Route 50 right-of-way improvements: Favola letter

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Arlington Heights Civic Association
James M. Gill, Neighborhood Conservation Chair

March 9, 2000
The Honorable Barbara Favola, Chair
Arlington County Board
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 300
Arlington, Virginia 22201

Dear Ms. Favola,

    We are writing to you in behalf of the Arlington Heights, Penrose, Ashton Heights, and Lyon Park Civic Associations.

    We request that the County Board initiate the process to accomplish needed improvements to the Highway 50 streetscape that borders our neighborhoods. The improvements we are requesting are not currently in the County's short or long-range plans. We understand that responsibility for the improvements we are requesting is shared between the Commonwealth and the County. We further understand that, in order to accomplish them, the Board will have to include them in the State Funding Priorities being considered at this time and put them into the County long-range plan.

    Highway 50 carries over 60,000 cars per day through our urban neighborhoods. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) right of way along this portion of Highway 50 includes the shoulder of the highway, a bicycle/pedestrian path, and access roads. Adjacent to or in this right of way are private residences, two large houses of worship, a middle school, a large recreational facility, a pedestrian bridge across Highway 50, and several bus stops.

    The current condition of the right of way does not adequately support or compliment these uses. Pedestrian lighting is inadequate. There are no curbs and gutters along Highway 50 or along most of the access roads. Parking areas are undefined. The pedestrian bridge is poorly maintained. Planting areas are lacking or unkempt. There is a significant drainage problem, and the drainage ditches themselves are dangerous, posing a significant bad weather hazard to cars that might drift just a little too far to the right in the right-hand lane. The ditch at the northwest corner of Route 50 and Irving Street, at the base of the stoplight, has caused bicycle and pedestrian injuries.

    We request that the right of way be improved with the installation of curbs and gutters along Highway 50 and the access roads. The curb and gutter plan should provide for adequate parking and create well-defined areas that contain attractive, appropriate plants. With the installation of curbs and gutters that separate pedestrian areas from automotive traffic lanes, the neighborhoods can safely undertake the maintenance of the planted areas. Infrastructure improvements should also include the installation of Carlyle style pedestrian lights along the bicycle/pedestrian path and the access roads. These lights will provide necessary lighting along the path and the approaches to the cross-highway footbridge, both of which are mostly unlit today. Carlyle style lights are in character with the residential, non-business, and non-industrial nature of the parts of our neighborhoods that front this portion of the highway. The footbridge should be repaired and painted, or replaced.

    The efforts we have outlined above should compliment the raised median between Glebe Road and Fillmore Street and the Glebe Road overpass improvements that VDOT is planning for the near term.

    Thank you for your assistance. Our point of contact for this issue is Jim Gill. He can be reached at 703-412-5242 during the day or at 703-685-1760 in the evenings. His e-mail address is

Jay Wind and James M. Gill, Arlington Heights Civic Association
Pat McDevitt, Penrose Civic Association
Kenneth Matzkin, Ashton Heights Civic Association
Alan Tober, Lyon Park Civic Association