Reston, VA

With Herndon High School’s phase two renovations now completed, the school has moved to phase three. This includes renovations to the auditorium, music, performing, and fine arts rooms, auxiliary gym, and wrestling and gymnastics room.

All of the work should be completed this summer and be ready for students when they are back in the building full-time next school year, assistant principal Jim Hannon tells Reston Now.

The main gym was part of phase two renovations and that was finished late last year, complete with new bleachers. December, when a limited crowd was allowed to attend a basketball game, was the first time they were used.

Work has moved at a decent clip with students and full staff not in the building due to COVID-19 restrictions.

However, Hannon says it’s been “a little bit of a wash” in terms of construction moving any faster. He says that many of the areas being renovated are in isolated areas anyway and the number of construction workers are more limited to social distancing requirements.

After phase three, renovations will begin on the tennis courts, adding additional parking, stadium press box and concession stand, and the food prep area of the cafeteria. That’s the final phase of renovations that first began more than two years ago.

In all, the renovation project is adding more than 138,000 square feet to the more than five-decade old high school building, expanding it by about a third. It will have a capacity of 2,500 students.

Hannon says that all of that work should be done by summer 2022.

Photo courtesy of Jim Hannon

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Construction on the long-anticipated new Fire and Reston Station 25 on Wiehle Avenue in Reston is coming along and is planning to be set for occupancy towards the end of 2021, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue’s assistant public information officer Bill Delaney tells Reston Now.

Late last month (Dec. 2020), the department tweeted that the station would be ready by the summer.

Delaney says the delay is due to extremely wet weather over the last few months and “other challenges that are normal parts of the building process.”

The initial timeline floated in 2018 for completion in spring 2021, so the project appears to be behind that original projected date.

The nearly $15 million project will more than double the size of the previous station. The 17,150 square-foot, two-story facility will have four bays. It will also be able to accommodate up to 20 firefighters per shift and six apparatus equipment including a new engine, according to the architect’s description. The station is targeting LEED Silver certification.

County plans from early in 2018 said the design would have a “contemporary look to compliment the urban feel of Reston Town Center.”

Funding for the new station was included on the Public Safety Bond Referendum approved by voters in 2015. Four other fire stations were included in the referendum for renovation or rebuild. The Woodlawn station in Alexandria is set to open for occupancy in the spring and Edsall Road station in Springfield is scheduled for next year.

The new Reston station is being built on the same site as the old station. That one was built in 1972 and last upgraded in 1986. It was only 2.5 bays and deemed “grossly undersized” for the community.

For comparison, Reston’s population in 1972 was about 16,000, according to the Reston Museum. In 2019, it was more than 61,000. 

In January 2020, fire fighters moved to a temporary station nearby at 1840 Cameron Glen Drive until the new station is ready for occupancy.

A Fairfax County official told the Patch at the time that the move would have no impact on the station’s ability to serve the community.

Demolition started in March on the old fire station.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

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Friday Morning Notes

New Construction Acquired for $105 Million — Snell Properties has acquired the new construction multifamily building at 11500 Commerce Park Drive in Reston from Lincoln Property Company for $105M. Now called, Russell at Reston Station the building features 260 apartments, a mix of 1 through 3 bedrooms with amenities including a pool, fitness center, and library.” [BLDUP]

Reston Association Seeks Members for Focus Group — The association is looking for members to take part in a website focus group as it gears up to launch a new website this year. [RA]

Dunkin’ Offers Coffee for Fairfax County Blood Donors — Dunkin’ of Washington, D.C. has come up with a sweet deal to encourage people to donate blood and platelets during National Blood Donor Month. The company is partnering with the American Red Cross National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region to provide 10,000 coupons redeemable for 1 pound of Dunkin’ packaged ground coffee for all donors in the region.” [Reston Patch]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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The Fairfax County School Board’s proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for Fairfax County Public Schools will not include any major adjustments or immediate big-ticket spending.

Released on Dec. 17, the proposed CIP – which sets short-term priorities for school renovations, capacity enhancements, and other infrastructure projects – remains largely the same as last year’s plan, as the uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic made FCPS officials wary of making any significant new commitments.

A virtual public hearing is planned for 7 p.m. today.

FCPS Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Transportation Services Jeff Platenberg said described the current times as “daunting.”

“We don’t want to do anything that’ll impact our facilities or our staffing, especially with the inoculation coming, the vaccines, and then, next year, [we want to] put ourselves in a position to get back to whatever the new normal might be.”

