Friday, March 08, 2013

The Arlandrian Brief: Signs of Spring Edition


A brief summary of recent postings from The Arlandrian:

Birds of Four Mile Run (cont'd)

BRT: Coming First to Arlandria

A "D.C. area" first that's not in D.C.

The Washington Post has coverage of the BRT (bus rapid transit) system currently under development in area along the Route 1 corridor between Braddock Road and Crystal City Metro with future plans for expansion and realignment. Although originally promised for this December, opening is now slated for early next year (D.C. area’s first bus-only lanes under construction in Northern Virginia):
"A five-mile stretch in Arlington County and Alexandria could soon be a bus rider’s dream come true: Forget the long waits at the bus stop and the time wasted in traffic. 
Next year, Metro officials plan to launch a bus service connecting the Braddock Road and Crystal City Metrorail stations. And they are not talking about ordinary service. These buses would travel much of the route traffic-free in what is to become the region’s first buses-only lanes."
WMATA, Arlington and Alexandria are also asking for the public to help design the appearanceof the vehicles and the layout of the information boards at the transit stops. Help design the first BRT system in our region. Complete the survey today.

Also, to get an idea about how BRT works, check out this video of a similar project in San Francisco:

Vision of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) for San Francisco

Alexandria Proposed Budget for bikes & pedestrians

The WashCycle blog discusses the Alexandria City Managers budget proposal relating to bikes and pedestrian on their blog, :

Alexandria City Manager Rashad Young has proposed a FY 2014 budget that includes $600,000 for Capital Bikeshare expansion in 2014 and another $1,395,000 worth of expansion planned through 2022.

In 2013, work to identify station locations beyond the initial eight stations will be completed. The program will expand to Carlyle and Del Ray over the next several years through a combination of funding sources include CMAQ/RSTP funding, private (development) capital contributions, and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) funding.
  • $500,000 for an update to the 2008 Bicycle Master Plan
  • $0 for the Wilkes Street Bikeway, because no more local funding is needed. The project should go out to bid this year
  • $1,317,602 for the Holmes Run Bike Trail upgrade, with work to begin in mid to late 2014.
  • $500,000 in 2015 for a study of the feasibility of building a tunnel connection under the freight rail tracks from the Braddock Road station itself as recommended in the Braddock Metro Neighborhood Plan. Completion of the tunnel would provide a new station entry from the west, minimizing the distance pedestrians must walk to access the station from the west. Currently, pedestrians must walk south to the Braddock Road underpass to reach the station. In addition, the plan recommends studying a potential future pedestrian-bike connection and a potential walking route connection to the northern gateway
  • $3,500,000 over the next four years for the Old Cameron Run Trail. This project will construct a shared-use path between Eisenhower Avenue near Telegraph Road to on-oad bicycle facilities that link to the Mt. Vernon Trail, addressing a major gap in the city’s proposed “Green Crescent‟ trail system and ultimately providing a key link in the bicycle and pedestrian multimodal transportation system.
  • $3,200,00 for FY 2017-18 for a shared-use path along Backlick Run from Boothe Park west to the Fairfax County line. Once complete, the trail will help better connect the far west side of the City with the Mount Vernon Trail, and the existing trail network in the Ben Brennan Park and Eisenhower Valley. 
  • $1,000,000 for the construction of safety improvements at the Mt Vernon Avenue/Russell Road Intersection in 2015-16. 
  • $500,000 in FY 2023 for design and engineering funding for the construction of a multimodal bridge from the Van Dorn Metro Station to Pickett Street.
  • $275,000 in FY 2014 for Safe Routes to Schools. 
  • $7,870,000 for complete streets over the next 10 years. 
  • $180,000 a year for shared-use path improvements and $10,000 a year for trail maintenance.
  • $350,000 spread over 3 out-years for bicycle parking at the city's Metrorail and transit stations.
  • $450,000 this year to construct safety improvements on the Mount Vernon Trail where trail width and conflicts with vehicles make non-motorized travel unsafe. Preliminary engineering for this project began in 2011. A property survey has been completed, and the next step will be to move the project to the 30% design phase. Right-of-ways may be needed and the plans for the Gen-On property may affect the project. Construction is not expected to begin until at least FY 2015. 

