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
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.
Washington Boulevard will transform into an art-lover’s paradise during the 7th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts on Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
One hundred and fifty national and international artists are set to display their fine works from across the globe in a prestigious show encompassing fine jewelry, exquisite works of art and hand-crafted apparel and decor.
Whether your passions run to sparkling jewels and one of a kind paintings, crafted glasswork or to an art deco sculpture, you are sure to find it during the free, two-day event. Ample parking is available and pets on leashes are always welcomed.
- Original handmade artwork
- 150 national and international artists
- All artists on site for duration of festival
- Juried, first-class outdoor art gallery showcasing local and national artists
- Artists hand-selected by independent panel of expert judges from hundreds of applicants
- Vast array of artistic media including paintings, sculptures, photography, ceramics, glass, wood, handmade jewelry, collage and mixed media
- Ample parking available and pets on leashes welcome
Presented by Howard Alan Events (HAE), producer of the nation’s finest juried art shows, the 7th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts represents original, hand-crafted artwork selected by an independent panel of expert judges from hundreds of applicants.
HAE’s careful vetting process also ensures a wide array of mediums and price ranges will be offered during the Festival.
For additional information on the Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts and other Howard Alan Events art and craft shows across the country, visit www.artfestival.com or call 561-746-6615.
(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) Washington Blvd is about to get a bit of a makeover as it runs between Bluemont and Westover, and county officials are looking for some input on potential changes for the area.
VDOT is planning on repaving the road between its intersection with N. Frederick Street and N. McKinley Road later this summer.
As part of that process, workers expect they’ll remove the brick crosswalks and median in the Westover area, as the road runs between N. McKinley Road and N. Longfellow Street. The county is currently working to replace all of its so-called “brick pavers” across Arlington in favor of crosswalks that are both easier to maintain and a bit more visible at night.
Accordingly, the county is looking to accept feedback on what sort of road features could replace those and make the area a bit safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Officials are holding an open house tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Westover Branch Library (1644 North McKinley Road) from 6-7:30 p.m. to accept suggestions.
The county is hoping to make it a bit easier to access the library, the nearby Post Office and the area’s popular businesses, like the Westover Beer Garden and the Italian Store.
“The county is considering several re-striping options, including high visibility crosswalks, bike treatments, and a limited change option,” staff wrote on the county’s website.
That should come as good news for some neighbors concerned about pedestrian safety in the area, especially after a driver struck an elderly woman with a car in a Westover crosswalk in November.
The county is also examining some potential improvements as the road runs between Westover and East Falls Church, including some new bike lanes, additional pedestrian crossings and clearer markings for existing crossings.
Officials are also planning on holding a “pop-up” engagement session at the Westover Farmer’s Market in the library plaza Sunday (March 3) if you can’t make this week’s meeting. Starting later this week, the county will also accept online comments through the end of March on its website.
Photo via Google Maps
Plans to redevelop several small businesses in Virginia Square into a new apartment complex are coming into focus, in a section of the neighborhood long targeted by the county for a bit of revitalization.
A developer is firming up plans to build a seven-story apartment building on a 1.7-acre property at 1122 N. Kirkwood Road, near the road’s intersection with Washington Blvd. Documents submitted to county planners late last month show that Eleventh Street Development is angling to add 255 one- and two-bedroom apartments to the site, complete with two floors of underground parking totaling 190 spaces in all.
The entire area is line for some big changes in the coming year — the American Legion post nearby is set to become a new affordable housing development, while the YMCA is set for big upgrades as well — and Arlington officials have spent months now sketching out new planning documents to guide the area’s evolution.
Eleventh Street Development has long contemplated adding apartments to the site, which will displace three businesses on the property: Zolly Foreign Car Specialists, a State Farm insurance office and Slye Digital Media Systems. But the developer has, at last, kicked off the “site plan” process with the county, in order to secure the necessary permissions to get construction moving.
Notably, Eleventh Street seems to have abandoned plans to include any space for retail on the ground floor of the site, according to the plans. However, county officials “would like to continue the discussion” about that change, they wrote in a memo to the developer last January.
In general, the county signaled in the planning documents that it’s broadly satisfied with the initial plans. One of the few concerns officials expressed, however, is that the redevelopment might not meet some of the road re-design standards laid out in the long-range vision for the area approved in 2017, known as the “General Land Use Plan Study and Concept Plan.”
Specifically, the county wants to see a new “east-west connection” through the property, connecting 12th Road N. to N. Kirkwood Road.
Officials urge the company to consider “how the subject site would be designed or modified to facilitate circulation as envisioned,” and the developer acknowledged that request. However, the company does plan to add some streetscape improvements along both Washington Blvd and Kirkwood Road.
The project is now set to head to the county’s Site Plan Review Committee, though the group has yet to put the development on its agenda just yet.
A new round of construction is kicking off at one of Clarendon’s trickiest intersections, and that means more lane closures and traffic changes.
Starting today (Wednesday), workers plan to start major sidewalk expansions at the “Clarendon Circle” intersection, or the area where Clarendon, Washington and Wilson boulevards meet.
