TRAFFIC ALERT: Gas Leak Prompts Closure of Sunrise Valley Drive

A portion of Sunrise Valley Drive is closed due to emergency road repairs required by a gas leak.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, commuters are encouraged to use an alternate route between Colts Brook Drive and Thunder Chase Drive.

The service road accessing the Herndon Monroe Bus Loop is shut down. Commuters can access the Herndon Monroe Bus Loop via the Dulles Toll Road.

Delays are expected to all Fairfax Connector routes servicing the loop.

It is unclear when the road will reopen.

This story will be updated.

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Fairfax Officials Raise Concerns About Silver Line Phase 2 Safety

Fairfax County officials’ concerns about safety dominated the county board’s latest discussions about phase two of the Silver Line project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reportedly wants to open the six-station second phase from Wiehle-Reston East to Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn next July. 

Mark Canale from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation provided the Board of Supervisors with an update on the project today (Tuesday) at the Transportation Committee meeting.

Currently, dynamic testing and safe breaking testing are taking place for the project, he said.

Canale said that there are “four issues that are ongoing right now.” The issues include problems with concrete and leveling.

This isn’t the first time the project has run into problems. Earlier this year, defective concrete rail ties put the tracks out of alignment.

“This is a big project and an important project,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “I think it’s absolutely critical that when something is not getting done correctly, that we don’t brush over it and that we hold the contractors’ feet to the fire.”

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said that the safety concerns should be taken seriously. “It will kill us,” he said.

Cook stressed that he wants transparency and honestly around the issues so that they can get fixed.

“It’s pretty bad when your concrete doesn’t work,” Cook said. “That’s a bad thing.”

In addition to the issues facing the project, Canale said that riders can expect several weekend closures at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station in the coming months as work on the Silver Line project continues.

The first closure — which has been approved already — would last from Oct. 5-7. The following month, riders can expect closures from Nov. 9-12 and Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

Photos courtesy Dusty Smith/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Proposed Fairfax Connector Changes to Impact Reston, Herndon Riders

A community meeting next week will tackle proposed Fairfax Connector changes that would impact riders in Reston and Herndon.

Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is seeking the public’s input on proposed service changes to six routes:

  • Route 396: a new route servicing Backlick North Park-and-Ride to the Pentagon
  • Route 306: GMU- Pentagon
  • Route 395: Gambrill-Pentagon Express
  • Route 640: Stone Road-Westfields Boulevard
  • Route 650: Chantilly
  • Route 950: Herndon-Reston

The proposed changes to the Herndon-Reston adjust the running time on Elden Street on Saturdays heading eastbound and westbound between 3-7 p.m.

FCDOT says that the proposed changes for all of the routes “will improve on-time performance.”

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the cafeteria at Eagle View Elementary School at 4500 Dixie Hill Road in Fairfax on Thursday, Sept. 19.

“In addition to the community meeting, Fairfax Connector staff will connect with customers, in-person throughout September, on routes that are affected by the proposed service changes,” according to FCDOT.

People can submit comments until Oct. 1. After reviewing the feedback, FCDOT plans to bring the proposed changes to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this fall.

If approved, riders can expect the changes to go into effect in January.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Georgetown Pike at Seneca Road Reopens

Update on Friday, July 26 at 8 a.m.: The road was reopened early Friday morning.

Commuters passing through Georgetown Pike at Seneca Road should plan to take a detour today (Thursday).

The Fairfax County Police Department indicated that the road is shutdown due to emergency repairs.

It is unclear how long the road will remain shutdown.

No other information was immediately available.

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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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Public Comment Sought on ‘Connect Route 7’ Project

A $313.9 million project is underway to improve almost seven miles of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive. But before construction begins later this year, state transportation officials are courting public comment on the “Connect Route 7” project, which has been contemplated since 1975.

The project, which should be complete by July 2024, widens the road from four to six lanes, adds a 10-foot wide shared-use path on both sides, and improves several intersections along the corridor.

A public meeting on the project is set for May 7 from 7-9 p.m. at Forestville Elementary School (1085 Utterback Store Road) and on May 14 during the same time at Colvin Run Elementary School (1400 Trap Road). Experts will be on hand to answer questions about the project.

It’s possible that more than 500,000 square feet of noise barriers could be installed along the corridor, according to VDOT. Property owners will be surveyed to determine if noise barriers will be constructed.

The project will not be completed until July 2024. Utility relocation could take until the summer of 2023 and right of way acquisition will likely be complete by early 2021, VDOT says.

These improvements will increase capacity, improve safety and traffic flow, and enhance mobility for cyclists and pedestrians, all in conformity with Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan.”

Map via VDOT

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Updated: Traffic on Elden Street Clear After Crash

Update (11:22 p.m.): Delays have cleared, according to the Herndon Police Department. No information about the crash was released.