Metro versus Highway costs

There's been a lot of discussion about transportation funding in the Commonwealth this past month and we saw this interesting discussion of the benefits of Metro to our area. 
WMATA PlanItMetro blog describes how I-395 North would have traffic jams extending 13 miles in the morning without the benefit of the Yellow Line Metro service: 
Metrorail’s Yellow Line crosses the Potomac from Virginia into DC parallel to I-395′s 14th Street Bridge. Both the rail and highway bridges move large numbers of people into the regional core during the morning rush hour. Between the two inbound spans, the 14th Street Bridge has six lanes. The Yellow Line provides the equivalent of three additional lanes. This math is pretty simple: one lane of freeway traffic can move about 2,420 people per hour (2,200 vehicles per hour times an average auto occupancy of 1.1 people per car) and the Yellow Line moves around 7,400 passengers from Pentagon to L’Enfant Plaza during the peak AM hour. Another way to see it is that the Yellow Line removes 6,700 (7,400 pax / 1.1 pax per car) cars from the road.
We repeat for emphasis: "The Yellow Line provides the equivalent of three additional lanes."

So how much is that worth? It turns out that VDOT is just about to add a fourth lane to a portion of I-395. The project is described in the Council of Governments Long-Range Transportation Plan:

  1. Widen I-395, Shirley Memorial Highway – Southbound from Duke St. to Edsall Rd.
Click map for larger image.
Add a fourth lane to southbound I-395 between Duke St. and Edsall Rd.
1.5 miles
$58.5 million

See the CLRP project description form for more information.

That would be about $39 million per mile of highway. 3 more lanes for 13 miles would equate to over $1.5 billion!

Four Mile Run UPSTREAM Clean-up March 9th

There will be several Four Mile Run environmental stewardship projects occurring this Spring. The first will be a clean-up in the Arlington (or upstream) portion of Four Mile Run next Saturday. 

Stay tuned for details about about the Four Mile Run DOWNSTREAM Clean-up coming on April 6th!

On Saturday, March 9, from 9:00 a.m. to noon, Arlington County will be organizing its annual cleanup of the Four Mile Run watershed. 

This free event will take place at designated sites including Madison Manor, Bon Air, Bluemont, Glencarlyn, Barcroft, and Shirlington Parks to help clean up stream banks and park areas along Four Mile Run. Four Mile Run is Arlington’s largest watershed draining to the Potomac River.

All are welome to participate including individuals, families, and groups. Several sites have areas that are easily accessible and safe for young children.

The Arlington County Park Rangers are organizing this watershed cleanup. For more information, contact them at 703-525-0168. ACE is pleased to partner with the County and will be coordinating the cleanup sites at Barcroft Park and Shirlington Park.

Arlington County Bike Crash Mapping

Blogger M. V. Jantzen has taken bike crash data compiled by Arlington County and put them online in a very impressive looking mapping system (as shown above).

Says Jantzen:
Arlington County has released its own set of bicycle accident data. There were 227 incidents recorded from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012 (though the first recorded accident wasn’t until March 1, 2010). That’s 6.3 reported incidents a month. I’ve made a map for them, theArlington Bicycle Accidents Stat Mapper.
Locally, some bike crashes are shown, but far less than elsewhere in the County.

Injured Officer has Valorous History in Arlandria

As most have already heard, Officer Peter Laboy suffered a gun shot wound to the head this past Wednesday, February 27th during a traffic stop (Update: Police Officer Shot Identified as Peter Laboy | Old Town Patch).

Officer Laboy is a decorated veteran who was honored with silver medal in 2002 responding to an October 2001 robbery in Arlandria. From the Alexandria Gazette-Packet:

