Tysons, VA

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday (Dec. 1) to nominate the Tysons Partnership to receive $1 million in additional economic opportunity funds

The funds will help the nonprofit continue wayfinding, business and event promotion, and other initiatives designed to support the growth of Tysons in accordance with the Tysons Comprehensive Plan.

The $1 million will come from Fairfax County’s Economic Opportunity Reserve fund, which goes to projects that are expected to stimulate economic growth in certain priority areas but don’t fall under the county’s capital improvement program or other standard procurement processes.

The county board nominated the Tysons Partnership for the fund in a joint board matter introduced by Chairman Jeff McKay, Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust.

“Since its inception, the Tysons Partnership has played a key role in the success that Tysons has seen,” Palchik said in the board matter. “…The projected trajectory for Tysons is robust and we need to do whatever we can to ensure that it is maximized.”

According to the board matter, assessed real estate tax values in Tysons have increased from just over $11 billion to nearly $17 billion in the seven years since Fairfax County established the area as a special tax district on Jan. 1, 2013.

The Board of Supervisors nomination is the first step in a review process that the board and county staff undertake before allocating any Economic Opportunity Reserve funds, according to the board matter.

By approving the board matter, the supervisors also directed county staff to work with the Partnership to develop a plan that explains the nonprofit’s role in the Tysons community and identifies governance rules, metrics for success, and a sustainable funding stream.

Palchik says she anticipates any recommendations that come out of the staff and Partnership group to be implemented in the timeframe of Fairfax County’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget.

“Tysons Partnership sincerely appreciates Fairfax County’s support for Tysons as an economic engine for the County and region,” the Tysons Partnership said in a statement.

The Tysons Partnership’s full statement is below the cut: Read More

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously and without discussion on Tuesday (Dec. 1) to begin the procurement process to find a contractor to build a new Tysons Fire and Rescue Station.

After occupying 1560 Spring Hill Road for 40 years, the new Fire Station 29 will be located at 8300 Jones Branch Drive in McLean, where it will share the site with the Tysons West Park Transit Station.

Constructed in 1978, the existing Fire Station 29 needs more apparatus bays to house fire trucks, major upgrades to its building systems, and enhanced living facilities for female personnel, according to Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Building Design Branch Chief Tiya Raju, who is managing the project.

The new station will be approximately 20,000 square feet in size with five bays. The current station only has three bays.

The two additional bays will enable the new station “to add emergency response units to meet future increased demand for emergency medical and fire suppression services to support population growth and high-density development in Tysons,” Raju says.

As part of the project, Fairfax County is planning to add a seven-bay bus transit facility to the Tysons West Park Transit Station. DPWES is also coordinating with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation on the construction of a future ramp through the site that will connect Jones Branch Drive with the Dulles Toll Road.

The county has approved a $15 million construction budget, estimating that the total cost of the project will be $20 million.

Plans to replace Tysons Fire Station 29 have been in the works for almost a decade since the county initially negotiated a proffer to move the station to the bottom floor of a mixed-use high-rise building in 2011.

After those plans fell through, Fairfax County opted to use an off-site alternative clause in 2016 that would allow it to construct a new station when needed instead of waiting for development. The Tysons West Park Transit Station emerged as the most appropriate location.

“The original fire station no longer meets the needs of the community or the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said. “The larger replacement fire station will have the capacity to add emergency response units in order to best serve the Tysons region, which is one of the fastest growing areas in Fairfax County.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Tysons IT Company Expands Microsoft Collaboration — “DXC Technology (NYSE: DXC) today announced an expanded strategic collaboration with Microsoft to deliver a more personalized, intelligent, secure and modern workplace experience to help companies to address rapidly evolving business challenges and customer and employee needs.” [Business Wire]

Falls Church City School Board Member to Resign — “Lawrence Webb, a member of the Falls Church City Council and School Board since 2008, announced his resignation as of Jan. 1 from the School Board on Tuesday.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Northrop Grumman Finishes Design Review of Artemis Astronaut Living Quarters — “Falls Church-based Fortune 100 defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. announced Wednesday it has completed the initial preliminary design review (PDR) for the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), which will serve as living quarters for astronauts at the Lunar Gateway mini space station during lunar exploration missions.” [Virginia Business]

The Boro Commissions Mural from D.C. Artists — “The new addition to the Boro is designed to invite passersby into the neighborhood and ‘infuse happiness and joy to everyone who sees it, whether that is a commuter on the metro, a resident or shopper at the Boro, or a driver on Route 7,’ the company said in a news release.” [Inside NOVA]

Photo via VDOT

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Efforts to rehabilitate the northbound and southbound Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) bridges over Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) in Tysons are now complete, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced today (Tuesday).

