Environmental Approval Still Pending for $170 Million Soapstone Connector Project

State and local transportation officials have been working for more than a year on clearing the Soapstone Connector through the environmental approval phase — one of the latest hurdles for the roughly $170 million project.

The connector — which extends Soapstone Drive from Sunrise Valley Drive over the Dulles Toll Road to Sunset Hills Road — provides a new north-south alternative to tackle increasing traffic congestion on Wiehle Avenue. By the time the project breaks ground, hundreds of additional residential units are expected to come on the market in Reston.

County transportation officials are working with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to determine the next steps for the project after the state determined a group of buildings on Association Drive the project could cut through are considered historic. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation must conduct an alternatives analysis to find possible ways to reduce the impact on the buildings.

Discussions have been ongoing for more than year. The county’s Architectural Review Board first determined the collection of buildings could be historically significant in early 2018. Since then, county staff have been trying to chart the best path forward to minimize the impact on the buildings  — which are considered historic as a collection, but not on an individual basis.

More hurdles are expected as the project goes through design and planning. Construction isn’t expected to begin until the mid to late 2020s.

“Anytime you’re building a new major project in a built environment, it’s more challenging than if we’re working out in a cornfield,” Tom Biesiadny, FCDOT’s director, told Reston Now. “None of them are insurmountable.”

Although funding for the project has not been secured yet, Biesiadny says the county has enough dollars to finish project design, which will move forward once the county receives necessary environmental approvals. The county plans to then tackle right-of-way and land acquisition between 2022 and 2024. Utility relocation is also complicated by the fact that area businesses rely on fiber optic cables along Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road.

“At the moment, money is not holding anything up,” Biesiadny said. “It’s several years out before we need the construction dollars.”

So far, the project has $24 million secured from federal, regional and local funds. A $45.4 million grand application for Smart Scale funding has been submitted. The county plans to continue to aggressively apply for grant funding.

The connector has been on the county’s planning books for years. A hybrid design for the project received county approval in 2014.

Map via Fairfax County Government

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New Details on Capital Bikeshare Stations Coming to Reston Next Year

Fairfax County officials have called Capital Bikeshare in Reston a success since the program was launched in 2016.

Now, the county plans to install 10 stations by next spring.

At a Fairfax County Board Transportation Committee meeting yesterday (May 14), staff discussed plans to expand the program throughout Reston, Tysons, Vienna and Merrifield.

The 16 stations already in Reston are used more frequently than the 13 in Tysons, according to county data.

Staff have been hesitant to pinpoint exact locations of the stations, but did release a list of possible sites during yesterday’s meeting:

  • Baron Cameron Avenue
  • North Shore Drive corridor
  • Glade Drive corridor
  • Reston Community Center Hunters Woods
  • Discussions are also underway to fund even more stations in the Reston and Herndon Transit Station Areas.

Overall, bikeshare use in the county increase by 3.3 percent between 2017 and 2018. The county is also now seeing more bicyclists use the bikes for trips beyond Wiehle-Reston East in Reston.

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Family Fun Entertainment Series Kicks Off in RTC Next Month

Reston Community Center’s weekly summer family fun entertainment series is back in Reston Town Center next month.

All shows are free and take place every Saturday from June 15 through August 3 from 10-10:45 a.m. All ages are welcome and no registration is required.

The series kicks off on Saturday, June 15 with the Uncle Devin Show, an interactive music experience that takes audiences through the land of percussion instruments.

On Saturday, June 22, attendees immerse themselves in the instruments and sounds of West African music with Kwame Ansah-Brew’s African Sounds. This show will include audience participation.

Mark Lohr takes attendees through a family vaudeville show on Saturday, June 29 when he shows off his circus skills and a sprinkle of magic.

The remaining schedule is as follows:

Reston Town Square Park is located at the corner of Market and Explorer streets.

Parking is free on weekends in RTC.

Photo courtesy Reston Community Center

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Pet of the Week: Mowgli

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Mowgli, an adult Australian Shepherd male available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Australian Shepherds Furever have to say about him:

Mr. Mowgli is ready for his furever family! This boy is so sweet. Mowgli is a typical velcro pup.

He wants to be where you are. He loves to snuggle and at times he thinks he is a lapdog. He loves to lay on his back and have his belly rubbed, and frequently makes us laugh by just plopping over.

He doesn’t like thunder or loud noises like the vacuum, but his fear just makes him snuggly. He was very scared of the groomer when we took him, so he might need to ease into that. He does very well in his crate and is obsessed with treats.

He knows basic commands and with a little consistency could be well trained. He has a quirk where he barks at new men he meets for about 3 minutes — then plops over for a belly rub?

Are you and Mowgli a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Cyclists Gear Up for Bike to Work Day on Friday

It’s time to gear up for Bike to Work Day on Friday (May 17).

More than 100 pitstops are planned from 6:30-9:30 a.m. through the D.C. Metro area, including one in Reston and one in Herndon.

The Reston pit stop will be held at the Reston Station Plaza at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station (1862 Wiehle Avenue). A second pit stop is planned in Herndon near the entrance of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail at the corner of Lynn and Elden streets.

The first 20,000 who register and attend will receive a free T-shirt. Registration, which is free, is open online.

If biking alone isn’t your cup of tea, you can join a convoy led by experienced bicycle commuters. Convoys will travel along popular employment centers in the region. You can also try to track down a ride buddy by using the Washington Area Bike Forum.

Thousands of bicyclists are expected to commute via pedal power during the annual event, which is sponsored by Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

The event takes place rain or shine.

For more information, visit the Bike To Work Day website, or for questions about the Reston pit stop, call or email Ashleigh from the Reston Association at [email protected] or 703-435-6577.

File photo

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Photos: Lofts at Reston Station Now Complete

Lofts at Reston Station will debut new one-level elevator condominiums starting at $544,485  this weekend.

The redevelopment project by Pulte Homes brings 12 two-level townhouse-style condos and 32 one-level condos just a short walk from the Wiehle-Metro East Metro Station.

Megan Skupien, a spokeswoman for Pulte Homes, said the company has sold out its two-story condos.

Heading into the grand opening weekend, almost 50 percent of the one-level condos, which have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, are sold out.

“We couldn’t be happier as we head into the weekend,” Skupien said.

All infrastructure work has been completed, with the exception of topping off the remaining roads. Other road construction work will happen in cooperation with other developers and land owners.

Construction on the project, which is located at 1825 Michael Faraday Drive, began last spring. The county approved Pulte Homes’ proposal to replace an office building and parking lot with a residential development in November 2016.

Residents of The Lofts will be Reston Association members.

Photos by Fatimah Waseem

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Heritage Preservation Review Board Dives into Downtown Legislation — The Town of Herndon’s board will hear public feedback on Comstock’s proposal to develop downtown Herndon. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Herndon Council Chambers Building. [Town of Herndon]

Lunch with the Four Mrs. Hemingways  Hear each of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives tell their story about a man who changed literary history. The performance is set for noon today at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. [Reston Community Center]

Volunteers Needed for Taste of Reston — The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce needs to fill more than 300 volunteer positions for the event, which is set for June 14 and 15. Each volunteer gets a free T-shirt and 12 taste tickets. [Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce]

Reston Hospital Center Helps Sterling Teachers Make Their Dream Classroom — The local hospital and Stone Springs Hospital purchased $5,000 in supplies to help teachers at Sterling Middle School afford their dream classroom. [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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