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Improvements Underway on S. Walter Reed Drive, With More Changes to Come

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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County Board Poised to Approve Construction of Shirlington Road Improvements

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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Man Arrested for Sneaker Store Arson and Burglary

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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Walter Reed Drive Project Aims to Improve Pedestrian, Bicyclist Safety

Enhanced crosswalks and curb extensions are coming to S. Walter Reed Drive, just south of Columbia Pike, in an effort to calm traffic and improve intersections for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Storm sewer upgrades and raised medians will also be added to the stretch of S. Walter Reed Drive between 11th Street S. and 13th Street S. The current “bike boulevard” will move from 12th Street S. to 11th Street S. between S. Highland Street and S. Cleveland Street.

County Manager Mark Schwartz has recommended awarding the project to Fort Myer Construction, headquartered in Washington. The County Board is scheduled to consider the contract at its Saturday meeting. The contract cost is $444,575.11, with a change order contingency allocation of $88,915.02.

Photo via Google Maps

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Beer Garden BrickHaus Applying to Keep Patio Partly in Sidewalk

A just-opened beer garden on Columbia Pike is applying to keep its patio in part of the sidewalk on S. Walter Reed Drive.

BrickHaus (2900 Columbia Pike) opened in September after months of delays. It is applying to keep its outdoor patio, which encroaches on the public right-of-way on S. Walter Reed Drive, near the intersection with Columbia Pike. The sidewalk is still approximately six feet wide in the area.

If the Arlington County Board approves the plan at its meeting Saturday (January 27), the encroachment would be permitted to continue “until the structures encroaching into the right-of-way are destroyed, removed, no longer in use, or not continuously and promptly maintained by the Applicant,” per a staff report.

The restaurant agreed to pay $429.54 to the county as compensation for the encroachment, and will be required to maintain its patio.

BrickHaus could also be forced to remove its fire pit from the same area. Under the terms of its Use Permit from the county, it must remove the fire pit and either remove or abandon the attached gas line before receiving a Certificate of Occupancy for safety reasons.

Staff recommended the Board allow the patio encroachment.

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County to Receive Permission For W&OD Trail Improvements

The county is set to formalize an agreement with the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority to make improvements to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

As part of a wider project near Shirlington between S. Arlington Mill Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive, the county plans to install new sidewalks, lighting and signals where the trail meets S. Walter Reed Drive.

But to do that, it required permission from NVRPA, which controls the 45-mile trail between Shirlington and Purcellville.

Under the terms of the agreement between the county and NVRPA, as outlined in a letter by NVRPA land manager Michael DePue, the county must conform with various conditions.

These include keeping the trail “open, safe and unobstructed at all times during construction,” plus ensuring the new sidewalk has a smooth transition to the existing asphalt, the improvements do not cause drainage issues, that construction zones be safe and that the county’s Department of Environmental Services maintain the improvements once completed, not NVRPA.

The County Board will also vote on a consent agreement with Dominion Virginia Power, which would allow the improvements to encroach on a Dominion-owned easement in the park.

The Board will vote on the agreements at its meeting Saturday (December 16) as part of its consent agenda. County staff recommended approval.

Construction on the wider project is scheduled to begin in the spring. It is hoped the project will improve bicycle and pedestrian access to Shirlington.

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BREAKING: Walter Reed Drive Closed Due to Major Crash, Wires Down

All lanes of S. Walter Reed Drive are closed in the area of Four Mile Run Drive due to a major crash.

The wreck happened just before 3:45 p.m. Monday on the steep hill leading down to Four Mile Run Drive. Initial reports suggest that at least three vehicles were involved and at least two people were hurt and are being transported to the hospital.

At least one of the vehicles overturned as a result of the crash, which knocked down utility poles and wires.

A number of people witnessed the crash. Witnesses reportedly told police that one of the drivers crossed into oncoming traffic at a high rate of speed.

Map (top) via Google Maps

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Prio Bangla Multicultural Street Festival Set for Saturday

An annual multicultural street festival this Saturday (September 23) will bring together members of various immigrant populations that live throughout Arlington County.

