Alexandria, VA

Alexandria may allocate $6 million to reopen closed portions of the Holmes Run Trail.

The trail, which was damaged in last July’s flash flooding after the Barcroft Dam overflowed, in addition to previous flood damage from 2018, is currently closed in four sections. City Manager Mark Jinks has proposed new capital funding to reopen all four sections.

If approved by the City Council as part of this year’s budget and Capital Improvement Program process, trail users will still have to wait a couple of years for it to fully reopen. Repairs will be designed and planned in Fiscal Year 2021 and construction will take place in Fiscal Year 2022.

“The City recognizes the impact these trail closures have on the many residents and visitors who use Holmes Run Trail and appreciates the community’s patience as City staff works to fund, plan, design and construct the necessary improvements to make the trail fully functional once again,” said a press release.

The full city press release is below.

Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks has proposed $6 million in capital funds to restore public access to the portions of the Holmes Run Trail closed following damage sustained during heavy rainfall.

In July 2019, Alexandria received a month’s worth of rain in approximately one hour, which led to flooding that damaged portions of the trail and left it unsafe for public access. Holmes Run is subject to water surges from stormwater that enters the run from various points, and these surges can be heavy when combined with automatic, controlled releases from the upstream Barcroft Dam.

While some problems have been repaired by City maintenance crews already, four locations (including two bridges) remain closed due to the devastating level of damage. These four sections of the trail suffered severe erosion and are structurally compromised. A map of the current closures and detour routes are available at the Holmes Run Trail Closures page.

The cost to address the current issues and rebuild the trail exceeds existing City resources and available state aid. The City Manager’s February 18 budget proposal funds design and engineering in Fiscal Year 2021, and construction starting in Fiscal Year 2022. City Council will adopt the Capital Improvement Program on April 29.

The City recognizes the impact these trail closures have on the many residents and visitors who use Holmes Run Trail and appreciates the community’s patience as City staff works to fund, plan, design and construct the necessary improvements to make the trail fully functional once again.

While temporary warning signage and barriers have been installed at all trail closures, City staff is actively working to develop more robust detour route signage to help trail users navigate the closures.

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Morning Notes

T.C. Boys Advance in Tourney — “TC Varsity Vs Robinson regional quarterfinal take the win 49-47. Next round, Friday, 2/28 5:45 @ Fairfax HS.” [Twitter]

Donation to Support School Sensory Room — “Daniel MacDonald was just six-years old when he passed away in 2018, but thanks to a $10,000 donation from his family, he has left a legacy at Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School that will benefit other children.” [ACPS]

Award Winning Teacher Highlighted on TV — “See @TCWTitans teacher Kimberly Wilson on @ABC7News! This year she was named National Teacher of the Year by the Association for Career and Technical Education.” [WJLA, Twitter]

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JUST IN: Car Fire Blocks I-395

Alexandria firefighters are on scene of a car fire on I-395.

The engine of an SUV caught fire in the northbound lanes of the highway, between Seminary Road and King Street. Firefighters are currently working to extinguish the fire.

Two mainline lanes of northbound I-395 are currently blocked. According to scanner traffic, police are currently looking for the driver, who reportedly ran off.

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Morning Notes

School Board Approves New Budget — “The Alexandria City School Board has approved an Operating Budget for the 2020-21 school year focused on supporting students socially, emotionally and academically while also increasing graduation rates. The Operating Budget of $299.1 million is an increase of 4.4% on last year’s budget, in line with ACPS’ anticipated continued enrollment growth and needs.” [ACPS]

City Unveils New 311 System — “The City of Alexandria has launched a new customer service initiative called Alex311, to connect customers to more than 175 City services in a variety of convenient ways. The service includes new web, mobile app, social media and phone options to submit requests for service or information… Alex311 replaces the City’s previous Call.Click.Connect. service.” [City of Alexandria]