VDOT says the rehabilitation work was critical for “improving safety for drivers and pedestrians, giving drivers a smoother ride, and extending the overall life of the bridges,” which were first built in 1965.

The improvements include:

  • Repairing the bridge decks and resurfacing the decks with asphalt
  • Repairing bridge piers, abutments and bearings
  • Spot painting of steel bridge beams

The northbound and southbound lanes of Route 123 adjacent to the bridges were repaved.

Financed with federal and state money, including the State of Good Repair funding used for bridges, construction on the $2.5 million project began in January and concluded in November. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, according to VDOT.

VDOT says that Route 123 averages up to 31,000 vehicles a day, and Route 7 averages up to 86,000 vehicles per day at the bridges.

Photo via VDOT

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Tysons Partnership Celebrates Tysons Corner Metro Station Renaming — “This is an important step forward in the effort to unify the Tysons brand and foster a cohesive sense of place across our rapidly urbanizing neighborhoods…The new station name reflects our new urban, transit-oriented reality.” [Tysons Partnership]

Post Office Collection Box Thefts Reported in Vienna — “The incidents impacted collection boxes at Church Street and Lawyers Road, which is near the Vienna U.S. Postal Service location at 200 Lawyers Road NW. According to the police department, the most recent incident occurred overnight on Nov. 22 to 23.” [Patch]

Falls Church City Councilmember Participates in Vaccine Trial — “Falls Church City Council member David Snyder, who has served on the Council since 1994, announced last week that he participated in a trial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Tysons-based Alarm.com Concludes Virginia’s First Tech Apprenticeship Program — “Alarm.com recently wrapped up the first state-sponsored apprenticeship program for a tech company in Virginia. It included 10 weeks of technical instruction at Northern Virginia Community College, and nine months of on-the-job training.” [WTOP]

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The Fairfax County Police Department is investigating two different armed robberies that took place in Tysons last week.

The first took place in the 8300 block of Greensboro Drive at 3:39 p.m. on Nov. 14. The victim was approached by a man with a knife who demanded money. The man “forcibly took a wallet from the victim before walking away from the area,” the FCPD reported in its weekly recap on Nov. 20.

The victim in that incident suffered injuries, but they were not life-threatening.

The second reported incident occurred at 2:19 a.m. on Nov. 19 in the 8600 block of Westwood Center Drive.

According to Fairfax County police, two men armed with guns forced their way into a hotel room occupied by three victims. The men assaulted one of the victims and took cash and personal property before walking away from the area.

The assaulted victim was taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, police say.

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Monday Morning Notes

Routine Maintenance Closes Parts of Clemyjontri Park — “While some sections are closed, others will remain open and the work will rotate throughout the playground from Sat., Nov. 21 through approximately Fri., Dec. 4, 2020.” [Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter]

Tysons Sheraton Liquidation Sale Shows Impact of Pandemic — “[Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association Eric] Terry estimated 20 Virginia hotels closed on a temporary basis during the pandemic, and although most have since reopened, the outlook is bleak. More hotels may follow the Sheraton’s path.” [DCist]

Social Distancing Santa Offers Sense of Normalcy — “The Wells were among a stready stream of families entering Santa’s Headquarters at Tysons Corner Center Friday night with a reservation in hand for their annual picture with Santa Claus.” [ABC7-WJLA]

Pandemic Pushes Key Retailers out of Founders Row Project — “Business casualties from the coronavirus pandemic hit home for the City of Falls Church, with major retailers in hybrid theater-restaurant Studio Movie Grill and City Works restaurant both backing out of their commitment to the Founders Row Development due to financial troubles.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors voted on Thursday (Nov. 19) to grant Fairfax County’s request to drop the “corner” from the name of the Tysons Corner Metro Station.

