2018 NEWS

Latest News (as of 11/13/2018) 

THE NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER IS OUT

Amazon IS Coming To Crystal City

And here we go.

Amazon in National Landing in Arlington, Virginia

“This is a big win for Virginia – I’m proud Amazon recognizes the tremendous assets the Commonwealth has to offer and plans to deepen its roots here,” said Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia. “Virginia put together a proposal for Amazon that we believe represents a new model of economic development for the 21st century, and I’m excited to say that our innovative approach was successful. The majority of Virginia’s partnership proposal consists of investments in our education and transportation infrastructure that will bolster the features that make Virginia so attractive: a strong and talented workforce, a stable and competitive business climate, and a world-class higher education system.”

“We are proud that Amazon has selected National Landing for a major new headquarters. This is, above all, a validation of our community’s commitment to sustainability, transit-oriented development, affordable housing, and diversity,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “The strength of our workforce coupled with our proximity to the nation’s capital makes us an attractive business location. But Arlington’s real strength is the decades of planning that have produced one of the most vibrant, civically engaged communities in the world. Those plans have paved the way for this investment, and we look forward to engaging the Arlington community about Amazon’s plans and how we can grow together.”

 https://newsroom.arlingtonva.us/release/amazon/

CCCA Annual Meeting and Elections:  November 29

Have you wondered about the buzz of Crystal City “taking off”?  Come hear Tracy Gabriel, Executive Director of the Crystal City Business Improvement Development (BID), show us what the new strategic plan for the Future Cities Project Area (Crystal City/Pentagon City/Potomac Yard) will be.

We will also hold elections for CCCA officers, as described below.

Same time (7-9 pm)  and same location (1805 Crystal Park Condominium community room).

CCCA Elections

Nominations -- including self-nominations -- are now open for the following four CCCA officer positions! All members whose dues are paid are eligible to be candidates and to vote in the election at the CCCA Annual General Meeting on the evening of November 29, 2018.  Terms for each position are two years. 

— Vice President for Policy and Planning:  Lead officer representing and coordinating CCCA activity dealing with Arlington County and other outside entities on planning, development, and policies

— Treasurer:  Lead Custodian of financial assets and records

— Communications Director:  Lead officer on the communications program, which includes maintenance of the association's website, producing a periodic newsletter, and other interface on behalf of the CCCA

— Membership Liaison:  Lead officer in recruiting new members and facilitating the CCCA activities of current members, ensuring they receive needed information and support

To nominate yourself, or someone else, for one of these offices, please submit general contact information for the nominee (name, address, phone number, email address, and a brief written statement supporting the candidacy) to the Election Committee, specifying which office the nomination is for.  In addition, if you are nominating someone else, please provide your contact information. ([email protected])

All nominations must be received by November 14, when nominations will be closed.  

More detail on the officer positions and operations of the CCCA is available from the Election Committee, whose members would be glad to provide additional information and answers to any questions of interested civic association members. ([email protected])

In addition, the CCCA's Bylaws containing descriptions of the open positions are posted on the Association’s website. (www.crystalcitycivic.org)

This is an opportunity for Crystal City residents to advance the interests of the Crystal City community. 

Elections Location for Crystal City Precinct 006

   

Attention all voters in the northern part of Crystal City.  Our moveable polling site has hopefully settled in its permanent location:  251 S. 18th Street.  Note that this is the Wells Fargo red building on the corner of 18th and Clark/Bell Streets, right across from the bus stations and the Metro.  The polling site is located in the ground floor lobby Conference Room directly across from the entrance to the Wells Fargo Bank.  (Do not go to the Gallery Underground where you voted in the last two elections.) There are 4 ways to enter the lobby of the building:  2 doors facing the Metro/bus stations; 1 door facing the Plaza on 18th Street; elevators from the Underground in the hallway facing Rite Aid. Free parking will be available and clearly marked on the loop off 18th Street and next to the Plaza.  Note that the entrance to the parking loop is just to the left of the entrance to the garage.  The exit from the parking loop faces the Plaza.  Parking in the garage is not free.

What's on the Ballot:  One US Senator (3 candidates), 1 Member US House of Representatives (2 candidates), 1 County Board member (2 candidates), 1 School Board member (2 candidates), 2 Virginia constitutional amendments, and 4 County bond referendums!  Find links to information on these candidates, bond referendums, and proposed constitutional amendments through this link.   

Open house for Transitway Extension to Pentagon City

Arlington  County Transportation is holding an open house Nov. 8 6:30-8:00 pm in the Crystal City Community Room, Crystal City Shops, 2100 Crystal Drive,  to learn about the project to extend the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway to Pentagon City.  This extension will run from Crystal Drive and Clark Street along 12th Street South to South Hayes Street and Army Navy Drive. It will add 0.75 miles of bus-only lanes to the Transitway corridor, along with 7 new stations serving high-quality, high-capacity, frequent bus service. Staff are currently working to prepare the project’s traffic and operations analysis and complete design for the project’s first segment by summer 2019.  Stop by anytime between 6:30 and 8 pm to discuss the project with County staff and have your questions answered.  Visit the project page

Crystal City Post Office To Move Permanently

Because of the planned redevelopment of Crystal Square, the Crystal City Post Office moved temporarily from 1750 Crystal Drive to 2108  Crystal Plaza Arcade in the Underground Shops area.  Now that the Site Plan for Crystal Square has been approved by the County, the Post Office plans to relocate to a more permanent location.

