Press Club

A new interpretive sign is being installed near Bluemont Junction Park to explain how Jim Crow laws impacted passengers riding the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) train line.

The sign is being installed by NOVA Parks and will be outside of the retired train caboose along what is now the W&OD trail. The historic marker is a few minutes walk from Bluemont Junction Park’s parking lot at 601 N. Manchester Street.

First in operation in 1859, the W&OD was one of the most popular train lines in the region. It began in Alexandria, cut through Arlington, and terminated in what is today Loudoun County. The railroad closed in 1968, but not before helping to establish a number of Northern Virginia suburbs.

Like other forms of public transportation at the time, the trains were required by Virginia state law to be segregated. A number of these discriminatory laws in the Commonwealth were technically still on the books until early 2020.

As the new sign details, Black passengers (as well as Native Americans) were often forced to sit in the back of the train and curtains were sometimes installed to further separate passengers of different races. Passengers who didn’t adhere to this law were fined and arrested, much like Barbara Pope, who was arrested in Falls Church in 1906 for not sitting in a certain section.

“Knowing our past is important to understanding the present. Injustice and inequity were built into the law and part of everyday life not that long ago,” said Julius D. Spain, NAACP Arlington Branch President, in a press release. “The Arlington Chapter of the NAACP is pleased to partner with NOVA Parks to tell the story of how segregation was part of the rail service that is now the most popular trail in Virginia.”

While a temporary sign was first placed last week, a permanent marker is being installed this week, a NOVA Parks spokesperson tells ARLnow.

A formal unveiling is happening at 10 a.m. this Saturday (Feb. 19). Spain, NOVA Parks leaders, as well as some Arlington County Board members are expected to be in attendance.

“Efforts that educate about the impact of segregationist Jim Crow laws in our community are essential: They remind us of our responsibility to ensure that our parks, transit and other services are inclusive and equitable for the present, and for generations to come,” said County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “I’m honored to join NOVA Parks in recognizing the history of the W&OD railroad and renewing the commitment to make the W&OD trail a welcoming space for everyone.”

Similar signs are being placed along the W&OD trail in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. Each sign cost about $1,165 to make and install.

After operating as a railroad for nearly a century, the W&OD was converted into a park and trail starting in 1974. Completed in 1988, the trail stretches about 45 miles from Shirlington to Purcellville.

Today, the W&OD is a popular thoroughfare for walkers, joggers, and bikers so much so that separate paths were created for cyclists and pedestrians in Falls Church. There’s talk of that happening for the trail’s Arlington section as well.

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Morning Notes

The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, the Memorial Bridge, and the 14th St. Bridge over the Potomac River in fog (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Free Outdoor Wi-Fi at Libraries — “During the month of January, 2022, two new free outdoor Wi-Fi hot spots were installed at the Cherrydale and Glencarlyn Libraries. Library patrons and Arlington residents have now 24×7 access to the free Arlington County Wi-Fi network ‘ArlingtonWireless’ at all library branches, both outdoor and indoor, and at various locations around the County. No ID or password is required for the free service.” [Arlington Public Library]

Four Arlington Joints on Best BBQ List — Post food critic Tim Carman’s new “best barbecue” list includes a number of Arlington favorites: Texas Jack’s (9), Smokecraft Modern Barbecue (6), Smoking Kow (5), and Sloppy Mama’s (3). [Washington Post]

W&OD Bridge Work Complete — “The re-decking of the bridge east of Wilson Blvd in Arlington is completed!” [Twitter]

County Conducting Satisfaction Survey — “Arlington County is conducting its sixth County-wide, statistically valid community survey to measure satisfaction with major County services and gather input about issues facing the community. The results enable County officials to assess performance across many County agencies and services.” [Arlington County]

AWLA Selling Pentagon Chicken Shirts — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “No-one asked for this but we did it anyways – get your official #PentagonChicken shirt now! With the Henny Penny stamp of approval, proceeds will go to help keep other wayward poultry out of government buildings.” [Twitter]

Beyer Delivers Boxes of Protective Equipment — “A constituent reached out notifying U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) that Restart Partners, a West Coast-based charity involved in planning for and procuring PPE, learned of a significant amount of it available in a local warehouse. Partnering with the owner (who wishes to remain anonymous), Beyer identified two charities (Doorways and PathForward) that needed the items for those they serve and for their staffs.” [Sun Gazette]

De Ferranti Makes It Official — “County Board member Matt de Ferranti kicked off his bid for a second term on Feb. 2 with a call for Arlington leaders to accelerate efforts to enact Democratic priorities and serve as a bulwark against the new Republican majority in Richmond.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Friday — Rain before today 5 p.m., then a chance of rain and snow. Patchy fog before 1 p.m. Temperature falling to around 37 mid-afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 22 mph. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Sunrise at 7:09 a.m. and sunset at 5:35 p.m. This weekend will be sunny with highs in the 30s. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Snowy bridge in Rock Spring Park (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

