Tysons, VA

Due to ridership plummeting and a need to conserve cleaning supplies during the coronavirus pandemic, Metro plans to temporarily close two Tysons stations.

Metro announced last night (Tuesday) that the Greensboro and McLean stations are a part of the 17 stations that will close tomorrow (Thursday).

“While Metro increased its on-hand warehouse inventory of essential supplies,… other items used by Metro’s frontline employees, suppliers are experiencing delivery delays,” the announcement said. “Metro is taking action to make its current 2-3 week warehouse supply stretch until massive orders placed in late January are received.”

Metro has been urging people recently to only use the public transit system for essential trips. Last week, Metro closed the Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery stations to discourage people from visiting the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin.

“The 19 stations will remain closed until further notice and trains will pass through without stopping,” Metro said.

Map via WMATA/Twitter

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County officials are evaluating if the Fairfax Connector bus service should continue normal operations. For now, Fairfax Connector is operating on a normal schedule.

A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) said that changes in service levels are possible in the future, but no plans have been finalized yet.

Overall, ridership has taken a hit, but it’s too soon to tell by how much, according to Robin Geiger, an FCDOT spokeswoman.

The Fairfax Connector’s operations contractor has implemented a more rigorous vehicle cleaning cycle with “a special focus on bus interiors and critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails, and other surfaces,” according to FCDOT.

The contractor is also working with its workforce to ensure employees are informed about coronavirus and measures to slow its spread.

Passengers should continue to practice ways to prevent spreading COVID-19 by washing hands often with soap and water, avoiding touching your eyes nose or mouth, and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

As of Thursday morning, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 77 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, with 14 in Fairfax County.

This story also appeared on our sister site Reston Now

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People impacted by the Orange Line closures this summer will have the option to use free shuttle buses.

Beginning May 27, the Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church stations will be closed through Sept. 7 (Reminder: On March 15, some or all of the parking options will be closed at the Metro stations in the Falls Church and Vienna area.)

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced today (Friday) the routes for the free buses that will replace trains at the affected stations.

Riders can use an online tool to find recommended travel alternatives.

While the Silver Line won’t be closed, WMATA officials have said that the stations from McLean to Wiehle-Reston East will also be affected.

The summer work will include updating slip-resistant tiles, LED lighting, adding new large digital displays and building new shelters on the platforms.

“West Falls Church Station will remain open and serve as the western terminus of the Orange Line,” according to Metro. “Trains will continue to pass through East Falls Church Station while it is closed to minimize service impacts outside the construction area.”

Map via WMATA

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Major work underway to revamp I-66 underway may soon extend to a bridge and road on the border of Vienna.

Plans to demolish and rebuild Cedar Lane’s bridge over I-66 and the Metro tracks are a part of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s multi-year Transform 66 project.

Susan Shaw, VDOT, and Nancy Smith with FAM provided the Town Council an update on the bridge project last night (Monday).

While nothing has been finalized yet, the bridge will likely get demolished and rebuilt this summer to take advantage of the Orange Line Metro shutdown, they said.

“We’re still having this dialogue so a final decision isn’t made,” Shaw said.

Currently, the lack of a right-hand shoulder on I-66 is creating safety concerns, Smith said.

VDOT is currently looking at move forward with single-phase construction, which would last for six months, Smith told the council, adding that three-phase construction that would last at least 28 months is also an option.

“It would allow us to take full advantage of WMATA’s shutdown,” she said, adding that the goal is to demolish and rebuild the bridge as quickly as possible.

The single-phase construction would require a detour for drivers and pedestrians for the entire six months, Smith said, noting that this option would have fewer impacts on I-66.

Smith said that an analysis of a six-month closure of the bridge found that two-thirds of the traffic on is cut-through traffic between the City of Fairfax and Tysons, while one-third of the traffic is local.

The analysis suggested that drivers would find alternative routes, with local traffic shifting to Nutley Street and Gallows Road.

Smith said that a different detour would be in place for the roughly 40 pedestrians and 20 bicyclists who currently use the bridge every day.

Smith said that the two Fairfax Connector routes that use the bridge would need to be rerouted for a six-month closure.

The bridge is just one of several projects in the area, including:

  • work on new Vaden Drive bridge
  • construction of new Gallows Road bridge
  • work on pedestrian and shared-use path along Nutley Street

“Obviously, Cedar Lane construction won’t happen in a vacuum,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of other construction happening on the corridor simultaneously.”

