Northern Virginia is rolling back COVID-19 restrictions on businesses as residents are under a “safer at home” recommendation. As the weather continues to warm up and more people head outside, people are finding limited transportation options.
In late May, staff photographer Jay Westcott captured what transportation looks like now in Tysons: cyclists and pedestrians along the W&OD Trail in Vienna and closure signs at the Tysons Corner Metro station.
Westcott spotted a dog named Cora watching her owner Chad exercise in the parking garage at Tysons Corner Center. He photographed Leesburg Pike, almost empty of cars, by the malls and empty parking garages around Tysons.
Let us know how you’ve been getting around Tysons and if the pandemic has impacted your transportation choices by commenting below.
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
Foot traffic in McLean will soon have a clearer path thanks to a new project updating several sidewalks.
Around 13,000 square feet of sidewalk at 250 locations around McLean will be updated, according to a press release. The updates are a part of a McLean Community Revitalization District project.
Backing the project, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said walkability is one of his priorities.
“These repairs will extend the useful life of our infrastructure and make it safer for our community to conduct business, run errands, recreate, and enjoy exploring downtown McLean,” Foust said in a press release.
The area around the intersection of Old Chain Bridge Road and Old McLean Village Drive is one of the places slated to receive a sidewalk facelift, according to the press release.
Sidewalks were chosen for the project based on criteria including excessive cracks, severe cross slopes and missing sections.
“Over the last few years, several other infrastructure improvements have been made in the area to make McLean a more walkable and bikeable community,” the press release said.
Construction was expected to begin in April and will likely be finished by the end of June, depending on the weather, according to the press release.
Photo courtesy Fairfax County
In the spring, Vienna and Herndon want locals to take part in a biking and walking event featuring raffle tickets for prizes.
“Caboose to Caboose,” which will take place early May, aims to encourage people to shop, dine and explore their town and the other one. The towns want people to go from caboose to caboose — Vienna’s is at 234 Dominion Road, while Herndon’s is at 777 Lynn Street.
The total roundtrip distance is 16.6 miles, and people who don’t want to make the whole trip can stop halfway if they want, the flyer says.
Google estimates that the bike ride one-way takes 50 minutes, while walking would take roughly three hours on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.
The towns’ parks and recreation departments came up with the idea during a meeting in October, Amy-Jo Hendrix, who works in Vienna’s parks and recreation department, told Tysons Reporter.
Participating restaurants and businesses in both towns will give out raffle tickets during the event. Brandy Wyatt, another employee in Vienna’s parks and recreation department, said that all of the raffle tickets will be mixed together.
“There are a variety of things that are on the raffle,” Wyatt said, adding that people can expect the prizes to include store gift cards and sports tickets.
The first 200 registered participants will receive a t-shirt representing their town — blue for Vienna and red for Herndon, according to the website. The town that gets the most people to register for the event will win the “Mayors Cup.”
“I want to win!” Mayor Laurie DiRocco enthusiastically told attendees at the Vienna Business Association’s event last week.
Admission is $10 for people ages 15 or under and $18 for people ages 16 and older. People interested in participating can contact Vienna’s parks and recreation department at 703-255-6360.
The event will take place rain or shine on Saturday, May 2, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Photo via Lisa Emrich/Facebook
Happy Friday! Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:
Remembering a McLean Teacher — “Rita Olson, beloved music and science teacher at The Country Day School, has passed away. After a courageous battle with cancer for the past six months, Rita passed away peacefully early Saturday morning.” [Patch]
Business Leaders Say School Matters — “Business and nonprofit leaders gathered for the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Economic Outlook event last week had one thing on their mind: keeping the region’s workforce growing for the area’s expanding businesses. To do so, they said, two things will be necessary — regional collaboration and high-quality education.” [Inside NoVa]
Tysons Restaurant Lands “Most Romantic” List — “A handful of Northern Virginia and D.C. restaurants are on the OpenTable ‘100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America for 2020’ list” including Eddie V’s at 7900 Tysons One Place. [Patch]
Online Grocer Leases HQ Space in Tysons II — “Ocado Solutions is opening a new headquarters office in Tysons, Virginia, in a deal announced just weeks after the company disclosed plans to open one of its first robot-powered fulfillment centers in suburban Washington, D.C.” [Costar]
How Can Tysons Become Walkable? — “Tysons is evolving from suburb to city, but try to walk around and it still feels disjointed, with very long walks from one block to the next. Filling in these spaces is a growing network of non-street paths, including elevated walkways and mall promenades.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.
My kids spent most of the weekend outside enjoying our early spring — thanks Punxsutawney Phil!
I grew up in Upstate New York, so I’m no stranger to cold winter weather, but I will admit I don’t mind these mild January/February days! We live in an area that’s covered in secret wonders to explore, whether by yourself, with your dogs, or with you family.
