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Next CCA Meeting: Wednesday, May 17, 7:00pm
HB Woodlawn School Library, 4100 Vacation Lane
Come Talk to VDOT About the New I-66 Toll Signs on Lee Highway
Last month, VDOT installed a new toll sign for I-66 in Cherrydale in the dead of night. I-66, as you know, is about to change from from HOV-2 to HOT lanes at certain times of day. The placement of the toll sign is a visual blight on Cherrydale, and its unclear what we can do about now. But VDOT has finally agreed to come meet with us, so please come make yourself heard.
The new sign is a setback to decades of efforts to improve the Lee Highway corridor through Cherrydale, and to make Cherrydale a more inviting, walkable and livable neighborhood. It’s unclear why VDOT didn’t place this new toll sign closer to the I-66 entrance ramp instead of in Cherrydale. It’s also unclear why the sign is so large. Relatively few eastbound drivers enter westbound I-66. Most continue in Lee Highway or turn on to Spout Run Parkway. Moreover, the speed limit on this section of Lee Highway is only 30 mph, and there two sets of traffic signals at the entrance ramp, which further slows drivers. Additionally, placement of the sign and associated utility boxes destroyed significant landscaping in the Lee Highway median. This median is part of the Arlington County-approved Cherrydale Revitalization Plan, and the landscaping mitigation efforts to date replanted both too few and the wrong kind of trees. VDOT seems to think Lee Highway is nothing but an extended on ramp for I-66.
It’s also unclear that these signs are even necessary or will be effective. VDOT also placed a toll sign on westbound Lee Highway that cannot be seen from drivers coming from Spout Run Parkway, who are by far the largest group of drivers who merge onto I-66 at Exit 72 from either direction. VDOT's decision to place this sign east of Spout Run Parkway strongly suggests VDOT knows or does not understand that the signs will not be effective, and are therefore unnecessary. And VDOT recently put up a much smaller sign on Spout Run, suggesting that a smaller sign on Lee Highway could also work.
VDOT does not appear to have made any effort to notify or consult with Cherrydale prior to installing the new toll sign. Its public meetings about this project did not address the toll sign in a way that could have properly alerted us to its exact placement or their impact. Nevertheless, we have learned that VDOT did consult with East Falls Church Civic Association about the new toll signs for the I-66 Exit 69 entrance ramps, and that civic association had a significant input on the placement of the toll signs in their neighborhood.
We tried reaching out to the County and to VDOT to ask what was going on with this project as soon as we saw construction going on. The County told us this was a VDOT project and then dropped the matter. It’s unclear if the County knew what was going to happen and also chose not to tell us, or if VDOT is also leaving the County in the dark. VDOT, on the other hand, entirely ignored our efforts to reach out to them. Only after the intervention of State Senator Barbara Favola did VDOT finally respond to us.
VDOT officials have agreed to come to our next meeting. It’s unclear what they may be willing to do, but given the success East Falls Church Civic Association had with changing the placement of the sign, we should see what we can do now. Come to our May 17 meeting at 7pm and make yourself heard.
Safer Streets in Cherrydale
Last year, three people were struck by cars in separate incidents while walking or running along North Quincy Street in Cherrydale. Additionally, we are all aware of the dangers posed by crossing Lee Highway on foot and the challenge of bicycles and cars sharing the streetscape. At the May 17 meeting, Arlington County Police will discuss transportation safety generally and Quincy Street and Lee Highway in particular. We’ve asked First District Commander Captain Jim Donahue to discuss:
Cherrydale’s Third Annual Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser Another Success
Well over 200 neighbors came together to enjoy pasta, wine, great company and dancing to live local music from the Cherrydale Jazz Ensemble in March. Thanks to Evan Lacopo and Holly Billy of Wydler Brothers Real Estate for their generous donation of money and time, and local chef Anna Brown and Gaijin Ramen for the incredible handmade pasta, sauce and salad. Thanks also to LeoNora Bakery for the delicious bread.
We are grateful to CVFD President Tim Horner and the firefighters for the use of their house and the time and labor to support the event. Thanks also to Safeway for allowing guests to use their parking lot, to Greg Embree for taking pictures and to Tom Korns for the signs he posted around town. Event volunteers Coreen Brown, Danielle Schefer and Jim and Kyra Todd ensured the night's success.