The ongoing renovation at Langstone Hughes Middle School, which was fully funded by voter-approved bonds in 2015 and 2017, is expected to be completed in $FY2022. Once completed, the school, which first opened in 1980, will include modern amenities and an addition of 53,900 square feet. The project is expected to cost roughly $52 million.

The CIP includes $39 million for a school to manage additional growth expected to be brought on by phase two of the Silver Line. A location has not yet been determined, but the project is fully funded for planning-related costs.

Roughly $42 million is proposed for Herndon Elementary School, 52 million for Hughes Elementary School, and 106 million for the ongoing renovation of and Herndon High School, which will be completed this year.

Because students have mostly been learning virtually, FCPS staff were unable to include data on the capacity utilization of individual facilities for this school year in the CIP. Fluctuating attendance also precluded staff from making five-year projections for future student enrollment.

According to a presentation that Platenberg gave to the school board on Tuesday (Jan. 5), FCPS shed 8,338 students between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. The losses predominately came at the elementary school level, which saw a drop in membership of 7,729 students.

Because FCPS is not adding any new projects with the proposed CIP, the school system will be able to focus on the many needs that it has already identified, Platenberg says.

Overall, the proposed CIP carries a five-year requirement of $1.1 billion. While only $314.8 million of that is currently covered, Platenberg says the unfunded commitment should be addressed by future bond referendums.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the CIP on Feb. 4.

Images via FCPS

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The Virginia Department of Transportation has announced a virtual public information meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21 regarding plans to replace the Springvale Road bridge over Piney Run with a two-lane bridge in the Great Falls area of Fairfax County. The bridge is currently single-laned and weight restricted. 

VDOT is considering two possible options for the project, according to their press release. One proposed option is to widen the bridge to two lanes with two four-foot-wide shoulders. The other option is to widen the bridge to two lanes separated by raised/splitter island medians with two two-foot-wide shoulders. 

The bridge, averaging 4,700 vehicles per day, according to the release, will also have an increased opening to better prepare for flooding. 

There is no project start date yet, but the schedule will be updated over several months as the project reaches further stages of planning or if additional funding becomes available. The replacement is aimed to improve bridge safety. 

The virtual meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., and feedback will be accepted through Nov.  2. Those interested in attending can register on the VDOT website.

Screengrab via Google Maps

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A virtual public hearing to learn about and discuss a proposed replacement for the bridge on Hunter Mill Road (Route 674) over Colvin Run is set for Wednesday, Sept. 16.

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

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Nearly two years following the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of the Reston Midline project, construction has started on the mixed-use development.

As a part of remodeling the 17.5 acres located east of Wiehle Avenue and south of Sunset Hills Road, EYA has broken ground on a portion of the property that will house 115 townhomes. EYA has plans to produce 80 of the new townhomes by early 2021 while the remaining 35 will roll out in a second phase, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The project will eventually encompass 1.8 million square feet of new development across four blocks. It will also be developed in conjunction with the Chevy Chase Land Co. and JBG Smith Properties.

Further development plans include an independent living facility with 127 units, as well as an eight-story building with 325 multifamily units on the northern block of the site. The site plans also feature an eight-story building with 225 multifamily units, and a 14-story office building and further retail space.

The development will also extend to two major road improvements. Reston Station Boulevard will be extended from Wiehle Avenue to Michael Faraday Drive, and new lanes will be constructed Michael Faraday along the front of the development.

Additional construction will provide a new crosswalk and pedestrian signals at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Michael Faraday Drive to provide a connection to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. A high-visibility crosswalk at the intersection of Reston Station Boulevard and Wiehle Avenue will facilitate a pedestrian connection to the Silver Line Metro station.

The developers also will dedicate 29% of the site as open space, which will include dog parks, play areas for children and various public amenities.

No timetable has been set for the development of the remainder of the project.

The site originally was developed with four low-rise office buildings and surface parking that were constructed from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s.

Photos by Jay Westcott

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As Fairfax County Public Schools students are learning virtually during the 2020-2021 academic year, renovations are moving forward at Herndon High School.

The renovation’s second phase was mostly completed during the summer, according to Herndon High School assistant principal Jim Hannon. The school’s main gym was expanded by roughly a third, while the renovation of the auxiliary gym was completed alongside the construction of new locker rooms, a weight room and art rooms.

“To start this school year, if we weren’t in the virtual world we are in right now, we’d have students in the new areas that were completed in phase two,” Hannon said. “Those areas include both upstairs and downstairs, first floor and second floor, the completion of the wings that were for math, ESOL, social studies and English.”

