Exit 71) in Fairfax and Arlington counties. Other key project features include constructing a new bridge over Lee Highway for the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail and providing direct access from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro station by constructing a new ramp connection between two existing ramps (eastbound I-66 to Route 7 and the eastbound I-66 collector-distributor road adjacent to the station’s parking garage).
The additional lane will be open to traffic in fall 2020 and the overall project is expected to be complete in fall 2021.
Separately, VDOT has also announced additional overnight lane closures on Route 110 near the Pentagon.
On Monday night, Feb. 12 and Tuesday night, Feb. 13 between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. each night, the northbound right lane of Route 110 at the Route 27 interchange and then the southbound right lane of Route 110 will be closed to allow crews to demolish and rebuild bridge piers, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The closures will remain in place for approximately two months.
The work is part of the Route 27 over Route 110 project, which is scheduled for completion this summer.
Photo courtesy of Michael Coffman
Arlington County and the rest of the D.C. region could be in for more snow, starting early tomorrow morning and lasting through rush hour.
The Capital Weather Gang reported that Arlington and the rest of the area could receive up to 1 inch of snow early Tuesday, between roughly 3 and 10 a.m.
A period of snow expected late tonight into Tuesday. See image for more details. pic.twitter.com/skR7mqNaS8
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) January 29, 2018
County road crews will be out with their colleagues from the Virginia Department of Transportation pre-treating roads through rush hour today. VDOT asked drivers to give tanker trucks and trailing safety vehicles room to work.
In a press release, VDOT further asked drivers to:
- Stay closely tuned to weather forecasts (see National Weather Service) overnight and through the day tomorrow
- Consider teleworking or adjusting trips around the forecast. If conditions are icy, delay trips for safety.
- Assume any “wet” pavement to be icy. Bridges, ramps, overpasses and lower-volume roads may ice first, and even previously treated roads will become slick quickly with the low pavement temperatures.
- Ensure gas and wiper fluid tanks are full, and have a good emergency kit. Here’s how: http://www.ready.gov/car.
Arlington County is set to receive more than $17 million in grant funding from state agencies for various transportation and transit projects.
The Arlington County Board will vote on Saturday (January 27) on whether to accept the funds, totaling $17.8 million, from the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
Of that, the county is set to receive $15 million from DPRT, just over $870,000 from NVTC and almost $2 million from VDOT. The money is to fund transit, bridge renovations and other transportation projects.
DPRT funds come from its Smart Scale program, a statewide funding program where jurisdictions apply for a limited amount of grant funding. NVTC’s funding is through its program to administer revenue made from the I-66 tolls. The VDOT funding is from a revenue sharing program the county regularly applies for.
The county was awarded money for the following projects, by the following bodies:
- Ballston Metro station west entrance – $10 million (DPRT)
- Purchase of Mobile Commuter Store – $500,000 (DPRT)
- Purchase of eight 40-foot buses – $4 million (DPRT)
- Installation and accessibility improvements of bus stops along the ART route to Marymount University – $500,000 (DPRT)
- Bus stop consolidation and accessibility improvements – $462,000 (NVTC)
- Multimodal real-time transportation information screens – $250,000 (NVTC)
- ART bus rehabilitation for ART 55 peak service expansion – $160,000 (NVTC)
- Shirlington Road Bridge – $935,000 (VDOT)
- Pershing Drive – $1,050,000 (VDOT)
In a report, county staff recommended the Board accept the funds.
Arlington County is one final step away from controlling sections of Fairfax Drive and 10th Street N. along the Orange Line corridor.
The Arlington County Board will vote on Saturday (January 27) to approve a deal that would give the county control of the road between its intersections with N. Glebe Road and N. Barton Street, from roughly the Ballston to Courthouse neighborhoods. The roadway is currently controlled by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The vote follows after the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the transfer of control of the road, also known as Route 237, in December. The county requested that transfer in July 2017.
Making the portion of the roadway a part of Arlington’s local road system would streamline reviews for development and other changes, and give the county more flexibility to implement multimodal improvements.
In a report, county staff said Route 237’s current ownership under the state makes the county go through an “extensive review process with the Virginia Department of Transportation for all site plan development reviews and county transportation infrastructure projects.”
