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by Chris Teale December 12, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The county is set to formalize an agreement with the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority to make improvements to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

As part of a wider project near Shirlington between S. Arlington Mill Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive, the county plans to install new sidewalks, lighting and signals where the trail meets S. Walter Reed Drive.

But to do that, it required permission from NVRPA, which controls the 45-mile trail between Shirlington and Purcellville.

Under the terms of the agreement between the county and NVRPA, as outlined in a letter by NVRPA land manager Michael DePue, the county must conform with various conditions.

These include keeping the trail “open, safe and unobstructed at all times during construction,” plus ensuring the new sidewalk has a smooth transition to the existing asphalt, the improvements do not cause drainage issues, that construction zones be safe and that the county’s Department of Environmental Services maintain the improvements once completed, not NVRPA.

The County Board will also vote on a consent agreement with Dominion Virginia Power, which would allow the improvements to encroach on a Dominion-owned easement in the park.

The Board will vote on the agreements at its meeting Saturday (December 16) as part of its consent agenda. County staff recommended approval.

Construction on the wider project is scheduled to begin in the spring. It is hoped the project will improve bicycle and pedestrian access to Shirlington.

by Chris Teale December 5, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Crews will pre-treat the Washington & Old Dominion Trail for the first time this winter when accumulating snow or ice is in the weather forecast.

Officials behind the 45-mile paved trail between Shirlington and Purcellville announced the change in a series of tweets last week.

When snow or ice is in the forecast, crews will pre-treat the trail “in Arlington heading west.” The change comes after discussions with staff from Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation, who have been pre-treating trails for at least the past few years.

The Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority, which is responsible for the trail, purchased a tanker trailer to do the pre-treating, which will likely involve putting salt down hours before snow or ice is due to hit. NOVA Parks will continue to use its snow blowers to clear the paths.

“The pre-treatment working in tandem with our snow blowers should help reduce trail down time so to speak with snow & ice on the trail,” the trail’s Twitter account tweeted.

The new regime may be needed later this week. The Capital Weather Gang reports that there will be a “decisive flip to cold,” which may bring snow flurries.

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com November 30, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Hot Item for the Holidays: E-ZPass — With tolling set to begin on what are now the I-66 HOT lanes, stores in Arlington and elsewhere in Northern Virginia are having trouble keeping E-ZPass transponders in stock, particularly the E-ZPass Flex devices that will allow carpoolers to continue to use I-66 for free. [WJLA]

W&OD Trail Changes Discussed — Officials are considering options for separating cyclists from those on foot on the W&OD Trail.¬†“I love the potential separation,” Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt is quoted as saying. “I think that will be well-received by both sets of users.” [InsideNova]

Dad Speaks Out After W-L Grad Son ODs — “As an admiral I helped run the most powerful military on Earth, but I couldn’t save my son from the scourge of opioid addiction,” writes retired Adm. James Winnefeld, in an¬†Atlantic¬†article entitled “No Family Is Safe From This Epidemic.” Jonathan Winnefeld, a Washington-Lee High School grad, died in Denver this past September “after a long and honorable battle with addiction.” [The Atlantic, Legacy, Denver Post]

More on Accessory Dwelling Vote — A GGW writer argues that while the Arlington County Board is to be commended for allowing the creation of basement apartments that can be rented out, it punted on the issue of backyard cottages at its Tuesday meeting. The Board’s action on so-called Accessory Dwelling Units included instructing the County Manager to study setbacks from the property line for detached accessory structures before any are approved under new rules.¬† [Greater Greater Washington]

New Incentive for Sustainable Buildings — “Arlington County will pioneer Virginia’s first Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program–a public-private partnership to provide affordable, long-term financing for projects to improve the energy or water efficiency of commercial buildings in the county.” [Arlington County]

DCA Tweets at Teigen — Model and social media personality Chrissy Teigen told followers yesterday that she left “a very large mom bra” under her seat on a flight that arrived at a D.C. area airport. Reagan National Airport’s official Twitter account responded by recommending that Teigen stop by the Spanx store in the airport for a replacement. [Twitter]

