CCCA October 2021 Newsletter

Click here to download.https://www.crystalcitycivic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/CCCA_Newsletter-No.-10.pdf

Some Highlights:

1.  Save the Date:  CCCA Annual Meeting, November 17, 7-9 pm. So far, we’ve confirmed that we will have our annual CCCA elections and a presentation by Amazon on its operations in 22202 and its plans for PenPlace.  Stay tuned for details in early November

2.  Construction Alert: On October 9-10, 18th Street between Crystal Drive and Bell Street will be closed to accommodate installation of construction cranes for the 1900 Crystal Drive development project.  Construction will not be very noisy, but will start at 3 am on Saturday and 7 am on Sunday and last until 9  pm.  Traffic engineering services will provide traffic control and ensure pedestrian safety. 

3.  COVID Booster Shots:  Arlington County Public Health is now offering COVID-19 vaccine boosters for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to certain people at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series. Appointments are required at Arlington Public Health Clinics. Visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to find additional locations and appointments near you.  Pharmacies are offering them too.  And don’t forget your flu shot.

4.  Metro Proposals:  Be sure to read about the six multibillion-dollar alternatives to improve the capacity and reliability of the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.

Livability22202 Route 1 Working Group Rejects VDOT Study

After 10 months of study and public meetings, VDOT released its feasibility report on Route 1 at the final Public Information Meeting June 16. No surprise: the recommendation is to bring Route 1 down to grade. The Livability Working Group released a press release on June 27. Read the full text below:

The Arlington 22202 Civic Associations united in Livability22202 find VDOT’s Feasibility Study of Route 1 Multimodal Improvements to be incomplete.  It raises further questions, fails to address a number of community concerns, and recommends a traffic pattern that, by VDOT’s own recognition, reduces safety.  If Arlington County and the state proceed without addressing these concerns, our community will be further divided by a dangerous, wide road that puts cars before pedestrians and bikes.  The Associations urge Arlington County Board not to approve the study when submitted unless these larger questions and concerns are addressed.  

Background:

VDOT is finalizing a Feasibility Study of Route 1 in Crystal City, in partial compliance of the HQ2 agreement between Amazon and Virginia.  VDOT recommends an at-grade urban boulevard to replace the current overpasses at 18th and 15th streets.  VDOT estimates that bringing Route 1 to grade will cost $180 million, but that estimate excludes many related costs..  The VDOT project website is at http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/route_1_multimodal_improvements_study.asp.  The meeting recording and slide deck from the third public meeting are available through this page: https://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northern_virginia/route_1_multimodal_improvements_study-third_virtual_public_information_meeting.asp

In what respects is the study incomplete?  Why is further study needed?

1.  Safety:  The study does not achieve VDOT’s own number one Project Goal:  safety for all traveling along and across Route 1.  VDOT admitted that there are tradeoffs and safety is one of them.  No safety analysis was done (e.g., the Highway Safety Manual), and the study does not meet Arlington’s Vision Zero or Master Transportation Plan standards.  Safety research generally shows that there will be safety issues for any signalized arterial with more than 5 lanes, with speed above 25 mph, and more than 40,000 vehicles/day. This study recommendation does not meet those standards.  What can make crossing Route 1 safe for parents and students if a new school is built in the area? How will pedestrians who are older, more frail, or with mobility, cognitive, or sensory impairments cross safely?

2.  Traffic:  VDOT admitted that option 3 for bringing Route 1 down to grade will make traffic worse by diverting it onto side streets. If Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures could indeed reduce traffic as they assert, then why aren’t they being implemented now?  There needs to be a true analysis of regional travel through the corridor as well as transit capacity.  How will traffic from Glebe Road via Route 1 to I-395 be managed? How will the County manage traffic diverted onto our local streets to prevent gridlock and keep all of us safe?

3.  Urban Design:  This is an unambitious design that looks only at a small section of Route 1 in isolation rather than taking a holistic approach to the corridor to the Alexandria County line.  It thus disregards significant stretches of Route 1, Glebe Rd., and the proposal for the airport access road in the Crystal City Sector Plan (CCSP). Likewise, the design makes no effort to ratchet down traffic entering the community, instead including 7 lanes on 15th St–the same number on Route 1 itself currently.  Good urban street design would design changes on intersecting streets to change behavior of drivers as they turn off the highway. Why is the focus only on 18th and 15th  Streets, without addressing the 23rd Street intersection and points south?

4.  Impact on community:  The study ignores what is proposed in the approved CCSP for 15th Street, 18th Street, and the airport access road.  There is tremendous value created for developers, by opening up frontages on such lots as 1800 Bell St, but besides future real estate tax revenue, this project does not deliver any sort of improvement to the community. Rather, removing the 18th and 15th Street underpasses without providing adequate safety measures reduces community access across Route 1.  Increasing traffic diversion on neighborhood streets affects quality of life and safety. Will the proceeds from any public land sales be sunk back into the project, rather than be used for a public purpose in the community?

