Newsletter
Construction workers stand on a retaining wall between Colvin Run and future eastbound Route 7 lanes (via VDOT)

Updated at 12:30 p.m. on 8/25/2021 — The Virginia Department of Transportation announced today that the traffic shift on eastbound Route 7 between Lewinsville Road and Jarrett Valley Drive has been rescheduled for Sept. 1.

Earlier: The Wolf Trap area of eastbound Route 7 will look a little different to drivers starting tomorrow (Wednesday), the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

With work continuing on the project to widen Leesburg Pike between Tysons and Reston, traffic between Lewinsville Road and Jarrett Valley Drive north of the Dulles Toll Road will shift a lane to the south, away from the median.

While all residences, businesses, and public facilities will remain accessible, the lane shift will come with some traffic changes on the side streets off of Route 7, according to the VDOT news release:

  • The service road between Laurel Hill Road and McLean Bible Church (east exit) will be temporarily closed until late 2021.
  • Laurel Hill Road will reopen to traffic at eastbound Route 7.
  • Drivers on westbound Route 7 to Laurel Hill Road and Glenridge Court will U-turn at the Lewinsville Road traffic signal and use eastbound Route 7 to Laurel Hill Road.
  • Drivers on Laurel Hill Road and Glenridge Court to westbound Route 7 will follow eastbound Route 7 to Tyco Road, then U-turn to westbound Route 7. This traffic pattern will be in effect until late 2021.

“Please use caution and be alert to work zone signs, potential flagger or police direction, and watch for traffic shifts,” VDOT said. “Slow-moving vehicles and equipment may be entering or exiting the road.”

A map of the lane shift on eastbound Route 7 from Lewinsville Road to Jarrett Valley Drive (via VDOT)

Construction on the Route 7 widening project has been ongoing for more than two years now, as crews work to expand almost seven miles of roadway from four to six lanes. The project is also adding a shared-use path in each direction and making some intersection improvements.

While the project isn’t expected to be finished until July 2024, some progress has been made in the corridor in recent months, including the completion of noise barrier panel installations between Utterback Store Road and Great Passage Boulevard in Great Falls.

According to the August construction update from VDOT, work in the Vienna area from Jarrett Valley to Faulkner Drive has primarily involved storm sewer installations and the relocation of water main distribution facilities between Lewinsville and Towlston Road.

In July, workers also “began grading and placement of cement-treated aggregate, curb stone, and asphalt along westbound Route 7 between Beulah Road/Springvale Road and Towlston Road.”

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Morning Notes

Construction Begins on New Tysons ER — “HCA Virginia, the health system behind Reston Hospital Center, has started construction on a Tysons emergency room and aims to open it in early 2022…Located at 8240 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Emergency will be an ER open 24 hours daily with full-service emergency care.” [Patch]

Just 40% of Metro Workers Vaccinated Against COVID-19 — “Metro’s top executive warned employees Monday that the transit system might start mandatory coronavirus tests if the agency’s vaccination rate doesn’t climb to at least 70 percent. Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a memo to employees that about 40 percent of Metro’s workforce has indicated being vaccinated in an employee database.” [The Washington Post]

I-66 Widening Work Still on Schedule — Work on the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project remains on schedule for the extended toll lanes to open in December 2022, the Virginia Department of Transportation says. Nearly 2,000 workers are currently involved in the project with bridges and ramps at the I-66/I-495 interchange among the most noticeable construction. [Inside NoVA]

Tysons Library Book Sales Return — For the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library friends’ group will host a book sale. To avoid overcrowding, attendees on the first day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 18 will be required to register for a two-hour time slot in advance, but entry will not be restricted for the rest of the sale from Aug. 19-22. [Fairfax County Public Library]

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Morning Notes

New I-66 Ramp to West Falls Church Metro Opens — A new ramp designed to provide direct access from Interstate 66 to the West Falls Church Metro station is expected to open around midday today (Thursday). Work on the ramp, which connects two existing I-66 East/Route 7 ramps, began in May 2020 and is part of the I-66 Inside the Beltway widening project. [VDOT]

Partial Closure of Tysons Boulevard Begins — Fairfax County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday (Wednesday) to mark the launch of a program to give pedestrians and bicyclists access to a half-mile of Tysons Boulevard. This is the second year that the county has experimented with a partial closure of the road near Tysons Galleria. [Dalia Palchik/Twitter]

