Tysons, VA

The Vienna Town Council was set to hear proposed ideas for how to improve transportation along Maple Avenue area on Monday night — but that discussion got pushed to next year.

Town staff was slated to present recommendations from the Maple Avenue Multimodal Study — a study by Kimley-Horn meant to suggest near- to mid-term solutions regarding transportation along the corridor. But the study wasn’t ready.

Lynne Coan, a spokesperson for the town, told Tysons Reporter that now the discussion of the study and recommendations have been postponed to the Jan. 13 work session.

Town staff already have a list of top priorities they want, along with ideas for future studies and strategies.

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People in the Tysons area had a chance last night to provide feedback on several preliminary concepts that would change the Silver, Orange and Blue lines.

The concepts are a part of a two-year study to address both short- and long-term needs. For people in Tysons, one option would let trains turn back at different areas along the Orange, Blue or Silver Lines, while another option would create new Silver Line connections north or south of I-66.

Around 5 p.m. last night (Tuesday), a dozen attendees showed up to the open house at the Courtyard by Marriott Tysons-McLean (1960A Chain Bridge Road) — just in time for a presentation by Mark Phillips, the project manager for the reliability study.

Phillips said that capacity issues at the Rosslyn tunnel for the three lines prompted the study.

“It’s created reliability issues,” Phillips said. “If there is a breakdown, which has happened a couple of times this week, on one line, it impacts the other two.”

Phillips said that dangerous activity — like people holding the doors open and overcrowding — and an expected increase in ridership along the three lines also prompted the study.

By 2040, an 18% increase in daily ridership — roughly 40,000 new riders — is expected on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, according to informational boards at the meeting.

Informational boards gave the benefits and trade-offs for all of the preliminary concepts, along with a board comparing how the concepts do or do not meet Metro’s four goals: capacity, reliability, flexibility and sustainability.

People have until Jan. 6 to provide feedback via an online survey.

The list of ideas will get narrowed down once feedback from the public and external stakeholders — including six technical and advisory committees — has been received. A cost/benefit analysis is set to happen in the spring or summer, followed by a recommendation in the fall.

Phillips said that he expects the recommendation to include both short- and long-term changes.

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Proposed ideas for how to improve transportation along the Maple Avenue area are set to be discussed at the Vienna Town Council’s work session tonight (Monday).

Town staff is slated to present recommendations from the Maple Avenue Multimodal Study — a study by Kimley-Horn meant to suggest near- to mid-term solutions regarding transportation along the corridor.

“Staff expects a draft of the final report from Kimley-Horn the week of Dec. 9,” according to town documents.

According to town documents, the staff’s top priority recommendations include:

  • redesigning the intersection of Church and Mill streets
  • redesigning the W&OD Trail crossings at Maple Avenue, Church Street and Park Street
  • changing crossing signals so pedestrians have extra time to cross
  • adding a local circulator route between Maple Avenue and Church Street destinations
  • installing  concrete sidewalks along segments of Church Street, Glyndon Street and Courthouse Road

Additionally, the staff would like to see the following studies and strategies done:

  • study of parking supply and demand
  • traffic impact analysis guidelines
  • Bicycle Master Plan to develop a bicycle network for the town
  • Streetscape Master Plan and Design Guidelines

The Vienna Town Council is expected to provide feedback on the list of projects to staff.

Image via Town of Vienna 

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Last week, Metro revealed several preliminary concepts that would change the Silver, Orange and Blue lines.

The concepts are a part of a two-year study to address both short- and long-term needs.

For people in Tysons, one option would let trains turn back at different areas along the Orange, Blue or Silver Lines, like the West Falls Church or East Falls Church Metro stations, while another option would create new Silver Line connections north or south of I-66.

Now, Metro wants to hear from community members that would be affected by any changes.

People can provide feedback about the ideas at several meetings this month, including a Tysons-area meeting next week.

The meeting is set to take place on Tuesday (Dec. 17) at the Courtyard by Marriott Tysons-McLean (1960A Chain Bridge Road) from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

People can also provide feedback via an online survey that will be open until Jan. 6.

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Starting next year, motorized scooters will be able to go up to 8 miles per hour in the Maple Avenue and Nutley Street corridors.

The General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year allowing localities to regulate motorized scooters and skateboards before Jan. 1.

The Vienna Town Council approved last night (Monday) a one-year pilot program for shared mobility devices, which include motorized scooters, ahead of the end-of-year deadline.

The devices will be able to go up to 8 mph on the Nutley Street and Maple Avenue corridors and in areas adjacent t0 schools, parks and recreation centers. On side streets, the devices will be able to go up to 20 mph.

Town staff said that it is anticipated that people will use the devices on the sidewalks on Nutley and Maple and in the road on the side streets.

Each operator will be required to pay a $5,000 fee to the town and be capped at 150 vehicles per the mode of transportation — motorized scooters or bikes — for each company.

Currently, the town has not capped the number of companies.

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Yesterday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) released several preliminary concepts for alternative routes affecting Metro riders in Northern Virginia.

For people in the Tysons area, two concepts would create new Silver Line connections by I-66 — one north and another south of the highway.

