(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
The road closure is expected to last until around midnight, as crews complete repairs, according to an Arlington alert.
Authorities are also concerned that the water on the roadway may turn to ice as the temperature dips below freezing overnight.
(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) A broken water main has filled a section of Four Mile Run Drive with water, causing emergency crews to shut down the road while it is undergoing repair.
The break is near the intersection of Four Mile Run Drive and S. Cleveland Street, near the intersection of S. Glebe Road and W. Glebe Road, I-395 and the Alexandria border.
Arlington County Police Department and fire crews are responding to the area. According to scanner traffic, there may be “multiple” breaks in a “pretty big line,” and it may affect water service in the area.
County Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said the line is 12 inches big and the break has affected about 150 customers in the area.
“Repairs will continue through the late evening and commuters are advised to avoid the area and seek alternate routes,” Baxter said.
Last winter, a 16-inch water main burst on S. Arlington Mill Drive in Shirlington, causing water pressure to be significantly affected in large swaths of the area, and causing Abingdon Elementary School and the Fairlington Community Center to close. Repairs to that line took more than 48 hours to complete.
As of noon, water was continuing to flow out of the break, but traffic on Glebe Road is moving through. The section of Four Mile Run Drive that is closed is not connected to the one that runs from Columbia Pike to the Weenie Beenie near Shirlington.
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) The snow has stopped and the sun came out this afternoon, but the bad weather news might not be over yet with below-freezing temperatures expected tonight and tomorrow.
Arlington is continuing its efforts to clear the roads and is on Phase 3 of its snow removal process, clearing residential side streets, county staff said this afternoon.
Crews will monitor temperatures and conditions and will be “handling any re-freeze that is expected overnight and early tomorrow morning,” according to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Despite the end of the snowfall and the fallen snow beginning to melt, roads are still slick in places. According to scanner traffic, a Metrobus hit a fire hydrant near Fairlington at around 3:45 p.m.
The county pre-treated roads with brine yesterday afternoon and early this morning, but according to DES Chief Operations Engineer Dave Hundelt, via a county press release, “the pre-treatment was not enough for Tuesday’s heavier-than-
“Based on the weather forecasts, our crews anticipated a much milder snow event today,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “By the time it was clear that frigid temperatures were causing hazardous conditions, thousands of commuters and parents driving kids to school were already on the move. As our crews worked hard to treat and plow roads, we urged people to stay off the roads as much as possible.”
Baxter confirmed that some county vehicles were involved in traffic accidents today, but said DES wouldn’t have a final incident summary for several days. The Arlington County Police Department answered 203 calls during the storm, including 96 for traffic accidents and 65 for traffic complaints.
The Virginia Department of Transportation, which is responsible for maintaining Route 50, I-66, Washington Blvd and I-395, said road conditions are “improving” but asked drivers to exercise caution for the evening commute.
“Commuters should see some improvement on their trip home after a long and difficult commute this morning,” Branco Vlacich, VDOT assistant district administrator for maintenance in northern Virginia, said in a press release. “However, with these very cold temperatures, the salt and chemicals used are much less effective. We ask drivers to use extra caution tonight and tomorrow morning and allow extra time for their commute.”
High-use trails in the county were cleared of snow this morning, according to county Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Roberta Korzen, and crews are making a second pass-through to prevent freezing.
“Our teams were scheduled to work eight-hour shifts, but we are now changing to 12-hour shifts to remove as much snow as possible before freezing temperatures occur,” Kurt Louis, Parks and Natural Resources Division Chief, said in an email.
As if the snow itself wasn’t enough for drivers to contend with, a water main broke at around 3:00 p.m. on N. Pershing Drive and N. Oakland Street, and repairs are expected to last through the evening rush hour. Cars can still get through, but motorists should avoid the area if possible.
Water from the break and any snow melting could create serious problems if the crews can’t treat the roads, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang warns. “Given the risk for refreezing, slow speeds and plenty of room is advised for the morning commute on Wednesday,” CWG wrote this afternoon.
In response to the frigid temperatures, Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter is open all day today and will be open all day tomorrow, the county says.
ART bus service has also been altered to avoid troublesome roads. From the county, here are the routes affected:
- ART Route 61 will not service 12 street and Queen and will use Arlington Boulevard/Route 50 instead.
