County Board Discusses Impact of Telework on Hiring — “After companies in the county have spent more than a year with much of their workforces teleworking — and with county office vacancy rates hovering at 14.6% in 2020, the highest rate in two years — Fairfax Board Chairman Jeffrey McKay asked the Fairfax County EDA whether the number of tech vacancies could lead companies to pivot to recruiting remote workers and what the ripple effects would be.” [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Waives Special Events Fee — Metro’s Board of Directors approved a temporary policy yesterday (Thursday) waiving the $100,000 per hour fee normally charged to large-scale event organizers to keep stations open past standard closing hours. The waiver will apply for professional sports games and other approved special events through Dec. 31. [WMATA]
Suffragist Memorial Dedication on Sunday — The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial will be dedicated at Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton at 2 p.m. on Sunday (May 16). It is the first memorial in the U.S. devoted to the women’s suffrage movement. The ceremony, which will be live-streamed, was originally scheduled for Aug. 26, 2020 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification but got postponed due to the pandemic. [Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association]
Colvin Run Mill and Frying Pan Recognized — The National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials named Colvin Run Mill in Great Falls and the Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon among the winners of its 2021 NACPRO Awards. The Colvin Run Miller’s House Exhibit won the Historical or Cultural Facility category, and the Friends of Frying Pan won the Outstanding Support Organization category. [Fairfax County Park Authority]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
In the 210 years since it was first built, the Colvin Run Mill has outlasted the industrial revolution, a civil war, and multiple pandemics. Now, it has the capacity to keep grinding grains for at least another 15 years, thanks to a new water wheel and flume.
The Fairfax County Park Authority completed its restoration in March — 45 days ahead of schedule — but the refurbished mill saw action for the first time Saturday morning (May 2), when the new wheel took its first turns to power the mill, which ground out some corn meal and grits to be sold at the nearby general store.
The parks officials and volunteers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the installation of the 20-foot-wide water wheel as the culmination of restoration efforts that stretch back to the 1970s, when the park authority first purchased the Colvin Run Mill with the goal of preserving it as a historic site.
“This celebration may mark the completion of this project, but we would be remiss if we did not recognize today’s reopening of the flume as yet another step and progression in historic restoration and preservation,” Tim Hackman, who represents Dranesville District on the FCPA board of directors, said. “It is our mission and our duty, but it is also our privilege.”
Approved by the FCPA board in May 2020, the project involved the demolition and replacement of the existing wooden wheel and flume, which had started to deteriorate. It was funded by $382,000 in park bonds and is expected to cut down maintenance costs by about $6,000 per year.
Even with the need to follow COVID-19 health protocols and work around ongoing construction on Route 7, project manager Heather Lynch says the project turned out to be “very straightforward,” benefitting from a winter largely free of storms and fortuitous timing with the availability of the right wood for the job.
That luck with timing has continued through the project’s completion, which comes amid an ebb in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We anticipate getting a lot more people out, because it’s a wonderful COVID-safe, family-safe activity,” Acting FCPA Executive Director Sara Baldwin said. “We take all the precautions here as well.”
The park authority is currently letting just one group into the mill at a time, and timed tickets will be sold in advance for grinding demonstrations, which take place on the first and third Sunday of every month.
However, the county is able to bring back a full slate of summer classes and programs to Colvin Run Mill and its other parks. Registration for all activities is now underway.
Gene Bacher, a Friends of Colvin Run Mill volunteer and board member, says he’s especially looking forward to the return of the site’s simple machines field trip program, which gives students the chance to learn about the engineering behind levers, pulleys, and other machines and to see a real-life example.
The program was canceled last year due to the pandemic, and school or mixed-group field trips remain suspended for now, though Colvin Run Mill is allowing some closed-group, private field trips.
“It’ll be reinstated as soon as the pandemic is done and kids get back into school, so having the mill work properly is important to that whole process of getting the kids in here to see what the simple machines are doing,” Bacher said. “…That program is one of the life bloods of the mill property.”