‘Age in Place’ Tax Deferral Questioned — Mortgage and title companies are reportedly not big fans of Arlington’s¬†Real Estate Tax Relief Program, which allows older residents who meet certain income requirements to defer property tax payments until the home is sold. The system has sometimes sprung large tax bills on unsuspecting heirs, real estate agents and mortgage settlement officers. [Falls Church News-Press]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

by Katie Pyzyk September 28, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

Starting in October, a construction project will close the Van Buren Bridge near the East Falls Church Metro until next spring.

The bridge expansion and replacement project is scheduled to begin the week of October 16, and all bridge access will end at that time. In a letter to residents, the City of Falls Church indicated that construction is expected to continue at least through March 2018.

During construction, Van Buren Street will be closed between 19th Street North in Arlington and East Columbia Street in Falls Church. Northbound vehicles will be rerouted from Columbia Street to Roosevelt Street and 19th Street North. Southbound vehicles will be rerouted from 19th Street North to Sycamore Street and 16th Street North. Cyclists and pedestrians will detour on an existing bridge along the W&OD trail in Benjamin Banneker Park.

Construction is expected to take place most weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and some weekend work may also be necessary. Residents in the affected area will still have access to their driveways and homes when the closure is in effect.

The project to remove and rebuild the existing Van Buren Bridge will repair structural deficiencies and add pedestrian access along the corridor to the East Falls Church Metro. The new bridge will have two lanes for vehicle traffic and cyclists in addition to a 12-foot wide pedestrian walkway.

by Chris Teale August 23, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Bluemont Park will be the starting-point for a race next month to raise money for military bomb experts and their families.

The 2017 Bluemont Arlington 5K and 10K race on Sunday, September 17 will raise funds for the EOD Warrior Foundation. EOD stands for Explosive Ordnance Disposal, the disarming and disposal of bombs, which is carried out by technicians in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.

Proceeds from the event help support the EOD Warrior Foundation in providing “financial assistance and support to active-duty and veteran wounded, injured or ill EOD warriors, families of our wounded and fallen EOD warriors.”

The race begins at Bluemont Park (329 N. Manchester Street), with both the 5K and 10K routes following the W&OD Trail on out-and-back routes. The 10K begins at 8:45 a.m., with the 5K following at 9 a.m. A virtual run option is also available for anyone who wishes to participate but can’t make the race date.

All participants receive a finisher’s medal and event technical shirts for those who register before September 6. Race day registration is also available for those who arrive 45 minutes before the start. Registration costs $25 for the 5K and $40 for the 10K.

by Brooke Giles August 2, 2017 at 5:30 pm 0

The fourth annual Kennan Garvey Memorial Ride will take place this Saturday, August 5, starting from local nonprofit Phoenix Bikes in Barcroft Park )4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive).

Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey helps lead the event, alongside Phoenix Bikes. The ride is in honor of Garvey’s late husband, Kennan, who died of a heart attack in 2008.

He was a supporter of Phoenix Bikes, a nonprofit that aims to educate the community about biking and help make it more affordable. Libby Garvey has served on the organization’s board of directors since 2009.

The race will raise money for the Kennan Garvey Memorial Fund, which will help Phoenix Bikes move to a more permanent site. The organization is set to transition to a new facility on the first floor of the Arlington Mill Community Center later this year.

The ride is open to all ages and experience levels with five different trail routes:

  • 15-mile course:¬†out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to¬†Bikenetic¬†(Falls Church)
  • 40-mile course:¬†out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to¬†Green Lizard Cycling (Herndon)
  • 60-mile course:¬†¬†out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to¬†Spokes, etc.¬†(Leesburg)
  • 90-mile course:¬†out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to¬†Bicycles & Coffee¬†(Purcellville)
  • 100-mile course:¬†out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to¬†Bicycles & Coffee (Purcellville), plus¬†portions of Arlington Loop (Custis, Mount Vernon and Four Mile Run Trails)

“You can ride for as little or as far as you like on a great bike path that Kennan and I loved and rode often. Despite the heat now, it has been fairly cool for the ride for the past three years,” Garvey wrote in an email to constituents.