The concepts stemmed from a study to find solutions for bottlenecking of the Silver, Orange and Blue lines at the Rosslyn Metro station, according to WMATA.

“This bottleneck limits the number of trains that can serve customers during rush hour,” according to WMATA. “In addition, running three lines on one track requires precision, and even a minor problem with a single train can impact the entire rush hour for all three lines.”

WMATA is looking to get community feedback on the ideas and plan to host a meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 17) at the Courtyard by Marriott Tysons-McLean (1960A Chain Bridge Road) from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Let Tysons Reporter know what you think of the new concepts and which one(s) would affect you. Feel free to share ideas in the comments below.

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Metro riders could see some new routes for the Silver, Orange and Blue lines in the future.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority released today (Thursday) several preliminary concepts for the three lines that include alternative routes. The concepts are a part of a two-year study to address both short- and long-term needs, according to WMATA.

More from WMATA:

Today customers on Metro’s Blue, Orange, and Silver lines experience delays, crowding, and congestion due to limitations in the system’s design. The three lines share one set of tracks from the Rosslyn tunnel, through downtown DC, to Stadium- Armory. This bottleneck limits the number of trains that can serve customers during rush hour. In addition, running three lines on one track requires precision, and even a minor problem with a single train can impact the entire rush hour for all three lines.

The BOS Study has identified several draft concepts to improve service and position Metro to serve the future needs of our region. Input from the public and stakeholders will help Metro evaluate the concepts and recommend a comprehensive strategy with a “locally-preferred alternative” to move forward with federal environmental review, design and funding in late 2020.

For people in Tysons, one option would let trains turn back at different areas along the Orange, Blue or Silver Lines, like the West Falls Church or East Falls Church Metro stations.

Another concept would create new Silver Line connections north of I-66:

Concept: Provide new Silver Line service through a new tunnel under the Potomac River into DC and Maryland, north of I-66.

A new tunnel under the Potomac River would provide a new Silver Line “corridor” north of I-66 that could operate as local service, express service or a mix, with different service options:

Option A: Operate new Silver Line service between West Falls Church, Mid-City DC, Union Station, Northeast DC and Prince George’s County.
Option B: Similar to Option A, but Silver Line service would operate from McLean instead of West Falls Church.
Option C: Operate new Silver Line service between Tysons, Bethesda or Friendship Heights, northern DC and Prince George’s County.

Yet another concept would create new Silver Line connections south of I-66:

Concept: Provide new Silver Line service through a new tunnel under the Potomac River into DC and Maryland, south of I-66.

A new tunnel under the Potomac River would provide a new Silver Line “corridor” south of I-66 that could operate as local service, express service or a mix, with different service options:

Option A: Operate new Silver Line service from West Falls Church along Route 7 and Columbia Pike, then across the Yellow Line Bridge to Southeast DC and Prince George’s County.
Option B: Similar to Option A, but the Silver Line would turn southward to Crystal City and National Airport rather than heading to DC.

WMATA plans to solicit feedback from the public about the ideas at several meetings this month. The Tysons-area meeting is set to take place on Tuesday (Dec. 17) at the Courtyard by Marriott Tysons-McLean (1960A Chain Bridge Road) from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

The online survey will be open until Jan. 6.

People can find more information about the preliminary concepts online.

Two images via WMATA

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Updated at 3:30 p.m. —  Routes 630, 640 and 650 will also not operate a full Sunday service today, the county announced this afternoon.

Fairfax Connector is continuing to cut its bus service today (Thursday) due to worker strikes, impacting commuters in the Tysons area.

The strike today came after negotiations for a contract extension didn’t pan out, along with a strike at a Metro garage in Lorton. Strikes are taking place until 5 p.m. today in Herndon, Newington and Fairfax.

In an announcement yesterday (Wednesday), Fairfax County said that Fairfax Connector routes will operate on a Sunday service today.

This morning (Thursday), the county said that five routes that were set to operate on a Sunday schedule won’t run today, including routes 423 and 721 in the Tysons area, and that several routes — 505, 983, 981, RIBS 2 and RIBS 4 — will not operate full Sunday service today.

That leaves Fairfax Connector with about one-third of its bus routes still in service today.

More from the county’s transportation department:

The contract between Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1764, the union representing the bus drivers and mechanics, and Transdev, Fairfax County’s contracted bus operator, expired on Nov. 30, 2019.

As a result of the job action, Transdev does not expect all drivers represented by ATU Local 1764 to report for work on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, and bus service will be operated by a limited number of available personnel. The decision was made to operate a Sunday schedule instead of a weekday schedule because that is believed to be the maximum level of reliable bus service that can be provided under the current circumstances.

Fairfax County officials are urging commuters to find other forms of transportation today.

People can contact Fairfax Connector customer service at 703-339-7200 for updates on service impacts, sign up for text or email alerts and follow Fairfax Connector on Twitter and Facebook.

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(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Tysons area commuters heading to and from Maryland on the Beltway may see some relief from the constant traffic woes.

The governors of Virginia and Maryland announced an agreement Tuesday morning that would see the construction of a new American Legion Bridge.