There will be a public meeting on Tuesday, November 13 at 5 pm at 241 18th Street, Lobby Level--Suite 103--to discuss the planned relocation.  The Postal Service will identify the need, identify the tentative decision to relocate retail service outline the proposal to meet the need for relocation invite questions, solicit written input on the proposal, and provide an address to which the community and local officials may send written appeals of the tentative decision and comments on the proposal or a period of 30 days following the public meeting.

Construction On Crystal Square and Garage closures

On October 22nd, JBG SMITH started a construction project bringing 130,000 sf of new retail, including a movie theater and a grocery store, to Crystal City.

Here’s what to expect in the next few months:

• The parking garage entrance on 15th Street South closed permanently on October 22nd. Office and retail tenants and visitors can use the entrances on Crystal Drive and 18th Street.
• All currently open retail shops will remain open.
• The south side of the sidewalk on 15th Street will be closed. Pedestrians will need to cross to the north side of 15th to access Crystal Drive or Bell Street destinations.
• The central vehicular entrance for the Crystal Square Apartments on 15th will be closed and drivers will need to use the South Bell Street entrance.

See the map attached.

Additionally, we plan to have property managers and engineers on the ground with “How Can I Help?” buttons, to help answer questions or direct traffic.

Construction is scheduled to finish in two years – late 2020.

Phase I of Uber Lyft Lot Started

On October 12 the County activated a temporary traffic signal at the corner of Route 1 and 27th Street South, in response to community requests to the County to mitigate the serious traffic problems.   MWAA coordinated with the County to open the lot's Route 1 gate at the same time. These changes allow traffic from MWAA’s TNC lot to exit to Route 1. This concludes installation of phase 1 of the interim solution.

The County is monitoring this location through traffic cameras installed on site, and will fine-tune the signal timing based on actual operations.  The County continues to encourage MWAA to seek additional strategies dealing with the displacement of its TNC lot due to the construction on its campus. At the same time, County staff is working on congestion mitigation measures to counter, to the maximum extent possible, the significant increase in traffic volume.

This is the first phase to mitigate the traffic problems on S. Eads Street caused by installation of this lot in the spring. Phase II for a more permanent solution is a long way off, but this is a good start. Thank you, Arlington County Traffic Division.  Here's the project website.

Crystal Drive speed limit changing from 30 mph to 25 mph

On Oct. 23, the County Board approved decreasing the speed limit on Crystal Drive by five miles per hour, from 30 mph to 25 mph. The new speed limit is expected to be implemented by the end of November.  The change is based on a traffic engineering investigation the County conducted for Crystal Drive from 12th Street South to Route 1. The investigation analyzed speed statistics, collision history, pedestrian activity and roadway characteristics. Based on these factors, the investigation supported a reduced speed limit for this street.  For more information, view the Board Report

Clark Street demolition update

Crews continue removing and hauling away soil that supported the elevated Clark Street. Currently, the contractor has hauled approximately 6,400 cubic yards of soil material off-site, out of approximately 22,000 cubic yards to be removed for the whole project. This operation is using approximately 15 trucks per day.  The last week of October the contractor plans to crush and haul away the concrete walls and abutment from the since-removed 15th Street South bridge and from the wingwalls along the 15th Street off-ramp.  Crews also continue excavation and concrete placement for the traffic signal foundations at the intersection of Route 1 and 20th Street South, and installation of street light foundations along the median and northbound right shoulder of Route 1 between 15th and 20th Streets South.

 The next detours for this project will occur during removal of the Clark Street bridge over 18th Street South. This work has not yet been scheduled, but there will be a two-week advance notice before the detour starts.  Visit the project page

Crystal Drive Two-Way Conversion Final Phase

In September, the County Board approved the construction contract for the Crystal Drive two-way conversion's final phase, which will convert Crystal Drive between 26th and 27th Streets South to two-way operation. Construction is expected to begin in late 2018 and last approximately nine months.  The project is designed to improve traffic circulation patterns in Crystal City. In addition to the two-way conversion, improvements will include a loading area near the Hyatt Regency hotel, a new right-turn pocket for northbound Crystal Drive onto 26th Street, a bike lane on southbound Crystal Drive and sharrows on northbound Crystal Drive. There will be one vehicle traffic lane in each direction on this section of Crystal Drive. 27th Street South will also be converted to two-way traffic from Crystal Drive to Route 1.

This project is the third and final phase of converting Crystal Drive from one-way to two-way travel, as planned in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan. Upon completion, Crystal Drive will be a two-way street from South Potomac Avenue/27th Street South up through 12th Street South.  See the project website.

CCCA MEETING SEPTEMBER 26

What a great meeting this was!  Arlington County’s unofficial historian Kathryn Holt Springston gave a slideshow presentation on the history of the Crystal City area:  “Crystal City:  from swamps, forts and brickyards to skyscrapers.  This  was not dry history, it was an engaging, informative demonstration of how the area has changed over the years, including the outline of the Potomac River and the swamps that became Crystal City and Long Bridge Park.  When the URL becomes available of the full slideshow, we will share in on our website.

The second half of the meeting focused on What’s Happening in Crystal City.  Details will be posted on the website later on.

DID YOU KNOW?

Jackson City was a seedy suburb of Washington DC built in 1835 on the south side of the Long Bridge (today 14th Street Bridge). With a cornerstone laid by President Jackson, it became Arlington's Monte Carlo, a den of iniquity, gambling, race tracks, brothels... Arlington County Attorney General Crandal Mackey led a team of civilians by train from DC with axes, guns, and hammers to destroy it in 1905.

