Tysons, VA

Leesburg Pike in Tysons is getting new sidewalks and pedestrian ramps.

The work is a part of the Silver Line Phase 1, according to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

“This work includes the installation of underdrain, sidewalk crack repairs, manholes and other drainage structure repairs, and ensuring pedestrian ramps meet the latest ADA code standards,” the project update said.

Work has already been finished on the eastbound side, and now crews are working on the westbound side of Leesburg Pike before starting similar work along Route 123 near Tysons Blvd.

While the work is underway, pedestrians are asked to use temporary detours and drivers can expect signs and barricades.

“Large, slow moving vehicles may be exiting and entering the highway at various times,” the update said.

Photo courtesy Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Work has recently started to realign Old Meadow Road at Dolley Madison Blvd (Route 123) in Tysons.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Silver Line project is doing the work to realign the road with the main entrance to the Capital One complex, according to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

The work started on Sunday (March 29) and will continue until Friday (April 3).

More from the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project:

Nighttime closures are planned this weekend to permit the installation of Jersey barriers. The right turn lane of northbound Route 123 will be closed at Old Meadow Road as well as the right eastbound lane of Old Meadow Road to facilitate construction. At least one lane of Old Meadow Road will remain open at all times in each direction.

The first phase of the project will take approximately eight weeks to complete and includes demolition of existing sidewalk and curb and gutter. Follow-on work includes installation of new storm drainage; installation of a new traffic lane, new sidewalk and new curb and gutter; and installation of new signaling equipment. Please drive carefully and safely in the area and remain aware of pedestrians and construction workers.

People can expect the the left turn lane to Old Meadow Road from southbound Route 123 and the right turn lane to Old Meadow Road from northbound Route 123 to be closed from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Friday.

Meanwhile, the right lane of eastbound Old Meadow Road will be closed from Route 123 to Colshire Meadow Road during the same days and times.

Image via Google Maps

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As plans proceed for a newly approved pipeline in Pimmit Hills, a group of residents is continuing to push Washington Gas to reroute the project.

More than 100 Pimmit Hills residents gathered earlier this month to protest the installation of a new natural gas pipeline that Washington Gas plans to place in a neighborhood between Tysons and Falls Church.

The project, which was originally rejected twice by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), finally received the green light in late 2019.

The project includes roughly five miles of pipeline intended to support developmental growth in Tysons, according to documentation from the Pimmit Hills Citizens Association (PHCA).

Roughly five feet underground in the Virginia Department of Transit right of way, the pipeline will sit directly under the road, Washington Gas Spokesperson Brian Edwards said.

Lines will run under Cherri, Fisher and Peabody drives in Pimmit Hills, according to a map sent to Tysons Reporter by a member of the citizens association.

Major Concerns From Residents

PHCA Spokesperson Ashley Nellis told Tysons Reporter she worries that the 24-inch-thick and high-pressure pipeline will pose a risk to the safety of local families and cause “massive” disruptions to the area and the environment on several fronts.

The major concerns brought up by Nellis and other residents throughout Pimmit Hills include disturbances to the neighborhood during construction and long-term safety standards.

“This is a very dangerous proposition that has not gone well in other communities,” she said, citing an explosion that occurred in a town in Pennsylvania in 2018.

“We are the only residential neighborhood impacted by a high-pressure transmission pipeline that also happens to be routed along a known flood plain and next to the beginning of Pimmit Run Stream,” Robert Heilen, the president of the PHCA, said in a letter to VDOT.

Brian Edwards, the Washington Gas spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter that the pipeline will not negatively impact the regional flood plain.

After being pressed about community concerns, Washington Gas remains steadfast in its certainty that the pipeline meets, if not exceeds, safety standards according to Edwards, who added that the pipe is built with strong material so there is little possibility of a rupture.

“It is being designed at a very high standard so if someone were to even hit the line with a backhoe it would withstand the damage,” Edwards said.

Due to the nature of the project, VDOT does not require an environmental impact report for the project, according to Edwards.

The Community Fights Back

Politicians including Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) and Del. Marcus Simon (D-53rd) are also backing the opposition efforts.

Along with its normal monthly meetings, the citizens association began hosting weekly pipeline committee meetings to discuss changes and efforts to halt the project.

As of today (March 16), more than 570 people have signed a Change.org petition to reroute the pipeline.

Currently, a community member is in the midst of filing a petition of appeal against the VDOT approval, aiming to halt the pipeline progress.

Though independently organized, PHCA set up a GoFundMe page to fund the lawsuit. So far, people have donated over $9,500 in two months. “It shows how adamantly the community is against this issue,” Nellis, the PHCA spokesperson, said.

