Arlington This Week

Arlington This Week

<sh>Westbound I-66 Sees More Traffic

<bt>The region’s transportation planning board has confirmed in a new report what everyone in Arlington already knows: traffic is terrible, and only getting worse.

In a new aerial study released last week, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board concluded that Westbound I-66 from Lee Highway to Sudley Road has seen the most significant increase in congestion over the past three years.

The amount of time commuters sit in traffic on the segment of the freeway between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. has doubled between 2002 and 2005. Congestion along I-95 from Dumfries Boulevard to Russell Road is the only place where traffic has increased as much as it has on the Westbound I-66 portion.

The study found that traffic during the first hour of the evening commute, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., increased by roughly 64 percent. The worst traffic chokepoints in the region between were during rush hour on the inner loop of the Beltway from I-270 to Connecticut Ave and along Northbound I-395 from VA 110 to the George Washington Parkway.

Traffic along Eastbound I-66 from the Dulles Toll Road to Westmoreland Street, between the hours of 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., is in a four-way tie for the 7th most congested spot in the region.

The study, which is conducted every three years, took more than 80,000 aerial photographs of the region’s 300-mile freeway system.

<1b>—Seth Rosen

<sh>Immigrant Parents Seek Greater Voice

<bt>Leaders of a citizens advisory committee told School Board members last week that greater collaboration is needed between PTAs and parents for whom English is not their first language.

The chairs of the ESOL/HILT Citizens Advisory Committee requested that more PTA meeting be conducted in Spanish so parents can be further involved in discussions concerning their children’s education.

“We want to participate, be a part of the leadership level and be involved in decision-making,” said Elizabeth Clavel, the committee’s co-chair.

The committee’s members would like the County Council of PTAs to explore requiring a training session for school PTA officers to address communication strategies to better engage non-native speakers.

Immigrant parents also require greater assistance in deciphering school documents that are sent home, Clavel said.

“We get so much information and don’t know what’s important and what is not,” she told the School Board during its Valentine’s Day meeting.

She also urged school officials to make sure that all interpreters are highly trained, and that staff members are properly briefed on how to conduct bilingual meetings.

For the past two years the committee has collaborated with Escuela Bolivia to provide leadership training to Latino parents, paving the way for greater involvement in the school system. Committee members are concerned that the grants that fund these training sessions will not be funded in the future.

<1b>—Seth Rosen

<sh>Blood Supply Impacted by Winter Weather

<bt>The recent winter storm has caused the cancellation of several community blood drives and countless blood donor appointments across Maryland, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Southeastern Pennsylvania. These cancellations, coupled with the fact that many blood donors have failed to show up for their scheduled appointments, have resulted in more than 400 units of blood going uncollected, according to the Red Cross. An immediate recovery from this shortage is critical to ensuring that the needs of patients in local hospitals will not be impacted. Consequently, the Greater Chesapeake & Potomac Blood Region of the American Red Cross is issuing an urgent plea for an immediate response from both whole blood and platelet donors. Whole blood donors are asked to call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE, and platelet donors can call 1-800-272-2123.

The Red Cross is also in search of area businesses, churches, community groups and civic organizations to come on board as blood drive sponsors. For information about holding a blood drive, please call 1-800-787-9282, ext. 4925.

<sh>Pinewood Derby Car Show

<bt>For months, Cub Scouts across Arlington, north Alexandria and McLean have been building, painting and racing hand-made pinewood cars. Next week they will have the opportunity to show off their skills at the Pinewood Derby Championship and Car Show.

The competition will take place on March 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ballston Mall.

After a month of competing against one another within their packs, the champions, ages 5 to 11, have been selected and will face off against one another at the district championship on a new 6-car track provided by Pack 149 from Cherrydale United Methodist Church in Arlington.

A pinewood derby car is roughly 8 inches in length, and many are carved by the scouts themselves from a block of wood. Others use pre-cut cars, but all design and paint their chassis with personal flair. The scouts can be as creative as possible in making their cars – in the past, cars that resemble skateboards, guitars or Formula One racers have won.

The derby will feature between 60 and 80 races from 12 to 18 packs from north Alexandria, Arlington and McLean.