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Morning Notes

GMU Arlington Building Renamed — “Founders Hall, one of two major academic buildings on George Mason University’s Arlington Campus, was officially renamed Van Metre Hall after Mason’s Board of Visitors approved the change at its Oct. 10 meeting. The board’s action recognizes the generosity of the Van Metre Companies, a major regional builder that donated 37 acres in Ashburn, Virginia, to the George Mason University Foundation.” [George Mason University]

Overturned Vehicle on Washington Blvd — Near the tail end of yesterday morning’s rush hour a vehicle flipped on its roof along Washington Blvd, between Route 50 and Clarendon. The westbound lanes of Washington Blvd were blocked for a period of time. One person suffered minor injuries. [Twitter]

County Ranks High for Resident Satisfaction — “According to Arlington’s recent Community Satisfaction Survey, 88 percent of residents surveyed are satisfied with the overall quality of County services, 38 percentage points above the national average… Arlington also rated significantly above the national average for overall quality of life — 86 percent compared with 75 percent.” [Arlington County]

Local Credit Union Merger — “Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) announced today the merger of ACFCU with the Queen of Peace Arlington Federal Credit Union (QPAFCU). The combined asset size is $325 million, with nearly 22,500 members.” The Queen of Peace Arlington FCU is located in a church in the northeast corner of the Nauck neighborhood, near the back entrance to Army Navy Country Club. [CUInsight]

Venture-Funded Company Moving to Rosslyn — “FELA, the financial education and literacy company, today announced its rebrand to LifeCents. The name LifeCents is also the company’s health and wellness app that inspires and empowers people to improve their financial health and well-being… The team will move to Rosslyn, VA, at the beginning of next year to accommodate its continued growth.” [BusinessWire via Potomac Tech Wire]

Arlington Has Nightlife Advantage Over Tysons — Despite worries about competition from Tysons among local economic development boosters, the Fairfax County community doesn’t yet have Arlington’s nighttime vibrancy. Said one Tysons bar owner: “A lot of people leave here. They’re done with their job at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and they go home. They don’t come back. If they want to go out, they go to Arlington.” [Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Arlington National Cemetery Expansion Plans Moving Ahead

(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) Plans for a roughly 70-acre expansion of Arlington National Cemetery are now moving ahead, in a bid to help the burial ground manage demand through the 2050s.

The cemetery and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a new environmental assessment Friday (Aug. 17) of the planned expansion to the cemetery’s south, recommending that the effort go forward after years of study.

In all, the expansion would not only create room for up to 60,000 additional interments, freeing up room in the rapidly swelling cemetery, but also prompt a major traffic realignment around heavily trafficked roadways like Washington Blvd and Columbia Pike.

“This is a critical milestone in progress and the important steps our nation is taking to extend the life of Arlington National Cemetery well into the future,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries, wrote in a statement.

The cemetery plans to use several parcels of land surrounding the Air Force Memorial for the expansion, eventually incorporating the memorial into the cemetery. The land includes the former Navy annex site, and several other acres of land controlled by the county near S. Joyce Street and Washington Blvd — including some that the county once planned to use for a streetcar maintenance facility for the scuttled Columbia Pike project.

The county had also hoped to negotiate a land swap with the Army to make the expansion happen, but those plans fell apart last year. The Army now plans to buy the land from the county instead.

The expansion will also result in a host of changes to roads in the area, many of which the county has long planned, including:

  • the closure and removal of Southgate Road
  • the construction of a new access road for traffic to/from Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall
  • the realignment of Columbia Pike
  • modifying the Route 27 (Washington Blvd) interchange at Columbia Pike

The cemetery plans to hold a public meeting on Wednesday (Aug. 22) to discuss the expansion. It will be held at the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel (900 S. Orme Street) from 5-8 p.m.

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Washington Blvd Bike Trail Work Moves Ahead, Late Fall Opening Planned

Work is speeding ahead on a new bike trail running alongside Washington Blvd as it meets I-395, with construction set to wrap up this fall.

