Lane Closure on Maple Avenue Starts Today — “Starting [Monday], the right lane on the westbound side of Maple Avenue will be closed between Courthouse Road and Pleasant Street to enable work crews to construct right-of-way improvements. Lane closure will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
McLean Author Helps Afghan Refugee — “Since arriving at his sponsor Toby Harnden’s home in McLean, Rohullah Sadat has had a quality of living he could only dream about when he was trapped in Afghanistan as a regime was collapsing. But he is kept up at night knowing that even if his dreams come true here, some of them are left unfinished as long as his family remains in Afghanistan.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Metro to Slightly Trim Train Wait Times — “Starting Monday, weekday waits on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines will be reduced from a half-hour to 20 minutes, on average, matching the frequency of the Green and Yellow lines, Metro said. Trains on the Red line, Metro’s busiest, will continue to arrive about every 12 minutes.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Corner Center Theft Leads to Arrest in Carjacking — Fairfax County police arrested three men at 5:55 p.m. on Feb. 8 after getting called about a man stealing property from a store in the mall. Officers determined the man’s car had been stolen during a carjacking in a nearby jurisdiction, and a stolen, loaded handgun was also found on one of the men. [FCPD]
Petersen Predicts Masks to Become Optional in Schools Soon — Gov. Glenn Youngkin will likely use an emergency clause to make a bill letting parents opt out of school mask requirements take effect on March 1, state Sen. Chap Petersen said at a town hall on Saturday (Feb. 12). FCPS announced last week that it will make masks optional when community COVID-19 transmission drops to “moderate” levels for seven consecutive days. [Patch]
(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) Tysons got a shoutout yesterday (Wednesday) from Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) at the Congressional hearing on Metro.
Connolly called the hearing before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Reform, which he chairs, in December to address the safety issues that have sidelined more than half of the transit system’s trains for nearly three months now after a derailment in Arlington.
The two-hour hearing primarily featured Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency leaders addressing questions about the prolonged effort to fix the 7000-series trains, ridership declines, and a looming budget shortfall with federal relief funds running out.
However, it also saw Connolly defend the investments made to bring Metro into Tysons and Reston. The first phase of the Silver Line opened in 2014, after Connolly assumed office in Congress, but the groundwork for the $2.9 billion project was laid while he served on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Asked whether the D.C. area has the density to support Metro, witness David Ditch, a policy analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, suggested local governments should privatize rail or shift resources to buses, which he argued are “more economical” since they “share road infrastructure.”
“When you’re in a hole, stop digging,” Ditch said. “Past spending on transit infrastructure is not a justification for ignoring high costs and limited benefits or adding even more high-cost infrastructure on top of what we already have.”
Connolly countered that federal and local officials “experimented with” a variety of options for the Silver Line, including the inclusion of a bus rapid transit system as part of the project. Fairfax County launched an express bus service in the Dulles corridor in 1999.
However, he said the buses saw a third or less of the ridership of the existing Metro trains, indicating that rail would be the better investment.
He pointed to Tysons as an illustration of how transit can spur economic development, drawing more residents and businesses that will sustain the system long term, at least if Fairfax County’s comprehensive plan pans out.
“When we built the Silver Line through Tysons, we had 17,000 people live in Tysons, a physical area bigger than downtown Boston,” Connolly said. “Because of the advent of rail, there’ll be 100,000 additional residents in Tysons. The density, in some cases, is dependent on the investment in rail, and I believe Tysons is a great example of a potential success story.”
Unmentioned during the hearing was that plans for bus rapid transit in Tysons are in the works, though the proposed system will be tied to Route 7, rather than the Silver Line.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is also scheduled to approve plans to enhance bus service in Reston and Herndon later this month, as Metro prepares to open the Silver Line’s second phase this spring after years of delays.