The entry fee is $25, with a minimum fundraising amount of $100. Each rider is encouraged to set a $500 fundraising goal, while children that are registered with Phoenix Bikes get a complimentary entry.

Pre-registered riders will receive a boxed lunch, and all riders and volunteers will receive a free shirt. All those who meet or exceed the $500 fundraising goal will receive a prize.

Courtesy photo

by ARLnow.com June 23, 2017 at 9:10 am 0

Widening of W&OD Trail Studied — The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is considering a proposal to widen the W&OD Trail in parts of Arlington, Falls Church and Fairfax County. The proposal also calls for separating pedestrians and cyclists along the widened portions of trail. [The Wash Cycle]

Stormy Weather Expected Over the Next 24 Hours — The remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy are expected to bring heavy rain and scattered storms to the area between now and Saturday morning. Most of the rain is expected to fall early Saturday. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Lawmakers Confronted at DCA — Protesters confronted lawmakers returning home to their districts at Reagan National Airport yesterday. They were protesting against the proposed GOP health care bill, holding signs like “don’t take away our healthcare” and “Medicaid matters.” [The Hill]

Middle School Students Burning Books — Yesterday, on the last day of middle school in Arlington, the fire department was called for a report of middle school students burning books in a field. An ACFD spokesperson could not be reached for additional information. [Twitter]

Last Day of School — High school is already out and the Class of 2017 has held its graduation ceremonies. Middle school ended yesterday. Today elementary students will have their last half-day before Arlington Public Schools is officially on summer break until Tuesday, Sept. 5. [Arlington Public Schools]

by ARLnow.com June 16, 2017 at 9:05 am 0

Fairlington Named ‘Top Value Neighborhood’¬†— Fairlington and Shirlington are together the No. 3 “top value neighborhood” in the D.C. area, according to real estate website Trulia. No. 1 is University Park in Maryland and No. 2. is Kingman Park in D.C. [Curbed]

Market-Rate Affordable Housing Disappearing — In 2000 there were 19,740 homes in Arlington affordable to those making 60 percent of Area Median Income. That dropped by 86 percent, to 2,780 units, by the end of 2016. [Washington Business Journal]

Police Focused on Opioid Abuse — Yesterday the Arlington County Police Department “participated in a discussion on regional law enforcement efforts aimed at reducing the growing heroin/opiate epidemic.” There are at least three addiction treatment facilities in Arlington and ACPD “strongly encourages substances users and their family members to seek assistance.” [Arlington County]

Native Plants Return Thanks to Management of Invasives — “Native plants are on the comeback trail in Arlington – particularly along the W&OD Trail in Bluemont and Glencarlyn parks. Last month Dominion Energy mowed green space beneath powerlines along the trail, helping the County manage invasive plants like Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose.” [Arlington County]

Amazon Buying Whole Foods — Arlington’s two Whole Foods stores, in Clarendon and Pentagon City, will soon be owned by Amazon.com. [CNBC, Wall Street Journal]

by Katherine Berko June 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

The Washington & Old Dominion and Custis trails are set for further construction this summer, with the hope of increasing safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and public transportation users.

The improvements will reduce the distance of crossing some streets, upgrade curb ramps and bus stops, create high visibility crosswalks, improve trail crossing alignments and update traffic signals to meet Arlington County’s standards, among other changes.

Lanes would also be reconfigured on the W&OD Trail at its crossing with S. George Mason Drive and on the Custis Trail at N. Quinn and N. Scott streets.

The changes that the trails would undergo were recommendations made in the county’s Shared Use Trail Traffic Control Study, completed in 2010.

