Reston, VA

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of the world including Metro planning, but officials say the construction phase of Phase II of the Metro Silver Line has managed to stay on track.

Marcia McAllister, the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Communications Manager, noted that Phase II is 99 percent complete. McAllister shared the update during the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Metro Monday Jan. 25 virtual meeting about COVID-19’s financial impact on Metro and the Silver Line.

“COVID has had very little effect on our construction,” McAllister said. “As you know, construction workers were allowed to continue to work and they did work, and our contractors have put in extra hours to make up any time they may have (needed) when they may have had cases of COVID.”

She added that the project is undergoing system testing and that coordination is happening daily with Metro moving forward. While the project’s eventual opening will be up to WMATA, the goal is to turn it over to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority in late spring.

When Metro takes control of the project, it will conduct its own testing before opening the second phase. During a Metro Monday meeting on Dec. 10, head of capital delivery for Metro Laura Mason estimated that Phase II’s tentative start of service would begin in the fall of 2021. The completion of the project has been delayed by more than a year.

McAllister also addressed rumors about the construction budget funding for the project.

“Our funding is completely intact. There’s been no change in the allocation of funds,” she said. “In fact, we have already spent all of the Phase I money that came from the federal government to fund this project. That part is set in golden stone.”

Loudoun County Supervisor and Metro Board of Supervisors member Matt Letourneau reiterated McAllister’s budget comments and clarified that the construction budget for the project is not related to Metro’s capital budget. Letourneau went into further detail on Metro’s financial standing during the ongoing pandemic and the federal COVID-19 relief package signed on Dec. 27 to support transit.

The overall region is expected to receive about $830 million, with about $720 million going to Metro. Metro will keep about $600 million of the funds and allocate about $108 million to local providers.

“That will allow us to essentially balance the FY (fiscal year) 21 budget with about $95 million of that,” Letourneau said. “We had planned some fairly significant, but not necessarily painful, cuts coming in February that we’re going to be avoiding.”

The remaining $515 million allocated to Metro will be used to help balance the fiscal year 2022 budget. Metro will pass a budget in the mid-March to early April timeframe. However, Letourneau cautioned that the federal funds would not cover the entire fiscal year 2022 budget.

Unless additional federal funding is received, Letourneau said, service cuts and employee layoffs are potential threats in January 2022. He estimated that the layoffs could encompass an estimated 2,500 people.

“The Metro board has not done anything to delay the opening of Phase II as a matter of Metro policy or budget policy,” Letourneau said. “Thus far the position of the Metro board has been whenever the project is been turned over and deemed acceptable and safe, and gone through testing, we should open it.”

Since the inception of the pandemic, Letourneau estimated that Metro rail ridership is between 10 and 15 percent of what it was prior to COVID-19, while bus ridership is around 50 to 60 percent. He added that if additional federal funding is not provided, the fiscal year 2022 budget process will involve considering $171.4 million service reductions for the last six months of the fiscal year.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn urged officials to open phase two as soon as it is ready and practical.

“As we think about the Metro budget and going forward, we have to keep in mind that the long term viability of Metro depends on using rail,” Fairfax County Supervisor Walter Alcorn said.

Letourneau echoed Alcorn’s statement by that saying Phase II should continue as previously planned despite challenges and low ridership.

“If we are trying to recover, if we want to be part of that recovery, we know that the highest growth part of the system is the silver line; it is the Dulles corridor,” Letourneau said.

The WMATA Board voted to authorize a public process to participate in discussions on the fiscal year 2022 budget in February. Hearings are anticipated to begin in early March and the board is then expected to approve a budget in April.

Photo by Chuck Samuelson/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Inova Health Systems has cancelled all appointments for people looking to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Starting today (Tuesday), the nonprofit healthcare provider will cease administering first doses of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine for the foreseeable future due to a change to the Virginia Department of Health’s distribution process that has “severely diminished” supplies for Inova.

According to Inova, vaccine doses are now being sent directly to local health districts, which are responsible for allocating supplies.

