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West Glebe Road bridge demolition (image via Arlington County Department of Environmental Services/Facebook)

After months of being closed, much of West Glebe Road Bridge has finally been torn down ahead of eventual reconstruction.

Demolition started earlier this week and is expected to finish by the week of Sept. 5. Demolition work is expected to continue Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

The bridge was deemed “structurally deficient” in 2018 and continued degradation forced Arlington and Alexandria to reconsider earlier bridge repair plans.

Detours were put in place earlier this year that diverted vehicular traffic either over the Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge to the east or Shirlington Circle bridge to the west. Both of those bridges, coincidentally, are also aging and set for repairs over the next couple of years. The Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge received funding from the federal infrastructure bill early this year.

Alexandrians will only have until early next year to celebrate being a little less connected to neighboring localities though: Arlington County said two vehicle lanes on West Glebe Road Bridge are expected to reopen in early 2023. Bridge work will continue through summer 2023.

Photo via Arlington County Department of Environmental Services/Facebook

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Two people were killed in the 200 block of Century Drive on Saturday, July 16 (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated at 4:30 p.m. on 7/20/22) The man arrested after the fatal shooting of two construction workers in Alexandria over the weekend was set to be tried for weapons and drug charges in Arlington earlier this year, but charges were dropped.

The reason: a ruling that police conducted an unconstitutional search prior to a 2020 arrest.

Francis Deonte Rose, 27, has so far only been charged with burglary in connection to an incident earlier Saturday morning at an Alexandria apartment complex, but additional charges are expected.

Police say two workers, ages 48 and 24, were shot in the head and were “innocent bystanders to the whole situation.” Officers had been called to the Assembly Alexandria apartment complex around 7:30 a.m. Saturday for reports of someone kicking in the doors at “multiple” apartments, our sister site ALXnow reported Monday.

Alexandria police radio traffic at the time suggested that the burglary suspect was the ex-boyfriend of an apartment resident and known to carry a gun.

Rose, meanwhile, has a history of gun charges. In 2019, a then-24-year-old Rose was arrested by Metropolitan Police in D.C. and charges with Carrying a Pistol without a License, Bench Warrant, Possession of Unregistered Ammunition, and Possession of an Unregistered Firearm.

The .45 caliber handgun he was allegedly carrying in the Columbia Heights neighborhood was confiscated, according to an MPD press release.

In October 2020, Rose was arrested again, this time in Arlington.

Francis Rose’s mugshot in Arlington in 2020. (Via Arlington)

From Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage, provided to ARLnow:

At approximately 10:23 p.m. on October 17, 2020, officers conducted a traffic stop in the 2300 block of Richmond Highway for a suspended operator’s license. During the course of the investigation, the passenger was found to be in possession of narcotics and a loaded handgun and ammunition were located in a bag alleged to belong to the passenger. Francis Rose, 25, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance (x2), Possession of a Firearm while in Possession of a Controlled Substance (x2), Possession of a Firearm as a Convicted Felon, Possession of Ammunition as a Convicted Felon and Carrying a Concealed Weapon.

Rose was charged with intent to manufacture, sell or distribute cocaine and fentanyl, according to court documents, as well as possession of a gun and ammunition by someone convicted of a felony within the past 10 years.

The charges against Francis Rose, which were then droppedA grand jury indicted Rose in September 2021, and he was set for a jury trial this past February when defense attorneys made a motion to suppress evidence in the case.

That motion was granted by Arlington Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman, according to court records, and charges were then dropped for a lack of evidence. Rose was later freed.

In all, he was in the county jail from Oct. 18, 2020 until Feb. 23, 2022, according to the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.

Reached via email by ARLnow, Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said the case was made impossible to prosecute after the judge’s ruling.

“As court records show, our office attempted to proceed on those charges, but during a suppression hearing, a judge ruled that the police had performed an unconstitutional search and, as the law required, suppressed the evidence in the case,” the county’s top prosecutor said. “Obviously, we could not prove a case without the evidence, and therefore dismissed it.”

“My heart breaks for the families and loved ones of the people killed this weekend,” Dehghani-Tafti said.

Asked about the case, an Arlington police spokeswoman said “ACPD does not opine on decisions made by the court.”

The defense motion to suppress the evidence, obtained by ARLnow from the circuit court after the initial publication of this article, argues that both the drugs and the guns should be excluded from any jury trial. It says that officers found the gun in a bag that Rose was wearing but ordered by officers to leave in the car. The bag was then searched and the gun found, followed by the discovery of “a small quantity” of drugs, the motion says.

