Newsletter

Morning Notes

Real Estate Company Relocates Tysons Office — After nearly a decade in its current space at 1850 Towers Crescent Plaza, the real estate firm JLL will move its Northern Virginia office to 1800 Tysons Boulevard in the first quarter of this year. The new office will occupy 26,500 square feet in the Lerner-owned, 12-story-tall tower. [Commercial Observer]

Spring Hill Rec Center Pool Closed This Morning — “The Spring Hill Rec Center pool will be closed through at least midday Tuesday (February 8, 2022) due to mechanical issues. The rest of the facility remains open.” [FCPA/Twitter]

Lane Shift Coming for Route 7 in McLean — “Starting on or about Thursday, Feb. 10, drivers on westbound Route 7 will experience a lane shift to the south (towards the median) between Laurel Hill Road and Lewinsville Road as crews perform utility work under Route 7. All residences, businesses and other public facilities will remain accessible.” [VDOT]

McLean Teen Makes Science Competition Finals — Ben Choi, a senior at the Potomac School, is among 40 finalists in the nationwide 2022 Regeneron Science Talent Search, a prestigious science and math competition. For his project, Choi designed a “low-cost 3D prosthetic arm that can be controlled by a brainwave-detecting headband worn on the forehead.” [Patch]

McLean Coding School Has Global Reach — “When she helped start Codefy in 2019, [Lucy] Chen was a 17-year-old junior at Langley High School in McLean. Now 19 and a student at Columbia University, Chen helps oversee an online coding school that has grown exponentially and has taught thousands of students — all for free.” [Inside NoVA]

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A map of the Route 7 segment between Chain Bridge Route and I-495 that the Virginia Department of Transportation is studying for improvements (via VDOT)

For all its transit-friendly aspirations, Tysons remains decidedly car-oriented. Take the seven-lane gauntlet that is Route 7 (Leesburg Pike), where evening rush-hour backups can extend for blocks and crosswalks feel like dares.

With uprooting one of the region’s major thoroughfares presumably out of the question, state and local transportation staff hope to at least improve the situation with an ongoing study of Route 7 between Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) and I-495.

In partnership with Fairfax County, the Virginia Department of Transportation is now seeking input on ways to minimize crashes, relieve congestion, and improve pedestrian and bus facilities in the corridor.

The online survey is open through Feb. 16, as officials finalize a plan to address safety and traffic issues.

State officials suspect congestion is a primary factor in numerous crashes. From 2015 to 2019, this stretch of road saw five crashes resulting in severe injuries, 90 other injuries, and 141 more incidents involving property damage.

Possible solutions include removing service roads and adding a shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists, upgrading crosswalks and curbs, and widening a median for future bus rapid transit or BRT lanes.

The study is part of a new Project Pipeline launched last year by the Commonwealth Transportation Board that seeks to streamline high-priority projects. With the program, officials will prioritize limited funding for a handful of projects in the state, including Route 7.

The improvements recommended by the study will tie into plans to widen Route 7 to accommodate express bus lanes, according to Allan Fye, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission’s director of programs and policy.

[These] efforts support the ultimate goal to provide high-quality, high-capacity BRT service along the Route 7 corridor,” he said in an email.

Plans to bring dedicated bus lanes to Tysons have been in the works for years.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a BRT route last July that’s being incorporated into NVTC’s larger effort to develop a bus service from the Spring Hill Metro station to Alexandria’s Mark Center.

The Envision Route 7 planning process began in 2013 and moved into its fourth phase in October with a mobility study looking at the proposed route from Tysons to Seven Corners. The study is expected to be complete by June 2023.

“NVTC has and continues to work closely with [the Fairfax County Department of Transportation] and VDOT,” Fye said. “Our close coordination allows us to leverage each other’s work to advance the overall BRT project while providing strategic opportunities to advance key segments that may allow service to begin in phases.”

After collecting public input from the Project Pipeline survey, VDOT will examine how to fund the upgrades from March to July this year.

