Arlington, VA

An “emergency utility repair” at Arlington’s sewage treatment plant led to a sewage release into Four Mile Run.

The sewage release happened this morning at the plant on S. Glebe Road. County officials are warning people to avoid the stream between S. Arlington Ridge Road and the Potomac.

“The public is advised to stay away from the affected water and to keep pets away until further notice,” Arlington County said in a press release. “Stream water can contain microorganisms that can make people sick, whether the stream is located in an urban area or in the middle of a forest. Even after the discharge is naturally flushed from the streams, the County’s normal precautions for safe use of streams apply.”

Crews are working to repair the unspecified issue at the plant. As a result of the work, a portion of S. Glebe Road is closed at S. Eads Street.

“An estimated completion time for the repair is unknown at this time,” the county said.

Separately, just before 9:15 a.m., a crash also blocked a lane of S. Glebe Road near S. Arlington Ridge Road, after an SUV reportedly careened into a utility pole.

Update at 1:30 p.m. — All lanes of S. Glebe Road have reopened, the county says.

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(Updated at 9:25 p.m.) Arlington, Virginia is hoping to avoid the infrastructure pitfalls in Arlington, Texas — and other parts of the Lone Star State.

At Saturday’s County Board meeting, the Board approved a 24 inch water main project stretching from Lorcom Lane to 25th Street N. in the Donaldson Run neighborhood. The Board authorized $3.1 million for the project, with $2.6 million as the project cost and just over a half-million dollars in contingency funding.

According to the project summary:

This contract is for the construction of 24-inch water transmission main in the right-of-way of North Taylor Street, Vacation Lane, North Vermont and North Vernon streets between Lorcom Lane and 25th Street North. This contract also includes installation of a new 8- inch water main to replace existing 6-inch water main along North Vernon Street between 25th Street North and North Vermont Street. The proposed water main will increase required system redundancy and transmission capacity.

The water main replacement is called Gravity One Phase II, a follow up on a water infrastructure project started in 2017. The new water main will serve as a backup to the existing 30-inch main from 1957 that feeds into nearby storage tanks and a pump station, allowing the county to move forward with a full assessment of the state of that pipe and perform maintenance.

“The project is expected to begin in April 2021,” the project website says. “The anticipated completion time is spring 2023.

“The contractor will limit noise-generating work to the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” the website adds. “No weekend work is anticipated. Other tasks may be addressed during the hours immediately before and after that window. There may be water impacts to some customers throughout the project. Advance notice will be given to residents prior to any planned water shut offs.”

County Board chair Matt de Ferranti said the new pipe will hopefully help prevent future water main breaks and provide better water reliability.

“We hear from so many in the community that we must take care of infrastructure,” said de Ferranti. “There was a water main break at Chain Bridge. This was a continued priority before that and we are investing again in a contract of a little over $3 million for a water line transition main that will be a backup to help protect reliability, which we’ve seen just this week is an unthought of but critical item as we look at those in Texas without water.”

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A 94-year-old water main that runs under the residential area north of Clarendon to Courthouse is finally set to be replaced.

On Saturday, the County Board approved a contract for the construction of a new water main along Key Blvd, running from N. Jackson Street to N. Danville Street in Lyon Village. It passed as a consent item, meaning it was deemed non-controversial and was acted upon by a single vote.

The new water main will replace the existing one, which was built in 1927. The new main will improve fire flow capacity and meet neighborhood demand, county staff wrote.

The staff report notes that the aging water main has “had an excessive number of breaks in the past few years.” This includes most recently in July, Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) confirms.

This project is one of a number of recent efforts to replace old, unlined cast iron pipes, which can more easily break and become corroded.

The contract for the Key Blvd water main was awarded to the lowest bidder, Crown Construction Services, which provided an estimate under the county engineer’s estimated cost. As approved, the authorized contract total is $1.4 million, including contract contingencies.

The county has previously worked with Crown Construction on the Glencarlyn Park renovations.

Construction is expected to start this spring, a DES spokesperson tells ARLnow, with completion set for fall 2022. Water disruption notices will be sent to all affected residents.

Planned water service disruptions will “typically less than a day,” according to the county staff report, and will be limited to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Map via Arlington County

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(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) A project that could help the Westover area with its flooding problem is on the Arlington County Board agenda this weekend.