Three sections along each trail are set for improvements. Along the W&OD Trail, the areas are:

  • The intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and S. George Mason Drive
  • S. Four Mile Run Drive at the Barcroft Sports Center (4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive)
  • The intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and S. Oakland Street

The sections set to be under construction along the Custis Trail are:

  • The intersection of Lee Highway and N. Scott Street
  • The intersection of Lee Highway and N. Quinn Street
  • The trail crossing at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Oak Street

The Arlington County Board has approved the costs for the trail renovations, which will be funded primarily by the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.

Under a timeline put forward by county staff, construction would begin this summer on both projects. A contract worth a combined $1.67 million has been proposed for both, with just over $335,000 in contingency for any cost overruns.

by ARLnow.com May 16, 2017 at 10:10 am 0

(Updated on 5/17/17) A brush fire that burned for an hour yesterday between the Four Mile Run Drive access road and the W&OD Trail left a large, scorched scar on the hillside.

A passerby photographed the scene yesterday evening and said “you can still smell” the smoke and fire, which was caused by a downed power line.

At least one vehicle appeared to be damaged during the incident.

Photos courtesy @bobco85

by ARLnow.com May 8, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

A small meadow preserved by the Arlington County Board, which overruled a plan to build a connector trail from the W&OD Trail to Carlin Springs Road, has been clearcut as a result of invasive species control measures.

The meadow was the subject of a mini-controversy in 2015, which saw civic activist Bernie Berne and others argue that building a 220-foot connector trail would destroy natural plant life and increase runoff into Four Mile Run.

The County Board agreed and voted against¬†the¬†plan from county staff, which proposed a connector trail in response to demand from cyclists seeking a better way to access Carlin Springs Road. (The meadow had an existing “cow path” from frequent off-roading by trail users.)

Though preserved at the time, the meadow was recently mowed down and stripped of most plant life. A sign indicates that it was done by Dominion as part of its invasive species control measures along power line right-of-ways, like the W&OD Trail.

Photos (1-2) courtesy Chris Slatt

by Chris Teale May 3, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Refinements are being made to a plan to build a pedestrian and cyclist bridge in East Falls Church, which has undergone big changes in the past few months.

A previous version came under fire earlier this year for what critics viewed as a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood and a perceived lack of community input, as well as design concerns. In previous renderings, the bridge had a trussed roof and was dark red.

The Virginia Dept. of Transportation has proposed¬†building a new bridge over Lee Highway near the W&OD trail as part of its “Transform 66”¬†interstate widening and tolling project.

If built, VDOT says the bridge would improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The trail currently crosses Lee Highway at the busy intersection with Fairfax Drive.

Now, the bridge has no trusses along its top and is instead what Amanda Baxter, special projects development manager at VDOT, described at a meeting Tuesday as an “earth tone gray.” Baxter said other refinements include shaped fencing and renderings showing nearby landscaping, as well as locations for relocated trail shelters to provide a rest area for¬†all users.

She added that the lighting on the bridge is still up for discussion. Currently, the bridge has acorn-style lights in its center that would be maintained by Dominion Virginia Power. VDOT and local residents agree the lights could be better, but they are limited to lights in Dominion’s inventory.

Baxter said the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority, which owns land nearby, is instead willing to help out with maintaining different lights.

“I think they’ve heard you too and are willing to step up and look to other options they can maintain,” she said.

Also still up for discussion are the installation of noise walls at certain areas along I-66, which VDOT is required to offer to provide under federal law if the noise level goes higher than 66 decibels.

Neighbors who would directly benefit from the walls would be balloted on whether they should be installed, Baxter said, although some attendees raised concerns about the walls appearing to enclose the neighborhood behind them and block light.

And local resident Sandy Chesrown, representing the Lee Highway Alliance, said the group would continue to push for public art to be installed nearby.

“We see this as a gateway statement to Falls Church and Arlington County, and we will continue to lobby for some sort of public art,” she said.

