Update on VDOT Feasibility Study on Route 1

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: .

February 2022 Newsletter is Out

Download the Newsletter here.

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.

CCCA Meeting January 19 on Route 1

The focus of the meeting was on Route 1. The CCCA slide show is here.

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.

The recording of the full meeting can be viewed on Google Drive here.

January 2022 Newsletter

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2022!

Download the Newsletter here.

  1. 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.

(I took this at Huntley Meadows.)

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

  1. Hybrid was ok, but needed improvement
  2. Facebook and Nextdoor were the two most used social platforms
  3. 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.

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

Click here to download.

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

click to download

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

Click here to download

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.