OFFICERS PETER LABOY AND LUIS TORRES were on patrol, as usual, on Oct. 2, 2001, each in his own patrol car. Both officers heard the radio call that there had been a robbery at the A&A Pawnshop on Mount Vernon Avenue and that the suspects had fled. Laboy, who was on West Glebe Road at the time, saw a station wagon driving erratically going west on Glebe toward I-395. He turned around and began to pursue the vehicle, attempting to get the driver to stop. In the meantime, Torres got a description of the vehicle that had just fled the scene of the pawnshop robbery. The description matched the car that Laboy was attempting to stop. Torres got in front of the suspect vehicle and attempted to block it. The suspect swerved around Torres’ police car and the pursuit began. The two officers pursued the suspects onto I-395 and notified Arlington County. As the suspects were crossing the 14th Street Bridge into the District of Columbia, a passenger began firing a gun at the officers. D.C police joined the pursuit, and the suspects continued firing their weapon. Finally the gunman’s hand struck a parked car, and the gun fell. The vehicle came to a stop when it struck another car at a stoplight near the D.C Armory. Torres stayed with the driver, who was thrown from the suspect’s vehicle, while Laboy pursued the gunman, who was attempting to flee the scene. No one was seriously injured, in large part due to the careful manner in which the two officers pursued the suspects. They were awarded the silver medal.
Fox 5 news has this take on the incident (Second brush with gunfire for wounded Alexandria Police Officer Laboy):
"It sounds like a movie script. Armed robbery suspects speeding down 395, across the 14th Street Bridge--taking shots at the officers in pursuit. But it really happened..."
Alexandria City Councilmember Justin Wilson recalls learning about the incident when he was enrolled in an APD-led Citizens Program:
"I remember it well. We listened to the radio recording of the chase during Citizens Police Academy. It was captivating. Laboy was amazing. I don't know how anyone being fired at out of a moving vehicle could be that calm."
The Alexandria Police Association is holding a fundraiser at Virtue Feed & Grain for Officer Laboy on Sunday, March 10th from 3:00 - 6:00 pm. 106 South Union Street. Please share the flier below or check the APA's Facebook page created for the effort.

Trolley Pub Rolling into Arlington | reports that the famous Trolley Pub might be coming to Arlington this Spring (Trolley Pub Rolling into Arlington |

"The open-air, pedal-powered trolley lets riders mix drinking and exercising while taking in the Arlington sights. Up to 14 people can ride along on a tour, along with one certified Trolley Pub conductor in the captain’s seat."

Could we see it hitting the trails soon? ARLnow gives a tentative start-up date of April 13th.

The Trolley Pub Arlington has set up a FaceBook page and has posted these pics of their vehicle:

Traffic Hampers Morning Bus Commute

According to WMATA, accidents at two Arlandria intersections affected Metrobus performance this morning. The accidents were said to have occurred both on West Glebe Road, one where it meets with Mt Vernon Avenue and the other at Valley Road.

Here's how WMATA reported these incidents on its Twitter feed:

10A, 10B: Due to an accident at Mt Vernon Ave & West Glebe Rd, buses to Hunting Point may experience delays.
— @wmata (@wmata) February 13, 2013

10B: Due to an accident at Valley Dr & West Glebe Rd, buses to Hunting Point may experience delays.
— @wmata (@wmata) February 13, 2013
These incidents follow another report earlier this month about traffic congestion hampering the morning commute. Again, here's WMATA Twitter report:
10B: Due to traffic congestion at Mt Vernon & S Glebe and Mt Vernon & Commonwealth, buses are experiencing up to 15 minute delays.
— @wmata (@wmata) February 7, 2013
The intersections involved have been the topic of discussion for over a decade but promised improvements have yet to occur. The Mt Vernon & West Glebe intersection was slated for improvements since the 1991 Transportation Master Plan Update. The South Glebe and Mt Vernon intersection improvements were called for by the 2003 Arlandria Plan. And the West Glebe & Valley Road intersection was cited for improvements by the 2005 Four Mile Run Restoration Plan. The South Glebe and Valley Road projects were absent however from the most recently approved Capital Improvement Budget and Transportation Long Range Plan (LRP). The West Glebe intersection is mentioned in the LRP but remains unfunded.

Previous related stories from The Arlandrian:

    New Bus Shelter Vandalized. 2nd Time.

    We didn't even get a chance to report about the recent upgrades to the bus shelter at Mt Vernon and West Reed Avenues yet.

    And it was vandalized today...for the second time since it was installed.

    The new shelter, part of the first of quite a few long-anticipated pedestrian improvements to Arlandria, is also one of the first of a new program of bus shelter replacements City-wide that will also incorporate new technologies such as solar lighting and potentially schedule information or even real-time transit data. We reported on the efforts, progress and set-backs that have been happening along the way (see prior stories listed below).

