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by Chris Teale December 27, 2017 at 9:45 am 0

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

by Chris Teale November 3, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

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.

by Chris Teale October 24, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

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.

by Chris Teale October 9, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

A new Italian restaurant is open in Lyon Park, replacing a pizza chain.

Troy’s Italian Kitchen replaced Zpizza at 2710 Washington Blvd in April. The eatery is located between a Discount Tobacco & Phone Cards store and the El Charrito Caminante Mexican and Salvadorian restaurant in a small strip mall.

Troy’s opens each day at 10 a.m. and has garnered mostly positive reviews online so far. An employee at the restaurant said Monday that demand has been good for its customizable pizzas, pastas, paninis and salads.

“People need to eat at different times,” he said of the earlier-than-usual opening hours.

Troy’s stays open until midnight Sundays through Thursdays, and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Inside, there is seating for around a dozen people.

Already, a small collection of art by younger customers is starting to grow on the wall, as well as a review written on a plate.

“Great pizza, great atmosphere, love the thin crust,” it reads. “Can’t wait to try out other pizzas.”

by Chris Teale September 12, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Arlington County is set to add a new section of bicycle and pedestrian trail along Washington Blvd.

The Arlington County Board is scheduled this weekend to consider a plan for the second phase of the trail, running north along Washington Blvd from Towers Park — near Columbia Pike — to 2nd Street S. It will then link with the first phase of the trail along Washington Blvd, between Arlington Blvd and S. Walter Reed Drive.

The project proposes to construct a 10-foot wide paved trail on the western side of Washington Blvd. The trail will be mostly located in the road’s existing right-of-way, but also runs through the U.S. Navy Supply Facility (701 S. Courthouse Road) and Towers Park.

County staff moved the northern section of the trail onto the shoulder of Washington Blvd to reduce the need to build retaining walls and reduce the number of trees to be cut down. Under the current plan, about 84 trees would be removed and as many as 160 replanted after the project is complete.

“The project will serve as a valuable link in the overall trail network as it provides a north-south trail between the Columbia Pike (Towers Park) area and the Arlington Blvd Trail,” county staff wrote in a report endorsing the plan. “Recent improvements to the trails along Arlington Blvd will now be more accessible via this new Washington Blvd trail.”

In a letter to the County Board on September 6, Penrose Neighborhood Association president Maria “Pete” Durgan said members “wholeheartedly support” the project.

The county budgeted just over $2.1 million for the project, with just over $420,000 as contingent in case of change orders. Construction is expected to begin this winter and wrap up late next year.

by Chris Teale August 3, 2017 at 11:20 am 0

Plans for the redevelopment of a seven-acre site in Virginia Square — which include a new apartment building, YMCA facility and affordable housing — are slated to come before the Arlington Planning Commission this fall.

The plans, for several properties around the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road, could result in a new six-story apartment building; a rebuilt, 100,000 square foot YMCA building; and a 161-home affordable housing project. The plans call for retaining American Legion Post 139 on the property.

On its property — the largest parcel on the site — the YMCA says it “intends to redevelop its site to allow for an expanded, world class, modern athletic and community YMCA facility as part of a mixed use project which would also allow for new residential uses on, or adjacent to, the Property.”

Within the site is the Ball family burial ground, designated as a local historic district in 1978 and the resting place of several family members. Given the desire to study the site, individual site plans and construction are still years away from coming to fruition.

The county and its Long Range Planning Committee has spent several months discussing land use planning for the parcel and the area as a whole, in advance of a site plan process.

The committee met on July 25 to discuss the latest round of suggestions for land use. Anthony Fusarelli, principal planner in the county’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, said in an email “it was suggested” that be the final meeting on the topic, and that the study be advanced to the full Planning Commission.

Ahead of that Planning Commission meeting, which could be as early as September, Fusarelli said an updated study document will be released for community review, incorporating the feedback of LRPC members and the public.

At the meeting of the LRPC last month, county staff presented various options for the site’s land use, while taking into account how buildings’ heights decrease as they get further from a Metro station.

Among those options, staff presented two that would create a so-called “Special District,” which would help coordinate development in the area and set clear guidelines for projects. The area would be designated as the Washington/Kirkwood Coordinated Mixed-Use Development District.