   

DID YOU KNOW?

Fort Jackson operated during the civil war at the foot of the Long Bridge (14th Street Bridge).


     

Did you know:

Luna Park operated as an amusement park (with escaped elephants) on the site of the sewage treatment plant.

Energize Arlington Series of Community Leadership Workshops

Arlington County and the Arlington County Civic Federation have teamed up to organize a series of interactive workshops to promote more active civic engagement and help folks improve their community leadership skills.  The workshops will take place every Thursday evening in October with networking from 6:30-7 pm and program from 7-8:30 pm.  The CCCA President has been actively engaged in preparing the second workshop on "Improving Communication with Multi-Family Buildings."  This is the area where the CCCA has the most experience from partnering with the BID and developers.

We would love to encourage CCCA members and others to take part in these workshops and become more actively engaged in civic leadership.  Please email if you have any questions or would like to discuss your participation:  [email protected].  

Uber/Lyft Parking Lot on S. Eads Street

 After months of public pressure, the County finally agreed to hold a community meeting on the traffic congestion caused by vehicles exiting and entering the airport Uber/Lyft Lot on S. Eads Street. The three civic associations in the 22202 zip code--Aurora Highlands, Crystal City, and Arlington Ridge--had been urging since May the closure of the entrance/exit on S. Eads Street and the reopening of the old gate on Route 1.  As background, in April 2018 the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) began operating a dispatch lot for Uber/Lyft vehicles on South Eads Street, near Fort Scott Drive. MWAA relocated the lot to the Eads Street site to make room for their “Project Journey” construction project, but the move has resulted in increased traffic congestion in this area.  Representatives of MWAA and the Virginia Department of Transportation officials also attended.

The PowerPoint presentation showed that the County has made progress with two phases.  Phase I is a temporary fix (for about 50% of the problem) to open the Route 1 gate for left-bound traffic to the airport ramp, by means of a temporary span-wire signal control on Route 1.  VDOT has issued a permit and work is expected to start the first week of October and take 1-2 weeks.   Phase II would solve another 20% of the problem but cost $250,000 in funds that are not now as a capital improvement project.  It would take 12-14 months, including underground utility survey, potential easement, design, VDOT review, and construction.   A new website for the project will be available some time in the next week and available here.

(Editorial) Save the Full 18th Street Park

For a long time now, JBG-Smith has pursued plans for introducing a specialty grocery store and an Alamo cinema drafthouse on Crystal Drive between 15th and 18th Street.  This has the full support of our Civic Association.  Their preference to hold off on existing plans for converting the office building at 1750 Crystal Drive to a residential building, is also fully understandable, given the apparently imminent decisions from Amazon.  Modified plans were approved at the Site Plan Review Committee September 17, with approval by the County Board to be requested at their October 20 meeting.

HOWEVER, all along, we have resisted an additional part of the overall package which is totally inappropriate in terms of both substance and process.   The existing plans for Crystal City underscore that “open space” is the scarcest aspect in our community.   Thus, we enthusiastically support creation of an 18th Street park, which was envisaged in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan.  Yet, JBG-Smith has stubbornly insisted on occupying a large and prominent part of the open space in the park at the corner of Crystal Drive and 18th Street with a two-story “retail building” over the proposed second entrance to the Metro station with a building that will be unsightly and disruptive of the view from Crystal Drive--without providing any satisfactory justification other than their economic interest.   This building  was never envisioned in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan and will definitely cut into  green space.  The loss of the midblock open space park on the second level above the Crystal Square Apartments Building, which will disappear for construction of the Alamo Drafthouse, makes preservation of the full 18th Street proposed park critical, at least in the short term, given there are no funds for park design and construction for the planned second Metro entrance.

Moreover, JBG-Smith has refused to provide the kind of transparent outreach process to our community which has always been offered for such open space projects.  Instead, recently, they have been requesting through the coUrbanize electronic process that people send in support blindly for the two-story building, without their realizing that they are supporting reduced open space.  So there has been no chance for residents and others to evaluate whether there is any excuse or merit in the notion of shortchanging us on open space.  This heavy-handed approach is not acceptable and any decision regarding the open space MUST be postponed until all options have been discussed in the community, especially as it is clear that the actual implementation of the open space is well into the future.  No excuse for being in a rush!  . 

This is something like a poison pill in the JBG package to the County Board for October 20;  do NOT support it blindly in the coUrbanize process!  Be aware that you then implicitly would be supporting a reduction of valuable open space!’ 

We will continue to oppose that part of the plan since they can construct the interior improvements of 1770 Crystal Drive without impacting the open space.

Update on VRE Station

VRE presented an update to the September 5 Transportation Commission and the September 25 County Board meeting.  The materials that were presented were essentially the same as the June 6 public meeting updated for comments received and next steps.  The meeting materials are posted on VRE’s project page.

(Editorial) – Decision on New VRE Location Now Seems a Foregone Conclusion

Our community’s focus has been on getting the new station to be located behind office buildings, rather than directly in the backyard of two residential buildings.   However, VRE and County have persisted in their arguments that the location behind the 1801 and 1805 Crystal Drive residences is absolutely necessary.  Judging from the VRE presentation to the County Board a few days ago, and especially the reactions from the Board, it appears clear that they have dismissed the issue of alternative locations, and are instead moving ahead with the details of final design.  Moreover, there were statements to the effect that there will be no negative impacts on the two residential buildings, so that there would be no need for remedies or mitigation.   As of this moment, we are not aware of any action still being pursued separately by the Crystal Park Condominium.  The only consolation right now is that VRE still has not obtained funding for actual construction, so action does not seem imminent.

