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Five arterial streets north of Route 50 could see their speed limits drop from 30 to 25 mph.

This weekend, the Arlington County Board is set to authorize public hearings to lower speed limits along these roads, which have “high volumes of pedestrian crossings and higher density land development,” a county report says.

They include:

  1. Military Road from Nelly Custis Drive to Langston Blvd, through the Donaldson Run and Cherrydale neighborhoods
  2. N. Carlin Springs Road from N. Glebe Road to N. George Mason Drive, through Arlington Forest
  3. N. George Mason Drive from N. Carlin Springs Road to Arlington Blvd, through Buckingham
  4. Fairfax Drive from N. Kirkwood Road to I-66 ramps, through Virginia Square
  5. 10th Street N. from Washington Blvd to N. Kirkwood Road, near Clarendon

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services recommended 25 mph limits on these roads after looking at “speed statistics, collisions, traffic volumes, current and anticipated pedestrian and bicyclist activity, adjacent land uses and development patterns, future projects and roadway characteristics,” per the report.

Since adopting its Vision Zero policy in 2021, the County Board has taken steps to its goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 in part by lowering speed limits around schools and along several road segments throughout the county.

“The Arlington County Vision Zero policy supports the reduction of drivers’ speed,” it continues. “The Vision Zero Action Plan notes that speeding contributes to about a quarter of both fatal and serious crashes.”

Most of the intersections teed up for lower speeds share two conditions: significant pedestrian and cyclist activity, particularly at uncontrolled crosswalks, and relatively high crash rates, according to the county.

Military Road from Nelly Custis Drive to Langston Blvd has relatively high pedestrian crossings at uncontrolled crossings in the school zone for Dorothy Hamm Middle School. The crash rate in this segment is higher than elsewhere on Military Road, with 14 crashes in six years.

On N. Carlin Springs Road from N. Glebe Road to N. George Mason Drive, there were three pedestrian-involved crashes in six years.

N. George Mason Drive from N. Carlin Springs Road to Arlington Blvd, which carries approximately 22,000 vehicles per day, passes by Barrett Elementary School, the Lubber Run Community Center and medium-density apartment buildings — resulting in a high number of pedestrian and bicycle crossings at uncontrolled crosswalks. This segment includes the crash-prone intersection with N. Park Drive set to get a traffic light later this year.

Although actual driving speeds along Fairfax Drive from N. Kirkwood Road to the I-66 ramps are below the posted 30 mph speed limit, the county still recommends lowering the limit to 25 mph. Of the 162 crashes on this road in six years, 18 involved pedestrians and six caused severe injuries.

The roadway segment of 10th Street N. from Washington Blvd to Kirkwood Road are not part of what the county calls a “High Injury Network” but saw nine pedestrian-involved crashes and three severe-injury crashes in six years. This area is set to receive transportation upgrades also intended to improve safety for road users.

The county reviewed but is not recommending speed limit reductions for the following intersections:

  • Nelly Custis Drive from Lorcom Lane to Military Road
  • S. Carlin Springs Road from Arlington Blvd to Columbia Pike
  • Williamsburg Blvd from N. Glebe Road to 29th Street N.
  • N. Roosevelt Street from 17th Street N. to the Falls Church City line
  • N. Sycamore Street from Williamsburg Blvd to 17th Street N.
  • N. George Mason Drive from Yorktown Blvd to Arlington Blvd
  • S. George Mason Drive from Arlington Blvd to the Fairfax County line
  • N. Westmoreland Street from Arlington County line to Fairfax Drive

To add new signage will cost about $700 per corridor, for a total of $3,500.

Photo 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 via Google Maps

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The aroma of freshly made corn tortillas is permeating the air in Westover.

Westover Taco, located at 5849 Washington Blvd in the pipestem-shaped retail space long occupied by the Forest Inn dive bar, announced via social media this week that it plans to officially open tomorrow (Saturday) at 5 p.m.

“The time has come! We will officially open to the public this Saturday, December 9th at 5pm. Come one, come all,” the post reads.

Initially slated to begin operations in August, the launch of the new taco spot was delayed due to permitting issues. However, the eatery posted on its Instagram last month that the opening was back on schedule.

