Reston Gateway, a major mixed-use project slated to house two key corporate headquarters and other features, has reached a development milestone.
Clark Construction Group, a Maryland-based company, said it’s completed the core construction of two office buildings, and the business is now, with other contractors, fitting out tenant spaces — with the first one slated to be ready for use in November.
Volkswagen’s North American headquarters and Fannie Mae are moving operations to the commercial space of the development, dubbed Reston Gateway. Developer Boston Properties has also looked to build a 570-room hotel there along with residential towers that could be as high as 36 and 12 stories.
“Clark really set a high bar with their delivery of this cornerstone project in our next phase of Reston Town Center,” Mike Holland, vice president of construction at Boston Properties, said in a statement. “Not only did they deliver the project on time, but they did it despite the unprecedented challenges COVID presented.”
Construction began in 2018 and took just under three years.
Per a news release:
2000 Opportunity Way is a 28-story, 800,000 square foot office building, including 8,000 square feet of retail space and a six-level parking structure. 1950 Opportunity Way is a 20-story, 623,000 square foot office building with 8,000 square feet of retail space and a six-level parking structure. The two office towers are structurally adjoined at levels 7 and 8 by a 20-foot-high connector floor. The project also includes a 7,000 square foot fitness center, a roof deck, and multiple private roof terraces.
The project also calls for six acres of public open space, featuring a public plaza as well as multiple outdoor amenity and green spaces.
The development is by the forthcoming Reston Town Center Metro station, which would extend service westward but has undergone numerous delays.
An opening date of April or May 2022 for the Metro line extension would be years after it was supposed to have been completed.
The Town of Herndon will restrict guns at certain government buildings, the Herndon Community Center and a town golf course clubhouse.
Following passionate testimony during public hearings, the measure passed 4-3 on Tuesday with council members Signe Friedrichs and Sean Regan as well as Mayor Sheila Olem opposing it. It carries a misdemeanor penalty and will go into effect Jan. 1.
Town officials had reviewed the ordinance with two versions. One measure, Option A, included town buildings and parks. The other, Option B, was more narrowly confined to town buildings with staff or those with public access.
“We must respond to what has gone on … in the country … for the last two years or even before that,” Councilmember Jasbinder Singh said. “We continue to avoid some responsibility.”
The passed measure, Option B, exempts law enforcement, security personnel hired by the town and certain other cases.
The town has also been considering a related measure to improve security. The ordinance passed didn’t list those figures, but the town identified costs in an impact assessment that has called for spending nearly $2.8 million to upgrade building doors, counters and other changes and also paying nearly $745,000 per year in security costs.
Several people noted their opposition for the measures:
- “There’s no gun issue in the town,” resident Eric Boll said. “I’ll be very unhappy to see town services reduced or property taxes increased to address a nonexistent issue.”
- “Bad guys are not going to obey signs and won’t follow the law,” resident Linda Mohr-Paraskevopoulos said. “This ordinance doesn’t make anyone safer.”
- “We are not having any kind of gun emergency in town,” resident Barbara Glakas said.
Glakas expressed support for one-time capital expenses for the issue but raised questions about magnetometers for families going to pottery classes, swimming and attending gymnastics classes.
She also said pro-ordinance supporters are using fear mongering in arguing their case and described the town becoming a little police state.
Residents also said the ordinance would expose the town to lawsuits and said politics are fueling the issue.
But the gun restriction also drew support.
Sherry Blanton noted she was greatly outnumbered but asked the town to pass the ordinance. “A yes vote will tell me that the town cares about me and my wellbeing as well as the families and children who use our parks,” she said, noting concerns over kids accidentally grabbing guns that others have.
Prior to the final vote, council considered a measure by Friedrichs to table the issue.
Friedrichs said most comments from people noted the town doesn’t have a gun violence problem and said the council could return to the matter.
“To me this is theatre,” Friedrichs said, asking that the measure be postponed indefinitely.
Only she and Olem supported tabling the matter.
Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila noted hundreds of people submitted comments and said he thinks it’s imperative to show the town is serious about safety.
He noted how the town hall turns into a courthouse on Wednesday each week and bans guns. He said the town isn’t taking away anyone’s right to own guns. They’re just asking people to not bring them to certain buildings.
Reston Association is weighing how it will address expected costs that are projected to rise.
A budget document presented to the board suggested a 6% increase in next year’s assessment, which would potentially move dues from $718 to $764. But acting CEO Larry Butler said the board has a variety of ways to try to address the potential increases in costs, which could include reducing services or a mixture of strategies.
Butler discussed possible funding scenarios at the Board of Directors meeting last week. The second draft of the budget will go to RA’s fiscal committee for review on Oct. 13 following a public hearing on Oct. 6.
The board is expected to hold a second public hearing on Nov. 10 and adopt the final budget on Nov. 18.
The budget for 2021 set $19.2 million for operating revenues. That’s slated to rise to $21.6 million for 2022 and nearly $21.7 million in 2023, where budget documents appear to use a placeholder of an increased assessment fee.
Rather than have an increased assessment fee simply take care of the issue, the board is exploring budget iterations about how to move forward.
RA is looking to increase operating costs from less than $16 million for its 2021 budget to $17.5 million next year and $17.9 million the following year, based on a budget draft so far.
Around two-thirds of the service organization’s operating costs are personnel, and Butler is strongly recommending a 3% merit-based increase. He suggested that would help retain staff, which total around 100 full-timers.
The association is also looking at a five-year capital projects plan. It calls for improvements to facilities such as pools including Lake Thoreau and tennis courts, of around $3 million to nearly $4 million each year from 2022-2026.
According to a memo from Butler to the board of directors and a fiscal committee, the draft budget called for adding several new positions that include the following:
- a registrar to assist members with online transactions, run reports, improve the customer experience and more; the position would have a total compensation of $60,000 and that could reduce other budget line items by $13,800 with the new position,
- a financial services manager, whose salary and benefits would total $102,000,
- a capital projects manager whose total compensation would be $84,000,
- an applications analyst, whose duties would include but not be limited to data analytics, with a compensation package of $108,000.
The association is also eyeing whether it would replace or change current openings that involve a director of information technology and an aquatics program manager.
Despite the draft budget discussed, the association says a preliminary budget is not yet available.
RA spokesperson Mike Leone said in a statement, “The Board of Directors, Fiscal Committee and RA Staff are working to develop a draft budget for discussion at the Oct. 4 Board Budget Work session.”
Tuesday, September 28
- Health and Wellness Fair (5:30-7:30 p.m.) — The YMCA Fairfax County Reston is hosting this Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce Network Night that features healthy snacks, alcohol and wellness resources.
Wednesday, September 29
- BEER RUN pre-Ragnar Q&A (6:30-8:30 p.m.) — While registration has closed for Ragnar Sunset NoVA‘s Saturday race, you can still learn more about it, run some laps and have some beers while asking questions with the race director at Lake Anne Brew Plaza.
Thursday, September 30
- Herndon Farmers Market (8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) — Stop by for some fresh produce from local vendors. Recurs weekly.
Friday, October 1
- “A Familiar Melody” (8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday as well as 2 p.m. on Sunday) — A NextStop Theatre Company show brings together a selection of Broadway hits. Tickets are $30.
Saturday, October 2
- Reston Farm Garden Market Fall Fest (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.) — Enjoy bounce houses, games, a maze and petting zoo, train rides and more. This recurring weekend event takes place on Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 31. Cost is $28 per child, $6 for adults and free for children age 2 and under.
- Reston Farmers Market (8 a.m. to noon) — After taking a break last week due to the Reston Multicultural Festival, this staple returns with local vendors.
- The Seldom Scene (8 p.m.) — American bluegrass band The Seldom Scene performs at the CenterStage at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. Cost is $25 for Reston residents.
