Newsletter

Morning Notes

New Early Voting Sites Open Today — “Fairfax County will open an additional 13 early voting sites starting Thursday, Oct. 21. In total, there will be 16 voting locations available across the county until the last day to vote early on Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. Early voting began last month starting with three sites open.” [Fairfax County Government]

Gallows Road Bridge to Be Demolished This Weekend — “Southbound Gallows Road travel lanes will shift to a new Gallows Road bridge over I-66 during the daytime hours on or about Thursday, October 21. Pedestrian access across I-66 will shift to the sidewalk on the east side of Gallows Road, with detours using the crosswalks at Cottage Street and Avenir Place/Bellforest Drive.” [VDOT]

Local DJ Brings New Restaurant to Tysons Corner — A new Spice Road-inspired restaurant from D.C.-based DJ and music producer Bikram Keith will open at Tysons Corner Center in early November. Located by Nordstrom’s, the 210-seat venue will serve cuisine from the Middle East, Persian Gulf, and Northern India in a 5,000 square-foot dining room, lounge, and patio. [Patch, Northern Virginia Magazine]

FCPS Allows for Limited Snow Days — “FCPS has announced updates to its inclement weather policy for the 2021-22 school year. The first five inclement weather days will be traditional inclement weather days…Once these five days have been taken, FCPS will use the flexibility provided by the General Assembly to have unscheduled virtual learning days, wherever possible, to maintain continuity of learning.” [FCPS]

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The old Gallows Road bridge over I-66 (via Google Maps)

Preparations for the upcoming demolition of the Gallows Road bridge over I-66 in Dunn Loring are about to get underway.

Northbound traffic on Gallows will shift to a new bridge during daytime hours tomorrow (Thursday) with southbound traffic expected to follow suit next week, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced yesterday (Tuesday).

VDOT anticipates starting to demolish the existing bridge around Oct. 23, a process that will take 30 to 40 nights.

Here are more details on the traffic changes from VDOT’s news release:

Pedestrians will continue to use the west side of the current bridge until southbound Gallows Road traffic shifts to the new span. At that time, pedestrian access will be shifted to the east side of the new bridge, with detours using the crosswalks at Cottage Street and Avenir Place/Bellforest Drive.

Following this traffic shift, the current Gallows Road Bridge over I-66 will be demolished to allow for construction of the new southbound bridge span. Demolition of the current bridge is anticipated to begin on or about October 23. Most of the bridge is directly over I-66 or the Dunn Loring Metrorail Station and will need to be demolished during the overnight hours, when multiple lanes can be closed on I-66 and the Metrorail Station and tracks can be closed to safely accommodate this work. Demolition activities will occur during the daytime hours when feasible, to minimize impacts to the nearby communities. Additional information and updates about demolition work and traffic closures will be provided on the project website. All work is weather dependent and schedules may shift if inclement conditions occur.

The replacement of the Gallows Road bridge is part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which will extend the I-66 Express Lanes more than 22 miles west from the I-495 interchange in Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

The new bridge will feature improved sightlines, bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks in each direction, and connections to the shared-use path that’s being constructed alongside I-66, according to the project website. It’s being built in two phases, with the southbound side expected to be completed next summer.

The overall Transform 66 project is on track to open the new express lanes in December 2022, VDOT confirmed at a public information meeting last week.

“Drivers should be alert for changing traffic patterns on Gallows Road near I-66 as construction continues through 2022,” VDOT said. “Drivers are reminded to slow down and pay attention to lane markings and roadway signs at all times.”

Photo via Google Maps

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A rendering of the new Gallows Road Bridge over I-66 (via VDOT)

Construction crews will soon demolish the Gallows Road bridge over I-66, a process that is expected take 30 to 40 nights, starting on or about next Wednesday (Oct. 13).

The work will involve breaking up the concrete deck with jack hammers, saw cutters and heavy equipment consisting of hoe rams. It’s part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which is adding express lanes on the interstate from I-495 in Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

“These are not necessarily 30 to 40 consecutive nights of demolition, and…some demolition activities are less disruptive than others,” said Nancy Smith, a spokesperson for FAM Construction, the design-builder of the project.