And in terms of density, staff has several options left on the table, including several that would allow for varying types of housing, which they said reflected local residents’ desire to have a transition between the dense Metro corridor and the neighborhood.

Staff also provided an option that would not change any land uses on the site, which they said would allow some development, including a hotel by right that would not require Arlington County Board approval. But they said only “limited improvements” could be made to the YMCA under that plan.

by Chris Teale July 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

A local YouTube personality waited at a red light near Virginia Hospital Center for 20 minutes earlier this week, and posted his experience to his channel.

Angelo, who describes himself as the creative director of the FlyingOverTr0ut channel, says he makes “sketches, commercial parodies, music videos, short films, drama, 9 hour videos of me sleeping, unauthorized T-Mobile commercials, and videos about my easily confused Greek mom.”

But a video posted July 18 shows him having a more troubling experience. It shows Angelo waiting at a red light at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive in Waycroft-Woodlawn for more than 20 minutes.

A timer in the bottom-right corner shows he waited 20 minutes and 30 seconds for the light to change at approximately 2:30 a.m.

The full video is below, although be warned there is strong language and it may not be suitable for viewing at work.

And for those with slightly less time to spare, Angelo posted an edited version of what he describes as his “expose of this intersection,” edited by fellow YouTube user gr18vidz14kidz.

A spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said they responded to his inquiry on Twitter, and that crews “improved the signal timing this week and will continue to monitor the timing at the intersection.”

Photo via Google Maps.

by Chris Teale June 2, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Lanes will close on Route 110 near the Pentagon next week for up to two months as part of a state construction project.

The right lane of northbound Route 110 at Washington Blvd will close Wednesday night and the right lane of southbound Route 110 will close Thursday night at the same interchange.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said the closures are to remove and rebuild the bridge piers on the shoulders. Message signs alerting motorists to the lane closures are in place.

The left lane of northbound Route 110 and the left lane of southbound Route 110, which have been closed since early April to reconstruct the bridge pier in the median, will reopen Tuesday night.

The work is part of the Route 27 over Route 110 project, which is scheduled for completion next spring. The project will modify and repair the Washington Blvd bridge, including widening it and making it longer, wider and taller than the existing bridge.

by ARLnow.com May 1, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Update at 10:40 a.m. — The westbound lanes have reopened.

Washington Blvd is currently blocked in the area of 2nd Street S. due to a large fallen tree, according to scanner traffic.

Police are setting up roadblocks at Columbia Pike and Route 50 to divert traffic.

According to initial reports, the tree — located along the eastbound lanes — fell across all lanes of traffic around 10 a.m. One car was possibly struck by the tree but no injuries were reported.

Police and VDOT crews are working to reopen the westbound lanes; the eastbound lanes are likely to remain closed for an extended period of time.

Image via Google Maps

by Chris Teale April 19, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A proposal to add bike lanes to a western portion of Washington Blvd has been shelved after neighbors raised concerns at losing on-street parking spaces.

A spokesman for the county’s department of environmental services said that after previously considering a nearly two-mile stretch of bike lanes from N. Sycamore Street to George Mason Drive, staff has revised their plan.

Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to a shorter stretch, westbound between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets; eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.

“The revised plan would still provide bicycling facilities both eastbound and westbound from East Falls Church to Westover Village, albeit with a section along neighborhood streets, while also minimizing the impact to parking in the middle section that was most heavily impacted in the initial proposal, including the preservation of parking in front of and across from the Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church, which does not have off-street parking,” DES spokesman Eric Balliet said.

The project is part of a wider re-paving plan by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which controls that section of Washington Blvd.

The initial plan of bicycle lanes in each direction, improved pedestrian crossings and other improvements was shared publicly last March and received more than 400 comments. County staff then broke them down into categories to get a sense of the main areas of support and concern. Staff then integrated those comments into their revisions of the proposal.

Balliet said the revised plan “continues to meet all major goals with fewer impacts on parking in the middle section where impacts were most acute.”

But bicycling advocates vented their frustration at the change. In a blog post published yesterday on the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s website, WABA staff member Garrett Hennigan blasted the changes.

