Tysons, VA

With sunnier and warmer days ahead, a portion of Tysons Blvd is poised to become a space for cyclists and pedestrians looking for more room to social distance.

Robin Geiger, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Transportation Department (FCDOT), mentioned the plans during a town hall with county officials yesterday.

“We’re going to close a portion of Tysons Blvd to allow for safer biking and pedestrian access for exercise, to increase social distancing, so people can get around Tysons,” Geiger said.

The upcoming closure is part of a pilot project with Tysons Partnership, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, Geiger said. While Geiger did not say when the partial road closure is expected or which portion will be closed, she said that FCDOT will announce more information soon.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik praised the project, saying that “it does take quite a bit of coordination” for the county and VDOT to work on road projects.

“I’m just thrilled,” Palchik said.

Closing roads to give cyclists and pedestrians more space during the pandemic has been gaining traction around the U.S., WAMU reported.

“I know bikes are being sold quite a bit these days,” Palchik said, adding that “we take this opportunity to improve our bikeability and walkability.”

Image via Google Maps

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(Updated at 6:25 p.m.) Locals way have to wait a little longer than expected for safety solutions along Shreve Road in the Falls Church area due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The road, which runs through the City of Falls Church and Fairfax County, has lately been the focus of safety concerns from local residents and the Shreve Road Community Working Group.

A study is underway by the Virginia Department of Transportation to address the road’s issues. Allison Richter, the liaison to Fairfax and Arlington counties for VDOT, gave an update on the study during a virtual town hall on Monday (May 4).

“We expect there are going to be some solutions that will have to take a little longer,” she said.

Richter said that the COVID-19 pandemic and Virginia’s stay-at-home order have hampered data collection.

“[VDOT is] not doing traffic counts because it’s not as it normally is,” she said. “We’re a little bit held back in some of our studies.”

Status of Projects Along Shreve Road 

So far, the traffic engineering group has reviewed and replaced “obsolete signs,” Richter said.

Dalia Palchik, the Providence District representative on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said during the meeting that the county is waiting for contractors to finish work near the intersection of Shreve Road and Virginia Lane.

Additionally, she said NoVa Parks is working with an engineer to address work at the W&OD Trail crossing and Shreve Road.

Palchik said that drivers should keep an eye out for lane closures near Gordon Road and Route 7 due to pipe installation.

Providence District School Board Member Karl Frisch said in his email newsletter today that 10 new parking spots have been added to Shrevewood Elementary School.

“Weather permitting, phase two will begin on May 15. When completed, about 17 new spots will have been added,” Frisch said.

Palchik said that the meeting that the new spaces will “help get the cars off of Shreve and into the school.”

Next Steps for Safety Solutions

The study is aiming to identify short- and long-term solutions, along with areas where upgrades are needed and people have continually reported issues, Richter said.

VDOT has lowered the speed from 35 to 30 miles per hour from Leesburg Pike (Route 7) to Wieland Place. Richter said that calls from residents to reduce the speed further to 25 miles per hour is still a possibility.

“I’m not going to rule that out, but we’ll also be looking at other measures like increasing enforcement or traffic calming tools,” she said, adding that a speed study was done in 2019.

People can expect the final report sometime in November, according to Richter’s presentation.

Public Support Sought for Grant Application

The Shreve Road Community Working Group’s website notes that people can submit comments on a grant application to Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA).

According to the group’s website, the $6.9 million transportation grant would be used to:

  • install a 10-foot multi-use path and 6-foot planting strip along Shreve Road
  • add a crosswalk near the intersection of Shreve and Gordon roads
  • add a landscape buffer and lighting changes

People have until May 24 to submit comments online or via email at [email protected]

Image via Google Maps

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Work on a new ramp linking eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro station is expected to start today (Monday).

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said in a press release that the work, which is a part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project, will connect two existing ramps.

“This direct access will save time for motorists on I-66 East who are headed to the West Falls Church Metrorail station and reduce traffic on Route 7,” Mark Gibney, VDOT’s design-build project manager, said in the press release.

More from VDOT:

When the project is complete, drivers will exit I-66 East for Route 7, stay left to connect to the ramp from Route 7 East to I-66 East, then stay right to reach Falls Church Drive and the West Falls Church Metrorail station.

