Person Stabbed at Tysons Metro Station — An individual was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after a man reportedly stabbed them around 5:30 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 7) at the Tysons Metro station. Metro Transit Police officers responded to the incident, and Fairfax County police later arrested a man believed to be the suspect. [WTOP]
No Injuries in McLean House Fire — “At 10:43 pm last night, crews from #FCFRD and Arlington County Fire Department dispatched to house fire in 1500 block of Dominion Hill Ct, McLean. Units arrived to find home fully involved in fire. 2nd alarm requested. Fire out. All occupants safe. No reported injuries.” [FCFRD/Facebook]
Police Identify Serial Killer Victims — “The Fairfax County Police Department identified two badly decomposed bodies found in a large plastic container near a shopping cart on Dec. 15 in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County as a woman from Washington, D.C., and a woman from California, police officials said at a news conference Friday night.” [Patch]
FCPD Recovers Stolen Vehicles — Fairfax County police recovered two vehicles during traffic stops in late December that had been reported as stolen. One was found on I-495 at Arlington Boulevard on Dec. 30, and the other was obtained on Dec. 31 after the driver attempted to get out of a traffic stop on I-495 at Leesburg Pike by striking a police cruiser with his vehicle. [FCPD]
FCPS Survey on Next Superintendent Now Open — “Please weigh in by participating in the Superintendent Search Survey today. The survey allows FCPS parents/guardians, staff, high school students, and community members to share their thoughts on the leadership characteristics and qualities of the next superintendent.” [FCPS]
A proposed pedestrian and bicycle improvements project near the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station is taking shape and now includes plans to accommodate community needs in the interim.
During a virtual public hearing on the design of the $9.5 million project last Wednesday (Nov. 17), Virginia Department of Transportation staff shared an interim plan to improve the bicycle and pedestrian network north of the Vienna Metro station and Oakton High School.
The interim plan will support the needs of bicyclists in the area while taking into account the timeline for the larger Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which will add more than 11 miles of trails from Gallows Road in Dunn Loring to Centreville, according to VDOT.
The interim project calls for:
- New signs and pavement markings
- A buffered bicycle lane on Sutton Road between Sutton Green Court and Country Creek Road
- A two-way, street-level cycle track on eastbound Country Creek between Sutton and the Metro’s north parking lot entrance
Work is expected to begin in mid-2022 — around the same time the I-66 Trail network is complete.
VDOT project manager Zamir Mirza estimated that the interim project will be completed in late 2022. It’s intended to serve the needs of bicyclists until the permanent project is finished, which isn’t expected to be until early 2026, with construction starting in late 2024.
This interim plan is not funded as a part of the original project, however, and has an estimated cost of $1 million. It utilizes the existing roadway width and is not expected to affect utilities or require any right-of-way acquisitions.
Mirza added that the only component of the interim project that will remain permanently is some pedestrian push buttons to improve the traffic signaling.
Aside from the proposed interim plan, the Vienna Metro improvements project is largely unaltered from March, according to Mirza. He added the location of the shared use path and bicycle track remain the same along the three road segments.
For the permanent project, VDOT will construct a 10-foot-wide, shared-use path on Blake Lane and Sutton from the I-66 bridge to Country Creek Road. Crosswalks and refuge islands will be added at Blake Lane and the Oakton High School entrance, along with a raised crossing at Sutton Green Court.
Sutton will also get 12 or 13 street parking spaces added on the northbound section and 16 to 18 more spaces on the southbound.
Country Creek improvements include hatched shoulder areas with a 12-foot-wide, two-way bicycle track and a 6-foot-wide sidewalk, with crosswalks at Sutton Road and the I-66 ramp/Village Spring Lane.
A new traffic signal at this location will realign the I-66 ramp “to be better oriented with Village Spring Lane” and eliminate the free-flowing right turn currently there, according to Mirza. An additional eight to 10 parking spaces will be added on the westbound side of the road.
The Virginia Center Boulevard improvements include a two-way, 12-foot-wide bicycle track and a 6-foot-wide sidewalk. There will also be a Capital Bikeshare station, crosswalks at the Metro bus entrance and exit, and intersection improvements at Vaden Drive.
Mirza confirmed that there will be no private property taken from individual landowners, but “slivers” of land will be acquired from homeowners’ associations, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
The new parking added by the project is currently slated to be free, but Mirza said he was unsure of the county’s future intentions for those spaces.
Community members can submit comments on the project until Dec. 3 via email, phone (703-259-1794), mail, online, or in-person by request during business hours at VDOT’s Northern Virginia District office.
