Tysons, VA

The intersection of Westpark and Westbranch Drives in Tysons just became safer with new updates from the Virginia Department of Transporation, according to a press release.

The updates include new signage, pavement markers and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant curb ramp upgrades, the press release said.

The additions will also include four Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) crossings, which alert hearing-impaired pedestrians when it is safe to cross, according to the VDOT website. Though this feature isn’t operational yet, the press release said people can expect it to function within a few weeks.

More than 11,000 cars use this intersection on a daily basis, according to the press release.

Photo courtesy VDOT

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Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said he’s supportive of plans to extend the express lanes on I-495, but has major concerns about the timing of the project with Maryland’s piece.

The I-495 Northern Extension Project would expand express lanes from the Dulles Toll Road to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, replace overpasses and noise walls and add a shared-use path. The project could save drivers up to 25 minutes during peak-hour commute times, according to the presentation given at the meeting.

Toll revenues are expected to support the cost of the project, according to the presentation.

Maryland is currently evaluating its options to rebuild and widen the American Legion Bridge, Susan Shaw, from the Virginia Department of Transportation, told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Preliminarily, construction could start on Virginia’s portion of the project in 2021 and take three years to finish, Shaw said.

“Obviously, solving the congestion issues at the American Legion bridge are just absolutely essential that we do that,” Foust said at the Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday. “This project doesn’t solve the congestion problems.”

While Foust said that the project is a “necessary piece of the puzzle that will do that,” he said that most of the relief will come from increasing capacity and widening the Beltway from Maryland.

Foust said he thinks it would be a “huge mistake” to start the Virginia part of the project before it can get aligned with Maryland’s timeframe.

“Timing is everything here,” Foust said. “You’ve got to get this coordinated better with what they’re doing in Maryland or a bad situation is going to get worse.”

A public meeting on the project is set for March 12 at Langley High School (6520 Georgetown Pike) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Public comments will be accepted through March 30, although Shaw said the public can reach out anytime after that.

“You want to extend the express lanes, but that’s not a good enough public purpose reason for doing this,” Foust said.

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The Virginia Department of Transportation is gearing up to study Shreve Road in the Falls Church area.

The Shreve Road Community Working Group announced yesterday (Tuesday) that VDOT identified funding for the study.

“VDOT is in the process of scoping a planning study on Shreve Road between Lee Hwy (Route 29) and Leesburg Pike (Route 7),” Jennifer McCord, a VDOT spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter. “This study will follow up on the recently completed speed study, seek community input and identify potential improvements along the corridor.”

The study is expected to start in the spring and take about six to 10 months, McCord said.

“The cost of the study is still being finalized, but these studies typically run between $50,000 and $100,000,” McCord said.

“As part of the project, a traffic engineering consultant from VDOT will review Shreve Road from Route 29 (Lee Highway) to Route 7 (Leesburg Pike), obtain input from local residents, and identify possible safety and traffic solutions,” according to the working group.

The working group has been advocating for efforts to improve the road after a fatal hit and run near the intersection of Shreve Road and Hickory Street in August.

“The Shreve Group has prioritized the need for pedestrian infrastructure so that children can safely access Shrevewood Elementary School, and cyclists and pedestrians can securely approach crossings for the W&OD trail,” according to the group. “The Shreve Group has also highlighted the dangers at multiple 90-degree turns along the road.”

Back in December, the working group held a town hall with elected officials to address safety concerns along the road, which runs through Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church.

Earlier last fall, VDOT reduced the speed limit from 35 to 30 miles per hour from Leesburg Pike (Route 7) to Wieland Place. At the town hall, several attendees called for lowering the speed limit.

Following the town hall, VDOT sent a letter to Del. Marcus Simon (D-53rd) on Jan. 6 saying that Fairfax County’s transportation department received a grant for pedestrian improvements around Shrevewood Elementary School and that VDOT is working with Fairfax County.

“[VDOT is] also in contact with the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority, regarding their plans to possibly redesign their roadway crossings of the Washington and Old Dominion(W&OD) Trail,” the letter says.

Image via Google Maps

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Construction work on the Jones Branch Connector is set to finish this spring.

