Tysons Corner, VA

Fairfax County is looking to scrutinize Fairfax Connector routes for riders around the Tysons area starting next year.

The county plans to start looking at five-year route optimization next year for riders in the Vienna and Merrifield areas next year, FCDOT officials told the Board of Supervisors during the Transportation Committee meeting today (Tuesday).

Then, the county would turn to Tysons, McLean and Falls Church areas in 2021.

Currently, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is seeking the public’s input on proposed service changes to routes in Herndon and Reston.

FCDOT is looking at Fairfax Connector routes because overall ridership is below targetted levels, according to the presentation. Additionally, shifting demographics and job opportunities have changed travel patterns.

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Fairfax County officials are set to consider changes to the intersection of Swinks Mill and Lewinsville Roads in McLean later this fall.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is currently studying the intersection.

The study “included survey, operational analysis, intersection concepts and collaboration with Fairfax County,” Jenni McCord, a VDOT spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

A traffic signal, a traffic signal with intersection modifications and a roundabout are under consideration, she said.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said that the intersection would need more than a traffic signal to improve congestion and safety.

“Given the layout of the current intersection, installing a traffic signal is not straightforward,” Foust said. “Even though the intersection meets the VDOT warrants for a traffic signal, VDOT is required to evaluate other measures to make the intersection safer.”

Foust said that he plans to meet with VDOT and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation in late fall to discuss the options and funding.

“The final report is being drafted and should be completed later this fall, and will include high-level cost estimates for all three concepts being analyzed,” McCord said.

Map via Google Maps

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Commuters and residents want to see more bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements along Route 50 in the Falls Church area.

At a meeting hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) last night, VDOT officials and residents discussed different ideas for improving the route, which has up to 51,000 vehicles travel daily, according to VDOT.

The meeting coincidentally happened a day after a 40-year-old man was struck and killed at the intersection of Route 50 and Graham Road. On a map of reported crashes since 2013, that intersection had two reports of fatal crashes, along with dozens of other crashes ranging in severity from property damage to serious injuries.

A study is underway to evaluate potential safety and operational changes for three miles of Route 50 between Jaguar Trail and Wilson Blvd.

VDOT officials said that the study is looking at data showing crash hotspots, speed and traffic count from January 2013 to the spring of 2019 and projections out to 2030.

“We don’t go into a study with the solutions already in hand,” Allison Richter, the liaison for Fairfax and Arlington counties, said.

The possible improvements VDOT is looking at include:

  • traffic signal timing/operations
  • turn lane
  • turn restrictions
  • access management
  • pedestrian enhancements
  • innovative intersections

Richter said that bike and pedestrian safety improvements are under consideration.

About 50 people showed up for the meeting, including Fairfax County police, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross, School Board Member Dalia Palchik and Tom Biesiadny, the director of Fairfax County’s transportation department.

Many of the people who lined up to provide feedback to VDOT pointed out specific problem areas — urging for time-restricted turn lanes, signal timing changes — and more focus on bicyclists, pedestrians and people using mass public transit.

“This area is becoming more urban over time,” one attendee told VDOT officials, adding that VDOT should focus on safety over speed for drivers.

Added safety measures could include two-way bike lanes on one-way service roads and more lighting, attendees said.

Sonya Breehey, a bike safety advocate, suggested traffic calming on the frontage roads.

“Arlington Blvd scares me,” Breehey said.

A handful of people called for VDOT to lower the speed limit from 45 miles per hour, with one person suggesting a new speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

One man who provided feedback urged VDOT to not forget about drivers, who might face slower speeds and longer travel times.

“Better late to dinner than dead,” someone from the audience shouted after the man finished commenting.

“Please be respectful,” the man responded.

People can take an online survey — which allows respondents to mark problem spots on a map and rank the six possible improvements — and submit comments to Bobby Mangalath, at 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, Va. 22030 by next Thursday, Oct. 31.

VDOT plans to hold another information meeting when the study wraps up in the spring.

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Next week, people can give their input on ways to improve Route 50 in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is holding a meeting on Monday (Oct. 21) to get community feedback about a Route 50 study that started in June and is currently underway.

