Newsletter

Morning Notes

Fairfax County Police Bust International Burglary Ring — “The pattern was quickly becoming familiar to Fairfax County police: an expensive home; Asian or Middle Eastern residents; a rear door or window smashed; and jewelry and luxury goods taken but expensive electronics left untouched.” [The Washington Post]

I-66 Lane Closures in Vienna Start Tomorrow — I-66 East will be reduced to a single travel lane approaching Cedar Lane in Vienna during overnight hours, starting at 10:30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). Lasting until 5 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 20), the closures will allow workers to install bridge beams for a new access ramp to the future I-66 Express Lanes. [VDOT]

FCPS Turns to College Students for Substitute Teachers — Fairfax County Public Schools has opened substitute teaching positions to college students in a response to high vacancy rates. The school system’s substitute teacher fill rate is typically about 80%, but it has hovered around 70% during the pandemic, dropping to 55-60% during the current COVID-19 surge. [WTOP]

Original Fairfax County Chief Fire Marshal Dies — “It is with great sadness that the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department announce the passing of retired Fire Administrator, and first Chief Fire Marshal, Willis H. “Bill” Burton, Jr. Chief Burton passed away peacefully of natural causes, surrounded by family, on Sunday, January 9 at the age of 91.” [FCFRD]

Electoral Board Gets New Member — “Christopher P. Henzel was recently appointed and sworn in by the Fairfax Circuit Court as a member of the Fairfax County Electoral Board for a three-year term. He replaces Steve Hunt, whose term ended after serving eight years on the board.” [Fairfax County Government]

McLean Central Park Revision Meeting Set — “The public is invited to attend an information meeting on the McLean Central Park Development Concept plan on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held online so that members of the public can participate safely and conveniently from their homes.” [FCPA]

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An aerial view of the old Gallows Road bridge in October 2021 next to the new span currently serving two-way traffic (via VDOT)

Eastbound drivers on I-66 can expect overnight delays this week as crews demolish the old Gallows Road bridge in Merrifield.

Crews are taking apart an old concrete deck with jack hammers, saw cutters, and hoe rams. The overnight work began last night (Sunday) and will repeat each night through Jan. 16.

A new Gallows Road bridge opened to traffic in October as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which is adding express lanes, upgrading interchanges, replacing bridges, and improving pedestrian routes along 22 miles of the interstate from I-495 in Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

The hazardous conditions mean that three lanes on I-66 are closed to eastbound traffic starting at 10 p.m. each night this week. They will reopen at 5 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on the weekend.

“Drivers should expect periodic stoppages of up to 20 minutes nightly Sunday through Thursday between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., and Friday and Saturday between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” the Virginia Department of Transportation said in a news release.

Gallows Road will remain open, but there will be traffic shifts at times, and changes could occur. VDOT noted that people can receive project updates via email by signing up on its website.

The new Gallows Road bridge, which currently has four lanes, will eventually shift to just a northbound link over I-66. Once crews finish the demolition work, a new southbound bridge will be built.

“The bridge will include three lanes southbound and two lanes northbound (with width to add a third northbound lane in the future),” Justin McNaul, with the engineering consulting firm ATCS that’s assisting VDOT, said in an email.

The new bridge will be longer and wider than its predecessor. It will also feature 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes in each direction with a sidewalk to the north and barrier-separated path to the south in an effort to improve access, including to the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station.

The bridge is slated to be completed in the fall, and the new I-66 express lanes are expected to open in December.