The bridge over I-495 connects the North Central and Tysons East neighborhoods and is undergoing a $60 million project that will add two travel lanes and on-street bike lanes in each direction.

The two travel lanes in each direction have opened already, Mike Murphy, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

Now, the bike lanes and sidewalks are left.

“Weather permitting, the bicycle lanes and sidewalks will open to traffic within the next couple months,” Murphy told Tysons Reporter.

The project is still on track for spring 2020 completion, Murphy said.

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Work is set to start on Friday to rehabilitate the Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) bridges over Leesburg Pike (Route 7).

The Virginia Department of Transportation announced today that drivers can expect lane closures on both routes mostly during the night for the next several days.

The schedule is:

  • Sunday-Thursday: 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Friday: 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Saturday: 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

State and federal State of Good Repair funding is paying for the $2.5 million project, according to VDOT. Construction is slated to finish in late 2020 and includes:

  • repairing and resurfacing the concrete bridge decks
  • repairing the bridge piers, abutments and bearings
  • painting the steel bridge beams
  • repaving Route 123 adjacent to the bridges

Once completed, VDOT says that the northbound and southbound bridges will be safer for drivers and pedestrians and lengthen the lifespan of the bridges, which were built in 1965.

“At the bridges, Route 123 averages up to 30,000 vehicles a day and Route 7 averages up to 86,000,” according to VDOT.

Photo courtesy VDOT

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Dozens of community members gathered at Shrevewood Elementary School last night to hear about the latest work to address safety concerns along Shreve Road.

The road, which runs through the City of Falls Church and Fairfax County, has been the focus of a push for improved safety from the Shreve Road Community Working Group, a coalition of residents and community associations advocating for improvements to the corridor, along with elected officials and residents.

“What brought us here originally is the terrible tragedy,” Jeremy Hancock, the co-founder of the Shreve Road Community Working Group, said at the meeting, referring to the Falls Church resident who died from a hit and run near the intersection of Shreve Road and Hickory Street.

Hancock said that 140 people submitted feedback about the road in a survey and that the group is pushing for changes to both specific things, like crosswalks for the school, and also address systemic issues, like speed.

“We have heard for a long time the concerns along Shreve Road,” Hancock told Tysons Reporter. “Our greatest impact is getting the community together.”

Del. Marcus Simon (D-53rd) kicked off the town hall informing locals about accomplished and upcoming actions by local officials for the road “right now.”

Here are some of the things locals can expect, according to Simon and Allison Richter, the liaison to Fairfax and Arlington counties for VDOT:

  • lowered speed from 35 to 30 miles per hour from Leesburg Pike (Route 7) to Wieland Place
  • replacing older signs that weren’t reflective anymore
  • trimming back vegetation covering the signs
  • reducing sign clutter by taking out old signs that are no longer needed

“At the end of the day, there was good reason to decrease the speed limit on that portion, but traffic engineers found other speed limit was adequate,” Richter said about the recent speed study.

New signs with the new speed limit will be up soon, she said.

Even with the speed reduction in the one area, several attendees in the audience voiced concern that the speed is too high and dangerous.

“Speed is a big factor to results of a crash,” one person said.

“We want to make sure we don’t artificially lower the speed limits,” Richter responded to attendees’ comments. “People drive the speed they want to drive and then it becomes a burden on the police department.”

An attendee who claimed to be a former police officer with Fairfax County said that drivers can often go up to 10 mph above the posted speed limit without fear of getting a ticket. The police representatives at the meeting declined to comment on the attendee’s comment.

In response to concerns about the sharp turn on Shreve Road near Oldewood Drive, Richter said, “If we straighten the curves and widen the lanes, it encourages speed.”

Simon mentioned that there are bigger projects proposed for the road that require grant funding.

Richter and Simon said proposed changes include:

  • changing the intersection of the W&OD Trail and Shreve Road
  • creating a new walking route from Route 7 to W&OD Trail
  • federal funding for three new crosswalks along Shreve Road, including at Fairwood and Virginia lanes

“Let us get all of this implemented plus give it a little bit of time and see how traffic adjusts,” Richter told the attendees. “And if we’re still having a lot of issues, we can continue to talk.”