McLean Family Starts Persian Ice Cream Delivery — The owners of Amoo’s Restaurant in McLean has spun off one of their most lauded dishes into a delivery service. Kinrose Creamery launched last week, producing ice cream that can be picked up at Amoo’s and delivery sites in Vienna, Sterling, and Manassas. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Wolf Trap Hotel Project Returns to Vienna Board — The Town of Vienna Board of Architectural Review will discuss the latest revisions to plans for a four-story, mixed-use development at 444 Maple Avenue W. when it meets tonight. After being slowed down by the pandemic and public opposition to proposed development on Maple, the developer told Tysons Reporter in June that they hope to start construction this fall. [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Behind the Architecture of Capital One Hall — “HGA worked with the client, presenting alternatives [to marble] such as Italian travertine, silvery Alabaman limestone, or Brazilian swirling granite to avoid joining the high number of noteworthy marble failures in the past sixty years. For Barry Mark, vice president of design and construction at Capital One, none of these had the distinctive beauty and character for the vision he had of the project.” [The Architect’s Newspaper]

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Interstate 66 project crews are rerouting more traffic along the corridor this year with future milestones — and easier commuting — in sight.

Virginia Department of Transportation and construction officials shared updates on the progress of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project at virtual community meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 29 and 30). Express lanes in the multibillion-dollar project are slated to open in December 2022.

The added express lanes will involve tolls for solo drivers and be free for vehicles with three or more people. Other changes coming with the project include adding express ramp connections at interchanges and improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities, including a newly created I-66 Trail along the corridor.

“Every day, things are changing,” VDOT megaprojects director Susan Shaw said during the presentation on Wednesday, which focused on the area from Jermantown Road in Fairfax to I-495 in Dunn Loring. “There’s a lot of work that’s going on out there, about $60 million worth of work per month…That’s a lot of changes, and it means changes for drivers.”

She reminded community members that it is now illegal for drivers to utilize a handheld device while operating their vehicle, thanks to a new law passed in 2020 that became effective Jan. 1.

“We just ask that you really be alert when you’re driving the corridor, that you pay attention to all the signage,” she said.

Project officials reported the following timelines for improvements to I-66 interchanges:

Gallows Road Bridge

  • Mid-July: A traffic shift will occur
  • August: The new northbound bridge opens with traffic shifting there. The old bridge will begin to be demolished overnight, and construction of the new southbound bridge will start.
  • December: Work related to tying in a school driveway will occur over winter break

Nutley Street Interchange

  • Permanent ramps and retaining walls are being constructed this summer

Vaden Drive Bridge

  • Express lane ramps are being constructed and slated to be complete by early fall.
  • A sidewalk on the west side of the bridge is scheduled to open in early fall. It runs from Saintsbury Drive to Country Creek Road.

Chain Bridge Road (Route 123)

  • Southbound Route 123 traffic will shift to the new bridge in late fall.
  • Permanent Route 123 ramps to I-66 will open later this year. Northbound Route 123 changes are slated for late July and the summer, and southbound ramp openings are on schedule for this fall.
  • Roadwork on Route 123 north and south of the interchange will take place in early 2022.

Jermantown Road

  • Pedestrian access, which didn’t exist before, will be available after the project is completed.
  • Construction will take place in early July of sidewalk north and south of the bridge on the west side of the road.

Route 50

  • Lanes are being shifted to new bridges. Route 50 westbound traffic switched to the new overpass on Sunday (June 27), and eastbound traffic will take over the new structure on or about July 10.

The I-66 Trail, the new shared-use path being added along the interstate, could be opened in phases, but it depends on whether it’s safe to do so, Shaw said. She said they’re not committed to anything prior to the anticipated completion of the project in mid-2023.

“Our…top priority is to make sure that…the shared use path is safe and that it’s safe while we’re completing this project,” she said.

Meanwhile, noise walls are going up in various locations along I-66, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in some materials, including steel posts and panel production, said Nancy Smith, public relations director with FAM Construction, the design-builder for the project.

To get more project updates, a project webpage is available at outside.transform66.org. Presentation videos from Tuesday and Wednesday are available on YouTube.