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Morning Notes

Joint Statement Released on Settlement of FCPS Disability Lawsuit — As first reported by The Washington Post in late November, Fairfax County Public Schools has settled a lawsuit over its use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities. The students and disability advocacy organizations that filed the case say they hope “this resolution will ensure that no other student will ever have to experience such trauma.” [FCPS]

Thousands Donate Child Face Masks to County — “Thank you to the community for coming together to donate child face masks! We have collected 12,065 masks! Thank you to @FairfaxCountyPD for hosting the donations bin and @VolunteerFFX for all your help putting together donations!” [Ready Fairfax/Twitter]

Metro to Testify on Safety Issues in Congress — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) says he will call on Metro’s top leaders to testify at a congressional hearing about the safety issues spotlighted by October’s train derailment, which have kept more than half the transit agency’s fleet out of commission for almost two months now. Connolly, who represents Fairfax County, calls Metro’s failure to report the issues when they were discovered years ago “a mortal sin.” [NBC4]

Fairfax Stands Alone With Court Records Paywall — “While all other Northern Virginia jurisdictions provide free, remote public access to basic docket information for individual criminal and civil cases in circuit court, Fairfax County’s CPAN system costs $150 per quarter, or $600 per year.” [WTOP]

I-495 Lane Closures in Tysons Continue — “Lane closures and ramp closures on I-495 North and I-66 East will be implemented during the overnight hours again this week, December 13-17, as bridge beam installation for a new flyover ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West continues at the I-66/I-495 Interchange as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project.” [VDOT]

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Morning Notes

Franklin Sherman ES Kicks Off COVID-19 Pediatric Vaccine Rollout — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) kicked off the national rollout of COVID-19 vaccination for children ages 5-11 today, when the school division welcomed First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to a clinic at the school where the first Polio vaccine was administered in 1954.” [FCPS]

Fire Department Now Accepting Toys for Tots — The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is participating in the annual National Capital Region Toys for Tots campaign, where firefighters and paramedics collect new, unwrapped toys that will be delivered to children for the holidays. Collection boxes will remain outside local fire stations until 8 p.m. every day until Sunday, Dec. 12. [FCFRD]

National Airport Opens New Security Lines — “Passengers will see a new way through security at Reagan National Airport starting Tuesday at 4 a.m. It launches as air traveler traffic is picking up to nearly 30,000 passengers a day at DCA and that’s expected to increase with the busy holiday season just weeks away.” [DCist]

Extended Closure Scheduled for I-66 West Ramp at Nutley — “The ramp from I-66 West to Nutley Street North and South will be closed from 9 p.m. Friday, November 12, continuously through 11 a.m. Monday, November 15, for paving operations. Traffic will be directed farther west to the exit to Vienna/Fairfax/GMU Station, stay to the right onto Country Creek Road, continue onto Virginia Center Boulevard, then at the traffic signal turn left to Nutley Street North or turn right to Nutley Street South.” [VDOT]

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Morning Notes

Victim of West Falls Church ATM Shooting Dies — “A 73-year-old man has died days after he was shot at an ATM in Falls Church, Virginia, during an attempted robbery, police said days after the attack. The victim was identified as Nelson Alexander, a loving, family-oriented man and involved member of his church who sang in the choir, his loved ones said.” [NBC4]

FCPS Hires Firm for Superintendent Search — The Fairfax County School Board has awarded human resources recruitment firm GR Recruiting a contract to conduct a nationwide search for Superintendent Scott Brabrand’s successor. Fairfax County Public Schools says parents, students, staff, and community members will be involved in the process, with the next superintendent taking over on July 1, 2022. [FCPS]

Another Full I-66 West Closure Coming Tonight — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) will close Monday night, October 25, for continued bridge beam installation at the I-66/I-495 Interchange. Traffic will be detoured using Route 7 and I-495. Multiple lanes of I-495 North approaching I-66 will be closed, along with a full closure of the 495 Express Lanes North and associated ramps at the interchange so that this work may be implemented.” [VDOT]

Nonprofit Opens New Office in Vienna — “A nonprofit organization focused on providing day programs for adults with disabilities held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and talent show on Thursday as it celebrated the opening of its new administrative office in Vienna. The new office for the nonprofit SPARC is at The Church of the Good Shepherd, a United Methodist church located at 2351 Hunter Mill Road in Vienna.” [Patch]

County Board Looks at Waiving EV Permit Fees — “Fairfax County supervisors on Oct. 19 directed the county’s Department of Land Development Services to analyze the possibility of waiving permitting fees associated with installation of electric-vehicle infrastructure. The intention is to reduce barriers to switching to environmentally friendly alternatives, said Chairman Jeff McKay (D).” [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

