Tysons, VA

Morning Notes

Early Voting Begins Today — At 9 a.m., Fairfax County voters can start casting their ballots for the June 8 Democratic primary. Early voting has expanded from previous years, with all registered voters now allowed to participate and the county immediately offering three locations with Saturday hours. [Fairfax County Government]

McLean Downtown Plan Public Hearing Pushed Back — The Fairfax County Planning Commission will defer a public hearing on the McLean Community Business Center study that was scheduled for next Wednesday (April 28). A new date for the public to comment on the much-debated draft plan will be announced on April 28. [Fairfax County Planning Commission]

I-66 West in Dunn Loring Closed Tonight — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching I-495 will be closed during the overnight hours Friday, April 23, to allow for continued installation of bridge beams for new ramps at the I-66/I-495 Interchange. All I-66 West traffic will be detoured around the closure via Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) West and I-495 South.” [VDOT]

Man Arrested for Capital Beltway Crashes — Virginia State Police arrested a 26-year-old man yesterday (Thursday) for allegedly crashing into two vehicles around the 53-mile marker of I-495 in Fairfax County and punching the drivers in an attempt to carjack their vehicles. The suspect is in custody in Maryland with charges pending as he awaits extradition to Virginia. [WTOP]

Fire Temporarily Closes Vienna’s Church Street — Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units responded to a fire in the basement of a building on the 100 block of Church Street NE in Vienna yesterday. The fire was extinguished with no reported injuries, but the activity temporarily closed the road between Center and Mill streets. [Patch]

Capital One Airport Lounge Coming to Dulles — “Capital One Financial Corp. plans to open its Dulles International Airport lounge sometime in 2022 and we now have renderings that show what the 9,100-square-foot space could look like. The Dulles location will be the second of a network of lounges the McLean-based financial giant is branding, Capital One (NYSE: COF) announced Monday.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Construction on the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project will continue disrupting travel at the I-66 and I-496 interchange in Dunn Loring this week.

Overnight lane closures and traffic stoppages will begin at 10 p.m. today (Monday) on I-495 South, whose general purpose lanes will be reduced to a single travel lane from Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) approaching I-66 to accommodate overhead bridge work and partial demolition of the I-66 West bridge over I-495 South.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says drivers should expect periodic stoppages of up to 20 minutes between midnight and 4 a.m., though the lane closures will last until 5 a.m. on Tuesday. The 495 Express Lanes will not be affected.

The 495 lane closures will take effect again during the same time frame on Thursday (April 8) and Friday (April 9).

That final day will coincide with more substantial closures planned for I-66.

On Friday and Saturday (April 10), all westbound lanes approaching I-495 will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. so that construction crews can install bridge beams for new ramps at the I-66/I-495 interchange, VDOT says. The ramps to I-66 West from 495 North and the 495 South Express Lanes will also be closed.

“Drivers traveling on I-66 and I-495 during this time should expect delays and should consider using alternate routes,” VDOT said.

Here are the details on those closures from VDOT:

I-66 West at I-495

  • All I-66 West travel lanes will be closed at I-495 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. both nights.
  • All westbound I-66 thru-traffic will be directed to exit the interstate at Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) West, travel about one mile to the ramp for I-495 South, and then follow signs to I-66 West.
  • The ramp from I-66 West to I-495 South will remain open.
  • All lanes will reopen by 6 a.m.

Ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West

  • The ramp will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly.
  • Traffic will be detoured farther north to Route 7 West, stay to the right to I-495 South, and then follow signs to I-66 West.
  • The ramp will reopen by 6 a.m.

Ramp from the 495 Express Lanes South to I-66 West

  • The ramp will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly.
  • Overhead variable message boards in the Express Lanes will direct traffic to an alternate route.

The I-66 and I-495 closures both stem from ongoing efforts to reconstruct the interchange as part of the Transform 66 project, which will extend the I-66 Express Lanes 22.5 miles from Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

“Improvements at the interchange include adding access to and from the existing 495 Express Lanes and the new I-66 Express Lanes, as well as building new connections between express and general-purpose lanes,” VDOT said.