    But not if stuff like this keeps happening.

    We reported the incident and will track the progress of the repairs.

    Previous related stories from The Arlandrian:

    Potomac Yard Fire Station Inspires Montgomery County Effort

    The news website reports that our local fire station has inspired changes to how Montgomery County, Maryland plans to pursue affordable housing in their area (Council Approves Affordable Housing Assessment Bill).

    Montgomery County is often hailed for its visionary planning with regard to affordable housing and is credited with pioneering inclusionary zoning, requirements to include affordable housing along with new market rate construction that have created over 10 thousand units since 1974. While in Virginia, such zoning practices have not been allowed by the legislature, Arlandria exhibits some prominent mixed-income examples where affordable units were included in new development, not by fiat, but by negotiation (the Preston and Lenox Place).

    The Station at Potomac Yard, however, is a different example of how government facilities can be created in a way to allow additional affordable housing. The four-story residential component consists of 12 one-bedroom, 49 two-bedroom, and 3 three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 700 to 1300 square feet. And Montgomery County, the 6th wealthiest jurisdiction in the country, is looking to its own facilities to further increase its affordable housing stock.

    From the article:
    The Montgomery County Council today unanimously passed a bill that will make officials assess whether affordable housing can be added to new capital projects such as libraries or fire stations.
    According to the article, County Councilman Roger Berliner, the sponsor of the bill, cited the Potomac Yard Fire Station and his inspiration for proposing the bill. 

    Previous Post from the Arlandrian:

    Will Virginia get in a TIF over Potomac Yard Metro?

    Today, the Alexandria Times discusses a proposal by Delegate Rob Krupicka that would have participate in the financing of the Potomac Yard Metro Station via Tax-Increment Financing (Krupicka turns to Richmond to Help Pay for Potomac Yard Metro Station).

    Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a method to use future gains in tax revenues to help fund current infrastructure improvements that are projected to produce those gains.

    From the Times:

    "The freshman state legislator has introduced a bill that would redirect state tax revenue from the neighborhood’s development — as well as future sales and use taxes — back to the Port City. The dollars would then go toward paying off the estimated $250 million Metro stop.... dipping into state tax revenue streams — capped at $1.25 million per year — could potentially cover interest on the municipal bonds.
    "According to the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, which has also thrown its weight behind Krupicka’s proposal, the state would pay for as much as 10 percent of the station’s construction cost over 30 years."

    Community Lodgings Celebrates Renovation

    On Wednesday, February 20th, Community Lodgings will dedicate the re-opening of an affordable apartment building that was recently renovated by Pulte Homes and their trade partners in conjunction with HomeAid Northern Virginia.



    Community Lodgings will dedicate the re-opening of an affordable apartment building that was recently renovated by Pulte Homes in partnership with HomeAid Northern Virginia, Freddie Mac Foundation and City of Alexandria. 

    The building serves as temporary housing to 10 homeless families. With $87,000 in upgrades per unit, this $870,000+ project was accomplished with 40% in savings coming from "Builder Captain" Pulte Homes and their Trade Partners.

    Purchased in 1991, the building at  612 Notabene Drive is a 10-unit affordable apartment building, one of 5 buildings that Community Lodgings maintains in Arlandria with over 40 some units. 

    School Budget Plans For New Cora Kelly School

    In today's Alexandria Gazette Packet, an article about the ACPS Superintendent's proposed budget discuss some of the capital improvement projects over the coming years (Wrecking Ball Budget Includes Four New Schools in the Coming Decade), including a new building for Cora Kelly:
    "Four years from now, the superintendent plans to start budgeting for demolition and construction of a $50 million new Cora Kelly Elementary School, which would be converted to offer Kindergarten through eighth grade."

    WAMU Door to Door: Lynhaven, Va.

    How did we miss this?

    Click on the link to listen to neighborhood hero (and Alexandria Living Legend) Rosa Byrd talk about Lynhaven on WAMU as part of Meto Connection's "Door to Door" series:
    Door to Door: Dupont Circle, D.C. & Lynhaven, Va. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

    We're fans of fanboats

    Spotted today on Four Mile Run:
    The Airboat Patrol

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