Phase 2 of COVID-19 Vaccinations Begins — Fairfax County officially entered Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout yesterday, making everyone 16 and older eligible. With the county retiring its registration system, appointments can be scheduled directly with providers through VaccineFinder, though limited supplies means they might be initially hard to come by. [Fairfax County Health Department/Twitter]
Fairfax County Gets First Community Vaccination Center — Fairfax County’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination site will open tomorrow in the former Lord & Taylor store at Tysons Corner. The facility can accommodate about 3,000 people per day and will eventually be listed as an available site on VaccineFinder after the county health department finishes getting through its waitlist from Phase 1. [Tysons Reporter]
Former Fairfax County Police Officer’s Cases Under Scrutiny — “A Virginia judge on Friday [April 16] agreed to toss out the 2019 conviction of former D.C. firefighter Elon Wilson on drug and gun charges, agreeing with defense attorneys and Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano that racial bias may have been at play in the arresting officer’s initial stop and arrest. Descano…said the case was one of more than 400 stops by a former Fairfax County police officer his office has been investigating.” [DCist]
Virginia Reports First Cases of Brazil COVID-19 Variant — The novel coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil has been found in two samples from Virginia residents. One was an adult resident of the Northwest Region with a history of domestic travel during the exposure period, and the other was an adult resident of the Eastern Region with no history of travel. [Virginia Department of Health]
Celebrate Earth Day at Colvin Mill Run — “Looking for a volunteer opportunity this #EarthDay? On Thurs, April 22, Colvin Run Mill will be hosting a weeding and mulching party from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. They’d love to have you spend a little time helping with the effort!” [Supervisor John Foust/Twitter]
Reston Author Publishes Children’s Book — Reston resident Jessica Sizemore turned the story of how her family came to adopt a dog named Rascal into her first published book. A Virginia Tech graduate, she started to write the book in 2016 and began the publishing process in 2019 with Herndon-based publisher Mascot Books. [Fairfax County Times]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
D.C. Cherry Blossoms Reach Peak Bloom — The National Park Service designated yesterday as the peak bloom date for the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms after well-above-average temperatures last week sped up the flowers’ bloom cycle. Peak bloom is defined as the day when 70 percent of the blossoms are open. [NPS]
Colvin Run Mill Restoration Complete — Fairfax County has finished replacing the wheel and flume at Colvin Run Mill. The renovation is part of a larger, ongoing effort to restore the Great Falls park. [@fairfaxtv16/Twitter]
Metro Inspector General’s Report Details Silver Line Issues — A new report from WMATA’s inspector general contains allegations of sexual harassment, alcohol abuse, and the use of fake badges by Metro employees. The report also identified defects in concrete panels installed at stations in Metro’s Silver Line phase two project. [WUSA9]
Reston Company Loses Intellectual Property Lawsuit — A Colorado jury decided against the cybersecurity company TRUSTID, which is owned by the Reston-based Neustar Inc. TRUSTID has filed two lawsuits against Next Caller, alleging that the company misappropriated trade secrets, breached an agreement, and ‘intentionally interfered with a TRUSTID’s business relationship.’ [Virtual Strategy Magazine]
Photo via vantagehill/flickr
The refurbishment of Colvin Run Mill in Great Falls is an ongoing project, but a major focus of the site will be ready to be unveiled in just a matter of a few months.
The mill’s 20-foot diameter water wheel and flume are currently being demolished and replaced. The project completion date is estimated to be the end of spring or in early summer.
The completion should be “just in time for the year’s first grind,” according to Heather Lynch, the county’s project manager.
Preregistered, socially distanced tours and classes are still available during the wheel and flume replacement.
The Fairfax County Park Authority’s board originally approved this project on late May last year. The project was recommended to the board based on observed deterioration of the wooden wheel that operates the circa 1811 mill and the wooden flume that carries water to the wheel.
It comes on the heels of a restoration effort in 2014 and 2015 to “fully implement the original automated mill design the in accordance with the methods developed by Oliver Evans in his Young Mill-wright and Miller’s Guide,” according to the FCPA’s submitted agenda when the project was approved. A new shaft for the mill wheel was also installed during this restoration project.
The cost for the project was $382,000, while a staff member estimates the annual maintenance cost will be cut by $6,000 per year. The estimated lifespan of the new wheel is 15 years.
Photo courtesy Dan Dyke
Construction of the bridge is planned to begin in spring 2021, with a completion date set for the summer of 2022.
The bridge is projected to cost $5.5 million and will be primarily funded by Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) through the State of Good Repair program. The cost was initially estimated by VDOT at $3 million in February 2019, and was anticipated to cost $5.1 million in VDOT’s May 2020 update.
Fairfax County will contribute $408,000 for pedestrian improvements south of the new bridge. The county’s contributions will fund the construction of a splitter island, median refuge, and rectangular rapid flashing beacons.
The new bridge will have two 11-foot lanes and include a three-foot-wide grass median that will match the existing roadway. It is also been designed to allow a future trail crossing over Colvin Run south of the bridge and abutments for a new trail bridge over the creek.