Top Five Most Checked-Out Books at T.C. — “These particular five works of young adult literature have grabbed the imagination and proved the most popular during the last five years among both students from T.C. Williams and those who use the Minnie Howard campus library. According to their joint records, these are the books requested over and over again…The Hate U Give… Written in the Stars… The Poet X… Long Way Down… All American Boys.” [ACPS]

Absentee Applications Due Today — “The City of Alexandria reminds voters of absentee voting options for the Democratic Party presidential primary election on Tuesday, March 3. Voters in Virginia do not register by party, so any person registered to vote in Alexandria may vote in the March 3 primary… applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, February 25 in the Alexandria Voter Registration & Elections Office.” [City of Alexandria]

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A literal last-second shot helped T.C. Williams claim a boys basketball division title for the first time in more than decade.

The buzzer beater came Friday night as T.C. was tied 42-42 with West Potomac. Star senior TJ Horton received a quick pass and launched a shot from near the three-point line with just a second to go to clinch the win.

Fans stormed the court as T.C. captured its first Gunston District championship in more than 10 years.

More on the moment from social media:

The boys are not the only T.C. team seeking playoff glory this season. The girls basketball team will be hosting a first round game against Fairfax High School in the regional tournament tonight.

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A man was struck and injured this afternoon on Duke Street by a driver in a Volkswagen Beetle.

The collision happened shortly before 1 p.m. today at the intersection of Duke Street and Diagonal Road, near the train station and the Motley Fool building.

An adult male victim suffered minor injuries and was transported to Inova Alexandria Hospital, according to police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine. The driver was cited for the crash, Ballantine said.

Photos from the scene show the car stopped in the crosswalk in the intersection. There was no visible damage to the vehicle.

Diagonal Road and a portion of Duke Street was closed for a period of time immediately following the crash.

Duke Street has been the scene of a number of notable pedestrian-involved crashes over the past few months.

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Morning Notes

Fire Officials Deny Seminary Road Political Pressure — “The AFD representatives… pushed back on allegations that the city had strong-armed the fire department into supporting a certain stance. ‘No one is going to force me… to put people in harm’s way – the first responders or the people that we’re charged to protect,’ Smedley said. ‘That’s my number one goal, and that goal can be accomplished with however many lanes are on the roadway, as long as certain measures are in place. If that is being jeopardized, I will dig in hard.'” [Alexandria Times]

Resident: New Seminary Road is an Improvement — “As someone who lives on a small cul-de-sac off of Seminary Road, I am a daily user of Seminary Road. I use the road several times every day as either a driver, walker, cyclist, or simply as a resident. The new Seminary Road is beneficial to me and to my neighborhood. We are able to live with greater safety no matter how we use the road. We are people who live here — not just drive through to some other location.” [Gazette Packet]

Rent in Alexandria Lower Than Neighbors — “The District and Arlington County are virtually tied for average apartment rent, at $2,233 and $2,236 respectively. Rents in D.C. and Arlington County are both up 4.3% in the last year. The average rent in Alexandria is currently $1,746, up 2.8% from a year ago.” [WTOP]

Details About New Restaurant at Bradlee — “Rotisserie chicken, ceviche, lomo saltado and much more are on the menu at El Saltado, a new Peruvian restaurant that recently opened at Bradlee Shopping Center in Alexandria. The star of the menu is likely the charcoal-broiled chicken served with a house salad plus a choice of French fries, fried yuca, rice or Peruvian-style potato salad.” [Alexandria Living]

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Morning Notes

City Faces Dozens of Lawsuits — “Between 2014 and 2019, 101 lawsuits were filed against the city, and 20 of those cases are still active, according to data the Alexandria Times acquired through the city… Over the last six years, the city has faced 37 claims cases, 20 land-use cases, 15 civil rights cases, 12 employment cases, 11 real estate assessment cases, two FOIA cases, two mandamus cases and two procurement cases.” [Alexandria Times]

Restaurants That Locals Still Miss — “When you talk with locals about restaurants they miss, there’s usually at least one place they can name… We’ve received nearly 40 responses covering Old Town and other areas of the city. Places mentioned by multiple people included Austin Grill, Overwood, Mango Mike’s, Flying Fish and Geranio.” [Patch]