“We understand and share the frustration that this news brings to our patients,” Inova said. “When we receive more supply inventory, we will first prioritize patients who had an appointment scheduled and then focus on opening further appointments up to eligible groups.”

Anyone whose appointment has been canceled will be contacted by Inova to reschedule once the needed supplies are available.

People who have already received a first dose and need a second one will be prioritized, and their appointments have not been affected, Inova says.

Inova says it has administered more than 70,000 vaccine doses to healthcare workers and select groups in phase 1b of Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, including patients aged 75 and older, emergency first responders, public safety personnel, and school employees.

Fairfax County Public Schools formed a partnership with Inova that enabled about 40,000 teachers and staff to start receiving the vaccine on Jan. 16. FCPS spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said then that all workers who wanted the vaccine should be able to get the two required doses through Inova’s clinics, which were expected to last three weeks.

“This is very disappointing news but we will continue to work with our partners from Inova and the Fairfax County Health Dept to secure vaccine for our staff as soon as we can,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a statement. “We must keep the faith.”

The changes in vaccine distribution methods will also reduce the already insufficient supply available to the Fairfax County Health Department, according to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.

McKay explained the changes in a newsletter released last night:

The Virginia Department of Health has announced that they will only receive 105,000 vaccine doses per week from the federal government. For context, last week the Fairfax County Health Department alone received over 22,000 doses from VDH for the 168,000 residents eligible for a vaccine. This is in part due to two changes at the federal and state levels, not the County level. At the federal level, there is a nationwide shortage of COVID-19 vaccine. At the state level, unfortunately they have decided to change distribution to per capita, as opposed to the amounts County’s and hospital’s have ordered.

McKay says the county will prioritize the more than 50,000 people 75 and older who had registered to get vaccinated before Virginia expanded eligibility for phase 1b. Public safety personnel and people living in correctional facilities and homeless shelters will continue to get the vaccine through special clinics.

“It is profoundly unfortunate that despite all of our efforts at the local level that we must again ask for patience, which is frustrating for all of us,” McKay said. “I hate to have to share this news, but I also want to be transparent about the situation we are in.”

Photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools

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Comscore to Launch New Movie Measurement Solution — The Reston-based company is launching Comscore Movies Everywhere, a cross-screen measurement tool that allows companies to track box office movies performance across all platforms. [Comscore]

Investment Firm Invests in Reston Tech Startup — ‘New York City-based Tracker Capital Management LLC announced Monday that one of its affiliates has acquired a controlling interest in Reston-based tech startup Presage Security. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.’ [Virginia Business Monthly]

Reston Association Seeks to Fill Board Vacancies — The association is seeking to fill new vacancies on its Design Review Board. An application is available online. [Reston Today]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday, Jan 25

  • The Nields Livestream Concert (8 p.m.) – Local folk band the Nields recently released their 20th album and they are celebrating by performing a livestream concert from Jammin Java in Vienna. Known for their songs being inspired by headlines, tickets are free but donations are welcomed.

Tuesday, Jan 26

  • Treasure Hunting at Home (11 a.m. to 12 p.m) – The Reston Association is hosting a virtual appraisal roadshow, where residents can show off their family heirlooms to see if they truly have a price. Each family can present one item – like jewelry, coins, timepiece, porcelain, or artwork – and experts will explain their origins and their monetary worth.

Wednesday, Jan 27

  • Summer Camp in a Bag (12 p.m. to 2 p.m.) – Due to COVID-19, the Reston Summer Camp Expo isn’t being held this year. But that doesn’t mean families can’t dream of sunshine and kids getting out of the house. Pick up a swag bag full of summer camp information and fun surprises at the Reston Community Center at Hunter Woods from January 25 to 30.

Thursday, Jan 28 

  • Queen’s Gambit (4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) – Inspired by the popular Netflix show, local Ashley Xing joins the Fairfax County Public Library for a history of women in chess. Xing was a U.S. representative to the World Youth Chess Championships and founder of the Tyson-Pimmit library’s chess team.

Friday, Jan 29

  • Winter Wanderland (6 p.m.) – Take a socially distant wander through ice sculptures in the Village at Leesburg. There’s a new ice theme every week, but visitors have to guess what it is. Correctly doing so gets you entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card at a local store. If there’s poor weather, check social media for updates to the schedule.

