Tysons, VA

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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Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors is supporting an application for federal funding to pay for a rehabilitation project along the GW Parkway.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust proposed the board matter, which supports an application for funding from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program.

The funding would support the parkway’s North Section Rehabilitation Program, which aims to reconstruct nearly 8 miles of the GW Parkway from Spout Run Parkway to I-495.

“The proposed project addresses serious deterioration of the parkway and implements significant safety improvements,” the board matter says.

If the funding is approved, the board matter says the National Park Service (NPS) plans 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 project will also include work on a northern section, addressing a $1.7 billion maintenance backlog that includes $395 million for the parkway, the board matter says.

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.

Foust noted that the project is meant to address safety and longevity issues for the parkway.

The Board of Supervisors voted to approve sending a letter of support for NPS’s application for the federal funding.

Map via Google Maps

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To get ready for summer platform work, WMATA is closing several Orange Line stations this weekend, affecting riders in Vienna, Falls Church and Merrifield.

Riders can expect trains every 16 minutes between the West Falls Church and New Carrollton stations with additional trains between Ballston and New Carrollton from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 8), according to WMATA’s website.

Free shuttle buses will replace trains at the Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church stations.

The bus routes will be:

  • between East Falls Church and Ballston
  • between Vienna, Dunn Loring and West Falls Church
  • express bus between Vienna and West Falls Church

Riders can expect trains to single track through the East Falls Church station. The West Falls Church station will stay open.

“Customers on Ballston-bound Orange Line trains who are continuing on to West Falls Church should exit the train at Virginia Square for a same platform transfer,” according to the website.

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Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said he’s supportive of plans to extend the express lanes on I-495, but has major concerns about the timing of the project with Maryland’s piece.

The I-495 Northern Extension Project would expand express lanes from the Dulles Toll Road to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, replace overpasses and noise walls and add a shared-use path. The project could save drivers up to 25 minutes during peak-hour commute times, according to the presentation given at the meeting.

Toll revenues are expected to support the cost of the project, according to the presentation.

Maryland is currently evaluating its options to rebuild and widen the American Legion Bridge, Susan Shaw, from the Virginia Department of Transportation, told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Preliminarily, construction could start on Virginia’s portion of the project in 2021 and take three years to finish, Shaw said.

“Obviously, solving the congestion issues at the American Legion bridge are just absolutely essential that we do that,” Foust said at the Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday. “This project doesn’t solve the congestion problems.”

While Foust said that the project is a “necessary piece of the puzzle that will do that,” he said that most of the relief will come from increasing capacity and widening the Beltway from Maryland.

Foust said he thinks it would be a “huge mistake” to start the Virginia part of the project before it can get aligned with Maryland’s timeframe.

“Timing is everything here,” Foust said. “You’ve got to get this coordinated better with what they’re doing in Maryland or a bad situation is going to get worse.”

A public meeting on the project is set for March 12 at Langley High School (6520 Georgetown Pike) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Public comments will be accepted through March 30, although Shaw said the public can reach out anytime after that.

“You want to extend the express lanes, but that’s not a good enough public purpose reason for doing this,” Foust said.

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As WMATA looks ahead to summer Metro repairs, more details have been revealed about the Orange Line closures that will impact riders in Northern Virginia. 

Beginning May 27, the Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church stations will be closed, according to a WMATA presentation at a Falls Church City Council meeting earlier this week, which added that the Silver Line from McLean to Wiehle-Reston will also be affected. 

Crews will update slip-resistant tiles, LED lighting, add new large digital displays and build new shelters on the platforms during the closures, WMATA representatives said at the meeting.

WMATA representatives also said free buses will replace trains at each of the affected stations and riders can expect the closures to last through Sept. 7.

Summer was chosen as the ideal time for the project because ridership is down slightly during that time of the year, the representatives said.

“We found it was really much more efficient when we use longer extended periods (of closures),” one representative added, compared to completing updates at night or over weekends.

During closures, four bus routes will offer riders alternative options:

  • from Vienna to West Falls Church
  • from Dunn Loring to West Falls Church
  • from East Falls Church to Ballston
  • from Rosslyn, then to Courthouse before stopping at Ballston and finally to Vienna

There will also be added on-demand shuttles from Vienna to Dunn Loring and West Falls Church to East Falls Church.

The presentation also mentioned that Silver Line trains from McLean to Wiehle-Reston will stop at each station but run on a reduced schedule.

Riders can expect the West Falls Church station to remain open but with single-tracking and for trains to go through — but not stop at — the East Falls Church station.

There will also be a variety of Metro Buses, ART Buses and Fairfax Connector Buses that will also be affected, according to the presentation.

