Tysons, VA

There’s been some progress on plans to start an autonomous shuttle service between the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station and the Mosaic District, but a large percentage of Americans still have concerns about autonomous vehicles.

The shuttle, operated in a partnership between Fairfax County and Dominion Energy, would be the first driverless public transportation in the region and the first state-funded autonomous transportation project in Virginia. The shuttle would be free to ride.

“The shuttle travel between the Dunn Loring Metrorail station and Mosaic in Merrifield,” Fairfax County said on the project website. “Signage has been installed along the testing route. At the conclusion of testing, the route should remain the same.”

The shuttle started testing in July and word on the grapevine is a new announcement about the shuttle is incoming within the next week.

While autonomous vehicles are generally safe, the few incidents of crashes have been high profile cases.

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The Vienna and Dunn Loring stations will reopen to riders right after Labor Day, Metro announced yesterday (Monday).

The two stations are set to reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 8. The stations temporarily closed a few months ago for platform reconstruction.

“Rail service has returned to near pre-pandemic levels, and Metrobus service will increase dramatically beginning Sunday, August 23,” Metro said in the announcement.

Meanwhile, the East Falls Church station, which was originally set to open around Labor Day, is now expected to reopen two weeks ahead of schedule on Sunday, Aug. 23. Metro said that riders will be able to use a new free Bike & Ride facility at the East Falls Church station.

On Sunday (Aug. 16), five Silver Line stations, which temporarily closed for Silver Line Phase 2 work, and the West Falls Church station returned to service.

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Bruster’s Real Ice Cream near the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station plans to close permanently tomorrow (Friday).

Renita Shelton, the eatery’s manager, posted the announcement earlier today on the Facebook page for the location (2672D Avenir Place).

Bruster’s is known for its variety of cold treats including ice cream, shakes, floats, sodas and cakes.

Shelton called the upcoming closure a “bittersweet moment,” sharing that “the decision to close the shop at this given point in time was necessary for your safety as well as ours.”

Shelton thanked customers who “traveled far and wide” to come to the shop and other D.C. area locations for the ice cream chain.

Tysons Reporter reached out to the store earlier today and will update this story if more information becomes available.

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Late Payment Fees Reduced — “As a move to help taxpayers during the ongoing pandemic, Fairfax County significantly reduced penalties for late personal property and real estate tax payments this year.” [Fairfax County]

Profile of Local Activists — Here’s how two students have been pushing for the removal of the bust of Stonewall Jackson in Stonewall Manor. [Washington Post]

History of Antique Lamp Store in Dunn Loring — “Artisan is still around, but it has moved to a cluttered little shop in a secluded corner of a Fairfax County industrial park where the owner has adapted its business plan to the digital age. It has evolved out of necessity from a mom-and-pop storefront on a first-name basis with clients into a niche retailer whose audience stretches from Taiwan to Italy.” [Washington Post]

Local Man Hits the Lottery — “[Falls Church resident Douglas] Rosen scored $100,000 in the Virginia Lottery’s Pick 4 game using his birth year, 1958, as the winning four digit combination.” [Falls Church Patch]

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The Tysons area will have three blood drives this month via a partnership with local volunteer fire departments and Inova Blood Donor Services.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue announced today (Tuesday) four upcoming blood drives that will take place in the parking lots of the fire stations.

“Due to current events, blood supplies in Fairfax County and the nation are at dangerously low levels and dropping,” according to the fire department.

Here are the Tysons-area ones:

  • Thursday (June 18) noon-6 p.m. at Station 13 in Dunn Loring (2148 Gallows Road)
  • Wednesday (June 24) 1-7 p.m. at Station 1 in McLean (1455 Laughlin Ave)
  • Thursday (June 25) 1-7 p.m. at Station 2 in Vienna (400 Center Street S.)

There will also be a blood drive at Station 5 (6300 Beulah Street) in Alexandria on Thursday (June 18) from 1-7 p.m. People can register on the Inova Blood Donor Services website.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue noted how the blood drives will address safety concerns with COVID-19.

“There will be plenty of space to spread out and use appropriate social distancing,” the post said. “To help protect our firefighters and paramedics, access to the fire station is prohibited.”

Photo via Facebook

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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

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Black Dog Beer Shop has been open for less than three months in Merrifield, but already its owner has seen a recent uptick in sales — partly thanks to a federal loan.

As craft brewers face coronavirus challenges and many breweries pivot to making hand sanitizer, Tyler Cohen says he thinks his new local craft beer store is faring well, all things considered.