Metro Announces Reduced Service Today — “As part of the investigation into the Blue Line derailment, Metro is holding out of service all of its 7000-series railcars, which is nearly 60% of its rail fleet. Without these railcars, Metro will operate about 40 trains tomorrow — offering a basic service pattern on all lines of trains departing about every 30 minutes.” [WMATA]

Why a Police Helicopter Dropped by Vienna on Friday — “Look what dropped into Vienna today — Fairfax 1, the FCPD helicopter! More than 100 children of police officers who were killed in the line of duty spent the day at the Vienna Community Center to participate in fun activities, including getting a close-up look at Fairfax 1.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Major I-66 and I-495 Closures Start Tonight — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) will close nightly, Monday through Thursday, October 18-21, for continued bridge beam installation at the I-66/I-495 Interchange…Additionally, multiple lanes will be closed on the northbound I-495 general purpose lanes near I-66, as well as a full closure of the 495 Express Lanes, and associated ramps at the I-66 and I-495 interchange so that this work may be implemented.” [VDOT]

Vienna Hit by Pumpkin-Throwing Spree — Three different Vienna residents told police that someone threw a pumpkin at their parked vehicle overnight between Oct. 12 and 13. The tossed squashes shattered the windshield of a resident in the 500 block of Birch Street, shattered the rear window of a vehicle at 1200 Ross Drive SW, and damaged the trunk of a resident in the 900 block of Echols Street SE. [Vienna Police Department]

McLean District Police Report Robberies — Five or six men with a gun approached a victim in the 7200 block of Arlington Boulevard on Thursday (Oct. 14) and took personal property, according to police. Three days earlier, two men reportedly assaulted an individual and demanded property in the 7900 block of Tysons Corner Center. No injuries were reported in either case. [FCPD]

Volunteers Sought for Tysons Block Party — Celebrate Fairfax is seeking volunteers for its next Tysons Block Party, which will take place at the former Container Store now known as The PARC (8508 Leesburg Pike) on Friday and Saturday (Oct. 22-23). Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up through a form linked in the organization’s Twitter bio. [Celebrate Fairfax/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Metrorail Returns Normal Service After Train Derailed — “On Friday, October 15, normal service will resume on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines. Intermittent delays are possible as the investigation into Tuesday’s derailment continues.” [WMATA]

Vienna ExxonMobil Now Serves Up Indian Cuisine — “Raja and Bindu Puri opened Chit Chaat cafe inside the gas station at 200 Maple Avenue E a few months ago. The husband and wife do all the prep and cooking. Their children Neil, Maggie, and Nikki take on respective roles in operations, finance, and social media. Although it’s not the family’s first restaurant, it’s their first one surrounded by fuel pumps.” [DC Eater]

Sexual Assault Reported Near Bailey’s Crossroads — Fairfax County police are looking for two men who reportedly broke into a woman’s apartment in the 6000 block of Knollwood Drive around 5:10 a.m. yesterday morning (Thursday). The woman told police that she woke up to one of the men sexually assaulting her. He punched her, and they ran from the apartment. [WTOP]

Tysons Senior Living Development Lands Construction Financing — “Mather, an award-winning senior living provider, announces that it has secured $300 million in construction financing for The Mather, a luxury Life Plan Community being constructed in Tysons, Virginia, with the syndicated transaction led by The Huntington National Bank. Expected to open in 2024, The Mather is a $500 million development.” [The Mather]

I-66 Paving Work to Close Lanes and Ramps in Vienna — I-66 East will be reduced from four to three travel lanes throughout the day tomorrow (Oct. 16), with just a single lane open overnight today and tomorrow. The Nutley Street North and South ramps will also be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for paving work as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. [VDOT]

Tysons Consultant Plans Major Spending — “Tysons-based consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton plans to step up its spending on acquisitions over the next few years, targeting companies…in areas such as healthcare technology and cybersecurity services, the Wall Street Journal reported. Booz Allen plans to spend about $4 billion between April 2022 and March 2025, largely on acquisitions, executives said last week at the company’s investor day.” [Fairfax County EDA]