Local nonprofit Prio Bangla will host its sixth annual free street festival from 1-7:30 p.m. at 880 S. Walter Reed Drive, near Columbia Pike. Its motto this year, according to organizers, is “Let’s Celebrate the Cultural Diversity.” They expect between 5,000 and 8,000 attendees.

The event includes vendors of traditional foods, handcrafts, arts, jewelry and art as well as local businesses. Other highlights will be a parade and live music and dancing at the county’s mobile stage.

“During this event, our goal is not only to promote any specific culture and heritage, but also to participate in a cultural exchange by giving opportunity to other communities living and growing here with our rich cultural beauty and performances,” organizers wrote.

The nonprofit received a Space & Service Grant from the county in July for FY 2018, which provides it with performance and rehearsal space as well as technical services.

Arlington County Police will close 9th Street S. from S. Walter Reed Drive to S. Highland Street from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to accommodate the event. Street parking will be restricted, and drivers should look out for temporary “No Parking” signs.

Photo via Prio Bangla.

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‘True Health and Wholeness’ Gym Near Columbia Pike Now Closed

A gym that opened last year along Columbia Pike closed late last month.

True Health and Wholeness replaced the former World Gym at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive, but itself closed two weeks ago, on May 30.

True focused on holistic approaches and family-friendliness, and looked to be a “one stop shop” for all health and fitness needs. In an email to the community, co-founders Nina and Christian Elliot blamed “some unexpected and blindsiding events the last couple weeks” for the closure.

“The hardest part is the sour stomach of realizing how many people we’ve let down, and the relationships we’ve come to cherish that are now at best, interrupted,” the pair wrote. “There are no words to convey how sorry we are to make this announcement.”

A reader alleged in an email that the pair cancelled all its classes without explanation and that members would not receive any refunds. The reader added that members with pre-paid memberships were told to ask their credit card companies for a chargeback.

Nina Elliot did not respond to requests for comment. The gym’s website is still operational.

Despite the closure of their business, the Elliots promised to return to the wellness business.

Business owners, and in particular Elliots, are a resilient breed. We are weary and wounded right now, often unable to finish sentences without crying, but we didn’t suddenly forget everything we know about health and changing people’s lives. We have not lost our love of this work. We have learned so many lessons from the school of hard knocks the last 12 years and we promise not let those lessons go to waste. We believe we have a sacred duty to help as many people as we can.

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Shirlington Street Improvement Project Begins This Winter

Construction is set to begin this winter on improvements to S. Walter Reed Drive between S. Arlington Mill Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive near Shirlington, a plan in the works since 2014.

S. Arlington Mill Drive will get new left and right turn lanes to make crossing easier for pedestrians and bicyclists.  The realignment will be installed temporarily to allow residents to test out the proposed changes, and will remain in place until the work begins.

During the test period, staff will monitor the intersection’s usage to determine signal timings and markings prior to construction.

In addition, the project will include new crosswalks and curb ramps, ADA-compliant bus stops, upgraded traffic and pedestrian signals and new street lighting, among other improvements. S. Walter Reed Drive’s lanes will be restriped and widened slightly.

It is hoped the project will improve bicycle and pedestrian access to Shirlington. The intersection serves as an access point to the neighborhood’s commercial area, while county vehicles are also based at nearby facilities.

The funding for this project is provided through a slew of county sources as well as the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Revenue Sharing Program.

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New Family-Friendly Gym Coming to Columbia Pike

A new gym with a focus on a family-friendly, holistic approach to health and fitness is opening up a new location on Walter Reed Drive.

True Health and Wholeness is looking to open a new location, dubbed “Studio D,” at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive in March or April, barring any construction delays, said gym representative Kimberly Hartke. The new location is replacing World Gym, which closed last year, and is located across from the new Columbia Place development.

The new gym will take a family-friendly approach, offering childcare programs that help kids lead active and health lifestyles while their parents work out or take classes.

“True Health & Wholeness is building a team of individuals experienced in children’s movement and fitness programming, kids nutrition education and workshop design to come use their skills to help us develop what we believe to be a major differentiator for our business when it comes to family fitness,” the gym said on its website.