The board simultaneously approved a name change for the Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station in Maryland. That station will now be called Hyattsville Crossing.

The name changes were approved despite the results of surveys of riders and members of the public that found most respondents “significantly preferred” the stations’ current names over the proposed replacements, according to a report by WMATA’s safety and operations committee.

“History with Metrorail Station naming informs us that our riders and the communities we serve develop attachments to rail station landmarks and resist change,” WMATA staff said in the report.

For the Tysons station, only 36% of the online public survey’s 5,508 respondents said they like “Tysons” as a station name, compared to the 45% who disagreed and the 67% who said they like the name “Tysons Corner.”

However, 62% of respondents agreed that the name “Tysons” is easy to remember, and 58% said it would not be easily confused with other station names. 48% said the name clearly conveys the station’s location, and 47% said it describes the location well, surpassing than the 35% and 36%, respectively, who disagreed with those statements.

While the affirmative percentages are higher in all categories for Tysons Corner than they are for Tysons, those results are evidently positive enough that WMATA staff believes objections to the name change will dissipate once community members become familiar with the new moniker.

“Six in 10 survey respondents found the name [“Tysons”] easy to recall and not confusing with other names,” the staff report says. “Should the Board wish to approve the jurisdiction’s request, it is likely that the new name will become synonymous with the surrounding community over time and customers will find it sufficient for wayfinding.”

All of the Metro directors who were present for the vote supported the name changes, except for District of Columbia First Vice Chair Stephanie Gidigbi, who cited concerns about the public feedback when opting to abstain from the vote.

WMATA announced on Oct. 27 that Fairfax County and Prince George’s County had submitted formal name change requests for the Tysons Corner and Prince George’s Plaza stations.

According to the safety and operations committee report, Metro is planning systemwide signage and rail map changes in preparation for the second phase of its Silver Line service, which is not likely to start service until next summer.

With a Dec. 31 deadline for signage changes to be finalized, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors requested that Metro rename its Tysons Corner station as part of the county’s ongoing efforts with the Tysons Partnership to rebrand the area around the Tysons Corner Center mall as Tysons.

The Board of Supervisors has also asked Metro to rename the West Falls Church-VT/UVA Metro Station to reflect that the University of Virginia no longer has facilities nearby as of April 2020.

Like Prince George’s County, Fairfax County has committed to funding the $332,000 needed to change signage at the affected stations, according to WMATA.

Staff photo by Catherine Douglas Moran

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The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is currently exploring possibilities for adding more transit routes to Tysons along the Interstate 495 corridor as part of its I-495/American Legion Bridge Transit and Transportation Demand Management Study.

Joined by Virginia Department of Transportation and Maryland Transit Administration officials, DRPT presented some potential options for new connections at a public meeting on Wednesday (Nov. 18) that provided updates on the transit study and VDOT’s I-495 Express Lanes Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project.

DRPT officials have identified Tysons, Dunn Loring, Reston, and Arlington as key destinations in the corridor, noting that there tends to be more demand for travel from Maryland to Virginia than the other way around.

“There is significant travel between activity centers on the Maryland 355 corridor and Silver Spring to destinations like Tysons, Dunn Loring, and the Virginia Route 7 corridor,” DRPT Northern Virginia Transit Planning Manager Ciara Williams said. “A great deal of transit services operate in the study area. However, there are no transit services today that directly link the major activity centers.”

After looking at a variety of potential transit connections between Virginia and Maryland on 495, DRPT singled out eight possibilities that merited further study and ranked them based on their ability to add ridership relative to their cost, the service they would provide to low-income and minority populations, and the number of people and jobs to which they would improve access.

Five out of the eight preliminary possible transit routes go to Tysons. A sixth route – and the one that received the highest score – goes through Tysons to connect Bethesda and Dunn Loring.

A proposed transit route that would go from Gaithersburg, Md., to Tysons during the morning peak period and in the other direction during the evening peak period is the only one that got a top score for productivity, equity, and connectivity.

However, the Bethesda-Dunn Loring and Bethesda-Tysons routes ranked higher, because a trips-per-day metric included in the productivity score was weighted higher to prioritize routes with the potential to yield the highest ridership levels, according to Williams.