Very few outstanding items remain from phase two of the renovation before its final completion. Among these is the installation of the main gym’s new bleachers, due to supply line issues caused by some vendors temporarily shutting down as a result of COVID-19.

Despite a few hang-ups in the supply chain, the renovation process has progressed into phase three. This includes an opportunity to begin work early on the student’s dining portion of the cafeteria that otherwise would have been relegated to weekend and evening work during phase four due to the presence of students in the halls. The renovation of the kitchens for the cafeteria, however, will be included in phase four of the renovation process.

The completion of the second phase follows the introduction of a new wing to the back and front of the building, as well as a new library, main office, and administrative and counseling office. The first phase, which was completed in the fall of 2019, also included a new entrance, 65 classrooms, a gourmet foods room, science labs and additional classroom spaces.

The progress of the renovation has also allowed the school to move approximately 60-65 school personnel from outdoor trailers into the freshly renovated or constructed spaces, according to Hannon.

Following the removal of the trailers, the renovation process will begin on the parking lots as well as the school’s tennis courts as a part of phase three.

Other plans during this phase include a new wrestling and gymnastics room and renovating the school’s performing arts area, which includes the auditorium, and rooms for the orchestra, band and chorus.

Phase three will take place during the majority of this school year, Hannon said. The exact completion date of the project has not yet been determined.

The final phase of the project will include renovating the existing cafeteria to feature a food court design, as well as updates to the tennis courts, the stadium press box and concession stands.

As part of the project, the school will undergo a complete renovation with new plumbing, HVAC, fire alarm and protection systems. Also, the campus will include a new bus loop, more parking, bike racks and improved stormwater management. The renovation project in total includes 138,558 square feet of additions and modifications to expand the school to 431,000 square feet, according to the webpage for Grunley Construction Company, Inc.

“Hopefully when we move back in the building, we’ll have very few classes still outside in the trailers. And the majority of those are going to start being removed in September and October,” Hannon said.

Photo via Jim Hannon

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The Virginia Department of Transportation’s project to widen Route 7 is well underway and is on track to finish by summer 2024.

The project planned to “improve almost seven miles of Route 7 between Reston Ave. and Jarrett Valley Drive,” according to Jennifer McCord, the Northern Virginia Communications Manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation. 

As of right now, there are several traffic shifts and new traffic patterns along the Route 7 Corridor as crews place temporary asphalt for the road widening as well as intersection reconstruction, according to McCord. She added that noise walls will be added later as most of the work is completed. 

At the beginning of the project, VDOT set a $313.9 million budget, and according to McCord, they are still on track to complete within that budget. 

As of June 2020, from Reston Avenue to Riva Ridge Drive making up Area 1 West, there has been continued storm sewer installation, relocated communication lines, installation of an underdrain, continued construction of a stormwater management pond and cement stabilization, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation project website

In Area 1 East from Baron Cameron Ave. to Carpers Farm Way, construction completed cement stabilizations, placed base asphalt, shifted eastbound Route 7 lanes towards the median, began reconstruction of Delta Glen Court pavement and built a retaining wall west of Baron Cameron Ave. 

In Area 2, the Baron Cameron Intersection, Stage 2 construction was pending right-of-way acquisition. 

In Area 3, Difficult Run Area, there was continued relocation of communication utilities. 

In Area 4, Faulkner Drive to Jarrett Valley Drive, there was the construction of a stormwater management pond, asphalt was placed for temporary pavement in the median and they completed shoulder strengthening along the eastbound lanes, according to the website. 

Since fewer people have been traveling since the pandemic, the number of allowable work hours extended because of the decrease in traffic volume. 

 “Due to the 40-60% decrease in traffic volumes in parts of March and April, VDOT was able to grant select contractor requests for extended allowable work hours,” said McCord. 

Improvements at Towlston Road were completed in October 2019, and a new triple left turn at Baron Cameron Ave. was completed early and has been open for about a year, said McCord. 

The website continues to post lane closure updates for the following week every Friday. 

Photos courtesy of Jennifer McCord

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Beginning July 28, lane shifts and traffic patterns will be changing between Utterback Store Road and Reston Avenue.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will be adding a third lane and shared-use paths in each direction, running about seven miles along Route 7. 

The department is also adding a pedestrian underpass to access Colvin Run Mill Park, replacing and raising the bridge over Difficult Run and making more bicycle, pedestrian and intersection improvements, according to a statement from the department. 

Work shifts will take place during daytime and overnight hours, according to the statement. 

Starting on or around August 3, cleaning crews will begin work clearing during the daytime hours. All residences, businesses, and public facilities will still be accessible. 

