Fairfax County residents in need of Department of Motor Vehicle services are finding they need to book an appointment months in advance.
In response to those reported concerns, the county Board of Supervisors agreed on Tuesday (July 27) to contact the state to see how it will address wait times.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity said residents have reported that they’re traveling as far as three hours away to South Hill to get DMV services.
“Given that DMV services are essential, Fairfax County residents should not have to wait over a month or be forced to go to other parts of Virginia for an appointment,” Herrity said.
The DMV introduced the appointment system when it reopened sites in May 2020 after a pandemic-induced shutdown. During that time frame, it has also added more online capabilities to help reduce foot traffic.
“We are not yet where we need to be, but we are proud of the progress we’ve made from implementing a brand new appointment system in the height of a global pandemic a little more than a year ago,” DMV spokeswoman Jessica Cowardin said in a statement.
On a recent visit to a DMV center in Tysons, Great Falls resident Barbara Martin found the experience quite different compared to when walk-ins were allowed, which would result in dozens of people crowding into the building.
Martin booked her appointment about a month and a half ago and said she was relieved to be there, expressing appreciation for the staff’s attention to details.
With no DMV centers in the immediate Reston/Herndon area, the closest location for residents is the Sterling center (100 Free Court), which reopened in August 2020. The department also opened a new customer service center in Sterling (22360 S. Sterling Blvd., Unit D112) this past January.
“By installing an appointment system we have become more efficient, transactions are conducted quickly and customer wait times have been minimized,” Cowardin wrote. “And appointment availability will continue to increase as we are able to hire and train employees and emerge more fully from the pandemic, which is still ongoing.”
Chai Chala of McLean says he lucked out and only had to wait 10 days for an appointment at the Tysons DMV center (1968 Gallows Road), which he visited to register a new car.
“The experience was really nice,” he said, adding his only complaint was the sun’s heat.
Since reopening, the DMV added several services to its website that can save customers a trip to a physical building.
In September, it introduced two-year renewals for driver’s licenses and ID cars by online and mail, and in November, it began online renewals for commercial driver’s licenses. As of February, it also now offers drivers the ability to replace licenses and permits that were lost or stolen.
Customers can also get appointments with DMV Select partner officers, which conduct vehicle-related transactions, as well as DMV Connect, a team of mobile workers whose regular stops include the Fairfax County Government Center.
Cowardin said the DMV intends to keep the appointment system for the foreseeable future, noting that the vast majority of transactions conducted since May 2020 have been conducted remotely.
“During the pandemic, customers shifted the way they conduct business with DMV in that more customers are now conducting DMV business by service delivery methods other than the [customer service centers], such as mail, internet, online dealers or DMV Select partners,” she noted.
Virginia is reconsidering the future of funding for transportation infrastructure, as the rise of electric and more fuel-efficient vehicles has cut into the gas tax revenue that helps pay for those projects.
One option the Commonwealth has started pursuing is a “mileage-based user fee” that drivers would pay depending on how much or little they travel. Drivers could opt into the voluntary system in lieu of paying a mandatory highway user fee that first took effect on July 1, 2020.
State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd District) says the highway use fee — which applies to cars that average at least 25 miles per gallon and is calculated based on the fuels tax at the time of a vehicle’s registration and the average number of miles it travels in the state — is a precursor to Virginia’s planned mileage-based user fee program.
“For most of the past decade, Virginia, like the rest of the country, has been wrestling with the challenge of identifying the best approach to generating sufficient revenues to support transportation investments,” she said in a statement. “As cars have become more fuel efficient and electric vehicle adoption increases, it is increasingly difficult to strike the right balance of raising adequate revenues from traditional sources and adhering to a usage-based philosophy of highway financing.”
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is currently fielding requests from private contractors to operate the program, which it anticipates rolling out in July 2022. Led by the DMV, a workgroup tasked with developing the program is slated to deliver an interim report to the Commonwealth this December.
The working group is identifying all requirements to Virginia’s mileage-based user fee program with “a priority on consumer privacy protection and equity,” DMV spokesperson Jessica Cowardin said in a statement.
Seeking new ways to fund road repairs and transit projects, Virginia established the mileage-based fee program in April 2020 when the General Assembly adopted a major transportation bill that also established the highway use fee and raised gas taxes for the first time in more than three decades.
The bill also lowered vehicle registration fees by $10 and repealed an annual $64 fee for electric and alternative fuel vehicles.