This week, the Mexican restaurant and bar, formerly the Forest Inn until its closure in 2022, held a soft opening to test its taco recipes and cocktail creations ahead of the grand opening.

The restaurant’s menu boasts several types of tacos, including chicken, pork, steak and fish.

Complementing the taco selection is an assortment of tequila-based cocktails, including a cucumber jalapeño Paloma with grapefruit and lime, a tequila colada with coconut water and coconut Rèal and the classic margarita.

Westover Taco’s current hours are 5 p.m. to midnight from Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. However, the restaurant announced on social media that lunch service will be “starting soon.”

Scott Parker, one of the co-owners of Westover Taco, is a local entrepreneur in the area with several other well-known hospitality ventures in Arlington, including Don Tito in ClarendonBarley Mac in RosslynBronson Bierhall in Ballston, Poppyseed Rye in Ballston and Nighthawk Pizza in Pentagon City.

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Tacos are closer to being served in Westover, just in time for the holidays.

After a nearly 4-month delay, Westover Taco at 5849 Washington Blvd — previously the home of the Forest Inn, a long-time dive bar which closed in June 2022 — is set to open around mid-December, per the company’s Instagram account.

“Alright! We are super excited to announce that we’ve overcome all the hurdles and will be opening to the public in the next few weeks,” the company posted yesterday (Tuesday). “We’ll announce the exact date as soon as we have it.”

Originally, Westover Taco aimed to start serving back in August. However, co-owner Scott Parker said the opening was delayed due to permitting issues.

“It was just the usual permit delays. Nothing too exciting,” Parker told ARLnow.

Construction began last spring, and it appeared the restaurant was adding the final touches when ARLnow recently checked in on its progress.

The restaurant’s menu boasts several types of tacos, including chicken, pork, steak and fish.

Complementing the taco selection is an assortment of tequila-based cocktails, including a cucumber jalapeño paloma with grapefruit and lime, a tequila colada with coconut water and coconut Rèal and the classic margarita.

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A new restaurant specializing in Chinese dumplings will celebrate its grand opening later this week in Clarendon.

Tiger Dumpling is slated for an official opening this Friday. It joins a handful of restaurants, including O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and Stone Hot Pizza, in a retail strip along the 3200 block of Washington Blvd.

Last month, ARLnow spotted “coming soon” signs outside Tiger Dumpling and its next-door neighbor Izakaya 68, both owned by 20-year Arlington resident Leopold Liao and Maryland-based Ivea Restaurant Group. Ivea also owns Gong-Cha Tea Shop in Rosslyn and Gyu-San BBQ in Ballston.

The grand opening Friday comes after Tiger Dumpling held a soft opening for friends and family over the weekend. Starting next Monday, Oct. 30, the restaurant will be open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

A native of China, Liao moved to the United States more than two decades ago. Eager to make a mark in the food scene, he first operated a food truck, Hot People Food, in Arlington in the early 2010s, serving modern Asian cuisine.

Although the food truck is no longer in operation, Liao has opened multiple D.C. establishments, including bubble tea shop E-Tea and ramen bar Reren Lamen.

Liao, an H-B Woodlawn graduate, started looking across the Potomac at Arlington once more after the pandemic because the prospect of opening another restaurant in D.C. had become too pricey.

After some convincing from his wife and children to stay closer to home, Liao approached his business partner Ivea with an idea for a restaurant specializing in dumplings and wheat-based dishes native to Inner Mongolia, where his family is from.

“If you look at the menu, you realize it’s different than other Chinese restaurants… we don’t do southern Chinese style, so like General Tso chicken, beef broccoli — we have none of those,” Liao said.

Those dishes are Western takes on traditional Cantonese cuisine but they dominate the Chinese food landscape in the U.S. Liao aims to rival this by introducing different flavors to Arlington’s Asian food scene.

“The main thing we focus on is dumplings with a different filling,” he said. “We have pork, chicken, lamb, beef, fish or shrimp.”

Diners can also watch chefs handcraft the dumplings from behind a small, glass-enclosed preparation station.

“If people want to learn, they can take a look how we make them,” Liao said.

