Arlington, VA

Arlington County firefighters are battling a small fire in a garden apartment building in the Westover area.

The fire was reported in the basement of the Fisher House apartment building at 5705 Washington Blvd. Initial reports suggest the fire started in the laundry room and was extinguished by firefighters, but not before producing heavy smoke and prompting a second alarm response.

Firefighters are now working to remove smoke and to ensure that the fire is completely extinguished. Washington Blvd is currently blocked by the emergency response.

So far there is no report of injuries.

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Update at 3:15 p.m. — The road has reopened, Arlington County says.

Earlier: Washington Blvd is closed at N. Quantico Street due to a reported gas leak.

Firefighters and police are on scene of the leak, which was large enough to prompt first responders to block traffic in both directions. The location of the closure is east of East Falls Church and west of Westover.

Drivers are being detoured onto local streets, though traffic volume remains relatively light in Arlington due to the pandemic.

A Washington Gas crew is said to be en route. No word yet on when the road will reopen.

Map via Google Maps

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A bus station on Washington Blvd is temporarily closing for improvements to an intersection a couple blocks north of the Virginia Square Metro station.

The intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Nelson Street is considered a “hot spot” of crashes, according to an Arlington County project webpage. It’s located on the northeast corner of Quincy Park, one block from Washington-Liberty High School, and several blocks from intersections that have seen a number of notable crashes involving pedestrians.

“Three pedestrian crashes occurred at this location in the three-year analysis timeframe,” staff said in a webpage for the project. “Traffic speeds are generally higher than the posted speed limit. Auto and pedestrian volumes at this location are also relatively high for the facility type.”

The County plans to install rectangular rapid flashing beacons for pedestrians and to make additional crossing and curb improvements to make the intersection more accessible. The changes will also make the sidewalk wider on the northern side of Washington Blvd.

A county staff presentation from December suggests construction will take place over the course of this spring and summer. WMATA says the bus stop at the intersection will be discontinued starting today (Monday) and passengers should board or exit at N. Quincy Street and N. Lincoln Street a block west and east respectively.

Other parts of Washington Blvd have also gone through changes to make the street safer, including the nearby intersection of N. Utah Street.

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) The reconfiguration of Clarendon’s worst intersection is one step closer to finishing as crews begin paving.

Working began repaving the roads that together form the notoriously dangerous “Clarendon Circle” — a.k.a. the intersection of Wilson, Clarendon, and Washington Blvds — this past weekend.

The paving work will continue for the rest of this week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is expected to close some traffic lanes and cause temporary detours, the county’s Department of Environmental Services warns on its webpage for the project.

“Increased traffic congestion is expected, and drivers are encouraged to seek alternate routes and avoid Clarendon Circle during this work if possible,” DES said on its website.

On Monday, for instance, through traffic on Wilson Blvd was blocked and redirected to Washington Blvd. On Tuesday, steam and a burning rubber smell clouded the intersection as crews directed traffic around a cluster of paving equipment.

Work on the project is expected to wrap up by Veterans Day, this coming Monday.

The county has long aimed to redesign the intersection to be safer for pedestrians and cyclists and less confusing for motorists, with a goal of reducing crashes. The project design selected will realign Wilson and Washington Blvd, shorten crosswalks, and widen sidewalks.

Construction kicked off last year after the Arlington County Board awarded a $2.5 million contract to Ardent Construction Company.

Since then, the county has made several changes to the tricky nexus of roads, including cutting off N. Irving Street and banning left turns onto Wilson from Washington — though many drivers at least initially ignored the ban.

Image 1-5 via Arlington County

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Arlington switched over to a more “rational” street naming system in 1934, but documents from the transition give some insight into the names that were lost.

Many of the casualties were founding fathers and other Revolutionary War-related vocabulary words.

American and French revolutionary leader Marquis de Lafayette had his road stripped and incorporated into 8th Street N.

Several of the streets in what is now the Crystal City area were renamed. S. Joyce Street was once Hamilton Street, named after the ten-dollar founding father without a fatherAlexander Hamilton.