Long Bridge Facility Ground Breaking

In the midst of a downpour, the groundbreaking for the Facility Center at Long Bridge Park took  place on July 24.  We will look forward to an update on construction in the near future.

Very little about the effort to build an aquatics center at Long Bridge Park has ever been easy — and that includes the project’s long-awaited groundbreaking.  Mother Nature had one last obstacle in store for county leaders as they gathered to finally turn some dirt at Long Bridge, delivering a formidable deluge that thoroughly soaked the construction site ahead of Tuesday’s ceremonial start to construction.  Yet even as the rain turned the ground to mush and tested the limits of attendees’ umbrellas, Arlington officials pressed on with a celebration of a project that’s been decades in the making.  “This project has endured worse than a little rain,” joked County Board Chair Katie Cristol.  Read more here.  See a video rendering here.

Demolition of  Clark/15th Streets Overpass

Since the Clark Street structure above 15th Street South was demolished in July, crews have been performing some demolition work on the northbound Route 1 bridge over 18th Street South, on the right edge of the bridge deck. This work will allow the contractor to build a new traffic barrier wall along the right shoulder area of Route 1. The concrete barriers that currently separate Route 1 from South Clark Street were constructed on the Clark Street side and need to be replaced as elevated Clark Street is removed.

In the coming weeks the contractor will continue work on the new Route 1 traffic barrier wall, resume traffic signal work at the intersection of 20th Street South and Route 1, and continue hauling off concrete material.  The next detours for this project will occur during removal of the Clark Street bridge over 18th Street South. This work has not yet been scheduled, but there will be a two-week advance notice before the detour starts.  View the project page

With Redevelopment Nearing, Several Crystal City Shops Set to Relocate

Multiple restaurants and stores are either closing or relocating in the Crystal City Shops at 1750. 

Potbelly Sandwich Shop, one of the departing tenants, will be closed after today (July 25).  A sign inside the restaurant says they are relocating to an existing Potbelly location in Alexandria (401 John Carlyle Street), and a manager said the Crystal City location is closing because the building managers are renovating.

King Street Blues closed for business July 29 .  Crystal Cleaners has moved to 1235 S. Clark Street under the name Crystal Gateway Cleaners. Crystal City Dental Arts Center also plans to move to that location at the end of the month. JBG Smith operates the Crystal City Shops, with a main entrance at 1750 Crystal Drive, and the 1235 S. Clark Street site.  A Touch of Art & Framing will relocate to a different space within the 1750 complex July 31, according to a sign on its door.  Read more here.  Also, La-Or Nail and Skin is moving next to the Ship Hatch near Rite Aid and FedEx-Kinkos is moving to the former Tech Shop area which is empty.

Future Cities Project

The Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) is embarking on a multi-dimensional strategic planning process called the Future Cities Project. This effort will focus on Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard – Arlington. These three areas represent, individually and collectively, major economic centers of Arlington County, the Greater Washington region, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Help us envision the transformation of Crystal City, Pentagon City & Potomac Yard! Visit futurecitiesproject.org to answer questions and provide feedback on a variety of topics, like how we can make the area more family friendly.  Learn More.

Voters in Crystal City now have a new polling place

As we have noted before, the County has entered into an agreement with JBG Smith to relocate more permanently the voting precinct for the northern part of Crystal City, precinct 006.   

The County Board approved a change for voters living in the “Crystal City 006 Precinct,” which runs from the intersection of 18th Street S. and S. Fern Street up along Route 1 before it meets I-395, at its meeting Saturday, July 14. The Gallery Underground (2100 Crystal Drive) once served as the polling place for the precinct, but it’s now located in a conference room inside a building at 251 18th Street S.  The county only recently moved the polling place for the precinct, which contains roughly 6,000 voters, after some nearby apartment buildings backed out of plans to host voters instead.

This latest change was spurred by “several complaints from voters in the north part of the precinct about the change, mostly in regards to parking,” according to a staff report prepared for the County Board.  The county will now send out postcards to any voters impacted by the change ahead of the Nov. 6 election.  Read more here.

CCCA Meeting June 28:  "Cybersecurity:  What's That?"

Good timely meeting on “Internet Safety:  How to Protect Yourself.”   Two cybersecurity experts—Shane Gainer and Herman Williams—provided an overview of a variety of issues ranging from Internet security and concerns to privacy and safety measures, to issues in the news.  Their outline and handouts will be posted on the CCCA website when available.  They reminded us to reboot and/or upgrade our routers in addition to proactively protecting our computers and internet accounts.  

We also covered a variety of topics about Crystal City issues, including: 

1)  JBG-Smith's requested delay to September for County Board consideration of both Phase I (specialty grocery/Alamo draft house) and Phase II (conversion of office to residential space, 18th Street park, and controversial two-story retail building over the proposed second Metro entrance (which would take away 1/3 of the promised park).

2)  Extension of The Connection Library until at least December 2019 (see article below).

3)  Proposed new voting precinct 006 for the northern part of Crystal City:  251 18th Street.  This ends the two-year pilgrimage of the polling  station from WaterPark Towers, to Crystal Place, to the Gallery Underground.  The County has signed an agreement with JBG-Smith.

4)  Demolition of the bridge over 15th Street will cause detours (and probably major traffic problems) from July 9-19 (see article below).

