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
Repair crews are still working to repair the 16-inch water main that burst yesterday morning in Shirlington.
According to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher, water pressure was normal for the Fairlington Community Center as of 1:00 p.m. However, just before 4:00 p.m., Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation announced that the community center would remain closed all night Wednesday.
Repair work is running into complications and crews are widening the pit size for safety reasons. We are estimating a minimum of 4 hours away from completion. Traffic is still in the mode of one lane for each direction on Arlington Mill Drive. Valve crew confirmed that water pressure was normal for the Fairlington Community Center at about 1 p.m.
Update at 6:00 p.m. — Repairs are now expected to continue into Thursday.
Crews have halted repair work today due to the unstable bank, warranting unsafe operation. Repair work will resume tomorrow morning with the equipment needed to reshape the bank. Pumps will run overnight to prevent residual water damage. Traffic remains open with one lane on each direction on Arlington Mill Drive. There is no change on the condition of the Fairlington water pressure from the last update.
Repairs to a burst 16-inch water main in Shirlington have resumed after crews took a break for the night.
Arlington County is hoping to complete the repairs — and restore water pressure to the Fairlington neighborhood — by 5:00 p.m. From Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher:
The crew resumed repair work at 9 a.m. today. The traffic on Arlington Mill Drive will be partially open with one lane on each direction. If there are no complications, crews should complete repairs in 6 to 8 hours and traffic will be back to normal. Fairlington area will remain on low water pressure until the 16-inch main resumes operation. The crew is continuing work to get additional sources of water for Fairlington.
Two water mains in south Arlington broke this morning, requiring major repairs and closing roads and county buildings in the process.
A 16-inch water main burst on S. Arlington Mill Drive at the entrance to the Village at Shirlington early Tuesday, closing the road from S. Randolph Street to S. Taylor Street. The break caused Abingdon Elementary School and Fairlington Community Center to close for the day.
Some neighborhoods around the area lost water service this morning, but according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy
water has since been restored to all residents, as well as the school, as repairs continue. The line is being excavated and repairs are expected to last until late afternoon, Kennedy said.
A separate, smaller water main also broke in Nauck this morning. Repairs have closed S. Monroe Street between 24th and 25th Streets as a result.
Update at 3:55 p.m. — Repairs on the 16-inch line are taking longer than expected. Residents in Fairlington will have little or no water pressure until the repairs are complete, according to DES spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.
The leaked 16 inch pipe has been exposed and workers found a long split. It may take another 5 to 6 hours from now to complete repairs. The traffic on Arlington Mill Drive will remain closed through early evening. The north entrance from Arlington Mill Drive to the garage located in Harris Teeter will be open by 4 p.m. to accommodate the tree lighting event. The attempts to open the other feed to Fairlington area were not successful. More repairs on valves will be done at a later date. As of now, Fairlington has no water or may be experiencing very low pressure. This situation will last until the 16 inch main is repaired.
Update at 7:15 p.m. — Repairs are continuing, Mincher says, but might stretch into Wednesday.
The intersection from Arlington Mill Drive to the north entrance of Harris Teeter’s Garage will remain closed. The traffic will stop at S. Randolph St. on Arlington Mill Drive.
The repair has run into complications with excessive water draining from the pipe that required more time to pump out. The replacement will be for two sections of pipe instead of one. These complications have added time to completion. The projected time of completion is approximately 5 ½ hours from now. The crew is complying with 16 safe-hour limit and will stop to continue in the morning if work is not completed by 10 pm. Night crew is working on a valve repair to restore water to Fairlington. If they finish early, they will supplement work on the pipe repair.
Update at 10:15 p.m. — County repair crews are calling it a day. Repairs will resume after rush hour tomorrow.
Crews will resume repair work tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. after the rush hour. This is due to the complications mentioned earlier and the 16 safe-hour limit. There will be one westbound lane open to traffic on Arlington Mill Drive and police will control the traffic throughout the night.
The Fairlington area will remain on low water pressure until the valve on the other line can be fixed.
Traffic is flowing again through the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road in Ballston, following a water main break that closed the busy intersection and a nearby ramp from I-66.
The water main break was reported around 9:00 Saturday night. According to a county spokeswoman, a 12-inch water main burst and flooded the intersection. Pavement bucked in several spots as a result of the break, we’re told by witnesses.
Police closed the intersection and closed the ramp from eastbound I-66 to Fairfax Drive while repairs were made. Arlington County water crews worked overnight to isolate the leak, repair the main and reopen the roads.
“It took [a] valve crew over five hours last night to isolate the leak location,” said Arlington County Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy, in an email. “Only the Marymount University Ballston Campus building (northwest corner of the intersection) was out of water.”
The repairs were completed and the roads reopened around 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. Anybody with concerns about their water service is asked to call Arlington’s 24-hour water emergency number: 703-228-6555.
Photos courtesy @Dressage74
Water Main Work Complete — Arlington County crews completed repairs on a 30″ water main near Arlington Boulevard and N. Irving Street Friday. As of Saturday, parts of the county that experienced low water pressure as a result of the repairs were back to normal service, according to the Department of Environmental Services.