The Board on Saturday is slated to consider an agreement with Arlington Public Schools to build a stormwater detention vault under the athletic fields of the Reed Elementary School site in Westover.

The project is part of the county’s Flood Resilient Arlington stormwater strategy, which was created in response to significant floods that affected the Westover neighborhood in July 2019. The project is not expected to impact the planned opening of the new school, at 1644 N. McKinley Road, in August 2021.

County Board Chair Libby Garvey said that the project maximizes public land for the benefit of the community.

“The Westover Commercial District is a vital component of the economic, cultural and social core of the neighborhood, and it has suffered repeated flooding losses from increasingly volatile storms,” Garvey said in a statement. “This type of investment is part of a larger effort to achieve a Flood Resilient Arlington in a time of climate change.  It will help prevent further devastation and enhance public safety when major rain events occur.”

The school is located in the Torreyson Run watershed, which is one of five Arlington watersheds singled out for improvements.

The project includes designing and building a large underground vault that will “form a cornerstone to a watershed-scale solution in the Torreyson Run watershed,” according to Arlington County.

The work will be broken up into two phases.

Phase 1 of the project consists of new underground pipe and junction fixtures and is funded by the County and will cost $1.54M,” the county said in a press release. “Phase 2 includes the stormwater detention structure itself and is still under design. Both phase 1 and phase 2 are specifically being designed and scheduled to not impact school opening or operations.”

The preliminary cost estimate for both phases is between $14.1M – $16.0M for design and construction,” the press release adds. “The length of construction will be determined during the design process.”

Arlington voters approved a $50.4 million stormwater bond last month, which will be used to pay for the second phase.

APS Superintendent Francisco Durán told Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz in a letter that time is of the essence in approving the agreement to reimburse APS for the project upon completion.

“In order for the work of Phase 1 to be completed in time for the school to open as scheduled, this funding agreement is required promptly,” Durán wrote. “Our APS team, APS consultants and County staff have been working diligently to find the best way to achieve the County’s stormwater storage goals and open the new school on schedule.”

The County is working with APS on a Memorandum of Agreement for the school system’s construction contractor, and plans a public engagement effort with impacted communities about the design of the vault early next year.

Image via APS

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Parking Lot Staying Put — “Crystal City has been a scalding hot market for new development ever since Amazon.com Inc. moved in — but one well-positioned lot will continue to sit empty for the foreseeable future. Gould Property Co., which owns a small parking lot at 2661 S. Clark St., filed a request with Arlington County last month asking for permission to maintain the property as surface parking through early 2026.” [Washington Business Journal]

Westover Apartment Building Named — “Kathleen Sibert, who led the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) from 2008 until earlier this year, will remain a permanent part of the organization through a facility named in her honor… Located in Westover, Sibert House is designed to provide permanent-supportive housing and a foundation to help individuals achieve better health, overcome substance abuse and mental illness, obtain job security, and attain their goals.” [InsideNova]

Schools Also Facing Budget Gap — “Superintendent Durán said that APS is facing an estimated budget gap at this time of between $24 million and $31 million. The APS budget gap continues to fluctuate and is based on continued unknowns including more possible revenue loss, more possible savings and more costs as APS works to return students to in-person learning while continuing to provide distance learning. The school district is examining its current practices and reviewing the budget.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Arlington Water Facts — “In a year, Arlington residents use some 8 billion gallons of water. That’s about a trillion 8-ounce glasses of the stuff. Clean, safe and always at the ready.” [Twitter]

Real Estate Costs on the Rise — “Not only are home prices on the rise across the Washington area; the average cost on a per-square-foot basis continues to grow, too… In Virginia, Arlington led the pack, with its average per-square-foot cost of $455 up 4.4 percent from $436.” [InsideNova]

Real Estate Firm Opening Second Office — “McEnearney Associates is excited to announce a new office location in the heart of Clarendon in Arlington, Virginia located at 3033 Wilson Boulevard… This will be McEnearney Associate’s second office location in Arlington.” [Press Release]

Airport Concession Sales Way Down — “Roughly 33 concessionaires were open at Reagan and 44 at Dulles, or just over 40% of all shops in the two airports… the shops that are open are still struggling with very low foot traffic and a customer base that is spending less than normal. Sales per passenger were down 20% at Reagan National and 22% at Dulles in August compared to the same month of 2019.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Early Voting on Irish TV — “Irish TV RTÉ was in Courthouse filming the early voting for the election.” [@Irelands4Courts/Twitter]

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Arlington County is planning to rehabilitate a nearly half-mile long sewage main along Military Road in North Arlington.