New Leadership for Local Dems — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee went with the more centrist option on Jan. 5, electing Steve Baker to a two-year term as party chair. Baker defeated Matt Royer in the balloting, held at the party’s biennial reorganization meeting. Baker promised to use his leadership post as ‘a collaboration and a partnership’ and ‘keep Arlington Democrats a big-tent party.'” [Sun Gazette]

W&OD Bridge Work Has Started — From BikeArlington: “Work on the @WODTrail bridge [near the caboose] was delayed but has begun today. Please follow detour signs onto the Four Mile Run Trail.” [Twitter]

Amazon Donates to Local Nonprofit — “Amazon.com Inc. donated $25,000 to Arlington nonprofit Boolean Girl to support the organization’s workshops that teach young students how to code and build electronics. Amazon’s gift from November boosts the Clubhouse educational program to meet weekly instead of monthly.” [Washington Business Journal]

It’s Friday — Following the overnight snowfall, today will be sunny, with a high near 30. Northwest wind 13 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Sunrise at 7:29 a.m. and sunset at 5:02 p.m. Saturday will be sunny, with a high near 33. Sunday there’s chance of freezing rain and sleet before 9 a.m, then rain likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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Morning Notes

W&OD Trail Detour — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “On 12/30-31, crews will be working on the W&OD Trail Bridge east of Wilson Blvd (near the caboose). The W&OD Trail will be detoured onto the Four Mile Run trail for about ½ mile and will be clearly marked.” [Twitter]

Single-Vehicle Crash on S. Glebe Road — On Tuesday afternoon: “S. Glebe Road is partially blocked at 7th Street S. after a one-vehicle crash with airbag deployment. One vehicle occupant reported to have facial injuries.” [Twitter]

Congrats, Vernon! — ARLnow and ALXnow’s own Vernon Miles just got engaged. Congratulations to the happy couple! [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Today will be cloudy with light rain possible throughout the day and temperatures reaching a high of 54. Sunrise at 7:26 a.m. and sunset at 4:55 p.m. Expect rain and fog tomorrow morning, with a low of 42 and a high of 54. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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Morning Notes

The Grinch, illustrated in Post-It Notes by Brigid Donaghy on the front of the H-B Woodlawn school building in Rosslyn (photo courtesy Dan Donaghy)

Redevelopment of Parking Garage Proposed — “The owner of a pair of Crystal City hotels along Richmond Highway is moving to redevelop a parking garage on the property into residential, the latest bit of change for the neighborhood as part of an Amazon.com Inc.-inspired development boom. Miami’s Sound Hospitality is on the hunt for a development partner to manage the transformation of a garage that currently serves Crystal City’s Hampton Inn and Suites and Hilton Garden Inn.” [Washington Business Journal]

Parent Group Wants More Class Time — “An advocacy group is pressing the Arlington School Board to add more instructional time to the school system’s proposed 2022-23 calendar. The comments came at the Dec. 2 School Board meeting, in which board members were presented with a staff proposal that meets the letter of state law in providing at least 990 hours of instructional time. But the school system should be going further – holding classes the full 180 days that had been the pre-COVID standard – said Camille Galdes, who spoke on behalf of Arlington Parents for Education.” [Sun Gazette]

Firefighter Unions Call Out Alexandria — “Understaffing within the Alexandria Fire Department put people and buildings at risk during a fire at Crystal City’s restaurant row on 23rd Street earlier this month, according to two unions representing more than 500 Alexandria and Arlington firefighters, medics and fire marshals.” [ALXnow]

Middle School Student Disciplined for Weapon — “On Thursday afternoon, the Swanson Administrative team received a report that a student was in possession of a weapon on their walk home from school. As a result of our investigation and consultation with the Arlington [County] Police Department on Friday, the student was disciplined in accordance with the Arlington Public Schools code of conduct.” [Twitter]

New ACPD Officers Sworn In — “December 10, 2021 marked a significant milestone for the Arlington County Police Department’s 18 newest officers as Session 145 graduated from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy. During the graduation, the officers took their oath to serve and protect the Arlington community and safeguard the Constitutional rights of all.” [ACPD]

Abduction Arrest in Clarendon — “At approximately 3:22 a.m. on December 10, police were dispatched to the report of a check on the welfare. The reporting party advised the female victim was inside a vehicle with a known suspect who would not allow her to exit… [The suspect], 26, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Abduction and held without bond.” [ACPD]

W&OD Trail Bridge Gets Decked — “Enjoy a smooth ride on the newly-redecked bridge east of Little Falls St in Arlington.” [Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Today will be sunny with a high of 54 and a low of 38. Sunrise at 7:19 a.m. and sunset at 4:47 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with a high of 55 and a low of 39. [Darksky]

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W&OD Trail crossing near the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) A pedestrian was struck and seriously injured by a driver who then fled the scene last night.

