A long-awaited project to lessen congestion at an intersection near the American Legion Bridge in McLean is nearing completion.
The Virginia Department of Transportation expanded the intersection by 550 feet to include a left turn and right turn lane, as well as an option for traffic to go straight into the nearby neighborhood. The renovations also include an area where law enforcement can safely pull over traffic.
Crews worked on the three-month-long project at the intersection of Georgetown Pike and Balls Hill Road over the summer. Politicians gathered Thursday morning (Aug. 22) to survey the scene and celebrate the project.
Allison Richter, a VDOT liaison for Fairfax County, attended the event and said that people in the nearby neighborhood struggled to get home when others were trying to turn onto American Legion Bridge or onto the freeway. The addition of turn lanes is expected to ease traffic around rush hour, she said.
Richter said that this was part of a $500,000 project to improve traffic flow in the area, which should be completed in the next couple days. She also said that roughly $250,000 of the funds came from Fairfax County while the remaining $250,000 came from an operations safety budget.
“This is one of the rare occasions we meet at this intersection on a happy note,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust told the gathering. “This has been a challenge to deal with the intersection and try to meditate the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods from the American Legion Bridge and back up on the ramp.”
Crews are still working to repair Kirby Road, which is still closed due to flooding damage, he said, adding that the floods completely rerouted the river, which now flows underneath the road.
The city needs to get permits from the Army Corps of Engineers to fix the damage.
“There is only so much we can expedite,” Foust said, adding that he believes that the residents have been patient with the process.
As for the road crews, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen VDOT so focused,” Foust said.
Just in time for #backtoschooll! VDOT crews completed improvements incl a dedicated left-turn lane to help ease congestion at Balls Hill Rd & Georgetown Pike in McLean. Take a look! Thanks to our partners @fairfaxcounty @FairfaxCountyPD @johnfoustva @kmurphyva @BarbaraFavola! pic.twitter.com/es74W6OVfJ
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) August 22, 2019
Starting today, residents and business owners can head to the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library to seek low-interest loans to help pay for flood damage repairs.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust shared in a newsletter to constituents Monday (Aug. 12) information about two loan centers — Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike) and the Arlington County Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street).
Gov. Ralph Northam announced last Thursday (Aug. 8) that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will offer low-interest federal loans to people affected by the July 8 flooding in the City of Falls Church, along with Fairfax and Arlington counties and the City of Alexandria.
Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million, while homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for damaged or destroyed real estate and up to $40,000 for personal property.
“In addition, the County has waived any permit fees that might apply to reconstruction efforts,” Foust wrote.
More from the newsletter:
The SBA may increase loans by up to 20 percent if officials verify the extent of physical damages. Agency officials also may support efforts by applicants to build storm shelters or safe rooms to protect against damage from a similar natural disaster in the future.
SBA officials will set the loans’ terms and amounts based on applicants’ financial conditions. The agency will offer loans with terms of up to 30 years and interest rates as low as 1.938 percent for renters and homeowners, 2.75 percent for non-profits, and 4 percent for businesses.
The loan center at the Tysons-Pimmit library will be open:
- Tuesday-Thursday, Aug. 13-15: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 16: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 17: 1-5 p.m.
- Monday, Aug. 19: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
The loan center in Arlington will be open the same days and times, except for different hours on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Both centers will be closed on Sunday, Aug. 18.
“SBA officials will be available to answer questions about the agency’s disaster-loan programs and help applicants fill out the necessary forms,” Foust wrote in the newsletter.
Residents have until Oct. 7 to request a loan to cover physical property damage, while businesses have until May 7, 2020, to request a loan for economic injury.
Photo via Fairfax County
The Virginia Department of Transporation is looking to secure an emergency contract for one of two McLean Roads undergoing long-term repair.
The 1300 block of Kirby Road and Swinks Mill Road by Scott’s Run are still closed due to severe storm damage from July 8 flash flooding. VDOT has said that both roads will stay closed for several months.
In an update yesterday (Thursday), VDOT said that it wants an emergency contract for bridge and road repairs at Kirby Road.
As for Swinks Mill Road, VDOT tweeted today (Friday) that reconstruction of the road’s bridge starts Monday (Aug. 12).
