Newsletter
A crosswalk on Dolley Madison Boulevard at Elm Street (via Google Maps)

The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) will weigh in tonight (Wednesday) on the bicycle and pedestrian safety projects that it believes Fairfax County should fast-track.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors set a goal on Oct. 5 of spending at least $100 million on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements through June 30, 2027, stating that federal relief funds have given the county some flexibility to make one-time investments.

In an email to members, MCA says Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust has asked for its help identifying priorities for McLean, as county leaders consider which projects to potentially fund and expedite.

MCA’s transportation committee has identified 14 projects in a draft resolution that its board of directors could vote on during a virtual meeting at 7:30 p.m. President Rob Jackson said changes to those plans could occur, but he suggested proposals should be done so before the meeting to build support.

“Even assuming the $100 million is split evenly among the nine Magisterial Districts, our priorities complete [sic] with projects in the Herndon and Great Falls areas,” Jackson noted in an email. “So, the Committee’s prioritizations and rationale for those priorities are critical.”

The projects would be in addition to the county’s ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan and other existing county efforts.

In its draft resolution, MCA’s transportation committee cites demand, safety concerns, and connectivity to public transit and schools as factors it considered when choosing projects to designate as priorities.

High Priority Projects

Most of the projects are near Haycock Elementary and Longfellow Middle schools, which the resolution says suffer from cracks and bulges on area sidewalks.

In addition to proposing sidewalk repairs along Westmoreland Street between Gordon Avenue and Haycock Road, the draft resolution focuses on possible improvements north of Haycock Road:

  • Repairs to an asphalt trail between Westmoreland and Great Falls Street
  • Widening the concrete sidewalk by 1 foot on the bridge over I-66 to accommodate pedestrians walking side-by-side or going in opposite directions
  • An engineering study looking at options to make the walkway between the I-66 bridge and Great Falls Street consistently 5 feet in width, reduce sloping, and add a painted crosswalk across the Turner Avenue intersection

Other key projects included in the draft resolution address concerns to the north end of McLean:

  • Study a potential pedestrian bridge across Dolley Madison Boulevard and other safety upgrades, such as traffic beacons at the Ingleside Avenue or Elm Street crosswalks
  • Repair an asphalt trail along Balls Hill Road between Thrasher Road and Heather Hill Lane

The seventh high-priority project is to construct a sidewalk near Lemon Road Elementary School on Redd Road from Idylwood Road to Reddfield Drive in Pimmit Hills.

Secondary Projects Identified

The resolution also includes a list of secondary projects that MCA would like the county to pursue when possible:

  • Repair portions of an asphalt trail along Dolley Madison Boulevard between Old Dominion Drive and Lewinsville Road
  • Maintain and upgrade asphalt trail along Georgetown Pike just east of Dead Run Creek
  • Repair an asphalt trail along Douglass Drive from Georgetown Pike to Father John Court
  • Construct sidewalks along the north side of Birch Road from Birch Grove Court to Kirby Road and on Linway Terrace from the intersection of Old Dominion and Birch
  • Create a trail along Lewinsville Road between Swinks Mill Road and Bridle Path Lane
  • Conduct a study of a potential trail along the south side of Old Dominion between Balls Hill and a bridge over I-495

Photo via Google Maps

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Three bicyclists have died in vehicle crashes in Fairfax County this year (via Pietro De Grandi/Unsplash)

The bicyclist who died in a vehicle crash on Route 123 in McLean yesterday (Wednesday) has been identified as Matthew Jaeger, 33, of McLean.

In a report released today (Thursday), Fairfax County police say Jaeger was riding his bicycle east on Ingleside Avenue. When he entered the intersection with Route 123, also known as Dolley Madison Boulevard, the driver of a 2014 BMW 328xi hit him.

Crash Reconstruction Unit detectives believe the driver was going south on Dolley Madison at the time of the accident, which occurred just after 2 p.m.

Jaeger was transported to the hospital, where he died from his injuries. As previously reported, the BMW driver stayed at the scene of the crash.

“Preliminarily, speed and alcohol are not believed to be factors in the crash,” the Fairfax County Police Department says. “The investigation remains active and details of the investigation will be presented to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for review.”

Fairfax County has now seen three bicyclists die in vehicle crashes this year.

Police are seeking additional information about the crash, asking people to contact detectives at 703-280-0543 or submit anonymous tips through Crime Solvers, which can be reached by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS.

Photo via Pietro De Grandi/Unsplash

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Dolley Madison Boulevard is closed between Old Dominion Drive and Elm Street (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 11:30 p.m.) Route 123 in McLean is closed in both directions after a bicyclist was killed in a crash.

