FCPS Mask Requirement Still in Effect — Masks are still required in Fairfax County Public Schools after a hearing in the lawsuit that seven Virginia school boards filed to prevent Gov. Glenn Youngkin from enforcing his optional masks executive order. An Arlington Circuit Court judge did not make a decision in the case yesterday (Wednesday) but said one will be made soon. [FCPS]
Dulles Toll Road Changes Anticipated — With Phase 2 of Metro’s Silver Line expected to open this spring, transportation officials said earlier this week that fares on the Dulles Toll Road will likely rise in 2023 to offset the project’s cost. The road could also switch to an electronic, cash-less system this year, where drivers will pay using their license plate, an EZPass, or a phone app. [Inside NoVA]
No Charges in FCPD Officer Shooting — A Fairfax County police officer who shot and injured a man in Chantilly on Jan. 4 will not face criminal charges, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced yesterday (Wednesday). The prosecutor said the officer “was reasonable” to fear serious injury or death, due to evidence that the resident was wielding a compound bow and arrows. [Patch]
Local Students Speak in Support of Transgender Inclusivity — Some Fairfax County Public Schools students testified in support of policies protecting transgender and gender non-conforming students from discrimination at a General Assembly hearing on Tuesday (Feb. 1). However, a House education subcommittee passed the debated bill, which seeks to halt a requirement that local school boards adopt those policies. [WUSA9]
Registration Begins for Park Authority Classes — “The Fairfax County Park Authority just opened registration for spring classes. Despite an enormous number of available classes to choose from, there are limited spaces available in our facilities, so timely registration via Parktakes Online is recommended to reserve your spot.” [FCPA]
Environmental Advocates Urge Warner to Act on Climate — “Environmental activists protested outside the Tysons Corner office of Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) Thursday afternoon, calling on him to commit to ending federal fossil fuel subsidies as Congress debates separate budget and infrastructure bills.” [Patch]
Tysons Area Beltway Lane Closures Start Tonight — “The southbound I-495 (Capital Beltway Outer Loop) general purpose lanes will have nightly triple lane closures along the three bridges over the Dulles Toll Road (Route 267) and related ramps, weather permitting, Friday, Aug. 27 and Saturday, Aug. 28 for restriping to implement a temporary traffic shift for bridge joint work.” [VDOT]
McAuliffe Leads Gubernatorial Poll — “Democratic candidate for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is ahead of his opponent, Republican Glenn Youngkin in the latest poll released Thursday morning. McAuliffe is leading 50% to 41%, according to Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center-AARP poll. About 6% of voters remain undecided two months ahead of the November 2 election.” [DCist]
Deadline Approaching to Recognize Vienna Volunteers — “Nominations are now being accepted for volunteers who are worthy of recognition as Vienna Hometown Heroes. Since last year’s event had to be cancelled for pandemic-related reasons, this year’s celebration will recognize individual and group volunteer efforts for 2020 and 2021…Nominations for individual heroes are due Aug. 31.” [Town of Vienna]
Cash will no longer be accepted at the Dulles Toll Road beginning next year.
The decision, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, was made in response to customers’ preferences for electronic toll payments, according to a statement released yesterday by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
No loose change will be accepted, and tollbooth change baskets will be removed as part of the permanent move.
Here’s more information from MWAA on acceptable forms of payment:
Any lane can be used with a valid E-ZPass account or other form of electronic tolling. Customers can visit E-ZPass Virginia for information on how to obtain an E-ZPass. If toll-lane cameras identify a license plate associated with an E-ZPass account, that account will be charged for the transaction even if an E-ZPass is not present in the vehicle.
To make it easier to get an E-ZPass, the minimum opening account balance has been temporarily reduced to $20 per transponder (from $35) for online and phone applications. E-Z Pass also offers a reloadable Virginia E-Z Pass Card, these can be purchased your local CVS Pharmacy and 7-11 Convenience Stores.
The GoToll, Slora and Peasey Drive On smartphone apps are also accepted as payment.
Motorists passing through all toll plaza lanes without electronic payment will be sent a payment notice by mail. Missed tolls which are paid within six days of the violation will not be charged an administrative fee. Customers are encouraged to visit the Virginia Department of Transportation’s online toll violation payment website for information on proactively paying missed tolls.
In early April, manual toll collecting was suspended in response to COVID-19. All personnel from toll booths were removed, and cash-exchange toll collections were suspended.
Electronic tolling became the preferred method of payment in 2003, when more than $18 million was collected with E-ZPass, compared to roughly $17 million collected in cash that calendar year.
In 2017, roughly $130 million was collected via E-ZPass while nearly $18 million was collected by cash, according to a 2018 study by the MWAA.
Photo via MWAA
Land along the Dulles Toll Road may get developed into a residential community for people ages 60 and older.
Pulte Homes is looking to turn almost 5 acres of land — four consolidated parcels — at the northwestern intersection of the Dulles Toll Road and Spring Hill Road into 59 dwelling units: 36 multi-family units in one building, 14 single-family attached units and nine affordable units.