Images via Google Maps, VDOT

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Traffic is starting to flow again in the Vienna area of Interstate 66 after a multi-vehicle crash shut down the eastbound lanes after Cedar Lane around 9:20 this morning (Monday).

The crash occurred at the 63.6 mile marker and backed up traffic for approximately two miles, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

VDOT’s live traffic cameras showed vehicles starting to move again around 9:40 a.m., but the left lane appears to still be closed as of 10 a.m.

“Motorists can expect delays due to a multi-vehicle crash,” VDOT said in an update at 9:51 a.m. “The East left shoulder and left lane are closed.”

https://twitter.com/WTOPtraffic/status/1373992946010353664

Images via VDOT

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Commuters in Merrifield and Vienna should probably avoid traveling on Interstate 66 Friday night (March 19), as multiple lane closures and traffic stoppages are scheduled to accommodate ongoing construction work.

Eastbound I-66 will be reduced to a single travel lane at Gallows Road in Merrifield from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. so that crews can pour concrete for a new Gallows Road Bridge deck.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says that periodic stoppages of up to 20 minutes could occur between midnight and 4 a.m., but all lanes will reopen by 9 a.m. on Saturday.

There will also be lane closures on Gallows Road, which will be reduced to two travel lanes — one in each direction — from 9 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday. Two-way traffic will be directed to the southbound side of Gallows during the closure.

“Drivers should expect delays if traveling in this area and are encouraged to use alternate routes,” VDOT says.

In addition, I-66 East and West will be reduced to one travel lane between Gallows and Nutley Street from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday, when all lanes will reopen. There will be periodic traffic stoppages of up to 20 minutes between midnight and 4 a.m.

According to VDOT, this lane closure is necessary for crews to remove an overhead utility line at Cedar Lane, which will have flaggers to direct traffic into a single lane between midnight and 4 a.m.

At both Gallows Road and Cedar Lane, the construction work is part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which will extend the I-66 express lanes 22.5 miles from the I-495 interchange in Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

VDOT notes that “all work is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur.”

Maps via Google Maps, VDOT

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Thursday Morning Notes

Federal American Recovery Plan Will Prevent Metro Budget Cuts — Metro will not need to make the drastic service and personnel cuts proposed in its fiscal year 2022 budget, thanks to Congress’ approval of a new COVID-19 relief package that includes $1.4 billion for D.C. region transit agencies. The potential changes, which included closures of the McLean and Greensboro stations, would have taken effect in January 2022 if the advertised budget got approved. [WMATA]

Thomas Jefferson Admissions Changes Spur New Federal Lawsuit — “Fairfax County Public Schools is facing a second lawsuit over changes officials made last year to the admissions process at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, its flagship STEM magnet school. The suit, filed in federal court Wednesday, alleges the changes are discriminatory against Asian Americans and therefore violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.” [The Washington Post]

Ramp Closure Planned for I-495/I-66 at Fairview Park — The ramp from southbound Interstate 495 to westbound Interstate 66 will be closed from 11 p.m. Saturday (March 13) to 7 a.m. Sunday, and again on 10 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday. The ramp will have two exit lanes when it reopens, one of which has been closed since late January for the construction of a new ramp as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. [Patch]

Vienna Town Council Debates Undergrounding Utilities — “Placing utility lines underground in Vienna’s Maple Avenue corridor would beautify the streetscape and improve service reliability, but at a steep cost. According to a feasibility study…presented at the Vienna Town Council’s March 8 work session, utility undergrounding in 10 locations would cost an estimated $22 million – the equivalent of about half of the town’s general-fund budget for one year.” [Sun Gazette]

Capital One Appoints New Board Members — “McLean banking giant Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) has appointed executives from Facebook Inc. and Nike Inc. to its board of directors, the company said Tuesday. In May, shareholders will vote on the election of Ime Archibong, head of new product experimentation at Facebook, and Craig Williams, president of Jordan Brand at Nike.” [Washington Business Journal]

Vienna Fire Department to Host Two Inova Blood Drives — The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department (400 Center St. S) will hold two blood drives this spring for Inova, one from 1-7 p.m. on March 25 and the second from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on April 2. Face coverings are required at both events. [@ViennaVFD/Twitter]

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Updated at 5:05 p.m. on 1/29/2021 — The opening of a temporary ramp from I-66 West to Nutley Street has been postponed to next weekend due to anticipated inclement weather, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced today.