Work is set to start on the Cedar Lane Bridge in May, Smith said. The new bridge would aim to open by mid-November.

Once the bridge is closed for construction, Smith said that commuters can expect congestion to increase.

People interested in learning more about the single-phase construction can expect a meeting at Thoreau Middle School in late March, Smith said.

Image (1) via Google Maps, image (2) and maps via Town of Vienna

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Fairfax Connector shared the steps being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, as more cases are reported in the D.C. area.

Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation announced on Friday (March 6) that contractors are following these steps:

  • reviewed and updated cleaning protocols based on guidance from public health officials
  • increased vehicle cleaning cycles with a special focus on bus interiors and critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails and other surfaces.
  • initiated regular communication with Fairfax Connector workforce

Fairfax County also has suggestions for passengers to curtail the rapidly-spreading illness:

  • wash hands often with soap and water and use hand sanitizer
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others

“FCDOT highly values the health and safety of Fairfax Connector customers and personnel,” the county said.

Virginia has three “presumptive” cases of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

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The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) is supporting a recent request for federal funding for work on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

MCA sent a letter on Feb. 17 to the Department of Transportation, urging support for the National Park Service’s grant applications.

The funding from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program would help rehabilitate 8 miles of the parkway from Spout Run Parkway to I-495.

NPS is looking to:

  • repave the road
  • repair stormwater management systems and walls
  • rehabilitate two historic, scenic overlooks
  • replace guardrails
  • construct new curbs
  • build emergency turnarounds along the north end

“The condition of this stretch of the GW Parkway has been deteriorating, and urgent action is needed to perform reconstruction of this portion of the road system,” the letter notes.

More than 33 million vehicles per year travel on the GW Parkway, according to Fairfax County. Last year, emergency work had to fix the cause of a sizable sinkhole on the GW Parkway, disrupting traffic for months in the area.

Noting that the grant program is “highly competitive,” the letter goes on to say that the work will also improve the “historical and cultural characteristics that make the Parkway one of the most scenic roadways in the country.”

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors is also backing the federal funding ask.

Image via Google Maps

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County officials celebrated the completion of the Jones Branch Connector today, calling it a vital new link to improve connectivity in Tysons.

The Virginia Department of Transporation (VDOT) and Fairfax County officials held a ribbon-cutting this morning (March 5) at the corner of Scotts Crossing Road and Capitol One Drive in Tysons.

The new half-mile roadway, called Scotts Crossing Road, runs between Jones Branch Drive and Route 123 over the Beltway and includes two lanes of traffic, a bicycle lane and an illuminated sidewalk for pedestrians in each direction, according to a VDOT press release.

“A wide, raised median is also reserved to accommodate future transit,” the press release said.

Though the $60 million price tag for such a short stretch of the road may seem high, Bill Cutler, the district construction engineer for VDOT, said that “it speaks to the complexity of the project.”

In the future, if Fairfax County decides that the overpass no longer makes sense for vehicle and pedestrian traffic, it is designed in such a way that construction crews will be able to strip the concrete and repurpose the project, for example, to become a trolley way, Cutler said.

For now though, “the project is expected to relieve traffic along Route 123, at the Route 123/I-495 interchange and other locations,” the press release said, adding that more than 32,000 vehicles are expected to use Scotts Crossing Road per day by 2040.

Speakers and guests at this morning’s ceremony included Dalia Palchik and Jeff McKay from the Board of Supervisors.

“This is part of our economic success plan,” Palchik, who represents the Providence District, said. “We know that if we don’t have connectivity [and] mobility, it will make things harder and harder for people to get around enjoy coming and going to work.”

Following up on Palchik’s statement, Cutler said that this new connection will allow people using different modes of transportation to more easily move between the communities and neighborhoods in Tysons.

The project, which was approved by the county in 2010, is the first one to be completed from the Tysons Comprehensive Plan Amendment, according to the press release.

Work on the project started in 2017, and in late 2018, one traffic lane opened in each direction. By January, all four travel lanes were open.

“Final detail work” is expected this month, but shouldn’t impact traffic, according to the press release.

“The completion of the Jones Branch Connector marks a milestone in our collaborative efforts to improve our transportation network to support the growth of Tysons,” McKay said. “This project helps us move more people more efficiently and continues to build upon a grid of streets that encourages the use of multi-modal transportation alternatives.”

