Tysons, VA

Commuters and residents want to see more bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements along Route 50 in the Falls Church area.

At a meeting hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) last night, VDOT officials and residents discussed different ideas for improving the route, which has up to 51,000 vehicles travel daily, according to VDOT.

The meeting coincidentally happened a day after a 40-year-old man was struck and killed at the intersection of Route 50 and Graham Road. On a map of reported crashes since 2013, that intersection had two reports of fatal crashes, along with dozens of other crashes ranging in severity from property damage to serious injuries.

A study is underway to evaluate potential safety and operational changes for three miles of Route 50 between Jaguar Trail and Wilson Blvd.

VDOT officials said that the study is looking at data showing crash hotspots, speed and traffic count from January 2013 to the spring of 2019 and projections out to 2030.

“We don’t go into a study with the solutions already in hand,” Allison Richter, the liaison for Fairfax and Arlington counties, said.

The possible improvements VDOT is looking at include:

  • traffic signal timing/operations
  • turn lane
  • turn restrictions
  • access management
  • pedestrian enhancements
  • innovative intersections

Richter said that bike and pedestrian safety improvements are under consideration.

About 50 people showed up for the meeting, including Fairfax County police, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross, School Board Member Dalia Palchik and Tom Biesiadny, the director of Fairfax County’s transportation department.

Many of the people who lined up to provide feedback to VDOT pointed out specific problem areas — urging for time-restricted turn lanes, signal timing changes — and more focus on bicyclists, pedestrians and people using mass public transit.

“This area is becoming more urban over time,” one attendee told VDOT officials, adding that VDOT should focus on safety over speed for drivers.

Added safety measures could include two-way bike lanes on one-way service roads and more lighting, attendees said.

Sonya Breehey, a bike safety advocate, suggested traffic calming on the frontage roads.

“Arlington Blvd scares me,” Breehey said.

A handful of people called for VDOT to lower the speed limit from 45 miles per hour, with one person suggesting a new speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

One man who provided feedback urged VDOT to not forget about drivers, who might face slower speeds and longer travel times.

“Better late to dinner than dead,” someone from the audience shouted after the man finished commenting.

“Please be respectful,” the man responded.

People can take an online survey — which allows respondents to mark problem spots on a map and rank the six possible improvements — and submit comments to Bobby Mangalath, at 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, Va. 22030 by next Thursday, Oct. 31.

VDOT plans to hold another information meeting when the study wraps up in the spring.

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(Updated at 4 p.m. 8/6/19) Colleagues are commemorating the woman who died from a hit and run in Falls Church as a loving mother, wife and passionate U.S. State Department employee.

Police said Betty Ana Bernstein-Zabza, a 60-year-old Falls Church resident, died as a result of injuries from the crash, which happened shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of Shreve Road and Hickory Street — less than a mile away from her home.

“Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit have preliminarily determined that [Bernstein-Zabza] was walking with a juvenile northbound on a pedestrian pathway adjacent to Shreve Road,” police said. “They entered a crosswalk that connected the pathway to a sidewalk when they were hit by a stolen 2013 Nissan Titan pickup truck.”

A State Department spokesperson told Tysons Reporter that Bernstein-Zabza was a senior advisor in the Bureau of Counterterrorism.

“Ms. Bernstein joined the Department of State on Oct. 1, 1993 and served at overseas posts in Warsaw, Bern and Berlin, as well as several domestic posts,” the spokesperson said.

Jane Zimmerman told Tysons Reporter that she will remember her former work colleague as a loving mother and wife. “Her son was her everything. She cherished every moment with him and was so grateful for her husband as a wonderful father and loving family man,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman also said that Bernstein-Zabza especially loved working on global women’s issues and supporting and mentoring her colleagues at the State Department.

“Her experience from Pakistan to Poland and Germany made her take women’s issues and human rights close to her heart,” Zimmerman said, adding that she was a wise, compassionate and joyful person who “could always make us laugh, especially at ourselves.”

Known for her efforts to empower women, Bernstein-Zabza spoke at several events advocating for providing more tools for women to succeed.

Another former work colleague, Marci Hodge, told Tysons Reporter that Bernstein-Zabza “worked so hard for women and girls particular in this world and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for her leadership on these issues.”

Hodge said that Bernstein-Zabza hired her and helped get her started on her “dream job” at the State Department. “I would not be here without her.”

Shakyra McMillon, who was supervised by Zabza in the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department, said that Zabza was “a great leader and you made sure the women and girls priorities were known.”

She said that Bernstein-Zabza was “an inspiring, goal-driven, intelligent, and thoughtful woman,” adding, “Not only were you a great colleague but a wonderful mother!”

