Newsletter

An alleged carjacking that turned fatal last Friday derailed that week’s Top Stories post, but the weekly roundup returns.

That carjacking, unsurprisingly, was the top story of this past week.  Jordan Poteat, an 18-year old from Maryland, was killed by the driver of the vehicle. Another alleged carjacker, 18-year-old Mikell Morris, was injured and arrested, and two juvenile males, both 15 years of age, were also arrested and charged with carjacking. Poteat’s mother told local news stations that her son didn’t deserve to die, regardless of his alleged crime.

There weren’t many other happy stories in the roundup of top stories. The city is planning around a Metro shutdownagain — and two people were killed in a crash on the Beltway early Friday morning. Both the city and local advocacy groups are scrambling to prepare for a wave of evictions that could take place as protections expire in June.

On the bright site, some local restauranteurs found a trove of baby formula and donated it to a local non-profit and the Freedom House Museum is finally set to reopen.

Top stories

  1. UPDATED: One killed at Potomac Yard gas station shooting
  2. Two killed in Beltway crash in Alexandria
  3. Police: Three teenagers arrested after fatal Potomac Yard carjacking
  4. Virginia State Police identify two men killed in I-495 crash near Telegraph Road
  5. City of Alexandria lays out Metro replacement plans for fall shutdown
  6. Police: D.C. man pointed gun at woman after getting locked out of West End apartment
  7. Alexandria Hyundai owner says special use permit puts dealership’s future on the line
  8. Resident advocacy group racing against time to prevent wave of Southern Towers evictions
  9. Juvenile assaulted and robbed by four males near Seminary Plaza Shopping Center
  10. Man arrested for allegedly threatening to kill West End woman over lost money and jewelry
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Cars travel westbound I-495 on the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge (via Google Maps)

Work to expand the I-495 Express Lanes to the north is only just warming up, but the Virginia Department of Transportation is now turning its attention to the southern end of the Capital Beltway.

The I-495 Southside Express Lanes environmental study is evaluating possible express lane additions on an 11-mile stretch of the corridor east of the I-395 interchange in Springfield to Maryland Route 210 in Prince George’s County.

Crossing over the Potomac River, the corridor currently has two to five lanes typically, though a divided highway splits local and pass-thru routes. There is also a portion with six lanes, but the corridor overall has no express lanes presently.

VDOT presented its proposal at a virtual meeting yesterday (Wednesday), kicking off a series of meetings during a public comment period that’s slated to end June 6.

In-person meetings will take place tonight in Maryland, Monday (May 23) at John R. Lewis High School in Springfield, and the Nannie J. Lee Memorial Recreation Center in Alexandria on May 25.

The study is seeking to reduce congestion, address safety concerns and provide other improvements.

“In the morning, there is significant congestion going in the westbound direction, or from Maryland towards Virginia,” Abi Lerner, a VDOT engineer for megaprojects, said during the virtual meeting.

495 express lanes extension, image via VDOT

According to VDOT’s weekday data for the interstate, there’s approximately two hours of congestion in the morning from around 6:30 to 9, Lerner said. In 2019, average travel speeds could be as low as 30 mph during peak commuting times.

In Virginia, there’s significant congestion for an even longer time frame from approximately 3 to 7 p.m. for traffic going eastbound to the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge.

Expressing several concerns, resident Poul Hertel asked for the public comment deadline to be extended to June 18. VDOT said that would be considered and updated, if possible, on its project page.

The study is also evaluating whether express lane exit and entry connections could be added, an idea that drew mixed reactions.

“It’s very distressing to see that you have exit points into Old Town Alexandria,” Hertel said. “I would strongly urge you to remove that from your list.”

Meanwhile, multiple Maryland residents weighed in, with Prince George’s County Councilmember Jolene Ivey noting the area’s opposition to toll lanes there.

Lerner responded that whatever VDOT ultimately recommends “is going to require buy-in…from the Maryland side” of the Beltway.

Oxon Hill resident Howard Herrnstadt said it seems that a small number of affluent and time-stressed motorists use existing express lanes, questioning how the infrastructure expense would be justified.

Lerner said VDOT has seen significant usage of the express lanes for carpooling, which enables drivers to use them for free, but he was unable to provide data. Herrnstadt challenged that narrative.

According to VDOT, the proposed changes wouldn’t interfere with the possibility of light rail in the future, which the Woodrow Wilson bridge was designed to accommodate.