The Gulf Run Sanitary Force Main helps transport sewage uphill in some of the far northern reaches of the county. According to a county staff report, the main was built more than 55 years ago and is due for a rehabilitation.

The rehabilitation of the Gulf Run sanitary sewer force main is part of the Arlington County sanitary force main rehabilitation program. This 10-inch cast iron force main was constructed in 1963 and is approximately 2,191 feet long. It has experienced failures in the past, requiring spot repairs completed by the County. The Gulf Run Force Main will be rehabilitated using the pressure cured in place pipe lining method.

The County Board will consider a $1.5 million contract, with a $150,000 contingency, with frequent county contractor Am-Liner East, Inc. at its meeting this weekend. The money will come from Arlington’s Utility Capital Projects Fund.

There’s no word on when the pipe relining project will start.

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(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) Those who commute over the Chain Bridge will need to find a different route this week, starting tomorrow.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says N. Glebe Road and Chain Bridge Road will be closed just before the entrance to Chain Bridge for much of the week, due to water main repair work.

The closures are set to be in effect from 6 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday to Friday.

“No water service impacts are anticipated,” DES said in a tweet. “A traffic detour will be in place.”

That section of roadway was the scene of a major water main break in November, which disrupted water service to a large section of Arlington County.

“There is a confirmed leak at the same location where the November 8… water main break occurred,” DES spokeswoman Kathryn O’Brien tells ARLnow. “This leak is a low volume leak. Crews have isolated the water main and will begin repairs tomorrow.”

Separately, work is currently underway on a $4.5 million water main rehabilitation project on a nearby section of N. Glebe Road.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Seattle Tax Could Advantage Arlington — “It wouldn’t shock us if Amazon started encouraging more of its executives to up and move their teams to HQ2, or a neighboring city in Washington state, now that the Seattle City Council has passed a progressive tax targeting the wealthiest companies in the city.” [Washington Business Journal]

Analysis of County Board Special Election — From @A_Hendel on Twitter: “Takis Karantonis received most of his share of the vote from South Arlington… In fact, almost no precincts north of I-66 cast 50% or more of their votes for Takis.” [Twitter]

Organizations Getting Big PPP Loans in Arlington — The American Diabetes Association, tech company ByteCubed, American Service Center, Bishop O’Connell High School and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington are among the Arlington-based organizations to reportedly receive $2+ million federal Paycheck Protection Act loans. [Patch]

Another Local Tech Firm Gets PPP Help — “Amazon.com Inc. may have posted record sales during the pandemic, but many third-party sellers on the platform foundered… Some of those sellers — like the Arlington-based Amify Inc. and Etailz Inc., based in Spokane, Washington — received millions of dollars worth of help from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.” [Washington Business Journal]

Water Main Repairs Today in Bluemont — “Thursday Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews will replace 3 valves in separate locations tomorrow in Bluemont area. Some 100 customers have been notified of potential service interruptions 8 a.m.-5 p.m.” [Twitter]

Letter: W-L Renaming Happened at a Good Time — “The Arlington School Board’s renaming of Washington-Lee High School was autocratic, manipulative, adversarial and punitive. In retrospect, though, they unwittingly did the W-L community a favor.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Candidates Support Stormwater Investment — “How it gets paid for (and by whom) perhaps is a question for another day, but the three candidates in the July 7 Arlington County Board special election voiced support for increased stormwater-management efforts. ‘We need to be making a generational investment,’ said Susan Cunningham, one of three candidates on the ballot seeking to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall.” [InsideNova]

Analysis of N. Arlington House Numbers — “In the ZIP code 22207, serif addresses vastly outnumber sans serif addresses, 7,759 to 2,111. Many blocks feature no sans serif houses at all, or just one or two. But in isolated pockets–individual blocks or even orange and red “hot zones” spread across a couple of streets–sans serif numbers are beginning to break through.” [Slate]

How a Local Chiropractic Practice Is Doing — “Some businesses are still trying to get adjusted to the flow of business in the new normal. ‘I would say we’re about 75% close to where we were before,’ Dr. Hooman Hamidi said. Hamidi is a chiropractor in Arlington, Va. When the global pandemic shut things down, his business slowed to a crawl.” [WUSA 9]