The county expects the widening work to last through April, with the ultimate goal of having the new sidewalks ready “in time to allow businesses to have outdoor seating during the spring and summer months.” Much of the construction centers on the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Irving Street, the home of both O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and The Liberty Tavern.
County officials signed off on the $2.5 million Clarendon Circle overhaul this summer, in a bid to make the intersection a bit easier to navigate for pedestrians and cyclists, in particular. In addition to the sidewalk expansions, the project will include the installation of new bike lanes, the widening of Washington Boulevard to four lanes — while nixing the current reversible lanes — and the addition of upgraded traffic signals.
The construction first started prompting major traffic changes in the area early this month, and now the county is warning of additional changes. Those include a prohibition on left turns in the following areas:
- Northbound Wilson Boulevard to N. Irving Street
- Northbound Wilson Boulevard to westbound Washington Boulevard
- Southbound Wilson Boulevard to eastbound Washington Boulevard
- Westbound Washington Boulevard to southbound Wilson Boulevard
Some portions of the sidewalk will also be closed on both the Washington Blvd and Wilson Blvd sides of N. Irving Street. The left turn from eastbound Washington Boulevard to Clarendon Boulevard also remains off-limits, and will likely be shut down through this summer.
The county is hoping to have all of the work wrapped up by sometime in 2020, weather permitting.
The 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 sometime this winter, after the county cleared the way for the redevelopment of the nearby Red Top Cab properties.
Transportation officials are proposing a host of safety improvements for Memorial Circle, a confusing confluence of roads connecting Arlington National Cemetery to the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
The circle has long been the site of all manner of dangerous crashes, particularly those involving cyclists and pedestrians looking to access the nearby Mt. Vernon Trail or cross into D.C. But the National Park Service has drawn up a series of changes for the roads in the area designed to address the issue, including traffic pattern changes to transform the circle into something more like a traditional roundabout.
“The project area is at a major convergence of regional roadways and modes that interact through a complex series of roadway merges (on-ramps), weaves, diverges (off-ramps), and intersections, resulting in traffic congestion and crashes,” NPS planners wrote in a November environmental assessment. “The proposed action would change the way area users access and circulate through the area by car, bicycle, or foot.”
Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012. Lawmakers previously secured some safety improvements for the G.W. Parkway and the circle to try to address the issue. The new NPS proposal would address not only the circle itself, but also the roads approaching the area from both the north and south: S. Arlington Blvd and Washington Blvd.
Perhaps the most substantial change park officials are proposing would be cutting back on one lane of traffic in the circle, in order to “allow the circle to function more like a modern roundabout,” the NPS wrote. That means that drivers in the circle would have the right of way, and anyone entering the circle would need to yield to them.
The NPS also plans to split up an island on the east side of the circle, near where it meets the Memorial Bridge, allowing two westbound lanes coming from the bridge to “bypass the circle and head north onto S. Arlington Boulevard” and one lane of traffic to proceed and enter the circle.
For roads north of the circle, officials are proposing some improved signage at the various intersections, including “fluorescent yellow advance pedestrian crossing warning signs” at some and “rapid flashing beacon” signs at others.
But they’re also envisioning more dramatic improvements, like reducing Washington Blvd down to one lane, and removing both the “existing southern exit ramp connecting S. Arlington Blvd and S. Washington Blvd” and “the existing far left exit lane of S. Arlington Blvd.”
As S. Arlington Blvd exits the circle, the NPS also envisions reducing the road from three lanes down to two leading up to the crosswalk. The existing far left lane leading onto a ramp to S. Washington Blvd is slated to be removed, as is the exit ramp itself.
The NPS is planning similar pedestrian sign improvements for intersections south of the circle, as well as other lane reductions.
One major change would be the construction of a new concrete island where Washington Blvd enters the circle to its south, allowing two lanes of the road to bypass the circle and reach the Memorial Bridge, and one lane to enter the circle. That would require a slightly widening of the road in the area, the NPS wrote.
The plans also call for Washington Blvd to be reduced from four lanes to three south of the circle “in order to simplify merging patterns,” while the G.W. Parkway would be widened “to add an acceleration lane allowing traffic from Arlington Blvd to enter the parkway in its own dedicated lane before merging onto the two-lane parkway.”
Additionally, the NPS envisions relocating two bike and pedestrians crossings south of the circle. One, located as a trail crossing Washington Blvd, “would be relocated closer to the Circle, to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross where vehicle speeds are slower and where drivers are anticipating conflicts.” The other, designed to help people cross the parkway to the southeast of the circle, would be moved slightly further north of the parkway.
The NPS traffic analysis of these proposed changes suggest they’d generate “an overall improvement” in congestion on the roads, in addition to substantial safety upgrades.
People in the bicycling community are pretty skeptical of the latter assertion, however.