Other items in the Newsletter for July.

THE CONNECTION LIBRARY WILL STAY OPEN!  

The Connection, the County’s popular Crystal City pop-up branch library, will stay open through December 2019 with the County Board’s unanimous approval June 16 of amendments to the current lease with JBG Smith.  The County was offered by the landowner (JBGS) such favorable conditions (not just not paying rent, but also having JBGS absorbing operating costs, utilities, etc.) so that for the County it was then easy to accept the offer of an extension.  Board Chair Katie Cristol noted that “the library started as a ‘pop-up’ arrangement but has become more of a ‘fixture.’  She noted that it had become very popular and a real asset in the community.  See the News Report here.  

This decision is definitely the result, not only of our  partnership with JBG, but to extensive lobbying by the CCCA and so many of you.  Many thanks for your efforts  It would be very helpful if some of you would email the County Board and County Manager, expressing thanks and appreciation.

  

Whither Crystal Square Redevelopment?

Until now, JBG-Smith has been moving forward quickly on planning for two phases of development of the Crystal Square block (15th to 18th Streets and Crystal Drive to Clark/Bell).  Phase I  is to include a specialty grocery store and Alamo Draft House.  Phase II was to convert office space in 1750 to residential and an 18th Street park (with or without a controversial two-story retail building to be constructed in the park over the proposed new Metro entrance).  After extensive review by the Planning Commission and Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC), JBG started requesting delays before seeking County Board approval.  Then JBG put  the office to residential conversion on hold.  Now JBG has requested a delay until September for both Phase I and II. 

Looking ahead to the likely County Board decision in September, the proposed two-story retail building remains a major concern.   Throughout the whole County review process, our CCCA representatives strenuously tried to resist this idea.  As many of you are aware, when the Crystal City Sector Plan was developed, the main outcry from our community was caused by the scarcity of open space.   This made the County commit that in every new project, efforts should be made to maximize open space. Regrettably, JBGS ignored this commitment by having a substantial building intrude into what could (and should) be reserved for open space.   Amazingly, the County appears to have become swayed.  Even worse, against all practices for such issues, this proposal was pursued without a full public outreach process with opportunity for input.  An ominous start for JBGS in our area.   We will continue to object.

Construction Update: Elevated Clark Street demolition

Demolition of the Clark Street structure above 15th Street South is tentatively scheduled to begin on Monday, July 9.  This work will require periodic eastbound and westbound detours on 15th Street at Clark Street and Route 1, including closing westbound access to the Route 1 ramps, for approximately two weeks.

·         July 9-10: Detour on eastbound 15th Street South – See alternate routes (pdf)

·         July 11-19 (including the weekend): Detour on westbound 15th Street South – See alternate routes (pdf)

·         During the last two days of work, on July 18 and 19, drivers should expect occasional 15-minute closures of both directions of 15th Street South at Clark Street. Flaggers will be in place to help direct traffic around the closure.

  Visit the project page   View the planned detours during this closure.

 

Construction Update: Long Bridge Drive

Construction of the Long Bridge Drive street improvements project is now complete with the exception of energizing the streetlights, which will occur later this summer.  The project undergrounded utilities and added new bike lanes, sidewalks, shared-use paths, crosswalks, storm drainage improvements, and a bus stop pad. The project also constructed the future aquatic center’s driveway entrance. With the realignment of Long Bridge Drive, the adjacent I-395/Boundary Channel Drive interchange project can move forward.   Planned landscaping and street tree plantings for the project have been incorporated into the design of the aquatics center. As a result, the plantings are anticipated to be done in spring or fall 2020.  Visit the project page

The Boundary Channel Drive Interchange project is still a few years out from starting construction. The project is tracking toward a start of construction date in 2021, which will work out well because the I-395 Express Lanes project, currently staged at the Boundary Channel Drive interchange, will be complete in 2020 and the exterior work for the DCA airport expansion project will be complete by 2021. We expect the Boundary Channel Drive Interchange project to be constructed by the end of 2022.

The project’s next steps are summarized below:

·         Submit final version of the Interchange Modification Report (IMR) to FHWA for approval (July 2018)

·         Prepare Preliminary Design plans and Bid Documents (Summer 2018 – Fall 2019)

·         Advertise project to Design-Build contractors – the winning bidder will both design and construct the project (late 2019)

County Scores $83 Million in Funding for ART Facilities, Pentagon City Improvements

Arlington is now in line to receive nearly $83 million in funding to help the county afford four major transportation projects over the next six years, including the construction of two bus maintenance facilities and a major expansion of transit options in Pentagon City: 

·         $39 million for two new Arlington Transit operations and maintenance facilities

·         $28.8 million for Pentagon City road improvements and Transitway expansion

·         $10 million for improved traffic signals around the county

·         $5 million for a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station

The $5 million for the second entrance at the Crystal City station is also substantially less than the $87 million the county requested to complete the project. County Manager Mark Schwartz has previously warned that Arlington’s funding challenges will make it difficult for the county to build both second entrances without the NVTA’s help, but the $5 million will help the county complete additional design, engineering and environmental work.

In Pentagon City, the NVTA money will help the county fund a $46.6 million effort to improve the area running from Army Navy Drive near the Pentagon City mall to the Crystal City Metro station off Route 1. The project will involve adding new bike lanes and turning lane throughout the area, as well as an expansion of the Transitway service to the Pentagon City Metro station and Army Navy Drive.  Read more here.