The crash occurred at the Ingleside Avenue intersection. The driver of the vehicle involved in the crash remained on the scene, the Fairfax County Police Department says. The circumstances surrounding the crash were not immediately clear.

The bicyclist was transported to a hopsital, where he died from injuries sustained in the crash, police confirmed to Tysons Reporter.

The road, also known as Dolley Madison Boulevard, is currently closed to traffic between Old Dominion Drive and Elm Street

Police advise drivers in the area to utilize alternate routes.

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Vienna Metro Station Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements project map (via VDOT)

A proposed pedestrian and bicycle improvements project near the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station is taking shape and now includes plans to accommodate community needs in the interim.

During a virtual public hearing on the design of the $9.5 million project last Wednesday (Nov. 17), Virginia Department of Transportation staff shared an interim plan to improve the bicycle and pedestrian network north of the Vienna Metro station and Oakton High School.

The interim plan will support the needs of bicyclists in the area while taking into account the timeline for the larger Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which will add more than 11 miles of trails from Gallows Road in Dunn Loring to Centreville, according to VDOT.

The interim project calls for:

  • New signs and pavement markings
  • A buffered bicycle lane on Sutton Road between Sutton Green Court and Country Creek Road
  • A two-way, street-level cycle track on eastbound Country Creek between Sutton and the Metro’s north parking lot entrance

Work is expected to begin in mid-2022 — around the same time the I-66 Trail network is complete.

VDOT project manager Zamir Mirza estimated that the interim project will be completed in late 2022. It’s intended to serve the needs of bicyclists until the permanent project is finished, which isn’t expected to be until early 2026, with construction starting in late 2024.

This interim plan is not funded as a part of the original project, however, and has an estimated cost of $1 million. It utilizes the existing roadway width and is not expected to affect utilities or require any right-of-way acquisitions.

Mirza added that the only component of the interim project that will remain permanently is some pedestrian push buttons to improve the traffic signaling.

Aside from the proposed interim plan, the Vienna Metro improvements project is largely unaltered from March, according to Mirza. He added the location of the shared use path and bicycle track remain the same along the three road segments.

For the permanent project, VDOT will construct a 10-foot-wide, shared-use path on Blake Lane and Sutton from the I-66 bridge to Country Creek Road. Crosswalks and refuge islands will be added at Blake Lane and the Oakton High School entrance, along with a raised crossing at Sutton Green Court.

Sutton will also get 12 or 13 street parking spaces added on the northbound section and 16 to 18 more spaces on the southbound.

Country Creek improvements include hatched shoulder areas with a 12-foot-wide, two-way bicycle track and a 6-foot-wide sidewalk, with crosswalks at Sutton Road and the I-66 ramp/Village Spring Lane.

A new traffic signal at this location will realign the I-66 ramp “to be better oriented with Village Spring Lane” and eliminate the free-flowing right turn currently there, according to Mirza. An additional eight to 10 parking spaces will be added on the westbound side of the road.

The Virginia Center Boulevard improvements include a two-way, 12-foot-wide bicycle track and a 6-foot-wide sidewalk. There will also be a Capital Bikeshare station, crosswalks at the Metro bus entrance and exit, and intersection improvements at Vaden Drive.

Mirza confirmed that there will be no private property taken from individual landowners, but “slivers” of land will be acquired from homeowners’ associations, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The new parking added by the project is currently slated to be free, but Mirza said he was unsure of the county’s future intentions for those spaces.

Community members can submit comments on the project until Dec. 3 via email, phone (703-259-1794), mail, online, or in-person by request during business hours at VDOT’s Northern Virginia District office.

Emails should be made out to [email protected] with a reference to “Vienna Metro Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements” in the subject line.

Mail can be sent to Zamir Mirza, VDOT’s Northern Virginia District, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

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Morning Notes

Metro Service Cutbacks Continue — “Reduced Metrorail service is expected to continue until at least Sunday, October 24, as the investigation into the October 12 derailment continues. Beginning tomorrow, trains will operate every 15 minutes on the Red Line and will continue to operate every 30 minutes on all other lines. Silver Line trains will operate between Wiehle-Reston East and Federal Center SW only.” [WMATA]

What to Know About COVID-19 Boosters and Vaccines for Kids — More than 45,000 Fairfax Health District residents have gotten an additional or booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The Fairfax County Health Department says  it is “actively planning and preparing for the authorization of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster doses and vaccinations for children ages 5-11.” [FCHD]