- ART Routes 75 will not service Fredrick Street and will use Columbus instead.
- ART Routes 42, 45, and 77 will not service Courthouse Road, and will take Walter Reed instead.
Arlington Ridge Road is closed between I-395 and 20th Street S. tonight due to a water main break.
Crews are currently digging up a portion of the road near the Hume School in an effort to repair the water main. The closure is expected to remain in effect through the evening rush hour.
Traffic is backed up on I-395 approaching the Ridge Road exit. Drivers attempting to head south on Arlington Ridge Road from Army Navy Drive are being directed onto I-395.
The southbound lanes of S. Walter Reed Drive are expected to remain closed throughout Wednesday’s evening rush hour as crews work to repair a large water main break.
The 16-inch water main burst this morning on Walter Reed Drive near Pollard Street, causing a messy and slippery commute for some drivers as the water runoff turned to ice. Crews thought they had isolated the leak around 11:00 a.m., but we’re told that the leak reopened this afternoon, meaning the repairs will take longer than first hoped.
Police are on scene helping to control traffic. A detour has been set up for those heading southbound on Walter Reed Drive between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. One northbound lane of Walter Reed Drive remains open.
“At this point, lane closures and detours are expected to stay through rush hour,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.
Walter Reed Drive Water Main Break — Drivers should expect traffic impacts and slippery conditions when driving on Walter Reed Drive in the area of S. Pollard Street, between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. The water from a 16-inch water main break has frozen and the southbound lanes of Walter Reed Drive are reportedly blocked. [Twitter]
School Board Candidates Critical of Budget Proposal — The three candidates running for the Democratic endorsement in the Arlington School Board race have qualms with Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s proposed $539.4 million budget. Specifically, the candidates were concerned about Murphy’s proposed cuts to diploma programs for students over the age of 22. [Sun Gazette]
Opower Prepares for IPO — Courthouse-based energy efficiency tech firm Opower is preparing for a $100 million Initial Public Offering. The company, which has been losing millions every year as it focuses on growth, will go public under the New York Stock Exchange OPWR. [InTheCapital]
Registration Open for Phoenix Derby — Registration is now open for the inaugural Phoenix Derby. The urban cyclocross bicycle race will be held on May 17 in a Crystal City parking garage. The event will benefit local bike education nonprofit Phoenix Bikes, which is in the process of raising funds for construction of a new headquarters along the W&OD Trail. [Crystal City]
Peak Bloom Date Predicted — The National Park Service revealed its cherry blossom peak bloom prediction yesterday. The famous blossoms are expected to be at their peak from April 8-12. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Those roads fall below 60 percent on the Pavement Condition Index scale, which is an indicator that those roads are susceptible to “more rapidly” developing potholes. On average, Arlington’s roads sit at 69.8 percent, according to county Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau Chief Harry Wang.
Wang cautioned against categorizing Arlington’s roads as above-average or below-average nationally. But he said Arlington’s recent resident survey that cited road conditions as a main concern was evidence that the county should not be satisfied.
“That means that 70 percent [PCI] is not good enough,” Wang told the Arlington County Board yesterday. “There are many lane miles and surface areas that need great attention.”
The county plans to pave 72 miles of roads this year, a jump from 49 miles each of the last two years. County Manager Barbara Donnellan said they plan to increase that number next year — and discuss road conditions in more detail — during Capital Improvement Program discussions.
Wang said county streets maintenance staff is currently driving on main and arterial roads replacing potholes. About 80 percent of the county’s main roads have had their potholes repaired, he said, and the rest should be completed by the end of this week.
“We’re not waiting for complaints to come in,” he said. “We just drive zone by zone and see whatever needs to be fixed.”
Wang also said that between Jan. 8 and Feb. 20, the county has had to perform 89 repairs on water mains, and average of 2.1 breaks per day. The average age of the county’s water mains is 55 years, and he said 90 percent of the mains that have broken or cracked are older than 55 years.
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
These two water main breaks illustrate yet another respect in which the County Board’s budget priorities are badly out of whack. The County Board has spent, or is proposing to spend, millions of dollars on extravagant design elements at a dog park in Clarendon and an Aquatics Center at Long Bridge Park, while Arlington’s water mains and classrooms are bursting.
