Tysons Corner, VA

Pedestrians will soon be able to get over I-495 once the Jones Branch Connector’s sidewalk open, connecting North Central to Tysons East.

Currently, the Jones Branch Connector is undergoing construction for a $60 million project that will add two travel lanes and on-street bike lanes in each direction

“Right now the Jones Branch Connector sidewalk is slated to open mid- to late summer 2019,” Michael Murphy, a  spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation, told Tysons Reporter.

Back in December, the Jones Branch Connector partially opened with one lane of traffic in each direction, but “Sidewalk Closed” signs have kept pedestrians away.

“By providing an alternate route across the Beltway and linking the Tysons East and Central areas, the Connector is expected to relieve traffic along Route 123, at the I-495 interchange, and at other congested intersections,” according to VDOT. “The road is expected to carry more than 32,000 vehicles per day by 2040.”

The project is slated to finish in the fall.

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently made a $51 million investment in Tysons-area roads, but improvements to a troubled McLean road didn’t make the cut.

Balls Hill Road runs parallel to the Beltway through much of McLean up to Georgetown Pike, turning the two-lane residential street into a preferred get-around for Beltway traffic on navigation apps.

During rush hour, the intersection of Balls Hill Road and Georgetown Pike (Route 193) is frequently a backed up, apocalyptic free-for-all. Solutions to alleviate the congestion — including a controversial plan to close Georgetown Pike off from the Beltway entirely — have been proposed.

One plan involving intersection improvements was considered at meetings last fall, but the proposed improvement was not included in the Board of Supervisors’ budget.

“The Balls Hill and 193 improvements were not included in the Board’s $51 million [budget],” said Robin Geiger, head of communications for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

Potential intersection improvements included short-term solutions like widening shoulders to allow for increased traffic enforcement and painted boxes to stop drivers from stopping in the intersection and blocking traffic.

Longer term solutions focused on coordinated efforts to improve the American Legion Bridge and the nearby Beltway to reduce backups onto Georgetown Pike.

Meanwhile, another project to improve another troublesome intersection on Balls Hill Road is moving forward. The Balls Hill Road and Old Dominion Drive intersection is notoriously crash-prone with 29 crashes in a five-year span, due in part to poor sight-line conditions.

Geiger said in December, the Board of Supervisors approved the T-intersection proposal for the site and the project is currently in a preliminary engineering design phase. Funding for that project is approximately $21.5 million with construction scheduled to start in spring 2023.

Image via Google Maps

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New plans are on the way to fix traffic on the Dolley Madison Corridor between Tysons and McLean.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust are planning a meeting next Thursday (June 13) at 7 p.m. in the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue) to discuss the new “Dolley Madison Corridor Study.” According to the meeting description:

The purpose of the study is to analyze Dolley Madison Boulevard between the Dulles Toll Road and Old Dominion Drive and recommend solutions to improve traffic conditions. The team will present a variety of options with traffic model analysis and is looking for feedback from the public on the short-term and long-term improvements presented.

A Fairfax County Transportation status report from February said that four local intersections are being evaluated to understand how changes to one impact the others.

  • Dolley Madison Boulevard, Great Falls Street and Lewinsville Road intersection
  • Dolley Madison Boulevard and Old Dominion Drive intersection
  • Great Falls Street and Chain Bridge Road intersection
  • Balls Hill Road and Lewinsville Road intersection

Robin Geiger, head of communications for FCDOT, also said the intersections of Dolley Madison Boulevard and Ingleside Avenue and the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Ingleside Avenue are being considered. Geiger said staff evaluated short term solutions that could be implemented to benefit traffic over the next 10 years.

The status report noted that FCDOT staff presented scenarios to Foust’s office and they were asked to look at more long-term solutions as well. Geiger said FCDOT are considering longer-term solutions for the Great Falls Street/Lewinsville Road intersection with Dolley Madison Boulevard near Tysons and the intersection with Old Dominion Drive.

The specific solutions being proposed are not presently available, but Geiger said a website for the project is planned to be launched soon and community feedback will be gathered at the June 13 meeting.

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Bike to Work Day tomorrow (Friday) wants locals in the D.C. area to hop on a bike for their commute — even if it’s just for one day.

People interested in the free event can register online to access 115 pit stops throughout the region — seven are in the Tysons area — and link up to commuter convoys.

Participants can expect a warm and overcast Friday with the chance of stray rain or thunderstorms.

So what do you think? Is this something you would want to do or not?

Photo via Facebook and map via Bike to Work Day

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New legislation could allow Fairfax County to establish exceptions to no-turn restrictions for local residents.

Last year, McLean residents shot down a plan to eliminate cut-through traffic because it would also limit street access for residents, but new legislation could allow a middle-ground option.

At a Fairfax County Board Transportation Committee meeting today (Tuesday), staff discussed a proposal that would give local residents permits to exempt them from cut-through restrictions either currently in place or to be established.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said the idea came from a local citizen and was presented by Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34th District) to the Virginia legislature, who sponsored HB 2033. The legislation allows Fairfax County to “develop a program to issue permits or stickers to residents of a designated area that will allow such residents to make turns into or out of the designated area during certain times of day where such turns would otherwise be restricted.”