All improvements will be performed within existing VDOT right-of-way.

Construction activities will begin with shoulder strengthening on the left side of I-66 East approaching the Route 7 interchange and along the left side of the Route 7 East ramp to I-66 East so traffic can be shifted to the left.

The two existing ramps will remain open during construction, although traffic shifts and occasional overnight traffic stoppages will be required. Construction will occur during daytime and nighttime hours.

VDOT expects the new ramp to open later this year.

Map via Google Maps 

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors plans to tackle traffic problems along Old Meadow Road as the Tysons One East project advances.

Yesterday, the board approved a rezoning request to increase the floor area ratio for a planned office tower near the McLean Metro station.

Akridge and the Ronald D. Paul Companies are plan to develop 1690 Old Meadow Road, a triangular spot between Dolley Madison Blvd and the Old Meadow Road, into a 15-story tower with Class A offices, restaurant, retail space, parking podium and outdoor terrace.

The development was held up by the acquisition of a public right-of-way.

“This application was filed on land area inclusive of VDOT right-of-way which was in the process of being acquired by the applicant,” according to county documents. “While VDOT on behalf of the Commonwealth concurred in the filing of the application, they generally will not sign the proffers, and would not in this case.”

Now that the right-of-way woes have been resolved, the county, developers and residents are trying to find ways to change the Old Meadow Road.

Scott Adams, the attorney with McGuireWoods who is representing the developer, said that the project includes a proffer for a traffic signal improvement at Colshire Meadow Drive and funds to build and improve roads in Tysons.

Amy Tozzi with the Old Meadow Coalition told the county officials during the public hearing yesterday that nearby residents have traffic and safety concerns that they worry won’t get addressed by the project.

“We understand all development is messy, but it shouldn’t imperil existing communities,” she said.

In response to Tozzi, Adams said that issues with the grid of streets in Tysons and accessing Old Meadow Road from Route 123 are too large for the project to address.

“Some of the concerns that they have are broader in scope than the smaller application we have,” he said.

As part of the board’s approval, county staff will work to create a plan to speed up transportation improvements to calm traffic along Old Meadow Road.

The changes could include:

  • realigning the Old Meadow Road and Route 123 intersection
  • constructing Lincoln and Roosevelt streets from Old Meadow Road to Magarity Road
  • advance previously approved proffered transportation commitments like the traffic signal at the intersection of Old Meadow Road and Colshire Meadow Road and the Tysons East grid of streets

“In identifying improvements and solutions, staff should coordinate with stakeholders on Old Meadow Road, including residents and business owners and property owners,” according to county documents.

Image via One Tysons East

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Editor’s note: Tysons Reporter will temporarily have “Morning Notes” every weekday instead of twice a week to accommodate more news.

Fava Pot Owner Shares COVID-19 Impacts — “Her 2-year-old restaurant had been doing well — until the first week of March, when she first noticed a 30% drop in business. Then, she said, it kept dropping “like crazy” every day thereafter. By the second weekend in March, she saw sales plummet 80%.” [Washington Business Journal]

Profile of a Falls Church Barbershop — “On the surface, Smitty’s looks and feels like any black barbershop… But Smitty’s is much, much more to the immediate community. It’s an institution. And even in this time of terrible uncertainty for our older generations around the world, Smitty’s — now owned by Smith, 79, and his wife, Marcia — has been a comforting constant for the black and elderly of Falls Church and, more broadly, Fairfax County.” [Washington Business Journal]

Plans OK’d for Tysons Transmission Line — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on March 24 unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the proposed undergrounding of a Dominion Energy electricity-transmission line in Tysons… The proposed Tysons project would underground a transmission line between the existing Tysons substation and future Spring Hill substation.” [Inside NoVa]

Repaving Map Now Online — The Virginia Department of Transportation has started its 2020 paving season to resurface roads. People can look at an interactive online map to see which roads are scheduled to be resurfaced this year. [VDOT]

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meeting in McLean on the plans to extend the 495 Express Lanes is being rescheduled to a date in April, the Virginia Department of Transportation said.

The meeting was originally set for tonight (Thursday) at Langley High School.

