A majority of construction-caused natural gas line ruptures in Arlington occur despite excavators calling Miss Utility to locate underground utility systems prior to digging, according to the latest figures.
For fiscal year 2015, Washington Gas, the local gas utility that serves Arlington, reported 48 incidents of damage to its gas distribution system in the county. Of these incidents, 73% were caused by excavators, and, of those, 63% occurred despite the contractors calling Virginia 811, the state’s Miss Utility call center, prior to excavation, the utility said.
As recently as late July, a gas leak was reported on S. Fillmore Street in an Arlington neighborhood with a mixture of single family homes, duplexes and apartment complexes. Four blocks were shut down after the gas began to leak out. Reports suggested a construction crew working on the sidewalks ruptured a 3/4-inch gas line.
Digging damage to other underground utility systems like water mains and fiber optic cables also are common, though statistics on those incidents were not immediately available. Because of the combustibility of natural gas, utilities are required by the state of Virginia to keep records on gas line ruptures.
Employees with Arlington County’s water and utilities division ruptured a water main on Aug. 30 as they were doing excavation work on a residential street to connect a new water pipe to a house undergoing major renovations, causing an eight-hour water outage in the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls neighborhood.
The rupture occurred even though surveyors had come to the 22nd Street N. site prior to the excavation work to spray paint yellow, blue and other colors marking where underground utility systems were located.
The markings showing the location of the underground water main that serves a portion of the neighborhood were not accurate, according to county workers at the scene. The colors indicating the existence of an underground water line appeared to be at least three feet from where the water main was actually located.
Frustrated by the water main rupture, the workers complained that the mapping of underground utility systems is routinely inaccurate. Arlington County uses a contractor, Double H. Locates LLC, for locating and marking of the county’s water mains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers and county fiber optic lines prior to excatvation. For natural gas lines, Washington Gas contracts with UtiliQuest. Double H. Locates did not return calls for comment about the water main rupture.
“Most of the time our markings are accurate, but occasionally there are errors,” Arlington County Chief Support Engineer Dave Hundelt said about the water main damage. “We need more time to investigate this particular instance, but if we hit a utility that was marked, mismarked or unmarked we report it to that utility company and work with them to coordinate repairs to our respective utilities to get customers back in service as soon as possible.”
The science of locating underground utility systems using remote-sensing instruments and maps provided by utilities remains very challenging, even for the best firms, according to Michael Maguire, president of Accurate Infrastructure Data Inc., a Baltimore-based company that provides underground utility investigation, subsurface utility engineering, surveying and mapping services.
These locator companies recognize their work is not foolproof.
“The underground is a complex environment,” Maguire said. “The congestion of underground utilities or the weakness of the conductor that represents the underground utility line can lead to less-than-fully accurate locations. Even under the best of circumstances, with the most diligent practitioners in the field, you can get misled. You can get fooled and end up with a location that’s not a correct depiction of where the utility actually exists. There are those practitioners who are perhaps less careful.”
Excavators are reminded constantly to call Miss Utility before digging. The call center will notify utility companies when excavation work is proposed in the vicinity of their utility system and then each utility has the responsibility to send out surveyors to locate and mark the utilities on the ground.
Arlington County is a member of Virginia 811, a not-for-profit organization created by Virginia’s utilities. Virginia 811 has more than 600 utility members, as large as Verizon and Dominion Virginia Power and as small as water utility systems with only 20 or 30 customers.
“The depth of the water main has made this a more complicated repair and weather is also slowing us down,” said Jessica Baxter. “The estimated completion is now midnight tonight. We’ll continue to monitor progress and communicate any updates.”
Update at 1:55 p.m. — The office building at 2001 Jefferson Davis Highway is affected too, the county has confirmed.
A water main break has closed a road and at least one building in Crystal City.
Crews are currently working to repair the 12-inch water main, which broke last night. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says an office building and an apartment building are affected; ARLnow.com has heard reports of other buildings without water in the area.
“Buildings 2111 and 2221 S. Clark Street are currently impacted,” said DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “Repairs will continue through the day and the estimated time of completion is 6 p.m., barring complications. South Clark Street is closed between 20th and 23rd Street, however, Jefferson Davis Highway remains open and traffic is flowing.”
Last night co-working space WeWork, which is located at 2221 S. Clark Street, told customers in an email that the building would be closed today.
A water main break is affecting people citywide this evening in Crystal City. This affects our water and HVAC and we are closing the building tomorrow until water has been restored. We will communicate with you as soon as we hear from the city.
In the meantime, you are welcome to work out of any other DC WeWork location. Please reach out to the Crystal City team with any questions. Thank you for your patience and support as we work to rectify this situation.