Earlier — Drivers exiting onto Nutley Street in Vienna from Interstate 66 West will be directed to a new, temporary ramp starting Sunday (Jan. 31).

Here are the details from VDOT on the new traffic pattern, which is expected to stay in place for approximately 18 months:

New Ramps for I-66 West to Nutley Street North and South

  • The current ramp from I-66 West to northbound Nutley Street will close.
  • Drivers will access northbound Nutley Street using a new ramp to Nutley Street North and South located slightly west of the current exit, then stay to the right to northbound Nutley Street.
  • Drivers will access southbound Nutley Street using the new ramp from I-66 West, stay to the left, then turn left at a temporary traffic signal to southbound Nutley Street.

A temporary traffic signal will be installed while the temporary ramp is in place so that drivers headed south on Nutley can turn left.

To complete paving work for the change, the Virginia Department of Transportation will close the existing ramp from I-66 West to Nutley Street North from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Jan. 30 and 31.

During that time, drivers looking to get off of I-66 West will be detoured to the exit for the Vienna Metro station. They will then have to stay right on Country Creek Road and Virginia Center Boulevard to reach Nutley.

According to VDOT, the new, temporary I-66 West exit ramp is needed to accommodate construction on a new Nutley Street interchange as part of its Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project.

When construction is finished, the new Nutley interchange will have two roundabouts, which VDOT says “will provide safer, more efficient travel for vehicles entering and exiting I-66 and improve safety for vehicles and pedestrians traveling on Nutley Street.”

The department also notes that all work is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if there are inclement conditions.

“Drivers should always use caution and pay attention to lane markings and roadway signs in construction work zones,” VDOT says in its news release.

Images via Google Maps, VDOT

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The Washington and Old Dominion Trail will be shifted slightly south where it passes Idylwood Park in Falls Church starting this Thursday (Jan. 14).

The Virginia Department of Transportation says the temporary realignment will allow crews to construct a new, permanent trail that can accommodate new Interstate 66 ramps as part of its Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project.

Construction will also involve the addition of a retaining wall to support the widening of the I-66 West ramp to I-495 South.

Idylwood Park is at the terminus of the Transform 66 project, which is adding 22 miles of express lanes between I-495 in Falls Church and University Boulevard in Gainesville.

VDOT previously planned to close the affected section of the W&OD Trail from July 27 through early December of last year and offer detours to pedestrians and cyclists, but construction was postponed “for additional project coordination.”

The realignment brings the trail closer to I-66 West and will last approximately five months through June 2021.

“All work is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur,” VDOT says.

Images via VDOT

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A reconstructed Cedar Lane Bridge over Interstate 66 in Vienna will reopen to traffic today as anticipated, the Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed yesterday (Tuesday).

Restoring Cedar Lane’s connection between Cottage Street to the north and Route 29 (Lee Highway) to the south, the new bridge is wider and features a sidewalk on its west side. A new shared-use path on the bridge’s east side will eventually link to a 66 Parallel Trail being developed from Dunn Loring to Centreville.

VDOT closed the bridge to both drivers and pedestrians on May 15 so that crews could demolish the existing structure and build the new one.

The bridge reconstruction is part of VDOT’s Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which is adding toll lanes along 22 miles of highway between Vienna and Gainesville.

The Cedar Lane Bridge reopening will enable Fairfax Connector to restore service on Routes 462 and 467 between the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station and Tysons Corner to the routes and schedules they had before the bridge closed.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation announced last week that it will also add Sunday service to Route 467.

Until the service changes take effect on Jan. 4, Fairfax Connector buses will continue following a modified route that utilizes Cottage Street and Gallows Road for those two routes.

