Tysons, VA

The announcement of more delays for the Silver Line have led to concerns from Supervisors Dalia Palchik and John Foust that Metro isn’t giving the communities around the Tysons area a fair shake.

Metro was one of several topics the supervisors spoke to the McLean Citizens Association about earlier this week.

“They are currently talking about reducing Metrorail service across the system to 80%,” Foust said. “Except that they’re saying they don’t have the funds to commence service on Phase II of the Silver Line.”

While Foust said the second phase of the Silver Line expansion isn’t quite ready for opening, it will be soon, and Foust said it deserved to be treated like any other wing of the Silver Line. Foust was particularly vexed by arguments from WMATA that Metro lines that had been operational before the shutdowns will be prioritized for service.

“If they get 80%, we should get 80%,” Foust said. “We’ve invested $6 billion into the Silver Line… I’m advocating for opening Phase 2 of the Silver Line as soon as possible.”

Palchik said these issues have been exacerbated by lack of communication between WMATA and Fairfax County.

“We found out, maybe hours before the public, that the Orange and Silver lines were being shut down,” Palchik said. “The lack of communication between our boards and the WMATA boards is frustrating beyond compare. [We] need to ensure we’re not seen as the wicked stepchild of the metro system.”

Staff photo by Michelle Goldchain

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The Metro Transit Police are looking to identify a suspect in a report of an attempted rape on a Silver Line train yesterday (Tuesday) in Northern Virginia. 

The incident took place at approximately 11:35 a.m. between the McLean and East Falls Church stations, according to a statement from the WMATA. The statement says the suspect boarded the train at the Wiehle-Reston East station and physically assaulted an adult female, exposing himself and attempting to remove her clothing. 

According to the statement, the female was able to escape the train at the East Falls Church station, where Metro Transit Police detectives were able to respond. The victim’s child was apparently the only other individual on the train at the time of the incident. 

The suspect was apparently wearing a dark-colored shirt with the words “Piranha Joe” on the left sleeve, a logo of a circle and a fish on both the rear and left breast of the shirt, according to the statement. 

Tysons Reporter contacted Metro Transit Police this morning for updates but was told police could not discuss the case further.

Anyone with more information can contact the Metro Transit Police detectives at 301-955-5000. 

Photo via the WMATA

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Northern Virginia community leaders are looking for affordable housing solutions as the Silver Line expansion gears up to bring more people to local urbanized areas.

The Dulles Chamber of Commerce brought together representatives from Fairfax and Loudoun counties to talk about what the expansion means for the future of affordable housing at a public meeting yesterday evening. The conversation focused on roadblocks to construction, current demand for units, land-use policies and who needs subsidized housing.

The Silver Line extension is expected to be completed in 2021 and will run from Fairfax County into Loudoun County.

But, the cost of living is not sustainable for lower-income people working in the area, according to Tom Fleetwood, the director of Housing and Community Development for Fairfax County. The average income only increased by 10% while the cost of housing increased by 17% from 2010-2015 in Fairfax County.

Fairfax County will require at least 15,000 new affordable housing units in the next 15 years to support families earning 60% of the median income and below, according to Fleetwood.

Currently, there are 30,000 low-income renters in Fairfax County that are paying more than one-third of their income on housing. “This means that they’re what we call a ‘cost-burden’ and that they have less money to contribute to our economy,” he said.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, four minimum wage jobs are needed in order to afford the average apartment in the county.

Once the Metro extension project is complete, the housing disparity is only expected to grow.

In Tysons and Reston specifically, Fleetwood said that the biggest challenge is the limited availability of land for affordable housing projects. To combat this, updated inclusionary zoning policies have been a large help in rethinking how space is used, he said.

“Visionary zoning policies have produced a substantial number of below-market units that are serving working families in Tysons and in Reston,” Fleetwood said but didn’t volunteer a specific number.

Stephen Wilson, the president of SCG Development, which has an office in Tysons, offered examples at the meeting of how his company has worked around small parcels of open land.

At Ovation at Arrowbrook in Herndon, SCG Development is branching out and working with community planners to incorporate affordable housing close to stations like Innovation Center.

“Land is a precious commodity everywhere, but particularly around high-density areas,” he said.

Image courtesy Fairfax County

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Metro’s services are gearing up for a return to a “new normal.”

More buses and trains and expanded hours of service are set to begin this Sunday (Aug. 16), restoring most service to pre-COVID-19 levels. The McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro and Spring Hill Metro stations are set to reopen on Sunday, along with the West Falls Church stop.

The Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church Metro stations are expected to reopen around Labor Day (Sept. 7), according to the announcement.

Metrorail plans to add 15 more hours of service per week. Opening times will also return to normal, with the system closing two hours later each night in anticipation of ridership increases after Labor Day.

The system is expected to restore roughly 75 percent of its pre-pandemic service beginning Aug. 23. Buses would operate until midnight and weekday service would return with 174 routes.

The reopening of six Fairfax County stations on the Silver Line is also on track for this Sunday.

Here’s more from Metro on the planned service changes:

Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. on Sundays and close daily at 11 p.m.

Weekdays Red Line trains will operate every 5 minutes during peak periods and 12 minutes off-peak; all others lines every 8 minutes during peak periods and 15 minutes off-peak.

On weekends Red Line trains will operate every 12 minutes; all other lines every 15 minutes.

Six stations west of Ballston re-open — McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, Wiehle-Reston East and West Falls Church.

Arlington Cemetery Station remains closed as Arlington National Cemetery is currently closed to the general public.

Face masks or covering are required to travel on Metro, including at stations, trains, buses and MetroAccess vehicles.