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Two-vehicle crash on Washington Blvd ramp in May (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 8:30 p.m.) The Virginia Dept. of Transportation is exploring potential upgrades for sections of Route 50 and Washington Blvd in Arlington in response to concerns about safety and congestion.

The department is urging residents and road users to share their feedback – via an online survey through Aug. 15. Possible improvements identified by VDOT include better bike and pedestrian access, improved safety at intersections, and traffic congestion management.

The study, conducted by VDOT as part of its Project Pipeline program, will assess three-quarters of a mile of Arlington Boulevard, from Fillmore Street to N. Pershing Drive, and about a mile of Washington Boulevard, between Columbia Pike and N. Pershing Drive. The study is expected to be complete by the summer of 2024.

Any potential project solutions that come from the study may be funded through various programs, including Smart Scale (a federally funded statewide program that allocates money to states every six years for transportation projects), Revenue Sharing, and interstate funding, among others.

“The Commonwealth is partnering with Arlington County to develop targeted improvements for the Route 50 and Route 27 study that minimize community impacts and address priority needs in a cost-effective way,” VDOT said in a press release Tuesday.

The study area includes some crash-prone ramps to and from Washington Blvd and Route 50.

In addition to the online survey, comments can be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to Khalil Minhas, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Route 50 and Route 27 study area (via VDOT)
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Weather appears to be a factor in a crash that left a woman trapped in her car on an embankment this morning.

The crash happened around 11:15 a.m. on a ramp from Route 50 to Washington Blvd. The driver apparently lost control and the car came to rest halfway down the embankment, between the ramp and the Sequoia Plaza complex that houses a number of county offices.

Initial reports suggest that the driver was uninjured, but was stuck in the car due to concerns about it sliding further down the hill. Firefighters stabilized the vehicle and brought the woman to safety.

As of noon, first responders and a tow crew remained on scene, working to get the vehicle back up the hill and onto the flatbed tow truck.

This was not the only crash along Washington Blvd this morning.

An earlier two-vehicle collision nearby, on the crash-prone merge from Sequoia Plaza onto Washington Blvd, was still causing some delays at the time of the single-vehicle crash. The crash involved a Porsche SUV that appears to have rear-ended a Nissan sedan.

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File photo

Arlington County police are investigating a shooting that happened around 8 p.m. in the Virginia Square neighborhood.

The incident happened around 8 p.m. along Washington Blvd at N. Nelson Street, near Quincy Park.

Initial reports suggest that two cars were driving down the street and at least three gunshots were fired from one vehicle at the other. Responding officers were unable to locate the suspects or any victims, according to scanner traffic.

Update at 2 p.m. — ACPD just released the following about the incident in the department’s daily crime report.

SHOTS FIRED, 2023-02210199, 1000 block of N. Quincy Street. At approximately 7:59 p.m. on February 21, police were dispatched to the report of shots heard. During the course of the investigation, it was determined the drivers of two vehicles became involved in a dispute, during which the male suspect exited his vehicle, brandished a firearm and discharged rounds, striking the victim’s vehicle. No injuries were reported. The suspect then fled the scene in a gray coupe vehicle. Responding officers canvassed the area yielding negative results.

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Two new Asian restaurants are coming to Clarendon later this year.

An “authentic” Chinese dim sum restaurant called Tiger Dumpling and a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant called Izakaya 68 are coming to the 3200 block of Washington Blvd in Clarendon, signage in the window suggests.

Both restaurants are owned by the Ivea Restaurant Group, which runs a number of Asian-inspired restaurants across the region. That includes Ballston’s Gyu San, which is expected to open this year.

A spokesperson for the group told ARLnow that the two restaurants — they declined to confirm the name of the izakaya-style eatery — are now aiming for a summer opening, a bit of a pushback from the hoped-for April launch date.

The location in Clarendon was chosen due to the neighborhood’s foot traffic and because it is on the ground floor of a relatively newly constructed building, the owners said. The restaurants will be filing spaces that were previously home to Utahime and La Finca, with the former closing in 2020 and the latter in 2021.

Those restaurant spaces have seen considerable turnover, owing at least in part to the placement at the edge of the Clarendon business district, though residential development on the former Red Top Cab lot may help them feel less on the periphery to diners.