VDOT plans to award a design/build contract for the entire “Transform 66” project, including constructing the bridge, at the end of this year. Building work is projected to take from mid-2018 until 2021.

by Tim Regan January 30, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

The Arlington County Board over the weekend voted to endorse the goals of a Virginia Dept. of Transportation plan to widen part of I-66, but it also had a few questions.

The Board unanimously backed¬†a resolution that outlines¬†“areas of support and ongoing concern with [VDOT’s]¬†environmental assessment,” according to a press release.

Under VDOT’s¬†“Transform 66” plan, an extra lane would be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston. The lane would stretch about four miles.

The plan would also include the replacement and construction of noise walls along the interstate, a new pedestrian bridge on the W&OD Trail at Lee Highway in East Falls Church and a realignment of the Custis Trail at Bon Air Park.

Earlier this year, the Board endorsed VDOT’s plan¬†to add tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway during peak travel times.

Not everyone who lives in Arlington supports the project as proposed, however. Some East Falls Church residents have recently criticized the part of the proposal that would build a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge on the W&OD trail at Lee Highway. (Bicycling advocates, meanwhile, are organizing to support the bridge plan.)

In its resolution, the Board asked transit officials to “ensure a robust community process will be incorporated into the design process to achieve a context sensitive solution for the W&OD Trail changes.”

The Board also called for more cooperation on other areas of concern such as impacts on right of way, increased traffic at local intersections, noise mitigation and possible effects on stormwater infrastructure.

“Arlington supports the broad goals of this plan, including the focus on moving more people versus vehicles through the corridor. We are also committed to ensure that VDOT mitigates any impacts on our residents and neighborhoods that may result from the mandated eastbound widening,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “VDOT has been responsive to our concerns as the project has taken shape, and we anticipate working closely with them to monitor the project as it moves forward.”

According to VDOT’s estimates, workers could¬†break ground on the project in “mid 2018” and finish by “mid 2020.”

More from the press release:

In its resolution, the Board says it will work to ensure that the Commonwealth monitors and mitigates the project’s impacts on Arlington streets and on cultural or natural resources.

VDOT released the Environmental Assessment for the eastbound widening of I-66 from the Dulles Connector to Fairfax Drive in November. Based on a review of the technical documentation and public testimony, the Board resolution calls for VDOT to continue working cooperatively with the County on addressing the following:

  1. Impacts on right of way and other resources – VDOT anticipates that the eastbound widening will occur primarily toward the inner portion of the I-66 roadway, but temporary or permanent property easements or acquisitions will be needed along the easternmost portion of the project.
  2. Traffic analysis and impacts to Arlington streets – The Environmental Assessment identified several intersections in Arlington that will experience increased congestion as a result of the widening. Staff is concerned that the traffic analysis used for the Environmental Assessment does not include any multimodal travel, which is a primary goal of the Transform 66 project and the studies supporting it.
  3. Impacts to the regional trail network – VDOT has proposed realigning the Custis Trail at Bon Air Park and grade-separating the crossing of the W&OD Trail at Lee Highway. The Board resolution endorses these improvements and asks that VDOT ensure a robust community process will be incorporated into the design process to achieve a context sensitive solution for the W&OD Trail changes.
  4. Noise mitigation – VDOT will solicit input from property owners and renters who would benefit from noise mitigation as to the desirability of the installation of noise barriers along I-66. County staff will work with VDOT to ensure messaging to the public on the noise barrier selection process is communicated as comprehensively as possible. The Board also encouraged VDOT to work with WMATA, FTA and others to explore options for additional noise mitigation related to Silver Line and new generation of rail cars.
  5. Stormwater Management Infrastructure – In response to public testimony, the Board reinforced the important responsibility that VDOT has to ensure that existing and future stormwater infrastructure by adequately designed and maintained.

by Tim Regan January 27, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

(Updated at 10:31 a.m.) A proposal to build a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge in East Falls Church has prompted complaints from some nearby residents.