There are some great options to get outside, walk off that Superbowl Hangover, keep up with your New Years resolutions and keep everyone sane from feeling cooped up inside.
Here are some of my favorite walking trails near Tysons:
- The obvious, The W&OD Trail — You can jump on at so many junction points around town and make a day of it. Walk, run, bike etc to a nearby restaurant (like Caboose or Church Street Pizza), or head to the Community Center in Vienna, Spacebar in Falls Church or take it to Arlington and go explore the new Ballston Quarter.
- Roosevelt Island — Located just off the GW Parkway in Arlington, we did this walk on New Years Day with my kids. It’s quiet, an easy walk, and a dose of some history to remember. If you like to skip rocks, the trail is surrounded by the Potomac River, so easy ways to walk down to the water and throw rocks, enjoy a beautiful view of Georgetown, and let the kids or dogs run.
- Meadowlark Connector Trail — A small portion that diverges from the W&OD and leads you directly to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
- Great Falls — Either the Virginia or Maryland side will offer a wonderful walk/hike and beautiful views. We love to pack some sandwiches and walk from one end to the other and find a big rock to sit on in the sun and enjoy the sounds of the falls. It’s really a beautiful thing to see and such an escape from our daily D.C. life, commute and chaos!
- Scott’s Run Nature Preserve — Located in McLean just off Georgetown Pike, it also has some beautiful water views and cliff views of the Potomac River. We did this hike on New Years Day 2019 and I think we saw a total of 1 other person in 2 hours. It was such a nice quiet way to spend a few hours. Parking can be tricky if you don’t know where you’re going, so plan ahead.
Did I miss your favorite hidden spot? Share it with me below!
New walkways are coming to McLean this year.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said in a newsletter that work on a rectangular rapid flash beacon at Chain Bridge Road and Wasp Lane is expected to be finished in March.
Then, a walkway will get constructed on the south side of Dolley Madison Blvd from the intersection of Great Falls Street and Lewinsville Road to the McLean Metro station. That work is slated to get done in April.
Other walkway projects expected to finish in April include, according to the newsletter:
- East side of Georgetown Pike — south of Colonial Farm Road and on the east side of Route 123 and Potomac School Road
- North side of Kirby Road from Birch Road to Corliss Court
Finally, a walkway coming to the south side of Chesterbrook Road, spanning from Chesterford Way to Maddux Lane, is set to get completed in August.
Map via Fairfax County
Funding for new sidewalk projects in the Town of Vienna is coming from the estate of a late councilmember.
The town announced today (Tuesday) that Maud Robinson, a former councilmember and wife of late Mayor Charlie Robinson, left a “bulk” of her estate to the town to build sidewalks over a five-year period.
“She gave the bulk of her estate to the town because she and Charlie were absolutely devoted to the Town of Vienna,” Laurie Genevro Cole, the executor of the estate and trustee of the trust, said in the press release. “Vienna is their legacy.”
The funding is to go toward adding 3.3. miles of additional sidewalks “in areas where they aren’t already planned or likely to be funded through grants or new construction,” the press release says.
“The majority of Robinson’s estate, which has not yet been settled but will total more than $7 million, will endow the Maud Ferris Robinson Charitable Trust, which will fund the sidewalk projects,” according to the press release.
Charlie Robinson died in 2000, and Maud Robinson died last year.
Currently, the town is working to find streets with gutters and curbs that could use new sidewalks. The Vienna Town Council is set to consider the first batch of potential sidewalks at its meeting on Jan. 27.
More from the press release:
Before [the] Town Council makes a decision as to which projects to move forward with, residents on selected streets will be contacted by the Town and given an opportunity to provide feedback…
Public Works Director Michael Gallagher notes that it could take up to two years from identification of a street to walking on sidewalks. The Town will use contractors for this work.
“This is a wonderful gift to the Town of Vienna,” says Mayor Laurie DiRocco. “These sidewalks – and others – help connect places, but, more importantly, they connect the community. Maud and Charlie were all in for the Town of Vienna. We’re grateful that this is how Maud, out of her deep sense of public service and commitment to the Town, chose to pass on her legacy to the Vienna community.”
In addition to the trust established to fund sidewalks, Robinson left $50,000 to the Town for beautification purposes. Cole says that these funds will be used to plant trees and other similar projects.
The W&OD Railroad Regional Park may get parallel walking and bicycle trails in the City of Falls Church.
The city’s Planning Commission held a work session on the proposed plans last night (Monday).
The dual-path would run between N. West and Little Falls streets, according to the city documents.
“The project would include replacing the existing 10-foot wide shared-use trail with an 11-foot wide bicycle trail and an 8-foot-wide pedestrian trail separated by a 2-foot-wide stamped asphalt buffer,” the documents say.