The speed limit on Route 7 will be reduced to 45 miles per hour in active work zones between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive. 

Photo via Virginia Department of Transportation

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After construction-related closures, commuters can expect several Silver Line stations to reopen ahead of schedule, according to a press release from the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority.

On August 16, WMATA plans to reopen the McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East stations along with the West Falls Church station.

“Assuming the platform work continues at its current pace, the remaining three west-of-Ballston stations (Vienna, Dunn Loring, and East Falls Church) are expected to reopen around Labor Day,” the press release added.

The timely completion of the projects can partially be contributed to the drop in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the press release said, adding that ridership is down 90% from this time last year.

“Metro has been working to efficiently use track access time during a period of historically low ridership,” the press release said. “Earlier this year, the transit agency combined Orange Line platform reconstruction and Silver Line signal integration into a multi-month summer shutdown of the nine rail stations west of Ballston.”

Free shuttle busses will replace trains until the stations reopen, the press release said. “However, Vienna and Dunn Loring customers will be able to connect to Metrorail at West Falls Church, rather than Ballston,” according to the release.

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Route 7 drivers can expect delays and temporary closures due to construction beginning June 19.

The Virginia Department of Transporation will work on reconstructing the Delta Glen Court intersection and shift eastbound Route 7 traffic to the north.

People may experience lane shifts and temporary changes to the traffic pattern during construction between Baron Cameron Avenue and Carpers Farm Way. All residences, businesses, churches, and public facilities will still be accessible.

From June 19 at 7 p.m. until Jue 20, changes according to VDOT include:

  •  Temporarily median closure until the daytime hours on June 20
  • Drivers on westbound Route 7 to Delta Glen Court will proceed to Baron Cameron Avenue and U-turn to access Delta Glen Court
  • Drivers on eastbound Route 7 to Colvin Run Road will proceed to the Carpers Farm Way/Colvin Run Road intersection and turn left
  • Drivers will encounter single lane closures on eastbound and westbound Route 7 near the Delta Glen Court/Colvin Run Road intersection

Other closures reroutes will take place throughout the rest of the year, the press release said.

Those who want to see detailed plans for construction can check out VDOT’s online interactive updates map.

“As a reminder, the Route 7 speed limit has been reduced to 45 miles per hour in active work zones between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive,” VDOT said.

Image courtesy VDOT

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Beginning today (May 18), the Virginia Department of Transit will be restriping road lines on northbound Wiehle Avenue in Reston, according to a press release.

Crews will be working between North Shore Drive and Inlet Court daily from 9:30 until 3 p.m. until Friday (May 22), the press release said, adding that drivers can expect lane closures during these times.

“The restriping work involves converting the northbound Wiehle Avenue left through lane to a left-turn lane at the Fairway Drive and Inlet Court intersections,” according to the release. “This aims to improve safety and operations by making it easier to turn left from northbound Wiehle Avenue onto Fairway Drive and Inlet Court, and vice versa.”

Image via Google Maps

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Construction at the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride bus loop will resume next month.

The project is part of ongoing efforts to prepare for the conversation of the location to the Herndon Metrorail Station as part of the Silver Line extension part. Improvements to the bus loop are planned.

Fairfax Connector bus service will be relocated to temporary stops on Sunrise Valley Drive beginning May 4.

The project is to finish sometime in June, according to county officials. The current garage will remain open and the garage that is currently under construction is expected to reopen in September.

The following routes will be affected by ongoing construction:

More information about the project is available online.

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Over the weekend, parents, students and community members gathered to say goodbye to Herndon High School‘s gym with a silent disco and auction.

The gym is now closed off as the renovation project begins. The project — which will expand the gym by roughly one-third — will be completed over the summer. It will also include new boys and girls locker rooms, a new weight room, team rooms, training rooms, and storage areas.

The goodbye event included a moment of silence to “remember the good times” as the school celebrates the beginning of the construction project, according to the school. All proceeds from the event will be used to outfit the newly-renovated athletic facilities once they are completed. Around 250 people attended the event, according to the school’s assistant principal Jim Hannon.

The school has been an active construction area for more than a year. A new wing was added to the back and front of the building, including a new library, main office, and administrative and counseling offices.

Future phrases include a new wrestling and gymnastics room, renovated music rooms, an expanded auditorium, and new baseball and softball structures.

In the final phase of the project, the cafeteria will be modified into a food court design and the stadium press box and tennis courts will be renovated.

Photo via Jim Hannon

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