Gym members will be able to take classes on nutrition and healthy lifestyles, participate in group exercises and receive massages.

“Let the days of a doctor, pill and boutique for every body part and situation slowly become the exception. We believe it’s time to move away from the niche model for health (where the focus is on stand-alone services), and move toward a holistic, customer-centric, relationship-centric, lifestyle-adaptable, results-oriented model for health. You don’t need to fit into our programs, we need to fit into your lifestyle,” the gym said.

The Walter Reed Drive location will be the fitness company’s fourth space in Arlington. The company owns three other properties — Studios A, B and C — near the Glebe Road exit of I-395 in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood.

“[Co-owner Christian Elliot] said that they have always planned to expand in Arlington (though they did look once at a Skyline/Baileys location.) But they have been in business for 10 years in Arlington, which is also their home,” Hartke said in an email.

Elliot and co-owner Nina Elliot will be holding a fundraiser to help offset the costs of opening “Studio D” on Nov. 14, Hartke said. During the event, gym instructors will lead two group exercises, followed by dinner and a dance party. The gym is also accepting donations online.

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New Condo Development Opens on Walter Reed Drive

S. Walter Reed Drive is now home to 14 condominiums and eight townhouses.

Construction has finished on  a five-story building at the corner of S. Walter Reed Drive and 11th Street S. The new development, Columbia Place, has 14 two-bed, two-bathroom condominiums and eight townhouses.

“Just a few miles to D.C. and just steps from fabulous dining and shopping locations, Columbia Place offers everything a downtown buyer wants without the downtown pricing. With condos starting in the $500s, Columbia is well-suited for a variety of lifestyles,” developer Evergreene Homes said in a press release.

The 14 condos sit on 3,000 square feet of retail space, which will house two “shopping opportunities,” Evergreene said on its website.

The developer will hold an open house this weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, which will include a guided walkthrough of the new building. Refreshments will be provided.

“When you live at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed [Drive], you live in the center of Arlington. And that means saying goodbye to long commutes and embracing a life where work, shopping, dining and entertainment are all just moments away,” Evergreene said. “For those looking to own in Arlington there is no better-located community than Columbia Place.”

Disclosure: Evergreene Homes is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

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Repairs Still Underway on Walter Reed Drive Water Main Break

The southbound lanes of S. Walter Reed Drive are expected to remain closed throughout Wednesday’s evening rush hour as crews work to repair a large water main break.

The 16-inch water main burst this morning on Walter Reed Drive near Pollard Street, causing a messy and slippery commute for some drivers as the water runoff turned to ice. Crews thought they had isolated the leak around 11:00 a.m., but we’re told that the leak reopened this afternoon, meaning the repairs will take longer than first hoped.

Police are on scene helping to control traffic. A detour has been set up for those heading southbound on Walter Reed Drive between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. One northbound lane of Walter Reed Drive remains open.

“At this point, lane closures and detours are expected to stay through rush hour,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.

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ART Bus Driver Cited for Crash With Ambulance

ART bus crash (photo courtesy Jana McAndrew) ART bus crash (photo courtesy Matt Einstein)

The driver of an Arlington Transit bus has been cited for a crash involving an ambulance this morning.

Damaged ambulance after crash with ART bus (photo courtesy Daniel Fitch)The accident happened near the intersection of Walter Reed Drive and Four Mile Run Drive. The ambulance, Arlington medic unit No. 101, was en route to a call at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall around 7:45 a.m., when the ART bus pulled out in front of it, causing a crash, according to Arlington County Fire Battalion Chief Daniel Fitch.

The ambulance, which had its lights and sirens on, slammed into the bus, causing the bus to roll into a small ditch adjacent to the W&OD bike trail.

One of the firefighters in the ambulance was transported to the hospital for observation, Fitch said. No other injuries were reported.

The driver of the bus, who was the only person on the bus at the time of the crash, was cited for failure to yield.

Photos courtesy Jana McAndrew, Matt Einstein and Daniel Fitch

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