Metro also warns that social distancing may be impossible due to projected ridership increases. Customers can consider traveling during off-peak hours.

Photo by Michelle Goldchain

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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is aiming to finish work on the Orange Line stations in Northern Virginia around Labor Day.

“[The] Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church are on target for completion around Labor Day, Sept. 7,” WMATA announced today.

Additionally, riders can expect several stations west of Ballston to reopen on Sunday, Aug. 16: the McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, Wiehle-Reston East and West Falls Church stations.

The six stations are temporarily closed for Silver Line Phase 2 work and platform reconstruction.

The news is a part of WMATA’s announcement that it is restoring most of its service with longer Metrorail hours and increased bus service.

More from WMATA:

Metrorail will add 15 hours more service per week, with opening times returning to normal and the system closing two hours later each night in anticipation of potential increases in ridership after Labor Day.

Metro today also announced a significant investment to support the region’s overnight workers by doubling the discount customers receive when using Lyft during times Metro is not available.

Metrobus will offer more buses, running more frequent service beginning Sunday, August 23 restoring approximately 75 percent of pre-pandemic service. Weekday service will improve on 174 routes with most routes operating close to normal. Buses will operate until midnight, an additional hour.

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Repairs are almost done along Leesburg Pike in Tysons as part of the Silver Line’s first phase.

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project shared photos of the concrete work on a new ramp along westbound Leesburg Pike, finished sidewalk repairs near the Spring Hill Metro station and finished work on the sidewalk, curb and gutter near Spring Hill Road.

Silver Line Phase 1 includes the four stations (McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro and Spring Hill) in Tysons along with the Wiehle-Reston East station.

“Crews will finish repairs along Route 7 and will complete final clean up and punch list items by the end of June according to a project executive,” according to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

Previously, the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project shared updates in April on crews placing concrete near Leesburg Pike for a new ADA ramp and excavation work along Old Meadow Road.

Photos courtesy Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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After construction-related closures, commuters can expect several Silver Line stations to reopen ahead of schedule, according to a press release from the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority.

On Aug. 16, WMATA plans to reopen the McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East stations along with the West Falls Church station.

“Assuming the platform work continues at its current pace, the remaining three west-of-Ballston stations (Vienna, Dunn Loring, and East Falls Church) are expected to reopen around Labor Day,” the press release added.

The timely completion of the projects can partially be contributed to the drop in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the press release said, adding that ridership is down 90% from this time last year.

“Metro has been working to efficiently use track access time during a period of historically low ridership,” the press release said. “Earlier this year, the transit agency combined Orange Line platform reconstruction and Silver Line signal integration into a multi-month summer shutdown of the nine rail stations west of Ballston”

Free shuttle busses will replace trains until the stations reopen, the press release said. “However, Vienna and Dunn Loring customers will be able to connect to Metrorail at West Falls Church, rather than Ballston.”

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors wants to refresh the Tysons Corner Metro station name and move forward the rebranding of Tysons without the “Corner.”

The name debate over Tysons — including #dropthecorner on social media — has been around for several years. The U.S. Postal Service agreed to the name “Tysons” for the 22102 and 22182 zip codes in 2011, and the U.S. Census Bureau changed the designation of Tysons Corner to Tysons in 2015.

As high-rise developments sprout in the urbanizing area, Tysons is still grappling with its identity tied to suburbia and the Tysons Corner Center mall.

“Renaming the Metrorail station to Tysons would also help with local rebranding efforts,” county staff wrote.

The board is set to vote tomorrow (Tuesday) on recommending name changes for the West Falls Church and Tysons Corner stations to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA).

The West Falls Church-VT/UVA station would have “UVA” dropped because the University of Virginia (UVA) alerted the Department of Transportation staff this spring that it plans to relocate its campus, which is currently near the Metro station, according to county documents.

The Board of Supervisors wants the changes adopted in time for new signage timed with the opening of the second phase of the Silver Line, according to county documents.

Combining these two changes with the upcoming changes for adding Silver Line phase II stations reduces the estimated net cost to Fairfax County to approximately $670,000,” county staff said. “Funding held in trust at the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for Fairfax County will be used to fund these name changes.”

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Obituary for Local Activist — “Barbara Cram, the dedicated and tireless community doer of good in Falls Church for decades, died at her home surrounded by her family Tuesday morning, according to a report from Sally Cole of the F.C. Chamber of Commerce, who was in direct touch with the daughter, Stacy Fierce.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Unemployment Data — “Northern Virginia’s unemployment rate hit 10% in April as business shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic ricocheted through the economy.” [Inside NoVa]

Protests in Falls Church — Students are holding a unity walk today at 1:30 p.m. On Sunday, a Black Lives Rally will be held at Cherry Hill Park at 11 a.m. [Eventbrite, Facebook]

Silver Line Challenges in Tysons — “Shops and restaurants in Tysons have already begun slowly reopening as the region has eased coronavirus-related restrictions, including those at the massive Tysons Corner Center. But without Metro, many workers are left scrambling to change their commutes — and big companies in the area feel they can’t adequately construct plans for when to bring their employees back to the office.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Crews have been busy working on projects in Tysons connected to the first phase of the Silver Line.

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project shared photos of the work has been like in Tysons throughout April.

Phase 1 includes the four stations (McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro and Spring Hill) in Tysons and the Wiehle-Reston East station.

The photos above show a variety of activities, from crews placing concrete near Leesburg Pike for a new ADA ramp to excavation work along Old Meadow Road.

Photos courtesy Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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