Prior restaurants that have come and gone from the spaces include pan-European pub Park Lane Tavern, ‘Top Chef’ contestant Katsuji Tanabe’s Le Kon, and “cajun seafood and sushi lounge” Asiatique.

Tiger Dumpling and Izakaya 68 are not the only Asian restaurants coming to Clarendon. Wagamama is expected to reveal an opening date for its new location in the former Oz space “shortly,” according to a spokesperson. Wagamama was recently voted the sixth-most anticipated 2023 restaurant opening in Arlington by ARLnow readers.

Hat tip to Sean Alpert

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Arlington County is nearing the end of project to overhaul of the intersection of Washington Blvd and 13th Street N., near Clarendon.

The redesigned intersection will have two lanes of travel in each direction, while the new 13th Street N. will make a “T” with the new Washington Blvd.

“The benefits of the wider sidewalks and utilities moved underground are a better pedestrian experience for current and future residents, and a more streamlined traffic pattern for vehicles,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors said.

Previously, Washington Blvd surrounded a triangular patch of grass and dirt bordered by sidewalks — which county documents have described as a “diverter island” or “porkchop” — on all three sides. Drivers had to navigate around the island to either continue onto Washington Blvd or turn onto 13th Street N.

When this stretch of Washington Blvd was first identified for changes in the 2014 Clarendon Sector Plan, it also had a reversible travel lane between 13th Street N. and Wilson Blvd.

This pattern appears to have been removed a few years before the construction on the new “T” intersection began in 2021, according to Google Maps street views from prior years.

The old reversible travel lanes along Washington Blvd between 13th Street N. and Wilson Blvd (courtesy of Arlington County)

The Arlington County Board approved a contract to Sagres Construction Corporation to undertake the streetscape improvements and utility undergrounding in February 2021. Work started that spring and is expected to last 18-24 months.

“The project is still under construction and is expected to be completed this spring,” Pors said. “There’s still work to be done on signals, curb and gutter, milling and paving and landscaping.”

As part of the project, the work provided public open green space with seating and trees for a future park at the intersection, Pors said. The park will be at the northwest corner of the intersection, south of a reconfigured N. Johnson Street.

The site of the proposed open space at the intersection of Washington Blvd and 13th Street N. near Clarendon (via Arlington County)

The project will also deliver wider sidewalks and improved pedestrian crossings, underground utilities, new traffic signals, street lights and street trees. It costs an estimated $6.4 million, from local commercial and industrial taxes earmarked for transportation and developer contributions.

The 2014 Clarendon Sector Plan called for these changes, which were then incorporated into the Red Top Cab properties redevelopment. The County Board approved this redevelopment in 2015, and the first phase was completed in the spring of 2021. Construction on the second phase began in January 2022.

The second phase, at the corner of Washington Blvd and 13th Street N., is comprised of a multifamily building with 269 homes.

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) A handful of main roads in Arlington may be getting speed limit reductions.

At its meeting this Saturday, the Arlington County Board is slated to vote to advertise a potential reduction in the speed limit on four arterial streets, per a staff report.

The reductions would target road segments with high volumes of pedestrians walking to and from transit stations, schools, apartment buildings and commercial areas, the county says. Among them:

The segments also have more serious and fatal crashes than other roads, the report said.

The selected segment of Washington Blvd, south of Clarendon, sees lots of foot traffic due to the public transit stops on both sides of the road connected by controlled and uncontrolled marked crosswalks, according to the county.

The corridor had 39 crashes in a 5-year period, and is one of the roads in Arlington’s Vision Zero High Injury Network, which accounts for 78% of all serious or fatal crashes. North of Arlington Blvd, the speed limit on Washington Blvd is already 30 mph.

S. Joyce Street, in the Pentagon City area, also has “steady” pedestrian activity due to a transit stop. The county says more people will walk, cycle and scoot along the road — which passes near the Air Force Memorial — once Columbia Pike is realigned to expand Arlington National Cemetery.

Lower speeds here “are essential” for lowering the risk of severe collisions, since the lane widths are limited and have no shoulders, per the report. To improve walkability on this stretch of S. Joyce, the county widened sidewalks and installed new lighting in 2013.