VDOT announced the meeting’s postponement this morning, after saying yesterday that it would be live streamed and filmed.

Several residents raised concerns about the meeting earlier this week, worrying that it could increase the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

VDOT is planning to present the results of the 495 NEXT environmental study and traffic analysis, along with hearing feedback and questions from the public.

Currently, the 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension project — a.k.a. 495 NEXT — would extend the 495 Express Lanes north from the I-495 and Dulles Access Road interchange up to the American Legion Bridge and add two new tolled express lanes in each direction.

“The meeting will be rescheduled for April,” VDOT said. “Details will be provided next week.”

People can submit comments either online, by email, by mail or at the future meeting.

Image via Google Maps

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Updated 3/12/2020 — VDOT announced that the meeting will be postponed to a date in April.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. — A Dranesville District Supervisor email this evening says that the meeting will be live streamed. 

Earlier: For people avoiding meetings to prevent the coronavirus, an upcoming meeting on the plans to extend the 495 Express Lanes will be filmed.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is set to present the results of the I-495 NEXT environmental study and traffic analysis on Thursday, March 12.

The meeting is scheduled to last from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Langley High School (6520 Georgetown Pike). People will have a chance to provide comments and ask questions after the presentation at 7 p.m.

VDOT said in an email today (Wednesday) that the video of the meeting will be available online starting Monday (March 16).

Currently, the 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension project — a.k.a. 495 NEXT — would extend the 495 Express Lanes north from the I-495 and Dulles Access Road interchange up to the American Legion Bridge and add two new tolled express lanes in each direction.

People will have through April 15 to submit comments either online, at the public hearing, by email or by mail.

“Questions or requests for more information can be emailed to [email protected] virginia.gov, and a project representative will respond,” VDOT said.

VDOT said that the meeting would be rescheduled if Fairfax County Public Schools close. If inclement weather happens, the meeting would get moved to next Wednesday, March 18.

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County officials celebrated the completion of the Jones Branch Connector today, calling it a vital new link to improve connectivity in Tysons.

The Virginia Department of Transporation (VDOT) and Fairfax County officials held a ribbon-cutting this morning (March 5) at the corner of Scotts Crossing Road and Capitol One Drive in Tysons.

The new half-mile roadway, called Scotts Crossing Road, runs between Jones Branch Drive and Route 123 over the Beltway and includes two lanes of traffic, a bicycle lane and an illuminated sidewalk for pedestrians in each direction, according to a VDOT press release.

“A wide, raised median is also reserved to accommodate future transit,” the press release said.

Though the $60 million price tag for such a short stretch of the road may seem high, Bill Cutler, the district construction engineer for VDOT, said that “it speaks to the complexity of the project.”

In the future, if Fairfax County decides that the overpass no longer makes sense for vehicle and pedestrian traffic, it is designed in such a way that construction crews will be able to strip the concrete and repurpose the project, for example, to become a trolley way, Cutler said.

For now though, “the project is expected to relieve traffic along Route 123, at the Route 123/I-495 interchange and other locations,” the press release said, adding that more than 32,000 vehicles are expected to use Scotts Crossing Road per day by 2040.

Speakers and guests at this morning’s ceremony included Dalia Palchik and Jeff McKay from the Board of Supervisors.

“This is part of our economic success plan,” Palchik, who represents the Providence District, said. “We know that if we don’t have connectivity [and] mobility, it will make things harder and harder for people to get around enjoy coming and going to work.”

Following up on Palchik’s statement, Cutler said that this new connection will allow people using different modes of transportation to more easily move between the communities and neighborhoods in Tysons.

The project, which was approved by the county in 2010, is the first one to be completed from the Tysons Comprehensive Plan Amendment, according to the press release.

Work on the project started in 2017, and in late 2018, one traffic lane opened in each direction. By January, all four travel lanes were open.

“Final detail work” is expected this month, but shouldn’t impact traffic, according to the press release.

“The completion of the Jones Branch Connector marks a milestone in our collaborative efforts to improve our transportation network to support the growth of Tysons,” McKay said. “This project helps us move more people more efficiently and continues to build upon a grid of streets that encourages the use of multi-modal transportation alternatives.”

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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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