Arlington, VA

Update on 4/2/20 — The repairs were completed and the roadway is back open.

Update at 4:50 p.m. — Walter Reed Drive is now closed in both directions while crews work to stop the leak and repair the line. 

Earlier: The southbound lanes of Walter Reed Drive are blocked due to a significant outdoor gas leak south of Columbia Pike.

The leak was reported shortly before 2:30 p.m., near the intersection of Walter Reed and 11th Street S. Arlington police and firefighters are on the scene.

Initial reports suggest a gas line larger than 2 inches was struck by a construction crew, prompting the closure and extra precautions. First responders are now checking natural gas levels on the ground floor of the adjacent apartment building while awaiting the arrival of Washington Gas.

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Three years after announcing its plans to expand, award-winning local pizza restaurant Pupatella has officially opened its second area location.

Pupatella opened its South Arlington location earlier this week at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive, where it serves a variety of Neapolitan pizzas, gelatos, drinks, and more.

Originally founded as a food truck, Pupatella opened its original brick-and-mortar location at 5104 Wilson Blvd in 2010.

Co-owner Enzo Algarme is now teaming up with the partners behind Elevation Burger to expand via franchising. Pupatella currently has two additional locations outside of Arlington, in Richmond and Glen Allen, Virginia.

There are a few additional Pupatella locations in store for the D.C. area, including a 2,700 square-foot venture in Reston and another in the Mosaic District.

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One of Arlington’s most successful restaurants will open its second location very soon.

The Neapolitan pizzeria Pupatella, which opened its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in Bluemont in 2010, is expected to open at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive next week.

“This week is training,” manager Anastasiya Laufenberg told ARLnow. “We should be opening next week. The community support has been great.”

Hopefully the new location will have better luck than past businesses at that address. A string of restaurants there who quickly shuttered after opening have given the Walter Reed corner the reputation as Arlington’s restaurant “Bermuda Triangle.”

Pupatella currently has two additional locations outside of Arlington, in Richmond and Glen Allen, Virginia.

Heading into 2020, Pupatella has also announced plans to eventually open a 2,700 square foot location at 1821 Wiehle Avenue in Reston as part of a new expansion push fueled by a $3.75 million investment.

Earlier this week, the restaurant introduced two “Pizza Lovers” wines, a red Merlot/Cabernet blend and a white Pinot Grigio-Chardonnay blend, to pair with its pies.

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Update at 4:10 p.m. — The road has reopened, according to scanner traffic.

Earlier: S. Walter Reed Drive is blocked near the Arlington Career Center following a multi-vehicle crash.

An ART bus serving ART Route 77 is among the four vehicles involved in the crash, which happened on a rainy Tuesday afternoon just as the evening rush hour was starting. There’s no word yet on what caused the crash.

One person was injured and brought to a local hospital, according to the Arlington County Fire Department.

The southbound lanes of Walter Reed “will continue to be shut down while vehicles can be cleared,” ACFD said. Drivers on Walter Reed should expect heavy traffic and detours between Columbia Pike and Route 50.

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Pupatella, one of the county’s most beloved restaurants, could open its second Arlington location along S. Walter Reed Drive as early as next month.

“We are looking at the opening date around the end of October at this point,” owner Enzo Algarme tells ARLnow.

The Neapolitan pizzeria will be located at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive where hopefully it will have better luck than past businesses. A string of restaurants there have quickly shuttered after opening, giving the Walter Reed address the reputation as a sort of restaurant “Bermuda Triangle.”

Italy native Algarme launched a pizza-serving food cart in Arlington in 2007, later opening Pupatella’s original brick-and-mortar location on Wilson Blvd in Bluemont in 2010.

The company has been expanding, with new locations in the Richmond area and more planned in the Mosaic District and in Reston. The team raised $3.75 million last year to open eight new restaurants across the D.C. area.

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(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) A reported ruptured gas line behind Papillon Cycles prompted evacuations and a road closure near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive.

As of 2:10 p.m., the gas leak has been stopped and police re-opened Walter Reed Drive, after temporarily closing it between the Pike and 9th Street S.