Galaxy Hut Staying Takeout-Only, For Now — “Based on what we’ve seen, we still don’t feel it’s the safest option to allow people to hang out at our restaurants at this time. Instead, we will be expanding our pickup hours and introducing some new yums at both Galaxy Hut and Spacebar in the coming weeks.” [Facebook]

ACPD to Report More Traffic Stop Info — “The Community Policing Act, Virginia House Bill 1250, takes effect July 1, 2020. This law requires law enforcement and State Police to collect certain information from the driver during all motor vehicle (traffic) and investigatory stops and prohibits law enforcement officers and State Police from engaging in bias-based policing.” [Arlington County]

New Laws Taking Effect Today — “Marijuana will be decriminalized, local governments will have the ability to take down Confederate monuments, and Virginians will pay more in taxes for gasoline and cigarettes starting Wednesday. July 1 is the start date for most of the new laws passed earlier this year by the General Assembly.” [Associated Press]

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A pair of agreements on Saturday’s County Board docket could strengthen the ties between the water systems operated by Arlington and Fairfax counties.

One agreement would formalize an existing arrangement, in which each water system serves a few hundred of the other county’s customers. Arlington currently serves 369 Fairfax customers along Powhatan Street in the McLean/Falls Church area, while Fairfax serves 313 Arlington customers in the Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods.

An older agreement was formerly in place between Arlington and the City of Falls Church, before the latter system was acquired by Fairfax Water in 2014. The new agreement would codify the existing arrangement. A county staff report says that about $4,000 changes hands annually to adjust for differences in water usage between the cross-jurisdictional customers.

The second agreement would have a more tangible outcome.

It calls for construction of a nearly $3 million water main between the two water systems, under Powhatan Street in Fairfax County. Arlington would pay just over $2 million of the cost, but the new, 16-inch transmission pipe would be maintained by Fairfax County.

The new infrastructure would serve as an emergency link between the Arlington and Fairfax County water systems, which get drinking water from different treatment plants. Fairfax County has two of its own plants, which source water from the Occoquan Reservoir and Potomac River. Arlington gets its water from the Washington Aqueduct, on the D.C./Maryland border, which sources its water from the Potomac.

While Arlington has several redundant transmission mains running under the Potomac and Chain Bridge from D.C., the aqueduct is its sole water source.

“The Powhatan Street Main project is budgeted in the Utilities portion of the Fiscal Year 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan,” notes the county staff report on the agreement. “Sufficient funds are available in the Utility Construction Fund to provide for the construction of this project.”

With Fairfax County funding the pipe’s maintenance, “the only future costs would be the wholesale cost of water purchased during times of emergency, which would be funded from the Utilities Fund operating budget.”

More from the staff report:

In or about 2005, a project was completed by Arlington County and the City of Falls Church that placed into service within the former City of Falls Church water distribution system approximately 2,050 feet of 16-inch water main on North Powhatan Street from North Rockingham Street to just south of Franklin Cluster Court (the “Phase I Main”). Fairfax Water and Arlington desire that Fairfax Water design and construct an extension to the existing Phase I Main (“Powhatan Street Project”). The Powhatan Street Project would consist of the construction of a 16-inch water main that would tie into the Phase I Main and extend it approximately 3,000 feet along Powhatan Street to connect to Fairfax Water’s existing 24-inch water main at Kirby Road (“Powhatan Street Main” and, together with the Phase I Main, the “Powhatan Transmission Main”). Upon completion of the Powhatan Street Project, the Powhatan Transmission Main would connect the Fairfax Water System and the Arlington Water System in this location for use in emergency situations and as described in the attached agreement.

Fairfax Water will procure engineering and construction services for the design and construction of the Powhatan Street Main along Powhatan Street from the existing 24-inch water main at Kirby Road to the existing 16-inch water main south of Franklin Cluster Court. The design and construction of the Powhatan Street Main will include all necessary meters, valves and other required appurtenances. Arlington will pay a percentage of the costs associated with the design and construction.

Fairfax Water will own, operate, maintain and repair the Powhatan Transmission Main at its sole expense. The Powhatan Transmission Main will be a part of the Fairfax Water System.

This project provides redundancy for Arlington County’s water supply in case of emergency. Currently, its sole water supply is from the Washington Aqueduct.

Map via Google Maps

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