The crash happened near the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run Drive, just before 8:30 p.m. The road was closed while police investigated.

The W&OD Trail crosses just north of the busy intersection, next to a service road that’s also labeled as S. Four Mile Run Drive.

“At 8:25 p.m. on November 29, police were dispatched to a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian at S. Four Mile Run Dr. and S. George Mason Drive,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, officers located the pedestrian, an adult male, in the roadway. He was transported to an area hospital and remains hospitalized in critical condition.”

“During the preliminary investigation, officers did not locate any witnesses to the crash and there is no description of the striking vehicle,” Savage continued. “The circumstances of the crash remain under investigation. Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact ACPD’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

Photo via Google Maps

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A newly-reopened segment of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail in Falls Church boasts a feature that could be replicated in Arlington: separate paths for cyclists and those on foot.

Regional parks authority NOVA Parks widened just over one mile of the trail through the Little City in order to accommodate separate tracks. The organization celebrated the completion of the five-year, $3.7 million project this morning.

The parks authority says something similar should be done along the Arlington segment, which has seen an increased number of pedestrians, leisure riders and commuters competing for the same narrow asphalt strip.

“Our focus was getting Falls Church completed, since we had all the funds and city approval lined up for that,” NOVA Parks Director Paul Gilbert said. “The next step will be to see when we can get the Arlington section done — when we have design work done and we can talk to civic groups.”

Two years ago, the organization signaled its intent to widen the two-mile stretch between N. Roosevelt Street and N. Carlin Springs Road and incorporate separated trails. Work is contingent, however, on when a $5.6 million grant from the Northern Virginia Transit Authority becomes available.

That likely won’t happen until 2024, but having the Falls Church segment done helps the process in Arlington, he says.

“It’s not a theoretical,” he said. “Everyone can experience it, see it, understand how it works.”

Among those trying it out was local cycling advocate Gillian Burgess, who hit the trails this past weekend, ahead of the official opening today.

She says she wants to see similar mode-separated trails for the entire length of the W&OD in Arlington, as well as the Mt. Vernon Trail, the Bluemont Trail and parts of the Custis and Four Mile Run trails.

Gilbert says widening large sections of the Arlington W&OD Trail is “feasible, desirable and necessary.”

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Morning Notes

Summer School Enrollment Limited — “Despite having offered financial incentives to teachers to teach summer school, there are fewer applicants than the number of students who are eligible for summer instruction at the elementary level, making it impossible for APS to offer summer strengthening support to all eligible elementary students.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Car Driven onto W&OD Trail — “We were riding our triple bike and came across someone who had driven onto the W&OD Trail from Park Rd S… it was rather scary that they barely stopped before we passed by.” [Twitter, YouTube]

New Location for Free Covid Tests — From Arlington County: “Our no-cost, no-appointment mobile COVID-19 testing has moved! It’ll be based in the parking lot of Unitarian Universalist Church (4444 Arlington Blvd) through May 28.” [Twitter]

Dems Prepare for Apartment Outreach — “Voters [in multi-unit buildings] may have tipped the outcome of the 2018 County Board race, in which Democrat Matt de Ferranti ousted independent John Vihstadt… This year, races for local and legislative posts are probably not in much doubt across Arlington. But Democrats are hoping to run up the score in the races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in order to offset Republican strongholds downstate.” [Sun Gazette]

Va. GOP Selects Gov. Nominee — “Former private equity chief Glenn Youngkin became the Republican nominee for Virginia governor Monday night after his closest rival, business executive Pete Snyder, conceded while votes were still being tabulated.” [Washington Post, Associated Press]

D.C. Planning Full Reopening — “D.C. plans to lift a slew of coronavirus capacity restrictions starting May 21, with a full reopening to come in June.” [WTOP, PoPville]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at noon) The new W&OD Trail bridge over Lee Highway in East Falls Church is now open.

VDOT announced the opening of the $6 million bridge Friday morning, touting “a safer, faster crossing over busy Route 29.” Previously, trail users would have to wait to cross Lee Highway at a crowded intersection, next to ramps to and from I-66 and Washington Blvd.

The trail is used by cyclists and pedestrians for both commuting and recreation. About 1,500 people travel on the W&OD near new bridge each weekday, while more than 2,000 use it on weekends.

