Once again, filled with lots of information on what’s happening in our area. Don’t forget, you can get this Newsletter and email update in your in box and vote at meetings by becoming a member of the CCCA for $10 annually. Local businesses may become Associate Members without a vote.
President’s Corner May 18th Meeting and More Issues than Normal
On May 18th at 7:00, we will have a presentation by the County on Transportation. We will also have an in-person report from an Amazon representative on their HQ2. Lastly we will have a short presentation by Dweck on their new buildings. Join us in person at 251 18th St S or register in advance for this meeting.
Last week the County Board approved the Helix, three office buildings and the rest of the development for Amazon at PenPlace. Besides my comments before the County Board, NBC4 interviewed me.
The County is developing a new graphics tool for all things construction/development. There will be a meeting on Monday May 16th at 7:00. This should be a good tool for all residents.
The bringing down of Route 1 has generated several alternatives for 18th Street. VDOT made a presentation on Thursday and we will be having a meeting on the various choices.
The County is proposing to change the way Storm-Water is going to be billed to residents. Switching to a Storm-Water Utility will mean Crystal City Property Owners will see net bills will fall and single-family owners will see an increase, but the method of payment will change.
The Civic Federation is proposing numerous changes to the County Government Structure. For example, one recommendation is to increase the number of County Board Members from 5 to 7.
Many of you are aware of the ongoing VDOT feasibility study on Route 1 which began in October 2020. VDOT and the commercial community have not budged from the position that Route 1 should be brought down to grade, despite intensive efforts by the community and Livability 22202 to propose other options. VDOT’s Phase 2 Virtual Public Information Meeting on April 28 at 6:30 PM is based on this position.
SO WHERE ARE WE? ● Safety of crossing Route 1 for pedestrians and cyclists has been Livabiity22202’s primary goal for the last two years. You can read the background and learn about our efforts on our Livability 22202 website. Lowering Route 1 to grade with a traffic intersection at 18th Street poses the greatest risks; safety crossing Route 1 must be ensured. We do not believe that the current VDOT plan ensures such safety, especially at 18th Street. The VDOT proposal is inconsistent with Arlington County’s Vision Zero initiative. ● Livability 22202 has worked extensively with 2 pro bono urban architects to encourage VDOT to look more at the people side of this project than the car side. We want the best outcome possible for this feasibility study for the entire community: residents as well as commercial interests . ● Therefore, we have set forward 3 main priorities for Phase 2:
1. Ensure safety crossing at 18th Street with one or more proposals: a. Pedestrianize 18th Street (remove travel lanes on 18th between Eads and Clark/Bell to provide a park-like environment for cyclists and pedestrians and a safe crossing; include a Barnes Dance, where all traffic is stopped and pedestrians can cross in any direction, including diagonally) b. Feasible bicycle/pedestrian underpass c. Bicycle/pedestrian overpass
2. Make the Right of Way on Route 1 overall 165’ to make an at-grade Route 1 a true boulevard.
3. Create a new park between 15th St and the multimodal facility and between Route 1 and Clark/Bell to connect the green ribbon open space areas in Crystal City.
Our proposed ideas offer an opportunity to create a “Green Ribbon” by pedestrianizing 18th Street between Eads and Clark/Bell. This element would ideally extend parks from Virginia Highlands park to the Water Park, given plans for the Metro Market park from 18th to Crystal Drive. But the 18th street crossing of Route 1 is critical for any Bike/Pedestrian pathway.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO? ● Register for the April 28 VDOT Public Information Meeting on Phase 2. ● Talk up the meeting and the proposal to bring Route 1 down to grade with all of your friends and acquaintances so they are informed. ● Express your concerns and share your ideas at the meeting. ● If you agree with Livability 22202’s ideas, support them publicly and say so at the April 28 meeting and to friends and acquaintances. We have worked long and hard to defend community interests and seek the best outcome. This is your best opportunity to weigh in before the plans become ingrained in the system. ● Let the Arlington County Board know where you stand and ask for their support for the Livability 22202 positions
1. Save the Date: Our next CCCA meeting will be May 18. With all of the transportation projects in progress or being planned, we may focus the meeting on that topic.