Some stores in the area, on the 2800 block of Columbia Pike, were evacuated during the incident, according to scanner traffic.

One restaurant owner said that means their business had to close, but told ARLnow, “but that’s fine, it’s a Wednesday so it’s slow anyway.”

A full fire department response has been dispatched to the scene as a precaution, as gas company crews work to stop the leak.

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(Updated 4 p.m.) One of Arlington’s most successful restaurants is coming to one of the county’s least successful restaurant locations.

Neapolitan pizzeria Pupatella, which was a popular food truck before opening its acclaimed bricks-and-mortar location in Bluemont in 2010, is opening a second Arlington location in the restaurant “Bermuda Triangle” at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive. The opening is planned for this summer.

“The restaurant is 2,200 square feet and will seat approximately 60 guests inside,” a press release said of Pupatella’s new location in the Nauck neighborhood. “The location also features a covered patio area that will have seating for another 40 or so guests.”

Pupatella also announced plans today to open a 2,700 square foot location at 1821 Wiehle Avenue in Reston by early 2020, as part of a new expansion push fueled by a $3.75 million investment.

“More company-owned locations are currently being pursued in Fairfax County, Montgomery County and Washington, D.C.,” said the press release.

“The community in Arlington has been so wonderful to us over the past decade that it was a simple decision for us to open a South Arlington location,” Pupatella founder Enzo Algarme is quoted as saying in the press release. “The area is exploding with growth, and we want to be sure that growth includes great pizza!”

Algarme did not respond to multiple inquiries from ARLnow.com last week seeking to confirm that they were behind the new restaurant at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive. A spokeswoman said today that he was out of town.

Eater, which reported the Pupatella news late Thursday morning before the press release was sent to ARLnow, quotes another company co-owner as saying the Walter Reed Drive location will help fulfill “spillover demand” from its busy, original location.

The full press release is after the jump.

Read More

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S. Walter Reed Drive is slated for several changes that, among other alterations, are designed to make the roadway more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

Construction kicked off last month (July) between 11th Street S. and 13th Street S. That work is scheduled to be completed later this year and primarily targets S. Walter Reed Drive’s intersection with 12th Street S., improving crosswalks and building curb extensions and new ADA-compliant curb ramps.

Also included in the project is the reconstruction of three raised medians to run along that portion of the roadway and alterations to an existing bike boulevard, which will be moved from 12th Street S. to 11th Street S. between S. Highland and S. Cleveland Streets.

Drivers should expect one travel lane to be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays to accommodate construction. Pedestrians will see sidewalk detours and temporary crosswalks, and on-street parking will be restricted.

long-awaited set of changes to a different portion of S. Walter Reed Drive — from S. Arlington Mill Drive to S. Four Mile Run Drive — is set to get underway in mid-September.

That plan has been in the works for years, and the county awarded a $1.8 million contract for it in May. Construction aims to add ADA-compliant bus stops, new crosswalks and curb ramps, more street lighting and improved signals for drivers and pedestrians.

The project also intends to make travel between the Four Mile Run Trail and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail safer and to realign westbound S. Arlington Mill Drive in an effort to make the crossing more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. The county has been piloting the realignment at the intersection of S. Walter Reed Drive and S. Arlington Mill Drive with a temporary installation since June 2017.

Additional changes to the designated portion of the roadway will include a slight widening of travel lanes and resurfacing.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Doctor Sentenced in Poisoning Case — Arlington doctor Sikander Imran was sentenced Friday to three years in prison, with 17 years suspended, for slipping pills into his pregnant girlfriend’s tea, causing her to lose the unborn baby. The now ex-girlfriend pleaded for leniency during the sentencing. [WJLA, New York Daily News]

Miniature Horses Could Be Allowed at Schools — “A new policy defining the rights and responsibility of those – students, staff or visitors – wishing to bring service animals into schools would allow for dogs and miniature horses… schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told the Sun Gazette there are no miniature horses used as service animals in the school system at the moment.” [InsideNova]