The county has spent close to a year constructing a new 10-foot-wide trail as the road runs between Towers Park (801 S. Scott Street) and 2nd Street S. in Penrose, in a bid to provide more seamless access for cyclists and pedestrians to a previously constructed trail between Arlington Blvd and Walter Reed Drive.

Over the course of the last month, the county says workers have finished “two sections of retaining wall” and the “installation of the abutments for the bridge over the Doctor’s Run stream,” as well as the construction of some storm drains.

Now, work will shift onto property owned by the U.S. Navy at 701 S. Courthouse Road, just near Towers Park, as workers install the trail’s stone and asphalt base.

The county hopes to have work wrapped up by sometime in the “late fall.” In the meantime, some construction will continue along Washington Blvd. More details from the county’s website:

  • Work hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 3 pm.
  • Night work is expected throughout the project and will take place between 10 pm and 5 am (these hours will occasionally be extended).
  • Partial lane closures will be in place at night, reducing traffic on Washington Boulevard to one lane in the southbound direction. There will be no impacts to northbound traffic.
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Plans to Redevelop American Legion Post into Affordable Housing Complex Take Shape

Plans to redevelop the American Legion post in Virginia Square into a seven-story affordable housing complex are inching forward.

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has drawn up a preliminary proposal for the property at 3445 Washington Blvd, advancing plans to purchase the site and someday build 161 multifamily homes there. APAH would also include about 8,000-square-feet on the bottom floor of the building to let American Legion Post 139 stay on the property, which it’s called home for decades.

The proposal, which was submitted to the county last month according to the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, also calls for an underground parking garage at the site, and a new alley to access the building off Washington Blvd.

County planners started preparing in earnest for big changes in the area starting last year, approving a handful of zoning changes to clear the way for changes at the properties along Washington Blvd.

The adjacent YMCA of Metropolitan Washington is planning to build a new, 100,000-square-foot facility on its property at 3422 13th Street N., while another developer hopes to build a six-story apartment building at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road.

The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association plans to discuss the American Legion proposal in more detail at its monthly meeting tonight, at 900 N. Taylor Street starting at 7 p.m.

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BREAKING: Police Searching for Stabbing Suspect in Westover

(Updated at 9:05 a.m.) Arlington County Police are actively searching for a stabbing suspect in the Westover area.

Initial reports suggest that a woman stabbed a man in the shoulder in an apartment building on the 5700 block of Washington Blvd. His injuries are not reported to be life-threatening.

As of 8:45 a.m. Friday, Washington Blvd was closed between Patrick Henry Drive and N. Kenilworth Street due to the emergency response.

The suspect was described over police radio as a white female with red hair, between 5’5″ and 5’8″ and 130 lbs. She was wearing gray sweatpants and a sweatshirt at the time. Officers and a K-9 unit are canvassing the area looking for her.

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Downed Pole Closes Lanes of Washington Blvd During Rush Hour

A light pole toppled over on a busy road near Clarendon this afternoon (Thursday), prompting lane closures and traffic delays.

The pole fell to the ground around 5:45 p.m. on Washington Blvd at the intersection with 10th Street N. At least one vehicle was damaged — a sedan with visible damage to its front that was driven up onto the median. Two other vehicles were stopped nearby with no obvious visible damage. All three were being driven when the streetlight fell.

No serious injuries were reported. It’s unclear what caused the pole to fall.

Emergency vehicles blocked one travel lane in each direction on Washington Blvd, causing traffic backups in the area.

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Overhaul of Tricky ‘Clarendon Circle’ Intersection Could Start This Fall

Arlington could soon kick off work on improvements at one of the county’s trickiest intersections for pedestrians and cyclists.

The County Board is set to approve a $2.5 million contract for the overhaul of the “Clarendon Circle” — the area where Clarendon, Washington and Wilson Boulevards all meet, just past the Metro station.

Planners have hoped for years now to add improvements to the intersection, like shortening the distances pedestrians have to walk across roads. The work will also include the installation of additional bike lanes, the widening of Washington Boulevard to four lanes — while nixing the current reversible lanes — and the addition of upgraded traffic signals.

