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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Hybrid Learning — “BASIS Independent McLean, which like all Virginia schools switched to online-only classes this spring because of the public-health emergency, on Aug. 25 reopened under a hybrid plan combining in-person and online learning.” [Inside NoVa]

Food Insecurity High — “Share of McLean is seeing twice its usual demand for food assistance, and several times its usual demand for emergency financial assistance, as the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact a heavy toll on the country’s most vulnerable populations.” [Connection Newspapers]

Calls to Remove Library Trustee — “A Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees member is facing criticism for comments about the diverse titles featured on the library’s online catalog. The Virginia Library Association expressed opposition to Phillip Rosenthal’s comments in a letter, while the NOVA Equity Agenda Coalition took it a step further and called for his resignation or removal.” [Patch]

Work Completed Along Route 7 — “The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Phase 1 crews have completed all work along eastbound and westbound Route 7 in Tysons.” [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo by Michelle Goldchain

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Work is set to start on Friday to rehabilitate the Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) bridges over Leesburg Pike (Route 7).

The Virginia Department of Transportation announced today that drivers can expect lane closures on both routes mostly during the night for the next several days.

The schedule is:

  • Sunday-Thursday: 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Friday: 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Saturday: 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

State and federal State of Good Repair funding is paying for the $2.5 million project, according to VDOT. Construction is slated to finish in late 2020 and includes:

  • repairing and resurfacing the concrete bridge decks
  • repairing the bridge piers, abutments and bearings
  • painting the steel bridge beams
  • repaving Route 123 adjacent to the bridges

Once completed, VDOT says that the northbound and southbound bridges will be safer for drivers and pedestrians and lengthen the lifespan of the bridges, which were built in 1965.

“At the bridges, Route 123 averages up to 30,000 vehicles a day and Route 7 averages up to 86,000,” according to VDOT.

Photo courtesy VDOT

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New Route 7 Rapid Bus System Plans — “A new conceptual engineering report lays out 18 specific bus rapid station locations from Tysons to Alexandria. It also details the spots where buses would have their own lanes in the middle of the road or on the outside of the road, and where buses would share lanes with car traffic.” [WTOP]

Update on Park Police Shooting of Tysons Man — “The two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar in 2017 will not be charged with any crimes in connection with the incident, federal prosecutors said Thursday. The decision came just days before the second anniversary of the slaying.” [Washington Post]

Orange Line Work Next Year — “Orange Line trains could run on a single-track at West Falls Church, and Orange and Silver Line trains could pass through East Falls Church without stopping. The closures would run as long as May 23 (Memorial Day weekend) through about Aug. 28 (before Labor Day weekend).” [WTOP]

Residents Displaced From Falls Church Fire — On Saturday, firefighters battled a “fire in a garden-style apartment building in the 7300 block of Lee Highway in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County. Multiple people have been rescued.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter]

Questions About American Legion Bridge’s Reconstruction? — The Washington Business Journal has answers about how much the bridge work will cost, who is paying for it and more. [Washington Business Journal]

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Construction work on a connector ramp from I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro station is set to start a year later than planned.

“Our project manager, Mark Gibney, has confirmed that construction of the I-66 connector ramp to the West Falls Church Metro station will begin construction in summer 2020 and finish by fall 2021,” Michelle Holland, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transporation, tod Tysons Reporter.

Currently, cars traveling eastbound on I-66 to the Metro station exit from I-66, turn right to head south on Route 7 (Leesburg Pike), turn left at the intersection at Haycock Road and then turn left onto Falls Church Drive. “VDOT has identified operational and safety issues with this maneuver, especially during AM and PM peak periods,” according to the project’s website.

The new ramp, which is a part of the I-66 widening project, would connect two existing ramps, spitting drivers out onto Falls Church Drive.

While the VDOT website currently says that construction is set to begin this summer and get completed by fall 2o20, the spokesperson said that the website will soon get updated to reflect the correct information.

VDOT plans to hold a public meeting with a construction update on Wednesday (July 10) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) in Arlington.

Map via VDOT

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(Updated at 1 p.m.) Drivers can expect delays along Leesburg Pike (Route 7) from a multi-vehicle crash near Lewinsville Road.

The west left lane and center lane are closed, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Tysons Reporter noted that traffic is down to one lane westbound on Leesburg Pike as police arrest someone for a traffic stop unrelated to the crash.

Map via Google Maps

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A shopping center near the Greensboro Metro station will soon have a Burlington store.

Formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, the national off-price department store chain recently announced that it will open this fall in Sports Authority’s former spot at 8355 Leesburg Pike.

“This new location brings jobs to the community and provides a great shopping experience for the entire family,” Tom Kingsbury, the chief executive officer and chairman of Burlington Stores, said in a press release.

Burlington will occupy 42,900 square feet in the shopping center, filling one of its more noticeable vacancies. “Whether they’re looking for brand name clothing, stylish home decor items, or anything for baby, customers will enjoy significant savings and discover new merchandise arrivals each week,” Kingsbury said.

The new store will be the 20th Burlington location in Virginia, according to the press release.

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