The study will inform any recommendations, including no changes, or potential projects in the future. VDOT plans to present options this fall or winter and finish its review in the fall of 2023 or winter of 2024.

Photo via Google Maps

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Alexandria Police have released the identities of the two men killed on Insterstate 495 near Telegraph Road on May 12.

Abdellah Bougrine, 54, of Alexandria, and Driss Bougrine, 59, of Fairfax, died after being hit by vehicles after the 2016 Toyota Corolla they were driving stopped in the middle of the road. The two men got out of the Toyota and were then hit moments later by two vehicles.

“(The) male driver and male passenger exited the Toyota and were outside of it when the Toyota was struck moments later by a westbound 2000 Ford Ranger pickup truck,” Virginia State Police said in a release. “Both the driver and passenger were also struck. The impact of the crash caused the Toyota to run off the right side of the interstate and into the guardrail. The Ford came to rest on the left shoulder. A westbound 2008 Mazda Miata also struck one of the men.”

A GoFundMe campaign for the men raised $15,500, and is no longer accepting donations.

No charges have been filed, and the crash remains under investigation, according to VSP.

Via VDOT

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There are major traffic delays leading up to Interstates 495 and 395 in Alexandria, as a trucker convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates has entered D.C. and created miles of backups.

Traffic snaked all the way down to Jefferson Manor, just south of Huntington, which is about a half-mile from the interstate.

The convoy drove through the area last week without incident.

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(Updated 4 p.m.) On person has been arrested for a Fast and Furious-style illegal street race on I-495 near Telegraph Road this weekend.

According to a press release, the police became first aware of the incident on Saturday around 11:15 p.m. when an officer on patrol heard loud exhaust sounds from I-495.

“Upon receiving an alert from Virginia State Police about vehicles racing in the area of I-495 and Telegraph Road, Sergeant Ryan Waple positioned himself to observe 3-4 vehicles traveling in a group, positioning themselves to race,” APD said in the release. “The drivers of two vehicles, including a silver Mustang GT, then revved their engines and accelerated. Sergeant Waple followed with due regard for safety, as the vehicles reached speeds of 105MPH. At that point, he activated his emergency equipment and successfully stopped and apprehended the driver of the Mustang GT.”

Police arrested one person for racing and reckless driving by speed, and impounded his Mustang GT.

The arrest is the latest in a coordinated campaign with Virginia State Police to address speeding and racing issues. The release noted that there are often community frustrations created by loud noise, but noted that state legislation prevents officers from initiating traffic stops for vehicles for offenses like altered exhaust systems.

“This type of behavior is dangerous to anyone these drivers are sharing the road with and will not be tolerated,” said Chief Michael Brown in the press release.  “We want to commend Sergeant Waple for his effort to stop this reckless behavior.”

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A 49-year-old Alexandria tow truck driver was killed on Monday night as he responded to a disabled vehicle on Interstate 495, according to Virginia State Police.

Derrick A. Marbury was responding to a disabled vehicle on I-495 southbound when a 2015 Ford Edge was rear-ended by a 2013 Honda Pilot. The Honda went off the road and hit the tow truck, and Marbury reportedly ran out of the way and was struck and killed by a 2015 Mercedes-Benz M35.

“The Virginia State Police Fairfax Division Crash Reconstruction Team responded to the scene and is assisting with the ongoing crash investigation,” Virginia State Police said in a statement. “This is all the information we have at this time.”

The incident occurred less than a mile north of Route 236 in Fairfax County, according to police.

File photo

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Traffic on either side of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge is expected to come to a standstill shortly before midnight tonight (Tuesday) due to a passing ship.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) tweeted earlier this afternoon that the span would be opened around 11:30 p.m. to allow a 247.5-foot “superyacht” to pass through. The closure is likely to cause traffic backups on the Beltway.

“Expect delays and consider alternate routes,” the transit agency warned commuters.

The ship causing all the fuss is the Bella Vita, a six-deck vessel for up to 12 guests and 22 crew.

According to its website, the Bella Vita costs $708,872 a week to charter and comes with a movie theatre, salon and gym — and is described by owner Moran Yacht & Ship as a “rugged luxury yacht.”

Formerly known as the Northern Star, the luxury yacht was built in 2009 and was at one point valued at $181 million, before being remodeled.

The Wilson bridge rarely opens, but makes exceptions for large ships, like the historic tall ships on their annual pilgrimage to Alexandria.

Image via Flickr/Geoff Livingston

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