Plans also call for adding a “green streets” element to better manage stormwater on N. Irving Street, next to the Silver Diner.

The Board is scheduled to vote on the construction contract at its Saturday, June 16 meeting as part of its consent agenda, which is typically reserved for non-controversial items. Should Board members approve the deal, the county estimates that work could begin this fall and wrap up in the winter of 2020.

The Clarendon Circle project is designed to move in conjunction with the county’s plans to do away with the reversible lanes on Washington Boulevard and create a “T” intersection with 13th Street N. That construction is projected to kick off in the winter of 2019, after the Board voted on May 22 to let the redevelopment of the nearby Red Top Cab properties move ahead.

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Lyon Park Water Main Break to Snarl Evening Rush Hour Traffic

A water main break at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park is taking longer to repair than first expected.

An 8-inch water main burst along Washington Blvd this morning, causing hundreds of water customers in Lyon Park to either lose water service or experience low water pressure.

Traffic is being diverted around the work scene, causing slow traffic. Shortly before 3 p.m., Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services said via social media that repairs would continue into the evening, after initial estimates were that work would wrap up by 4 p.m.

“Traffic will remain slow,” DES said. “Thanks for continued patience.”

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Power Outages in Arlington Tick Up Past 10,000

(Update at 10:50 a.m.) More than 10,000 Dominion customers are currently without power in Arlington, according to the company’s website.

Numerous reports of downed trees, branches and power lines around the county have been rolling in over the past few hours as today’s “high impact” wind storm continues to roar across the D.C. region.

As of as of 10:45 a.m., Dominion was reporting 11,409 customers without electricity in Arlington. Parts of the county affected include large portions of residential North Arlington neighborhoods, as seen on the map about.

Among a growing list of road closures around the county due to downed trees, police are blocking the 6000 block of Washington Blvd, just west of Westover, for a large tree across the road. Another significant road closure is N. Harrison Street between 26th Street N. and Lee Highway.

The fire department has kept busy, calling for staff to volunteer to work a double shift into the afternoon and making frequent trips to buildings where power outages have resulted in stuck elevators.

The Arlington County Police Department is advising residents to steer well clear of downed power lines and trees and to “remain aware of your surroundings and secure your belongings” today. The National Weather Service says the strongest wind gusts are expected through noon, though damaging winds are expected to continue into Friday night.

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Morning Poll: What Do You Think About That ‘F–k the NRA’ House?

Opinions seem to be divided about the house in Arlington’s Highland Park neighborhood with the chalk message declaring “F–k the NRA.”

On one hand, many people — even those who are not fans of the National Rifle Association and pro-gun policies — object to writing a large profanity on the front of a house along a busy road. There are children in the neighborhood who walk by this house, those who object to it say.

On the other hand, the resident who wrote the message is exercising his or her right to free speech and addressing an important topic. When guns are being used to kill children in schools, supporters say, the “F-word” should be the least of people’s concerns.

What do you think?

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House With ‘F–k the NRA’ Written on It Riles Neighbors

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) An Arlington resident decided to voice an opinion on gun control via a message scrawled in chalk onto the front of their house, after the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida two weeks ago, but the message is causing some controversy not related to politics.

The house is located along busy Washington Blvd, roughly between East Falls Church and Westover Village. Despite Arlington’s deep blue political leanings, the words have been a hot button conversation among neighbors because the message — “F–k the NRA” — includes a profanity in plain sight of anyone driving or walking by.

“I have no issue with their freedom of expression, but I am concerned that my young kids are going to see the profanity as we drive by and ask what it means,” one resident said on the local NextDoor message board. “I also tend to think it’s possible to express the same sentiment without public profanity. Is this kind of thing even allowed under Arlington code?”

“Regardless of how you feel on the issue, it’s highly offensive and inappropriate,” another said. “But we can explain to kids that vulgarity is evidence of a weak mind.”

“I’m no fan of the NRA but it’s outrageous and counterproductive to boot,” said yet another peeved resident. “Freedom of speech and expression does not need to sink to this level,” echoed a neighbor.

