On June15, Eric Cassell presented a slide show showing the progress, involvement, and achievements to date of the Livability22202 coalition of the three civic associations in 22202—Arlington Ridge Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City. See the slide show here.
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.
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.
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.
Apologies for the technical difficulties in live streaming on Facebook and delay in posting subsequently. You can view it on YouTube here or on Facebook here, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. It was a very good and informative meeting with two excellent presentations: the Long Bridge Park Aquatic Center and the National Park Service general presentation of projects in our area.
The fee schedule is included in the Aquatic Center presentation and can also be seen here. The slide show presentation is very large and will be uploaded when the County provides us with a link. In the meantime, you can see photos on the project website here.
The slide show presentation by the NPS can be viewed here. It was disappointing however to learn that the 2012 study for Roaches Run went nowhere and will have to be redone. But that will only happen if we convince the County Board that this is important. Stay tuned for more information on a coming campaign to urge an ecological development of Roaches Run.
How can citizens get involved and help? To help with invasive plants, look for Weed Warrior training and then sign up. Also, check the NPS volunteer web site to see specific volunteer opportunities (mostly group activities) or join the appropriate NPS Friends Group.
From 7-8 pm, we will have a presentation by the County on the opening of the Aquatic Center at Long Bridge Park around July 1 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, including Roaches Run.
The meeting is open to all 22202 residents by Zoom registration or visible on the CCCA Facebook/Live streaming page: https://www.facebook.com/crystalcitycivic/live.
Registration is required in advance for this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwpceCtpzwjE9NuuLBcgyBcTnVRmdAtGPiu
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting by Zoom or phone.
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.
1. Survey: We are gradually modernizing our CCCA procedures and media. We will be issuing more frequent emails to keep you up to date on meetings and issues in coming weeks. In this issue, we are including a survey to ask members what you like, dislike, or would like to see in the Newsletter in the future. Please help by by filling out the attached survey.
2. Construction Coming Up:
- 1900 Crystal Drive: Construction to Close Lane and Sidewalk. The general contractor will begin closures associated with 1900 Crystal Drive construction on March 29th and they will continue progressively over the next two weeks.
- 2000/2001 S Bell: Preparation work for demolition of 2001 Richmond Hwy starts April 12 with the Underground passage from 20th to Crystal City Shops closed; when demolition of the tower starts end May, Underground passage will close for about 3 ½ years
3. Earth Day Clean Up – 17 April 2021 (rain date 24 April): Join the National Landing BID and Livability 22202 to clean up the wooded area along the GW Parkway south of the Mount Vernon Trailhead at the Crystal City Water Park to the access road on 26th St South. (And get a look at some what may someday become accessible open space for our 22202 community.) Sign up now to help keep National Landing green and clean!
4. National Cherry Blossom Festival in 22202: See the Newsletter for all of the art work and events from now till April 11.
5. Meetings, Development, and Other Issues: See the Newsletter for a detailed list.
(Updated March 3)
Open Space: Is it important to you?
COVID has shown us how important it is to have parks, trails, and open spaces. Yet 22202 is very lacking in those amenities, except for Virginia Highlands Park and Long Bridge Park. The Livability22202 working group created an open space report in December 2020, but this is no time to rest on our laurels. There is so much more to be done. This is not a roll up your sleeves and dig the ground working group. We are looking for your ideas and input. Join the working group: email [email protected] for more details.
As demonstrated by three recent meetings, we’re starting to have an impact. See the current status here: https://livability22202.org/open-space/ But it’s soooo important to expand membership of the working group to ensure participation, not only geographically across 22202 but also demographically, with emphasis on renters in high rise multifamily buildings needing access to open space. And not just during the COVID pandemic, but year round. An Arlington County Civic Federation White paper shows residents in multifamily units have some of the least access to open space in the County.) Not a surprise to us, is it?