The WeWork Crystal City Team
This week is National Public Works Week, and to mark the occasion Arlington County has released some crazy stats from its public works division, the Dept. of Environmental Services.
Here’s what the county says DES has done over the past year:
- “Collected some 34,000 tons of trash and another 31,000 tons of recycling curbside”
- “Carried more than 2.8 million passengers on Arlington Transit (ART) bus trips”
- “Paved 92 of the County’s 974 lane miles”
- “Filled 12,100 potholes in 2015, and 4,917 so far in 2016”
- “Cleaned and lined 57,000 linear feet of storm sewer pipe”
- “Fixed 217 water main breaks”
- “Replaced approximately three miles of water mains”
- “Cleaned and lined 2,300 linear feet of water mains”
- “Collected more than 2,300 tons of debris and sediment through street sweeping”
In a press release, the county noted that many of the jobs performed by DES crews took place while the average Arlington resident was sleeping or enjoying their weekend.
“Drinking water, trash, public transit, the sewers, streets and sidewalks rarely take a holiday,” the press release said. “Even County buildings need someone to maintain them, and it’s hard to vacuum or paint during regular business hours.”
Said County Manager Mark Schwartz:
“Every time you leave collection bins at the curb, pause for the crosswalk light or run the tap to brush your teeth, you’re interacting with the County’s Department of Environmental Services.
Sometimes the best work is the work you don’t notice. In Arlington we’re fortunate to have such dedicated, skillful men and women supporting our vital infrastructure.”
Water Main Repairs to Close Road — Arlington Ridge Road is scheduled be closed in both directions at 23rd Street S. from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. today for water main repairs. Detours will be in place, but drivers should consider alternate routes, Arlington County says.
Airport Strike is Back on Starting Tonight — A strike by contract service workers at Reagan National and other major U.S. airports is back on, starting tonight. The strike was initially planned for last week but was postponed due to the Brussels terror attacks. [Washington Post]
Arson Suspect Due in Arlington Court — A Reston man suspected of a home invasion and arson in Fairfax County is scheduled to be in an Arlington courtroom tomorrow. Antwan Green is also facing multiple charges stemming from crashing a stolen vehicle in Arlington on Dec. 10 and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. [Reston Now]
Fundraiser for Accessible Community Garden — Arlington County is trying to raise $10,000 from donors in order to build four “vertical gardens” that are accessible to those with disabilities or mobility issues. Currently, none of the county’s community gardens are accessible. The vertical gardens would be built at the Glebe & Lang Street Community Garden, along S. Glebe Road. The county is hoping to complete fundraising and construction by the end of June. [Fund Your Park]
Arlington Startup Acquired — Arlington-based startup Encore Alert has been acquired by Meltwater, a San Francisco-based brand analytics and consulting firm. As a result of the acquisition, the Encore Alert team has moved to the Bay Area. [DC Inno]
Co-Working Growing Quickly — Co-working providers are growing quickly and are expected by some analysts “to absolutely explode over the next five years.” Two of the top players are WeWork, which just opened a new office in Crystal City, and MakeOffices, which is opening a new flagship co-working space in Clarendon within the next few months. MakeOffices is based in Rosslyn, after being founded as UberOffices in 2012. [Bisnow]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
Southbound traffic is being detoured between Patrick Henry Drive and 20th Street, just south of Lee Highway, according to the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services. The closure is due to emergency water main repairs, said an Arlington Alert email.
“Seek alternate routes,” DES said via Twitter.
Separately, Marshall Drive remains closed tonight near the Iwo Jima Memorial due to a sinkhole reported this morning. Repairs to the roadway are still underway, according to scanner traffic.
Crews are working to repair a sinkhole on Marshall Drive next to Iwo Jima Memorial. Road closure in effect. pic.twitter.com/qHwp8rhH2C
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) March 10, 2016
Photo (top) via Google Maps
One block of N. Herndon Street in Lyon Village is closed due to a water main break.
The break happened below the road, between N. Jackson Street and Key Blvd. Crews are on scene preparing to repair the water main.
Repairs are expected to be completed around 11 p.m. Between 5 and 20 water customers are affected, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Photos by Justin Funkhouser
Revolutionary War-Themed Bar Coming to Clarendon — The Spirits of 76, a new Revolutionary War-themed bar from the general manager of Georgetown’s former Rhino Bar, is coming to Clarendon. The bar will be built in the former Taste of Morocco space at 3211 Washington Blvd, between O’Sullivan’s and the new “European inspired” Park Lane Tavern. Spirits of 76 hopes, optimistically, to open in April. [Washington Business Journal]
Geese from Oil Spill Released — About 20 Canada geese that were affected by the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary oil spill last month have been released back to the Potomac. Some 60 waterfowl were covered in oil as a result of the spill and 29 died, according to the Coast Guard. Dominion recently admitted that the oil came from its Crystal City power substation. [Washington Post]
Emergency Water Main Repairs in Clarendon — The westbound lanes of 10th Street N. in Clarendon are closed between N. Hudson and N. Irving streets for emergency water main repairs, according to Arlington Alerts.