VDOT also provided information on the progress this week for both roads:
Kirby Road at Pimmit Run (VA-695)
- Structure and bridge crews removed debris from Little Pimmit Run and Pimmit Run.
- Soil boring cores and test results were completed.
- Survey work and underground utility location is complete.
- Design plans are being finalized for an emergency contract.
Swinks Mill Road at Scotts Run (VA-685)
- Crews removed asphalt and guardrail debris from Scotts Run.
- Soil boring cores along with results were completed.
- Survey work and underground utility location have been completed.
- Bridge design plans are complete.
- Repairs will be performed by VDOT structure and bridge crews, who will begin work once ordered materials are received.
“Coordination with external agencies is ongoing to ensure efficient repair of damaged utilities, including coordination with federal/state permitting agencies to relocate Little Pimmit Run to its previous stream alignment,” according to the press release.
Kirby and Swinks Mill roads weren’t the only ones damaged — VDOT said that “extensive repairs” were made to 12 McLean-area roads right after the storm.
Good News! Work to reconstruct the Swinks Mill Road bridge begins Monday— and Kirby Road isn’t far behind! https://t.co/WgpybIc0R3
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) August 9, 2019
Photo 3 via VDOT
The meeting kicked off with a staff presentation to update the roughly 50 people who filled the council chambers.
While City Manager Wyatt Shields said that the city has started some utility improvements, like enlarging the stormwater channel and increasing stormwater detention, the city now needs to shift its focus from water quality to quantity.
The city’s annual budget has $1.6 million dedicated to stormwater projects, he said.
“This is not the first time”
Mayor David Tartar kicked off the meeting by stressing a need for better flood prevention for possibly more severe flooding in the future.
“It seems like these once in a lifetime events are happening more often,” Tartar told the attendees, adding that the city wants to take a holistic approach to solving city-wide problems.
One day after the campaign started, people donated more than $18,000 — about a quarter of the $75,000 goal.
While the GoFundMe says 217 people raised $93,823 in 27 days, Shelly Breslin, who started the campaign, told Tysons Reporter that about $112,000 in total was raised.
Breslin said that she has managed fundraisers before for the little league and decided to create the GoFundMe campaign to cover the costs of the damage from the flooding — especially since the little league does not have flood insurance.
Currently, the McLean Little League complex (1836 Westmoreland Street) is closed as it undergoes work rebuilding dugouts, repairing fencing and cleaning up the fields before the fall season starts at the end of August.
Three years ago, the little league started a campaign for recent field improvements, she said.
“The ironic thing is, right before the water came, the McLean Little League closed out and used the money from the campaign,” Breslin said, adding that the funds paid for new batting cages, scoreboards and fencing, which were then damaged in the July flooding. “Many items had just been done in the spring season… We worked so hard over the last three years to get that money.”
Breslin said there was a huge local community response to the GoFundMe campaign from McLean residents to parents and coaches at the little league in Vienna.
“I think it went great,” she said, adding that people from around the country donated as well.
Breslin also said that she was surprised by some of the “big amounts” people donated, which included a $25,000 donation, two $5,000 donations and 20 donations between $1,000-$2,500.
The GoFundMe is now closed because “we raised what we wanted to get,” Breslin said.
“We are overwhelmed by our McLean community and little league community,” she said.
Warehouse Fire in Tysons — A fire broke out in a warehouse in the 8400 block of Tyco Road in Tysons Sunday (Aug. 4) evening, which firefighters “quickly extinguished.” No injuries have been reported. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter]
Behind the Scenes of Cirque du Soleil — Pawel Walczewski shared what it’s like being one of the aerial artists who plays Waz in Cirque du Soleil’s “VOLTA.” The show is currently in Tysons until Sept. 29 [DC Metro Theater Arts]
Woman Struck, Killed by Car in Falls Church — “Fairfax County police arrested a man who allegedly struck and killed a Falls Church woman who was walking with a child in the West Falls Church area Saturday afternoon.” [Tysons Reporter]
Visions for Vienna — The Washington Business Journal dove into the town’s “crippling clash between supporters of Vienna’s small-town history and businesses with an eye on the future.” [Washington Business Journal]
Out With the Old, In With the New (Lightbulbs) — Back in July, the Board of Supervisors voted to “require LEDs instead of less-efficient high-pressure sodium streetlights in new developments. This relatively simple change marks a significant step forward in the county’s pursuit of policies that benefit the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” [Fort Hunt Herald]
Falls Church Holding Flash Flood Forum — “The City of Falls Church announced Tuesday that it has organized a public forum for Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. at the Council Chambers of City Hall for a “July 8 Flood, Impact, Recovery and Response” forum. Citizens are invited to attend as City staff and elected officials review the impact of the flash flood last month.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Falls Church Expands Senior Tax Program — “Measures to better enable older Falls Church residents to “age in place” rather than move out of their homes that were approved by the F.C. City Council last month will benefit all City taxpayers, F.C. Treasurer Jody Acosta [said].” [Falls Church News-Press]
Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter
The National Weather Service issued Flash Flood Watch for Fairfax County and surrounding areas.