Maryum Saifee, who worked with Bernstein-Zabza in the Office of Global Women’s Issues, said that her former colleague “was part of this special crew of rockstar colleagues that represented the very best in public service.”

“She helped bring me into that office by creating a special tour of duty that year — which was bureaucratically not easy, but she fought for me,” Saifee said. “And because of her, I was given a platform to fight for issues I care deeply about and grow professionally as a diplomat.”

Several people also shared memories of Bernstein-Zabza on social media, describing her as a beloved work colleague.

Police arrested the vehicle’s driver — 46-year-old Sterling resident David Alan Francis — and charged him with one count of felony hit and run. Detectives believe Francis may have been involved in additional criminal events yesterday in both Fairfax County and adjoining jurisdictions.

Since 2009, Francis has faced 30 charges including many traffic-related ones like driving under a revoked or suspended license, operating an insured vehicle, speeding and improper driving, according to court records.

Photo via Facebook

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(Updated at 4 p.m. 8/6/19) A driver has been arrested after police say he struck and killed a woman who was walking with a child in the West Falls Church area Saturday afternoon.

The victim was identified by police Sunday (Aug. 4) as 60-year-old Betty Ana Bernstein-Zabza of Falls Church. Police said Bernstein-Zabza died as a result of injuries from the crash, which happened shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of Shreve Road and Hickory Street.

“Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit have preliminarily determined that [Bernstein-Zabza] was walking with a juvenile northbound on a pedestrian pathway adjacent to Shreve Road,” police said. “They entered a crosswalk that connected the pathway to a sidewalk when they were hit by a stolen 2013 Nissan Titan pickup truck.”

While police said that couldn’t unable to provide any information about the identity of the child, WUSA9 reported that the child was Zabza’s son.

The crash scene was near the busy W&OD Trail.

Police arrested the vehicle’s driver — 46-year-old Sterling resident David Alan Francis.

“Detectives believe [Francis] lost control of the truck causing it to exit the roadway and hit Bernstein-Zabza and the juvenile,” police said.

More from FCPD:

Bernstein-Zabza was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased.

The juvenile was treated for minor injuries. Francis ran from the scene but was arrested a short time later. He was not injured.

Both speed and drugs appear to be factors. Francis was charged with one count of felony hit and run. He was taken to the Adult Detention Center where he is being held without bond. Additional charges are anticipated.

Detectives believe Francis may have been involved in additional criminal events yesterday in both Fairfax County and adjoining jurisdictions.

Since 2009, Francis has faced 30 charges including many traffic-related ones like driving under a revoked or suspended license, operating an insured vehicle, speeding and improper driving, according to court records.

An FCPD spokesperson told Tysons Reporter that police preliminarily believe that within the hour prior to the fatal pedestrian crash, Francis was involved in the following incidents:

  • hit and run crash with injury at Route 50/Pleasant Valley Rd around 2:15 p.m.
  • hit and run property damage crash in the 7600 block of Virginia Lane
  • subsequent hit and run property damage crash in the 7600 block of Virginia Lane
  • Falls Church City incident
  • subsequent Falls Church City incident
  • fatal pedestrian crash dispatched at 2:47 p.m.

Police ask that anyone with information contact the Crash Reconstruction Unit at 703-280-0543. Anonymous tips can also be submitted through Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477).

Image via Google Maps, photo via FCPD

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Updated at 4:45 p.m. — Police identified the pedestrian at 72-year-old Chandra Bhandari, of Falls Church. According to police, Bhandari was found dead at the scene.

“Preliminarily, detectives believe Bhandari was crossing the on-ramp from eastbound Leesburg Pike to southbound I-495 between 6 and 6:30 a.m. and was hit by a vehicle,” police said in a press release. “The motorist did not stop and drove away from the scene. Speed appears to be a factor for the driver. Neither alcohol nor drugs appear to be factors for Bhandari.”

Earlier: Police are investigating after a driver struck and killed a pedestrian at the ramp from eastbound Leesburg Pike onto southbound I-495.

Fairfax County Police believe the crash happened around 7 a.m. this morning (Tuesday).

The vehicle involved fled the scene shortly after the incident, they say.

Police briefly closed a section of the highway to account for the investigation, but most of Leesburg Pike has since reopened to traffic. The eastbound ramp to southbound I-495 remains closed.