VRE Updates on Proposed New Station in Crystal City

VRE hosted an Open House June 6 to share the concept design for the project. The meeting materials are posted on VRE’s project page.  Comments on the station's design and its access from Crystal Drive may be submitted by July 1 via their online comment form.  VRE anticipates presenting an interim report to the County Board in September.

Reagan National Project Journey

Reagan National's current facilities were designed to serve 15 million passengers per year. But more than 23 million passengers traveled through the airport in 2016, setting new records and straining the existing infrastructure. In response, the airport has launched Project Journey, a $1 billion investment to transform the traveler experience inside terminals, at the gates and along the roads. The end result will provide passengers with greater connectivity, more shopping and dining choices and a more pleasant post-security environment. Future improvements to roadway and parking configurations will address the vehicle congestion produced by record-breaking passenger activity.  

     

Most customers who fly at Reagan National will be minimally impacted by Project Journey construction activities. Airlines and flights will continue operating throughout the project, with the usual services and amenities. Changes will be implemented in phases and announced here. Passengers are invited to become more familiar with the project, its major milestones and key benefits. Be among the first to know about upcoming changes by subscribing to Project Journey advisories and updates. You can read the Fact Sheet with the Project timeline here.

 Latest Construction Advisory:

Periodic Nightly Closure of Terminal B/C Arrivals Roadway

From June 26, as needed for several months, from Midnight to 9 a.m. sections of the Arrivals (lower-level) roadway of Terminal B/C (Gates 10-45) used by private vehicles will be closed for construction.  Private vehicles will follow detours through slip-ramps to access the Arrivals level passenger pick-up zone.   Drivers should use extreme caution navigating the detour route and obey the 15-miles-per-hour work zone speed limit.  As an alternate, private vehicles can pick up passengers on the Departures (upper-level) curb.  Construction activity related to the building of two New Security Checkpoints will take place in the work zone.

Guidance for drivers will be continuously broadcast on AM1640, the airport’s roadway advisory radio station. 

To manage congestion, the airport is offering up to 60 minutes of free parking in Terminal Garages and is deploying teams of police officers to direct traffic through the work zone during peak periods.  Use Metrorail (strongly recommended).   Don't drive to Terminal B/C curbs — go to Terminal Garages and park free up to 60 minutes. For longer stays, normal rates will apply.   Use navigation apps, such as Waze, for guidance to your destination.  Read more here.

  CCCRC Letter to County Board

The Crystal City Citizen Review Council (CCCRC) was established by the Arlington County Board to monitor, identify issues and ensure the success of the Crystal City Sector Plan.  others appointed by the County Board.  The following letter was sent by the CCCRC to the County Board on March 30, expressing concern that the proposed budget will seriously limit resources for investment in the Crystal City ‘economic engine’ due to a reduction in the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) rate of income from Crystal City returning to Crystal City development projects.

"Dear Board Members,  

For some time now, increasing concerns have emerged in CCCRC discussions and among Crystal City stakeholder groups about a perceived lack of momentum for Crystal City development efforts at a critical juncture.  There is also a sense of being overtaken by other communities.

On the positive side, the emergence of JBG Smith as a determined and resourceful actor with clear ideas and energy gives us hope.  However, an acceleration of plans, in accordance with the expectations conveyed by our Sector Plan, will not be viable in the absence of substantially strengthened support from the County.  

 Our concerns on this point have been considerably heightened by the Budget Proposal which you are currently considering.   We are all aware of the role played by Crystal City and some other high-density areas in subsidizing services provided to other areas in our County.  When a budget dilemma is now finally being openly recognized, we struggle to find diplomatic language to express our reactions to your conclusion that tax rates shall not be increased and that services (read: consumption) will largely be protected, whereas the resources for investment in the Crystal City ‘economic engine’ are proposed to be severely limited.  We also hear comments that ‘development is becoming a burden on Arlington’, when the reality is just the opposite, viz., that investments in support of revenue-generating development projects are absolutely vital to our hope of creating a ‘virtuous cycle’ out of our current dilemma.  

 In our attached Biennial Report, we urge you to rethink the existing proposal for a cut in the Crystal City TIF, and we also ask for assurance that the CCCRC be invited to participate in relevant budget work sessions or other appropriate settings in future years.   Similarly, we request the opportunity for a dialog regarding the Crystal City items in the new CIP.

Many thanks for your consideration!

 Christer Ahl, Acting Chair, CCCRC"

See Biennial Plan here.

April 26 CCCA General Meeting

County Board Member Erik Gutshall talked about the challenges facing Arlington County and responded to questions from attendees.  Particular concerns were raised about:  the impact of a potential Amazon HQ2 on Crystal City; affordable housing; and budget impact on Crystal City projects.  He emphasized that residents should engage in the ongoing Capital Improvement Process (CIP) if we really want to have the 18th Street Park developed and prevent the loss of our beloved Connection Pop-Up Library.  In our April Newsletter, we published the March 30 letter from the Crystal City Citizens Review Committee ( CCCRC) to the County Board, expressing concern that the proposed budget will seriously limit resources for investment in the Crystal City ‘economic engine’ due to a reduction in the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) rate of income from Crystal City returning to Crystal City development projects.  [Weigh in on the CIP by May 16 for issues of importance to Crystal City like The Connection Library, the 18th Street park, and the bridge to the airport.]

