Mr. Ron Carlee, Acting County Manager
Arlington County, Virginia
Dear Mr. Carlee:
Congratulations on your new position as Acting County Manager.
Thank you for attending Tuesday's Civic Federation meeeting. I think your attendance and participation heralds a new era in collaboration between County government and civic groups.
During the public comment period, I mentioned several long-delayed projects in Arlington Heights, plus one entirely new problem.
The theme here is that we really, really want County staff to keep our Civic Association fully informed about the status and schedule of upcoming projects. For some projects, we hear about them, then we call meetings and inform people, and then nothing happens, sometimes for years. For other projects, sometimes we walk out our front doors and discover our streets all torn up, without advance notice.
As a Civic Association president, I'm caught in the middle, trying to obtain and provide accurate information to hundreds of people's questions. I don't want to direct all the questions toward County staff. I think the County relies on the Civic Associations to relay information. But we can't do that job for the County without getting the information.
Civic Associations use the following tools:
- E-mail lists—a very fast medium, potentially precise if I forward a message from staff —Arlington Heights now has 200 people on its e-mail list
- Web sites—a fast medium - I keep our website up to date (http://www.geocities.com/ahcawebsite)
- Phone trees—a fast medium, and subject to mis-use and mis-information
- Newsletters—a slow medium, since printed pages require a month lead time, but precise
- Meetings;—another slow medium
I would like to ask County staff always to contact the cognizant Civic Association president(s) in advance of any project. This contact will be especially important as we move toward completion and execution of the Columbia Pike Master Plan.
You asked me to send you an e-mail message
describing those projects, approved by the County, but not
begun. I would be grateful if you could check on the
status of those project and help expedite their completion.
1. Stoplight at 2nd Street and South Glebe Road.
In September, Mr. Joseph Durkee and other staff from Traffic Engineering met with Arlington Heights Traffic Committee to explain that, after several years of requests from Arlington Heights and Jefferson Middle School, Arlington and the Commonwealth of Virginia had agreed to construct a stoplight at 2nd and South Glebe Road. I understand that since Glebe is a State Route, the County has limited authority.
50 schoolchildren cross there each day, with no crossing guard, and southbound traffic often backs up while people try to make left turns to get to TJ.
Today, Mr. Daniel Worke called me to explain the
current status, to say that contracting was underway, but it
would still be some time before work begins.
I am grateful to Mr. Durkee and Mr. Worke for their help and continued information.
Is there anything you can do to expedite this important safety measure?
Until the stoplight is completed, we need police
crossing guards at 2nd Street and South Glebe Road, and at 2nd
and South Old Glebe Road. County policy does not permit
crossing guards for middle schools, except that Swanson Middle
School has one. Can TJ get a guard?
2. Storm sewer construction and repaving of 6th Street South
In July, Russell Carroll and Ravindra Singh met with 16 residents of 6th Street to explain the upcoming project to replace storm sewers, repave 6th Street.
During every rainfall or snowfall, the valley gutters at 6th and Irving and at 6th and Jackson fill with water and then ice, creating extraordinary hazards we call "Lake Irving" and "Lake Jackson." During last year's great snowfall, the pavement on the south side of 6th Street repeatedly froze and thawed, and then buckled and caved in.
In July and August, Washington Gas excavated and relocated their underground pipes away from the storm sewers. In September, Arlington County contracted with Granja Construction for the work. In December, Mr. Carroll told me that the actual construction would begin December 11, 2000.
I want to thank Jeanne Logtens for her phone call today to inform me that the project was delayed because Washington Gas wanted to re-inspect the safety of their relocated gas lines before any other excavation begins.
Is there anything you can do to expedite this
3. Left turn at Columbia Pike and Glebe Road.
For 49 years, Arlington Heights residents have put up with 7th Street and Highland Street marked at State Route 244 because of no-left-turn at Columbia Pike and Glebe Road. VDOT held hearings in 1997 and performed extensive design work, but the project is still not started. I understand there are some issues with rights-of-way; but meanwhile, traffic on our neighborhood streets is vastly increased, and I witness traffic accidents at 7th and South Glebe at least once a month.
Is there anything you can do to expedite this
3. Columbia Pike Projects.
According to William Roberts' memo last summer, several Columbia Pike projects have been funded and approved, but we still await their execution.
o Streetscape improvements along south side of Columbia
Pike from S. Highland Street to Glebe Road
o Streetscape and utility undergrounding improvements along north side of Columbia Pike from S. Garfield Street to S. Oakland Street
o Sidewalk, lighting and street improvements along S. Garfield St and 9th Rd. S. (around Cinema & Drafthouse block)
A detailed list of deferred Columbia Oike
projects appears on our web page http://www.geocities.com/ahcawebsite/CPROprojects.html
4. Columbia Pike sidewalk.
Last week, without providing any notice to property owners, neighborhood businesses, or residents, a company named FiberTek tore up sidewalks along Columbia Pike. The excavation began at Washington Boulevard near the Sheraton Hotel and went about two miles west, through Penrose and Arlington Heights, then turned north at Glebe Road.
Robert Bell of VDOT told me that VDOT granted FiberTek a permit for $40 plus a performance bond to guarantee they would restore Columbia Pike's sidewalk back to its previous state. The VDOT construction supervisor is Steve Dye.
I verified with Luis at Venus Stereo and Judy at Arlington Pediatric Center that they received no notice of imminent construction.
Right now, there's a two-mile-long, two-foot-wide strip of temporary asphalt "hot patch" with the decorative paver bricks piled up on the side of the street. The piles of bricks are open and unprotected from theft.
In the long run, fiber optic cabling may increase property values on Columbia Pike, but right now, the project has created danger and hardship for the businesses of Columbia Pike working so hard for revitalization.
Is there any way for the County Manager's office to request that contractors with projects like this must provide adequate notice to neighbors?
Can the County Manager's office help to make sure that the contractor restores Columbia Pike sidewalks to their former status?
—Jay Jacob Wind