Deadline to Update Metro Fare Card Looms — “Starting March 1, fare cards issued before 2012 will not function throughout the transit system because Metro upgraded fare gates at most stations that don’t sync with older cards. The transit agency for nearly a year has tried to notify owners of the older cards, but few have switched as ridership hovers at historically low levels.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Corner Center Celebrates Lunar New Year — The mall partnered with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce to host a Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday (Feb. 5). Traditional musical and dance performances by local groups ushered in the year of the tiger, which began on Feb. 1. [WDVM]
Stolen Vehicle Found in McLean — A 19-year-old Maryland resident was arrested for grand larceny on Jan. 28 after a Fairfax County police officer stopped his 2021 Toyota Corolla on the George Washington Parkway at I-495 around 2:03 p.m. The vehicle had been reported stolen from a nearby jurisdiction. [FCPD]
Fairfax County Introduces Hope Cards — “Fairfax County has joined more than five dozen jurisdictions in Virginia in offering the Hope Card program — a way to enforce a civil protective order and a handy resource for victims of family abuse. A Hope Card is an easy to read and carry laminated, wallet-sized card that contains all the essential information of an existing, permanent civil protection order.” [Fairfax County Government]
Vienna Opens Registration for Spring Classes — “Spring Class registration begins Monday for Town residents and Feb. 14 for people who live outside the Vienna town limits. Check out the Vienna Parks and Recreation program guide now.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Johns Hopkins Medicine’s McLean Office Now Open — Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (JHCP) announced yesterday (Thursday) that its new primary care office in McLean Gateway (6849 Old Dominion Drive) is now open. The group’s first in Virginia, the practice operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. [JHCP]
Founders Row Secures Movie Theater — Developer Mill Creek told the Falls Church City Council’s Economic Development Committee that a letter of intent has been signed for an eight-screen movie theater planned for the 4.3-acre mixed-use project on Broad and West streets. The name was not revealed, but the company is reportedly headquartered in the D.C. area. [Falls Church News-Press]
Fairfax County Adds Spanish Closed-Captioning — All public meetings and live events that air on Fairfax County’s cable channel will have Spanish closed captions available, starting Tuesday (Feb. 8). This includes Board of Supervisors and planning commission meetings as well as budget town halls and public safety press conferences. [Channel 16]
Metro Appoints New Police Chief — “Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld today announced that Interim Chief Michael L. Anzallo will serve as Metro Transit Police Department’s new chief. Anzallo was asked to lead MTPD in August 2021 and helped steer the department through pandemic-related challenges with an emphasis on community policing throughout the region.” [WMATA]
Medics and Metro transit police responded to the Greensboro station shortly before 11 p.m. last night (Tuesday) after two passengers were reportedly found passed out on a train.
One rider was found “in serious condition from a possible drug overdose,” Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly said. The other rider was later said to be “conscious and alert.”
Both passengers were taken to the hospital.
Metro limited trains to one track between the Tysons and Spring Hill stations during the emergency response.
Silver Line Alert: Trains are single tracking between Tysons Corner and Spring Hill due to a medical emergency at Greensboro. Expect delays in both directions.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) February 2, 2022
Alan Henney contributed to this report
ACLU of Virginia Sues Over Optional Mask Order — The civil rights organization filed a lawsuit against Gov. Glenn Youngkin yesterday (Tuesday), saying that his executive order making face masks optional in schools “shows a reckless disregard for students with disabilities.” The move comes as Fairfax County Public Schools prepares for a hearing in its joint lawsuit in Arlington County Circuit Court at 1 p.m. today (Wednesday). [WUSA9]
County Launches Black History Project — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and public school system are collaborating on a Black/African American Experience Project to capture, share, and preserve those aspects of the county’s history. The effort includes collecting oral histories, supporting student activities and research, and identifying options for new historical markers. [Fairfax County Government]
Tysons Software Company Expands — “Tysons’ Appian Corp. has been on a fierce hiring spree, and now it’s adding more space to accommodate those new employees. The low-code software company, which has seen demand for its products grow during the pandemic, is taking on two additional floors at its headquarters in the former Gannett building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]
Funding Approved for Vienna Stream Restoration — “The second phase of the Bear Branch stream-restoration project in Vienna will move forward, following unanimous approval Jan. 25 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The project…is designed to reduce nutrients and bolster water quality in the Accotink Creek watershed.” [Sun Gazette]
Metro Offers Hiring Bonus to Bus Drivers — “Metro is offering up to a $2,500 pay incentive as part of a new campaign to hire more bus drivers. Metro, like transit agencies and other industries nationwide, is facing a staffing shortage due to the pandemic and is looking to hire nearly 70 bus drivers needed to meet the current bus service schedule.” [WMATA]
Virginia Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Possible Snow — “The National Weather Service is calling for 2 to 3 inches of snow in the District of Columbia and the immediate suburbs in Northern Virginia, along with Fredericksburg. Western Fairfax and Prince William counties, along with Loudoun County, are in the zone where only 1 to 2 inches of snow is expected.” [Patch]
Regular Metrobus Service to Return — Metro will restore regular weekday bus service on Feb. 7, as COVID-19 case rates among employees start to decline. The transit system has been operating at only about 75% of its usual service since Jan. 10 due to a shortage of drivers, leading to reports of buses not showing up and students being stranded. [DCist]