Other streets throughout the area, like S. Kent Street, were previously named after George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, but don’t be too sad for those two founding fathers: they both still have streets named after them in other parts of Arlington.

A few streets were named after Native Americans. N. Hancock Street in Lyon Village was once Pocahontas Avenue. 25th Street N. in Donaldson Run was Algonquin Way, either a reference to the Algonquin tribe from the Great Lakes area or an alternate spelling of Algonquian, a Native American language associated with Virginia’s Powhatan tribe. Moccasin Trail, renamed to 24th Street N. and 22nd Street N., was once called Indian Trail.

Arlington Ridge Road has gone through a series of name changes over the years. N. Arlington Ridge Road, in once-seedy Rosslyn, had previously been called Oil Plant Road, or Oil Road, though no further information on an actual oil plant could be found.

Photo via Arlington County

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A cyclist was struck and injured along an on-ramp in the Lyon Park neighborhood this afternoon.

First responders were dispatched to a scene just after 3 p.m. today (Wednesday) for a report of a cyclist struck by a vehicle on the ramp to and from from eastbound Washington Blvd and westbound Arlington Blvd. The cyclist was in a crosswalk when he was struck by the driver, said Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Michael Sheeran.

The victim was transported via ambulance to George Washington University Hospital with traumatic but non-life-threatening injuries, Sheeran said.

The ramp was closed for about 45 minutes, leading to backups on both Arlington and Washington boulevards, but has since reopened.

No word yet on whether the driver will face any charges.

Map via Google Maps. Ashley Hopko, Vernon Miles and Airey contributed to this report.

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Update at 11:05 a.m. — Most businesses along the north side of Washington Blvd in Westover are still closed following Monday’s flooding. Ayers hardware is open in a limited capacity. 

Earlier: This morning’s storms and flooding has left stores along the north side of Washington Blvd in Westover Village without power — and some facing extensive damages.

Businesses along the 5800 block of Washington Blvd, from Westover Market (5863 Washington Blvd) to The Italian Store (5837 Washington Blvd), were closed as of 2 p.m. All of the properties were without power and several were flooded.

Westover Market and the Ayers Variety & Hardware at the west end of the block were at two of the lowest points of the slope. At Westover Market and Beer Garden, workers moved tables and soaked beer crates out of the store and into the rain, occasionally with the assistance of people passing by.

“I came down to get a keg and stuff was just floating away,” said Joseph Turner, a manager at Westover Market. “We’re trying to clean and open as soon as possible, but there needs to be fire department and health inspections.”

Turner watched as people carried out soaked boxes from the store and set them into stacks of rubbish.

“I’m just speechless,” Turner said.

Video posted earlier today shows the market flooded and fast-moving water rushing through the outdoor beer garden, damaging the fence and sweeping away picnic tables.

At Ayers Variety & Hardware, water in the storefront was ankle deep, but the real damage took place below — the basement, where the business stores merchandise, was completely flooded. Kristy Peterkin, a manager at the store and daughter of owner Ronald Kaplan, said that staff had been running generators to pump water out of the basement — but then the power cut out.

“We’ve seen nothing like this since 1977,” Peterkin said. “This is catastrophic.”

Peterkin said employees haven’t been able to access the basement to examine the impact but estimated that there would be at least $100,000 in damages.

The Forest Inn, Toby’s Ice Cream, and Rite Aid were all closed and empty. The post office west and slightly uphill from Westover Market was still accepting drop-offs as of 2 p.m., but said they would soon be closing.

At Pete’s Barber Shop, the staff cleared away waterlogged mats but were otherwise sitting around, waiting for power to come back.

The Italian Store on the end has no basement and fared a little better than its neighbors. Owner Rob Tramonte said they were working with contractors to get a generator running, to allow the business to open again soon or at least keep the food from spoiling. Tramonte noted that his Lyon Village location remains open, despite flooding at the nearby intersection of Lee Highway and N. Kirkwood Road.