Superintendent Hoping for No More Snow Days — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy is crossing his fingers for an early spring. “Believe me: I want to be back in school on a regular basis more than any of you,” Murphy told School Board members last week. Meanwhile, one local civic activist wants teachers to return to school before students following major snowstorms. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Wilson Blvd is closed between Rosslyn and Courthouse due to a water main break.
The closure is between N. Quinn and Rhodes streets, in front of the Colonial Village Shopping Center. Traffic is being diverted onto N. Quinn Street.
As of 3:15 p.m., water was still flowing from 2-3 areas where the roadway had buckled and cracked from the pressure of the burst water main.
The closure is expected to remain in effect throughout the evening rush hour, according to Arlington County. Drivers are being encouraged to seek alternate routes.
Water Main Break in Courthouse — Courthouse Road is closed between Route 50 and 14th Street N., near the police station, due to a water main break that was discovered overnight. Repairs are still underway as of this morning’s rush hour. [WTOP]
Arlington Scores New Office Tenant in Va. Square — Arlington County will fill 50,000 square feet of vacant office space in Virginia Square thanks to a new tenant. GW Medical Faculty Associates will be moving into 3811 N. Fairfax Drive this coming spring, creating more than 200 jobs. [Arlington County]
Secret Chopsticks Open Today — The previously secretive Secret Chopsticks is planning to open to the public today. The 120-seat upscale, white tablecloth Chinese restaurant is located at 1850 Fort Myer Drive, on the ground floor of the Turnberry Tower condominium. [Washingtonian]
Garvey Wants Strategic Plan for County — Should County Board member Libby Garvey become the board chair next year, she wants to develop a strategic plan for Arlington. “We really don’t have one,” she said over the weekend. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Arlington County plans to make permanent repairs to a sinkhole on Williamsburg Blvd in the coming weeks.
The sinkhole first appeared in February due to a water main break which created a small geyser near the corner of Williamsburg Blvd and Sycamore Street.
The temporary repairs, now several months old, allowed the road to reopen but are not a permanent solution. A large indentation in the road is “still there and getting worse,” with some cars having to swerve onto the median to avoid the hazard, according to resident Joe Keeley.
Permanent patching is scheduled for the “trouble spot” sometime within the next two weeks, according to Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Baxter said that the repairs in February were indeed temporary, and that final repairs had not taken place yet partially because hot mix asphalt — the material needed for permanent repairs — is not typically available in the winter months.
Instead, Baxter said that road crews used cold mix asphalt to perform temporary repairs and planned to return for final repairs when the weather warmed up.
In this case, Baxter said the road requires a full-depth repair, which involves installing a new sub-base layer of gravel and replacing both the base and top base layers of the road. Repairs are expected to cost approximately $3,500.
Water Main Repairs Continue — Emergency water main repairs that started last night are continuing on Washington Blvd at N. Kensington Street. Drivers should expect traffic impacts, particularly during the morning rush hour. [Twitter]
Beyer Blasts Proposed Metro Cut — A U.S. House committee has released a plan to cut federal funding of Metro for maintenance and safety upgrades in half next year. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) blasted the plan, calling it “shortsighted” and saying it will “jeopardize rider safety [and] derail improvements to the system.” [NBC Washington]
Cherrydale Tea Shop Owner Profiled — Lyndsey DePalma, owner of House of Steep, is doing what she loves in running the Cherrydale tea shop. Despite the store exceeding financial expectations, however, DePalma is still “earning far less” than she did in her previous job as a human resources manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers. [Career 2.0]
County Manager Won’t Be Hired Until 2016 — The permanent successor for retiring Arlington County Board member Barbara Donnellan won’t be selected until 2016. The decision was made so that the two new, yet-to-be-elected County Board members replacing Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes have a chance to weigh in. In the meantime, Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz will serve as acting County Manager after Donnellan retires on June 30. [InsideNova]
Rothstein to Bisnow — ARLnow reporter Ethan Rothstein will be leaving the site to report on commercial real estate for Bisnow. Rothstein’s last day is May 15. [Washingtonian]
Endorsements in School Board Race — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — School Board candidate Sharon Dorsey has picked up endorsements from Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson, outgoing School Board member Abby Raphael and former School Board member Noah Simon. “Sharon Dorsey’s business and technology background along with her knowledge of education issues make her the right choice,” Ferguson said in a statement. Dorsey’s opponent in the race for the Democratic School Board endorsement, Reid Goldstein, has been endorsed by School Board member Nancy Van Doren, former state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple and County Board member Jay Fisette, among others.