The Dept. of Environmental Services also recommends lowering speeds on the segment of Columbia Pike from S. Dinwiddie Street to the Fairfax County line to account for increased walking and transit use associated with new transit stations. Columbia Pike, with 85 crashes in a five-year period, of which six involved pedestrians, is also part of what has been designated the “High Injury Network.”

Continuing east on Columbia Pike, the speed limit is currently 30 mph.

Meanwhile, a high volume of people walk and cycle across Lorcom Lane to go to and from Dorothy Hamm Middle School, per the report. The school also has foot traffic outside school hours and on weekends, for events such as the Cherrydale Farmers Market, which started last year, despite complaints from some neighbors.

This road saw 18 crashes in six years, and of those, speeding contributed to three crashes.

The county considered, but decided not to lower speeds on segments of S. Walter Reed Drive, S. Four Mile Run Drive and Wilson Blvd from N. Glebe Road to the Fairfax County line — where the limit is currently 30 mph.

At its upcoming meeting, the Board is also expected to enact some speed reductions in Courthouse and Glencarlyn, which were advertised last month. The planned speed limit changes are:

  • Fairfax Drive from Arlington Boulevard to N. Barton Street (30 mph to 25 mph)
  • 5th Road S. from S. Carlin Springs Road to the Fairfax County line (35 mph to 25 mph)
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(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) After being shuttered for more than two years, Stray Cat Bar & Grill in Westover has finally reopened.

The neighborhood staple at 5866 Washington Blvd started serving again last week for the first time since shutting down on March 15, 2020. That was the day after Arlington County declared a local emergency as Covid started to spread locally.

The reopening after 28 months comes with a name tweak, some interior renovations, and an updated menu.

“We wanted to bring the Cat back awhile ago, but the restaurant industry was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Austin Garcia, owner/operator of the restaurant, tells ARLnow. “So, when we did, we really wanted it to knock it out of the park.”

It seems like the right time to reopen as the community appears to be much more comfortable dining indoors, Garcia said.

The Stray Cat Cafe first opened in Westover in 2005 as a sibling restaurant of Lost Dog Cafe, which has Arlington locations on Columbia Pike and in Westover. While the menus of the two restaurants differ, both have the same mission of “helping homeless dogs and cats find forever homes.”

The restaurants support the locally-based non-profit Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation.

When Stray Cat heeded the county’s request to close down dining rooms in March 2020, Garcia said ownership never anticipated it would be more than two years before the restaurant reopened.

But a number of things didn’t work in their favor, including staffing shortages, not being well set up to do take-out and delivery, and the physical layout of the space.

“It’s a really narrow spot. Even when Virginia lifted some regulations to start to allow dine-in, bar seating still wasn’t allowed. Bar seating was, and still is, a big part of the Cat,” he says.

Ownership realized that to reopen, some renovations were in order. That meant knocking out the double-doored vestibule at the front of the restaurant to add more booths. Garcia says the construction has opened the space and has made it feel “much less crowded,” as well as providing space to eventually host live music

Ownership also made the decision to tweak the name and logo, switching from “The Stray Cat Cafe” to “Stray Cat Bar & Grill.”

This change is to better reflect the updated interior and menu, which will focus on “an elevated yet still casual dining experience” that will feature “gourmet comfort foods.” That includes quesadillas, nachos, salads, soups, and burgers.

Garcia says he heard from the community that many missed the Stray Cat’s burgers. So, they’ve decided to lean into that by “elevating that burger experience” along with giving the dishes “whimsical cat-themed names” like “Cat Scratch Fever” and “The Sphinx.” Also new at the restaurant are craft cocktails, something that Garcia says was missing in Westover.

What hasn’t changed at the Stray Cat, though, is the mission to help pets find homes.

Our dedication to the animal rescue is still our, our top priority and part of who we are in this small family,” Garcia says.

This past weekend was essentially a soft opening to work out any kinks. All went well, Garcia reports. For the moment, Stray Cat is only open for dinner except on Saturdays (when open all day) and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The hope is to gradually extend hours.

After more than two years closed, Garcia says Stray Cat Bar & Grill is ready to serve the community.

“I’m ready to see us get busy again.”

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