Photo via VDOT

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Morning Notes

Fatal Pedestrian Crash on Route 50 — “Officers responded to the report of a hit-and-run crash involving a pedestrian on Arlington Boulevard near Summerfield Road, at approximately six [Friday] night. The pedestrian was crossing Arlington Boulevard, not in a crosswalk, and was hit by a dark colored mid to full-size pickup truck with an open bed. The truck did not stop and drove away from the scene. The pedestrian, 93-year-old Pericles Apostolou, from Falls Church, was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.” [FCPD]

Road Closed Due to Downed Trees — Amid high winds and power outages, Spring Hill Road in McLean was closed for an extended period of time Sunday due to downed trees and wires. [Twitter]

Tegna Auctioning Office Fixtures — Broadcast conglomerate Tegna is moving from its current Tysons home to the Boro development. As part of the move, it’s auctioning off furniture, TVs and other items of value from around the office. Bids close Thursday. [Washington Business Journal, Rasmus Auctions]

Local Hackers Gather in McLean — “All day Monday, the NoVa Hackers held their SchmooCon Epilogue in McLean… Over 150 members attended topical lectures, competed in MetaCTF challenges, and participated in discussions about cyber and information security between insider groups.” [WDVM]

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Someone found a box full of money in Vienna’s Northside Park this week, according to police.

The find was reported to the Vienna Police Department around 5 p.m. Tuesday. There’s no word on how much money was found or what it was doing in the park, which sits along the W&OD Trail.

Also in the latest Vienna police highlights, a pedestrian was reportedly struck by a snow plow Sunday morning.

359 Block Maple Avenue, East 19-000516 January 13 6:50 a.m. Vehicle-1 (a pickup truck with a snow plow) was plowing the parking lot. Pedestrian-1 was walking across the parking lot and was struck by Vehicle-1 as he was backing up. Pedestrian-1 suffered minor injuries

Last Friday, a Vienna woman reported being harassed by a man she met online.

A resident began corresponding with a man over social media. After the two met in person, the man expressed interest in the resident and began continuously harassing her when she declined his advances. On January 11 the woman found an envelope in her mailbox that contained innocent photos of her taken from social media along with sexually explicit photos of an unknown person.

Map via Google Maps

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The man struck by a car near Vienna on Monday has died after two days in critical condition.

Fairfax County Police say Daniel Benson, a 77 year-old Vienna resident, was assisting his wife after she was involved in a separate crash at the intersection of Old Courthouse Road and Westwood Drive.

Benson was carrying items from his car over to hers when he was struck, first by a Chevrolet Cruze traveling westbound, then into the side of a Toyota Echo in the eastbound lane, according to FCPD.

Police say both drivers remained at the scene and cooperated with detectives. Neither speed nor alcohol is being considered a factor in the crash and no charges are expected to be filed.

On Tuesday, a tipster told Tysons Reporter that the victim “was crossing the street carrying a bag and umbrella and very unfortunately did not look either way.”

“The westbound car in front of me braked as he walked, and then he just kept walking across the median” and was struck by an oncoming vehicle, said the witness.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Pedestrian Deaths Now Double Last Year — “On Oct. 25 and 26, there were two pedestrian fatalities in Fairfax County. So far in 2018, there have been 100 pedestrian crashes and 10 fatalities. In 2017, there were 189 pedestrian crashes with five fatalities.” [Fairfax County]

A Look Inside the New Capital One HQ — “The 940,500-square-foot structure… is jam-packed with other amenities — commissioned artwork, a full-size basketball court, a FedEx store, a Power Up technology bar, outdoor terrace and market cafe inspired by the likes of Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. It’s got pretty much everything but a place for employees to bed down for the night, but no worries, a corporate hotel’s part of the project’s next phases, along with a performing arts center, an urban-format Wegmans and a third office building set to break ground early next year.” [Washington Business Journal, Bisnow]

Medicine Cabinet Clean-out Results — The Fairfax County Police Department’s 2018 Medicine Cabinet Clean-out drive collected more than 2,200 pounds of expired or unwanted medications, including 351 pounds collected at the McLean District Station alone. [FCPD]

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Morning Notes

McLean HS Student Struck By Elderly Driver — “A female McLean High School student was injured Oct. 12 after being struck by a vehicle on Westmoreland Street in McLean, Fairfax County police said. The incident occurred around 5 p.m. as the student was using a crosswalk to cross Westmoreland Street near Old Chesterbrook Road.” [InsideNova]

Secret Sleigh Project Accepting Applications — “Does your child have a medical diagnosis that limits their ability to get outside, especially during winter months? Do they enjoy seeing Santa Claus (and perhaps Mrs. Claus, elves, and carolers?) Contact us for an application to have Santa come to your home and visit your child before Christmas.” [Facebook]

Big Donation for McLean Private School — “The Potomac School’s upcoming Center for Athletics and Community has garnered one of the largest gifts in school history. The Spangler family made the $12 million donation… for the new athletic center.” [Patch]

ARTSFAIRFAX Disability Workshop — Local arts group ARTSFAIRFAX is holding a free workshop on Nov. 1 to discuss how to best serve audiences with disabilities. The event is being held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1st Stage in Tysons. [McLean Connection, ARTSFAIRFAX]

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