The private community member is now in search of new representation after the original law firm dropped the case, Heilen added.

Edwards said he was not in a position to give a statement from Washington Gas.

Project Alternatives

Project leaders within the community originally hoped that VDOT and Washington Gas would install the new pipeline along Route 7 — an option that Washington Gas said would be more intrusive and time-consuming.

As it stands, the line construction in the Pimmit Hills neighborhood would affect roughly 7,000 commuters daily over the course of three years, according to Edwards. But, if the pipeline would instead be installed along Route 7, he said it would take six years — double the amount of time — and affect roughly 41,000 commuters daily.

For community members though, perks of moving the line to Route 7 include an increased sense of security for their families and easement of construction noise.

Edwards said that Washington Gas plans to proceed with construction block-by-block in order to lessen the burden on homeowners.

Next Steps

As community members continue to fight pipeline installation, Washington Gas is proceeding with preparation for the project.

Edwards wouldn’t give an estimated project start time but told Tysons Reporter that Washington Gas hopes the project will be completed by 2023.

Heilen said he was told that construction was supposed to begin in early April, but said he hasn’t received any updated information.

“Most of the route is already marked,” Heilen said. “I expect that once they feel the weather is stable, they will start digging.”

Photos courtesy Devin Buries

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County officials celebrated the completion of the Jones Branch Connector today, calling it a vital new link to improve connectivity in Tysons.

The Virginia Department of Transporation (VDOT) and Fairfax County officials held a ribbon-cutting this morning (March 5) at the corner of Scotts Crossing Road and Capitol One Drive in Tysons.

The new half-mile roadway, called Scotts Crossing Road, runs between Jones Branch Drive and Route 123 over the Beltway and includes two lanes of traffic, a bicycle lane and an illuminated sidewalk for pedestrians in each direction, according to a VDOT press release.

“A wide, raised median is also reserved to accommodate future transit,” the press release said.

Though the $60 million price tag for such a short stretch of the road may seem high, Bill Cutler, the district construction engineer for VDOT, said that “it speaks to the complexity of the project.”

In the future, if Fairfax County decides that the overpass no longer makes sense for vehicle and pedestrian traffic, it is designed in such a way that construction crews will be able to strip the concrete and repurpose the project, for example, to become a trolley way, Cutler said.

For now though, “the project is expected to relieve traffic along Route 123, at the Route 123/I-495 interchange and other locations,” the press release said, adding that more than 32,000 vehicles are expected to use Scotts Crossing Road per day by 2040.

Speakers and guests at this morning’s ceremony included Dalia Palchik and Jeff McKay from the Board of Supervisors.

“This is part of our economic success plan,” Palchik, who represents the Providence District, said. “We know that if we don’t have connectivity [and] mobility, it will make things harder and harder for people to get around enjoy coming and going to work.”

Following up on Palchik’s statement, Cutler said that this new connection will allow people using different modes of transportation to more easily move between the communities and neighborhoods in Tysons.

The project, which was approved by the county in 2010, is the first one to be completed from the Tysons Comprehensive Plan Amendment, according to the press release.

Work on the project started in 2017, and in late 2018, one traffic lane opened in each direction. By January, all four travel lanes were open.

“Final detail work” is expected this month, but shouldn’t impact traffic, according to the press release.

“The completion of the Jones Branch Connector marks a milestone in our collaborative efforts to improve our transportation network to support the growth of Tysons,” McKay said. “This project helps us move more people more efficiently and continues to build upon a grid of streets that encourages the use of multi-modal transportation alternatives.”

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Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors is supporting an application for federal funding to pay for a rehabilitation project along the GW Parkway.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust proposed the board matter, which supports an application for funding from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program.

The funding would support the parkway’s North Section Rehabilitation Program, which aims to reconstruct nearly 8 miles of the GW Parkway from Spout Run Parkway to I-495.

“The proposed project addresses serious deterioration of the parkway and implements significant safety improvements,” the board matter says.

If the funding is approved, the board matter says the National Park Service (NPS) plans to:

  • repave the road
  • repair stormwater management systems and walls
  • rehabilitate two historic, scenic overlooks
  • replace guardrails
  • construct new curbs
  • build emergency turnarounds along the north end

The project will also include work on a northern section, addressing a $1.7 billion maintenance backlog that includes $395 million for the parkway, the board matter says.

More than 33 million vehicles per year travel on the GW Parkway, according to Fairfax County. Last year, emergency work had to fix the cause of a sizable sinkhole on the GW Parkway, disrupting traffic for months in the area.

