Tysons, VA

The Vienna Town Council recently revisited the idea of installing new sidewalks within three neighborhoods.

After a former councilmember Maud Robinson donated a chunk of money in her will for the town to build sidewalks, the Town Council is now evaluating how they can respect her wishes and improve town infrastructure.

During the meeting on Monday (Feb. 24), the Town Council discussed proposed sidewalks would be installed on:

  • Plum Street SW between Cottage Street SW to Tapawingo Road,
  • Cabin Road SE between Branch Road SE and Glyndon Street SE
  • Holmes Drive NW between John Marshall Drive and Upham Place NW

Currently, only 50% of the homeowners on Homes Drive and Plum Street have responded to a request for input on the subject, but councilmembers said they would like at least a 75% response rate.

“I feel better knowing the majority of people are in favor of the decision,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said, adding that before things move forward, it would be best for town staffers to try new methods to get feedback from homeowners along the proposed routes.

From the feedback received so far from residents, some are concerned over disruption to foliage and trees that would be in the way of the sidewalks.

Councilmember Douglas Noble mentioned that homeowners don’t have control over town-owned easement property on the outskirts of a lot, but added it was determined that the public works department has ways of building the sidewalks without disrupting or killing the trees in the direct path.

During public comment at the meeting, two parents expressed support for the sidewalks and voiced concerns about their kids’ safety.

“A tree can be replanted… I wanna put that in perspective,” a father of two young daughters said. “You can’t replace a child if she gets hit by a car. A 62- year-old maple tree doesn’t matter — my kids matter.”

The man also shared the importance of this project for several families who have recently moved into the neighborhood around  Cabin Road.

“I cannot believe we are spending this much time talking about sidewalks, but it’s a democracy at it’s finest,” he said.

A mother also came up to the podium and shared how she makes her kids FaceTime her after they get off the school bus to ensure their walk home goes smoothly.

She said that she often sees cars speeding down Cabin Road — coming too close to her kids on an unprotected road shoulder for comfort.

After public feedback, the Town Council passed a motion at the meeting to prepare design sidewalk plans on Plum Street, Cabin Road and John Marshall Drive.

Going forward, town representatives will begin preparing sidewalk designs and finish gathering feedback from homeowners in the area. Councilmembers also passed a motion saying design plans shouldn’t cost more than $500,000.

Image via Google Maps

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Funding for new sidewalk projects in the Town of Vienna is coming from the estate of a late councilmember.

The town announced today (Tuesday) that Maud Robinson, a former councilmember and wife of late Mayor Charlie Robinson, left a “bulk” of her estate to the town to build sidewalks over a five-year period.

“She gave the bulk of her estate to the town because she and Charlie were absolutely devoted to the Town of Vienna,” Laurie Genevro Cole, the executor of the estate and trustee of the trust, said in the press release. “Vienna is their legacy.”

The funding is to go toward adding 3.3. miles of additional sidewalks “in areas where they aren’t already planned or likely to be funded through grants or new construction,” the press release says.

“The majority of Robinson’s estate, which has not yet been settled but will total more than $7 million, will endow the Maud Ferris Robinson Charitable Trust, which will fund the sidewalk projects,” according to the press release.

Charlie Robinson died in 2000, and Maud Robinson died last year.

Currently, the town is working to find streets with gutters and curbs that could use new sidewalks. The Vienna Town Council is set to consider the first batch of potential sidewalks at its meeting on Jan. 27.

More from the press release:

Before [the] Town Council makes a decision as to which projects to move forward with, residents on selected streets will be contacted by the Town and given an opportunity to provide feedback…

Public Works Director Michael Gallagher notes that it could take up to two years from identification of a street to walking on sidewalks. The Town will use contractors for this work.

“This is a wonderful gift to the Town of Vienna,” says Mayor Laurie DiRocco. “These sidewalks – and others – help connect places, but, more importantly, they connect the community. Maud and Charlie were all in for the Town of Vienna. We’re grateful that this is how Maud, out of her deep sense of public service and commitment to the Town, chose to pass on her legacy to the Vienna community.”

In addition to the trust established to fund sidewalks, Robinson left $50,000 to the Town for beautification purposes. Cole says that these funds will be used to plant trees and other similar projects.

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A meeting tomorrow night is set to give locals an update and a chance to comment on proposed changes to Magarity Road.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is gearing up to make walkway improvements to Magarity Road, which creates the border of where East Side neighborhood of Tysons stops and the Falls Church area of Fairfax County begins.