The study is looking at potential safety and operational changes for three miles of Route 50 between Jaguar Trail and Wilson Blvd. Up to 51,000 vehicles travel daily in the area of Route 50, according to VDOT.

Possible improvements include:

  • traffic signal timing/operations
  • turn lane
  • turn restrictions
  • access management
  • pedestrian enhancements
  • innovative intersections

The meeting is set to take place in the cafeteria at Falls Church High School (7521 Jaguar Trail) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. A short presentation will start at 7 p.m., followed by time for questions with VDOT staff.

People can take an online survey and submit comments at the meeting or by Thursday, Oct. 31, to Bobby Mangalath, at 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

VDOT plans to hold another information meeting when the study wraps up in the spring.

Photo via VDOT

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Pedestrians will have to wait a few more weeks before the northbound sidewalk along Dolley Madison Blvd (Route 123) by the McLean Metro station reopens.

The sidewalk is maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Jenni McCord, a VDOT spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

“This sidewalk has been closed for about three weeks for construction under a developer site plan and permit,” McCord said.

The sidewalk is closed due to work related to Cityline Partner’s Scotts Run project, which will add an 8 million-square-foot mixed-use development.

The project includes several apartments and office buildings — including the completed 425-unit apartment complex called The Haden and the 14-story office building Mitre 4 — along with the Archer Hotel and retail space.

“Our site contractor is completing a new road connection to Route 123 and was required by VDOT to close the sidewalk during construction,” Cityline’s Managing Director Tasso Flocos told Tysons Reporter.

The new connection will include new asphalt pavement, ADA-compliant handicap ramps and pavement markings, McCord said.

The sidewalk will stay closed until paving is finished, Flocos said, adding that the contractor expects to be done by the end of October depending on the weather.

Until then, pedestrians can use the detour that takes them around the work area.

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Next month, locals will get the chance to weigh in on a proposal to reduce the parking requirements at Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria.

Fairfax County is considering a proposal that would affect the four largest malls in the county — the two in Tysons, Fair Oaks and Springfield Town Center — after a review earlier this year of the parking rates and demand at large regional malls.

Consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard conducted the study from June 5-8 by doing a parking county for the Springfield mall and analyzing data from the Fair Oaks mall. The study found that less than 65% of the available spaces were occupied during peak times, according to county documents.

The study did not evaluate the two malls in Tysons, county spokesperson Crystal Santos said.

When Tysons Reporter asked how the Tysons malls’ parking needs might differ from the two malls analyzed, Santos said:

The county envisions that Tysons will become a walkable, sustainable urban center as it redevelops leading to less car usage in the area and therefore less demand for parking. While Springfield is more urban than Fair Oaks because of bus service and Metrorail, it’s not as urban or accessible through public transportation as the two Tysons malls. We wanted to examine similar, more suburban malls to measure demand on parking for this study.

Santos added that there was a parking study in 2014 in Tysons before the Silver Line stations opened.

“The malls are also included in the Tysons Comprehensive Plan to transform the area into an urban center, as a result, the malls are able to reduce their effective parking rate to less than 2.5 per 1000 square feet of gross floor area through a county review and approval process,” Santos said.

A spokesperson for Tysons Corner Center did not respond to Tysons Reporter’s request for comment on the proposal.

The proposal would alter the requirement from four to 2.5 or three parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area — the recommended change from Nelson/Nygaard. County staff is recommending the rate be 2.8 parking spaces.

“This is a more realistic parking requirement and, if implemented, would continue to provide an oversupply of parking at peak demand on weekdays and weekends during all times of the year,” according to county documents. “Overall, the changes will provide Fairfax County’s largest commercial retail centers additional flexibility to react to a changing retail marketplace.”

The Planning Commission plans to hold a public hearing on Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. before the Board of Supervisors has one on Dec. 3 at 4 p.m.

Image via Google Maps

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Drivers have one week left to use the Vaden Drive Bridge over I-66 before it closes and gets replaced by a new bridge.

The bridge, which is near the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station, will be closed for about 10 months starting at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 18.

The closure is apart of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s multi-year Transform 66 project.

“The previously announced bridge closure is expected to cut in half — from 24 months to 12 months — the time needed to demolish the existing bridge and construct a new one,” according to an update yesterday from VDOT. “This shortened schedule will help reduce construction impacts on adjacent communities and roadway users.”

