Tysons Corner, VA

Fairfax County officials are set to consider changes to the intersection of Swinks Mill and Lewinsville Roads in McLean later this fall.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is currently studying the intersection.

The study “included survey, operational analysis, intersection concepts and collaboration with Fairfax County,” Jenni McCord, a VDOT spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

A traffic signal, a traffic signal with intersection modifications and a roundabout are under consideration, she said.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said that the intersection would need more than a traffic signal to improve congestion and safety.

“Given the layout of the current intersection, installing a traffic signal is not straightforward,” Foust said. “Even though the intersection meets the VDOT warrants for a traffic signal, VDOT is required to evaluate other measures to make the intersection safer.”

Foust said that he plans to meet with VDOT and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation in late fall to discuss the options and funding.

“The final report is being drafted and should be completed later this fall, and will include high-level cost estimates for all three concepts being analyzed,” McCord said.

Map via Google Maps

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Next week, people can give their input on ways to improve Route 50 in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is holding a meeting on Monday (Oct. 21) to get community feedback about a Route 50 study that started in June and is currently underway.

The study is looking at potential safety and operational changes for three miles of Route 50 between Jaguar Trail and Wilson Blvd. Up to 51,000 vehicles travel daily in the area of Route 50, according to VDOT.

Possible improvements include:

  • traffic signal timing/operations
  • turn lane
  • turn restrictions
  • access management
  • pedestrian enhancements
  • innovative intersections

The meeting is set to take place in the cafeteria at Falls Church High School (7521 Jaguar Trail) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. A short presentation will start at 7 p.m., followed by time for questions with VDOT staff.

People can take an online survey and submit comments at the meeting or by Thursday, Oct. 31, to Bobby Mangalath, at 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

VDOT plans to hold another information meeting when the study wraps up in the spring.

Photo via VDOT

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The Vienna Town Council is looking to add new transportation options to make getting around town easier.

Michael Gallagher, the director of public works, presented information about microtransit service and potential grants to the Vienna Town Council last night (Monday).

Microtransit falls in the middle of private, individual transportation like taxis and mass public transit.

“It’s like Uber with shuttle buses,” Gallagher said, adding that it’s designed to be low-cost or fare-free.

People within a certain geographic area would be able to request rides through an app. Microtransit routes and schedules are flexible to try to match the demand for trips, he said.

“There’s really no data yet because it’s fairly new,” he said, noting that D.C. is one of the areas around the country exploring microtransit service.

Microtransit would cost between $200,000-$400,000 per year for the third party running the system, Gallagher estimated.

As for funding, Gallagher told the Town Council the upcoming application deadlines for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) and Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT).

Councilmembers were supportive of pursuing the new option.

“If we can get a grant for a pilot program, I think that would be a great option for the town,” Councilmember Pasha Majdi said. “I think this should be considered without making major budget commitments.”

Councilmember Linda Colbert supported the idea for a trial period, adding that she is interested in seeing how many people would use microtransit compared to Uber or another ridesharing service.

Most of the debate was about how quickly the town staff would need to act in order to meet different grant deadlines.

Councilmember Douglas Noble argued the town should not seek funding immediately, saying that microtransit needs to be considered in the context of other transportation options. The council is set to hear about the multi-modal study from Kimley-Horn on Nov. 6.

Majdi noted that there may not be a lot of information about microtransit’s feasibility since it is a new technology.

Gallagher said that he is meeting with NVTC in about two weeks to discuss potential grants. The Town Council said that it will continue the discussion of microtransit service this year.

“Do you want to get a microtransit service that gives everyone a ride everywhere wherever they want to go 24/7 or do you want a shuttle that takes people back and forth to the Metro?” Majdi said. “Very, very different levels of service.”

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The Vienna Town Council is looking to implement a pilot program for dockless scooters and bicycles 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. Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church are also currently drafting up their own pilot programs for scooters.

At a work session last Monday (Sept. 9), the Vienna Town Council raised safety concerns while discussing a proposed pilot program by Public Works staff.

Councilmember Steve Potter said that he is worried that scooters going at 20 miles per hour could end up hurting pedestrians and urged the council to consider the fiscal impacts of the program, like impounding costs, late filing fees and recovery costs.

“I think we should have a schedule for public input surveys and public education efforts,” Potter said, adding that he wants representatives from the police department to also be involved in the decision making. “This is no small thing.”

Mayor Laurie DiRocco asked the Town Attorney to find out if the council can mandate helmet wearing for dockless scooter and bicycle riders.

Currently, the town is considering implementing a one-year-long pilot program instead of an ordinance before the January deadline. According to town documents, the program is based off the programs by Fairfax, Alexandria, Falls Church and Arlington County.

The proposed program would cap the maximum number of devices to 250 per company, allowing the company to increase the number up to 25 more e-scooters or e-bikes with “if they demonstrate at least three trips per device per day in the previous month.”

