Tysons, VA

Fairfax Connector is continuing to cut its bus service today (Thursday) due to worker strikes, impacting commuters in the Tysons area.

The strike today came after negotiations for a contract extension didn’t pan out, along with a strike at a Metro garage in Lorton. Strikes are taking place until 5 p.m. today in Herndon, Newington and Fairfax.

In an announcement yesterday (Wednesday), Fairfax County said that Fairfax Connector routes will operate on a Sunday service today.

This morning (Thursday), the county said that five routes that were set to operate on a Sunday schedule won’t run today, including routes 423 and 721 in the Tysons area, and that several routes — 505, 983, 981, RIBS 2 and RIBS 4 — will not operate full Sunday service today.

That leaves Fairfax Connector with about one-third of its bus routes still in service today.

More from the county’s transportation department:

The contract between Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1764, the union representing the bus drivers and mechanics, and Transdev, Fairfax County’s contracted bus operator, expired on Nov. 30, 2019.

As a result of the job action, Transdev does not expect all drivers represented by ATU Local 1764 to report for work on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, and bus service will be operated by a limited number of available personnel. The decision was made to operate a Sunday schedule instead of a weekday schedule because that is believed to be the maximum level of reliable bus service that can be provided under the current circumstances.

Fairfax County officials are urging commuters to find other forms of transportation today.

People can contact Fairfax Connector customer service at 703-339-7200 for updates on service impacts, sign up for text or email alerts and follow Fairfax Connector on Twitter and Facebook.

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strike against the contractor of Metrobus could affect service by the Fairfax Connector.

The union that represents Fairfax Connector drivers indicated that a strike is possible amid an ongoing labor dispute with Transdev, the operations contractor of the Fairfax Connector service.

The county has recently warned that ongoing negotiations for a new labor agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1764 could result in service delays. 

Here’s more from the county:

The Fairfax Connector operations contractor, Transdev, is currently negotiating a new labor agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1764, which represents Fairfax Connector drivers and mechanics. Even though Fairfax County is not a party to any labor negotiations between Transdev and labor unions, Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) has encouraged negotiations in good faith with the goal of completing a new contract prior to the expiration of the current one on Nov. 30, 2019.  

FCDOT strives to provide effective communications and excellent customer service to our customers. We understand that you depend on us to take you where you need to go with reliable service. If the current negotiations are not successful and labor action occurs, FCDOT will communicate with passengers about service impacts and travel alternatives. 

The county offers updated about Fairfax Connector service online. Residents can also sign up for email service alerts through the county’s BusTracker.

This story was written by Fatimah Waseem 

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Drivers should plan to avoid Scotts Crossing Road in Tysons this week due to a series of closures at night.

The Virginia Department of Transportation announced that the road will be closed between Jones Branch Drive and the I-495 Express Lanes starting tonight (Nov. 18) until Friday, Nov. 22, from 9:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. the following day.

The closures are related to paving as part of the Jones Branch Connector project, according to VDOT. Several detours will be in place for drivers.

The Jones Branch Connector project expects to have two lanes in each direction open by the end of the year and final completion in early 2020, according to VDOT.

Map via VDOT

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The Falls Church City Council clashed over whether or not to allow motorized scooters on city sidewalks.

Councilmembers voted unanimously on Tuesday (Nov. 12) to continue working on the plan that would allow motorized scooter companies to take a test drive in Falls Church. But the vote was split 4-3 when it came to banning people from using such mobility devices on sidewalks, with the exception of Routes 29 and 7.

The safety of scooter riders and pedestrians was the top concern for city councilmembers as they discussed the implications of banning scooter riders on sidewalks.

Councilmember Phil Duncan, who voted in favor of banning scooters from sidewalks, said that cars should be mindful of scooters on the road and that riders should use bike lanes whenever possible.

Duncan noted a finding from the staff report, which claimed that scooter riders ranked sidewalks as their least favorite place to ride.

The city council decided to allow exceptions on Routes 29 and 7 based on safety findings from a staff report.

Councilmembers Letty Hardi, Ross Litkenhous and Marybeth Connelly voted against the ordinance to ban scooters on sidewalks.

“Preventing people from riding where they feel safe would just make this mode of transportation a non-starter. It would make this pilot pointless,” Hardi said.

Councilmember Connelly echoed Hardi’s concerns, but pushed for a compromise.

“We are assuming we are protecting the walkers on the sidewalks by saying ‘no scooters,’ but not protecting the scooter riders, who are also our neighbors, by saying they must ride always in the street,” she said.

Instead, she suggested adding another ordinance into the plan that would require scooter riders to give pedestrians the right of way on sidewalks. The city attorney present at the meeting noted that this was a viable idea but would require further discussion.