The March 2 Open Space meeting covered:
- 1. Briefings on recent meetings with County staff (DPR, DES, CPHD) and the Parks & Recreation Commission (described on Livability22202 Open Space working group page)
- 2. Presentation of the Civic Federation White Paper on Equity in Arlington County Open Public Spaces
- 3. What does OpenSpace mean to us? (A summary of comments coming soon.)
- 4. Future of the Highlands Urban Garden (HUG) and further projects with FOUA; volunteer here
- 5. Furthering the Integrated Pedestrian Map
- 6. Roaches Run Clean Up Days in April
- 7. Cherry Blossom Festival activities in National Landing and Virginia Highlands Park
- 8. National Landing BID support for open space and Cherry Blossom Festival
See the recording of the meeting on Facebook here and on YouTube here. The PowerPoint presentation for each agenda item can be viewed here. View the Open Space final report, the Fact Sheet, and the press release.
(FYI, this is the first Newsletter going by email only to renewed members for 2021.) Click here to download.
So many issues, so many meetings, so little time! We need members to become and stay engaged.
Highlighting Upcoming Meetings: Please attend the following and lend your ears and voice to ongoing work. These are our most important activities right now.
March 2 Livability Open Space Working Group Meeting (discussed below)
The meeting will be mostly informational. If afterwards, you’d like to stay engaged, great! But join us March 2 to learn what’s happening and where you could join in, if you’d like to. We really want/need to expand the working group membership, to promote diversity (demographics, housing, opinions?).
March 3 VDOT Public Meeting on Route 1 Feasibility Study (discussed below)
Is this what we want for Route 1 in National Landing? Come to the VDOT public meeting on March 3rd and find out!
March 9 Sustainable Mobility for Arlington (SUSMO) meeting at 7:30 (discussed below)
Come learn what is wrong with the proposed Crystal City Bike Network.
March 17 CCCA Meeting
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has agreed to provide a video and PowerPoint update on all the work that is being done at National Airport and which is expected to be completed by summer 2021. Stay tuned for more details. The Arlington County Police Department will also present on crime statistics and car jackings.
Good meeting February 22 with VDOT. Although the Livability Working Group on Route 1 provided VDOT with 19 pages of comments and requests for more data on their feasibility study, they responded only to a few comments at this meeting and promised more substantive reply on data later on. We took the opportunity to review the scope of the study, community concerns, and possible alternatives or ideas on how to deal with Route 1. You can view the recorded meeting here and see the Livability slide show and VDOT slides here.
According to the VDOT project website, the study on Route 1, from approximately 12th Street to 23rd Street South, will explore an at-grade urban boulevard, but also review and compare potential improvements to the current elevated condition, and the elevated urban boulevard described in the Crystal City Sector Plan. Ultimately, the study aims to provide sufficient information to make the best decision on a future project on Route 1 in Crystal City. However, from comments at the February 22 meeting, it appears that VDOT is only focusing on whether it is feasible to bring Route 1 down to grade and not on other options. This is disappointing and we will continue to advocate for a variety of alternatives and emphasize safety issues for crossing Route 1 without making it a major highway.
There will be a Task Force meeting February 25 (in which several Livability representatives participate) and a public meeting March 3. Register for the March 3 VDOT meeting here.
- Agenda (Feb 22)
- 1. Introduction to Livability22202 and the Route 1 Working Group role in the VDOT study
- 2. Overview of VDOT Route 1 Multimodal Improvements Study scope and status
- 3. Issues the Working Group identified through the L22202 survey and workshops
- 4. Review of suggested alternatives for Route 1
- 5. VDOT Responses to Livability22202 input
- 5. Review of Working Group requested data & analysis (Us) (7:40-7:50)
- 6. Scope and purpose of next VDOT public engagement March 3
- 7. Q&A and discussion of next steps
On January 11, 2021, the presidents of the three civic associations in 22202–Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City–forwarded to VDOT the Livability22202 comments on the VDOT feasibility study. These comments provide feedback to the VDOT Public Information Meeting on the Multimodal Improvements Study for Route 1 on 16 December 2020. The covering letter and the four extensive Appendices are linked here.