Emails should be made out to [email protected] with a reference to “Vienna Metro Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements” in the subject line.
Mail can be sent to Zamir Mirza, VDOT’s Northern Virginia District, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a pair of agreements yesterday (Tuesday) that will send $1 million in I-66 toll revenues to Metro for the planned project to build a second entrance at its McLean station.
“I’m looking forward to this improvement,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said just before the unanimous vote. She also thanked county transportation staff for their work.
The funds will be awarded by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission as part of its I-66 Commuter Choice program, which launched in 2017 to allocate a dedicated portion of I-66 Express Lanes revenue to transit and capital improvement projects in the corridor.
NVTC included the McLean Metrorail station entrance project in the most recent round of Commuter Choice funding, which spanned July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 and was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board on Dec. 10.
The new entrance will be located on Scotts Crossing Road in anticipation of increased activity north of the station from the burgeoning Capital One Center mixed-use development, according to a project description in yesterday’s board package.
“With up to 2,000 prospective residents moving into the redeveloping area north of the current station, this project will create a shorter, more convenient walk to the Metro and increase its visibility,” the document says.
Ridership at the McLean Metro station had been on the rise prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated ridership levels and revenue across the board last year to the point where the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority considered shuttering 19 stations, including McLean.
As of August, weekday train ridership was still only at 26% of pre-pandemic levels, though usage of both rail and bus services has been increasing since February. WMATA’s estimate of 230,000 train riders for Oct. 1 was the highest of the year so far.
WMATA will be responsible for constructing the new McLean station entrance, which carries a total budget of $1.3 million. The actual costs could change once the procurement and contractor selection process begins, according to WMATA spokesperson Sherri Ly.
Capital One contributed $300,000 to the project, which was part of a proffer agreement with Fairfax County for its headquarters campus redevelopment. That money includes $100,000 for preliminary engineering and $200,000 for construction costs, according to county documents.
In order for NVTC to transfer the $1 million in Commuter Choice funds, Fairfax County had to sign off on separate project agreements with NVTC and WMATA that set the conditions tied to the money, including requirements that Metro provide regular status updates to the county and notify county staff of any potential cost overruns.
Ly says the agency’s board of directors is scheduled to vote on whether to approve its project agreement with the county when it meets on Oct. 28.
“Under the proposed agreement, Metro would build the entrance which is funded by Fairfax County,” Ly said. “The design work for the entrance is already done and construction would begin once funding and permitting is complete and a contractor selected through the procurement process.”
(Updated at 10:05 a.m.) Bus routes taken offline during the pandemic are making a comeback.
Fairfax County officials gathered outside the West Falls Church Metro station yesterday (Tuesday) to herald the upcoming changes involving the Fairfax Connector, which will take over several Metrobus routes starting Saturday (July 10) and also adjust service on several key routes.
“As we come out of the pandemic, it’s never been more important to have robust bus service…to get people back on transit to remind them how convenient it is, how practical it is and how easy it is to use,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said.
McKay noted that county officials chose the Metro station as the location for their press conference formally announcing the changes, because the new bus routes will help bring transit riders there. The five new Fairfax Connector routes are projected to serve around 69,000 residents.
Another Fairfax Connector service change also starting Saturday involves discontinuing route 422 (Boone Boulevard to Howard Avenue) due to low ridership and duplicate service provided by routes 401, 402, 462, and 467, the county said.
Approved by the county board in March, the changes will restore four existing routes that were run by Metrobus but had ceased operating due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The county bus system will also take over a fifth route.
The county detailed the changes as follows:
- 703: Pimmit Hills (former 3T route) will provide weekday and Saturday service, linking Pimmit Hills and Tysons to the McLean and West Falls Church Metrorail stations. The service operates every 30 minutes during weekday rush hours and every hour during weekday non-rush hours and Saturdays.
- 715: East Falls Church – Langley (former 15K route) will have weekday rush hour service every 30 minutes to further link McLean, Salona Village, and Chesterbrook Gardens to the East Falls Church Metro station.
- 803: Annandale Road (former 3A route) will deliver weekday and Saturday service, linking Lake Barcroft, Annandale, and North Springfield to the East Falls Church Metro station; it operates every 30 minutes during weekday rush hours, every 40 to 60 minutes during weekday non-rush hours, and every 45 minutes on weekends.
- 834: Annandale-Pentagon (former 29C route) will extend to Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale Campus Route and offer weekday rush hour service every 30 minutes linking Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale and Lincolnia to the Pentagon Metro station; express service is $4.25.