- Movies in the Park (7 p.m.) — Enjoy a showing of “Tom and Jerry” at Lake Newport Soccer Field and bring a picnic dinner or buy popcorn, candy and drinks there. Free for kids 3 and under.
Sunday, October 3
- GWTCS 5K Run — (8:30 a.m. to noon) — The Greater Washington Telugu Cultural Sangam is bringing people to Lake Fairfax Park and recognizing participants with medals. Event includes breakfast. Tickets for kids are $10 and adults are $15. Registration deadline is Saturday, Oct. 2.
- Putting the Animals to Bed (6:30 p.m.) — Learn how Frying Pan Farm Park staff put the animals to bed. Bring a flashlight or lantern for this twilight tour. The cost is $10 per person.
- Mushrooms of Reston (2-3:30 p.m.) — Learn about the area’s natural resources in this adult nature program. Tickets start at $5.
Southgate Community Center will be renamed after former Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins at a formal community day next month.
Hudgins, who represented the Hunter Mill District from 2000 to the end of 2019, solidified the center’s future by recreating it as a county-owned facility in 2006.
The move was pushed forward by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who noted that Hudgins negotiated the land lease with Reston Association, secured funding, and ensured the project was completed.
The community day will take place from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16 at the community center (12125 Pinecrest Road) and featuring games, kids’ activities, food trucks, entertainment, raffles and more.
“Supervisor Hudgins worked tirelessly to negotiate the land lease with the Reston Association, secure the financing, review the building design, monitor its construction, and support the center’s program activities,” Alcorn wrote in a previous board motion.
A former AT&T technical consultant and programmer/analyst, Hudgins became involved in the county government as electoral board secretary and then as chief of staff for former supervisors chairwoman Kate Hanley.
The county revived the shuttered Southgate facility with a multimillion-dollar push in 2006, and it now offers community programs serving residents ranging from kids and teens to people with disabilities and seniors. The programs cover recreational, educational and cultural activities.
“It was her vision and dedication that has made Southgate Community Center the success that it is,” Alcorn’s motion said.
The renaming will be featured during a ceremony at 2 p.m. during the event.
A business acting as a trading post for outdoor gear is ramping up for a big unveil in Herndon.
The business is focused on backpacking, camping and hiking gear and features brands such as Arcade Belts, Cotopaxi, Gregory, National Geographic Maps and Rumpl.
It’s been operating by appointment only but will have its grand opening from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16. Once open, it will have store hours fr0m that same timespan Tuesdays through Saturdays.
“When people ask why we decided to open Good Wolf Gear, the truth is that we were inspired by our friends: they helped set up our first tent; they shared their scary stories around the campfire; and they let us dig into their Dutch Oven breakfasts while we struggled to get our contacts in,” owners Margaret Kim and Tana Sarntinoranont say on the Good Wolf Gear website.
The owners say they created Good Wolf Gear for those friends and anyone else willing to share those experiences while helping people become better stewards of nature. That’s why they prefer reselling items — to keep them from landfills.
“I hope we can inspire people to connect with a part of nature they never even knew existed,” store manager Spencer Horn says in a news release. “Ultimately, we’re storytellers, and we want to inspire others to become storytellers as well.”
Resellers can get 25% of the resale price in cash or 50% of the resale price in store credit.
“Good Wolf Gear’s goal is to build community through sustainability,” the company says. “Has your toddler outgrown her kid carrier? Trade it in for credit towards her first pair of hiking boots, and tell us about the adventures you’ve shared. Has your family pup learned to stay on the trail? Stop by for a local trail map and get advice on favorite hikes from other dog owners.”
Photos via instagram.com/goodwolfgear
An entity that launched to serve those in need over 50 years ago is celebrating its successes and looking at what’s ahead in order to help others.
What began as religious organizations coming together, the outreach once known as Reston Interfaith has evolved into community centers providing everything from recreational needs to social services, a 24/7 70-bed homeless shelter, over 100 affordable homes and more.
