Tysons Corner, VA

Updated 5/22/2019 — A new plan could widen the Beltway in McLean, but nearby residents say the plan won’t do anything to fix the bottleneck of traffic.

At a meeting in Cooper Middle School (977 Balls Hill Road) yesterday (May 20), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) presented plans to add new toll lanes from the Dulles Toll Road to the American Legion Bridge to help alleviate a severe bottleneck in the region.

The plans for the toll roads have been in the works since last June, but the need for a solution to Beltway congestion was highlighted in March when a tanker crash paralyzed regional traffic.

VDOT’s plans call for the expansion of express lanes to the bridge and connections with the Dulles Toll Road. A connection to the George Washington Parkway is being considered, but options are included to not have the express lanes connect to the parkway.

VDOT officials said the three bridges in McLean that pass over the Beltway would be replaced and would include new pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

But for over an hour, McLean residents expressed outrage at the expansion of the Beltway and a perception that the decision had already been made behind closed doors. Residents who felt empowered by a recent rejection of a proposal to limit access to Georgetown Pike from McLean — a proposal that new state legislation means could come back — asked why this expansion was being treated as a done deal.

“[That] was a transportation solution for a neighborhood problem,” Susan Shaw, megaprojects director for VDOT, said at the meeting. “This project is a regional transportation project. We will consider input from communities, but we will also be considering transportation improvements for the region. If we only let direct impact communities decide — we would never provide any regional project.

One of the biggest criticisms — raised by State Senate candidate Nicole Merlene running against Barbara Favola — was that the success of the project seemed dependent on the expansion of the bridge and connection to toll roads on the Maryland side, projects that are still in early stages.

Shaw said that no traffic analysis was ready yet to show the impact of the toll lanes without improvements on the Maryland side, but she said that would be considered before final approval.

“We don’t have that traffic analysis yet, but I would expect there to be a bottleneck without increased capacity on the bridge,” said Shaw. “I think the question is, ‘Are there other improvements that we would see on this project? If there’s a period of time where Virginia is in on this project and Maryland is not, are there transportation benefits?’ That will be included in the assessment.”

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Morning Notes

New Theater Coming to Tysons Galleria — “The soon-to-close Macy’s at Tysons Galleria will be replaced with multiple storefronts — including what appears to be an iPic movie theater — each with their own facade and materials to set them apart. That’s the word from a Fairfax County staff report published last week ahead of a planning commission hearing on an amended sign plan for the Galleria, which specifically addresses the 260,000-square-foot Macy’s. That store alone accounts for 30 percent of the upscale Galleria.” [Washington Business Journal]

Journalist’s Mosque Opposition Questioned — The leader of the community opposition to an expansion of the McLean Islamic Center’s prayer service is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi asks: should mainstream journalists be taking activist stances against religious institutions, even in a community setting? [Washington Post]

McLean Fire Causes Extensive Damage — The manage estimate from Friday’s big house fire in McLean is $1.1 million. Three people were displaced by the fire. The cause is still under investigation, according to the Fairfax County Fire Department. [Facebook]

Positive Results for I-66 Tolls — “Since HOV lanes went into effect on I-66 one year ago, the results have been largely positive. Carpooling has increased, and motorists are traveling at higher speeds and experiencing fewer collisions thanks to less congestion.” [Greater Greater Washington, WTOP]

DXC Makes Another Acquisition — “Tysons-based DXC Technology announced Monday plans to acquire Luxoft Holding Inc. (NYSE: LXFT) in a deal worth roughly $2 billion. The New York-based Luxoft provides digital strategy consulting and engineering services for countries across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.” [Washington Business Journal, BusinessWire]

Photo courtesy @tysonspartners

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Starting Jan. 1, prices are scheduled to go up for those driving on the Dulles Toll Road.

The cost to passenger vehicles will increase from $2.50 to $3.25 at the main toll plaza and from $1 to $1.50 on ramps, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).

The toll road is operated and maintained by the MWAA.  The toll increases were approved in November to help finance the further expansion of the Silver Line’s Phase 2 development.

The Silver Line’s expansion is financed by a combination of toll-road revenues, airport contributions and federal, state and local government appropriations.

The new rate increases are the first since 2014. But the increase has also drawn opposition from groups like airport workers union UNITE HERE Local 23, which says the cost of the Silver Line should be pushed onto airlines rather than commuters.

Photo via MWAA

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Morning Notes

I-66 Tolls Shifted Behavior, Did Not Improve Traffic — “The new high-occupancy toll lanes on one of the busiest highways in the Washington region have sparked dramatic shifts in commuter behavior, prompting motorists to alter their commute times and routes, data show, while yielding tolls as high as $47.50 — some of the highest per mile in the country.” [Washington Post]

‘Green’ Vienna Businesses Recognized — “Nine Vienna businesses who have successfully completed the Town’s 2018 Sustainability Challenge were recognized at last night’s Town Council meeting… Through the program, certified businesses tally points on a checklist of green practices that they undertake as part of day-to-day operations.” [FairfaxNews]

Local Restaurants Open On Christmas — Staying in town for the holidays and planning to dine out? Patch has compiled a list of McLean, Vienna and Tysons restaurants that are planning to remain open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. [Patch, Patch]

Rough Night for Silver Line Commuters — Those heading home on the Silver Line last night faced delays, offloading and other issues during the evening commute due to a track problem outside of Foggy Bottom. [Twitter, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Crash in Idylwood Area Closes Road — Idylwood Road was closed in both directions during this morning’s rush hour due to a two-vehicle crash that caused live wires to fall across the roadway. [Twitter, Twitter]

High I-66 Tolls This Morning — “Hump day is often considered one of the heavier traffic days for local commuters, and the day after the elections was no exception. The toll along I-66 lanes, inside the Beltway, reached $45.50 just before 9 a.m. The toll prices are dynamic and change every six minutes, depending on speed and traffic volume. Those who are solo and traveling at peak times have to pay them.” [Washington Post]

Last Night’s Sunset — Across the D.C. area last night, the sky lit up at sunset after an extended stretch of rain and overcast gloom. The spectacular sunset was particularly picturesque when set against the Tysons skyline. [Twitter, Twitter]

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