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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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Morning Notes

Last Day for Voting Registration in Virginia — Today (Tuesday) is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election, which will determine Virginia’s next governor, House of Delegates, and other races. New voters and people who need to update their name or address can register online or by visiting the Fairfax County general registrar’s office. [Office of Elections]

Post Service Pilots Paycheck Redemption in Falls Church — The U.S. Postal Service is testing a program where people can redeem paychecks for Visa gift cards, topping out at $500, in Falls Church, Washington, Baltimore and the Bronx. It began in September and could expand to other places, possibly going nationwide after the holiday season. [The Washington Post]

More Overnight I-66 Closures Starting Today — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) will close nightly October 12-14 for continued bridge beam installation at the I-66/I-495 Interchange. Traffic will be detoured using Route 7 and I-495. The ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West, as well as the 495 Express Lanes North, and multiple lanes of I-495 North approaching I-66 will also be closed so that this work may be implemented.” [VDOT]

Falls Church Warns of School Bus Delays — “Falls Church City Public Schools in Virginia is alerting parents that some school bus routes could be delayed because of double runs starting Tuesday. The problem is driver shortages. The announcement comes as many school districts in the D.C. region are experiencing similar issues.” [WTOP]

35th District Delegate Candidate Forum Tonight — The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area is hosting an online candidate forum at 7 p.m. today for Virginia’s 35th House District, which includes the Town of Vienna and part of Tysons. Register in advance to hear the conversation between incumbent Del. Mark Keam (D) and challenger Kevin McGrath (R). [Patch]

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A portion of I-495 South, also known as the Capital Beltway Outer Loop, will be fully closed during overnight hours starting tomorrow (Oct. 8) so construction crews can continue installing overhead bridge beams at the I-66 interchange in Dunn Loring.

The closure will extend to the I-66 West ramp to I-495 South, the 495 South Express Lanes, and several 495 Express Lanes ramps.

“Drivers traveling on I-66 and I-495 during this time should expect delays and consider using alternate routes,” the Virginia Department of Transportation said in a news release. “Message boards across the region will direct drivers on I-95 and I-495 to use alternate routes those nights.”

Here are more details on the impending closures from VDOT:

I-495 South approaching I-66

  • Two lanes will be closed Friday (Oct. 8) from 10 p.m.-6 a.m., Saturday (Oct. 9) from 10 p.m.-7 a.m., and Sunday (Oct. 10) from 9 p.m.-5:30 a.m.
  • All lanes of I-495 South will be closed Friday and Saturday from midnight to 5 a.m., and Sunday from 11:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.

Ramp from I-66 West to I-495 South

  • The ramp will be closed Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m.-5 a.m., and Sunday night from 11:30 p.m.-4:30 a.m.
  • 495 Express Lanes and ramps will be closed from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. every night.

Traffic will be detoured onto I-66 West to the Nutley Street exit in Vienna before looping onto I-66 East back toward I-495 South.

Traffic from the I-495 South and I-66 interchange will be detoured to Nutley Street overnight on Oct. 8-10 (via VDOT)

VDOT notes that the construction work depends on the weather and could be rescheduled if there are inclement conditions.

This will be the third consecutive weekend of construction-related closures on I-495 after recent lane closures on the Beltway at the Dulles Toll Road interchange in Tysons for joint bridge work there.

This weekend’s beam installation is part of work on a new flyover ramp that will connect I-495 North to I-66 West, one of several changes coming to the interchange courtesy of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project to add toll lanes on I-66 from Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

According to VDOT, the reconfigured interchange will provide access to and from the 495 Express Lanes to the new I-66 Express Lanes, enable drivers to switch between express and general-purpose lanes when changing roadways, and replace existing noise walls while adding new ones on I-66 near Idylwood Park.

Work has been ongoing throughout the I-66 corridor since 2018. Just this past weekend, two new ramps from Nutley Street to I-66 West opened to traffic in Vienna. The express lanes are expected to open to traffic in December 2022.

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