“The single-most-important thing we built is a reputation for reliable, low-drama services to our neediest neighbors,” said Larry Schwartz, chair of Cornerstones’ Board of Directors.
The homeless shelter now bears the name of Embry Rucker, a businessman turned pastor who sought to avoid building churches and instead focus on social services.
As the region changes, the nonprofit expects to double the housing stock it owns, which currently allows people to live in affordable housing while capping families’ costs at 30% of their income.
The Reston-headquartered organization has grown with its donors and volunteers, where before the COVID-19 pandemic it had around 6,000 people helping annually. Their efforts range from aiding Thanksgiving food drives to helping out with winter clothing campaigns.
During the pandemic, the organization also obtained $1.6 million in CARES Act relief to people in need, Schwartz said.
The pandemic was a factor in delaying the organization’s celebration of its 50-year milestone, causing a fundraising gala to be held during the organization’s 51st year now in 2021. It will take place virtually and in person on Sept. 30.
The organization is also highlighting its progress throughout the decades with a gallery of photos capturing key moments, including the opening of the Laurel Learning Center (11484 Washington Plaza West, Suite 200 in Reston) and its expansion with an infant and toddler day care named after former Reston Interfaith CEO Connie Pettinger.
“The families can afford quality childcare while they’re outside the home trying to build the home,” Schwartz said.
Cornerstones’ Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center (1086 Elden St.) at the Dulles Park Shopping Center serves as a one-stop-shop for social services ranging from financial counseling to legal services for immigrants and job training as well as housing a health care center.
While the organization has its roots with religious groups, it changed its name in 2013 as it’s sought to be more inclusive with businesses, civic and community organizations, foundations and other supporters. Nevertheless, the group noted the new name, Cornerstones, is one that “has meaning in many of our faith traditions,” a letter by CEO Kerrie Wilson said.
Currently, Wilson describes Cornerstones as being at the front end of responding to eviction challenges amid the pandemic and helping families stabilize and ensure they have the support they need.
She noted that policies put in place years ago as a country have influenced how people are stuck in poverty and created barriers for home ownership.
“We will continue to serve on the frontlines,” she said, “But I think the biggest additional change and emphasis for us has to be the work in changing policies and systems that will let us truly end hunger and ensure that all families … have that first chance at home ownership.”
Photo via Cornerstones/Instagram
As more and more drivers shift to sustainable vehicles, a design review board for the Reston Association is looking to formalize requirements for what electric vehicle charging stations must have outside homes and businesses.
Following a public hearing, the board agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to review process and design standards. Interior charging stations, such as those in garages, are immune from the existing and proposed rules.
“Reston Association will more than likely be one of the first associations to have a design guideline that is strictly related to electric vehicle charging stations; so we’re really happy about that,” said Cam Adams, the association’s director of covenants administration.
The proposed standards will eventually go before the RA Board of Directors for approval. A board operations committee could review the matter in October.
The association has previously noted that such charging stations already require design review board approval. But it has no formal criteria, which was part of the reasoning for creating the standards.
The new measure calls for restricting stations to 6.5 feet in height, limiting a station to have two bollards — those vertical posts used along interstate express lanes — with a same height restriction and prohibiting wooden pedestals as well as cables/cords from extending over paths, among other criteria.
It also calls for several preferences, such as using parking blocks over bollards.
The proposal says projects would require an applicant to obtain neighbors’ signatures. It also says a panel of the design review board would then review applications and apply the guidelines.
Existing stations that received design review board approval would be grandfather in, according to the association.
A pet food store is switching locations after being at Fox Mill Shopping Center for a decade.
Weber’s Pet Supermarket plans to move from 2599 John Milton Drive to 2280 Hunters Wood Plaza in Reston.
“We’re excited about the move, and we’re hoping people follow us,” owner Deb Clark said. “And we hope we’re able to grow in that location.”
The county processed a permit for the new building Aug. 4, but it didn’t appear to be finalized yet as of yesterday (Monday), according to a county database.