“The affordable dwelling units comprise 15% of the total number of units,” according to county documents.
According to county documents, the development would include:
- a four-story multi-family building with 32 two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom units atop of parking podium
- open space with a 2,000-square-foot clubhouse and pickle ball and bocce ball courts
- housing for roughly 80-100 residents
The community would have a villa-style architectural design with a “slightly more contemporary with a flat roof,” the documents say. The land currently has several aging single-family homes.
“The Applicant believes that this community will appeal to residents in McLean and the surrounding area who are seeking to downsize and enjoy less maintenance of their homes while continuing to live in the community,” according to the documents.
A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the proposal is tentatively slated for June 10.
Image via Google Maps
As work continues on the Jones Branch Connector project, drivers can expect nightly closures on and around the bridge this week.
The ramps from the eastbound Dulles Toll Road and the eastbound Dulles Airport Access Road to southbound I-495 are scheduled to be closed from 10 p.m.-4 a.m. from today (Monday) to Friday (June 21), according to VDOT.
VDOT said drivers can take the following detours:
- eastbound Dulles Toll Road to southbound I-495: Eastbound Dulles Toll Road and southbound Route 123 (Exit 19A) back to the southbound I-495
- eastbound Dulles Airport Access Road to southbound I-495: Northbound I-495 and westbound Route 193 (Exit 44) back to the southbound I-495
- eastbound Dulles Toll Road traffic will still be able to access the southbound 495 Express Lanes
Additionally, Scotts Crossing Road closures between Jones Branch Drive and the I-495 Express Lanes will be closed during those times as well.
The closure will let workers continue work on the bridge, which is part of the $60 million project to relieve traffic along Route 123 at the I-495 interchange.
Pedestrians can expect the Jones Branch Connector sidewalk to open mid- to late summer.
The entire project is slated to finish this fall.
Map via VDOT
Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors greenlighted funding for new streets and highway improvement projects in the Tysons area.
In total, the county’s board approved $55 million for transportation projects in Tysons and Reston today (June 4), with more than $51 million for Tysons-area roads.
The greenlighted funding includes:
- $17.5 million: I-66 widening at Route 29
- $16.6 million: State Street land acquisition
- $7 million: land acquisition for Leesburg Pike widening
- $759,000: pedestrian improvements along Lee Highway
The board also approved funding for preliminary engineering and feasibility studies:
- $7 million: Lincoln Street extension
- $1.5 million: Broad Street
- $1 million: Greensboro ramp to Dulles Toll Road
- $500,000: Tysons West Park Transit Center ramp to Dulles Toll Road
I-66 median widening at Route 29
Fairfax County originally approved endorsement of the I-66 median widening in March 2017. The cost estimate for the project, however, increased by $17,500,000 “due to [the] complexity of construction (e.g. shutting down lanes to install the center pier, number of detours, which creates a larger project footprint),” according to the county staff report.
Lee Highway pedestrian improvements
The street improvements would span Nutley Street to Vaden Drive by the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station, completing missing portions of bike and pedestrian areas. “This project will allow more commuters to make trips by biking, walking, and transit instead of driving, which will improve mobility not only on I-66, but also on the parallel facilities of Lee Highway and Route 50,” the staff report says.
Land acquisition for Leesburg Pike widening
Fairfax County staff want the $7 million for a partial land acquisition between I-495 and I-66 once the design work is done. After deciding to replace an existing gas line along Leesburg Pike, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation has been studying right-of-way and road alignment needs for this section of the highway that runs along the southern edge of Pimmit Hills.
Land acquisition for State Street
Envisioned in the future Tysons Grid of Streets, State Street would connect Greensboro Drive to Route 7 between Spring Hill Road and Westpark Drive.
Currently, the desired, vacant property is for sale, according to the staff report. “If the property is sold to another party and the existing building encumbered with a long-term lease, the cost of acquiring the property will increase significantly, and may become prohibitive,” the report says.
Preliminary engineering and feasibility studies
The Greensboro and Tysons West Park Transit Center ramps to the Dulles Toll Road are two of the three planned ramps that will provide a connection between downtown Tysons to the highway.
Meanwhile, Lincoln Street would connect Old Meadow Road to Magarity Road in Pimmit Hills. The new, two-lane road is meant to provide more access for residents.
Another new road — Broad Street — would run parallel to Route 7, providing access between Spring Hill and Tyco roads and offering an alternative to using Route 7.
The board also approved $3 million for construction to widen Telegraph Road at Hayfield Road in Alexandria and $500,000 for preliminary engineering and feasibility studies on improving the intersection of Reston Parkway and Baron Cameron Avenue.
The funding adjustments from the Tysons and Reston Transportation Service Districts and the Tysons Grid of Streets Road Fund will be made as part of the carryover review for fiscal year 2019, according to a staff report.
Several new streets and major improvements to existing ones are in the works for Tysons.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors made a small adjustment on Tuesday (March 19) to make developers pay a little more of their share, but the report offers a glimpse at what’s ahead for local roadways.