Neil Freschman, section chief of traffic engineering at Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), said the program would be jointly administered by FCDOT and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to specifically handle traffic that has neither origin nor destination on the road in question.

“This is only relevant for cut-through turns,” Freschman said, “not safety restrictions.”

Once a cut-through restriction is put into place, Freschman said a letter would be sent out to local residents letting them know how to file for a permit.

Currently, staff said there are only two areas that have relevant cut-through restrictions: both of them in the Mason District, but Foust noted that there are places in the Dranesville District where this kind of permit could be a solution to transit woes.

“We don’t want to enforce it against residents, but they say it’s all or nothing: we enforce it against everybody or we don’t enforce it against anybody,” Foust said. “[This idea] allows residents to make the turn onto their own streets if there was a cut-through restriction.”

Staff estimated that developing the new ordinance could take six months, followed by seven months of updating agreements with partner agencies and designing the new permits, and a year to work with a contractor to develop new software. Part of that process would be determining permit-eligible areas and determining if a fee should be charged to residents for the permits, which staff currently does not recommend.

Staff also noted that permits would be issued to vehicles registered at permit-eligible addresses and would not be available to visitors, caregivers, service providers, relatives or others. After questioning from the committee, staff said they would look into seeing about easing that limitation.

Enforcement of the policy would be conducted on a complaint basis, staff said, rather than as a daily activity. Difficulties like low-light conditions and potentially confusing factors, such as unclear signage, were also noted in a report on the project.

The committee approved of staff moving forward with the plan to build guidance and to work with Fairfax County Police to ensure the program is enforceable. The project is expected to return for public hearing and consideration in early 2020.

“This is a breakthrough,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova. “We’ve never been able to use a tool like this, but the state legislation allows us to do that.”

Photo via Flickr/Mike Goad

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Lane closures are expected around Vienna this week as part of the I-66 Outside the Beltway Project.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, crews will continue corridor-wide roadway maintenance this week with multi-lane closures along I-66 including stretches near the Dunn Loring Metro station and the Beltway interchange.

On Friday (May 17), I-66 is expected to have lane closures from the Beltway to Nutley Street in Vienna. Three lanes will be closed on the westbound side from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. to implement long-term lane shifts. At the Nutley Street intersection, repaving work is also planned for the median.

VDOT estimates an extra 20-minutes of stoppages, and slowdowns should be expected.

Photo via VDOT

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Updated at 10:05 a.m. — Police tweeted before 10 a.m., “The traffic signal was repaired and officers have cleared the intersection.”

Fairfax County police want people to avoid Shreve Road and W. Broad Street in Falls Church.

The intersection is just south of the West Falls Church Metro station and right by Giant and George Mason High School.

The police department tweeted shortly after 8 a.m. today (May 9) that the area is experiencing a traffic signal problem.

“Please use caution while officers control the intersection,” the tweet said.

Map via Google Maps 

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Church Street NE is closed until 3 p.m. today (May 1) between Glyndon and Park streets.

The temporary closure started at 9 a.m., according to a tweet from the Town of Vienna.

The road is closed “so that Dominion Energy can do emergency repairs to replace a faulty switch,” the tweet says.

Next week, a different portion of Church Street will be closed for four weeks. Starting Monday (May 6), the 300 block of Church Street will be closed from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays for installation of a new sidewalk, storm sewer, curb and gutter and driveway aprons.

Image via Google Maps

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A portion of Church Street in Vienna will be closed for four weeks starting next Monday (May 6) for construction work.

The Town of Vienna hired Ashburn Construction to install a new sidewalk, storm sewer, curb and gutter and driveway aprons on Church Street NE from the intersection of Glyndon Street to 344 Church Street NE. The contractor will also replace the speed hump in front of 342 Church Street NE.

The 300 block of Church Street will be closed from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays and only residents who live in that block will be able to access the area, according to the town. Vienna does not have any utility disruptions planned.

During construction, traffic on Church Street will get diverted onto Maple Avenue briefly before returning to Church Street.

Some people commented under Vienna’s Facebook post about the closure that the street needs the improvements, but the work is ill-timed.

“Much needed agreed but wish it was to be done over summer when traffic is a bit less,” one commentator wrote under the post. Another person wrote, “Much needed improvements …. very inconvenient. Sigh.”

Vienna is using the announcement about the road closure to encourage locals to sign up for the town’s new notification system.

First image via Town of Vienna and second via Google Maps

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(Updated 1:50 p.m.) A crash on I-66 is causing substantial delays near Vienna with one lane closed in each direction.

The crash was reported around 1:35 p.m., with one eastbound lane closed, then a westbound lane closed a few minutes later at the same mile marker.

Emergency crews are on-site assisting a vehicle in the median. Traffic is still moving in either direction, but with residual slowdowns in either direction.

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