Powhatan Skate Park Renovations Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a $1.87 million contract to overhaul the Powhatan Springs Skate Park, the only such park in Arlington. “This well-loved skate park is in need of a makeover to address crumbling concrete conditions,” said Chair Katie Cristol. “The result will be a safer park that both kids and adults in Arlington who are passionate about skateboarding, inline skating and BMX cycling can enjoy for years to come.” [Arlington County]

Residents Protest Amazon at County Board Meeting — Several public speakers at Saturday’s County Board meeting spoke out against the prospect of Amazon’s second headquarters coming to Arlington. They held signs saying “No Amazon” and decried the company’s “brutal working conditions” and “culture of toxic masculinity,” among other things. [Blue Virginia]

Walter Reed Drive Project Green Lit — “The Arlington County Board today approved a $1.8 million contract to A & M Concrete Corporation to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections on a short but critical segment of South Walter Reed Drive, between South Four Mile Run Drive and South Arlington Mill Drive. The project will provide safer connections between two of Arlington’s busiest trails: Washington & Old Dominion and Four Mile Run.” [Arlington County]

Trees Fall During Heavy Rain — A number of trees around the area fell late last week after a record-breaking stretch of heavy rain. Among the trees to topple was a large one that fell on a home on the 2100 block of N. Vernon Street and injured one person. [Twitter, Washington Post]

Lubber Run Farmers Market OKed — “Field to Table, Inc., an Arlington-based non-profit organization, won the County Board’s approval today to open the Lubber Run Farmer’s Market in the parking lot at Barrett Elementary School, 4401 Henderson Road. The market is expected to open in late May.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Train Derailment in Alexandria — A large contingent of emergency personnel responded to the CSX tracks near Port City Brewing in Alexandria Saturday morning for a freight train that had derailed. About 30 cars came off the tracks but no injuries or hazardous spills were reported. [City of Alexandria, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Some long-awaited improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians on S. Walter Reed Drive in Shirlington could soon move forward.

Arlington County has been hoping for years to add a series of new features to the road as it runs between S. Arlington Mill Drive to S. Four Mile Run Drive, and the County Board is poised to award a roughly $1.8 million contract for the construction this weekend.

County planners are looking to improve access to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail along the road, and the county is aiming to add new crosswalks and curb ramps, ADA-compliant bus stops, upgraded traffic and pedestrian signals and additional street lighting in the area.

The plans also call for a slight widening and resurfacing of S. Walter Reed Drive, and the elimination of a westbound turn lane on Arlington Mill Drive to improve the crossing for walkers and cyclists. County officials started testing the latter change last summer, briefly prompting a few traffic back-ups in the area. According to a report by county staff, transportation planners managed to resolve those problems by tweaking the timing of traffic signals around the end of 2017.

The Shirlington Civic Association is supportive of the project. Its president said in a letter that the association hopes, among other things, that the project will improve access to the western end of the Shirlington dog park.

The county is hoping to start construction sometime this spring or summer, pending the Board’s approval of the contract. The Board is set to vote to vote on the matter on Saturday (May 19), as part of its “consent agenda,” which is generally reserved for noncontroversial items that are approved all at once.

The total cost of all phases of the project, including the current contract, is listed as $2.8 million.

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An arrest has been made in connection to the sneaker store arson and burglary on Columbia Pike last Friday (April 13).

Jimmy Andrews, 44, of no fixed address, has been charged with arson, arson while committing a felony, burglary, and grand larceny.

He was arrested while “walking in the area of Columbia Pike at S. Walter Reed Drive,” according to police, at about 4 a.m. this morning (April 19).

Legends Kicks & Apparel, the business that was burglarized and set alight, is approximately 360 feet from where the suspected arsonist was arrested.

Patrol officers observed Andrews and noted that he matched the suspect’s description, according to the Arlington County Police Department. Andrews was “found to be in possession of an item of value allegedly belonging to the victim business,” according to an ACPD press release.

On Tuesday (April 17), police released a video showing the suspect walking along Columbia Pike and spilling merchandise along the sidewalk.

Andrews is being held without bond.

Photo courtesy of Arlington County Police Department

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