2. What’s to Become of Route 1? Many of you are aware of the ongoing VDOT feasibility study on the Route 1. You can read the background on the Livability22202 website for the Route 1 working group, including the February 27, 2022, letter to VDOT. VDOT has now started Phase 2 of the study and is planning a Public Information Meeting on April 28. Register here. We don’t know yet what will be covered in that meeting, but we have been disappointed that VDOT discontinued the Task Force meetings with essential stakeholders. In the meantime, the Livability working group continues to engage with VDOT, the National Landing BID, the People Before Cars coalition, and JBG to develop creative solutions to the problems of bringing Route 1 down to grade. Safety of crossing Route 1 for pedestrians and bikers is our primary goal and lowering Route 1 to grade with a traffic intersection at 18th Street poses the greatest risks. Working with two pro bono urban architects, the working group has proposed consideration of three ideas: a) pedestrian/bike-only plazas on both sides of Route 1 at 18th Street; b) passageways under Route 1 at 18th for bikes and pedestrians that would connect to the Metro and c) a “blue sky” option for a bridge over Route 1 similar to Highline in NYC. We will continue to inform the community as the study progresses as we seek the best options for a safe crossing of Route 1.
3. Construction to start for Transitway on 12th and Crystal Drive April 4: A notice went out March 25. But remember that beginning the week of April 4th, Arlington County contractors will initiate the construction work for the first segment of the Transitway Extension to Pentagon City. The work includes the installation of two new transit stations at Crystal Drive & 15th Street S, and 12th Street S. & Long Bridge Drive, along with street improvements along 12th Street S. between S. Eads St. and S. Clark St., and the intersection of 12th Street S. at Crystal Drive. See details in the Newsletter.
The VDOT team studying ways to “improve safety, accessibility, and the pedestrian experience crossing Route 1” presented to the CCCA on January 19 (see website). Phase 2 will cover a number of new studies and probably continue until February 2023. The next Public Information Meeting is planned for late March or early April, but we were told that VDOT will not restart the Task Force meetings in Phase 2. As follow up, on February 27, the Livability22202 Working Group on Route 1 forwarded a letter to VDOT with comments and requests for the Phase 2 process. We have specifically asked VDOT to 1) restart the Task Force in which the Working Group participated during Phase 1; 2) reconsider the Livability 22202 hybrid proposal for Route 1 – with Route 1 at grade at 15th and remaining elevated from 18th; and 3) collaborate with Livability22202 on Exploring a bike-ped passageway under an at-grade Route 1 at 18th Street: .
1. Message from Your President: A big thank you to everyone who made January’s Meeting a success! We had a presentation by VDOT on the proposed changes to Route 1. Then a discussion panel with Carol Fuller, Pam Van Hine, and Arthur Fox, led by Brian Harner. Lastly, we had a presentation by the County Mental Health Director- Carol Layer on their resources. All the presentations are on the CCCA website. Our next meeting will be in March and we are open to suggestions for topics!
2. REMINDER: Annual Dues Payment Now Overdue: NOTE: If you have not paid your 2022 annual dues, this is the last Newsletter you will receive by email. Annual dues are paid for the calendar year, so payment of $10 will be due no later than February 28 for members to remain on the mailing list as voting members to receive the monthly Newsletter and Updates. Renew online by PayPal or send a check to our new Treasurer Steve Miller, 1300 Crystal Drive #408S, Arlington VA 22202. A confirmation email will be sent by February 28 to all those who have paid their 2022 dues.
3. Seeking a New Newsletter Editor: Your CCCA Newsletter Editor is retiring. Time for new blood, ideas, and innovative format. If you’re interested in writing the monthly Newsletter, let us know at [email protected]. Glad to provide training and all the necessary contacts.