“Following the first meeting, supportive comments poured in from neighborhood residents. 65 percent of comments supported the bike lanes as did 55 percent of comments from neighborhood residents,” Hennigan wrote. “Now, to save some parking spaces and appease a vocal minority, the County has thrown out the public process, abandoned years of planning and determined that putting people on bikes at risk is a fair compromise.”

A community meeting on the project’s latest iteration will be held tonight at 5 p.m. in the Reed-Westover Building at 1644 N. McKinley Road.

Photo via Google Maps

by Gillian Burgess March 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Gillian Burgess

As Arlington grows, more people will travel around our County. Realistically, we don’t have space for more pavement, so we must find a way to allow more people to make more trips without clogging up our roads and parking lots.

Over the past few decades, Arlington County has steadily increased transportation choices, by making it safer and easier to walk, bike, and take transit to get around. Despite our growth, traffic congestion has stayed steady. This year, Arlington has the opportunity to make another such improvement on Washington Boulevard.

Arlington County is planning to expand the transportation network between East Falls Church and Westover by adding bike lanes on Washington Boulevard between North Sycamore Street and North McKinley Street. Best of all, the Virginia Department Of Transportation will contribute by painting the travel markings to incorporate bike lanes after the street is repaved later this year.

These lanes, which are called for in both the East Falls Church Area Plan and the Master Transportation Plan, will make biking west from the Metro and east to Westover (both of which will have Capital Bikeshare stations by the end of this year) much easier.

The route between the Metro and Westover shops via Washington Boulevard is shorter, flatter and easier to follow than via the trails. The lanes will connect to the current bike lanes on Washington Boulevard stretching east to George Mason Drive.

In order to fit in the bike lanes, VDOT will reallocate space that is currently used for parking cars in front of 21 houses, mostly on the south side of the road. This reallocation of space will allow for bike lanes in both directions.

The County has studied parking along Washington Boulevard and has observed parking patterns that support reallocating this space. People will generally have to go only one block farther away to find a free parking space and, in most places, people will only need to cross the street. Additionally, County staff believes that there will be significant available parking on side streets (which were not in the study, but should have been).

Bike lanes on Washington Boulevard will improve the transportation network for everyone in this area.

By allowing space on the road for people on bikes, people biking on Washington Boulevard will be safer, and cars won’t get stuck behind slower moving cyclists.

By making biking more comfortable, less hilly, and easier to follow, more people will choose to bike, improving traffic and parking availability.  Moreover, by diverting some bike traffic off of the W&OD and Custis Trails, these bikes lanes will improve the experience for people on our trails.

Putting in bike lanes now is also fiscally responsible. Because the lanes are being installed with repaving, the costs above what would already be spent for repaving are negligible.

By building out a transportation network that gives people options beyond the car, the County stands to save significant money in the future.

Arlington is building more schools, parks, and community centers, and car parking is a significant cost to these projects.  By making it easy and attractive to get to County locations by foot, by bike and via transit, we can reduce the amount of parking needed — with significant savings to the County.

Reallocating this space from parking to bike lanes is a good deal for the County and for the neighborhood. Change, of course, is difficult, especially for those immediately impacted. The County should look for creative solutions to ease the transition.

For example, Arlington could look at options for allowing Sunday-only parking on some of the neighborhood streets around Resurrection Lutheran Church. Arlington should also work with the schools and preschools in the area to ensure there are safe places for children to be dropped off and picked up by car or bike or on foot.

Westover and East Falls Church are becoming interesting, dynamic activities centers. With the opportunity to add an elementary school at the Reed School beside the Westover Library, delicious restaurants at the Westover shops, and expected development near the East Falls Church Metro stop, we can expect activity — and travel — through this area to increase.

Adding bike lanes on Washington Boulevard is an important step in improving our transportation network to address the increased needs in this area.

More information about this project can be found on the County’s project site.  The County is accepting public comment on the project until Friday, March 17.

Gillian Burgess is the current chair of Arlington County’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, the founder of Kidical Mass Arlington, and a member of the County’s Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission and APS’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Choices. She lives in Cherrydale with her husband and three children.

by Chris Teale March 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) A new pedestrian walk light at a dangerous intersection could help ease safety concerns for those on foot.

A teen was struck by a car last year at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and N. Utah Street near Washington-Lee High School and suffered a serious head injury.