Each company would have to pay a one-time permit fee of $5,000 and a right-of-way use fee of $0.05 per trip.

While town staff suggested negotiating with Kimley-Horn, a consulting firm that focuses on transportation, planning and engineering, Councilmember Doug Noble balked at the idea of working with the firm because of its ties to private consulting. “They are not the only show in town,” Noble said.

Noble also urged the Town Council to look into investigations of scooters’ battery fires and inadvertent sudden stops.

Councilmember Pasha Majdi suggested that the Town Council implement “an extremely limited pilot program as a placeholder until a multi-modal plan with Kimely-Horn is created.”

Majdi adamantly said that he does not want to see motorized scooters on sidewalks — a sentiment he said scooter companies like Lyme and Bird share.

Getting data on how often the scooters go from Vienna to Tysons could give the Town Council insight into scooter demand in the area, Councilmember Nisha Patel said.

“I believe that will tell us a lot about how often these scooters will be used,” Patel said. “We are so close to Tysons and Tysons is the next major city in the area.”

In addition to the data, Patel said that parking hubs for scooters could help cut down on littered scooters around town. “It’s like dispositing your shopping cart in those metal racks,” Patel said.

Councilmember Howard Springsteen suggested forwarding the proposal to the Transportation Safety Commission — an idea that was supported by several councilmembers and the mayor.

The proposed pilot program is set to go before the Town Council on Dec. 9.

“We should get this done,” Springsteen said. “The clock is ticking.”

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New proposals to address transportation issues in the Town of Vienna will be unveiled and up for community discussion at a meeting next week.

The town commissioned the Maple Avenue Corridor Multimodal Transportation & Land Use Study to look at transportation needs and impacts from development. Kimley-Horn, a consulting firm that focuses on transportation, planning and engineering, started the study in the spring.

The study area spanned Maple Avenue from James Madison Drive to Follin Lane and also along Church Street from Lawyers Road to East Street, as well as Courthouse Road and Locust Street.

The $80,000 study was funded through capital improvement bond funds, according to a press release.

The study was broken into three phases:

  • looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the current transportation conditions
  • estimating the impact of future development
  • brainstorming and evaluating possible strategies

Project Manager David Samba said in a press release that Maple Avenue’s dual functionality as a local street and a regional road in one of the challenges noted in the study.

“When you look at Maple Avenue, the first thing people tell you is that there’s too much traffic,” Samba said. “So some of our recommendations are geared toward finding ways to alleviate traffic congestion and bottlenecks.”

Kimley-Horn will present recommendations from the study at a meeting next Wednesday (Sept. 4).

“Transportation recommendations could include changes to vehicular access, geometric and operational modifications to specific intersections or locations, transit service improvements, enhancements to bicycle and pedestrian networks, and transportation demand management policies and strategies,” according to the Town of Vienna.

Ultimately, the town is looking to implement near- and mid-term solutions for transportation woes — like safety and accessibility — along the corridor.

“The firm received more than 150 responses to a community survey and obtained feedback and insights at two previously held community meetings,” according to the press release.

The community meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall Council Chambers (127 S. Center Street).

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Much of the roads affected by the flash floods two weeks ago have been fixed, but two routes through McLean remain out of commission and will require long term repairs.

Kirby Road and Swinks Mill Road at the eastern and western edges of McLean respectively are both blocked off at roughly the halfway point where the roads were severely damaged by floodwaters.

Replacing the damaged bridges will take several months, according to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) spokesperson Ellen Kamilakis.

A part of Kirby Road has been broken off with much of the supporting infrastructure underneath completely swept away. According to a press release from VDOT:

  • A segment of road just south of Claiborne Drive was washed away. The remaining asphalt in that location has been undermined.

  • Asphalt on the approaches to the deck of the VDOT bridge over Pimmit Run was damaged, but temporarily repaired the same day. The bridge also has damage to the guardrails and abutments (the “legs” that support the bridge deck) and retaining wall.

  • Pimmit Run will need to be realigned to its original location.

  • The sanitary sewer line and underground utilities were affected.

  • Damage to VDOT infrastructure is not preventing access to any homes.

  • Note: A privately owned and maintained bridge across from Claiborne Drive was severely damaged and homeowners are evaluating repair options.

Meanwhile, at Swinks Mill Road the asphalt on the bridge was completely destroyed, with the guard rail and large chunks of the road visible warped and scattered down the creek bed. According to the VDOT press release:

  • Several hundred feet of asphalt approaching the bridge on both sides was damaged.

  • Asphalt on the bridge deck was destroyed. Also, the bridge has sustained damage to the guardrails, abutments, and retaining wall.

  • Bridge scour (removal of sand and gravel from around the abutments) was observed.

  • Debris was observed in Scotts Run.

  • Damage to VDOT infrastructure is not preventing access to any homes.

Currently, VDOT said surveys are underway for the planned realignment of both streets. Preliminary design work has started for both bridges and road repairs, according to the press release.