The project is set to provide a  continuous curb and gutter and an 8-foot-wide asphalt walkway along the south side of Magarity Road and in front of Westgate Elementary School, along with new crosswalks across the road at  Tremayne Place, Cherri Drive and Ware Road, according to county documents.

The project also plans to make the drop-off and pick-up turning movements at the school safer and relocate several bus stops.

More from Fairfax County about the project:

Residents of Pimmit Hills, the neighborhood south of Magarity Road, and the Westgate Elementary School requested a walkway on the south side of the street to allow more children to walk and bike to school safely.

The project will provide connectivity to the school, with other area planned trail projects, and to the McLean Metrorail Station.

The meeting is set to take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 13) at the cafeteria at Westgate Elementary School (7500 Magarity Road) in Falls Church.

At the meeting, FCDOT staff will give an update on the scoping and design changes since the June 2018 meeting.

People have until Nov. 27 to provide feedback and can submit comments online or in writing to FCDOT.

Map via Google Maps

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Tonight, locals can find out more information about the status of the project to bring new sidewalks to Chesterbrook Road in McLean.

The work plans to stretch along the road from Chesterford Way to Maddux Lane.

“The project will include a new 5-foot wide sidewalk, curb and gutter along the south side of Chesterbrook Road, with storm sewer and water utility infrastructure improvements,” according to Fairfax County.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will hold the meeting tonight at Chesterbrook Elementary School (1753 Kirby Road) at 7 p.m.

The project is the latest of nearby sidewalk improvements in McLean.

Map via Google Maps

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Pedestrians will have to wait a few more weeks before the northbound sidewalk along Dolley Madison Blvd (Route 123) by the McLean Metro station reopens.

The sidewalk is maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Jenni McCord, a VDOT spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

“This sidewalk has been closed for about three weeks for construction under a developer site plan and permit,” McCord said.

The sidewalk is closed due to work related to Cityline Partner’s Scotts Run project, which will add an 8 million-square-foot mixed-use development.

The project includes several apartments and office buildings — including the completed 425-unit apartment complex called The Haden and the 14-story office building Mitre 4 — along with the Archer Hotel and retail space.

“Our site contractor is completing a new road connection to Route 123 and was required by VDOT to close the sidewalk during construction,” Cityline’s Managing Director Tasso Flocos told Tysons Reporter.

The new connection will include new asphalt pavement, ADA-compliant handicap ramps and pavement markings, McCord said.

The sidewalk will stay closed until paving is finished, Flocos said, adding that the contractor expects to be done by the end of October depending on the weather.

Until then, pedestrians can use the detour that takes them around the work area.

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Work to fix cracked sidewalks and replace old benches in McLean is slated to happen by the end of the fiscal year 2020.

The improvements are apart of Fairfax County’s efforts for five community revitalization district (CRDs). The Department of Public Works and Environmental Service runs the CRD maintenance program.

A six-month-long study identified 28,000 features, including benches, bike racks and bus shelters within the CRDs that the county could maintain.

“The CRD program is responsible for slightly more than half of the features, with the other half maintained by utilities or the private sector,” according to the county.

PJ Tierno, one of the CRD program managers, told the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday (Oct. 8) that people will see old benches replaced and cracked sidewalks fixed in McLean within the upcoming fiscal year.

So far, the program has made 1,113 repairs in FY 2019 to trip hazards up to 2 inches deep in McLean through a company called Precision Safe Sidewalks, Tierno said.

Coming in FY 2020, 13,350 square feet of sidewalks in McLean are set to be repaired, Tierno said.

“That is the largest [square footage] of any of the CRDs,” Tierno said.

Old wooden benches in McLean will also be replaced, added.

“This is an awesome program,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said at the meeting, saying that he likes that the county is maintaining VDOT’s sidewalks.

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The City of Falls Church is looking to implement a pilot program for scooters as a deadline nears for scooter regulation.

Legislation passed during the General Assembly session in January allows localities to regulate scooters and motorized skateboards, however, the localities have until Jan. 1, 2020 to take action to implement any regulations. After that date, the scooter companies can zoom around as they see fit.

Scooters, an increasingly popular alternative transportation option, are already around the area.

The City Council is set to discuss the proposed pilot program, which would allow the city to regulate bicycles and motorized skateboards, scooters and bicycles for hire, at a work session tonight (Tuesday).

The proposed program would allow the motorized vehicles and bicycles for hire to ride on the sidewalks and streets and would limit speeds to 20 miles per hour for bicycles and motorized bicycles and to 10 miles per hour for scooters and skateboards.

Additionally, the city would cap the maximum number of devices to 25 per company, allowing the company to increase the number with extra permit fees. Each company would have to pay a permit fee of $100 per device.