CCA Meetings Going on a Tour of Cherrydale
The Cherrydale Citizens Association is going on a tour of Cherrydale. Starting in May, we will be meeting in different parts of Cherrydale.
On May 17, we are meeting in HB Woodlawn School Library, 4100 Vacation Lane to discuss the new VDOT sign, traffic, pedestrian, and bike safety. On July 4, we are meeting on the Fourth at 21st Street & Stafford Street for our barbecue, dance, and fireworks party. We will be meeting on September 27 somewhere else in Cherrydale to discuss how to get involved in Arlington’s many many citizen advisory committees. And on November 15 we will be talking about schools, holding CCA elections, and discussing changes to CCA’s By-Laws.
One of the reasons for the change in location is that the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department gets a lot of its
revenue from renting out its Social Hall, and it recently found a new tenant for Wednesdays. But we also realized this was a great opportunity for us to meet in other parts of Cherrydale—its parks, its schools, its churches, and maybe its businesses or clubs. We are currently looking for places to meet on a rotating basis. If you have an idea about where the CCA can meet once or twice during the year, please contact CCA President Jim Todd at email@example.com.
Stay tuned for updates.
Stratford Middle School Update
As previously reported, Arlington Public Schools will renovate the building that currently houses the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs and convert it to a new neighborhood middle school.
Since our last update, the County Board unanimously approved the Use Permit for the project, which allows construction to move forward. As approved by the County Board, the resulting school will be a 1,000-seat, neighborhood middle school. Construction will be begin in early 2018 and be completed in time for a September 2019 opening. The renovation will add 40,000 square feet to the school building and cost approximately $36.5 million to build. The School Board will determine the attendance boundaries for the school in 2018.
Since November 2014 when the School Board selected the Stratford site to meet urgent middle school capacity needs, multiple citizen committees and associations have worked hard to balance the many challenges at Stratford. The Stratford Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC) met 23 times, considered 9 different site access options, included representatives from 7 civic associations and 7 feeder schools, and heard public comment at every meeting. Because the Stratford site is adjacent to county recreational property (known as Stratford Park), a Public Facilities Review Committee (PFRC) has also been heavily involved in the planning process (meeting 13 times) to ensure that civic facilities involved in the project meet community goals for attractiveness, durability, and functionality. Stratford Park will also be renovated during the construction project, resulting in updated tennis and basketball courts, an improved baseball/softball field, enhanced lighting, and a picnic area. The sledding hill on the property will be preserved. After renovation, as currently planned, the school property will include 144 parking spaces for teachers and visitors, a small decrease from the 153 spaces currently provided on the property. However, the County Board and School Board have asked the project team to look for ways to increase the number of parking spaces so the final number may change.
The project will include several pedestrian improvements, including sidewalks on both sides of Vacation Lane, new curb extensions and markings on the same street near the school and new crosswalks. The intersection at Old Dominion Drive will be revamped to allow students and other pedestrians to cross safely. Finally, the existing pedestrian path from Old Dominion Drive to the school will be made accessible for those with disabilities. A separate project will begin this summer to install a sidewalk on the south side of Old Dominion.
The renovated school will also include ways to honor the historic nature of the Stratford site, especially its identity as the first public school in Virginia to be integrated (in 1959). APS has assembled a team of community experts and first hand participants in the integration to work with the architects and builders on how to commemorate the building’s history. This Special Committee on Historic Interpretation at Stratford meets at 7 p.m. on May 23 at H-B Woodlawn and the public is invited to attend.
If you would like more details on the project and the specific upgrades to the school and surrounding streetscape, you can find it at the project website here: http://apsva.us/design-and-construction/stratford-middle-school-project/.
Cherrydale representatives on the BLPC are Eve Reed (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Raymond Sendejas (email@example.com), and the Cherrydale representatives on the PFRC is Mark Bildner (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Carole Russo (email@example.com) .
Changes Coming to Five Points Intersection
Arlington is moving forward with planned improvements to the Five Points Intersection. Construction will hopefully begin in 2017. Planned improvements include:
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