The motion argues that police had “no authority to order Mr. Rose to leave his cross-body bag in the vehicle” and that the search was predicated on a smell of marijuana that was coming from the car — which was driven by a female companion — but not from Rose himself.

Judge Newman granted the motion.

Final court order in the Francis Rose case earlier this year (via Arlington County Circuit Court)

The defense attorney listed for Rose could not be reached by phone. Her firm’s website notes that challenging police searches is one of the ways it works for clients.

“As a legal term, guilty refers to the legal standard that requires the government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” says the website. “Often, the government cannot meet this burden due to procedural hurdles, the passage of time, and missteps by law enforcement — even if you actually committed the offense. Furthermore, if the police violate your constitutional rights to obtain evidence of guilt, then knowing how to exclude that evidence is critical.”

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Alexandria firefighters say the city and its mutual aid partners in neighboring jurisdictions were left unprepared in the event of an emergency last week, but the Alexandria Fire Department says everything was covered.

In a tweet on July 7 (Thursday), the International Association of Firefighters Union 2141 issued a public safety announcement that the city had only two fire trucks and no rescue apparatus in operation.

The union also says that the city is gambling with the lives of its residents by depending too often on its mutual aid partners in neighboring jurisdictions — the Arlington, Fairfax and Prince George’s County Fire Departments.

AFD confirmed that on July 6 (Wednesday), a heavy rescue squad vehicle went out of service for a day-and-a-half and was replaced during that time by a reserve vehicle. The following day, July 7, a ladder truck went out of service for repair and was briefly replaced by a spare engine sitting in Old Town’s Station 201, which has been closed for floor repairs.

According to AFD:

The Alexandria Fire Department maintains state-of-the-art frontline and reserve apparatus fleet. These apparatus are specialized vehicles that can require repair from time to time. On July 6th, a heavy rescue squad vehicle required a repair that was completed in a day and a half and then was back in service. During this time, another reserve vehicle was placed into service. A ladder truck went out of service for repair on July 7th and was back in service on the same day. During that time a reserve vehicle was placed into service until the ladder truck was repaired. At no time was there a safety risk to our residents or city personnel.

The department uses National Fire Protection Association Standards to meet service demands. Regionally, we also share automatic and mutual aid capabilities to maintain public safety within the region, in which various jurisdictions rely on each other for calls for service. The department continues to evaluate the growth of the city and make deployment adjustments to address the community’s needs.

One Alexandria firefighter who works in operations, and did not want their name posted out of fear of retaliation, said that the heavy rescue squad vehicle was replaced by an empty reserve engine, which only had fire hoses on it.

“A truck broke down and we didn’t have a current reserve truck,” the firefighter said. “That truck company was actually put onto an engine. You can’t swap ladders and all the bigger tools and chainsaws onto an engine, because there’s not the space for it.”

The firefighter continued, “They were capable of running certain calls, like they were able to reset fire alarms, they were able to run EMS calls because they had their EMS equipment with them. But they weren’t able to act as a truck, they weren’t able to ladder a building — other than one 24-foot ladder and the 14-foot ladder that comes on the side of engines. They weren’t able to operate as a truck company. Luckily for the rescue, we had an engine, because we have Station 201 that’s currently out of service, and the engine is fully stocked, sitting there and waiting to be used for when that station goes back in service.”

Mayor Justin Wilson spoke with AFD after the tweet was posted, and said that the Department “didn’t miss a beat.”

“My understanding in talking to AFD last week is that this related to a mechanical issue with two separate pieces of apparatus that were quickly repaired, and that they had backup apparatus available to ensure we didn’t miss a beat,” Wilson told ALXnow.

Union organizer Jeremy McClayton says that the public doesn’t know the difference in the fire department’s jargon — between a truck or an engine.

“Tell someone who lives in a high-rise that an engine and truck are the same,” McClayton said. “The truck, using the truck ladder, can get up to the tenth floor in the event of a high-rise rescue or fire, while an engine can go up two stories. Same thing with engines and the rescue – the rescue apparatus has the vehicular extraction on it (jaws of life). An engine can’t hold that, so replacing a rescue with an engine means we don’t have the same response capabilities.”

In the meantime, the City Attorney’s Office and the union are hammering out the rules of their collective bargaining negotiations. The union frequently tweets about firefighters working too many hours of forced overtime, equipment failure and more.

Firefighter Megan Ellzy, a former IAFF Local 2141 president, has been with the department 12 years, and says that the city is playing a dangerous game.