One resident who lives nearby told ARLnow.com that he contacted police, to no avail.

“I called ACPD non emergency number as kids shouldn’t be seeing that kind of language in my opinion,” he said. “Their response, ‘police have been out and there is nothing that they can do.’ First Amendment protection is needed absolutely but it was shocking that there was no profanity law that was being broken.”

Some message board posters, however, said they did not have a problem with the sign.

“I pump my fist in the air every time I drive by,” said one, “in case the owners are reading this and think everyone is against their statement.”

“That house usually has pretty artwork or other positive statements. Obviously the profanity is pushing the limits for some neighbors but personally I don’t have a problem explaining the use of profanity to my kids because the intention behind it is good,” said another supporter. “The artist isn’t promoting violence, unhealthy or dangerous behavior. Has anyone close to the neighbor talked to them and explained how the language is affecting them?”

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Pedestrian Struck on Washington Blvd Near Washington-Lee High School

A 60-year-old man suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being struck by a car on Washington Blvd earlier today (Tuesday) near Washington-Lee High school.

A driver in a white SUV struck the man just before 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Stafford Street. According to scanner traffic, he had a head wound but was conscious, and was attended to by nearby construction workers before police and medics arrived.

Officers from the Arlington County Police Department canvassed witnesses nearby but did not close any roads, and traffic appeared to be flowing as normal.

Washington Blvd has had well-documented issues with pedestrian-vehicle conflicts in recent years, despite various safety improvements being installed. A teen was struck by a car in 2016 at its intersection with N. Utah Street and suffered a serious head injury.

In the aftermath, police stepped up traffic enforcement at the intersection to enforce traffic laws on scofflaw drivers. Still, reports of drivers ignoring pedestrians in the crosswalk continued.

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New Bike/Pedestrian Path Open Near Pentagon

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

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Salon Lofts Beauty Studio Coming to Clarendon

A nail and beauty studio is set to move in to Clarendon.

According to building permits filed with the county, Salon Lofts will move into 3001 Washington Blvd, in the long-vacant first floor of an office building in the neighborhood.

On its website, Salon Lofts says it allows beauty professionals to be independent business owners. The company provides tools, technical support and education to those interested in owning a studio, known as a “loft” by the company.

Owners can then customize their lofts and offer various beauty services.

It will be the third Salon Lofts in the D.C. metro area. The company also has locations in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.

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In One Clarendon Office, Multiple People Have Been Struck By Cars Recently

Getting hit by a car seems like it would be a rare event, but it’s happened to at least three people who work in one Clarendon office recently.

None of the collisions have resulted in serious injuries, but it is nonetheless remarkable that so many people on one floor — in the MakeOffices coworking space at 3100 Clarendon Blvd — have been struck by cars in the past few months.

Zack Armstrong, who works at MakeOffices and lives nearby, told ARLnow his story. On a Saturday morning late last month, he was running along Washington Blvd near the Giant grocery store in Virginia Square when a woman struck him as he tried to cross the street.

Armstrong said it was only a minor collision, and that the driver stopped immediately, got out of her car and was hyperventilating with the shock of hitting a person. He said he was able to get right back up and walk over.

“I wasn’t really injured,” he said.

Another MakeOffices member who wished to remain anonymous said she was struck by a car and had a near-miss another time, both when she had the right-of-way at crosswalks and within weeks of each other.

The collision happened at the intersection of N. Highland Street and Clarendon Blvd, as a car turned onto N. Highland Street and clipped her as she crossed at the crosswalk. The near-miss happened as a car came too quickly out of the parking lot underneath the 3100 Clarendon Blvd office building as she crossed from beside the building.

A third person who works at MakeOffices was struck by a car in Maryland on Memorial Day, and had to wear a protective boot while her ankle healed.

Nanette Bass said she was crossing at a crosswalk when a car ran a red light and clipped her as she tried to get out of the way. The impact sent her spinning in the air, and she landed on her leg. The car did not stop.

Photos No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 via Google Maps.

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