Clark said the move was due to the rent, and they’ll move to a smaller footprint but still have a dog wash. The Fox Mill lease ends this month.
The company is putting in shelving with its own crew and making other updates, and they hope to open in early October if possible.
Originally known as the Feed and Grain store, the business launched in 1979, its website notes, and the company has other locations in Fairfax, Chantilly and McLean.
Photo via Google Maps
A residential development project that’s stalled for years and would run along Hidden Creek Golf Course is moving forward.
Project leaders with Golf Course Overlook LLC and Golf Course Plaza LLC say they could demolish an office complex that housed a Montessori school, law offices and more.
“We get excited for each and every new development and measure of progress that we come across each day,” said Curt Adkins, vice president of Golf Course Overlook, which is based at the site (11480 Sunset Hills Road).
All of Golf Course Plaza’s tenants have vacated and a crew involved in the project remains at the site.
“We were asked to leave,” attorney JohnPaul Callan of The Callan Law Firm said, noting his office moved to Sterling. “It was probably about two months ago.”
A county database says a demolition permit for the property was processed in March but the permit’s “date issued” status is listed as not available. The county’s Land Development Services department wasn’t immediately able to address a Reston Now message seeking clarity on the matter by the time this article published.
The project was submitted to the county in 2016, put on hold in 2017 and downsized in 2019.
The project has called for constructing a 300-unit residential complex that’s nine stories tall. A rendering shows the project with rectangular building wings meeting into a center that has floor-to-ceiling glass walls on each level for that section.
A hauler or hauling companies to remove the debris could be picked in six weeks, Adkins said.
The developer plans to submit a building permit soon.
Reston Association’s IT director has resigned, an IT committee has no chair and the organization has been working for over a year to upgrade its website.
It comes after Ven Iyer, a former RA board member, raised concerns about information technology issues, noting issues in March that included an email breach of former RA CEO Hank Lynch resulting in a loss of $187,000.
Clara William took on the role in September 2019, but RA spokesman Mike Leone said she resigned last month.
The organization temporarily took down its website in July 2020 and has been using a platform called Squarespace, a website builder that doesn’t require coding. A DropBox — a popular file hosting service — is used to house meeting materials for the public.
“We upgraded the website in July 2020, and it currently resides on SquareSpace,” Leone said in a statement. “It is secure and no member data is housed on that platform so there are no security concerns.”
In late February, the board agreed to have staff create a report by its next board meeting about all IT incidents in the past two years that resulted in the loss of “data, money or website capacity,” costs associated with the incidents and more. The motion said it would be released to members at the earliest date possible.
The board again reviewed the issue in executive session during a June 24 regular meeting, referred “the matter of the website to the IT Committee for review and recommendation” and instructed the association’s CEO to have “staff answer all Board questions” by Aug. 18.
Staff has completed the document but it’s not being made available to the public. Leone said it’s an internal document that addresses website capability and security. It wasn’t immediately clear whether dues-paying RA residents will have access to it. Leone said the IT committee will have access to the questions when they officially meet.
According to RA, it hopes to launch a new website sometime in 2022 but a timeline won’t be set until the IT committee meets.
Meanwhile, Lynch resigned in August. Larry Butler has since been named acting CEO as the search for a permanent CEO continues.
The developer behind Halley Rise, the mixed-use project currently under construction, is now offering more details about amenities: a dog park and an outdoor fitness park.
The parks will be open to the public during daylight hours, and the dog park will have separate sections for small and large dogs, developer Brookfield Properties tells Reston Now.
The combined 4,500-square-foot dog area, just under the size of a basketball court, will also have wooden bridges and other elements for canines, benches for people and water fountains for dogs and their owners.
Meanwhile, the 8,000-square-foot Apex Fitness Park will include Trekfit outdoor equipment such as a cargo net as well as push-up, pull-up and parallel bars.
The over $1 billion complex began construction in October 2019 along Sunrise Valley Drive and Reston Park, which will place it next to the forthcoming Reston Town Center Metro station.