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The Vienna Town Council recently revisited the idea of installing new sidewalks within three neighborhoods.

After a former councilmember Maud Robinson donated a chunk of money in her will for the town to build sidewalks, the Town Council is now evaluating how they can respect her wishes and improve town infrastructure.

During the meeting on Monday (Feb. 24), the Town Council discussed proposed sidewalks would be installed on:

  • Plum Street SW between Cottage Street SW to Tapawingo Road,
  • Cabin Road SE between Branch Road SE and Glyndon Street SE
  • Holmes Drive NW between John Marshall Drive and Upham Place NW

Currently, only 50% of the homeowners on Homes Drive and Plum Street have responded to a request for input on the subject, but councilmembers said they would like at least a 75% response rate.

“I feel better knowing the majority of people are in favor of the decision,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said, adding that before things move forward, it would be best for town staffers to try new methods to get feedback from homeowners along the proposed routes.

From the feedback received so far from residents, some are concerned over disruption to foliage and trees that would be in the way of the sidewalks.

Councilmember Douglas Noble mentioned that homeowners don’t have control over town-owned easement property on the outskirts of a lot, but added it was determined that the public works department has ways of building the sidewalks without disrupting or killing the trees in the direct path.

During public comment at the meeting, two parents expressed support for the sidewalks and voiced concerns about their kids’ safety.

“A tree can be replanted… I wanna put that in perspective,” a father of two young daughters said. “You can’t replace a child if she gets hit by a car. A 62- year-old maple tree doesn’t matter — my kids matter.”

The man also shared the importance of this project for several families who have recently moved into the neighborhood around  Cabin Road.

“I cannot believe we are spending this much time talking about sidewalks, but it’s a democracy at it’s finest,” he said.

A mother also came up to the podium and shared how she makes her kids FaceTime her after they get off the school bus to ensure their walk home goes smoothly.

She said that she often sees cars speeding down Cabin Road — coming too close to her kids on an unprotected road shoulder for comfort.

After public feedback, the Town Council passed a motion at the meeting to prepare design sidewalk plans on Plum Street, Cabin Road and John Marshall Drive.

Going forward, town representatives will begin preparing sidewalk designs and finish gathering feedback from homeowners in the area. Councilmembers also passed a motion saying design plans shouldn’t cost more than $500,000.

Image via Google Maps

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Starting next week, pedestrians and cyclists along the Washington and Old Dominion will need to take detours from near Idylwood Park.

The Virginia Department of Transportation recently announced that the part of the trail that runs along the south side of the park will be closed starting Monday (Feb. 24) for utility work connected to the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project.

People can expect the portion of the trail between Virginia Lane and the trail bridge over I-495 to be closed for about one week, according to VDOT.

Different detours will be in place, according to VDOT:

  • Pedestrians: detour through Idylwood Park during the park’s operating hours using footpaths and the parking lot
  • Cyclists: on-road detour to Virginia Lane and Nottingham Drive using W&OD Trail access at the end of Nottingham Drive

VDOT noted that the work is dependent on the weather.

The I-66 project is working to add new Express Lanes, change bus service and transit routes, add new pedestrian trails and improve interchanges. The part of the project outside of the Beltway is slated to finish in December 2022.

Map via VDOT

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Come March 15, some or all of the parking options will be closed at three Metro stations in the Falls Church and Vienna area.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced on Friday that pre-construction ahead of summer work will impact parking at three Orange Line stations.

While the summer work on the Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations doesn’t start until May, the parking changes are set to start on March 15.

“Due to the stations’ location and extreme space limitations, construction crews will need to utilize surface parking lots to stage heavy equipment and tons of material,” according to a press release from WMATA.

Here are the planned changes:

  • surface parking lots at the East Falls Church, West Falls Church and Vienna stations will be closed for seven to nine months
  • parking at the Dunn Loring station will not be impacted
  • Kiss & Ride lot will remain open for pick-up and drop-off only at East Falls Church station
  • West Falls Church station parking garage will remain open
  • Vienna station Parking Lot 1 will be temporarily closed beginning March 15
  • Vienna station’s parking garages and Parking Lot 3 will remain open.

The changes mean that parking won’t be available at the East Falls Church station.

Metro expects that the parking will fill up at the West Falls Church station before 7 a.m., according to the press release.

“Vehicles parked in closed lots after 12:01 a.m. on March 15, 2020, may be subject to towing,” the press release says.

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