Saturday, Jan 30 

  • Dear COVID Poetry Slam (6-8 p.m.) – Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia is partnering with Busboys and Poets for a poetry slam and open mic. Here’s a chance to get thoughts and feelings about COVID off your chest. Tickets are free, but donations are welcome. NBC4’s Drew Wilder is the guest emcee.

Photo via Helena1962/Pixabay

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A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Fairfax County through 9 a.m. tomorrow.

According to the National Weather Service, between one to two inches of snow is possible throughout much of the region.

Here’s more from the NWS alert.

IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the evening and morning commute.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… Slow down and use caution while traveling. When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking drivers to avoid slippery roadways.

Closely monitor weather reports for shifts in forecasts in your area.

Plan ahead. If road conditions become hazardous, delay travel for your safety and to give crews time to clear or treat roads.

Be aware of the potential for ice. With freezing temperatures in the forecast, any precipitation may freeze quickly. If you must drive, use extreme caution in areas prone to freezing such as bridges, overpasses, hills, curves, and ramps. See more winter driving tips.

Monitor road conditions from home on www.511virginia.org, on the free mobile app, or call 511 from any phone in Virginia.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County continues a steep decline this week, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health.

Today’s average was 366 cases compared to roughly 681 cases during the prior week of Jan. 18 and 535 cases on Jan. 11. But it is important to note that the number of new cases per day continues to be higher than the first peak of the outbreak over the summer.

For example, VDH reported 689 cases today, well about the peak of 434 over the summer on May 28. The highest number of new cases per day — 1,485 — was reported on Jan. 17.

Similarly, hospitalizations in the county are also on the decline after peaking in early May. The weekly average of hospitalizations has hovered at numbers less than 20 for the last few months, according to VDH data. Today, VDH reported seven hospitalizations and a rolling average of eight.

Statewide, the daily case average took a downturn as well after three days of record-high cases.

Roughly 40 percent of the county’s total population about the age of 16 is eligible to receive the vaccine. So far, 57,702 people have received the first dose of the vaccine and 6,141 people have been fully vaccinated. Statewide, 416,200 people have received the first dose and 58,779 are fully vaccinated.

County officials have noted that while many people are eligible for the vaccine, a limited dose of vaccines is currently available.

In a Jan. 21 letter to Gov. Ralph Northam, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay urged the state to increase the county’s vaccine supply.

The county has more than 100,000 residents registered through the health department’s vaccinations system.

“We average about 10,000 doses a week, which does not meet the demand nor the expectation of the 100,000 people we now have in the queue,” McKay wrote.

People can register online or by calling the county’s vaccine hotline at 703-324-7404.

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

The President is very likely to seek the elimination of all non-compete agreements, except those that are absolutely necessary. A non-compete agreement restricts where and when an employee can work after leaving their current job. Most employees sign a non-compete agreement before they start employment.

Why Change Is Needed

The proposed change is in response to efforts over the past 15 to 20 years where the use of non-compete agreements has gotten out of control and is beginning to cover practically every type of employee. The result has been that some employees, at even the lowest levels of a company, are barred from getting another position, even if they are terminated. It also has caused an inability for lower-wage workers to take better jobs at other employers as their skills develop. If you want to learn more about non-competes, check out this previously published article.

The President, during the campaign, stated that his goal was to:

“Eliminate non-compete clauses and no-poaching agreements that hinder the ability of employees to seek higher wages, better benefits, and working conditions by changing employers. In the American economy, companies compete. Workers should be able to compete, too. But at some point in their careers, 40% of American workers have been subject to non-compete clauses. If workers had the freedom to move to another job, they could expect to earn 5% to 10% more — that’s an additional $2,000 to $4,000 for a worker earning $40,000 each year…”

See more in the President’s Campaign Plan.

Potential Federal Changes to Non-Compete Agreements

It is uncertain whether or not federal legislation instituting a ban on non-compete agreements will pass Congress. There is also the question as to whether or not the President would use an executive order to bar government contractors from using or enforcing non-compete agreements with their employees. Presumably, the President could do so without Congress.