The watch was issued around noon and is in effect until 8 p.m. tonight (July 31).
More from NWS:
* Until 8 PM EDT this evening
* Showers and thunderstorms capable of producing very heavy
rainfall are expected across the area this afternoon and into
the evening. This heavy rain may lead to localized total
rainfall amounts of up to 3 inches. Much of this rain may fall
in short periods of time in any given location, resulting in the
risk for flash flooding.
Heavy rain up to 3 inches could pose a risk for flash flooding, according to NWS.
A Flash Flood Watch has been issued for areas along the I-95 corridor from Washington D.C northward through Maryland until 8 pm. Showers and thunderstorms capable of producing heavy rain may lead to localized areas of flash flooding. pic.twitter.com/YH3IWjo14R
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) July 31, 2019
Damage from flash flooding that hit Fairfax County earlier this month will require millions of dollars for necessary repairs.
Seamus Mooney, the director of the Office of Emergency Management, gave the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday) an update on the damage assessment nearly a month after the region experienced about one month’s worth of rain during a couple of hours on the morning of July 8.
Fairfax County retroactively declared a local emergency about a week later to seek federal disaster aid. (The board voted to terminate the local emergency today.)
After giving an overview of the “catastrophic rain event,” Mooney broke down the estimates for how much repairing the damage will cost.
Kirby Road Facing $4 Million Repairs
Mooney said that some people were landlocked when severe weather damage closed the 1300 block of Kirby Road. Another McLean road — Swinks Mill Road — suffered extreme damage.
The Virginia Department of Transportation told Tysons Reporter that both roads are facing months of repair work.
Mooney said that the Virginia Department of Transportation recorded about $4 million of the $6 million recorded road damage was just at Kirby Road. Because the roads are funded through state highway funds, Mooney said that they are not eligible for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust called for proactive measures to ensure that the road improvements speed up.
“As a county, we need to put pressure on VDOT,” Foust said. “They’re telling us it’s going to be months [for Kirby Road]. That’s not acceptable.”
Storm’s Impact on Residents and Businesses
As for residents and businesses, Mooney said that the 277 entries in the county’s Disaster Damage Database as of yesterday (Monday) total about $6.8 million for a “significant amount of damage.”
Money said that state and federal programs can provide individual assistance — Fairfax County is currently waiting to hear back about
Mooney said Fairfax County has been working with surrounding jurisdictions including Arlington on damage assessments to determine eligibility for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which gives loans to disaster victims.
Since Arlington exceeded the 25 damaged properties requirement, Mooney said that Fairfax County should expect to hear from SBA by this week or next week. “[It’s] contiguous — if one gets it, we all get it,” Mooney said.
Fairfax County has chosen the Tysons Pimmit Regional Library as the location for a Disaster Loan Outreach Center and has the space reserved starting next week.
“As soon as we get the notice we can work with OPA and get it open for residents,” Mooney said, adding that residents will have up to six months to fill out the applications if they want a loan.
“Could Have Done More”
While the Board of Supervisors praised the quick response by emergency personnel, several board members — especially Foust — voiced frustration about preventing future damage of this magnitude.
Foust said that the county “could have done more” to prepare, including:
- investing in infrastructure that protects people’s homes
- pressuring VDOT to prioritize local road improvements
- having packages prepared in advance for residents with information on emergency and disaster next steps
- strengthening “grossly inadequate” stormwater management requirements
- focusing on tree preservation
“It’s been difficult on a lot of people, and we have to step up,” Foust said.