Earlier:

If you’re headed down the southbound lanes of Elden Street, be on the alert.

The Herndon Police Department said to expect significant delays on the 1200 block of the street due to an accident.

No other information was immediately available.

This story has been updated.

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Herndon Metro Parking Moving Next Week as Work Continues on Silver Line Expansion

Drivers will have their Herndon-Monroe parking relocated to the new garage starting next week as work continues in preparation for the new Herndon Metro station.

The existing parking garage will close next Monday (April 8) for a few months as it undergoes changes. Parking will get relocated to the first, second and third levels of the new garage, which is almost done with construction, according to Fairfax County.

Ridesharing pickup and drop-off will also get moved to the first level of the new garage.

Access to eastbound Dulles Toll Road from the parking facility is scheduled to resume in late April after toll booth renovation is done.

Until then, drivers will need to take a detour onto Sunrise Valley Drive via the Fairfax County Parkway.

Photos via Fairfax County

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FCDOT Seeks Input on Fairfax Connector Service in Herndon, Reston 

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is seeking public input on the Fairfax Connector in the Herndon-Reston area as it looks toward improvements for the local bus service.

Future recommended improvements will also consider connecting the planned Metrorail Silver Line Phase 2 stations in Herndon and Reston, according to the county.

Ultimately, FCDOT aims to increase mobility and schedule reliability, create better access to destinations, improve travel times and grow ridership.

Over the next few weeks, Fairfax Connector staff will hand out information about how locals can get engaged and provide input, along with “free ride coupons” for use on all Fairfax Connector buses in the Herndon-Reston area.

Locals can provide feedback in a variety of ways, including:

  • attending an interactive community meeting
  • filling out an online survey
  • emailing input to [email protected]
  • mailing comments to 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400 in Fairfax, Va.

FCDOT will hold two interactive community meetings with interactive exercises to explore travel needs, issues and ideas. The first one is scheduled to take place at the RCC Lake Anne’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609-A Washington Plaza) from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 26. The second one is set to take place at the Herndon Middle School’s cafeteria (901 Locust Street) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

People have until Feb. 15 to provide public input. After the deadline, FCDOT staff will compile the comments to incorporate into future planning.

FCDOT will then come back to the community in the spring to hold more community meetings to present and discuss a draft plan for future improvements for the service area.

The move to improve the bus service comes just a month after changes to the bus schedule were announced to make it easier for Herndon High School students to catch a ride were unveiled.

Starting on Saturday (Jan. 19), Routes 924 and 926 will be adjusted to align with the school’s bell schedule and provide better access for Herndon High School students.

File photo

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Fairfax Connector Changes Schedule to Align With Herndon High School

New changes to the Fairfax Connector bus schedule will hopefully make it easier for Herndon High School students to catch a ride.

Starting on Jan. 19, Routes 924 and 926 will be adjusted to align with the school’s bell schedule and provide better access for Herndon High School students.

The route is a weekday rush hour service only that that runs from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station to the Town Center Plaza on Leesburg Pike.The route runs directly past Herndon High School.

The changes were approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in November, where Supervisor John Foust praised the swift response of Fairfax County Department of Transportation staff to issue the change.

“I just wanted to thank our transit group for being so responsive,” said Foust. “We have the ability to make connector services available to Herndon High School students by tweaking the schedule. I brought it to their attention and next thing I know, bam, it’s done.”

At the meeting, the Board of Supervisors also approved a new bus route in Vienna.

Photo via Facebook

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Herndon-Monroe Bus Loop to Close Late Wednesday, Early Thursday

Bus riders, be advised: the Herndon-Monroe bus loop will be closed Wednesday (Dec. 19) evening and Thursday (Dec. 20) morning.

The temporary closure allows Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project crews to complete the pedestrian bridge span at the southwest corner of the bus loop, according to a post from the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

Work is expected to start at 10 p.m. on Wednesday and last through 4 a.m. on Thursday. Buses will pick up and drop off from Sunrise Valley Drive.

The post also notes that the closure of Innovation Avenue has been extended to March.

Map via Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project 

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Reston Expansion Planned for Capital Bikeshare Over the Next Two Years

A little over two years after Capital Bikeshare launched in Fairfax County, the program is planning to expand across Reston. But details on where the new stations, which were proposed last year, are pending.

According to Nicole Wynands, Bicycle Program Manager for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, the bike-share expansion is planned for late 2019 or early 2020.

“We are still working on the exact locations,” said Wynands, “but additional stations are planned to be added in both North and South Reston.”

A list of sites in Reston had been proposed last year, but Wynands said further study found some of the sites did not meet federal criteria for grant funding.