5.  Process:  The study failed to follow a number of project development procedures that would normally be followed for a project of this scale. Normally, we would see alternatives generated, reduced to a number of feasible alternatives, and analysis conducted to create a chosen alternative that best meets the purpose and need for the project. Here, a CCSP alternative, the development community’s preferred alternative, and a no-build were the only options evaluated. Shouldn’t a project of this scale and impact require a full consideration of options and input from the community from the earliest stages of the project through its completion to ensure community priorities are incorporated? 

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to dream big.  Isn’t limiting the project to the current VDOT recommendation an epic fail?  Moreover, VDOT’s estimated cost of $180 million for an at-grade option does not include many related costs, such as relocating the transit stations and bus routes, traffic mitigation measures, and the potential pedestrian bridge/tunnel.

The Livability22202 Civic Associations urge Arlington County to take no action on this proposal until a more holistic study is done that addresses these questions and issues.  If you would like to discuss this, the representatives listed below are from the local civic associations and are engaged in this study.

Livability22202 Update on Schools and Day Care

Update June 23, 2021: The 3 civic associations sent a letter June 23 prepared by the Schools Working Group to the County Board voicing support for the Board’s attention to development of a plan for the creation of more K-12 seats in 22202. It calls for the County to conduct focused engagement with APS with the near-term aim of siting an elementary school within walkable distance of a significant percentage of children in 22202. It calls for a long-term plan in next year’s CIP to address capacity issues at Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School, through construction of existing facilities or new and innovative solutions leveraging partnerships with industry and commercial real estate developers. This follows on the following April 21, 2021, letter to APS and the Superintendent of Schools.

Update April 21, 2021: The 3 civic associations sent a letter April 21 to the Superintendent of Schools and School Board members, with copies to the County Board members, identifying our concerns regarding school capital improvement projects for the upcoming FY2022 APS CIP. This letter reiterates concerns that the 22202 Civic Associations have been voicing for several years to the County and to local developers. The need for school seats at all levels is critical as South Arlington, and particularly National Landing, continue to see new development and increased residential units being built.  Our elementary, middle and high school are already near or over capacity and face substantial seat deficits in the next five years if nothing is done to increase capacity. APS must begin the process of planning for a new elementary school in 22202, and start developing creative solutions to solve the capacity issues at Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School.

Alternatives to Calling the Police

SURJ NoVa (https://www.surjnova.org/) and the Crystal City Civic Association co-hosted a webinar on alternatives to calling the police on Sunday afternoon, April 25.  The presentation, breakouts, and discussion were thought-provoking and intense.  For many participants, realizing the implications of calling the police were a revelation and something to consider when encountering a potential criminal activity.  The webinar recording is here: https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/mVAOgb2NtO-86moqCT-64ys-ilKaoWp4rIafrsO8TupbRmIAlCzvC6hjIgpJeDrf.9cLFsPR9z0G8NkKV

Enter this password – including the period: zvykS8w. The speaker also shared a link to  the SURJ NoVa Alternatives to Calling the Police resources for Arlington: EnglishSpanish.

May Newsletter is Out

Well, those who responded to our survey on the Newsletter indicated that they want the Newsletter to be as long as necessary to cover the news—so I guess 14 pages is ok!  The highest votes for what to include were the Timeline of Meetings and Development, followed by CCCA, Livability and Surrounding Area News.  So we must be doing something right.  We may make format changes in the future to liven up the text. Thanks to those who responded.

May 19 CCCA Meeting
Join us from 7-9 pm on Zoom.  From 7-8 pm, we will have a presentation by the County on the opening of the Aquatic Center at Long Bridge Park and meet the new facility manager.  From 8-9 pm, the National Park Service will  make a presentation on upcoming changes in our area and possible projects.  Details and a registration link will be sent the week before the meeting.  Stay tuned.

See the list of other upcoming meetings in the Newsletter.

Your President
Carol Fuller

https://www.crystalcitycivic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/CCCA_Newsletter-No.-5.pdf

Livability22202 Meeting on County Planning and Affordable Housing

 Good meeting February 9 of the three 22202 civic associations: Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City.

7:00 pm:  Matt Mattauszek, Arlington County Master Planner, Crystal City/Pentagon City Planning Coordinator, provided a detailed overview of the county planning activities for 2021 in 22202. The year will be very busy as development ramps across our community.

7:30 pm: Kimberly Driggins, Executive Director of the Washington Housing Conservancy, explained what the WHC is, its funding by Amazon to acquire Crystal Houses for $377M, and the affordable housing parameters for Crystal Houses.  The acquisition will lead to the preservation and creation of 1,300 affordable homes.

8:00 pm: The Livability22202 Housing Working Group provided a summary and highlights of the Livability Housing report issued in December, the ongoing county Missing Middle Study and Housing Report, and the Working Group’s meetings with County Board members.

The meeting was recorded and can be viewed here when available. Currently viewable on the CCCA Facebook page.

This information is also posted on livability22202.org