New Asst. Superintendent Appointed — The Arlington School Board has appointed a new Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. Connie Skelton, a 22-year APS employee who started her career as a middle school science teacher, has been appointed to the position effective immediately. She replaces Dr. Mark Johnston, who was one of numerous senior APS staffers to depart since 2010. [Arlington Public Schools]
Vote on New Williamsburg School Expected Feb. 7 — School Board members are expected to vote on the concept for a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus on Feb. 7. The $43 million school project has attracted scrutiny from Fairfax County due to possible traffic impacts. [Sun Gazette]
Fmr. CIA Officer Sentenced — John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who lives in Arlington, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison. Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October to intentionally disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent to a journalist. [U.S. Dept. of Justice]
‘Unleashed’ Open at Pentagon Row — Unleashed by Petco, a new pet store, has opened at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street). The store offers “everyday pet essentials along with top-shelf natural, raw, organic, dehydrated and freeze-dried nutrition.” [Petco]
Repairs to a large 30-inch water main will continue into the weekend, causing continued low water pressure in a number of Arlington neighborhoods.
A leak was discovered in a 30-inch water main near the intersection of Arlington Boulevard and N. Irving Street last Wednesday. The leak necessitated the replacement of a portion of the water main.
Installation of the last section of pipe started this afternoon. According to Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman, the repairs are expected to wrap up this weekend, “barring unforeseen circumstances.”
While the 30-inch main remains out of service, residents of Alcova Heights, Arlington Heights, Barcroft, Buckingham, Douglas Park, Lyon Park, Penrose and other neighborhoods may experience low water pressure during peak use hours.
“County crews are systematically working to adjust valves to reduce the area of low pressure impact while repairs are underway,” DES said in an email. “The potential will continue for customers to experience low water pressure during the morning (6-9 a.m.) and evening (5-9 p.m.) peak hours until the repairs are complete.”
“We ask our customers to help reduce peak demand by minimizing water usage when possible (Example: running dishwashers and washing machines during off-peak hours and only when full, and showering at different times),” DES said.
While repairs on the main continue, the cold temperatures are causing more problems for Arlington’s water infrastructure.
Just this morning, DES crews responded to reported water main leaks at 26th Street S. and S. Clark Street in Crystal City, and at S. Orme Street and Columbia Pike, near the Sheraton National Hotel.
“With extremely low temperatures forecast this week, we may see additional leaks further reducing pressure in the system,” DES said. “If you see a leak, or have other water concerns, contact the Water Emergency hotline at 703-228-6555.”
Photos via Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services
Absentee Voting Bill Passes State Senate — The state Senate passed legislation that would allow residents age 65 and older to vote by absentee ballot without having to give an excuse. Currently, Virginians can only vote absentee if they meet one or more of the requirements on a list of reasons for not being able to make it to the polls on election day. Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) introduced similar legislation that failed in the House of Delegates. [Washington Post]
Water Main Issues Continue — Repairs on the broken 30 inch water main at Arlington Blvd and S. Irving Street are expected to take several more days. While draining the pipe on Sunday, a significant pressure drop occurred. Customers may experience low water pressure during peak times (6:00-9:00 a.m and 5:00-9:00 p.m.) and are asked to minimize water use during those times.
Landrum Extends Ray’s Free Burger Special — Owner Michael Landrum has decided to extend the Inauguration special he had been offering at Ray’s to the Third (1650 Wilson Blvd) after closing Ray’s Hell Burger across the street. Customers can get one free “Li’l Devils” burger from 11:30 a.m. until the last burger is given away. “We realized that our office neighbors didn’t get a chance to participate, so we wanted to extend it another day to give them a chance,” Landrum told ARLnow.com. It is suggested that customers receiving a free burger donate $5, which will go to local Boys and Girls Clubs.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The 30 inch water main that broke earlier this week at Arlington Blvd and S. Irving Street continues to cause water pressure trouble for residents in South Arlington.
Residents in Lyon Park, Buckingham, Douglas Park, Arlington Heights, Alcova Heights, Arlington Ridge and portions of Crystal City may be affected, along with portions of surrounding neighborhoods. According to the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services (DES), the worst pressure issues will likely be during peak times in the morning from 6:00-9:00 a.m., and in the evening from 5:00-9:00 p.m.
The county is asking residents to help reduce the pressure problems by minimizing water use at peak times. For example, run dishwashers and washing machines during off-peak hours or take a shower at a different time.
The affected water main is more than 60 years old and will remain out of service while the county brings in an expert who specializes in prestressed concrete cylinder pipes. County staff will also need to order or borrow the parts necessary for the repair. It’s unclear exactly how long the repair will take, but it could be up to a week.
Yesterday, low temperatures and the repair work prompted several leaks in neighborhoods near the water main, further reducing pressure in the system. Residents who see a leak or have other water concerns can contact the Water Emergency hotline at 703-228-6555.
“We appreciate the patience of Arlington residents as we continue to work through this challenging repair,” said DES Communications Specialist Myllisa Kennedy.
Low Water Pressure Issues Continue — Residents in parts of Lyon Park, Buckingham, Douglas Park, Nauck, Arlington Ridge and Crystal City may experience low water pressure this morning due to various water issues. According to Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, yesterday’s break in a 30-inch water main at Arlington Blvd and S. Irving Street is isolated and awaiting parts for additional repair work. Several water leaks also have been reported this morning at S. Stafford Street and 16th Road S., 26th Street S. and 26th Place S., and 31st Street S. and S. Woodrow Street.
Protein Bar Opens in Two Weeks — According to its Twitter feed, the new Protein Bar restaurant is set to open at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston on Wednesday, January 30. The restaurant will start serving its healthy food at 11:00 a.m.
MLK Tribute Speaker Changed — The keynote speaker for Arlington’s 44th Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been changed. Lehigh University Professor and Hip Hop Scholars, LLC founder Dr. James Braxton Peterson will now speak at the event, which takes place this Sunday, January 20, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street). The former speaker, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, can no longer attend due to a scheduling conflict, according to the county.