People can provide feedback on Fairfax Connector’s proposed service changes for this fall, which include expanded service from the McLean Metro stop.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is asking people to submit input via an online survey, email ([email protected]), phone (703-339-7200, TTY 703-339-1608) or mail, according to the county’s website.
“FCDOT normally conducts several community input meetings on proposed changes to Fairfax Connector service, but as a result of current public gathering restrictions due to COVID-19, transit staff recorded a presentation which is available online for viewing instead,” the website said.
The proposed service changes include several routes — the existing 334, 340/341 and 721 routes and the new 722, 350 and 351 routes.
More about the proposed changes to the Tysons-area routes:
Route 721: Chain Bridge Road – McLean Metrorail Station – Includes expanded weekday midday service every 30-minutes from the McLean Metrorail Station to the George Bush Center for Intelligence (GBCI) facility in Langley, Virginia. The buses will operate with 30-minute headways.
Route 722: McLean Metrorail Station – GBCI – Includes new weekday express service every 15 minutes during morning and afternoon peak hours between the McLean Metrorail Station and the GBCI facility in Langley.
FCDOT plans to present the final proposed changes to the county’s Board of Supervisors in July and, if the board approves them, the changes will go into effect by or before Oct. 31, the email said.
When Metro kicks off its summer work tomorrow (Saturday), drivers can find free parking at three Orange Line stations in the Tysons area.
The free parking will be available at the West Falls Church, Dunn Loring and Vienna stations during the shutdown. The West Falls Church station’s parking will be cut in half, but the other two stations won’t have capacity limits, according to the project’s website.
People who have reserved parking spots will still be billed for their spots, the website said.
The East Falls Church station will be closed for the summer work and won’t offer any parking, although the Kiss & Ride will allow pick-ups and drop-offs.
For cyclists, bike racks and lockers will still be offered at the stations during the summer work, except for at the East Falls Church station where some racks have been moved.
All Orange and Silver line stations west of the Ballston station will be closed starting tomorrow. The work, which is expected to last through the fall, includes platform reconstruction on the Orange Line and the connection of the upcoming stations to the Silver Line.
Image via Google Maps
With sunnier and warmer days ahead, a portion of Tysons Blvd is poised to become a space for cyclists and pedestrians looking for more room to social distance.
Robin Geiger, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Transportation Department (FCDOT), mentioned the plans during a town hall with county officials yesterday.
“We’re going to close a portion of Tysons Blvd to allow for safer biking and pedestrian access for exercise, to increase social distancing, so people can get around Tysons,” Geiger said.
The upcoming closure is part of a pilot project with Tysons Partnership, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, Geiger said. While Geiger did not say when the partial road closure is expected or which portion will be closed, she said that FCDOT will announce more information soon.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik praised the project, saying that “it does take quite a bit of coordination” for the county and VDOT to work on road projects.
“I’m just thrilled,” Palchik said.
Closing roads to give cyclists and pedestrians more space during the pandemic has been gaining traction around the U.S., WAMU reported.
“I know bikes are being sold quite a bit these days,” Palchik said, adding that “we take this opportunity to improve our bikeability and walkability.”
Image via Google Maps
Work on a new ramp linking eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro station is expected to start today (Monday).
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said in a press release that the work, which is a part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project, will connect two existing ramps.
“This direct access will save time for motorists on I-66 East who are headed to the West Falls Church Metrorail station and reduce traffic on Route 7,” Mark Gibney, VDOT’s design-build project manager, said in the press release.
More from VDOT:
When the project is complete, drivers will exit I-66 East for Route 7, stay left to connect to the ramp from Route 7 East to I-66 East, then stay right to reach Falls Church Drive and the West Falls Church Metrorail station.
All improvements will be performed within existing VDOT right-of-way.
Construction activities will begin with shoulder strengthening on the left side of I-66 East approaching the Route 7 interchange and along the left side of the Route 7 East ramp to I-66 East so traffic can be shifted to the left.
The two existing ramps will remain open during construction, although traffic shifts and occasional overnight traffic stoppages will be required. Construction will occur during daytime and nighttime hours.
VDOT expects the new ramp to open later this year.
Map via Google Maps
Drivers and pedestrians who traverse the Cedar Lane Bridge over I-66 between Vienna and Merrifield will soon have to use a detour.
The bridge is set to close around May 15 for demolition and construction on a new bridge, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
“The bridge will be rebuilt to accommodate the widening of I-66 and will include a shared-use path and wider sidewalk,” VDOT said in an email update.
More from VDOT:
Closing the bridge for this planned six-month period will reduce the duration and impacts of construction activities on travelers and surrounding neighborhoods. Other options were considered, including partial closure approaches that would have taken more than two years to complete. The full bridge closure also maximizes construction activity over Metrorail tracks during the planned Metro Orange Line shutdown between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.
The bridge will be closed for roughly six months. People who normally use the bridge will have marked detours to use Gallows Road to cross the interstate, according VDOT.
The bridge work is a part of VDOT’s multi-year Transform 66 project. The new bridge is expected to open in late November of this year, followed by the I-66 Express Lanes in December 2022, according to the project’s webpage.
Image via Virginia Department of Transportation
Now, all Orange and Silver line stations west of Ballston will be closed starting Saturday, May 23. The nine stations are expected to be closed through the fall.
“This is about two things: working smarter and working safer,” Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld said, adding that the changes will “limit the exposure of our frontline staff and contractors, mitigate delays to our capital program, and minimize inconvenience to the public.”
Metro said that the decision was prompted by “historically low ridership and traffic-free highways” — likely due to Virginia’s stay-at-home order to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to rebuilding four Orange Line station platforms, crews will also work to connect the upcoming Silver Line Phase II stations, which run from Reston to Ashburn.
Riders who normally use the stations will be able to use free express and local shuttle buses.
Metro bus options will include:
- Orange Line Local between Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and Ballston
- Orange Line Express directly between Vienna and Ballston
- Silver Line Local between Wiehle-Reston East, Spring Hill, Tysons Corner and Ballston
While the Fairfax Connector has currently reduced its service, the county bus system said it will offer several routes for riders traveling to the Dunn Loring, Vienna, Tysons Corner and Wiehle Reston-East stations.
Drivers can find free parking at the Vienna and Dunn Loring stations, but won’t be able to park at the East Falls Church station, Metro said.
County officials are urging Fairfax Connector passengers to cover their faces while riding the bus.
Fairfax County announced today (Wednesday) that passengers should use non-medical face coverings or cloth masks to help prevent spreading the coronavirus.
“While the use of cloth face coverings is strongly encouraged, no one without such a face covering will be denied entry to Fairfax Connector buses,” the announcement said.
Additionally, passengers should practice social distancing, avoid public transportation when sick and wash their hands often.
In the announcement, county officials shared a video Dawna Poyner, a public health nurse with the Fairfax County Health Department, taking about face coverings.
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
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
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