The Virginia Dept. of Transportation has proposed¬†building a new bridge over Lee Highway near the W&OD trail as part of its “Transform 66” interstate widening and tolling project.

If built, VDOT says the bridge would improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The trail currently crosses Lee Highway at the busy intersection with Fairfax Drive.

But the idea deserves more thought, according to the East Falls Church Civic Association. Residents voiced concern in a letter the group sent to local officials last week.

“This VDOT project, if not paused, will create problems for holistic future pedestrian and cyclist transit development in the area, as well as create negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood in a way that a more thoughtful design would not,” the letter reads. “Pause this project so the neighborhood and the surrounding areas can fully consider the problems we are trying to address (both present and future).”

East Falls Church Civic Association president Kelly Alexis said locals first heard of the plan in October. Since then, Alexis said she’s received emails¬†from more than two dozen East Falls Church residents, many opposing the idea.

The problem, Alexis explained, revolves around a lack of input from the community. Though VDOT has held a series of public meetings, she said the agency hasn’t adequately weighed the concerns of the people who live nearby the proposed site of the bridge.

Earlier this month, the association met with VDOT officials to discuss the plan and identified a number of concerns. Among them are questions about whether the bridge would disrupt design aspects of the 2011 East Falls Church Area Plan¬†or¬†“lock-in” the alignment of the W&OD trail, which residents say forces cyclists and pedestrians onto neighborhood streets near the East Falls Church Metro station.

The plan also needs more study regarding improving pedestrian access and safety along Lee Highway on the I-66 overpass and at the Fairfax Drive and Washington Blvd intersections, residents said at the meeting.

The association has suggested several alternatives to building the bridge, such as a trail realignment under Lee Highway or rerouting the trail across Fairfax Drive at the same intersection.

“It’s not a bad plan, it’s just the wrong plan,” Alexis said. “We recognize we’re in a transportation hub, but we want to work together to create a better solution.”

Gillian Burgess, chair of Arlington County’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, said she shares some of the neighborhood’s concerns. Still, a bridge is sorely needed to “allow people on two feet or two wheels to use the trail without worrying whether that red car is really going to stop at the light,” she said.

“The neighborhood does have legitimate concerns about the de facto routing of the trail through their neighborhood,” Burgess added. “But there’s no need to delay building this much-needed improvement to this important piece of our transportation network.”

The Arlington County Board is expected to further discuss the I-66 widening plan and the pedestrian bridge at its meeting tomorrow (Saturday).

by Tim Regan January 25, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

A Virginia Dept. of Transportation plan to widen part of I-66 could soon get the partial blessing of the Arlington County Board.

Under VDOT’s¬†“Transform 66” plan, an extra lane would be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston. The lane would stretch about four miles.

VDOT is also planning to improve two local trails, according to a presentation on the proposed project. The planned improvements include a new pedestrian bridge on the W&OD Trail at Lee Highway in East Falls Church and a realignment of the Custis Trail at Bon Air Park.

Additionally, the project would¬†include the replacement and construction of noise¬†walls along the interstate’s eastbound and westbound lanes.

If all goes according to plan, workers¬†would begin construction on the project in “mid 2018” and finish by “mid 2020.”

The¬†Board is scheduled to¬†vote on whether to “endorse the goals” of VDOT’s widening project during its general meeting this Saturday, Jan. 28.

According to the county:

In the proposed resolution, the Board also says it will pursue goals of ensuring that the Commonwealth monitors and mitigates the impacts on Arlington streets, noise impacts, and impacts on cultural or natural resources. The proposed resolution also calls for VDOT to work collaboratively with all the affected jurisdictions to ensure that the final design of possible noise barriers do not unduly or negatively impact cultural or natural resources and that VDOT will not pursue more widening of I-66 inside the Beltway until after a meaningful evaluation of peak period tolling, conversion to HOT-3, tolling in both directions during peak periods, and implementation of multimodal components.

Arlington has already endorsed VDOT’s plan¬†to add tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway during peak travel times.

√ó

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