- 835: Annandale-Pentagon (former 29W route) will extend to part of Olley Lane and Braeburn Drive and have weekday rush hour service every 30 minutes linking the Northern Virginia Community College and Willow Woods communities to the Pentagon Metro station; express service is $4.25.
Bus fees are $2 ($1 for seniors) and have unlimited transfers within two hours of boarding with a SmarTrip card. More information is available at fairfaxconnector.com, which also provides text and email alerts as well as customer service contact information.
“We are pleased to restore and enhance these services,” McKay said.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust called this an exciting time for Fairfax Connector specifically and transit in general, pointing to next year’s anticipated, long-delayed launch of the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line.
The moves also come as the county looks to move away from diesel buses by 2035, which the board noted last week is ahead of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s timeline to have electric buses by 2045.
Updated at 4:40 p.m. — Metrorail service has been restored between the Vienna and West Falls Church stations after the transit system encountered power issues at its Dunn Loring station.
“Residual delays continue in both directions,” Metro says.
Updated at 1:40 p.m. — The I-66 eastbound and westbound left lanes in the Vienna/Oakton area have now reopened, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.
Earlier: More than a thousand people in the Pimmit area of Tysons are currently without power after a thunderstorm rattled the D.C. region last night (Thursday).
According to Dominion Energy’s outage map, the most substantial power outage in the Tysons area involves 1,215 customers in the Pimmit neighborhood west of Leesburg Pike, specifically along George C. Marshall Drive.
Those affected include the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library, which will not open at 10 a.m. today as scheduled.
— Fairfax Library (@fairfaxlibrary) July 2, 2021
Dominion is attributing the outage to the storm and says crews have been dispatched. The estimated time of restoration is between 6 and 11 p.m.
As of 9 a.m. today (Friday), there were 6,699 customers in Northern Virginia without power, primarily in Fairfax and Arlington counties. Overall, the storm produced 33,000 power outages in the area, according to Dominion spokesperson Peggy Fox.
“Due to much damage from last night’s storm, it’ll take most of day for our @DominionEnergy crews to repair all the damage & get everyone’s power back,” Fox said in a tweet. “Thank you for your patience!”
6,699 customers in Northern Virginia @ 9am.
Many ETRs are in— due to much damage from last night’s storm, it’ll take most of day for our @DominionEnergy crews to repair all the damage & get everyone’s power back.
Thank you for your patience! pic.twitter.com/tt1JkqsB4i
— Peggy Fox (@PeggyDomEnergy) July 2, 2021
Metro announced just after 5 a.m. that the power issues had affected its Dunn Loring-Merrifield station, requiring a suspension of train service between the Vienna and West Falls Church stations. Shuttle buses are being provided to serve that section of the Orange Line.
UPDATED: Orange Line Delay: Train service suspended btwn Vienna & W Falls Church due to a power problem at Dunn Loring. Shuttle buses established.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) July 2, 2021
As of 9:30 a.m., service has not been restored yet.
In addition, the Virginia Department of Transportation says the Interstate 66 east and westbound left lanes have been closed at the new split near the 61-mile marker in Vienna so that crews can clear standing water left by last night’s rain.
The I-66 westbound ramp to Nutley Street was also temporarily but reopened around 7:35 a.m.
Update: 66WB ramp to Nutley has reopened. https://t.co/S6X4nkoIzS
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) July 2, 2021
Getting to and from Metro stations can be a harrowing experience for pedestrians and cyclists, and the Fairfax County Planning Commission and others want something to be done about it.
The planning commissioners have called on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to require Metro, the state and county transportation departments, and more to “work immediately” to make safety and accessibility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists to transit stations.
“This is a call for action by the public to improve pedestrian/bicycle access to metro stations as envisioned in the comprehensive plan,” Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said when introducing a motion during the commission’s meeting on May 19.
The measure calls for numerous changes, such as:
- Providing wide sidewalks at intersections within walking distance of transit stations,
- Making turns on roads tighter at intersections to slow traffic down,
- Providing a “double ramp” for people with disabilities instead of single ramp that’s currently in use directing pedestrians to the middle of intersections,
- Avoiding extra turning lanes at intersections with high volumes of pedestrians
- Providing closely spaced street trees between curb and sidewalk areas to protect pedestrians.
The motion passed, with 10 members voting for it and at-large member Timothy Sargeant, abstaining. Sargeant did not respond to a message seeking comment on why he voted that way.