“We’re really hoping that (new City Manager Jim) Parajon comes in with his planning background and that he kind of has some forethought and encourages our department to be proactive and preventative, versus waiting until a catastrophe happens,” Ellzy said. “And you know that whole ‘thoughts and prayers thing,’ right? Our leaders are gonna take pictures with us and come to the funerals and all, but it could have all been avoided.”

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There were no injuries after a two-car crash that briefly closed the Arlington Ridge Road/Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge on Wednesday night, June 1.

The crash occurred just after 10 p.m. on the bridge, which is near the intersection of E. Glebe Road and Mount Vernon Avenue/Arlington Ridge Road.

Traffic on Mount Vernon Avenue was briefly redirected by police at Four Mile Run Road.

Via Google Maps

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Alexandria and Arlington will start clearing debris and dredging Four Mile Run in September, and the project will close sections of the park from the public for four to six months.

The City and County maintain a shared flood-control channel in the lower portion of the nine-mile-long stream, and have partnered to dredge Four Mile Run since 1974.

“The work that is upcoming will be maintenance work and it will include dredging or removing some of the soil and rock deposits, which will restore the channel to the capacity so that it can pass a 100 year storm, or a storm that has a 1% chance of happening every year,” Aileen Winquist, Arlington’s stormwater communications manager, said in a community meeting Tuesday night (May 17).

The work area includes portions of Four Mile Run Park and Lower Long Branch, near Arlington’s Troy Park. The project will not impact the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market.

It will take up to six months to dredge at Four Mile Run Park and about a month to dredge the area around Troy Park, Winquist said.

The Four Mile Run dredge project includes shutting down the Four Mile Run Park parking lot along Mount Vernon Avenue for dredging equipment, as well as closure and detour of a section of the park trail.

Four Mile Run Park is also undergoing a trail bridge replacement near the baseball fields.

Maps via Arlington County

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DNA evidence has linked a stolen handgun left in a car to a 32-year-old Alexandria felon, who now faces upward of two years in prison.

The .45 caliber Para Ordnance 1911 pistol was reported stolen from a car in Centreville on August 28, 2021, according to a search warrant affidavit. The same gun was recovered September 2, 2021, by Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police in an abandoned car that was reported stolen from Arlington.

The gun owner told police that he owned the gun for years, had not shot it in more than two years and did not allow anyone else to handle it, according to a search warrant affidavit.

More than six months later, on March 11, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science returned a certificate of analysis with a DNA profile of the suspect.

The suspect, who has more than 10 felony convictions, was arrested on April 11 — eight months after the gun was reported stolen. He was charged with petit larceny and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The latter charge carries a minimum sentence of two years in prison.

The suspect is being held without bond in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center and goes to court on June 18.

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West Glebe Road Bridge (photo via Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services)

The West Glebe Road bridge over Four Mile Run will be closing completely in two weeks, and will remain closed to vehicles for nearly a year.

The circa-1956 bridge connects Arlington and Alexandria near the I-395/S. Glebe Road interchange. It has been deemed “structurally deficient” since 2018. A $10 million project to replace its deck and beams was approved by the Arlington County Board last April as part of a joint project with Alexandria. The project was slated to start this year, but in the meantime engineers have found “continued degradation of the bridge beams.”

As a result, the bridge is closing to all traffic on Monday, May 9, the county announced today. That’s after southbound bridge traffic was detoured for the same reason in March.

New detours will be put into place that will divert vehicular traffic either over the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge to the east or Shirlington Circle to the west. Both of those bridges, coincidentally, are also aging and set for repairs over the next couple of years; the former received funding from the recent federal infrastructure bill.

Arlington County expects two vehicle lanes on the West Glebe Road bridge to reopen in early 2023, while it’s still under construction. Work is expected to start shortly after the May closure and last until the summer of 2023.

Pedestrians and cyclists who formerly used the bridge will also be detoured, though a temporary pedestrian path across Four Mile Run is expected to open in July. Four Mile Run Trail users, meanwhile, will re-routed to a parallel path, as the portion of trail under the bridge will be closed.

More from a county press release, below.

Because of continued degradation of the bridge beams, engineers will close the West Glebe Road Bridge to all motor vehicle traffic beginning on Monday, May 9, 2022, for construction of a planned replacement superstructure (road deck and beams). Two motor vehicle lanes on the renovated bridge are expected to reopen in early 2023 along with one of two widened sidewalks.