Arlington County is initiating a new study to help guide future development for Pentagon City, with coordinated planning and transportation components. The study will help define Pentagon City’s capacity for future growth by evaluating alternative redevelopment scenarios and their resulting impacts on the capacity of the existing, committed, and planned transportation system, infrastructure, public spaces and community facilities. This will result in a Plan Document, which conveys new land use policies, redevelopment principles, and supporting urban design guidelines for future growth within Pentagon City.
With the commitment of Amazon to develop their east coast headquarters in Arlington County, for the first time in its history, the 1976 Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan (PDSP) is anticipated to approach full build out. Future growth will require additional development potential to be allocated by the County Board in order to enable redevelopment and/or major improvements. Since the fall of 2020, Arlington County has been leading a strategic community planning process for Pentagon City to reevaluate long-term goals for this important area with an emphasis on its transportation network. Informed by the community’s recent work on livability, the Planning Study includes broad participation from residents, businesses, community groups, and stakeholders. See the Project Page here for the latest information.
We invited VDOT to provide an update on the study of Route 1 and their recommendation for Option 3 to bring it completely down to grade–an option that Livability22202 and the CCCA believe is inadequate and incomplete. Timewise, we are in Phase 2 (December 2021 to December 2022). VDOT is supposed to conduct a number of studies related to their ongoing study of Route 1. Many of these studies were urged by the Livability22202 Route 1 working group and others. Topics include: Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures to reduce traffic 20-30% from the 2019 baseline; a feasibility and analysis design (for a potential passage under or over 18th Street; improvements to the 23rd Street interchange; bus station relocation); and additional transportation data collection on traffic passing through Route 1 to compare to the 2019 traffic baseline. A Public Information Meeting is planned for late March or early April. A draft report is anticipated by December 2022 and a final report by February 2023. See the VDOT presentation here.
We also had a talk on how to cope with the COVID pandemic by Carol Layer, Director of Behavioral Healthcare Division, Arlington County. See her presentation here with the contact information for County services.
Save the Date for the Next CCCA Meeting: January 19, 7-9 pm
We plan to devote most of the meeting to updates on Route 1. VDOT’s Senior Project Manager Dan Reinhard will provide an updated timeline for Phase 2 and a Livability22202 panel will respond with neighborhood residential reaction and comments. We will also have Carol Layer, the Director of the DHS Behavioral Healthcare Division on County Mental Health Services. Register here.
2. President’s Corner (Eric Cassel)
Thanks to all who participated in our surveys. The results are in a separate article. Next month we will have a new survey, so stay tuned.
We will be having our January 19th meeting at 7:00. Right now we hope to have it hybrid (both at 251 18th St S and on Zoom). But if the number of COVID cases continues at the current pace, we may just be on zoom.
Most of the meeting will be on Route 1. Our first quest is Dan Reinhard from VDOT. He will be presenting information about the Phase 2 planning. To help everyone understand the issues, we will follow that with a discussion by several Livability22202 experts.
Lastly, winter can be a tough time for people. As a result, we will also have a presentation by county on mental health resources.
Bird of the Month: during winter, this White-Throated Sparrow comes and visits us.
Results of Two Polls
We did two polls in the past month. The first was a general poll about the Civic Association. The main results were
Hybrid was ok, but needed improvement
Facebook and Nextdoor were the two most used social platforms
The top topics were The Underground, JBGS Development, Amazon Development and General Transportation.
We also did a poll about the Bowlero. The results were really evenly mixed, so as an Association, we could not take a stand on the annual license renewal.
Overall, the surveys were really helpful in focusing our attention on some important issues and topics members want to see discussed. Our next meeting will feature Route 1, because it is at an unusual stage and we have an opportunity to hear from VDOT about the process and proposal. In future meeting, the Underground and Development issues will be front and center. Please click here for a link to the results: Results of polls
3. REMINDER: Pay your annual CCCA dues now: Annual dues are paid for the calendar year, so payment of $10 will be due no later than February 28 for members to remain on the mailing list as voting members to receive the monthly Newsletter and Updates. Renew online by PayPal or send a check to our new Treasurer Steve Miller, 1300 Crystal Drive #408S, Arlington VA 22202.