The proposed pilot program is set to go before the City Council for a review on Sept. 23 ahead of a planned adoption in October or November.

The City Council is also scheduled to discuss spot pedestrian improvements tonight.

“The ultimate goal is to provide an adequate and safe walkway system and for the city to ultimately achieve ‘Walk Friendly Community’ designation,” City Manager Wyatt Shields wrote in a memo to the mayor.

City staff chose several projects recommended by the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation totaling $100,000 — the amount set aside in the FY 2020 city budget for short-term spot improvements for pedestrian safety.

One project costing $45,000 would install a new sidewalk at S. Oak Street near Seaton Lane to close an 80-foot “missing link” along the busy corridor near TJ Elementary School.

The staff also recommended a $40,000 improvement that would install a new sidewalk at 304 S. Maple Avenue, closing a 60-foot gap in the sidewalk.

Finally, the staff plan to use $15,000 to install handicap-accessible ramps at locations that need them.

Some of the projects identified by the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation didn’t fit the city’s budget, like removing utility pole obstacles.

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Construction on improvements to Kirby Road south of Chesterbrook Elementary School is slated to start in September.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation gave residents an update yesterday (Wednesday) on the sidewalks project spanning from Birch Road to Corliss Court along Kirby Road.

Latesa Turner, an FCDOT engineer, gave a presentation to a small group of people at Chesterbrook Elementary School (1753 Kirby Road) last night shortly after 7 p.m.

The project would add the following new elements to Kirby Road:

  • a 5-6-foot wide concrete sidewalk and ADA-accessible curb ramps
  • concrete curb and gutter
  • drainage inlets and pipes
  • driveway entrances
  • pedestrian crossing and median refuge at Powhatan Street
  • re-alignment of Chesterfield Avenue intersection
  • water main reconstruction and upgrades
  • road pavement and striping

The first phase of the project, which will last between three to four months, will involve closing the westbound lane of Kirby Road to construct the water line relocation, according to the presentation. Drivers can expect traffic maintained in both directions during the lane closure.

Then, the second phase will involve closing the westbound lane of Kirby Road for drainage and utility work, along with work on the curb ramps, driveway entrances, sidewalk and gutter. The second phase is expected to last five to six months, according to the presentation.

The contractor will come out within the next week for clearing and tree removal. Then, construction will start in September. The first phase is slated to be done around December and most of the work will be completed by February. All of the work is slated to be finished by April 2020.

Once finished, Turner said that the Virginia Department of Transportation will maintain the sidewalks.

When asked why it took two years for the project to start construction, Turner said that many steps had to take place after the idea was approved including finalizing the plans, receiving VDOT approval, permitting and bidding for the project after the land acquisition in late 2017.

Despite some grumblings among attendees about waiting for the improvements, many expressed support for the upcoming work.

“I’m really glad you’re doing this,” one attendee told Turner toward the end of the meeting.

Image 4 via Fairfax County

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Pedestrians will soon be able to get over I-495 once the Jones Branch Connector’s sidewalk open, connecting North Central to Tysons East.

Currently, the Jones Branch Connector is undergoing construction for a $60 million project that will add two travel lanes and on-street bike lanes in each direction.

“Right now the Jones Branch Connector sidewalk is slated to open mid- to late summer 2019,” Michael Murphy, a  spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation, told Tysons Reporter.

Back in December, the Jones Branch Connector partially opened with one lane of traffic in each direction, but “Sidewalk Closed” signs have kept pedestrians away.

“By providing an alternate route across the Beltway and linking the Tysons East and Central areas, the Connector is expected to relieve traffic along Route 123, at the I-495 interchange, and at other congested intersections,” according to VDOT. “The road is expected to carry more than 32,000 vehicles per day by 2040.”

The project is slated to finish in the fall.

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For years, the shared sidewalk on the south side of Lee Highway has ended abruptly with a ditch.

But a planned bike/pedestrian path on the highway just south of the Vienna Metro station could finally bridge that divide and make the sidewalks more walkable.

At a meeting tonight (Tuesday), Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is scheduled to discuss plans to complete missing segments of a shared-use path on the southern side of Lee Highway between Vaden Drive and Nutley Street. The path aims to improve safety and accessibility for bicyclists and pedestrians near the Fairlee neighborhood.

The $1.3 million project is being funded through the Transform I-66 Outside the Beltway project.

Design approval for the project is scheduled for this fall, with construction beginning summer 2021.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 at Fairhill Elementary School (3001 Chichester Lane) with a presentation starting at 7 p.m.

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