The city is also working on updating four W&OD crossings:
- N. Spring Street
- N. Oak Street
- Great Falls Street
- Little Falls Street
Staff said at the meeting last night that the new paths and crossings would improve safety.
Stormwater management still needs to be coordinated between the city’s Department of Public Works and Nova Parks, staff said.
The proposed plan appears to match the city’s vision for the W&OD. The city’s W&OD Master Plan calls for separated walking and biking trails, along with improved intersection crossings, new plazas and restored lighting, according to the city.
Meanwhile, the city’s Comprehensive Plan desires either trail widening or adding a parallel pedestrian path, the documents say.
While the commissioners voiced support for the plan, Chair Russell Wodiska said that he wants to give residents a chance to comment on the proposal. Locals can expect a public hearing to happen in the near future.
Images via Falls Church
(Updated 10/25/19) The City of Falls Church is a 10-minute drive from rapidly expanding Tysons, but members of the Falls Church City Council want to maintain the feeling of a small community while still capitalizing on innovation and growth.
The City of Falls Church operates as an independent entity under the Falls Church City Council while Tysons still has no official governing body of its own, outside that of Fairfax County.
Councilmember Ross Litkenhous said that Falls Church wants to stay unique and its small population and efficient city council allows the city to stay “agile.”
“We are by no means trying to keep up with anybody,” he said.
Tysons Reporter talked to the councilmembers, seeking their input about the future of Falls Church.
“Always Been a Cut-Through”
Several councilmembers said the city is already seeing increased traffic thanks to Tysons’ urban sprawl.
The increase in traffic was brought on by the tolls on I-66 and the increasing popularity of apps like Google Maps, Litkenhous said.
Litkenhous worked in commercial development for 10 years before becoming a councilmember.
Councilmembers were originally told by the Virginia Department of Transportation that the addition of freeways tolls around the area would not impact traffic flow, he said, but people started driving through the city to avoid the tolls.
Now, the city is faced with concerns about pedestrian and bicycle safety that come with more traffic. Litkenhous cited several incidences concerning the safety of residents, especially kids.
There have been a few pedestrian deaths in the last few months in the Falls Church area, which are spurring discussions with officials.
But, Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly noted that it is important to remember that “Falls Church has always been a cut-through” and a “crossroad” in the Northern Virginia area.
In August, the city broke ground on a new project that focuses on improving pedestrian access and traffic flow near the upcoming George Mason High School.
The $15 million infrastructure investment will make the area safer and open up accessibility to the future mixed-use retail space, Cindy Mester, the Falls Church Assistant City Manager, said.
The mixed-use retail space is being developed by the same people who built the Wharf in D.C., Mester said, adding there will be a grocery store, a senior living facility, an arts center, restaurants and retail shops in the development.
Mester referred to the upcoming space as Falls Church’s own “Mini Tysons.”
When it comes to the evolution within the city’s limits, Litkenhous supports the idea of Falls Church evolving as a tech hub.
“Here in Falls Church, we’ve had a chance to capitalize on the indirect spinoff [of Tysons],” Litkenhous said.
With the new startups and tech companies in Tysons, it allows local high school students to take on fellowships or internships with innovative and entrepreneurial companies, according to Litkenhous, further encouraging students to pursue STEM-related fields.
With the new startups and tech companies in Tysons, it allows local high school students to take on fellowships or internships with innovative and entrepreneurial companies, according to Litkenhous.
Though Litkenhous said he would love to have some of these companies move into Falls Church, he realizes offices are limited and added that a co-working space within city limits would be a solution. “We can’t work in a vacuum here and we recognize that,” he said.
A Stroll in a New Direction
Unlike Tysons through, Litkenhous said Falls Church focuses on small businesses and walkability within city limits. “We’ve got Tysons beat on walkability by a mile.”
Last year, the City Council started the “Live Local Campaign,” sparked by Litkenhous, which encourages people to eat, play and spend money within the city’s limits.
Councilmember Phil Duncan said he keeps tabs on local businesses moving into the city and tries to support them by attending grand openings.
“I think there’s a good mix of big names and more local, family-run businesses,” he said, adding that some businesses that would have previously passed up Falls Church might realize that it is a new market.
“This whole area will become a great American city,” Duncan said.
Coming up in November, the city will host its second “Live Local Campaign” to encourage people to spend money within the community by eating at local restaurants and shopping for holiday gifts from small companies.
Both Litkenhous and Connelly said they want people to follow in their example and take advantage of all the dining and shopping options within the area.
Ultimately, Mester said she thinks the people in Falls Church help to make it special and unique.
“We have a caring and wonderful workforce,” she said.