The other routes that DRPT is considering evaluating further are Germantown to Tysons, Silver Spring to Tysons, Frederick to Arlington, Bethesda to Reston, and Frederick to Tysons.

The American Legion Bridge transit study started in December 2019 after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced an agreement to fund the $1 billion project to replace and widen the bridge, which is part of the Capital Beltway and currently the only way to travel between Maryland and Virginia without going through Washington, D.C.

“495 is one of the most congested roadways in all of Maryland and Virginia, and traffic is forecasted to increase in the future,” Williams said. “…We see that there’s a need for transit and TDM solutions in conjunction with the planned and managed Express Lanes to efficiently and effectively serve travel across the bridge.”

The transit study is being conducted in parallel with the proposed 495 NEXT project, which extends the existing 495 Express Lanes roughly three miles from the Dulles Toll Road and I-495 interchange to the George Washington Memorial Parkway near the American Legion Bridge.

DPRT Transportation Chief Jennifer Debruhl says the study team anticipates releasing its draft recommendations for public comment in early December before finalizing the study early next year.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott, slides via Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation

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Metrorail and Metrobus users in Fairfax County may be seeing service changes next year.

Proposed by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority staff to help close a $176.5 million-gap in the budget for this fiscal year, the changes span management actions to service changes to deferred capital projects. WMATA staff say the Silver Line expansion will not be impacted.

The proposed budget revisions are currently under review and will be voted on by the WMATA Board of Directors this Thursday (Nov. 19).

This deficit is mostly a result of an 80% reduction in revenue from ridership, WMATA Virginia Government Relations Officer Gregory Potts told the Greater Tysons Citizens Coalition during a meeting on Nov. 12.

The Metro saw a 90% drop in ridership across the board, including Tysons, Potts said. The declines in train and bus usage began in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they persist today.

Nine months into the pandemic, Metrobus ridership is down by 60%, a slight recovery from the 80% drop seen earlier in the year. That change can be partly attributed to the number of essential workers who may not be able to afford a car but still need to get to their jobs, Potts said.

“It’s been pretty eye-opening to us how important the bus is to the region,” Potts said. “Sometimes rail gets all the attention, but the bus system is really important to a lot of individuals. It’s an equity issue for us.”

WMATA staff are recommending Board members vote to authorize management actions and save $30.5 million, to defer non-safety related capital projects and save $30 million, and to make service reductions amounting to $116 million in savings.

The cuts could have been worse. A first draft of the plan released in September had more changes and cuts, because the deficit was projected to be $212 million. The plan was revised after WMATA opened up the plan for public comment, pushed its CARES Act money further, and found additional savings in operating costs.

WMATA initially projected the $546 million it received from the CARES Act would only last through 2020, but the agency now says it will stretch until March 2021. It also saved $35.5 million that would have paid for overtime, fuel, utilities and other costs.

Despite public objection to some reductions in services, a few bus lines that have been suspended in Fairfax County will remain on hold under WMATA’s updated budget plan.

It is hard to pinpoint when transit rates could return, Potts said.

“If you’re talking about pre-COVID-19 rates or more generally, some talk of ‘normalcy,’ where there are people wearing masks but more people riding, for transit, there will be an impact for longer than we want to imagine right now,” Potts said.

Currently, WMATA cleans buses, trains, and high touch-points daily, and it disinfects on demand with an electrostatic fogger machine, he said. Staff are providing riders with masks. Bus riders board from the back and the operators are protected by plastic shields.

Earlier this year, the Metro board approved a six-month deferral of the fare changes that will last through November.

To eliminate contact with employees, WMATA launched a SmartTrip app for Apple in September that enables contactless mobile fare payment. An Android app will be available by the end of the year, according to Potts.

“That’s good for convenience and safety,” he said.

Despite initial concerns about people contracting the novel coronavirus while using public transit, some preliminary studies internationally have demonstrated that “transit has not been known to be a transmitter in the way that other facilities may be,” Potts said.

Another positive development is that platform renovations to improve safety and accessibility at the Metrorail stations in Vienna, Dunn Loring, East Falls Church, and West Falls Church were completed on time.

“We’ve finished 10 platforms in the last year and a half,” Potts said. “It’s really moving along well. With the pandemic, they could actually maintain their schedule.”

Staff photo by Jay Westcott, slides via WMATA

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