Assistant County Manager for Communications and Engagement Bryna Helfer then presented the new Six-Step Public Engagement Guide (see article below) and urged residents to follow the issues on various social media and get more engaged.  (see article below on what those media are).  Erik Gutshall seconded this urging, joking that if something is important to us, we should “show up with pitchforks at meetings” to defend our interests.   

Crystal Drive/18th Street Developments

You’ve probably noticed work on the 1750/1770 Crystal Drive building as JBG Smith moves ahead with its plans to convert that building from office to rental apartments, including construction of additional stories and a new facade. The developer has proposed the rehab and expansion of the 1770 Crystal Drive building, and also is requesting approval for a two-story retail building at the corner of 18th and Crystal Drive.  Earlier proposals that are further along in the consideration process would provide improvements to the north on the same block, including a cinema, a grocery store and other retail which are generally viewed as positive for the neighborhood.  Important public hearings are the next steps and rare open space in our neighborhood is at stake.

It’s critical that the pending proposal for a retail building in the open space be measured against the guidelines in the Crystal City Sector Plan (CCSP). The six-year effort to craft that Plan revealed just how inadequate open space is in Crystal City. The final Plan emphasizes the scarcity of open space planned for/envisioned in Crystal City – most of which currently is privately owned – and sets a goal to increase open space as redevelopment proceeds.  The CCSP clearly shows a park along 18th Street which currently exists today and should remain in central Crystal City.

       

SO THE MAJOR ISSUE HERE IS THE PROPOSAL TO REPLACE PART OF AN IMPORTANT EXISTING/POTENTIAL OPEN SPACE WITH AN UNWANTED AND UNNEEDED RETAIL BUILDING.

Your CCCA representatives have argued forcefully against this premature plan change that allows for a new structure in the park. The developer has not provided a justification for a retail building. The CCSP calls for street level retail all along Crystal Drive (from 15th Street to well south of 23rd Street) and at the ground level within the two existing office buildings that border the park’s northern edge between 1770 and the Metro entrance. There are more than enough existing and planned retail opportunities without encroaching on valued open space.

Equally important, there is no funding for park design, construction and maintenance, nor is there funding for a proposed new Metro entrance at 18th and Crystal Drive. If County officials agree to postpone the imposition of a building in the park NOW, it can be revisited when a need can be demonstrated AND funding for the park and Metro entrance becomes available.  The 1770 project and other improvements planned for the block north to 15th Street can of course proceed.

It is very important that County officials hear from Crystal City residents at the County Board (May 19 or 22). It’s also important that the citizens appear in person, even if they don’t choose to speak, to demonstrate public engagement and concern.

Please check the CPHD website (https://departments.arlingtonva.us/planning-housing-development) for further information and the County Board site for the meeting date and agenda (https://countyboard.arlingtonva.us/meetings).

Crystal City: Do You want an 18th Street Park?  To Keep the Connection Library?

CIP – Capital Improvement Plan:  Weigh in by May 16 on Arlington’s 10-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for FY 2019-2028 which is now under development.

JGB Smith's  plan for the Crystal Square (1770 Crystal Drive), with a grocery, movie theater, and community park on 18th Street which it will give to the County. But there's no money in the County's budget to make the park a reality--it could remain a construction site. Moreover, current County thinking is to reduce the tax income from commerce in Crystal City that would go back to Crystal City projects, further draining the capital improvement pool. We have little open space in Crystal City and this park would be a great addition to the community.

Please respond to the CIP survey by this Friday May16 and urge that money be put in the next CIP for developing the 18th Street park.

Help Keep Arlington Social Security Office Open

Arlington's only Social Security field office is scheduled to close in June.  If it closes, Arlingtonians will have to go to Edsall Road at the south end of Alexandria for in-person services.  That office already serves all of Alexandria and much of Fairfax and does not have the capacity to take on our needs.  This harms the most vulnerable in our community who have the least access to transportation and internet services, and may have the most complicated cases that need human interaction.  Please consider making a quick call or two in support of this office.

SSA Commissioner 410-965-3120

Rep. Don Beyer 703-658-5403

Sen. Tim Kaine 703-361-3198

Sen. Mark Warner 703-442-0670

Update on Long Bridge and a Bike Bridge

Officials from Virginia, D.C. and an alphabet soup’s worth of federal agencies have spent years working on plans to replace the Long Bridge — which runs roughly parallel to the 14th Street Bridge — and improve rail capacity over the Potomac River.  [Members of the CCCA have been regularly attending these meetings.]

Officials say they are almost ready to commit to more concrete plans to guide the redesign. The project still needs millions of dollars in funding to move ahead, and construction wouldn’t start until 2020 at the earliest, yet planners are pushing to have engineering and environmental analyses drawn up by summer 2019. 

State rail officials told the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission at a meeting June 7 that they’ve managed to narrow down a long list of alternatives for replacing the bridge, which stretches from near the Pentagon in Arlington to Southwest D.C., to two final possibilities.  Both plans involve building a new, two-track bridge alongside the existing structure, which was first built back in 1904. One alternative calls for the current bridge to stay in place; the other would involve fully replacing it.

The project will also require extensive conversations about how exactly officials can include bike and pedestrian options alongside the new bridge, a key point of concern for Arlington’s representatives on the commission.  Officials are considering two options for bike and pedestrian crossings that would not be attached to the Long Bridge, running closer to the bridge for Metro trains nearby, but still included in the overall project. But he said planners could decide to add bike and pedestrian options on the new bridge itself, though that could prompt some “security concerns.”  Whichever option officials choose, Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol urged Allen to keep bicyclists, walkers and runners in mind throughout the planning process, given the unique opportunity this project presents. After all, she noted, the current crossing along the 14th Street Bridge does not offer a connection to the regional trail network on the D.C. side.  Read more here.