Four Displaced by VITA Tysons Fire — An unattended candle started an apartment fire in the 7900 block of Tysons One Place at 4:02 p.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 26). The fire was extinguished by a sprinkler, but four residents were displaced, and there was $3,000 in property damages, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says. [FCFRD/Twitter]
Vienna Seeks New Planning Director — “Vienna Planning and Zoning Director Cindy Petkac has stepped down, town officials said at the Vienna Town Council’s Jan. 24 meeting. Petkac departed in December last year because she ‘wanted to pursue other professional opportunities,’ said Town Manager Mercury Payton.” [Sun Gazette]
Founders Row Restaurants Confirmed — The new casual, American concept Ellie Bird will be joined at the upcoming Falls Church development by Arlington-based seafood restaurant Chasin’ Tails, the fast-casual Roll Play Vietnamese Grill, and Vietnamese restaurant-bar Nue. Founders Row is under construction now but reportedly nearing completion. [Falls Church News-Press]
McLean Central Park Meeting Postponed — “The virtual public meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 to present the revised McLean Central Park Development Concept Plan has been rescheduled. A new meeting date is now confirmed for Wednesday, March 2, 2022 at 7 p.m.” [FCPA]
Local Elected Officials React to Mask Lawsuit — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) and Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn (D-31st) and Marcus Simon (D-53rd) were among the Congressional and General Assembly representatives who expressed support for the Fairfax County School Board’s lawsuit seeking to stop Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order prohibiting mask requirements in schools. [Twitter]
Metro Seeks Public Comment on New Budget — “The public comment period for Metro’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget is officially open, and Metro’s Board of Directors wants the public’s input. Metro is encouraging the public to share feedback before the comment period ends at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, February 15.” [WMATA]
Redistricting Committee Meets to Talk Name Changes — “Lee, Mason, Mount Vernon, Springfield and Sully Board of Supervisors’ Districts could be getting new names. The Redistricting Advisory Committee is meeting virtually on Tuesday, Jan. 25, to begin discussing these possible name changes.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]
Students Sought for MCC Governing Board — “If you are a high school student who lives or attends school in the Langley or McLean high school boundary areas and you’d like to gain leadership skills and serve your community, consider running for a seat on the McLean Community Center’s Governing Board.” [Fairfax County Government/YouTube]
Metro Leader to Step Down — “After more than six years leading the D.C. region’s transit agency…Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld is retiring. Wiedefeld, 66, will leave his position in six months, Metro Board Chairman Paul C. Smedberg announced in an unexpected statement Tuesday afternoon.” [DCist]
Fairfax County Records First Pedestrian Death of 2022 — Police are investigating a crash that occurred just before midnight on Jan. 8 on Lee Highway at Forum Drive in Fairfax. Joel Gonzalez, 22, of Fairfax was hit by a sedan driving east on Lee Highway and later died from his injuries in a hospital. [FCPD]
Falls Church Supports Voting Rights Bill on MLK Day — “U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Don Beyer joined Edwin Henderson II, founder of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, on Monday to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. with nearly 100 other people at the Tinner Hill Civil Rights Monument in Falls Church.” [Patch]
Website to Order Free At-Home Covid Tests Launches — A federal website where people can order up to four rapid COVID-19 test kits per household is now up and running. The tests will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service and are expected to take seven to 12 days to ship. [NBC News]
Providence District Supervisor Has New Daughter — “Jeffrey and I were thrilled to welcome our new daughter Sivan Esther Friedman into the world on Monday, January 17, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Our little peanut is a little early, (perfect balance, her mother is always late) and weighs in at 4 lbs. 14 oz., but everyone is healthy, and we couldn’t be more over the moon.” [Dalia Palchik]
Local Hybrid Plane Startup Gets Funding Boost — “Lockheed Martin Ventures has invested in Electra.aero Inc., a Falls Church-based hybrid-electric aircraft designer and builder that specializes in a growing air taxi market…The funding will support Electra’s plans to start flight testing its hybrid-electric ultra-short takeoff and landing aircraft (eSTOL) this year, according to a press release.” [Washington Business Journal]
McLean House Fire Started by Candle — An unattended candle placed near combustibles started a fire in the living room of a single-family home in the 1500 block of Dominion Hill Court on Saturday (Jan. 8). No injuries were reported, but the fire displaced two residents and resulted in approximately $919,500 in damages. [FCFRD]
Former School Board Member Named to Key Education Position — Elizabeth Schultz, who represented Springfield District on the Fairfax County School Board from 2012 to 2019, has been appointed by incoming Gov. Glenn Youngkin to serve as Virginia’s assistant superintendent of public instruction. Schultz has opposed protections for transgender students and appeared on Fox News to decry teaching that acknowledges racism. [Virginia Mercury]
No Return of Metro Trains in Sight — “Metro riders can expect the current level of limited rail service to continue for three more months after the transit agency’s top official said Thursday that Metro wants to focus on finding the ‘root cause’ of a defect that has sidelined more than half its rail cars since mid-October.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Startup Launches “Smart” Grocery Delivery Box — “HomeValet, a D.C. Metro area-based startup that has developed a temperature-controlled smart box for grocery deliveries, is now releasing its smart home product to the public and expanding its partnership with Walmart.” [TechCrunch]
FCPS Superintendent Lines Up New Job — Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand will serve as executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, a nonprofit that provides support to and advocates for the state’s superintendents. Brabrand will leave FCPS on June 30 and assume his new position in July. [PR Newswire]
Relocated Jinya Ramen Bar to Open in March — “Local franchise owner Sam Shoja says the Mosaic District ramen shop outgrew its current space. The new corner location will allow for a large semi-enclosed outdoor patio with fire-top tables and an indoor Japanese whiskey lounge.” [Washingtonian]