With no discussion, the Board voted unanimously to approve a 1.9 percent increase in the developer contribution rate to the Road Fund and approval of guidelines for those funds’ usage in Centreville and Tysons.
“One of the principles of the Comprehensive Plan for each of the road fund areas is that development above the baseline level established in the plan may be approved, if developer mitigates the impact of such increased density or intensity by contributing to a fund for the provision of off-site road improvements,” staff said in a report. “All aforementioned road funds function in this manner.”
The staff report also included a list of transportation projects either underway or in planning for Tysons’ streets.
- Route 123 Improvements: Changes planned for Route 123 in Tysons East in the early stages of being developed as a “superstreet,” which would modify left turn movements to facilitate regional through movement. The project has finished simulations and is currently undergoing initial design.
- Route 7 Widening and Interchange: A study has been recently completed on a plan to widen Route 7 and implement new improvements at the Route 123 interchange. Stakeholder meetings are planned for this summer.
- Cleveland Ramp Alternatives: A new ramp is planned to connect the Dulles Toll Road to new sections of the Tysons East grid of streets. Greater access to the Dulles Toll Road is part of several transportations discussions currently ongoing in Tysons.
- Jones Branch Connector: An alternative access route from eastern to western Tysons passing over I-495. The project is currently in construction with completion planned for this fall.
- State Street: A new street, named State Street, is being developed to connect Boone Boulevard and Greensboro Drive in Tysons. A study of the project has been completed and options for project implementation are being discussed.
- Lincoln Street: Another proposed new street to connect Route 123 to Magarity Road, intersecting with Old Meadow Road and other future streets. The core idea for the new street is to move traffic from existing developments northeast of Tysons Galleria to Magarity Road. A feasibility study is ongoing.
- Center Street: A new street planned within the Tysons urban center. A report is expected sometime this summer.
Many of the new streets listed in the report are centered around the areas northeast of Tysons Galleria and in Tysons East, the points at either end of the Jones Branch Connector and both planned sites for major redevelopment.
Davita Dialysis is bringing a new kidney care facility near the Dulles Toll Road in Vienna.
Davita offers home calls, health centers around the U.S. and conducts clinical research to improve kidney care.
Davita signed a lease back in December for a 4,008-square-foot space at 8605 Westwood Center Drive, according to Renaud Consulting, a commercial real estate company.
The spot is near the intersection of Leesburg Pike and the Dulles Toll Road.
An opening date for the Vienna facility has not been announced yet.
Image via Google Maps
Dominion Energy is rebuilding its substation in Tysons, but will have to design the project around a long-planned ramp connecting downtown Tysons to the Dulles Toll Road.
At a Planning Commission meeting on Feb. 27, the Commission ultimately deferred a decision on the substation to March 13 to address technical details related to the site’s exterior. But while the substation itself is probably of little interest to most Tysonians, if they even spot it behind the dense tree-cover, the conversation at the meeting included plans on building around the station to construct a new connection from Tysons to the Dulles Toll Road.
The “Greensboro Drive Connection” is a proposed ramp that would bypass the substation and connect Tyco Road to the parallel Dulles Toll Road. The new route would include a direct extension to Greensboro Drive, ending west of The Rotunda and just north of The Boro development.
While the project is seen as less costly than other connectivity alternatives and would function as a fairly conventional exit/entrance ramp, county staff also noted that the ramp could potentially load large amounts of traffic onto Tyco Road and would not be bicycle or pedestrian friendly.
But Fairfax County Planning Commission members said the new road could help revitalize Tyco Road, currently a strip-mall type set of retail being outpaced by more Metro-adjacent developments to the west.
During the Planning Commission meeting, staff noted that the potential ramp could be located on either side of the station, though they would closely abut the station.
If the project does move forward, construction likely wouldn’t start until FY 2028.
According to Sheri Aiken, senior land use planner for McGuire Woods, LLC (which is representing Dominion) the existing substation has been in place since the early 1960s but requires an upgrade to handle increased demand from Tysons. Aiken said the rebuilt station will utilize GIS equipment and have an overall more efficient and less cluttered look. The chain link fence around the project is also planned to be replaced with a 12-foot wall.
“This station is critical to the future of Tysons and to the effort put forward by Dominion Energy to work with undergrounding of the line,” said Planning Commission member Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, who represents the Providence district.
Starting Jan. 1, prices are scheduled to go up for those driving on the Dulles Toll Road.
The cost to passenger vehicles will increase from $2.50 to $3.25 at the main toll plaza and from $1 to $1.50 on ramps, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).
The toll road is operated and maintained by the MWAA. The toll increases were approved in November to help finance the further expansion of the Silver Line’s Phase 2 development.
The Silver Line’s expansion is financed by a combination of toll-road revenues, airport contributions and federal, state and local government appropriations.
The new rate increases are the first since 2014. But the increase has also drawn opposition from groups like airport workers union UNITE HERE Local 23, which says the cost of the Silver Line should be pushed onto airlines rather than commuters.
Photo via MWAA