Staff said there is also a “cumbersome design-exception process” that costs the county more time and money for each project under VDOT supervision. The transfer could also cost the county between $60,000 and $70,000 a year for added road maintenance responsibilities, the cost of which are only partially reimbursed by the state, according to a fiscal impact statement.
Image via Arlington County
Immigrants Afraid to Report Crimes — President Donald Trump’s hawkishness on immigration enforcement has apparently led to a drop in crimes reported in some of the country’s largest immigrant communities, including in Arlington. Per a new report: “In Arlington, Virginia, domestic-assault reports in one Hispanic neighborhood dropped more than eighty-five per cent in the first eight months after Trump’s Inauguration, compared with the same period the previous year.” [New Yorker]
Lawmakers React to Immigration Decision — Local lawmakers are speaking out against a Trump administration decision to end temporary protected status for some 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants. “Donald Trump’s open hostility to immigrants runs against the values and history of this country,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), while Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called the decision “heartless.” [Rep. Don Beyer, Twitter]
Ramp Near Pentagon Closing at Night — The ramp from eastbound Route 27 to northbound Route 110, near the Pentagon, will be closed each night through Friday for bridge deck work, according to VDOT. “Traffic will be detoured via Route 27, George Washington Memorial Parkway and I-395 back to northbound Route 110,” the agency said. [Twitter]
InsideNova Sold — The parent company of the Arlington Sun Gazette has sold its InsideNova website along with two other local weekly newspapers, while retaining the Sun Gazette papers. Sun Gazette articles will reportedly still be published on InsideNova. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington’s Top 10 Press Releases of 2017 — Arlington County has posted an article ranking the 10 most popular press releases of 2017 on its website. The article concludes that “2017 was a good year in Arlington County, laying the foundation for great years to come.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: Plans for Boozy Taco Bell — A Taco Bell “Cantina” that “mixes the traditional Taco Bell fare with new shareable menu items and alcoholic beverages including twisted freezes, beer and wine” is coming to Old Town Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
More Fog Photos — The fog covering parts of the region this morning made for some great photos, particularly among those who trained their lenses on the half-covered Washington monument. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]
A shared-use path is now open on eastbound Washington Blvd near the Pentagon, part of a bridge rehabilitation project in Arlington County.
The Virginia Department of Transportation said a 14-foot wide path for bicycles and pedestrians along eastbound Washington Blvd (Route 27) over Route 110 opened yesterday (Tuesday).
The path is now 14 feet wide on the bridge and replaces a narrow concrete sidewalk that pedestrians and cyclists used to use. It is 10 feet wide on the approaches to the bridge.
Drivers in the area can expect some delays starting tonight (Wednesday), as eastbound traffic on Washington Blvd will shift onto the newly-constructed portion of the bridge. The traffic shift allows construction crews to demolish the middle portion of the bridge and rebuild it.
Work is expected to last from 10 p.m. tonight until 5 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday). Drivers are advised to seek alternate routes.
VDOT said it still believes the $31.5 million project is on track to wrap up next year. It will replace the existing bridge, built in 1941, with one that is wider, longer and taller.
Photo via VDOT
Light snowflakes fell on Arlington County in the early afternoon, with some sticking to grassy areas.
The snow began around lunchtime, and at 1:30 p.m. the National Weather Service tweeted that the main concern is a “thin slippery layer on untreated roads.” Anyone driving home this afternoon and evening should be careful of any slick conditions.
Snow accumulated mostly around the bases of trees and on places where people were not walking, with many sidewalks slick but not seeing much accumulation.
NWS issued a Special Weather Statement around 11 p.m. yesterday (Thursday) warning of a hazardous commute.
1:30pm – Light snow & snow pellets continue across the region. Traffic cameras in north-central Maryland show light accumulation beginning on road shoulder areas. A thin slippery layer on untreated roads is the main concern this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/lh5e8gO8Br
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) December 15, 2017
The Virginia Department of Transportation pre-treated roads earlier today, and will continue to do so as needed through the evening rush hour, as will local crews from the county’s Department of Environmental Services.
In a press release, VDOT urged drivers to:
- Continue to check weather forecasts as storm timing, area, and intensity can change. Temperatures are below freezing now and are only predicted to peak at 33 degrees around 4 p.m. before immediately dropping below freezing again.