Removal of debris is expected to continue alongside more extensive survey work at both locations. Once bridge designs are finalized, VDOT said the bridge and road repair plans will be put out for construction bids.

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The City of Falls Church wants to know how people who live or work in the city get around the area.

The city has two surveys available — one for residents and one for workers — to gather transportation data.

The surveys will be open until the end of July, Deputy City Manager Cindy Mester told Tysons Reporter. After the surveys close, the results will get analyzed and then posted online.

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is working to create a scooter program before scooter companies are allowed to zoom around however they please starting next year.

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 operate locally as they see fit.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said there is a “sense of urgency” to create scooter rules on the county level.

“[The county has] to have an ordinance in by the end of this year or it becomes the wild, wild west,” Foust said.

Scooters, an increasingly popular alternative transportation option, are already in use in the county.

Staff from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and the Department of Cable and Consumer Services presented a scooter program proposal to the county board during the Transportation Committee at yesterday’s meeting (Tuesday).

Chris Wells, the bicycle and pedestrian program manager for FCDOT, said that companies see scooters as an attractive form of alternative transportation.

“Fortune 500 companies are requesting this,” Wells said.

County staff suggested that proposed scooter program limit each company to 250 scooters, set the speed limit at 15 miles per hour and not restrict the devices to specific geographical areas of the county, according to the presentation.

Foust raised concerns about the 15 mph speed limit — “To me, it’s too fast” — and requested a demonstration.

The program would be regulated by the Department of Cable and Consumer Services.

When creating the proposal, county staff reviewed ordinances and pilot programs in nearby jurisdictions like Arlington, the City of Fairfax, the City of Alexandria and D.C., partly to possibly provide consistency around the area.

“The research is showing these are a type of transportation device used by a more diverse population,” Wells said, adding that “Tysons and Reston would be a great place for scooters to fit into the infrastructure.”

Overall, the board voiced support for the proposal.

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay said he supports the program as a traffic calming tactic, although he said that “scooters are probably floating around somewhere” after major flash flooding earlier this week.

“It does send a message that we are a county that is trying to promote transportation,” McKay said.

While the scooter program is tentatively scheduled to go before the board during the December meeting, Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith said she wants to see the board vote sooner on a scooter program proposal.

“I’m supportive of what’s on the table,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said, adding that the board can always amend an ordinance. “I think what staff is proposing sounds like a good way to get us started.”

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Update on 7/10/19 — Both lanes of Kirby Road from Dolley Madison Blvd. to Claiborne Drive are open, but traffic barriers have been set up past that, according to information from the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management and forwarded by Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust.

Earlier: Severe weather damage will keep Kirby Road closed in McLean to through-traffic for the foreseeable future.

The road runs from Dolley Madison Blvd near the George Washington Memorial Parkway down to Great Falls Street. But flooding at Pimmit Run from storms yesterday means that while residents in the area are able to access their homes, the route no longer connects Dolley Madison Blvd to Old Dominion Drive.

https://twitter.com/VaDOTNOVA/status/1148731850686439424

“We have no specific timeline, but it will be weeks,” Ellen Kamilakis, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation, told Tysons Reporter. “The water tore right through the road [and] exposed the area underneath all the way.”

Part of the upper asphalt is visible carved away by the storm, but Kamilakis said the damage underneath is so extensive that the road would not be able to support the weight of a car. Kamilakis said the road will require complete reconstruction — and a review of whether the road needs stormwater upgrades.

Earlier today (Tuesday) traffic on the road was stopped near Dolley Madison Blvd as the crew worked to finish clearing a debris-cluttered bridge, but Kamilakis said the closure will be tightened up to just the area immediately surrounding the broken section of the road.

Kamilakis said the cleaning crews had been working overnight to clear away the debris, and the VDOT Twitter noted that the efforts were rewarded by one local man who brought water to the workers.

Those trying to get from northern McLean to areas near Arlington will either have to go thrown “downtown” McLean or go further east to Glebe Road.

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In the wake of Capital One opening the region’s tallest office building, the nearby McLean Metro station has had a sharp increase in Metro traffic.

New data from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission compared Metro ridership in January, February and March with the same period in 2018. All of the Silver Line stations in Virginia saw an increase in ridership over the previous year, part of an ongoing trend.

Overall the McLean Metro station had the largest increase in ridership with 20.6 percent growth.

The Greensboro Metro station, site of The Boro development and other projects aiming to compete with Tysons Corner Center as a commercial hub, also saw substantial ridership increase with an 18.4 percent growth.

The most popular station is Wiehle-Reston East — the end of the line — with 1,018,980 total riders over three months. In Tysons, the most population station was Tysons Corner with 490,212 riders over three months.

The Spring Hill Metro station had previously seen a 2.9 percent decline in ridership between last winter and the one before, but in the three months that followed the station saw a modest 2 percent increase in ridership over the previous year.

Photo 2 via Tysons Partnership/Twitter

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