The project prompted trail detours over its nearly two years of construction. It was funded — along with upgrades to I-66 ramps, repairs to overpasses, sound wall replacements, and a new Custis Trail roundabout — as part of the larger I-66 eastbound widening project.

Some finishing touches on the bridge and the nearby intersection will be completed through this summer, VDOT said. As of noon, however, the bridge was officially open.

https://twitter.com/VaDOTNOVA/status/1370416729227137038

More from a press release, below.

The new Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail Bridge over Route 29 (Lee Highway) in Arlington will open this afternoon, Friday, March 12, announced the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). This new bridge will provide bicyclists and pedestrians with a safer, faster crossing over busy Route 29 adjacent to I-66. The new bridge was built as part of VDOT’s I-66 Eastbound Widening Project.

“This new W&OD Trail bridge is another step forward in VDOT’s commitment to expanding multimodal transportation options in the I-66 corridor and across the region,” said Bill Cuttler, P.E., VDOT Northern Virginia District Construction Engineer. “The new bridge will benefit a range of trail users, from people walking and bicycling to the nearby East Falls Church Metrorail Station to the dedicated bicycle commuters who use the trail year-round to reach destinations across Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.”

The new crossing separates trail users from motorists at the signalized intersection of Route 29 and Fairfax Drive. The new bridge will enhance safety for both trail users and motorists and improve operations at nearby intersections on Route 29.

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Morning Notes

Quarter of Students Staying at Home — “Students in Pre-K through second grade returned to Arlington County classrooms Tuesday, a step that Superintendent Francisco Duran says the school system is prepared to take on. Roughly 75% of the student body took the in-person learning option, while 25% will continue to learn virtually. Staff and students who return will complete a daily screening.” [WTOP]

More Commercial Burglaries Reported — Two more local businesses have been victimized among a spate of commercial burglaries. Arlington County police yesterday reported that business on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike and the 4200 block of N. Pershing Drive in Buckingham were broken into. In both cases, thieves stole cash registers and an undisclosed amount of cash. Police did not reveal the businesses involved; there are two on that block of N. Pershing Drive: El Paso Cafe and Popeye’s. [ACPD]

Wakefield Football Undefeated So Far — “The Wakefield Warriors rallied from a 14-0 deficit to defeat the Edison Eagles, 34-14, in National District high-school football action on Feb. 27… Wakefield stays undefeated on [the] gridiron.” [InsideNova]

W&OD Trail Work Taking Place — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “[This] afternoon: W&OD Trail asphalt repairs in Bluemont Park just south of Wilson Boulevard. Will take about 4 hours. Flaggers on hand to direct users onto nearby Four Mile Run Trail. (Rescheduled from earlier this week.)” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

‘Open Schools’ Signs Also Being Stolen — “The debate over whether kids should be learning in or out of schools is getting ugly in Arlington. So much so, dozens of signs that said ‘Open Schools Now’ have gone missing. ‘Some of them have gotten stolen and neighbors have found them in trash cans,’ parent Russell Laird said Friday, standing near 100 new signs that had just been delivered. ‘I told people, keep count of how many were stolen, come back with double.'” [Fox 5]

County Getting More COVID-19 Aid — “The Arlington County Board today accepted more than $3 million dollars in additional federal aid to support low-to-moderate-income residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid included more money for housing vouchers and funding for a range of relief programs to support families and small businesses.” [Arlington County]

Restaurant Week Starts Today — “Arlington Restaurant Week will run from October 19-26. During the week, diners can try set menu items from many local restaurants, at a discounted price. The idea is for diners to find a new to-go place for dining out.” [ARLnow]

W&OD Trail Detour Shifting — “The current W&OD Trail detour route just east of Lee Highway (Route 29) will be shifted for about two weeks beginning October 19 to allow additional construction activity. Crews will reconstruct sidewalks on Lee Highway, the Econolodge entrance on Fairfax Drive, and nearby curb ramps on Lee Highway. Trail users will be directed to a new sidewalk and trail adjacent to the new trail bridge during this detour.” [VDOT]

Gutshall Posthumously Honored By Chamber — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that the late Erik Gutshall is our 2020 inductee into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Local Church Gets Big Donation — “Today, Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington received 40 pallets of toiletries and household products worth $250,000 from @FoodForThePoor. They plan to give away the items during their weekly food distribution and through the parish thrift store.” [Arlington Catholic Herald/Twitter]

AED Wins Prestigious Awards — “Arlington Economic Development took home numerous honors at this year’s International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2020 Excellence Awards, which were announced earlier today at the organization’s annual conference. AED’s programs and partnerships were recognized for Economic Excellence in several categories.” [Arlington County]

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