Arlington: Transforming Four Mile Run

Arlington: Transforming Four Mile Run

Neighborhood Outlook

Transit routes and demand to and from Columbia Pike

Transit routes and demand to and from Columbia Pike Photo Contributed


Projected population growth along Columbia Pike

Wheels Turning along Columbia Pike

Columbia Pike is the fastest growing area of Arlington. The Columbia Pike corridor is estimated to experience a 21 percent population growth, twice Arlington County’s anticipated 11 percent growth. But to facilitate that growth, the county will need to figure out how to transport all of that population.

At the beginning of this year, County Board Chair Libby Garvey expressed frustration at the delays in the Columbia Pike transportation. Garvey moved that the county manager present the new plan for Columbia Pike’s transportation network at the County Board’s Jan. 23 meeting. But Snowstorm Jonas forced the County Board to cancel its Jan. 23 meeting.

The Transit Development Plan is designed to replace the streetcar service, cancelled two years ago following public outcry against the cost. According to the plan, the current Columbia Pike buses are already at capacity, and the county estimates a 21 percent increase in demands for mass transit in Columbia Pike over the next 10 years. Some bus stops currently experience “bunching,” jams where buses are forced to wait for a spot to pull in.

The Columbia Pike Transit Stations Project calls for longer bus stop platforms that should help reduce bunching. Longer term, the Transit Development Plan calls for more connections between Columbia Pike and Crystal City or the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, major metro hubs.

Village Life on Lee Highway


Lee Highway and the surrounding communities.

After a series of community meetings in late 2015, Arlington County staff and the Lee Highway Alliance are ready to present a vision for the congested North Arlington neighborhood. While the final vision is still to be presented to the County Board in its January meeting, if the community meetings have been any indication, the focus will be around cohesive community identity. At a community charrette, more connections between local biking and walking paths were identified as one of the major priorities.

Ginger Brown, one of the main organizers for the Lee Highway community events, said that the main messages out of those meetings was a focus on open space and retail-oriented urban villages. The urban village design centers around community-serving retail built around open plazas and public meeting spaces. Amy Groves, principal and senior project director for Dover, Kohl & Partners, said that the biggest takeaway from the community meeting was the universal demand for better bike transit options as well as more trees along the sides of the streets and in the County’s open spaces. The tradeoff, both Brown and Groves acknowledged, will be greater residential and retail density around the intersection of Glebe Road and Lee Highway.

Four Mile Run


The outlined scope of the upcoming Four Mile Run Planning Study.

Four Mile Run isn’t exactly a neighborhood. It’s the only area in Arlington zoned for industrial/heavy service commercial, but it also encompasses nearby residential areas like Shirlington and Nauck. But in 2016, Arlington County will begin a community planning process to transform the neighborhood with the Four Mile Run Planning Study. The county’s goals focus around reevaluating land use goals for a stretch of Arlington largely defined by auto repair.

2016 has already seen new changes for the area. New District Brewing Company, Arlington’s first brewery, opened on Four Mile Run near Jennie Dean Park on Jan. 9. Owner Mike Katrivanos’ family is from the neighborhood, and says the community has been very supportive of his business, with more than 1,200 visitors at the brewery’s opening day ceremony.

But Robert Duffy, Arlington’s planning director, said that transforming the neighborhood is going to be slow work. The area’s widespread use of by-right zoning means that the storage space and auto service industries that own much of the land have full rights to buy or sell the land without County permission as long as it maintains the current type of industry. According to Duffy, this means a storage company can, and most likely will, continue to sell their land for other storage companies to build on.

The county can take steps to enhance the neighborhood by removing the bus lot from Jeanne Dean Park. At a Jan. 10 tour of the neighborhood, County Board Chair Libby Garvey promised local residents that, by the end of the year, the buses would be removed and the community would have their park back.