Traffic operations will be maintained while the bridge is built. The current one-lane bridge was built in 1974 and was ruled to be deteriorating rapidly by VDOT after an inspection in February of this year. The bridge averages 8,500 vehicles crossing it daily, according to VDOT.
The bridge was repaired in 2012 and 2016 to maintain the integrity of the structure. Further improvements were made in February to temporarily strengthen it by adding wooden beams between the bridge’s I-beams.
The construction of the bridge falls in line with the Fairfax County Transportation Plan that the Board of Supervisors adopted in 2006. Adoption of this project came after an initial public information meeting with VDOT in April 2018, virtual public involvement in May and June of this year, and finally a virtual design public hearing in September.
During the public hearing in September, VDOT received 28 combined written and oral comments: 22 in favor of the project as presented and six supporting the project with various modifications. There were no objections to the project during the public hearing.
Photo courtesy VDOT
The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Reston area.
We’ve searched the web for events of note in Reston, Herndon and Great Falls. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!
Monday (Nov. 16)
- Thanksgiving Food Drive (November 1-23) — Patrons, businesses, and organizations are encouraged to drop off non-perishable food and other items at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road) and Lake Anne facilities, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and a variety of other drop-off points throughout the community, the website said. View this link to see the most needed items.
Tuesday (Nov. 17)
- Herndon Teen Book Club (Online) – 6:30-7:30 p.m. – Discussing Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi, the group will meet via Zoom. Club members should call the Herndon Library (768 Center S.) during the Curbside Pickup times (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) to have staff check out and set aside your copy or visit the branch, the website said. To register, use this link.
Wednesday (Nov. 18)
- Reston Farmers Market – 3-7 p.m. at St. John Neumann Church (11900 Lawyers Road) – The farmers market offers a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, charcuterie, sausages, bread and prepared food, the website said.
Thursday (Nov. 19)
- Meet the Artists – 2:15-3:30 p.m. at Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) — Beverly Cosham and her musician friends collaborate to perform their favorite songs, the website said. To register, use this link.
Saturday (Nov. 21)
- Scotch Whisky Tasting – 3-5 p.m. at Colvin Run Mill (10017 Colvin Run Road) – The cost is $45 per person. Participants will learn about the ancient history of Scotch whisky and the fine art of making and tasting it, the website said. To register, use this link.
Photo via Fairfax County
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) project team is set to begin its presentation at 7 p.m., and team members will be available to answer questions after the presentation of the proposal until 8:30 p.m.
The proposed plan for the bridge – which was built in 1974 – has construction beginning in spring 2021.
Under the plan, the new bridge will replace the one-way, 16-foot-wide lane with a two-way crossing with 11-foot lanes. Plans also include a three-foot-wide grass median.
Additional items within the project include an improved trail crossing south of the bridge and abutments for a new trail bridge over Colvin Run that the county will construct at a later date.
The proposed plan for construction will maintain the existing traffic operation while the new bridge is built. During the first phase of the plan, one lane of the new bridge will be built to the east of the existing bridge. The subsequent phases will shift traffic to the newly constructed bridge while the existing bridge is demolished before the second lane of the new bridge and the median are built.
An inspection of the bridge – which carries an estimated 8,500 vehicles a day – conducted by VDOT in February deemed its condition to be deteriorating rapidly. The condition rating for the substructure of the bridge is currently a three – the condition rating scale is based from zero to nine – which is considered to be in serious condition. The superstructure for the bridge shows significant corrosion of steel girder webs and flanges.
The bridge was strengthened on a temporary basis on Feb. 28 with additional wooden beams added between the bridge’s I-beams. While the load rating of the bridge was reduced from 19 tons to 10, the width of the bridge was also reduced from a 16-foot-wide lane to 10 feet.
Previous improvements to the bridge were made in 2012 and 2016 to maintain the integrity of the structure.
While initial costs were estimated at $3 million in February 2019, the proposed plan is anticipated to cost $5.1 million. The project will be financed with state funding through the State of Good Repair program that will cover $4.7 million of the project, while Fairfax County funding is estimated at $408,000, according to VDOT’s project update in May.
Interested persons may register for the virtual meeting at virginiadot.org/huntermillcolvinrun. Anyone wishing to participate offline, without registering, may call 877-309-2074 (use access code 635-767-879) to listen in.
Any comments following the meeting on Wednesday regarding VDOT’s plan for this project must be submitted by Sept. 28, 2020, on the project website, or by mail to Mr. Vicente Valeza, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, or by emailing [email protected] Emails should reference “Hunter Mill Road over Colvin Run Bridge Replacement” in the subject line.
Photos courtesy VDOT