An Arlington man was charged Sunday with trespassing and destruction of private property at the Interstate Rte. 66 construction site after being apprehended by a superintendent connected with the highway project, police reported yesterday.
Scott Alan Vickland, 19, of 629 N. Monroe St. was released under $1,000 bond following the incident, according to Arlington Police Lt. Roxy Crack.
Crack said police were summoned to the 1300 block of Utah Street about 3 a.m. Sunday by Phillip Hobbs, superintendent of the I-66 land clearing operations, after he saw four persons prowling around the site.The group allegedly had sprayed paint on a crane and was trying to dump sugar into the crane's gas tank, Crack said.
Hobbs could not be reached for comment, but Charles Scott, construction project manager for Expressway Constructors Inc., said Hobbs in a subcontractor and owns the crane and was patrolling the site to protect his equipment. Scott said vandalism at the site has been a problem for Expressway, which is responsible for building the one-mile section of the highway between Lee Highway and Utah Street.
"We have our job to do," he said. "It's a shame they have to take it out on us."
The extension of I-66 has been bitterly opposed by some Arlington residents, who say the expressway would destroy neighborhoods and the local environment. The construction was held up for several years by local law suits, but work began late last year after being approved by a U.S. appeals court. Last week one leader of the highway opponents said his organization has never advocated "irresponsible behavior," but he noted that "emotions in the community are running very high."
According to Scott, the vandalism started in early February and has included incidents of paint-filled balloons thrown on the machinery, tar spread on tractor seats and windshields, vehicle door handles removed and trash dumped at the site. Expressway has but a security guard on the site since the beginning of the vandalism, but the area is hard to patrol because it is so extensive, Scott said recently.
In an incident yesterday, Arlington police arrested a 16-year-old juvenile who they said had climbed one of the trees scheduled to be cut at the I-66 construction site to protest the construction. The youth later was charged in Arlington Juvenile Court with trepassing.
The youth said he climbed the tree in the 1500 block of N. Vermont St. about 7 a.m. in full view of many of the construction workers. They didn't seem to object, he told a reporter, since he was wearing a hard hat and they apparently thought he was an other worker.
"I want to inspire other people to do what I did . . ." the youth said. "One person can't do very much but if you have 30 to 40 people in trees you'll have a hard time (stopping them)."
The youth, who flew the American flag as part of his protest, said the incident attracted a crowd, especially when the police sent in six patrol cars and called a fire truck to get him down.