“Failure to act will cause pedestrian access to continue to be ‘significantly challenged’ and ridership on the metro station to be reduced,” Carter said.
He introduced the motion during the commission’s discussion on whether to approve changes to the mixed-use Reston Gateway development being constructed near the upcoming Reston Town Center Metro station, but he noted that the issues seen there could apply to other locations as well.
Supervisor Walter Alcorn, whose Hunter Mill District includes the Reston Gateway project, agrees that the main crosswalk serving the Reston Town Center station is not pedestrian-friendly.
“The rail project used cookie-cutter designs,” he said, adding that a walkway over the road has been proposed but could be years away from coming to fruition.
When touring the area a couple weeks ago, Alcorn asked the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to identify short-term improvements to occur before the station opens, which isn’t expected to happen until early 2022.
“I want to make sure riders can readily get to the stations on day one and every day thereafter,” he said.
Pedestrian and bicyclist advocacy groups expressed support for the commission’s call for change.
Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling President Bruce Wright says some progress has been made to improve safety, but numerous deficiencies remain. The Greensboro station in Tysons, for example, not only lacks access from Gosnell Road and Westpark Drive, the roads are outright dangerous, he says.
The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.
We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!
Monday (March 15)
- Honoring Women Warriors (Online) — 7-8:30 p.m. — In celebration of March as Women’s History Month, the Fairfax County Commission for Women is hosting a virtual event to highlight the work of women who have helped lead the county’s pandemic response, including Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu. The forum will stream on Facebook Live, and comments can be submitted before and during the event.
Tuesday (March 16)
- Mystery Book Club (Online) — 7-8 p.m. — The mystery book group will be discussing The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey. New members are welcomed. Copies are available for curbside pickup at the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library. Register for the Zoom link for the book club.
- Bollywood Dance Fitness (Online) — 6-7 p.m. — Join fitness instructor Aparna Rao in a Bollywood dance fitness class. The class is virtual and free to join. No experience necessary. Register one day in advance to receive the Zoom link. This class is for adults.
Thursday (Mar. 18)
- Vienna Metro Station Improvements Meeting (Online) — 7-8:30 p.m. — Fairfax County and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will host a meeting to present the ideas to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety and accessibility to the Vienna Metro stations. Some proposed improvements include shared-use paths, sidewalks, and two-way cycle tracks according to the project’s website. To join the live webinar register on the VDOT website.
- “We’ve Got Issues” Teen Forum (Online) — 7-8 p.m. — While it’s hard to see each other in person, join fellow teens virtually to talk about topics like stereotypes, relationships, and more. Program kits are available while supplies last at your local Fairfax County regional library. Register online by Tuesday (March 16) to get the Zoom link.
- Let’s Talk: Human Trafficking in the Age of COVID (Online) — 7:30 p.m. — The McLean-based nonprofit Anti-Trafficking International is hosting a discussion on how the pandemic has heightened the risk of trafficking, especially for young people. The talk will be led by ATI founder and Department of Justice Director of Human Trafficking Programs Bill Woolf. Contact [email protected] for more information on the webinar.
Friday (Mar. 19)
- Virtual Glow Party (Online) — 7-9 p.m. — McLean Community Center is hosting a free virtual dance party. Join online and request your favorite songs. The night will include music, games and other surprises! Open to all ages.
Saturday (Mar. 20)
- Fairfax County Teen Job Fair (Online) — 11-2 p.m. — Fairfax County will host its annual teen job fair this Saturday. Normally spread across multiple high schools, this year’s fair will take place online over two days due to the pandemic. This is the second of the two-day event. The fair is open to all teens in Fairfax County looking for work, volunteer, and internship opportunities. Businesses and organizations can register for free “booth space” to advertise their available positions. Teens must register online to get a link for the event.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Information Session (Online) — 2-4 p.m. — McLean Community Center instructor Quentin Levin will teach a class on how to register to get the COVID-19 vaccine for those who are eligible. The class has no affiliation with any vaccine providers. The class will focus on navigating technical issues but does not guarantee an appointment. Check the McLean Community Center website for more registration and to register for this class.
- Vienna Photo Show — 10 a.m. at Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street) — The Vienna Photo Show will be open Mar. 20 through Apr. 17. The exhibit will be open for visitors during business hours, except between 12 and 1 p.m. every day, when it will be closed for cleaning. Ribbons for various categories will be awarded.