Foust noted that the project is meant to address safety and longevity issues for the parkway.

The Board of Supervisors voted to approve sending a letter of support for NPS’s application for the federal funding.

Map via Google Maps

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Tomorrow (Feb. 4), the Fairfax County’s Transportation Committee will meet to discuss upcoming projects around the area.

Board members will kick off the meeting, which begins at 3 p.m. in the Fairfax County Government Center, with updates and progress regarding the I-495 Express Lanes Northern Expansion project.

According to the documents posted ahead of the meeting, the I-495 project will include expansion of express lanes to George Washington Memorial Parkway, replacement of existing overpasses, implementation of a shared-use path and addition of new noise barrier walls.

Upgrades could save drivers up to 25 minutes during their peak-hour commute, especially with ease cut-through traffic congestion in local communities, according to the documents.

Other items on the agenda include bus and Metrorail improvements and the Bicycle Master Plan.

For people who bike to work, a shared-use bike path behind the noise wall will connect the American Legion Bridge to Maryland, the presentation said.

Meanwhile, an ongoing I-495 Regional Transit Study is expected to become public sometime this year.

A public forum to discuss the discuss environmental and technical reports from the project is set for March 12 at Langley High School (6520 Georgetown Pike) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Construction work on the Jones Branch Connector is set to finish this spring.

The bridge over I-495 connects the North Central and Tysons East neighborhoods and is undergoing a $60 million project that will add two travel lanes and on-street bike lanes in each direction.

The two travel lanes in each direction have opened already, Mike Murphy, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

Now, the bike lanes and sidewalks are left.

“Weather permitting, the bicycle lanes and sidewalks will open to traffic within the next couple months,” Murphy told Tysons Reporter.

The project is still on track for spring 2020 completion, Murphy said.

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Kirby Road reopened yesterday in McLean, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) announced.

The 1300 block of Kirby Road closed in July due to severe storm damage from flash flooding, along with Swinks Mill Road, which reopened in October.

Martins Construction Corporation was awarded the $2.1 million emergency contract. The work included relocating Little Pimmit Run, rebuilding the washed-out section of Kirby Road and reconstructing the bridge over Pimmit Run.

The work was completed ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline — a date VDOT set to incentivize the contractor to get the work done as quickly as possible. VDOT officials said in October that they were offering up to $2,000 for every day completed early — capped at $120,000.

One of the reasons the work took several months to complete was because work could not be done simultaneously on the bridge and roadway since it would cut off access to 21 homes, VDOT official Denise Cantwell said in October.

Work to add surface asphalt and striping is expected to be completed by May 2020.

“Landscaping and other detail work will be completed over the next few weeks during normal work zone hours, weather permitting,” according to VDOT.

Photo via VDOT

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The City of Falls Church wants to update Oak Street Bridge, but funding uncertainty leaves the project without a distinctive start date.

Even though the damage to the bridge from the flooding in July has been completely repaired, the Falls Church Planning Commission still met last month to discuss the construction of a new bridge.

Now the city is just awaiting the results from grant applications — which will inevitably fund the project, Susan Finarelli, a spokesperson for the city, said.

Initial concept designs are in the works to rethink the aesthetic appeal, modernize the bridge, improve pedestrian and traffic safety.

The project is currently in the design phase, which should be completed from August 2020 to February 2021, potentially allowing construction to begin shortly after, according to a planning commission presentation.

Due to safety concerns, the bridge is on a yearly inspection list, which monitors at-risk infrastructure projects. Originally built in 1953, the bridge needs to be redone for engineering improvements to increase the weight limit.

“We will be lengthening the bridge approximately two feet on either sides,” a representative at the Oct. 21 Planning Commission meeting said, adding that pedestrians will have easier access to Tripps Run.

The project is expected to cost around $2.6 million.

The Planning Commission made a unanimous recommendation for the City Council to relocate a utility pole so it isn’t in the middle of the sidewalk, include adding wider sidewalks, a crosswalk for Tripps Run and decorative guard rails on the southeast side of the bridge.

Image via The City of Falls Church

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Drivers should plan to avoid Scotts Crossing Road in Tysons this week due to a series of closures at night.

The Virginia Department of Transportation announced that the road will be closed between Jones Branch Drive and the I-495 Express Lanes starting tonight (Nov. 18) until Friday, Nov. 22, from 9:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. the following day.

The closures are related to paving as part of the Jones Branch Connector project, according to VDOT. Several detours will be in place for drivers.

The Jones Branch Connector project expects to have two lanes in each direction open by the end of the year and final completion in early 2020, according to VDOT.

Map via VDOT

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