Photo via VDOT

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Morning Notes

FCPS Schedules Virtual Town Halls on Masks — Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand reaffirmed the system’s plans to continue requiring face masks in a message to the community on Friday (Jan. 21). FCPS will hold a virtual town hall on the subject in English at 7 p.m. today (Monday), followed by a Spanish town hall tomorrow. Both events will stream live on Facebook. [FCPS]

Abduction Reported in Merrifield — “2900 block of Caribbean Court, 1/18/22, 7:51 p.m. A man approached the victim, displayed a firearm, and demanded to be driven to a residence in D.C. After dropping the man off, the victim reported the incident to police. No injuries were reported.” [FCPD]

Route 7 Widening Still on Track — The $313.9 million project to widen seven miles of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive remains on schedule to finish in July 2024, despite supply and labor challenges. Light traffic in 2021 enabled the project team to extend lane closures, the Virginia Department of Transportation says. [Reston Now]

Wren Stands Out Among Tysons Dining Spots — The Washington Post’s food critic calls Tysons “one of the least interesting places to find yourself for a meal,” but Wren is an exception. The Japanese restaurant-bar, which opened in The Watermark Hotel in September, earns praise for its artfully crafted food and interest in providing a personal experience for both guests and staff. [The Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Westpark Drive outside Park Crest during Jan. 16 snow (photo by ERTRIPP9)

Petersen Asks Youngkin to Support Dominion Bill — Chap Petersen, who represents Vienna as the state senator for the 34th District, called on new Gov. Glenn Youngkin to join an effort to limit Dominion Energy’s influence in the General Assembly. He has introduced a bill that would prohibit political candidates and committees from accepting campaign contributions from public utilities. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Fire Department Sees Uptick in Calls — “It was a busy year for your Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) firefighters and paramedics! An increase of over 11,000 calls from the 96,934 total calls in 2020. 298 responses to medical calls, fires, rescues, car crashes, etc., on average each day during 2021!” [FCFRD]

Route 7 Traffic Changes Start Today — “Drivers on eastbound Route 7 will experience a lane shift to the north (towards the median) between Lyons Street and Lewinsville Road. Temporary traffic changes on side streets will be in place while crews continue the construction along Route 7.” [VDOT]

MCC Calls for New Board Candidates — The McLean Community Center is seeking candidates for three adult and two youth positions that will open up on its board of governors for the June 2022 to May 2023 term. Candidate petition packets will be available at 1234 Ingleside Avenue starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 19), and early voting will begin in March. [MCC]

Fairfax County Redistricting Plan Certified — “The Virginia attorney general recently certified that there is no objection to Fairfax County’s redistricting plan that the Board of Supervisors adopted on Dec. 7, 2021. The attorney general’s ‘certification of no objection’ means that the county may now implement its new local election districts as adopted.” [Fairfax County Government]

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Morning Notes

Last Day for Voting Registration in Virginia — Today (Tuesday) is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election, which will determine Virginia’s next governor, House of Delegates, and other races. New voters and people who need to update their name or address can register online or by visiting the Fairfax County general registrar’s office. [Office of Elections]

Post Service Pilots Paycheck Redemption in Falls Church — The U.S. Postal Service is testing a program where people can redeem paychecks for Visa gift cards, topping out at $500, in Falls Church, Washington, Baltimore and the Bronx. It began in September and could expand to other places, possibly going nationwide after the holiday season. [The Washington Post]

More Overnight I-66 Closures Starting Today — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) will close nightly October 12-14 for continued bridge beam installation at the I-66/I-495 Interchange. Traffic will be detoured using Route 7 and I-495. The ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West, as well as the 495 Express Lanes North, and multiple lanes of I-495 North approaching I-66 will also be closed so that this work may be implemented.” [VDOT]

Falls Church Warns of School Bus Delays — “Falls Church City Public Schools in Virginia is alerting parents that some school bus routes could be delayed because of double runs starting Tuesday. The problem is driver shortages. The announcement comes as many school districts in the D.C. region are experiencing similar issues.” [WTOP]

35th District Delegate Candidate Forum Tonight — The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area is hosting an online candidate forum at 7 p.m. today for Virginia’s 35th House District, which includes the Town of Vienna and part of Tysons. Register in advance to hear the conversation between incumbent Del. Mark Keam (D) and challenger Kevin McGrath (R). [Patch]