A new bridge is getting built to accommodate more cars and the I-66 widening. People can keep a lookout for the construction to start on the new bridge in November, with an anticipated opening next September.

While the bridge is closed, drivers will be detoured to Nutley Street to get to I-66. Pedestrians will be detoured to the pedestrian bridge at the Metro station.

Demolition of the bridge is expected to be finished by early December, according to VDOT.

Crews will also work on the intersection of Saintsbury Drive and Nutley Street while the detour is in place.

The parking garages at the Metro station will remain open.

Image via Google Maps

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Capital Bikeshare use has been steadily rising in Tysons over the last three years.

Between January and August, riders this year took 7,523 rides — 575 rides more than last year’s total. So far, ridership this year has gone up 8% compared to 2018.

Ridership jumped up last year as well. Capital Bikeshare experienced a 16% increase in Tysons ridership from 2017 to 2018.

The data is from the latest status report by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), which is slated to be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (Oct. 15).

The increasing ridership is likely to continue as more stations come to the Tysons area next year.

“FCDOT received a Commuter Choice grant for 10 new stations in the Merrifield and Vienna Metrorail area and is actively working on finalizing station locations for the Providence District Transportation Alternatives Program grant that will add up to 18 new stations to the Fairfax County system in 2020,” according to FCDOT.

The county finished a feasibility study of the Route 123 corridor between Route 7 and Burke Lake Park in partnership, according to FCDOT.

Currently, there are 14 stations in Tysons. Earlier this year, Capital Bikeshare expanded into Merrifield and Falls Church.

So far in Falls Church, riders have taken 322 trips, while riders in Merrifield have taken 2,181 trips this year, according to FCDOT.

Image via Fairfax County

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Autonomous vehicles connecting the Mosaic District to the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro may arrive as soon as next spring.

Earlier this year, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors decided to start a pilot program for self-driving vehicles as a shuttle service. Dominion Energy and the county decided to partner up on the program.

Deputy County Executive Rachel Flynn said at a Bisnow event today (Thursday) that the autonomous vehicles are expected to arrive in the spring or summer.

The vehicles will come from EasyMile, which is based in France, she said.

Flynn also said that the county has received a grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, but did not disclose the amount.

Photo via Facebook/EasyMile

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The Vienna Town Council is looking to add new transportation options to make getting around town easier.

Michael Gallagher, the director of public works, presented information about microtransit service and potential grants to the Vienna Town Council last night (Monday).

Microtransit falls in the middle of private, individual transportation like taxis and mass public transit.

“It’s like Uber with shuttle buses,” Gallagher said, adding that it’s designed to be low-cost or fare-free.

People within a certain geographic area would be able to request rides through an app. Microtransit routes and schedules are flexible to try to match the demand for trips, he said.

“There’s really no data yet because it’s fairly new,” he said, noting that D.C. is one of the areas around the country exploring microtransit service.

Microtransit would cost between $200,000-$400,000 per year for the third party running the system, Gallagher estimated.

As for funding, Gallagher told the Town Council the upcoming application deadlines for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) and Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT).

Councilmembers were supportive of pursuing the new option.

“If we can get a grant for a pilot program, I think that would be a great option for the town,” Councilmember Pasha Majdi said. “I think this should be considered without making major budget commitments.”

Councilmember Linda Colbert supported the idea for a trial period, adding that she is interested in seeing how many people would use microtransit compared to Uber or another ridesharing service.

Most of the debate was about how quickly the town staff would need to act in order to meet different grant deadlines.

Councilmember Douglas Noble argued the town should not seek funding immediately, saying that microtransit needs to be considered in the context of other transportation options. The council is set to hear about the multi-modal study from Kimley-Horn on Nov. 6.

Majdi noted that there may not be a lot of information about microtransit’s feasibility since it is a new technology.

Gallagher said that he is meeting with NVTC in about two weeks to discuss potential grants. The Town Council said that it will continue the discussion of microtransit service this year.

“Do you want to get a microtransit service that gives everyone a ride everywhere wherever they want to go 24/7 or do you want a shuttle that takes people back and forth to the Metro?” Majdi said. “Very, very different levels of service.”

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