Will the Long Bridge Project consider bicycle and pedestrian access?

Although not part of the Project’s Purpose and Need, the Project will explore the potential opportunity to accommodate connections that follow the trajectory of the Long Bridge Corridor to the pedestrian and bicycle network. The feasibility of this opportunity will be assessed as the Project progresses, and will consider whether a path can be designed to be consistent with railroad operator plans and pursuant to railroad safety practices. Future efforts to accommodate connections to the pedestrian and bicycle network may be advanced as part of the Project, or as part of a separate project(s) sponsored by independent entities. 

Four bike-pedestrian crossing options have been retained for further analysis.  Options shown at the public and agency meetings in December 2017 did not show the crossing connecting across the GWMP to Long Bridge Park. However, following significant feedback received from the public and agencies (CFA, NCPC, and Arlington County) that each emphasized the importance of a connection to Crystal City, the potential to cross the GWMP will be evaluated as part of all four options. 

     

The President of the Friends of Long Bridge Park (and member of the CCCA) addressed Arlington County’s Pedestrian Advisory Board (PAC) on January 10, raising concerns and providing facts and arguments in support of a strong County protest to the Long Bridge Project.  (see his presentation here).  We understand that the PAC is urging the County to do so. 

The CCCA has also sent a letter to the Long Bridge Project expressing concern that a pedestrian/bike lane has been separated from the entire project.  (see the letter here)  Arlington County’s Department of Transportation has also sent a letter requesting reconsideration. (see letter here)

JBP Planning for PenPlace: 

Nearly five years after Arlington County approved Vornado's plans 1.8M SF of office at the PenPlace development, JBG Smith is starting the project as residential.   The developer plans to build the first phase of the Pentagon City project as two seven-story apartment buildings with 300 units and 40K SF of ground-floor retail.  There will be a small plaza between the two low-rise residential buildings.  The site is located along 12th Street between S. Eads and S. Fern Street, facing the Whole Foods block.   Planning for Phase 2, also approved previously in the Pentagon Development Site Plan for the northern section along Army Navy Drive, is on indefinite hold, according to JBG Smith. 

Note:  This is a pleasant switch from earlier Vornado plans to build two high-rise buildings along 12th street:  one a hotel, the other office.  The altered plans will go through the normal Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) process. 

January 16:  Rep. Beyers Helicopter Noise Meeting

On January 16, Representative Don Beyer convened what was effectively the 4th meeting on helicopter noise since 2010.  (The most recent was convened by County Board member Libby Garvey in 2015.)  This is a longstanding problem for residents all over the northern Virginia area, particularly stretching from Rosslyn to Alexandria and west to Falls Church.  County residents have complained for years about helicopter noise. Beyer inserted a provision into legislation in late 2016 directing the Pentagon to study flight routes and possible ways to minimize the noise.  The meeting was part of that study.

It directs the Dept. of Defense to work with the Federal Aviation Administration “to study changes to the region’s helicopter flight routes, operating procedures, and even the types of helicopters flown in the national capital airspace to mitigate the effect of noise on the region’s neighborhoods.”  Representatives of the Army, Marines, and Air Force responded to questions and sought feedback from the audience, although they emphasized that there are 21 agencies which fly helos in the National Capitol area.  Residents insisted that the helos are not sticking to the approved lanes, that there has been an increase in helo noise in recent years, and that the vibration from the Ospreys, in particular, rattles windows and frightens children and pets.  A key takeaway is that there is no central location to receive data on helo flights, deviations from FAA approved lanes, noise, etc. 

January 10:  I395 Meeting

The Aurora Highlands Civic Association hosted a meeting for all 3 civic associations in the 22202 zip code on the upcoming construction work for the I395 Express Lanes.  Transurban presented their plans for the new HOV lanes and the new intersection at S. Eads STreet.  (see pdf presentation here)  Construction work on and near the South Parking Lot is tentatively scheduled to begin on January 23, 2018 and is tentatively scheduled to conclude in spring 2019. Construction activities occurring on and near the South Parking Lot during this timeframe will include demolition of the roadway and existing light poles, placement or roadway stone, and installation of drainage and water lines, a duct bank, a new curb, sidewalk and roadway, fences and bollards, as well as the installation of lighting and new signalized interchanges.  Most of the work for this portion of the project should be completed during daytime hours; however, there may be a need for off-peak weekend work that may be noticeable to residents in the area.

However, there are potentially major traffic implications for us in Crystal City, as the new HOV connections at S. Eads will require street and sign adjustments for the additional traffic.  Moreover, the Army Navy Drive Complete STreet project is connected to this.  This project will consist of a rebalancing of the right-of-way (ROW) to permit improved bicycle, pedestrian and transit accommodations on Army Navy Drive (includes narrowing of existing travel lanes). This project will provide for a 0.7 mile, two-way dedicated bicycling facility (cycle track) on the south side of the ROW, alongside the existing sidewalk. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps, rebuilt driveway aprons and traffic signalization modifications will be included in this project. The project is being coordinated with the Transitway project where they overlap between S Joyce St and S Hayes St.  An Army Navy Drive Design Workshop is planned for January 31.  YOu can see the design plans at the open forum at the Aurora Hills Library from 4-7 pm.  https://projects.arlingtonva.us/…/army-navy-drive-complete…/