Bonnie Kartzman, the co-founder of the Shreve Road Community Working Group, said that community involvement with sending letters to elected officials and attending meetings help the cause.

Kartzman urged attendees to sign up for the working group’s email newsletter and volunteer.

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The Fairfax County supervisors representing Tysons and McLean voiced support for a proposed change that would allow residents to access roads with restricted turns during peak-hours.

Currently, a joint program from the transportation departments for Virginia and Fairfax County restricts access to neighborhood roads during peak-hour traffic — including the residents.

Fairfax County has three cut-thru restrictions in place. Four additional ones are at various stages, including:

  • Dead Run Drive/Carper Street in McLean
  • Electric Avenue/Williams Avenue/Overlook Street in the Tysons area
  • Allen Avenue in the Falls Church area

Earlier this year, Virginia General Assembly passed a law allowing local jurisdictions to create a program to issue permits or stickers to residents to make turns into or out of a designated area during certain times of the day when those turns are not allowed.

Now, Fairfax County is considering creating the program with permits.

“Permits would not be available for visitors, caregivers, service providers, non-resident owners, relatives, or other non-residents,” according to a presentation to the Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday).

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has submitted a budget request for fiscal year 2021 to pay for the change.

“We have not received any funding to pay for this,” Henri Stein McCartney, a transportation planner for FCDOT, told the board.

While the supervisors mostly agreed that cut-thru traffic is — as Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay called it — a “bad problem” made worse by navigation software like Waze, they disagreed on whether or not to pursue the proposed change.

Chairman Sharon Bulova said that she is worried about not allowing people who need to get to the homes in the cut-thru area but aren’t residents.

Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross echoed Bulova’s concerns, saying that the program would create an “equity problem.”

“I don’t see anything that is broken here that needs to be fixed,” Gross said.

Gross also said that she does not support the “enormous” cost of the $230,000 software needed for the change.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust argued that residents should have access to the cut-thru areas, saying that the proposed change would allow more people in instead of keep more people out of the areas.

“Not being able to turn into your own neighborhood is what keeps neighborhoods from doing [the cut-thru program],” Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said. “We need to have some sort of selectivity here.”

Other supervisors, like McKay, voiced indecision on the proposal.

FCDOT now plans to work on a draft ordinance for a Board of Supervisors public hearing.

Photo via Facebook

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Plans for a new speed hump aim to slow down drivers near a high school and senior center in Pimmit Hills.

Last Tuesday (Dec. 3), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors backed adding a speed hump to Griffith Road between Magarity Road and Lisle Ave.

The speed hump will be located in front of the building (7510 Lisle Avenue) that houses the Pimmit Hills Senior Center, the Pimmit Hills Alternative High School and the Pimmit Alternative Learning Center.

The county board voted to urge the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) to install the speed hump as soon as possible after residents in the area called for measures to reduce the speed of traffic on the road, according to county documents.

Back in October, FCDOT received support from the nearby community for the traffic calming plan for the road after FCDOT had an engineering study done on the road, the county said.

Now, the Virginia Department of Transportation will review the plan, which is a part of FCDOT’s Residential Traffic Administration Program.

The new speed hump is expected to cost $8,000, according to county documents.

Map via Google Maps 

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Updated at 1:15 p.m. — Shortly after 1 p.m., the lanes reopened, MATOC tweeted. Drivers can expect delays up to 2.5 miles. 

Earlier: Drivers can expect delays from a tractor-trailer crash on I-495, which has caused the closure of several northbound lanes.

The crash is located along the highway north of Leesburg Pike (Route 7), according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The crash happened shortly after 12:30 p.m., according to a tweet from the Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination Program.

The left, left-center and right-center lanes on northbound I-495 are currently closed, according to VDOT.

As of 1:10 p.m., traffic is backed up from I-66 to the Dulles Access Road along northbound I-495, according to Google Maps.

Map via Google Maps

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Westbound Georgetown Pike by the Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is closed after a brush fire broke out.

All of the westbound lanes are closed on Georgetown Pike near Swinks Mill Road, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Fairfax County sent out an alert about the lane closures at 3:15 p.m.

Traffic has already backed up severely along Georgetown Pike as of 3:30 p.m., according to Google Maps.

Map via Google Maps

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