Sephora Coming to Clarendon — Skincare and cosmetics retailer Sephora has signed a lease at Market Common Clarendon. The company plans to open a store at the shopping center later this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Contractor Causes Flood in Rosslyn — A contractor on a backhoe caused a mini flood on Wilson Blvd yesterday afternoon, after striking a fire hydrant line. The incident also caused several hours of water service disruptions in the area. It’s at least the second time in the past few months that someone at the construction site hit a water line and caused flooding. [WJLA]
New Website for Rep. Beyer — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) launched a newly redesigned website this week. The site features a background image of Rosslyn and the Potomac River. [U.S. House of Representatives]
Village Sweet Bakery Opens — Village Sweet, a new bakery in Westover, opened for business on Tuesday. Owner Dawn Hart decided to open the brick-and-mortar store as an expansion of Monster Cookie Co., her online, customized sugar cookie business. The bakery is located at 5872 Washington Blvd, next to Lost Dog Cafe. [Facebook, Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Auditor Bill — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed Del. Patrick Hope’s bill that will allow the Arlington County Board to hire an independent auditor. The bill will become law in July. Board members Jay Fisette, Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt say they support the hiring of an independent auditor. Board member Walter Tejada, who’s retiring at the end of the year, has expressed reservations about the position. [InsideNova]
Signature Casts Wesley Taylor — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has cast Wesley Taylor — who has held prominent roles on NBC’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” — in its upcoming production of “Cabaret.” The show will run from May 12 to June 28. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Reward Paid for Bank Robbery Tip — Arlington County Crime Solvers has paid a reward for a tip received that led to the arrest of a bank robbery suspect. The tipster called a 1-800 number to leave a tip after seeing a press release about the Dec. 6 robbery at Capital One Bank in Ballston Common Mall. [Arlington County]
Williamsburg Middle School Closed Monday — Williamsburg Middle School was closed Monday due to a pipe that burst over the weekend, damaging part of the school. [WUSA 9]
‘CoworkCafe’ Launches in Clarendon — A new coworking space concept called CoworkCafe has launched in the lounge next to Boccato Gelato in Clarendon. For $150-200 per month, those seeking to get work done can access the lounge as often as they like. They also get a $50 credit toward food and beverage. [Washington Business Journal]
Solar Co-Op Launching in Arlington — A group of Arlington residents is banding together to form a solar co-op, which will allow members to obtain bulk discounts on the purchase and installation of home solar power equipment. [Sun Gazette, Virginia Sun]
‘Soulless’ Tweeter Spotted in Arlington — Byron Tau, the Wall Street Journal reporter who asked last week if Arlington was the “most soulless place in the United States,” was photographed over the weekend smiling widely at Courthouse’s Fire Works Pizza. “No comment on the record,” Tau tweeted in response to the photo. [Twitter]
Reminder: Pothole, Water Main Break Reporting — As the freeze, thaw, refreeze cycle continues during the month of February, numerous water main breaks and large potholes have been reported around Arlington. If you spot one that needs to be fixed, you can quickly file a report about it via the following “report a problem” online form. [Arlington County]
(Updated at 11:00 a.m.) A sizable sinkhole has formed on Williamsburg Blvd due to a water main break.
The sinkhole is located in a crosswalk, in a southbound lane of Williamsburg Blvd just off of Sycamore Street and the Williamsburg Circle.
A photo tweeted by Arlington County Police shows a small geyser of water inside a deep crater in the roadway.
“We usually recommend using a crosswalk…but maybe not this one at Williamsburg & Sycamore Street,” the police department said via Twitter.
Drivers should expect limited access to Williamsburg Blvd near the sinkhole and a lengthy repair process, according to Arlington County. A second possible sinkhole was also reported this morning, near road work at Washington Blvd and N. Ohio Street.
Photo via ACPD
Residents in various parts of South Arlington have reported low or no water pressure following a significant water main break.
The water pressure problems appear to stem from a large water main break on S. Dinwiddie Street at 9th Street, near Columbia Pike and the Arlington Mill Community Center.
Via Twitter, Arlington County reports that emergency repairs are underway, but may take until midnight tonight to complete.
Residents in the Fairlington, Shirlington, Barcroft, Columbia Forest and Claremont neighborhoods all reported water pressure problems this morning.
— Christopher Anderson (@05ChrisAnderson) January 25, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom There appears to be a water main break in south Arlington. Locations in north and south Fairlington have no water right now.
— Debby Bowman (@bowmandj626) January 25, 2015
— Dennis Dimick (@ddimick) January 25, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom water out in Claremont. Any information about this?
— Tom Przystawik (@cheftomsays) January 25, 2015
— Dharma George (@DharmaDG) January 25, 2015