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Morning Notes

Water Caffi Fields baseball diamond in Vienna (photo by Amy Woolsey)

New Laws Take Effect in Virginia — A host of new laws passed by the General Assembly take effect today, including the legalization of simple marijuana possession, the abolition of the death penalty, and a requirement that drivers change lanes when passing bicyclists. The fine for littering is now $500, up from $250, and it is now illegal to intentionally release a balloon outside. [Patch]

MPAartfest Returns In Person This Fall — The McLean Project of the Arts announced yesterday (Wednesday) that its annual, free art festival will officially be back in person at McLean Central Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 3. The event will feature a one-day juried fine art and craft show/sale, food vendors, and more. It will also stream online. [McLean Project for the Arts]

Jones Branch Connector Awarded — “The Jones Branch Connector, a joint effort by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Fairfax County to build a new crossing over the Capital Beltway in Tysons, has been named the 2021 National Project of the Year by the American Society of Highway Engineers.” [VDOT]

1st Stage Finds Success with Return to Live Theater — Almost 1,000 people attended 1st Stage’s Celebration at The Boro on Sunday (June 27), according to an email sent to supporters yesterday. The event, which centered on a concert reading of the musical “A New Brain,” was the Tysons theater’s first in-person production since February 2020 and raised $87,000 for the venue. [1st Stage]

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Morning Notes

Lantana flowers by Spring Hill Road post office in McLean (photo by Joanne Liebig)

Construction Closes I-66 West Overnight — Starting last night (Wednesday), all lanes of I-66 West approaching I-495 in the Dunn Loring area will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night through Saturday (June 19). The closures are necessary for overhead bridge work on the interchange as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. [VDOT]

Rally in Support of Public Schools Tonight — The Fairfax County Democratic Committee is organizing a rally in support of Fairfax County Public Schools ahead of the school board’s meeting at Luther Jackson Middle School. The school board has faced criticism from some for making political statements and closing schools last year due to COVID-19, including a recall campaign led by a parents’ group that identifies as bipartisan but has received substantial funding from Republican donors. [Fairfax Democrats/Twitter]

Rick Springfield Fans Once Shut Down Tysons Corner — “June 17 is the 40th anniversary of the day Rick Springfield shut down Tysons Corner. Larry Houck was there. ‘Talk about having a front-row seat,’ said Houck, who worked at the Variety Records in Tysons Corner Center, where Springfield was scheduled to meet fans.” [The Washington Post]

McLean Startup Raises $60 Million — The McLean-based kidney care startup Somatus Inc. has secured $60.12 million in new funding, bringing the company’s total funding to $165 million over its five years of existence. The funds come from an equity offering that had its first sale on June 1 and will be used to support the company’s continued expansion as it now serves more than 150,000 patients in the U.S. [Washington Business Journal]

Maryland Beltway Project in Jeopardy — The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board voted yesterday to remove Maryland’s Capital Beltway toll lanes plan from a list of long-term transportation projects, jeopardizing its ability to secure federally required environmental approval. The project will also replace and expand the American Legion Bridge and is considered a necessary supplement to Virginia’s 495 NEXT project in McLean. [The Washington Post]

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Updated at 7:20 p.m. on 4/1/2021 — The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project has postponed the single-lane closure on Old Meadow Road near Route 123 that was scheduled to take place tomorrow “until further notice.”

Earlier: The left lane of Old Meadow Road leading up to Route 123 in Tysons will be closed during much of the day on Saturday (April 3), the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project announced earlier this week.

Prompted by the need for “minor asphalt repairs,” the closure will encompass one block near the intersection with Old Chain Bridge Road. It will take effect at 9 a.m. with all lanes scheduled to reopen by 4 p.m.

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project says that, with the assistance of flaggers, traffic will be maintained in both directions, and drivers will be able to turn onto Old Meadow Road and Route 123. The parking lots at 1690 Old Meadow Road and the CityLine property will still be accessible.

“Performing this work on the weekend will minimize impacts, avoid interference with other projects along Old Meadow Road and maximize the safety motorists and pedestrians,” the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project said.

The asphalt repairs are connected to efforts to realign Old Meadow Road with Capital One Tower Drive along Route 123, work that has now been going on for a year. The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project previously predicted that construction would be completed by the end of 2020, but this would not be the first time that the project has taken longer than expected.

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project is overseeing the development of Metro’s Silver Line. It is a partnership between the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Town of Herndon, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).

The Silver Line’s first phase opened in 2014, while the second phase, which will extend the transit system into Loudoun County, is still inching toward completion.

Image via Google Maps

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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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Nosie Barrier being installed along Route 7, between Reston Avenue and Utterback Store Road (Photo courtesy of VDOT)

A major project to widen nearly seven miles of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive remains on track for completion by July 31, 2024.