“The previously proposed stations [were] a concept proposal which [is] always subject to final engineering,” said Wynands. “We have since conducted surveys and developed preliminary design concepts. As the expansion is funded through a federal grant, each location has to meet a long list of criteria stipulated by federal requirements, state requirements and operator requirements. The surveys revealed that some of the originally proposed stations did not meet all siting criteria, so alternative sites are being considered.”

Additionally, Wynands said sites are being reconsidered based on proximity to new bike trails built through Reston over the last year.

“We will be able to announce the new station locations after we have received all needed permits,” said Wynands. “We are still planning on adding up to 11 new stations in Reston”

At its busiest, typically during June, Wynands said there were 1,861 trips starting or ending in Reston. Capital Bikeshare also recently implemented a pilot project to add new battery-operated bikes to Reston. The program will continue through the end of the month.

Wynands said the most popular stations in Reston are the ones at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, followed by the Reston Town Center Transit Station and the Sunset Hill Road/Isaac Newton Square Station.

“The system is designed primarily to cover the first and last mile between the origin/destination and transit,” said Wynands. “This is evident in the popularity of the bike share station at Wiehle Metro, which serves both as an origin and a destination for commuters in the morning and afternoon, as people working near Reston Town Center are arriving by Metro and continuing their trip to Reston Town Center via the W&OD, while at the same time Reston Town Center residents commute via the W&OD to the Metro station to continue their trip to Tysons, Arlington or DC.”

The station with the lowest use is at North Shore and Cameron Crescent, a station which primarily serves as an overflow to the busy Lake Anne station down the hill at North Shore and Village Road.

According to Wynands, the system is continuing to grow in ridership, with a seven percent year-over-over growth recorded thus far.

“It takes a few years for a new system to establish itself, and we expect additional growth through the expansions as we will serve additional riders and destinations.”

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Expect Long Rides On Metro This Weekend

Metro rail service will be interrupted by single tracking and rail readjustment maintenance work this weekend.

Expect Orange and Silver Line Metro trains to operate approximately every 24 minutes, according to WMATA.

Silver Line trains, however, will only operate between Wiehle Reston East and Ballston-MU Metro stations. Anyone trying to travel further along the line should transfer to the Orange or Blue lines.

However, the Orange and Blue lines will both be single tracking between Eastern Market and Stadium Armory Metro stations for maintenance.

File photo

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Pedestrian Bridge Now in Place at Future Reston Town Center Metro

If you’ve traveled down Sunset Hills Road or the Dulles Toll Road recently, you may have noticed the north-side pedestrian bridge for the future Reston Town Center Metro station has been installed.

Once construction is complete, the hulking structure will allow pedestrians to access the Silver Line station from the north side of the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Airport Access Highway, according to information provided by the Dulles Metrorail Corridor Project.

The installation took place in the late-night hours of Oct. 13-14.

Construction work on Phase 2 of the Silver Line, which will extend the Metrorail from Reston to Ashburn, was reported earlier this month to be about two-thirds done. The line is expected to be opened to the public in 2020.

Photos courtesy Dusty Smith/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Metro Board To Discuss How To Combat Recent Decline in Ridership

Nearly a third of Metro’s ridership decline in recent years is attributed to decreasing performance, according to information that will be presented to WMATA’s Finance Committee during its meeting this week.

According to its report on ridership between 2013 to 2016, Metro says there are several factors that have contributed to the drop. In addition to the failing reliability, the named factors include the federal benefit drop in 2014 that reduced high-use SmartBenefits customers; an increase in telework that has decreased AM peak ridership on Fridays; and the popularity of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft.

The report lists four “marketing and communications efforts” that are planned in the effort to promote ridership:

  • Focus on 30 percent of riders who left because of service reliability issues
  • Encourage off-peak rail ridership through partnerships
  • Strengthen SmartBenefits program and regional employer relationships
  • Promote pass products, automatic reload and other fare products

In its latest “Back2Good” initiative report, Metro says railcar reliability was up more than 50 percent in the first seven months of 2017 when compared to that same time in 2016. It also says there were 60 percent fewer HVAC issues in July 2017 than in July 2016.

“These efforts will continue in the coming months as we hope to see sustained improvements, such as the reduction in passenger offloads and improvements in customer on-time performance,” reads the report. “However, we realize that it will take some time to regain the trust and confidence of customers needed to return to the system.”

At the end of the report, the Metro board and Metro-served jurisdictions are given examples of ways they can help increase ridership:

  • Development: Advocate for development proposals near stations/corridors
  • Access to Metrorail and Metrobus: Ensure existing jobs and housing are connected to rail stations and bus stops by investing in sidewalks, curb ramps, bus shelters, etc.
  • Congestion Relief: Advocate for on-street improvements to speed up buses, such as traffic signal prioritization and bus lanes

Metro’s next set of board and committee meetings is slated for Thursday.

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