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.

CCCA September Newsletter

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So much for returning to normal.  With Delta looming over us, we’re going to continue meeting on Zoom for the indefinite future, even with the forthcoming booster shots..  Please help inform our decisions on future CCCA meetings by responding to our survey.  We continue to have great topics.  If you have ideas for meeting topics, please send them to [email protected].

We are also looking for volunteers to take over officer positions in the CCCA in November.  With 7 years of experience, we are an active and respected voice for Crystal City residents. Help us continue to support the needs and concerns of our community.  See the Newsletter for details.

Transitway Public Meeting, September 1, 7-8:30 pm:  At the July 20 Board meeting, five activists in our area, including the CCCA president, expressed their concerns about the proposed placement of a new transitway station close to the corner of 12th & Long Bridge Drive.  The posted plans before the Board meeting seemed to indicate that the new bus shelter would conflict with pedestrians and cyclists, as the bus shelter on Crystal Drive by 18th already does.  Community engagement prior to the Board meeting was also very limited. At the Board meeting, the Board approved Item 51, the deed of easement for the transitway station, but recommended that a public meeting be held prior to the September Board meeting to discuss concerns further.  Project staff are holding a public meeting on Wednesday, September 1, at 7PM to discuss plans for the transitway and its stations along 12th Street.  Please plan to attend. Construction on combined projects expected December 2021 for 12 months.

Move the Fair to Long Bridge Park?  Not unless they answer a lot of questions:   Be sure to read about this.  The Arlington County Fair Board, an independent non-profit which manages the fair, has informed the county that it would like to move the fair to Long Bridge Park.  The County has issued a survey asking whether folks prefer to keep the Fair at Thomas Jefferson Community Center and Park where it’s been for 45 years or move it to Long Bridge Park.  We have protested that without background information, folks don’t know why there should be a change and whether it should change.  Think about this before you answer the survey.

CCCA August 2021 Newsletter

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Highlights:
1.  National Night Out August 3:   The three civic associations in 22202–Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, Crystal City–have joined with the National Landing BID to co-sponsor National Night Out in the Summer House and park at 101 S. 12th Street. National Night Out is a community-police awareness-raising event in the United States, held the first Tuesday of August.  It’s a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.  We will have fire trucks, police cars, food trucks, games, music, and lots of goings on.  Thank you to Amazon for sponsoring the refreshments!  Although no more vouchers for food are available via the RSVP due to an overwhelming response, you can still visit the park and join the festivities.

2. Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center Opening Soon
Around mid-August the new Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center will open! We’re excited to see everyone return to the water. Once the new center is open, it will become the home for all Arlington County Parks & Recreation aquatics classes and private swim lessons, including the 55+ aquatics programs. There will be an array of aquatics offerings this fall, pending COVID-19 guidelines. Online registration begins at 7 a.m. for gymnastics classes and 7:30 a.m. for all other programs on Aug. 4. View our online registration guide.  Also look for the 55+ Guide eNews in August; fall registration will open for 55+ County residents on August 18. For more information, click here. We anticipate being able to provide more aquatic offerings and look forward to utilizing the amazing new space! There are over 200 parking spaces available when you arrive. If you have questions regarding Parks & Recreation 55+ aquatics programs or the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center, please contact Allison Cheek at [email protected].
 
Tour of Aquatic Center for 22202 residents
We are coordinating with the Facility Manager  a tour of the Aquatic Center on August 18 and 19.  Register on Sign Up Genius as tours are limited to 20 people each.  If the tours fill up, the County might agree to additional tours the next week.

3. Two deadlines for feedback (see newsletter articles):

  • August 15:  CC2DCA Project Needs and Purpose Assessment
  • August 23:  Pentagon City PDSP Study First Draft

CCCA General Meeting July 21, 7-9 pm

The agenda for the meeting on Wednesday, July 21, 7-9 pm was:

1.         Updates by JBG Smith on development:  223 S 23rd Street/2250 Crystal Drive; pocket parks on 18th Street; and construction on 1900 Crystal Drive and 2000/2001 S Bell Street. See the PowerPoint here. The revised JBGS plans will be submitted soon, and the new LRPC and SPRC process for these buildings will start after this summer. The two planned buildings will both be residential. You can find the prior, withdrawn plans here: https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/2250-crystal-drive/

2.         Update on VDOT Study on Route 1: Why bring it down to grade?  Why do the three 22202 civic associations say the study is “incomplete”? See the PowerPoint here.