The agreement to rebuild the bridge is being billed as “historic” and “a big win for Northern Virginia, the metro region, and our entire Commonwealth” by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

The new bridge will “relieve congestion at one of the country’s worst traffic chokepoints,” according to a press release, below. “The project is expected to cut commuting time in half for many travelers, reduce congestion in the regular lanes by 25 percent, provide 40 percent more lane capacity over the old bridge, and include bicycle and pedestrian paths across the Potomac River.”

The new bridge will be build on largely the same footprint as the existing bridge, but with two new express lanes in both directions. The initial stages of construction could begin as early as 2021.

More via a press release from the governor’s office:

Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) and Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) today announced a bi-state, bipartisan accord to create a new, unified Capital Beltway, replace the aging American Legion Bridge and relieve congestion at one of the country’s worst traffic chokepoints. The two governors made the announcement at the annual Capital Region Transportation Forum in Washington, DC.

“A new bridge means commuters will get to work and back home faster,” said Governor Northam. “Our teams have identified a way to fix one of the worst traffic hot spots in the country. This demonstrates what can get done when leaders come together to find shared solutions to tough regional problems. This is about helping people see their families more, grow their businesses, and further unlock the region’s vast economic potential.”

“The ‘Capital Beltway Accord’ is a once-in-a-generation achievement for the capital region,” said Governor Hogan. “A bipartisan, commonsense, interstate agreement such as this has eluded elected leaders throughout the region for many decades. Together with our partners in Virginia, we are building a foundation for even greater economic growth, greater opportunity for our citizens, and advancing real, lasting, transformative improvements for the entire Washington metropolitan region.”

The project complements ongoing plans by both governors in their jurisdictions–advancing a region-wide vision for a seamless network of reliable travel options around the Capital Beltway, and along Interstates 270 and 95, 395, and 66.

The project is expected to cut commuting time in half for many travelers, reduce congestion in the regular lanes by 25 percent, provide 40 percent more lane capacity over the old bridge, and include bicycle and pedestrian paths across the Potomac River.

The American Legion Bridge has been operating beyond its capacity for nearly four decades. Daily traffic has grown 390 percent since the bridge opened in 1962, with 235,000 vehicles using it daily. More than 40 percent of the region’s population travels this segment of the Capital Beltway, and the region expects to grow by another 1.2 million people by 2040. Both governors have made it a top priority to identify a long-term, seamless solution for the Capital Beltway.

The project will replace the existing lanes in each direction across the Potomac River and add two new Express Lanes in each direction for approximately three miles between the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to the vicinity of River Road in Maryland. New bicycle and pedestrian access will connect trails on both sides of the Potomac River. The project is being designed predominantly within the footprint of the existing bridge and right-of-way to minimize impact to travelers, the environment, and surrounding communities. No homes or businesses are expected to require relocation.

“This is once-in-a-generation project that will improve accessibility throughout the region,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “This is a milestone in regional cooperation. We in Virginia look forward to working hand-in-hand with Maryland to deliver this transformative transportation solution.”

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As the January deadline looms, the Falls Church City Council discussed proposals for e-scooters before state laws take effect and the city loses its chance to create regulations.

Concerns arose at both the Oct. 21 and Oct. 28 City Council meetings, including potential funding issues, underage use, parking and the upcoming pilot program. The pilot program would be limited to two scooter vendors, leaving companies to compete for a one-year trial period, Councilmember Ross Litkenhous said.

If implemented, the program would allow 14 scooters per 1,000 people into city limits. On average, the scooters would cost users $1 to unlock and a $0.25 per-minute fee, according to statistics gathered from Arlington and Alexandria.

On average 20% of e-scooter users ride them for social or entertainment purposes, while roughly 20% use them for shopping and errands. Another 20% use them to commute to the metro. Scooters could help to solve the first-to-last mile commuter problem, an expert brought in by the City Council and Councilmember Phil Duncan said.

There was some talk at the Oct. 21 meeting about using scooters to raise revenue for the city, by adding on taxes and unlocking fees. The city would charge each vendor an $8,000 permitting fee, regardless of fleet size, according to city documents. But no one seemed to have a concrete answer to the total profits.

“It would be interesting to see how much we can get out of it without impacting the demand,” Litkenhous said.

Councilmember Dave Snyder took another perspective, saying that it might cost the city more money. He said that police would be distracted by monitoring people, ensuring they are following laws and guidelines while riding the scooters.

Parking was yet another major focus of the conversations.

Several people suggested corrals, while others said that they encourage people to lean them against polls that are out of the way of pedestrians and cars. All of the councilmembers agreed that measures should be taken to ensure that they are not being left in the way of traffic or parked illegally in yards.

“Parking is going to be one of the major sources of complaints we will get, so we should prepare for that,” Councilmember Letty Hardi said.

Going forward, the Falls Church City Council will continue to discuss potential implementation plans before they make a final decision. At the next City Council meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 12), councilmembers are expected to discuss a first reading of the new ordinance regarding motorized scooters and shared mobility devices.

“I really think the success of this pilot is going to hinge on good communication,” Hardi said. “Lowering the bar to explain this won’t be perfect, [but] is important.”

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