Jeremy Slayton, a communications specialist for Dominion Energy, said power was estimated to be back on by tonight, though it’s unclear whether power will be able to be restored before the floodwaters could be pumped out. Store owners said they were told it could be a week before utilities are back online.

Ashley Hopko contributed to this story

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(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) Two-and-a-half years after the initial permits were filed, Stone Hot Pizza finally opened in Clarendon earlier this year.

Staff at the restaurant said they started cooking up the first pizzas in March, though a “now open” sign still adorns the front entrance.

The pizzeria advertises a lunch special of $7.99 for a one-topping pizza with an option to add a soda for 99 cents. It also offers paninis and other sandwiches for around $8.

Located at 3217 Washington Blvd, just off Clarendon’s main drag and next to Spirits of ’76, Stone Hot Pizza is open from 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

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A motorcyclist died Saturday after a Friday night crash on Washington Blvd near the Pentagon.

Police say a van struck the motorcycle, driven by a 54-year-old man from Hampton, Virginia, while changing lanes to exit the highway. The van’s driver remained on scene.

The fatal crash happened during Rolling Thunder weekend. Police are now asking witnesses to come forward with additional information.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team (CAT) is investigating a fatal vehicle crash involving a motorcycle.

At approximately 7:46 p.m. on May 24, 2019, police were dispatched to Washington Boulevard near the ramp to Pentagon-South Parking for the report of an accident with injury. Upon arrival, it was determined that a motorcyclist was traveling on Washington Boulevard when the driver of a van changed lanes to exit the highway, causing an impact between the vehicles.

The motorcyclist, identified as Luis Martinez, 54, of Hampton, Virginia, was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. He succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased in the early morning hours of May 25. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Police ask that anyone with information related to this investigation contact Detective K. Nucelli at (703) 228-4048 or [email protected]  Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

Also this weekend, three D.C. firefighters were struck by a truck on the 14th Street Bridge during Friday’s evening rush hour.

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Three safety and beautification projects are coming to western Arlington streets.

This Saturday the County Board is scheduled to vote on $2.8 million in construction contracts for Neighborhood Conservation projects. The three projects are all at the western edge of Arlington, near Falls Church.

The project at Patrick Henry Drive near Westover Apartments will add dedicated bike lanes from Washington Boulevard to 16th Street N.

The other two projects — 2nd Street South at S. Kensington Street and N. Quintana Street — will add new sidewalks. The N. Quintana Street project will also add streetlights.

The projects are all planned to:

  • Improve pedestrian connectivity
  • Provide disability accessible routes
  • Rehabilitate existing roadways
  • Improve drainage

The projects are 32 percent more expensive ($883,379) than when they were first proposed in 2017, which staff attributed to inflation in construction costs and higher construction standards enacted by the county since then.

Photo via Google Maps

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Drivers at the busy Washington and Wilson Blvd intersection are continuing to make the left turn onto Wilson, despite that action having been made illegal in March.

Current plans call for the tricky intersection to be overhauled and made easier to navigate for both pedestrians and drivers. That includes eliminating the left turn that has caused frequent backups.

At least two signs at the intersection indicate that left turns are not allowed, even though the street does feature a left-turn lane that serves seemingly no purpose as the road funnels into one lane at the other side of the intersection.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet told ARLnow that the violations are not surprising when a change is made to an intersection like that.

“It takes time to change driver behavior, especially when the change is to a long-standing travel pattern,” said Balliet. “We always start with education, finding ways to inform drivers about the change and their options. Our efforts so far included a blog post and video shared multiple times through the county’s email listservs, social media posts from our department as well as Arlington County Police, an electronic message board located near the intersection, and the new signage we’ve installed noting the restriction.”

Navigation apps Waze and Google Maps no longer direct drivers to make the turn, which Balliet said was partially the result of communication from county staff.

Balliet said he believes as construction continues on the intersection, known at Clarendon Circle, the confusion should clear up.

“The no-left-turn will become clearer to drivers as construction for the Clarendon Circle project moves forward and the street is reconfigured to remove the left turn pocket,” said Balliet.

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