States Start To Limit Non-Compete Agreements

For the moment, most states allow non-compete agreements in some form. This is quickly changing and many states are reconsidering whether or not to permit (or extremely limit) non-compete agreements. For instance, California has maintained a ban on employee non-compete agreements. In addition, other states, such as the District of Columbia, Oklahoma and North Dakota allow them only in narrow circumstances.

In Virginia, non-compete agreements had long been permitted, but the courts here have made them significantly harder to enforce when they deem them unreasonable. Furthermore, Virginia, as of July 2020, enacted a partial ban on non-compete agreements for low[er]-wage employees. Low-wage employees in Virginia are currently defined as those making approximately $62,000 a year or less, so many employees will be affected.

Conclusion

While there are definitely legitimate uses of non-compete agreements, such as to protect companies from the loss of very sensitive business information and/or personnel, some have gone too far with this type of forced agreement in recent years, which has caused the current backlash. There are examples of food service workers or mechanics forced to sign non-compete agreements, forbidding them from working for others.

However, change is coming and long needed. At this point, given the number of states changing their laws, it is only a matter of time before non-compete agreements are only permissible in isolated circumstances. Non-compete agreements remain needed in some types of employment but not in the broad manner that they are being used today.

Contact Us

If you are in need of employment law legal representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Reston Association has finished construction on a new Polo Fields Bridge, which is located near Cross Country Lane and Stirrup Iron Lane.

The roughly $55,000 project was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, underground utility obstruction and bad weather, according to RA.

Work on the project began in Jan. 2020 and the structure has a 50 year service span.

RA also recently updated its interactive capital project map, which offers additional information on the progress of projects.

For example, RA removing plaster from the inside of Lake Audubon pool and installing new plaster, tile and coping stones. The work is expected to produce noise and dust.

Photo via RA

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A new art exhibit titled “Fleeting Moments” is officially on display at the Signature apartment’s satellite art gallery for Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art through April 20.

The exhibit features the work of DC-based artist Amanda Outcalt. A multimedia artist who was born in North Carolina in 1985, Outcalt explores the social and psychological connections to momentary experiences.

The institute, which rebranded itself from its previous identity of the Greater Reston Arts Center, issued the following statement about the exhibit:

Outcalt’s intensive process of combining intaglio printmaking and the embellishment of works on paper results in a narrative that appears playful at the outset but carries significant weight. Large, unwieldy mammals, including bears, bison, camels, elephants, and walruses are seen positioned on precarious objects, such as circus balls and ice floes while adorned in party hats and tethered to jewel-hued balloons. Outcalt’s visual vocabulary and diverse use of media reflect emotions, such as anxiety, contentment, and longing paired with optimism, growth, and an eagerness for a return to normal during this extraordinary moment.

Her work is inspired by personal struggles with natural pregnancy loss and infertility, as well as challenges associated with memory recall.

“Outcalt’s distinctive compositions and diverse use of media reflect optimism, growth, and an eagerness to return to normal during this extraordinary moment,” according to TICA.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the satellite gallery is only permitted for Signature residents only. However, a virtual artist talk with Outcalt is planned for Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. Participants should registry by emailing [email protected] for Zoom link and password. The event is sponsored by Reston Community Community Center.

Image via Amanda Outcalt/TICA

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Monday Morning Notes

Case Average Takes Downturn — “On Sunday, Virginia recorded 3,792 new coronavirus cases while the seven-day average continues to decline from last week, according to Virginia Department of Health data.” [Reston Patch]

Reston Group Opposes zMOD — The Reston Citizens Association has issued a lengthy statement opposing certain elements of the county’s zoning modernization project. [Reston 2020]

Snow Possible Tonight — “Precipitation breaks out sometime after 3 p.m., probably starting as light rain before changing to a sleet/snow mix. Mixed precipitation will continue to fall lightly through midnight, probably changing back to light rain overnight. High temperatures in the mid- to upper 30s. Accumulations in the D.C. metro area will be mostly confined to grassy surfaces.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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