The current structure connecting Arlington and Alexandria over Four Mile Run was built in 1956. Elements have experienced noted deterioration in recent years.

In 2018, a 5-ton weight restriction was placed on all user vehicles. In March 2022, all southbound traffic was detoured away from the bridge amid signs of continued structural beam degradation.

Allowing continued motor vehicle traffic with the additional stress of construction has now been ruled out. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to use the bridge through June, after which they will be directed to a temporary crossing, independent of the superstructure, to be built along the bridge, expected to open in July.

The Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge further east over Four Mile Run will continue to handle vehicular traffic detouring from the West Glebe bridge.

The bridge’s original piers are stable and will be used to support the new superstructure, reducing project costs, construction time, and impact on the watershed.

The project is set for completion by summer 2023.

Arlington County and the City of Alexandria continue continue to coordinate closely on the bridge replacement project. Crews will mobilize for the job later this month.

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Alexandria’s Pat Malone will stand up to cancer for 24 hours straight starting this Thursday (Feb. 10) at Fire Works Pizza in Arlington.

The event starts at 4:26 p.m. Thursday and ends at the same time on Friday.

“Standing up so long thoroughly wears me out,” Malone told ALXnow. “People tell me afterward that I look like I got hit by a bus.”

It’s the eighth annual fundraiser for the 64-year-old Malone, who has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Stand Up To Cancer nonprofit.

“The event is very heartfelt,” Malone said. “There are people that are suffering with cancer who can’t stand up and are bedridden or in a wheelchair.”

Donations can be made on Malone’s GoFundMe page.

The 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran has been cancer-free for nearly eight years since undergoing a successful surgery to remove a Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He also had 29 chemotherapy treatments.

“It was like a second birth,” Malone said of his successful surgery. “My birthday is August 12, but February 11 is like a second birthday for me because people at Walter Reed saved my life. I get choked up.”

Donors and survivors will have their names written on paper Stand Up To Cancer plaques, which will be posted on a window of the restaurant.

“On Friday morning there will be anywhere from 50 to 100 plaques there,” Malone said. “I’ll look at those names, and I’ll be by myself sometimes. Quite often, actually, and I have a prayer list and I look at those names and I cry like a baby.”

Fifty percent of men and about 33% of women will get cancer in their lifetimes, according to The National Cancer Institute.

Photo via Elza Daniel/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Inova discourages ER visits for mild, asymptomatic COVID testing — “With demand for COVID-19 testing high, Inova Health System says emergency room visits should be reserved for emergency and critical needs.” [Patch]

New restaurants coming to Shirlington — “Chinese-Korean eatery opens first Virginia location; beer hall to take over Capital City Brewing spot.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

COVID concerns cancel local New Year’s Eve events — “More venues and clubs around the region announced New Year’s Eve event cancellations on Tuesday as the omicron variant continued to bring surging COVID numbers and health concerns.” [WUSA9]

City Council adopts Chirilagua plan — “City Council took a major step toward providing more affordable housing for the Arlandria neighborhood, also known as Chirilagua, this week by adopting a new comprehensive small area plan.” [Alexandria Times]

 

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Alexandria is about to embark on a public relations campaign in response to the 5 cent Plastic Bag Tax, which goes into effect next month.

In a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14, the City Council will consider the release of $30,000 from contingent reserves to the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services for outreach on the matter.

The tax goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022. According to the city, the collected taxes will be used for:

  • Environmental Cleanup;
  • Providing education programs designed to reduce environmental waste;
  • Mitigating pollution and litter; or
  • Providing reusable bags to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) benefits

“The City’s adopted FY (fiscal year) 2022 operating budget included $30,000 in Non-Departmental Contingent Reserves to develop and produce resources for graphics, advertisements, window clings, and to purchase reusable tote bags for distribution to low-income households,” the city said.

The Virginia General Assembly adopted Sen. Adam Ebbin’s (D-30th) legislation last year allowing localities to impose a bag tax. Neighboring jurisdictions Arlington and Fairfax County also adopted bag taxes.

The $30,000 would be spent in the following way:

  • $5,000 allocated for printing and postage (developing graphics, printing mailers, window cling stickers, notification letters for stakeholders);
  • $9,500 to purchase reusable bags for low-income households and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/ Women, Infants and Children (WIC) beneficiaries;
  • $8,000 in temporary staffing hours (hours for reusable bag distribution events, conducting street outreach to regulated businesses); and
  • $7,500 allocated for advertisements (social media, local newspapers, and/or bus shelters)
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