Even with the new bridge completed, some construction activities will continue in the Cedar Lane area.

“Drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and other bridge users should be alert for continued construction activity in the area surrounding the bridge, including completion of nearby sidewalks, noise walls, and the shared-use path along I-66,” VDOT said.

Photo courtesy VDOT

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Travel on Interstate 66 will be reduced to one lane in both directions from Cedar Lane in Vienna to Route 7 every night through Saturday (Dec. 19), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced today (Thursday).

VDOT has been closing lanes on the highway between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. since Dec. 14 in order to address overhead utility work for the new Gallows Road Bridge that it has been constructing, but the lane closures were originally expected to end today.

The I-66 lane closures will last from 9:30 p.m. to 9 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, with intermittent full stoppages of up to 20 minutes between midnight and 4 a.m.

The reduction of travel on Gallows Road over I-66 to one lane and the overnight closure of the ramp from the I-495 North Express Lanes to I-66 West have also been extended to Saturday.

According to VDOT, the 495 ramp closure will last from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night. Traffic will be detoured to I-66 via the Route 7 exit during that time.

The Gallows Road lane closure will take place from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

“Drivers should expect delays if traveling in this area and are encouraged to use alternate routes,” VDOT said.

The state transportation agency also noted that work is dependent on the weather and may be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur.

Construction on the new Gallows Road Bridge has been ongoing throughout the year as part of VDOT’s Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. The bridge is being reconstructed to make room for the new Express Lanes.

VDOT plans to demolish the old Gallows bridge once the new one for northbound Gallows is completed in early 2021, but according to the current project timeline, the full bridge is not expected to be complete until early 2022.

Photo via VDOT

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Toll revenues from the Interstate 66 Express Lanes to the tune of $1 million will fund a second entrance to the McLean Metrorail Station.

The plan is to knock down part of a wall in order to add doors and an entrance, Fairfax County Department of Transportation Special Projects Division Chief Martha Coello said.

“It really enhances the ability for people who live or work north of the station to easily access it,” she said. “Hopefully, that gives them greater incentive to use transit, rather than use their own vehicle.”

Fairfax County aims to start work “in the next year or so,” she said.

Using 66 Inside the Beltway toll revenue, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission awarded money to six “low-cost, low-risk” transit projects as part of its Commuter Choice program for the I-66 corridor, according to an announcement on Thursday (Dec. 10).

“We’re expanding the transportation network now using a conservative strategy focused on low-cost projects and longstanding assets to ensure access to convenient, safe and reliable choices whenever people are ready to commute,” NVTC Executive Director Kate Mattice said in a statement.

Both the scope and timeline of the program are more conservative this year due to a drop in toll revenue caused by the novel coronavirus. Pre-pandemic, Commuter Choice anticipated getting $25 million in grant funding for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Instead, tolled trips dropped by nearly 50%.

The announcement called Fairfax County’s application the strongest out of the six projects, which will receive a total of $3.5 million. Other picks included renewing service for three “existing, high-performing express bus services” and converting parts of one lane of Lee Highway in Arlington into a bus and HOV-only lane.

Staff picked this batch of projects because it “minimizes the risk around the uncertainty of a return to pre-pandemic traffic volumes and makes the best use of the minimal available toll revenues,” NVTC says.

According to Commuter Choice, the program has enough money saved from previous years to continue existing projects and fund new projects.

Coello said the McLean Metro Station project “is a bit unusual” in that it was not formally part of a capital improvements plan, but rather, arose during a rezoning application from Capital One in 2012.

Working with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, a team from Capital One designed the entrance, she said. The county received the exact amount it applied for, but Capital One has pledged to contribute to overages.

Coello says Fairfax County has been waiting for the right time to develop the site. Back in 2012, the change was not urgent enough to justify spending the money.

“Having an opportunity like Commuter Choice, this was kind of a golden opportunity,” she said. “It was a case of the right place, right time, right pieces falling in place.”

Since the Commonwealth of Virginia and NVTC established the program in 2017, Commuter Choice has provided more than $60 million grant funding to 36 projects in Northern Virginia.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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