It is also expected to be completed within its $314 million budget, Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Jennifer McCord confirms.

The improvements include widening the heavily-trafficked road — also known as Leesburg Pike — from four to six lanes between Reston and Tysons, adding shared-use paths for pedestrians and bikers, and making major design changes to intersections.

It’s all being done within the guidelines of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.

Discussions about the project began nearly a decade ago, and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved it in 2017. Workers broke ground on construction in June 2019. It’s expected to take just over five years to complete.

Over the last two months, construction has continued at different sections of the road.

While much of the construction activity currently underway is focused in the Reston and Great Falls sections of the project, crews in the Tysons segment between Faulkner Drive and Jarrett Valley Drive have been working to relocate a water main between Beulah Road and Towlston Road.

Eastbound traffic on Route 7 between Lewinsville Road and Jarrett Valley Drive in McLean has been shifted north to accommodate construction.

Landscaping work and third-party utility relocations are underway throughout the roadway.

Periodic traffic changes and lane closures are expected to occur throughout the corridor as construction continues.

While COVID-19 has limited crews’ ability to work side-by-side, the decreased traffic volume — particularly in the earlier part of the pandemic — has allowed VDOT to extend work hours.

Photo courtesy VDOT

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A new pedestrian bridge and shared-use trail linking Tysons Corner Center to the McLean Metro station is on track to start construction this summer, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

The project will introduce a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the Capital Beltway, along with a 4,662-foot-long, 10-foot-wide path between I-495 and Route 123 along the west side of Old Meadow Road.

“I think this is going to be a good thing for Tysons,” VDOT Senior Project Manager Abraham Lerner said. “It will continue to go along with the goals of the Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County staff to implement multimodal measures and to try to reduce the dependence on the private automobile.”

This pedestrian and bicycle improvement at the I-495/123 interchange has been in the works for years as part of a commitment that VDOT and Fairfax County made when the Beltway was widened to accommodate toll lanes.

The I-495 Express Lanes project, which was completed in November 2012, called for the addition of pedestrian and bicycle connections throughout the Beltway corridor from Braddock Road in Annandale to Lewinsville Road in McLean.

However, a crossing at the 123 interchange could not be built at the time because of “a number of physical and geometric reasons,” Lerner says. So, Fairfax County and the state committed to constructing one in the future.

About five years ago, VDOT and the county proposed building a trail along Route 123, but the idea drew public criticism given the safety risks of having crosswalks across multiple Beltway ramps, according to Chris Wells, who manages the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s Active Transportation Program.

Transportation officials then looked at options for building an overhead bridge across I-495 near 123, rather than immediately at the interchange. Old Meadow Road emerged as the most feasible site.

“Because of the design of the Beltway itself and the express lanes, there was only this one location that we found where we could put a bridge pier in the middle of the Beltway,” Wells said. “Otherwise, we were going to have to span the entire Beltway with a larger bridge structure, which would’ve been much more expensive.”

VDOT held a public hearing on the project in June 2018, and the design was approved in November of that year. But Lerner says the right-of-way acquisition process took over nine months to complete, since the project needed land from six different properties.

The Dolley Madison Apartments and Encore Condominiums were affected the most, with residents citing concerns about the loss of trees, the potential impact on security and privacy, and the safety of a path with no separation between cyclists and pedestrians.

“Because of all the concerns, the issues that were raised during the public hearing process, we needed to work with [residents] to make sure we did the right-of-way acquisition in a very thorough manner,” Lerner said.

The public comment process also led VDOT to incorporate lighting in its design for the planned bridge over I-495.

While VDOT has not identified a contractor yet, construction is expected to cost $8.5 million. The project’s total $13.4 million cost has been fully financed with funds from federal, state, and local sources.

Because the path is off-road, Lerner says the only significant traffic impacts will come when crews work on the bridge over the Beltway. Construction is expected to take a year, concluding in the summer of 2022.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said in a statement that she is “delighted” that work on the shared-use path and pedestrian bridge will start this summer.

“This bridge will encourage walking and biking, save time, and reduce automobile traffic and carbon emissions,” Palchik said. “Residents won’t have to jump in their cars to drive and park at the mall, and I’m pleased that VDOT will be installing a lighted bridge. We are grateful to the Old Meadow Road neighborhood who worked with the engineering teams to transition the property and make this bridge happen.”

Image via VDOT

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