In the aftermath, Arlington County police conducted a pedestrian safety detail at the intersection to enforce traffic laws on scofflaw drivers. Still, reports of drivers ignoring pedestrians in the crosswalk continued.

As of last week, however, the county has installed new high-visibility walk signs and lights at the crossing to help pedestrians and bicyclists cross Washington Boulevard.

After pressing a button, the lights flash for approximately 10 seconds to warn drivers that people are crossing. An audio message tells crossers that the lights are flashing too.

And while the signals do not include stoplights for drivers, several did stop as required on Monday afternoon to let pedestrians cross while an ARLnow.com reporter was taking photos.

by ARLnow.com March 1, 2017 at 11:10 am 0

Washington Blvd just west of Westover (Photo via Google Maps)

A community meeting is scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) to discuss a road re-striping plan that would add bike lanes but remove some parking on the western portion of Washington Blvd in Arlington.

The meeting is set to take place at the Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) from 5-8 p.m.

“We invite community members to provide ideas and insights on how we achieve the maximum benefits for bicycle access and pedestrian safety, while minimizing potential impacts in the area,” says the meeting’s web page.

Among the changes being proposed:

  • “Create nearly a two-mile stretch of bike lanes from Sycamore St. to George Mason Dr.”
  • “Narrow unnecessary wide travel lanes to help calm traffic.”
  • “Install a dedicated left turn lane for westbound Washington Boulevard at N. Ohio Street to help reduce backups.”
  • “Sidewalks will be more comfortable for walking due to buffering provided by the new bike lanes.”

The restriping, as proposed, would add bike lanes in both directions to where they don’t already exist on Washington Blvd between Westover and East Falls Church, but at the expense of some on-street parking.

The project is being planned by Arlington County but will be performed and funded by VDOT, which maintains that stretch of Washington Blvd.

Photo via Google Maps

by Tim Regan February 27, 2017 at 9:10 am 0

Demolition work related to the rehabilitation of the Washington Blvd bridge over Route 110 is set to close some ramps and lanes starting tonight at midnight.

During the closures, which are slated to last up to 30 minutes, workers will deconstruct the original bridge deck that was built there in 1941 and deemed “structurally deficient” a few years ago.

The road closures are scheduled to occur between midnight and 4 a.m. at the following locations and times:

  • Feb. 27-March 2: Ramp from eastbound Route 27 to northbound Route 110
  • March 3-4, 6-9: Northbound Route 110
  • March 10-11, 13-14: Southbound Route 110
  • March 15-18: Ramp from westbound Route 27 to the Pentagon, and the ramp from the Pentagon to westbound Route 27

The demolition work is part of a $31.5 million plan to replace the existing bridge, near the Pentagon, with a new structure that will expand the shared-use path to 14-feet wide and add an 8-foot sidewalk. The new bridge will also be longer, wider and taller than the existing bridge.

When complete, the newly rehabilitated bridge will include amenities such as low-level iron fences, LED lighting for pedestrians and four medallions commemorating the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

VDOT expects to put the finishing touches on the bridge next spring.

by Tim Regan January 26, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board is considering giving its blessing to several easements needed for a long-awaited plan to revamp a tricky intersection in Clarendon.

The Board is scheduled to vote this weekend on easements needed to improve the “Clarendon Circle” intersection at Washington, Wilson and Clarendon boulevards.

If approved, the county will pay the Catholic Diocese of Arlington nearly $25,000 for permanent and temporary easements on a portion of church property along Washington Blvd, to be used for sidewalk, curb, gutter, utilities and drainage purposes.

The overall plan calls for improvements to “access and safety for those who walk, bike and drive.” The project’s goals include upgrades such as improved traffic signals and streetlights, wider center medians, shorter pedestrian crossings, bike lanes and curb extensions.

“Current travel across the intersection can be difficult due to its extreme width and the skewed alignment of its roadways,” according to a County webpage. “North Irving Street also enters the circle area in two offset locations, further complicating the traffic pattern.”

This wasn’t the only idea that Arlington County considered. Roundabouts, one-way street couplets and other alternative designs all were analyzed, but the County found those elements “would have negative impacts on all modes of transportation, especially for pedestrians.”

If all goes according to plan, the engineering design will be completed this spring, clearing the way for construction to begin next summer. Project completion is pegged for the summer of 2019.

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