More Pharmacies to Administer COVID-19 Vaccine — “Giant Pharmacy and MyDr.’s Pharmacy have joined the list of vaccination partners who are assisting the Health Department in its efforts to vaccinate eligible individuals in its queue…All vaccinations occur by appointment only, there are no walk-ins.” [Fairfax County Health Department]
Senate Drops Amendment Tying Metro Funding to McLean Station Name — Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd District) says she is pulling her amendment that would have made $165 million in funding for Metro contingent on adding “Capital One Hall” to the McLean station’s name after the transit agency agreed to install wayfinding signs for the new performance venue and speed up construction of a second entrance to the station. [The Washington Post]
McLean Resident Wins $2 Million in Lottery — “Accidents happen, but sometimes the outcome turns out better than you’d expect. For one McLean resident, buying too many Powerball tickets turned into a $2 million win.” [McLean Patch]
General Assembly Makes Last Year’s Voting Changes Permanent — “Both the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate approved legislation that creates drop boxes for collecting absentee ballots; makes it easier for someone to get on the list of permanent absentee voters; pays the postage for mail-in ballots, and allows voters to correct errors on absentee ballots.” [WTOP]
Senate Could Tie Metro Funding to McLean Station Name — “A Virginia Senate bill would withhold at least $166 million pledged to Metro unless the transit system adds the name of Capital One bank to the McLean rail station. The legislation would rename the Silver Line station as “McLean-Capital One Hall,” a reference to a performance venue the bank is building a quarter-mile from the site.” [The Washington Post]
Fairfax County Equity Task Force Presents Recommendations — The Chairman’s Task Force on Equity and Opportunity released its recommendations yesterday (Tuesday) for how Fairfax County can address systemic racism and other forms of inequality. Suggestions include ensuring access to early childhood education and increasing the availability of affordable housing. [Fairfax County Government]
Fairfax County Releases Revised Countywide Strategic Plan — “Following a year of pause and then refinement due to COVID-19, County Executive Bryan Hill unveiled his proposed strategic plan to the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 23. The strategic plan lays out a community-based vision for the next 10 to 20 years and features nine priority areas to advance that vision.” [Fairfax County Government]
Town Hall Meeting Scheduled on West Falls Church Project — The City of Falls Church will hold a virtual town hall on Mar. 2 to provide updates on its West Falls Church Gateway project. The mixed-use development has been delayed as its developers revise the terms of their agreement with the city. [City of Falls Church]
Vienna Metro Bike/Pedestrian Improvements Meeting Rescheduled — A virtual public information meeting on a project to improve bicycle and pedestrian accessibility around the Vienna Metro station has been rescheduled for Mar. 18. The meeting was originally expected to take place today (Wednesday). [Virginia Department of Transportation]
Falls Church Pharmacy Provides Free Insulin to the Uninsured — “Through this pilot initiative NOVA ScriptsCentral will provide insulin for free to uninsured patients being treated at one of its 16 safety net partner clinics in Northern Virginia.” [Falls Church News-Press]
MetroWest residents near the Vienna Metro station might soon finally start to see progress on stalled portions of the planned community, which led the way for mixed-use development in Fairfax County when it was originally approved more than a decade ago.
As the Washington Business Journal reported on Jan. 19, Pulte Homes — one of two developers involved, along with CRC Cos. — submitted an application to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning on Dec. 23 seeking to update its proffers for the joint project.
The proposed modifications include the removal of a barrier to construction on additional residential buildings with retail, an increased enrollment cap for a planned daycare center, and the replacement of a proposed business center with community space.
“The modest adjustments will allow the Applicant to deliver critically needed housing at market and affordable rates, thoughtful open space and an activated community hub,” DLA Piper associate Kevin MacWhorter, one of the attorneys representing Pulte, said in a statement of justification to Fairfax County Zoning Evaluation Division Director Tracy Strunk.
As of last week, Pulte’s application was still going through the county’s review process, but it is expected to be accepted and assigned to a staff coordinator soon.
The MetroWest development encompasses 56 acres south of the Vienna Metro station from I-66 to Lee Highway.
The original plans approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Mar. 27, 2006 called for up to 2,248 residential units, 300,000 square feet of office, and at least 100,000 square feet of floor area for retail, service, institutional, and governmental uses, according to DLA Piper.
Much of the southern portion of the site has now been built out with homes, including housing for seniors, and the Providence Community Center, a $12 million project that was funded by Pulte and Fairfax County and opened in 2014.
However, construction has yet to start on a four-building parcel from Pulte and the CRC portion of the site, which are collectively supposed to bring retail and hundreds of residential units to the development. Read More