3.         Briefing on Civic Federation study on Arlington County governance

4.         Briefing on Arlington County requirements for building inspections

You can watch the full meeting here.

CCCA July Newsletter

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1.  Call for Civic Engagement!  We are a very dynamic area, with lots of apartment dwellers coming and going.  That means also that our CCCA officers and volunteers come and go!  So we are looking for more folks to join us as observers or officers in the CCCA Executive Board.  You don’t need any special skills, just a little bit of time and a lot of civic interest. It’s a great way to get engaged in your neighborhood and learn what’s going on.  It also really looks good on a resume.  Please contact me if you’d like to discuss joining the team in any capacity:  mailto:[email protected].

2.  SAVE THE DATE:  July 19 CCCA General Meeting: Plans are still being worked out.  But we plan to have JBG Smith to come back to talk about development updates for Crystal City, including their draft revised plan for 223 S 23rd Street and 2250 Crystal Drive.  Virginia Tech has agreed to come talk about their plans for Potomac Yard.  VP Chris Wimbush will also explain the work the Civic Federation is doing on exploring a possible new governance plan for Arlington County.

3.  VDOT Feasibility Report is Incomplete and Unsatisfactory:  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 on the Livability22202 website:

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.  

4.  Reminder of upcoming feedback deadlines (see details in Newsletter):

  • July 9 Feedback deadline for: 
    • 15th Street/Clark Bell Realignment Project
    • Crystal City Bike Study
    • Army Navy Drive PBL Missing Link Study
  • July 12 Comment Deadline for VDOT Route 1 Study

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.

April Newsletter is Out

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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.

March CCCA Newsletter is Out

(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.

Your President
Carol Fuller

Livability22202 Meeting with VDOT on Route 1 Feasibility Study (Summary)

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.

Livability22202 Detailed Feedback to VDOT on Feasibility Study (January 11, 2021)

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.

The Livability22202 community is vitally interested in the outcome of the study and how the principles we have enunciated in our Framework and Action Plan of November 2019 will be addressed in the final VDOT recommendations.  Providing safe, convenient, connected, comfortable east-west Route 1 crossings for people of all ages and abilities and for all modes of transportation is a Livability22202 priority and the most important goal of the Working Group. 

We are pleased that VDOT described that the feasibility study “aims to provide sufficient information to make the best decision on a future project on Route 1 in Crystal City” in the VDOT Public Information Meeting No. 1, December 16, 2020. And we are also pleased that the study will include both an “analysis of existing configuration and analysis of concepts presented in the Crystal City Sector Plan,” along with exploring an at-grade urban boulevard. We are also in agreement that if the study develops an understanding “of potential costs and issues/solutions for constructability and multimodal access,” the Crystal City community and Arlington County will be able to make informed decisions about the future of Route 1.

With these goals in mind, we believe that the formulation of the alternatives for consideration, and the nature of the modeling undertaken to evaluate them will be critical to the outcomes of the study. Issues will include the selection of design concepts for Route 1 as a whole, as well as concepts for individual intersections and cross streets. Assumptions in the study regarding projections for future traffic volumes, peak hour volumes, transit use, and modal splits will also be critical. Because of the importance of the existing conditions data and planning assumptions, it is important that these be shared with the public now, during the early stages of the study formulation, rather than at the end of the study, or worse, not at all. While we are aware that sharing this background information and judgments about the future requires a little more effort from your consultant team up-front, we believe that it will save time overall and build public trust in the results of the study.

The Appendices, which address our concerns and explore some of our ideas, are divided into four broad sections:

  1.  Livability22202 Community Goals and Priorities
  2.  Missing information and Data in the “Existing Conditions” Presentation
  3.  Clarification of VDOT Study Concepts
  4.  Livability22202 Alternative Concepts