- Remember that Friday afternoon rush hour begins much earlier than the rest of the week. Consider making your trips early, give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, and if conditions are icy, avoid driving for safety.
- Watch for plow trucks. They are very heavy and drive slower in order to treat roads effectively.
- Do not overdrive conditions. Assume all roads that appear wet are slick.
- Reduce your speed and always use your headlights.
- Take it slow on bridges, ramps, and overpasses, and other known trouble spots.
- Ensure gas tanks and windshield wiper fluid tanks are full.
The Capital Weather Gang reported that snow could continue to fall for another couple of hours in some areas.
Low temps and wet snow/sleet are a good recipe for icy surfaces.
Take it slow and steady, no matter how you're getting around today. https://t.co/JgH9j3lJ5u
— BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) December 15, 2017
Arlington Ready for Possible Snow — The chances of “meaningful accumulation” have since gone down, but Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services crews started applying brine to county roads Monday night in anticipation a “potential snow/ice this Wednesday evening/Thursday.” [Twitter, Washington Post]
VDOT Pleased With I-66 HOT Lane Data — NBC 4’s Adam Tuss tweets: “Doesn’t look like @VaDOTNOVA plans to change anything about the I-66 toll lanes. They say their data shows commutes were faster and more reliable.” [Twitter]
Dems Want Satellite-Voting Centers — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee could again be at loggerheads with the county’s elections office over whether to provide satellite locations for absentee voting in non-presidential-election years.” [InsideNova]
ARLnow T-Shirt Now Available — Need a gift for the ARLnow.com fan in your life? Show your Arlington pride with this long-sleeved t-shirt from the county’s No. 1 local news source. [Amazon]
ACPD Officers Helping in Puerto Rico — The Arlington County Police Department is among the departments nationwide sending officers to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to provide emergency assistance. The third ACPD team to rotate in is working on the island through Dec. 18. Officers who’ve gone say many challenges remain but there are hopeful signs as well. [Arlington Connection]
Westover Townhouse Battle Continues — Arlington County is weighing both a historic district and a “Housing Conservation District” for Westover, to protect aging but affordable garden apartments from being redeveloped into $800,000 townhomes. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The Arlington County Board will consider a resolution at its meeting this week that could help pave the way for HOV or bus-only lanes on Columbia Pike.
The county took over management of the Pike from VDOT in 2010. The Board is considering an amendment to its agreement with VDOT that would provide for “active lane management practices and associated restrictions.”
Whereas the 2010 agreement specified that the county must maintain two through lanes in each direction, the amendment would allow “use by certain specified modes only, e.g., buses, high occupancy cars, and similar high capacity modes, in order to optimize person throughput during specified times of the day.”
Such restrictions may be in place during rush hour or any other peak demand period determined by the county. At least one lane in each direction “will be available for through traffic for all modes at all times.”
The language of the amendment was approved by VDOT’s oversight body, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, on Dec. 5, according to a staff county report. The County Board is now considering a resolution formally requesting the amendment from VDOT.
The overall goal, according to the staff report, is moving more people — but not necessarily more cars — along the constrained Columbia Pike corridor.
County staff has been reviewing options related to the County’s secondary road system for how the County can support the mutual goals of the Department and the County to use the existing public right-of-way to support transportation improvements and enhancements that move more people more efficiently. While the County has demonstrated its effectiveness in increasing mobility along Columbia Pike, the constrained right-of-way limits the extent to which the County can increase the movement of people. Because Columbia Pike has restrictions on how the County can use the public right-of-way, County staff, at the direction of the County Board, has been working with the Department to develop language that would provide the County with greater flexibility now and in the future to manage Columbia Pike in a way that supports the movement of people within and through the corridor.
The change could allow for a version of Bus Rapid Transit, which was often touted as an alternative to the since-cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar. The county said in 2016 that it was “looking at…the possibility of creating locations with dedicated bus lanes, along with other innovations” along the Pike.
The county has not solicited public feedback on the amendment itself, according to the staff report.
“Public outreach is not appropriate for an administrative amendment to the Agreement,” the report states.
The Capital Weather Gang reports that as Friday night wears on, the chances of light snow, or a mix of snow and rain, will increase. A mix of snow and rain is likely to fall during Saturday, with as much as an inch or two expected to accumulate depending on the severity of the storm.