Capital Bikeshare Changes Prices — The D.C. area bicycle-sharing system raised rental prices for non-members on Oct. 1, dropping a flat $2 fee for 30-minute rides in favor of charging 5 cents per minute and a $1 “unlocking fee.” Officials say the changes will help cover increasing operational and maintenance costs as well as future improvements and expansion plans. [The Washington Post]

Local Environmentalist Dies — “McLean resident Debra Ann Jacobson, a lawyer, investigator for Congress and ardent environmentalist, died Sept. 15 at her McLean home. She was 69 and died from complications of liver cancer, her family said. ‘Debra was a champion for the environment and someone who inspired those who were fortunate enough to know her,’ said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville).” [Sun Gazette]

Vienna Family Raises Funds for Child After Stroke — Vienna residents Tom and Paige Shahryary will hold their second annual James’s Promise Run at Nottoway Park on Nov. 7 to raise money for their now-2-year-old son, James, who suffered a stroke after he was born in August 2019. The family also has a GoFundMe page to raise funds for medical treatments and therapies. [Patch]

Vienna to Give Away Native Tree Seedlings — “Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Find out why and pick up a free native tree seedling this Saturday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center. Town arborist Scott Diffenderfer will be on hand to answer your questions about trees.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

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Cyclists, runners, and walkers alike can rejoice as improvements to the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail in Falls Church are complete.

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks), City of Falls Church, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), and Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday (Thursday) to unveil separated paths for bicyclists and pedestrians along a renovated section of the 45-mile-long W&OD Trail.

“This is a commitment to the health and safety of our residents and the environment, and it’s a commitment to the future,” City of Falls Church Mayor David Tarter said.

As a part of the W&OD Trail Enhancements Project, dual trails were created along the nearly 1.5 miles of trail from Little Falls Street to North West Street in Falls Church. The objective of the dual trails project is to reduce congestion on the roadways and give cyclists and pedestrians access to two Metrorail stations.

The altered section of trail features an 11-foot-wide path for cycling, an 8-foot-wide path for walkers, and a 2-foot-wide colored and textured median between the two paths to separate trail users traveling at different speeds.

“Today, the W&OD is raising the bar on what a safe, accessible and fun trail looks like,” said Kristin Frontiera, interim executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. “This trail widening is making the W&OD more accessible to more people who will feel welcome and excited to use this trail.”

NVTA, which manages planning, prioritization, and funding for regional transportation projects awarded NOVA Parks more than $3.24 million in regional revenues for the trail enhancements. Contruction on the project launched with a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 26, 2020.

“Today, we celebrate what will soon be recognized as nationally important technology in the construction of this dual lane system that carries our citizens, whether on bicycle or by foot, safely to their destination,” NOVA Parks Chair Cate Magennis Wyatt said. “But what may not be apparent to the eye is the very innovative, thoughtful integration of new and cutting-edge technology that has been integrated into this system.”

In addition to the enhancement of the paved dual trails, officials celebrated the project for its environmentally sustainable design.

The trail now includes several features intended to reduce its environmental impact, such as shallow channels designed to store or convey runoff while removing pollutants. Other features include French drains, pervious pavement areas, and modular wetlands to filter rainwater.

“While we appropriately celebrate this project this morning, let us dedicate to the challenge of pursuing a vision and the performance to make it a reality that, in the words of Bobby Kennedy, does not simply ask ‘why,’ but asks ‘why not,'” Falls Church City Councilmember and NVTA Vice Chair David Snyder said. “And let us commit that in all our endeavors we will work to improve the sustainability, service, and safety for the benefit of all our citizens.”

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Morning Notes

Capital One Hall Opens — Tysons’ new performing arts venue, which also serves as a corporate event space for Capital One, officially opens its doors to the public today (Friday), with singer Josh Groban putting on the first show at 8 p.m. The theater and classroom facilities will be available to local arts, nonprofit, and charitable community groups at specially negotiated rates by Fairfax County. [Fairfax County Government]

I-495 Lane Closures Start in Tysons Tonight — “The right lane of the southbound I-495 (Capital Beltway Outer Loop) general purpose lanes will be closed along the three bridges over the Dulles Toll Road (Route 267), weather permitting, from 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1 to 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 4 for bridge joint work…The two right lanes of the southbound I-495 general purpose lanes are scheduled to be closed overnight.” [VDOT]

Founders Row Part 2 Moves Forward — The Falls Church City Council voted 4-3 to let a second phase of Founders Row proceed, potentially bringing 2.07 acres of mixed-use development to the corner of S. West and West Broad streets. Supporters cited developer Mill Creek’s affordable housing commitment and other concessions, while opponents expressed concern about the project’s limited commercial component. [Falls Church News-Press]