Image (2) via City of Falls Church

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The Super Bowl is this Sunday (Feb. 2) and a local non-profit is sharing drunk driving prevention tips ahead of game day.

Based in Falls Church, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is urging people to wear seatbelts, designate a sober driver and consider using ride-sharing services or public transit.

“Even if you have every confidence in your own ability to not drive impaired, that confidence doesn’t extend to the next driver,” WRAP’s President Kurt Gregory Erickson said in a press release.

For hosts, WRAP encourages bars to stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the game ends, to serve food with alcohol and to never serve a person who is drunk.

Other tips include using a non-carbonated base in alcoholic punches so that the body absorbs the alcohol faster and offering non-alcoholic beverages.

“Motorists in Greater Washington who suspect that they are sharing a roadway with an impaired driver should report such by safely dialing 911 in the District of Columbia or Maryland and #77 in Virginia,” Erickson said.

Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash

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Fairfax County wants to give commuters another way to access the McLean Metro station in Tysons.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a funding application that seeks to add a new entrance to the Metro stop.

The county is looking for $1 million to add a new entrance on the north side of the station to make it easier for pedestrians coming from Scotts Crossing Road and the Capital One campus.

“The increase in the number of residential dwelling units in the area presents an opportunity to capture commuters that would otherwise drive single-occupancy vehicles on the Dulles Connector Road and 1-66 Inside the Beltway in efforts to reach Arlington and downtown D.C,” according to county documents.

Ridership at the McLean Metro station has continued to rise, according to stats from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC).

Compared to the four stations in Tysons, the McLean station saw the largest spike in ridership from April-June, rising 25% over the last year, followed by the Greensboro Metro station at 18%.

The Metro entrance proposal is one of three project submissions to NVTC that the board is set to consider endorsing tomorrow (Tuesday) for the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 I-66 Inside the Beltway Commuter Choice Program.

The two other proposed projects include:

  • $8.6 million for a new bus route from Reston to Arlington and bicycle and pedestrian improvements around Reston
  • $500,000 for fare buy down on Express Route 599, since the current $7.50 express fare is higher than the $4.25 fare on other Fairfax Connector express bus routes

In total, Fairfax County is requesting roughly 10 million from NVTC. County staff recommends that the McLean Metro station project be the top priority, according to county documents.

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) The Falls Church City Council is set to discuss two bus projects that would better connect the Little City to surrounding jurisdictions.

Planning Director Paul Stoddard is set to give presentations on the third phase of the Envision Route 7 Bus Rapid Transit Project and the WMATA Bus Transportation Project.

Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVRC) is evaluating costs to run buses from the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons along Route 7 to the East Falls Church Metro station, before ending in Alexandria.

“Currently, the only corridor-long service is the 28A, which runs on 20-minute frequencies,” according to city documents. “Commonly 10- or 15-minute frequencies [are] considered the minimum for high-frequency transit.”

Falls Church staff are looking to get data on ridership estimates, turning movements, lane configurations and evaluate station locations to support planning for the rapid bus transit system.

The council is also set to provide feedback on WMATA’s bus project. The recently completed strategy and action plan are looking to change the D.C. area bus system for riders, providers and operators.

“Feedback is particularly needed on key elements that are applicable to the city and on coordination items to focus on during annual budget discussions, state of good operations service updates, and ad-hoc opportunities for transit service planning,” according to city documents.

The meeting is set to start at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall (300 Park Avenue).

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Two Orange Line Metro stations will be closed this weekend due to preparations for the upcoming summer shutdown, according to the WMATA website.

Both the Vienna and Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro stops will be closed on Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 25-26) to let crews prepare for the Summer Platform Improvement Project, the website said.

The summer project will include the addition of slip-resistant tiles, updated LED lighting, charging ports and lit handrails.

This weekend, travelers can expect buses to replace trains between the Vienna and West Falls Church stops.

Besides those two stops, the Metro is scheduled to run trains every 12 to 15 minutes.

The Silver Line will not be affected by the work this weekend and will run on a normal schedule, according to WMATA.

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New walkways are coming to McLean this year.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said in a newsletter that work on a rectangular rapid flash beacon at Chain Bridge Road and Wasp Lane is expected to be finished in March.

Then, a walkway will get constructed on the south side of Dolley Madison Blvd from the intersection of Great Falls Street and Lewinsville Road to the McLean Metro station. That work is slated to get done in April.

Other walkway projects expected to finish in April include, according to the newsletter:

  • East side of Georgetown Pike — south of Colonial Farm Road and on the east side of Route 123 and Potomac School Road
  • North side of Kirby Road from Birch Road to Corliss Court

Finally, a walkway coming to the south side of Chesterbrook Road, spanning from Chesterford Way to Maddux Lane, is set to get completed in August.

Map via Fairfax County

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