The city attorney suggested staff could work on a more efficient plan that would take her concerns into consideration.

“We have to have some assumption that the people in Falls Church who are using the scooters are not idiots,” Connelly said. “We have to rely on the judgment of the people using the scooters.”

The Falls Church City Council will review a second reading of the ordinance at their upcoming meeting on Dec. 9.

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A meeting tomorrow night is set to give locals an update and a chance to comment on proposed changes to Magarity Road.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is gearing up to make walkway improvements to Magarity Road, which creates the border of where East Side neighborhood of Tysons stops and the Falls Church area of Fairfax County begins.

The project is set to provide a  continuous curb and gutter and an 8-foot-wide asphalt walkway along the south side of Magarity Road and in front of Westgate Elementary School, along with new crosswalks across the road at  Tremayne Place, Cherri Drive and Ware Road, according to county documents.

The project also plans to make the drop-off and pick-up turning movements at the school safer and relocate several bus stops.

More from Fairfax County about the project:

Residents of Pimmit Hills, the neighborhood south of Magarity Road, and the Westgate Elementary School requested a walkway on the south side of the street to allow more children to walk and bike to school safely.

The project will provide connectivity to the school, with other area planned trail projects, and to the McLean Metrorail Station.

The meeting is set to take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 13) at the cafeteria at Westgate Elementary School (7500 Magarity Road) in Falls Church.

At the meeting, FCDOT staff will give an update on the scoping and design changes since the June 2018 meeting.

People have until Nov. 27 to provide feedback and can submit comments online or in writing to FCDOT.

Map via Google Maps

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Work is underway to get flood-damaged Kirby Road in McLean reopened before the end of the year.

At a meeting hosted last night (Thursday) by Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation told attendees about the process behind reopening Swinks Mill Road and about the work done on Kirby Road.

The 1300 block of Kirby Road and Swinks Mill Road by Scott’s Runclosed due to severe storm damage from July 8 flash flooding. Swinks Mill Road reopened last week.

Kirby Road was damaged in two places from the storm — the roadway and the bridge. For about 12 hours after the storm, 21 homes were landlocked.

VDOT was able to restore access to the homes by 2 a.m. on July 9, VDOT official Denise Cantwell said.

After some delays with the bidding process, Martins Construction Corporation was awarded the $2.1 million emergency contract for repairs, Cantwell said.

The roadway work is expected to done by mid-November and then the crews will switch over to the bridge to get that done by mid-December. The date to get everything back open is Dec. 15.

To get the work done as soon as possible, VDOT has incentivized the contractor by offering up to $2,000 for every day completed early — capped at $120,000. And if the contractor goes past the Dec. 15 deadline, they will then have to pay $2,000 for every day the project is late.

Cantwell said that work cannot be done simultaneously on the bridge and roadway because then access would be cut off to the 21 homes again.

Work to add surface asphalt and striping is expected to be completed by May 2020. The work is dependent on the weather, Cantwell said.

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Plans to regulate motorized scooters are zooming ahead in Fairfax County ahead of the end of the year deadline for creating regulations.

Staff from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and the Department of Cable and Consumer Services presented the proposed ordinance during the Transportation Committee on Tuesday (Oct. 29).

The county has until Jan. 1, 2020 to implement regulations on motorized scooters, skateboards and bicycles. After that date, the scooter companies can zoom around however they please.

Scooters are an increasingly popular alternative transportation option and are already in use in the county. (The City of Falls Church and the Town of Vienna are also in the process of creating their own pilot programs.)

The proposed ordinance would create a new chapter in the code that would exclude Capital Bikeshare. The ordinance would allow for an initial fleet size of 300 shared mobility devices — and up to a maximum of 600 after the company’s meet certain requirements, according to the presentation.

Scooters would be allowed on highways and sidewalks — unless signs say otherwise, according to the presentation.

Rebecca Makely, from the Department of Cable and Consumer Services, said that county staff knocked down the proposed speed limit from 15 to 10 miles per hour.

“We do believe that this is a conservative approach,” Makely said, adding that the county is considering pedestrian safety along with the proposal.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who has expressed concern about a 15 mph speed limit, said that Tysons Partnership wants to see higher speed limits and larger numbers of vehicles allowed.

Next Tuesday (Oct. 29), the Board of Supervisors is set to vote on whether or not to authorize a public hearing about the proposal on Nov. 19.

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People interested in brainstorming ideas for how to make Lee Hwy (Route 29) safer can attend a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) night.

Local businesses and Virginia Tech planning students are planning to share ideas for improvements along the highway from Graham Road to Tinner Hill Road.

The meeting is set to take place from 6:30-8 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School (601 S Oak Street).

Nearby, a study is underway to consider changes to Route 50.

Map via Google Maps

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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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