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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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Tuesday Morning Notes

Route 7 Construction Leads to Gas Leak — Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units were dispatched to the 9100 block of Leesburg Pike yesterday afternoon (Monday) when workers “struck a large gas line,” resulting in an outside gas leak. A building at that address was vacant, and the incident did not affect traffic. [FCFRD/Twitter]

McLean Resident Helps Neighbors Get COVID-19 Vaccine — “Over the past week and a half, [Katja] Hom has helped more than 30 people get vaccination appointments at Safeways in McLean, Arlington, Vienna and other parts of Northern Virginia.” [Patch]

Virginia Tech to End Therapy Program at Falls Church Campus — “The master’s program in marriage and family therapy (MFT) will end in August 2023, the university told the Washington Business Journal. The program’s clinic, at 7054 Haycock Road, which provides low-cost mental health services to low-income residents and training opportunities for students, will also shut down.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fairfax County Police Hit With Civil Rights Violation Lawsuit — “A Black man who was Tasered and punched by a White Fairfax County police officer without apparent provocation in 2020 filed a federal lawsuit Monday claiming his civil rights were violated, he was subject to excessive force, and he was falsely arrested.” [The Washington Post]

ViVa Vienna Organizers Hopeful for Memorial Day Weekend Event — Organizers of the Town of Vienna’s annual ViVa Vienna festival hope to hold the event on Memorial Day weekend as usual, after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam raised the attendance limit on outdoor amusements from 250 to 1,000 people. The festival will likely still operate a little differently to accommodate social distancing protocols. The town will determine a date on Apr. 5. [Sun Gazette]

Fairfax County Board Chair Praises New Federal COVID-19 Relief Package — “Glad to see that the Senate support Americans through @POTUS’s American Rescue Plan. With the $350B to state/local govs, we can continue to provide the assistance our residents need.” [@JeffreyCMcKay/Twitter]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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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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Fairfax Connector has suspended service to bus stop 2605 on Leesburg Pike and Laurel Hill Road until December to accommodate construction on Route 7.

The temporary bus stop closure took immediate effect around noon today, and it is expected to last until approximately the end of 2021, the Fairfax County transit system says.

According to Fairfax Connector, the suspension of service was necessitated by a traffic switch that began this week on Leesburg Pike between Lewinsville Road and Jarrett Valley Drive in the McLean area.

The Virginia Department of Transportation initiated a lane shift and closed direct access to Route 7 from Laurel Hill and Old Ash Grove as part of its Route 7 corridor improvement project, which is widening the highway between Tysons and Reston. The traffic changes will be in effect until late 2021.

Fairfax Connector advises passengers to use stop 2673 as an alternative to the closed stop. Stop 2673 is located near the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Lewinsville Road across from the McLean Bible Church.

Photo via Google Maps

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Drivers on eastbound Route 7 in the McLean area should prepare for a lane shift and other traffic changes starting on Tuesday (Jan. 19), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced yesterday (Wednesday).

The eastbound lane on Leesburg Pike between Lewinsville Road and Jarrett Valley Drive will be shifted north toward the median, and direct access between Route 7 and two side streets — Laurel Hill Road and Old Ash Grove — will be temporarily closed.

Until late 2021, drivers to and from Laurel Hill Road, Old Ash Grove, and Glenridge Court will instead need to use the service road between Old Ash Grove and McLean Bible Church (8925 Leesburg Pike) to get to and from Route 7.

The intersection of Laurel Hill Road and the service road will be converted into a three-way stop intersection for the duration of the closure.

“All residences, businesses and other public facilities will remain accessible,” VDOT said.

The lane shift and side street access cut-offs are necessitated by VDOT’s Route 7 corridor improvement project, which is widening the highway from four to six lanes, adding shared-use paths, and making intersection improvements on the seven-mile stretch of road between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

The changes will “increase capacity, improve safety and traffic flow, and enhance mobility for cyclists and pedestrians,” according to the project website.

The project carries a total estimated cost of $313.9 million, and construction is not expected to be finished until July 31, 2024.

While construction is ongoing, the speed limit on Route 7 has been reduced to 45 miles per hour in active work zones between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

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

Images via Google Maps, VDOT

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