The parks are expected to open this fall, the developer says.
Other amenities for the complex include a Wegmans and over four football fields’ worth of retail space.
Parts of the project are slated to open this year and next, including move-ins for The Edmund, a luxury apartment building there, starting in the next few weeks, spokesperson Laura Montross says.
A 30-year-old man pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors yesterday (Thursday) after a woman reported that he spied on her in a Lake Fairfax campgrounds bathhouse and masturbated.
The Herndon man scaled a cement wall to look at the woman on Oct. 27, 2020 from above while she was using a locked private room with a toilet, shower, and changing area, she said in a victim impact statement to Fairfax County General District Court.
During the incident, the man was in an above-ground area with a cement wall and wooden rafters, according to her statement. The wooden rafters are about 12 feet from a concrete floor, part of an open ceiling, noted police, who responded at Lake Fairfax Park around 7 p.m.
“The defendant’s pants were down to his ankles and he was masturbating while watching me use the toilet and washing up in the changing area,” the woman said in her statement. “When I noticed the defendant was watching me…I started screaming for help.”
The man was vigorously stroking himself, the woman said, and she continued to scream as she exited the bathhouse. He later confirmed to police that he masturbated inside the bathhouse.
“I was afraid during the incident that he might jump down on top of me and sexually assault or rape me,” the woman said.
A police dispatch said the woman exited the bathhouse, and campers surrounded it. When the woman spotted the man exiting, two campers from Reston detained the man, telling him to get on his knees.
When the woman left the restroom, she heard a thump, and the man later told witnesses that he hurt his hand, according to a police report.
An ambulance responded, and the man was taken to a hospital.
The man said in a letter on file with the court that his actions were horrible and “completely unacceptable.”
He apologized and said he has undergone counseling sessions to ensure this kind of incident never happens again.
“My wrist is a constant reminder of my mistake, and the pain and limitations it has resulted in,” he said.
The woman had been using the campgrounds with a tent. After the incident, she bought a used car and decided to leave the area without finalizing plans in an attempt to recover.
The Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office had recommended a three-month jail sentence but allowed it to be suspended. They also dropped an indecent exposure charge from Aug. 20, 2020.
The man pleaded guilty to charges of simulated masturbation and peeping. The court sentenced him to one year of probation and required him to continue weekly therapy and receive mental health treatment.
Fairfax County says it has not altered the bathhouse facility or made any procedural changes, such as giving campsite guests who pay to stay there a key to access the bathhouse.
A county spokesperson labeled the case a “unique incident,” adding that that’s not to diminish its “importance or the impact on those who were affected by this behavior.”
Two Lake Anne Plaza restaurants recently paid tribute to the 13 U.S. military service members who died in a suicide attack at the Kabul airport last month.
Café Montmartre and Kalypso’s Sports Tavern joined other restaurants around the world in setting aside tables over Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-5) for the men and women, ages 20-31, who were killed during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Both of us decided to do this at the same time in order to allow the many visitors to our plaza to take a moment to reflect on the loss and remember the sacrifices made to help others,” Kalypso’s owner Vicky Hadjikyriakou said, noting that she collaborated with Café Montmartre owner Anh Lee.
The Aug. 26 suicide attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport came amid an urgent evacuation effort after the Taliban seized power and U.S. troops started to leave, ending the country’s 20-year military presence in Afghanistan on Aug. 30.
A regional offshoot for the Islamic State claimed responsibility for two bombings, which occurred at an exterior gate of the airport and a hotel.
More than 100 people died.
Flag-draped transfer cases line the inside of a C-17 Globemaster II Aug. 29, 2021, prior to a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The fallen service members died while supporting non-combat operations in Kabul.
Gone, but never forgotten. pic.twitter.com/7HzJvnFrSD
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) August 29, 2021
Café Montmartre and Kalypso’s decorated the tables that they set aside with small American flags. Kalypso’s placed them in cups of beer along with a sign that said “Reserved for the 13 fallen HEROES.”