Vienna Assisted Living Facility Cuts Ribbon — Silverstone Senior Living and Watermark Retirement Communities executives, public officials, and community members held a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception yesterday (Thursday) for The Providence, a 154-unit assisted living and memory care community that opened in MetroWest near the Vienna Metro station in March. [The Providence Fairfax]

McLean VFD Marks Anniversary With Coloring Contest — The McLean Volunteer Fire Department is holding a coloring contest for local elementary school students in honor of its 100th anniversary and to recognize October as Fire Prevention Month. Students can download an image of the fire station, color it, and mail it to the address on the webpage. Selected in a drawing at the end of the month, the winner will get a visit to their street by the department’s antique Pirsch fire truck. [McLean VFD]

Vienna and Herndon Compete in Caboose Challenge — “The Towns of Vienna and Herndon are facing off in a Caboose to Caboose challenge in October. Residents are encouraged to sign up and participate in the challenge: walk or ride along the Washington and Old Dominion Trail from the Vienna Caboose to the Herndon Caboose or vice versa.” [Patch]

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A rendering of the proposed residential-retail expansion of The Boro (courtesy The Meridian Group)

(Updated on 9/2/2021) The former National Automobile Dealers Association headquarters building will be demolished this month to make way for a planned expansion of The Boro, the developer behind the Tysons mixed-use neighborhood announced today (Monday).

Extending The Boro to the north side of Westpark Drive, the vacated office complex will ultimately be replaced by approximately 40,000 square feet of retail space, more than an acre of public park and active recreational space, and more than 800 residential units, The Meridian Group says.

“This next phase will continue to deliver on the goals and objects of the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, including increased connectivity, walkability, balanced housing, vibrant streetscapes with active storefronts, and exceptional public amenities like the first installation of a Tysons-wide cultural and recreational trail,” The Meridian Group Senior Vice President Tom Boylan said in a statement.

The project will involve development on four parcels:

  • Block J: the 16-story Silverstone Senior Living building, which will have 197 units, 79 of them dedicated to assisted living and memory care, and ground-floor retail. Construction could start by the end of this year, and the Dallas-headquartered senior living provider expects to finish the project in late 2023.
  • Blocks I and K: workforce and market-rate residential buildings with approximately 34,000 square feet of retail. Co-developed by Meridian and the real estate firm Akridge, Block I will consist of 122 residences, and Block K will offer 421 residences. The two buildings could be complete in 2024.
  • Block L: townhomes or a health club to supplement a park at the corner of Clover and Broad Streets

In a news release, Meridian says its Boro expansion will introduce a new grid of streets with a signalized, pedestrian-only crossing at the Whole Foods entrance and “pedestrian connections” at Westpark Drive’s intersections with Greensboro Drive and a new road called Broad Street.

A map of the buildings in The Boro extension from the proposed development plan (via Fairfax County)

In a rezoning application submitted to Fairfax County in May, the developer says Broad Street will be a private road that will eventually stretch past The Boro’s northern property line to Spring Hill Road.

Meridian also proposes adding a new public street called Clover Street to connect Broad and Greensboro and extending Boro Place as a private road across Westpark, which is currently divided into six lanes by a median with Greensboro and Route 7 as the closest traffic lights.

A five-story-high glass corridor bridge will be constructed over Boro Place to link Blocks I and K.

In addition, an on-road bicycle lane will be added to Broad Street, but the application says one along Westpark Drive “is not possible due to existing right-of-way constraints.”

According to Meridian’s press release, its expansion of The Boro will further fulfill the county’s Tysons Comprehensive Plan by adding bicycle share locations, new dedicated bicycle lanes, two new bus stops, a dedicated Tysons Circulator travel lane, and three blocks of an “active recreation amenity” that it calls the Tysons Circuit.

“The Tysons Circuit will include interpretative signage, benches, landscaping, and specialty paving, which together will form a distinct and unique pathway along Westpark Drive down to Leesburg Pike,” the press release said.

The plan also calls for a linear ribbon park system dubbed Allsboro Park that will feature garden and seating areas, public art, and a pickleball court.

Opened in 2019, The Boro turned the government contractor SAIC’s former campus into a mixed-use space with luxury high-rise apartments, the office-oriented Boro Tower, restaurants, and the mid-Atlantic region’s largest Whole Foods.

Meridian purchased the NADA building for $33.7 million in 2018 in anticipation of the development’s expansion.

Earlier this summer, a massive mural was unveiled at The Boro, accompanied by a new pop-up bar from The Sandlot. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (1669 C Silver Hill Drive) also opened there this spring, and the Australian coffee shop Bluestone Lane could open this month.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s office declined to comment on specifics of the application, because it is pending with county hearings scheduled in October. Spokesperson Caroline Coscia said the applicant also intends to re-submit the application on Friday (Aug. 13).