County government has been planning all year for any winter weather, including budgeting $1.4 million for snow removal, stockpiling 9,200 tons of salt and spending 1,950 hours training snow crews. The team is made up of 92 drivers and 46 trucks.
Crews from the county’s Department of Environmental Services were out this morning with liquid de-icer to pre-treat some county streets.
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) December 8, 2017
Work on snow-affected roads is broken into four phases, per a county press release:
- Phase 1: Snow crews pre-treat main roads before a storm.
- Phase 2: During the storm, the priority is to keep main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation.
- Phase 3: Plowing of residential streets and trails begins. It’s important to know that these streets may only be passable with one lane and you may not see bare pavement.
- Phase 4: After the storm, cleanup operations begin, which includes treating ice on the roadways.
As well as more than 1,000 lane miles of county streets, crews will also clear nearly 350 bus stops and shelters, 35 miles of sidewalks and 21 pedestrian bridges or overpasses. Ten miles of trails and three miles of protected bike lanes also will be cleared.
And residents can play their part in helping make snow clearing as easy as possible:
- Coordinate with neighbors to park cars on one side of the street, where feasible, or avoid on-street parking so snowplow operators can efficiently clear more of the streets
- Don’t park “head in” on cul-de-sacs so plows have more room to maneuver
- Clear your sidewalks and scoop snow towards your house, not the street, BUT
- Wait for snow plows to come by before clearing snow from the front of driveways, to minimize the amount pushed back by plows
- Stay home, telework or use mass transit to reduce the number of potentially stranded vehicles
- Apply only the recommended amount of chemical de-icers on sidewalks to attain a safe and passable way
- Stay connected through the Snow and Ice Central webpage and DES social media platforms for updates on snow phases, transportation, trash and other important notifications. Follow on Twitter @ArlingtonDES and on Facebook at Arlington County Department of Environmental Services.
Crews from the Virginia Department of Transportation will also be pre-treating roads ahead of any snow. VDOT urged drivers to give their trucks room to work.
Crews will be pretreating roads today & tmrw between rush hours ahead of potential winter weather during Friday's PM commute. Pls give tanker & safety trucks room to work. Learn more: https://t.co/2gX5CDGM8i #brinelines pic.twitter.com/T7YP4Hq3cD
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) December 7, 2017
Our latest calculations for the chance of 2" or more of snow highlights the area from central Virginia up the I-95 corridor. For more graphics, visit: https://t.co/FdluCAnbTi. pic.twitter.com/gIDKzkFz8x
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) December 8, 2017
NEW: Snow is coming. Here's CWG's snow accumulation outlook for Saturday, as well as information on storm timing and our impacts analysis. Follow this link, which will be updated throughout today: https://t.co/84HdbBUrOy
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) December 8, 2017
ACPD is monitoring the weather conditions for tomorrow. If there is any change to the performance schedule, we'll post an update on our social media accounts.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) December 8, 2017
Tolls higher than $30 — for the trip from I-495 to D.C. — have been reported since the HOT lanes launched on Monday. The new system replaces the former HOV-only rush hour regime with one that also allows solo drivers to pay, while eliminating exemptions for fuel efficient vehicles and those heading to Dulles airport.
Today, lower tolls — peaking around $23.50 — were reported, though that is still well above the $7-9 tolls originally predicted by VDOT. Meanwhile, traffic on alternative east-west arteries, like Route 50, has increased since the tolls went into effect.
VDOT says Route 50 has seen 8-percent increase in traffic since 66 toll began. Here's what traffic looks like on 50 inside Beltway. pic.twitter.com/ISaenPuolT
— Neal Augenstein (@AugensteinWTOP) December 6, 2017
VDOT says the toll prices are demand-based, which presumably means that some drivers are choosing to pay upwards of $30 for a one-way trip to the Roosevelt Bridge.
For those of means, along with bus riders and carpoolers, the change has at least resulted in a breeze of a commute on I-66 — higher average speeds during peak times than before the change. The average speed during Monday and Tuesday’s commutes was 57 miles per hour, according to VDOT.
Should VDOT decide to lower toll prices, it might result in slowdowns and congestion, some fear.
So what would be the price most people would be willing to pay? Let’s find out.