On Jan. 28, ARLnow.com posted another story on water main breaks. That story highlighted the fact that “Arlington has 500 miles of water mains, 60 percent of which are 55 years or older”, with the oldest dating to 1927.
A county video accompanying the Jan. 28 story sometimes strikes a condescending tone. It proceeds from the faulty premise that water main breaks are “unavoidable.” The video’s message: learn to live with them. The video explains why old water mains break. Surprise: it’s because they’re old and decaying!
What Arlington County needs is a much more aggressive program of water main replacement, not the Que Será, Será attitude displayed in this county video. Of course, some water mains would still break even with a more aggressive replacement program. But, we would avoid many other breaks. The County Board knows this. The Board simply is devoting far too little of our money to replace water mains, while devoting far too much of our money to its vanity projects.
In May 2013, the County Board approved a $1.8 million project for water main “rehabilitation.” “These rehabilitation projects help the County extend the life of water mains and lines, stretch tax dollars and prevent expensive and disruptive main breaks,” Walter Tejada boasted.
The county’s press release went on to explain that “every year, the County selects water mains based on age, frequency of main breaks, and reduction in flow capacity for rehabilitation at a fraction of the cost of new construction and with minimal disruption to the community.”
Translation: we are putting lipstick on a pig because we are squandering your money elsewhere. We are adopting this rehabilitation program because we don’t have enough money left over to replace our aging water mains as fast as we should.
“Rehabilitating” water mains and providing more “relocatable” classrooms is a cop out. Arlington County needs to get back to basics by prioritizing the needs of its core services like water mains and schools.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
The evening drive has gotten a bit tougher for some commuters.
Arlington Ridge Road will be closed in both directions between the ramp to and from I-395 and 20th Street S. through the evening rush hour, according to an Arlington Alert. The closure is due to a water main break.
Drivers are advised to seek alternate routes.
Updated at 3:10 p.m. — Westbound Lee Highway will remain closed during the evening rush hour between N. Buchanan Street and N. Columbus Street as crews continue water main repairs. Seek alternate routes if possible.
The westbound lanes of Lee Highway are shut down near Glebe Road due to a reported water main break.
We’re told that both westbound lanes of Lee Highway are closed between N. Columbus and Buchanan Streets, just west of Glebe Road. Eastbound lanes remain open. Repairs are expected to take the better part of the day.
Businesses in the area are being impacted by the water main break.
“Businesses along Lee Hwy between N. Culpeper St and N. Glebe Rd will be without water for up to 5 hours as repairs are underway,” Arlington County said.
One possible detour for drivers would be to go north on Glebe Road, turn left on 25th Street N., then left on George Mason Drive, before returning to Lee Highway.
Image via Google Maps
According to a new county-produced video (above), Arlington has 500 miles of water mains, 60 percent of which are 55 years or older. The oldest water main in the county dates back to 1927. Such water mains are vulnerable to rapid temperature changes.
“In the winter months, with extreme temperature fluctuations, breaks and leaks are common,” the video narrator says. “Crew members are prepared to work in all weather conditions, day or night, to return water mains to service as soon as possible.”
Arlington water officials monitor water pressure changes that could be a sign of a water main break. But the county also relies on reports from citizens.
To report a water main break, residents can call Arlington’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 703-228-6555.
A water main break has been reported on S. Scott Street, near the intersection with Columbia Pike.
Cars are being towed from the area to allow crews to dig and access the broken water main.
No word yet on how large the water main is nor how long repairs might take.
Update at 10:45 a.m. — It was an 8-inch cast iron water main that burst, according to Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy. Water service to the apartment building on S. Scott Street is impacted by the break. Repair crews are on scene.
ACFD Engine 108 encountered some unforeseen problems while responding to a water main break in the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood this morning.
The water main break was reported on the 1700 block of N. Harrison Street, a couple of blocks from Virginia Hospital Center. The road is closed and police are redirecting traffic, according to and Arlington Alert.
The fire truck was spotted about 50 feet from the water main break on 17th Street N., with its right front tire stuck in a freshly-formed, apparent sinkhole. No word yet on damage.
Photos courtesy Drew Stephens