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UPDATED: Gas Leak Forces Road Closure Near Columbia Pike

(Updated at 11:45 a.m) An outside gas leak has prompted county police to close a section of S. Highland Street as it meets Columbia Pike.

First responders were first called about the leak around 11 a.m. today (Tuesday), per scanner traffic. The leak will also result in the closure of 12th Street S. as it meets S. Highland.

Police are currently waiting on Washington Gas to evaluate the situation. The area is home to a Days Inn and a Shell gas station.

Photo via Google Maps

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Struck Gas Line Prompts Evacuation, Road Closure

George Mason Drive was closed and nearly a dozen condominium residents evacuated after workers struck a gas line near Barcroft Park this morning.

The gas line was struck shortly after 11 a.m. on S. George Mason Drive between Four Mile Run Drive and S. Columbus Street. The stretch of road was closed by police as a Washington Gas crew worked to clamp the gas line and as firefighters stood by with hoses ready should the gas ignite.

Just before noon the leak was reported to be stopped. Police were reopening three out of the four lanes of George Mason while the gas company started working to fix the line. Firefighters were checking nearby buildings — including the adjacent George Mason Village condos — to ensure that the gas had dissipated.

The line appears to have been struck by a private traffic signal contractor, which had a truck parked nearby.

No injuries were reported.

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Columbia Pike Gas Main Relocation Wraps Up, New Construction Phase Set to Start

Work is progressing on the multiphase Columbia Pike utility undergrounding and streetscape improvement project.

The gas main relocation on Columbia Pike — between Four Mile Run and the Arlington/Fairfax line — is expected to be completed later this month, ending the pre-construction phase of the utility undergrounding that began in 2017. Northern Pipeline, Washington Gas’ contractor for the project, will coordinate with customers to change service over to the new gas mainline.

Drivers should expect traffic disruptions, lane closures, and possible left turn restrictions on Arlington’s western end of the Pike for the duration of the construction. This phase of the undergrounding project is expected to take three years to construct.

Three segments of the entire multimodal street project have already been completed. Another three construction segments have yet to begin, and the entire project is estimated to continue through 2021, according to Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. Those three segments run from S. Wakefield Street to S. Oakland Street, from S. Garfield Street to S. Quinn Street, and from S. Orme Street to S. Joyce Street.

A DES press release stated that the work was intended to “make Columbia Pike a safer, more accessible route for all users.”

The $14.6 million construction contract, approved November 2017 by the County Board, also includes street improvements between Four Mile Run Bridge and S. Jefferson Street. Planned enhancements include wider sidewalks, upgraded traffic signals and street lights. Old water and sewer pipes will be replaced and overhead utilities will be buried.

An outdoor sculpture by Chicago-born Donald Lipski will be installed by Arlington’s Western Gateway, near Columbia Pike and South Jefferson Street, marking the entrance to Arlington from Fairfax County. Residents interested in email updates regarding the projects can sign up on the county’s project and planning website.

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Expect Delays During Columbia Pike Construction

Expect additional traffic headaches through the fall on Columbia Pike, now that a project to relocate an underground gas main is underway there.

Crews with Washington Gas started the construction Monday between the Fairfax County line and Four Mile Run, ahead of several streetscape improvements the county has planned for the future.

At least one lane of Columbia Pike in each direction will remain open at all times during construction, and work could be possible on nights and weekends.

Washington Gas crews will store equipment and other materials at four locations along the Pike during construction. Although nearby properties still can be accessed, adjacent bus stops could be temporarily moved or closed.

This is the latest phase of a project approved in 2014 by the County Board that included new bike boulevards on 9th and 12th Streets S., as an alternative route to Columbia Pike, which runs parallel. Once the gas main work is complete, county workers will install wider sidewalks, new street lights, upgraded traffic signals, trees and bus shelters. A piece of public art will also be added at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Jefferson Street.

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Morning Notes

Wreaths on gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery 2016 (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Hunt Loses Mansion Legal Battle — Rodney P. Hunt, once one of the D.C. area’s wealthiest businessmen, has lost a legal battle to keep his $24 million Chain Bridge Road mansion. Hunt, who represented himself in court, asserted that the entity that bought the mansion at a foreclosure auction this summer was not its real owner. While Hunt was living there, the 20,000 square foot property hosted large “#RHPMansion” parties, one of which led to a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]

‘Loss of Historic Architecture’ — The historic George Washington Carver Cooperative Apartments in the Arlington View neighborhood were torn down in February. The apartments’ 70-year history as a centerpiece of the working-class African American community there was, however, preserved via oral histories and historic markets. The property is now the Carver Place townhomes, which start at $689,000. So far, 38 of 73 have sold. [Falls Church News-Press]

Road Closure in Lyon Park — Washington Gas pipeline work is prompting a road closure in Lyon Park today and tomorrow. Cyclists who use the Arlington Blvd trail may also be affected. [BikeArlington Forum]

First Day of Winter — Today is the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also known as the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight. [Capital Weather Gang]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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