While he doesn’t have months and months of data to compare, he said sales grew 10% from March to April: “That’s a good thing, I guess.”

Cohen, who lives in the Mosaic District, opened the store in February at 2672M Avenir Place near the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station.

Before the coronavirus pandemic prompted the governor to enforce restrictions on businesses, Cohen said 10-15 people would be at the store “at all times” on Fridays and Saturdays.

When businesses started to close or switched to delivery, take-out and curbside pickup services, Cohen said most of his customers initially ordered online, but now he’s starting to see more and more people trickle into the store.

“This last weekend we had to stop people from coming in,” he said.

What the Federal Loan Process Was Like

Receiving a loan during the first round of funding for the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program made a big difference to the store’s finances and ability to keep growing, Cohen said.

“We were getting close where we could probably survive another month and then need to pay payroll out of my own pocket, but as soon as we got that [loan], we were able to breathe a sigh of relief,” he said.

Cohen said M&T Bank was “awesome” with telling him what he would need to submit before the application became available and then communicating with him — even on weekends — about the process.

“It was a pretty quick process,” Cohen said, adding that it took about a week after he submitted the application to hear that he was approved for the loan and then another week to receive it.

Cohen said he’s been able to keep all of his staff employed. One employee, who used to work part-time, now has longer shifts and is covering for another employee, who is over the age of 65 and decided to stay home, he said.

As for rent, the store’s landlord offered delayed rent payments for a few months, but Cohen declined. “I think we can afford rent now.”

COVID-19 Changes 

The store already had a stockpile of personal protective equipment, but Cohen still teamed up with a friend to make homemade hand sanitizer when his supply got low.

“We went from cleaning a couple of times to cleaning all of the surfaces constantly,” he said.

Another change has been allowing people to buy single cans and bottles of beer.

“Instead of buying a four-pack on something they haven’t had, people will try one or two,” he said.

And the store’s growler fill-ups are less popular too now that customers “want to avoid the touching and contact,” he said.

Speeding up some of his longer-term plans has been one of the biggest challenges Cohen’s faced due to the pandemic.

“The online store was something I was planning on rolling out later,” Cohen said. “[The pandemic] forced my hand.”

But, the pandemic did cause one positive thing Cohen’s black dog, Ash, who inspired the shop’s name — there’s now more time for hour-long walks.

“It’s been an interesting time with him because we’ll both get stir crazy,” he said.

Local Community Support 

To get ideas for how to manage the store during the pandemic, Cohen said he and his team talked to local businesses including nearby Inca Social and listened to podcasts about the beer industry.

“The store manager is constantly trying to come up with new ideas,” Cohen said.

Local businesses in the community are trying to show support, he noted.

“I probably buy more beer and take out food to support local businesses,” he said. “We’re trying to help each other.”

Photos via Black Dog Beer Shop/Facebook

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Metro announced today (Thursday) plans to add Silver Line connection work to its summer construction, which includes platform reconstruction at several Orange Line stations.

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.

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For people looking to pick up a few new culinary skills while staying home, Inca Social is offering free digital cooking classes.

Every week, the Merrifield-based eatery plans to release a new video on its Facebook page that walks viewers through the steps to prepare a specialty Peruvian dish or drink.

“We wanted to provide something for our guests and for everyone to be able to do at home,” a spokesperson said. “During these times we need to do more positive things.”

Yesterday, a bartender demonstrated how to make a “Passion Chilcano,” which contains pisco Peruvian liquor, limes, passionfruit syrup and ginger ale.

In another video, the eatery’s chefs tossed up a few servings of chaufa mixto, which is a type of fried rice.

The eatery said that the next video will likely be released either next Tuesday or Saturday.

For guests who don’t feel like cooking themselves, the restaurant is also offering free delivery and curbside pickup, according to the website.

To encourage takeout orders, the restaurant is offering 25% off its entire menu, the Facebook page said, adding that any meal can be customized. A menu can be found online.

Photo via Inca Social/Facebook

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Cedar Lane in Dunn Loring is closed after a tree fell into power lines, according to Fairfax County police.

People can expect an extended road closure in both directions “due to several downed utility poles,” according to a tweet from FCPD shortly after 2 p.m.

Roughly 500 Dominion Energy customers are without power just west of Dunn Loring Park, according to Dominion’s power outage map.

Dominion estimates that power will be restored by 7 p.m.

Maps via Google Maps and Dominion Energy

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