The board also voted today to designate September of Emergency Preparedness Awareness Month.
“It doesn’t take much for someone to have a very bad day,” Mooney said, adding that the designation might “make sure people become more resilient to these types of events.”
Additionally, Mooney said that the county is utilizing social media, Fairfax Alerts and other avenues to share information with residents, adding that the county also added people who entered their information into the Disaster Damage Database to Fairfax Alerts.
“Of note, between July 8-12, we sent out 1o2 storm-related tweets and Facebook posts,” he said. “We’ve been using that to make sure anyone who has submitted information, that we’ve been sending them updates as it’s available as well,” he said.
First photo via @SteveML9022/Twitter
Stormy Afternoon Ahead With Flash Flood Watch — The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch for today (Monday) for Fairfax County and surrounding areas from 3 p.m. through late tonight. Thunderstorms and heavy rainfall totaling 1-2 inches are expected. “Much of this rain may fall in short periods of time in any one given location, resulting in the risk for flash flooding this afternoon and tonight.” [NWS]
Georgetown Pike Now Open Again — All lanes of Georgetown Pike (Route 193) between Centrillion Drive and Georgetown Ridge Court in McLean closed for emergency road repairs on Sunday following a fallen tree and wires. The road reopened several hours later. [Twitter]
New Field in Tysons — “Quantum Field officially opened [earlier in July] and players will soon get the chance to enjoy this lighted, state-of-the-art synthetic turf rectangular field.” [Connection Newspapers]
Firefighters Fought Tysons Fire — Firefighters responded to a small fire on roof in the 8600 block of Westwood Center Drive in Tysons West on Sunday. [Twitter]
Langley High School Students Lauded — “Five local high-school students recently received the McLean Citizens Association’s 2019 Outstanding Teen Character Awards for their dedication to the community.” [Inside NoVa]
McLean Resident Lands Federal Agency Role — “The US Senate June 27 voted to confirm Aimee Jorjani as the first full-time chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.” Jorjani is a McLean resident. [Connection Newspapers]
In a board matter approved at the Board of Supervisors meeting today (Tuesday), Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said, “The McLean-Falls Church area was particularly hard hit. Today, more than a week later, there are roads in the county that remain closed with no estimated date for reopening.”
The region experienced about one month’s worth of rain, making it the heaviest one-hour total rainfall since at least 1936, according to the Washington Post. The City of Falls Church and Arlington County both declared a state of emergency just days after the storm.
More from a copy of the board matter that Tysons Reporter received:
Fortunately, despite the intensity of the storm, no one was severely injured or worse. The Office of Emergency Management and the county’s public safety and public works staffs were great! I commend them for reacting promptly and very professionally to emergencies that occurred throughout the county.
Since the storm, my office has received dozens of emails and phone calls from residents who experienced devastating damage to their property. Many residents had several feet of water and mud in their basements. Others experienced even worse damage. Some residents have estimated the cost to repair the damage will be as high as six figures.
The Office of Emergency Management has asked residents and businesses to file damage reports so that the county can evaluate whether we will pursue federal disaster aid… [Residents] are anxiously inquiring whether Fairfax County will do the same. They also need to know what federal aid might be available to them if a federal disaster is declared.
Residents are also learning that their property insurance may not cover their damages. Some residents believe that a lack of adequate infrastructure to convey some or all the stormwater contributed to the damage they suffered. Some have inquired about filing potential claims against the county and/or the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Now, County Executive Brian Hill will need to let the board know about the status and timing for determining whether or not the county will receive federal disaster aid after the county retroactively declared a local emergency.
“Many asked why we didn’t do a declaration the day after the storm like Arlington,” Hill said.
Hill said that he had several conversations with Foust about the process and that meetings are scheduled with the county’s stormwater management crew. “We will probably need to change how we do our engineering going forward,” Hill said.
The county’s Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney is set to update the county in the last week of July, Hill said.
Additionally, Foust’s board matter directed the county to create an informational flyer or brochure about how residents can submit damage claims to the county and the Virginia Department of Transportation, along with a list of county services and resources that could assist residents experiencing storm damage.
Chairman Sharon Bulova said that it’s also important to push information on social media on what people should report and why.
“We will likely have additional storm and water events in the future,” Bulova said, adding, “We’ve gotten really good at snow and not so much with water.”