The company said at a public information meeting on Monday (Oct. 4) that the demolition will occur after traffic shifts.

Segments over I-66 will be affected overnight — typically 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. — when multiple lanes of the interstate can be closed, Smith said. For work not over I-66, demolition will take place during the daytime.

Information on lane closures and other travel changes will be posted on the project website, which also has provides information via email notifications and traffic alerts.

The demolition timeline extends into the late fall due to weather and other factors, but no demolition work will occur over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Project officials previously expected the demolition work to start in mid-August. VDOT told Tysons Reporter that the slippage in the schedule is not expected to impact the overall project schedule.

The new I-66 express lanes are still slated to open in December 2022.

The Gallows Road bridge is just feet above the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station, requiring coordinating with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

To minimize impacts, crews will haul concrete away to be processed off site, position work area lighting to face toward the roadway and away from residences, implement “dust control measures,” and monitor construction vibrations and noise, Smith said.

At Monday’s information meeting, however, neighbors compared previous construction to an earthquake and reported that vehicles have been running red lights amid “frustration and confusion” as traffic goes over the bridge.

VDOT megaprojects director Susan Shaw said she would coordinate with their team to notify county police about the safety concerns.

Among the traffic adjustments, FAM Construction reported that:

  • Northbound bridge traffic will shift to the new bridge starting next week or around that time
  • Southbound bridge traffic will shift into a temporary alignment onto the new bridge on or about the week of Oct. 18
  • Pedestrian access will remain on the west side of the old bridge until southbound travel lanes shift on or about the week of Oct. 18. Once those southbound lanes shift to the new bridge, pedestrian routes will be on the east side of the bridge
  • The shift in travel lanes on Gallows Road does not affect the entrance at Stenwood Elementary School as the changes are south of the school entrance

Updates will be posted to outside.transform66.org/gallowsroad as demolition progresses.

Community members can share questions about construction by calling 703-662-3892 or emailing [email protected] or [email protected]

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Morning Notes

Tysons Wegmans Reopens After Hazmat Event — The Wegmans at Capital One Center (1835 Capital One Drive) was closed throughout the night on Wednesday (Sept. 22), a tipster who told Tysons Reporter, adding that there were “lots of fire trucks outside.” The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says one of the store’s refrigerator lines had a leak, which “is considered a HAZMAT incident.” The scene was cleared that evening, and the store reopened yesterday (Thursday).

Falls Church Development to Delay Traffic Tomorrow — “Drivers should expect delays at the intersection of Broad St. (Rt. 7/Leesburg Pike) and Washington St. (Rt. 29/Lee Highway) on Saturday, September 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The traffic signal at that intersection is expected to be dark, and lanes will be closed…The closures are due to a contractor testing for the upcoming Broad and Washington private development project at the intersection.” [City of Falls Church]

Park Authority Recognizes County Leaders for Pandemic Response — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board is honoring two individuals this year with Chairman’s Choice Awards for outstanding long-term support, service to, and advocacy on behalf of the Park Authority…County Executive Bryan Hill and Fairfax County Director of Health Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, are being hailed for their outstanding leadership during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic.” [FCPA]

Watch Demolition of Old NADA HQ in Tysons — Have a few free hours? Spend them watching the vacated National Automobile Dealers Association headquarters get reduced to rubble to make way for The Boro’s expansion. Demolition work is nearly complete on the building, which was among the first office towers in Tysons when it was constructed in 1975. [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

1st Stage Theater Reflects on Staying Busy During Pandemic — “Instead of shutting down and laying off workers, 1st Stage took a different tack. The company committed to fulfilling every contract for three scheduled productions, keeping its entire staff employed and continuing to function at the fullest capacity possible under the circumstances, [artistic and managing director Alex] Levy said.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

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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