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the project at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 6, and the Board of Supervisors is slated to hold its hearing at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 19.

Map via Fairfax County

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Morning Notes

MCA Supports Proposal to Replace Office Building — “The McLean Citizens Association’s board of directors on July 7 passed a resolution generally supportive of a proposed townhouse development at 7700 Leesburg Pike, but sought changes to bolster pedestrian safety and discourage cut-through traffic.” [Sun Gazette]

Lack of Transparency Frustrates Justice Park Advocates — Documents obtained by the community group Justice for Justice Park, which opposes a proposal to convert part of the Falls Church park into a parking lot, show that county park and school officials had been negotiating a land transfer for two years without telling the public. The group argues a master plan amendment should be required before any moves are made. [The Annandale Blog]

New Jersey Driver Wanted for Assault on Police Officer — According to the Fairfax County Police Department’s weekly report, a police officer was treated at a hospital for minor injuries after attempting to arrest a man who was driving a vehicle without the owner’s permission. The incident occurred in the 2000 block of Peach Orchard Drive in Tysons on July 3, and the man has not been located yet. [FCPD]

Vienna Named Bicycle-Friendly Community — The Town of Vienna has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community, an award given to “communities that demonstrate a strong commitment to bicycling by creating transportation and recreational resources that benefit residents and improve the quality of life.” [Town of Vienna]

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More Capital Bikeshare stations are in the works for the Tysons area, specifically in Merrifield and Vienna.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has proposed adding 10 new stations in the following locations, including what would be the bike-sharing service’s first stand at the Vienna Metro station:

  • Caboose Commons
  • Circle Woods Drive and Lee Highway
  • Gatehouse Road and Telestar Court
  • Hartland Road and Harte Place
  • Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
  • Javier Road and Arlington Boulevard
  • Kingsbridge Drive and Beech Grove Drive
  • Mission Square Drive
  • Prosperity Flats
  • Vienna Metro South Entrance

The expansion would bring the Tysons area up to 29 Bikeshare stations, including 15 in Tysons and one at the West Falls Church Metro stop. Fairfax County also has 16 stations in Reston, which is getting its own expansion starting in July.

Fairfax County is eager to expand Bikeshare in Merrifield, because the three existing stations that were installed there in 2019 have proven successful, generating some of the most trips per site in the county prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to FCDOT spokesperson Robin Geiger.

Vienna has been considered a candidate for Bikeshare since at least 2018, when the county worked with the town, the City of Fairfax, and George Mason University on a feasibility study.

“Plans to expand to the Vienna Metrorail station are underway to provide connectivity to the surrounding community,” Geiger said by email. “The Vienna area stations will also help provide access to the City of Fairfax, who is working to bring CaBi to their part of the region as well.”

While it is not included in Fairfax County’s expansion, Town of Vienna spokesperson Karen Thayer says the Virginia Department of Transportation has granted the town’s request for funding to add Bikeshare stations at multiple locations, including the Town Green and community center.

The total project cost will be $272,400, which covers engineering and design, equipment, and installation.

“We are currently waiting for VDOT to complete its internal process and respond with an agreement,” Thayer said.

For the county project, Geiger says transportation officials looked at a variety of factors when selecting the proposed locations, including the density of development and the potential to generate a lot of trips. The need for bicycling infrastructure is also considered “in an effort to improve transportation equity,” she says.

“On a more granular level, we like to place stations in areas that are already paved — on-street parking lanes are often easy for [installation] and future servicing, and has only a small impact on available car parking,” Geiger wrote, adding that docks typically take up no more than one or two parking spots.

The Merrifield expansion will be primarily funded with a $497,100 I-66 Commuter Choice grant, though that won’t cover the full cost of the project, which Geiger says is currently estimated to be around $600,000.

While Bikeshare usage in the Tysons area consistently rose prior to the pandemic, COVID-19 sank both ridership and membership numbers systemwide as people limited travel and many started working from home.

“At its worst, early in the pandemic membership was around 20% of ridership when compared to past years,” Geiger said by email. “Most of the lost trips were by annual members who were commuting by bicycle.”

Fairfax County saw a 50% decrease in Bikeshare riders in 2020 overall compared to 2019.

Geiger says ridership levels started to pick back up last summer, primarily from non-members, meaning people who were utilizing the service for a single trip or day instead of getting an ongoing subscription.

“Usage patterns systemwide changed as well, with fewer trips to Metro stations, but more to recreational locations, and grocery stores,” she said.

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