Surprise! @NPSGWMP has proposed a few half-assed safety improvements to Memorial Circle. Read about 'em here and decide if you think they'll keep you safe in the crosswalk: #bikedc #bikearlington https://t.co/MZAdUCONY4
— Chris Slatt (@alongthepike) November 29, 2018
Thought 2 – If this were implemented tomorrow, I'd still insist that nobody walk or bike anywhere near it because the crossings aren't safe
— Garrett Hennigan (@gwhennigan) November 29, 2018
The NPS is accepting comments on the plans through Dec. 29.
Crews have broken ground on the first phase of the “Clarendon Circle” project, bringing improvements to one of the county’s trickiest intersections for pedestrians and cyclists but creating some temporary traffic changes.
The County Board approved in June the contract for the overhaul of the “Clarendon Circle” — the area where Clarendon, Washington and Wilson boulevards all meet, just past the Metro station.
The first phase of the project involves concrete work along eastbound Washington Blvd — west of Wilson Blvd and Fairfax Drive — along with removal of the existing curb and gutter in the area.
Ardent Construction Company began in September Clarendon Circle’s reconstruction, which is anticipated to last one year, according to the county.
- Turn right on southbound N. Kirkwood Road, which turns into 10th Street N. Then turn left on Wilson Blvd and continue straight.
- Stay on Washington Blvd, crossing Wilson and Clarendon boulevards, and then turn left on N. Highland Street. Then turn right.
Additionally, left turns will be restricted on eastbound Washington Blvd along with the left turn from eastbound Washington Blvd to Clarendon Blvd through next summer.
Traffic disruptions with lane and sidewalk closures during the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. work hours on Mondays through Fridays are expected, the county said, adding that no weekend work is scheduled.
The planned improvements address planners’ desired changes to the intersection, like shortening the distances pedestrians have to walk across roads. The work will also include long-anticipated installation of additional bike lanes, the widening of Washington Blvd and the addition of upgraded traffic signals.
The project will also add a “green streets” element to N. Irving Street, next to the Silver Diner, which planners have said will help better manage stormwater.
Additional plans for the project include installing new Carlyle streetlights, adding curb extensions at the Liberty Tavern corner and planting more trees.
Maps via Arlington County
A woman was struck by a car and suffered serious injuries as she crossed the street in Westover earlier this month, convincing neighbors of the urgent need for safety improvements in the area.
County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow that a pedestrian was in the middle of a crosswalk along the 5900 block of Washington Boulevard around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 10, when a vehicle ran into her. The area is home popular businesses like the Westover Beer Garden and the Italian Store.
Savage says the woman was “transported to an area hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.” Police also issued a warning summons to the driver “for failure to yield the pedestrian right-of-way,” but otherwise didn’t pursue criminal charges.
Stephanie Gordon, who lives right behind the scene of the incident on N. Lancaster Street, says she remembers seeing the immediate aftermath of the crash. She subsequently learned that the woman who was struck is one of her neighbors: Virginia Fairbrother, a 30-year Westover resident.
Fortunately, Gordon says she’s since heard that Fairbrother has been released from the hospital and is recovering from her injuries. But the crash only underscores her conviction that the Westover area desperately needs some traffic and pedestrian safety changes.
“Westover is a bit of a valley, so cars can pick up speed either way as they’re driving,” Gordon said. “I feel bad for both drivers and pedestrians, because I don’t think drivers, even if they want to stop, are aware of a crosswalk there. A lot of times cars just speed through and won’t even see you.”
Gordon says her father, another Westover resident, brought some of these concerns to the county more than a year ago, but the neighborhood still hasn’t seen many changes.
She’d much rather see more reflective crosswalks installed on Washington Boulevard, or perhaps improvements to the “dinky little signs” marking the pedestrian crossings. The county is currently planning on some improvements as the road runs between Westover and East Falls Church, including some new bike lanes, additional pedestrian crossings and clearer markings for existing crossings. Transportation officials have spent the past year collecting traffic data on the area, with plans to implement those in the coming months.
Gordon would also be in favor of the county dropping the speed limit to 25 miles per hour down from the current 30, and hopes that this latest crash will spur Arlington officials to examine that possibility in particular.
“My neighbors and I have been saying for a while that it was just a matter of time before someone was hit by a car crossing Washington Blvd,” Gordon said. “It’s just crazy that it’s so fast, when people are frequently walking across the street.”
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 12:22 a.m.) Arlington County is set to celebrate the opening of a new section of the Washington Blvd Bike Trail today (Nov. 30).
The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. along the new bike trail on the east side of Towers Park (801 S. Scott Street). Capital Bikeshare bikes will be available for attendees to try out the trail after remarks from the speakers.
The new 10-foot-wide trail runs between Towers Park and 2nd Street S. in Penrose, to provide more seamless access for cyclists and pedestrians to a previously constructed trail between Arlington Blvd and Walter Reed Drive.
🚨 NEW TRAIL ALERT! 🚨
Washington Boulevard Trail offers a new N/S connection for folks walking & biking between Arlington Boulevard and Walter Reed Drive.
Come celebrate with us on Nov 30 from 1-2 pm!
— BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) November 20, 2018
This story has been updated
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