Primary Voter Turnout Expected to Follow Pre-Pandemic Trends — “While tens of thousands of Virginians already voted early ahead of the primary election on Tuesday, the turnout for people casting ballots in person is expected to look more like it did before the coronavirus pandemic. ‘I suspect that the bulk of the voters will be voting tomorrow as they traditionally have,’ said Fairfax County General Registrar Scott Konopasek. [WTOP]

Capital One Hall Announces More Performers — After revealing its first confirmed performer last week, Capital One Hall announced today that the rock band Kansas and comedians John Crist and Taylor Tomlinson will join country singer Clint Black in the Tysons performing arts venue’s inaugural season lineup. Tickets for all of the shows announced so far will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday (June 11). [Capital One Hall/Twitter]

Texas Jack’s Ranch Eyes September Opening — Texas Jack’s Ranch plans to open at the Lumen apartments near the Greensboro Metro station this September, about a year after previously anticipated. The Italian restaurant is owned by the same team behind Texas Jack’s Barbecue in Arlington, and the team of international chefs will be led by ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ finalist Declan Horgan. [Patch]

County Board to Vote on Demolishing McLean House — Today’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting will have several spot blight abatement public hearings, including one for a house at 1045 Bellview Road in McLean that’s currently owned by the Embassy of Qatar but has been abandoned for the past five to six years. The building caught fire last Halloween, and there are plans to replace it with a new house. [Patch]

Regional Coalition Recommends Economic Development Strategy — A coalition of D.C. area government, business, nonprofit, and education leaders called Connected DMV released a report on how the region can work together to encourage economic growth. The report included data illustrating drastic differences in economic mobility between the east and west sides of I-95, with Fairfax County ranking high and the District on the low end. [The Washington Post]

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(Updated at 10:05 p.m.) School Board member Dalia Palchik won the Democratic nomination for the Providence District seat on the Board of Supervisors.

Shortly after 9 p.m., Palchik defeated Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner and three other challengers in the Democratic primary.

Palchik received 39.7 percent of the vote. She will face Republican Paul Bolon in the November election.

Palchik said in her victory speech:

This is part of a movement; a movement of people who want new leadership. People who want classrooms — not trailers — and teachers who can afford to live here. They want someone who is going to fight to protect the environment, to get solar panels, who are going to work hard every day to get us out of our cars and walking, biking, getting around, with access to buses and metro, and into a community that cares and is inclusive. This is the beginning. It’s been an incredible campaign. It was scary. It was fun. We cried. We laughed. And we want to see the next phase of Providence District in Fairfax County.

Palchik celebrated her win at Settle Down Easy (2822 Fallfax Drive), a local brewery that launched in 2018. It was a trendy spot that is representative of a candidate who pulled together a coalition across a variety of demographics.

Even at the headquarters of Niedzielski-Eichner, the runner-up in the race with 23.4 percent of the vote, there was a reluctant admission that Palchik was a charismatic candidate. Several Niedzielski-Eichner supporters noted that they saw her at polls shaking hands and taking selfies with voters.

Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) said Niedzielski-Eichner relied on an older local establishment, while Palchik was able to tap into a younger, wider base of local supporters.

Linda Smyth, the current Providence District supervisor, announced in December that she wouldn’t run for reelection this year, along with several other supervisors on the 10-member board.

Shortly before 10 p.m., current Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay won the Democratic nomination for the Board of Supervisors’ chair with 42 percent of the vote. McKay beat Georgetown law professor Alicia Plerhoples, who received 31 percent of the vote, and two other Democratic challengers.

For the Virginia State Senate, incumbent Barbara Favola won with 61 percent of the vote, beating Nicole Merlene for the 31st District seat, which encompasses McLean.

Incumbent Dick Saslaw narrowly beat challengers Yasmine Taeb and Karen Torrent for the 35th District seat. Saslaw received 48 percent of the vote.

In a close race, challenger Steve Descano beat incumbent Raymond Morrogh for the Democratic nomination for the commonwealth’s attorney position in Fairfax.

Catherine Moran and Vernon Miles worked on this story.

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