New Bank Branch Opens in Carlyle — “Bank of America celebrated its latest Alexandria location with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning inside the newly opened financial center in the heart of Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood. The location, at 415 John Carlyle St., is Bank of America’s 10th financial center in the Alexandria/Springfield market and fourth in Alexandria proper.” [Alexandria Living]

GW Middle Students Try Meditation — “Middle school can be a stressful environment, so… at George Washington Middle School, some teachers are starting class with meditation. The lights are dimmed, soothing music is turned on and teachers guide the kids to breathe, settle in and focus on something positive.” [WTOP]

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(Updated at 9:40 a.m.) George Washington Middle School has again been evacuated after a report of a gas odor in the school’s auditorium.

The incident happened around 9 a.m. today (Thursday). Firefighters responded to the school to investigate the odor, but initial reports suggest nothing hazardous was found. Students were expected to return to classrooms after about 20-30 minutes outside in the cold.

It’s at least the third such evacuation since November. After the last evacuation, on Jan. 30, the school’s principal told parents that a faulty heating unit appeared to be to blame.

“The smell was caused by a rooftop heating unit that was installed in the summer and still requires some adjustments,” Principal Jesse Mazur wrote. “We are working with the contractors who installed these new units to resolve some of the ongoing issues we have been experiencing with them since November.”

GW Middle has also been dealing with other maintenance problems, including water quality issues. As ALXnow reported last week, testing revealed relatively high levels of copper and lead from a number of water outlets at the school. On Tuesday the school told families that it aerating, flushing and re-testing the water outlets, which were being kept off line during the process.

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Morning Notes

Half of Popular Duo to Perform at Birchmere — “On the evening of June 24, 1964, Washington was engulfed in Peter and Gordon-mania. Midway through the British duo’s performance at the Alexandria Roller Rink, a desperate Jack Alix, DJ at WEEL radio, halted the music and begged the crowd to please stop pushing. ‘I do remember it was a good gig, where the audience was crazy, with screaming girls throwing themselves at the stage and all that stuff,’ said Peter Asher, calling from his Malibu, Calif., home.” [Washington Post]

Alexandria Man Charged in Arlington Incident — “A 69-year-old Alexandria man is facing a felony charge after police say a minor, two-vehicle crash led to a physical altercation along Lee Highway… [The man] punched a window on the other car several times, then ‘produced a knife and allegedly attempted to strike the victim,’ according to Arlington County Police.” [ARLnow]

City’s Opioid Plan Finalized — “The City of Alexandria has finalized the Opioid Work Group Strategic Three Year Plan (2020 – 2023) to eliminate opioid misuse and its harmful effects in Alexandria. The plan, which is now available at alexandriava.gov/opioids, was formed through several years of extensive engagement and collaboration with community members and experts.” [City of Alexandria]

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Morning Notes

Old Town Theater Sign May Be Removed — “The Board of Architectural Review is set to consider allowing the removal and relocation of the Old Town Theater sign and other exterior changes as the space is set to become a Patagonia retail store. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Council Chamber at Alexandria City Hall.” [Patch]

APD Investigates Gunshots in Landmark — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a ‘shots fired’ call for service in the 200 block of South Whiting Street. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

‘Normal Weekday’ on Seminary Road — Has the Seminary Road Diet produced a rush hour traffic nightmare, as some insist? Or is it just producing modest peak period delays, as data seems to show? Video posted by a local cycling advocate, shot shortly after 8 a.m. on a recent weekday, shows free-flowing traffic and no delays, though photos posted by road diet critics show backups at intersections. [Twitter, YouTube]

Students Write, Perform Play at Kennedy Center — “Two talented eighth grade students from George Washington Middle School had the experience of a lifetime when they wrote and performed in a play at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts earlier this month. Yahney-Marie Sangare and Sydney Payne were part of a team of young playwrights and actors who produced The Day Nothing Happened, a play about the desegregation of Stratford Middle School in Arlington.” [ACPS]

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