“Both of our families emigrated to the United States within the last 50-60 years, with Anh’s family leaving Vietnam in much the same circumstances as those in Afghanistan, so doing this was especially meaningful,” Hadjikyriakou said.
The tables were kept indoors or outdoors all day and evening throughout the holiday weekend. People could also sign their names, give condolences, and share messages that the two restaurants plan to send to the victims’ families through the nonprofit United Service Organizations.
Other businesses across the country and globe have made similar memorials.
“Anh and I wanted to honor those who gave their lives for others, but weren’t quite sure of the best way to do it,” Hadjikyriakou said. “We saw that other establishments had ‘Tables of Honor’ and we decided we would join the hundreds of restaurants across the country ensuring that these men and women were not forgotten over the holiday weekend.”
Regional transportation officials are considering more ways to improve transit along the I-66 corridor, led by a multi-million-dollar proposal to create a new express bus route from Reston to key Arlington County work sites.
The express bus is one of four projects now up for public comment as the Northern Virginia Transit Commission decides what to fund for the latest round of the agency’s I-66 Commuter Choice program, which has $7 million in available funds, according to NVTC senior manager Ben Owen.
These four projects are part of a supplemental fourth round for fiscal year 2022 after the NVTC approved an initial batch of projects last year that was limited by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on I-66 toll revenue, which funds the Commuter Choice program.
The available money includes prior-year carryover that hasn’t been allocated, interest from the funds, and money released back to the commission from past projects that finished, NVTC communications and public affairs manager Matt Friedman said in a statement.
One of two projects proposed by Fairfax County, the new express bus service would connect Fairfax Connector’s Reston South Park and Ride lot with key employment destinations in Arlington County, including the Pentagon and Pentagon City and ending in Crystal City.
The county is seeking $5.1 million to cover two years of operating costs for the service as well as the purchase of six buses.
For its other project, the county has requested $154,000 to reduce Connector fares from $7.50 to $4.25 on the 599 express route from the Reston North Park and Ride to the Pentagon, Pentagon City, and Crystal City Metro stations in Arlington.
The other projects up for public comment come from OmniRide, which is seeking $85,000 to provide $200 per month incentives for new vanpools along I-66, and the Town of Vienna, which has applied for $5 million to design and construct a new Park and Ride lot at the soon-to-be-renovated Patrick Henry Library.
Staff presented a report on the proposed projects to the commission yesterday (Thursday). They recommended funding all of the projects except for the Patrick Henry Park and Ride.
For each round of Commuter Choice funding, NVTC staff give each of the submitted projects a technical score out of 100 that’s based primarily on their potential for reducing congestion, but also takes other factors into account.
The Town of Vienna’s proposal actually received a higher technical score of 56 than Fairfax County’s Reston North fare subsidy idea, which got a score of 44. However, staff said that the Patrick Henry Park and Ride would “exceed the available funding,” pushing the total cost of the projects to $10 million.
“The staff recommendation to fund Fairfax County’s fare buy-down proposal reflects the strong regional interest in fare reduction and equity initiatives,” NVTC staff wrote in their report. “It would also be a low-cost/costeffective means to help rebuild transit ridership in the I-66 Corridor.”
The OmniRide project received the highest score (62), followed by the Reston South express bus service (59).
Excluding the Vienna Park and Ride, the projects would move an additional 250 transit users through the I-66 corridor inside the Capital Beltway each morning when fully implemented, according to NVTC estimates.
The Commuter Choice program allows proposals to be resubmitted for future funding cycles if they’re not approved.
The public comment period runs through Sept. 17. People can participate by filling out a 12-step online form, providing feedback by email and phone, and joining in a virtual town hall this coming Wednesday (Sept. 8).
After the public comment period, NVTC will determine what it wants to fund, but the 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board will have final approval over which projects are selected.
The commission is scheduled to approve its program on Oct. 7, followed by the CTB vote on Oct. 20.