The changes, which include tying the gas tax rate to the Consumer Price Index to keep up with inflation starting next year, will help Virginia diversify its funding sources to offset stagnant or declining gas tax revenue, state legislators say.
The consultant KPMG previously estimated that Virginia would lose nearly 33% of its gas tax revenues by 2030 due to fuel efficiency, or approximately $260 million.
“Neither the [Highway Use Fee] nor the EV Registration fee are intended to suppress the sales of fuel efficient or electric vehicles, but simply recapture the average annual revenue from the foregone gas taxes,” Howell said.
The idea of taxing drivers based on how much they travel instead of the fuel they use has been gaining traction throughout the U.S. over the past decade.
Despite inflation, the federal gas tax rate has been locked in at 18.4 cents per gallon since it went up from 14.1 cents in 1993, meaning there’s less money to fund highway improvements.
“Many cars are not using gas at all, such as electric, so that system of highway finance has been coming apart for a long time,” said Jonathan Gifford, director of George Mason University’s Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy in Arlington.
If Virginia wants to encourage a transition to clean energy and electric vehicles, which “is absolutely essential to addressing climate change, we will need to look to other options” to pay for transportation projects, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance President Jason Stanford says. Read More
As Memorial Day approaches on Monday, May 31, a few community and government facilities will be closed or have altered schedules.
Fairfax County Government:
- County government offices will be closed on May 31.
Fairfax County Courts:
- The Fairfax Circuit, General District, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District courts will be closed all day on May 31.
County Libraries, Recreation Centers, Parks:
- All Fairfax County library branches will be closed.
- All Fairfax County RECenters will operate at their regular hours.
- Colvin Run Mill and Sully Historic Site grounds will be open from noon to 4 p.m. for strolling, but all the buildings will be closed.
- The E.C. Lawrence, Hidden Oaks, Hidden Pond, and Huntley Meadows nature centers will be open from noon until 5 p.m. on May 31.
- The Riverbend Park visitor center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Green Spring Garden’s horticultural center will be open from noon to 4:30 p.m., and its historic house will be closed.
- Fairfax Connector buses will operate on a Sunday service schedule. Check the link for details on specific routes.
- WMATA Metrorail service will operate from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. on Saturday and from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.
- WMATA Metrobus will operate on a Sunday service schedule.
County Trash and Recycling:
- There will be no change in the county’s trash and recycling collection.
- The recycling and disposal centers at the I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will be open.
- The Reston Community Center Hunters Woods will open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Reston Community Center Lake Anne will be closed all day Monday.
- The town offices and Herndon Community Center will be closed Monday.
- Recycling normally collected on Monday will be collected Tuesday, June 1.
- The farm at Frying Pan Farm Park will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the indoor arena will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The visitor center at the park will be closed Monday.
As a head’s up for anyone planning to renew their driver’s license soon, all DMV offices will be closed Monday.
Lane and Ramp Closures This Week — A number of lane and ramp closures are planned this week along the Dulles Toll Road, Sunrise Valley Drive, Sunset Hills Road and Herndon Parkway. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]
KBS Reit III Sells Reston Building — The company has sold off 11 assets totaling 3.4 million square feet of office space, including Reston Square in Reston. The transaction reportedly helped the company repay outstanding debt and retain 33 percent ownership interest in the purchaser. [Globe St]
DMV2Go at Reston Town Center Today — The mobile office on wheels brings DMV services to RTC from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. [Reston Town Center]
Photo by John Schnick
Gov. Ralph Northam will be in Herndon tomorrow (Tuesday) to promote his successful move to reinstate driver’s licenses that were suspended for failure to pay court fines.
Northam’s initiative, which began on July 1, allow any Virginian whose driver’s license was suspended for failure to pay court fines and costs to have their driving privileges restored. Fees for reinstatement will also be waived.
DMV 2 GO, the state Department of Motor Vehicles’ mobile office, will set up shop at the Herndon Fortnightly Library (768 Center Street) to raise awareness about the policy from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
State elected officials will be also be on-site to deliver remarks.
The Virginia General Assembly passed Northam’s proposed budget amendment in April, a move that his office said would “help countless others by preventing future debt-related suspensions for the remaining duration of the state budget.
“All Virginians must have a fair opportunity to fulfill their obligations without losing their jobs, their ability to take care for their families, and their dignity,” Northam wrote in a statement.
The mobile offices will come to Herndon every third Thursday of the month.
Local Nurse Earns Award for Excellence — Abby Desesso, a clinical coordinator and senior charge nurse at Reston Hospital Center, won the HCA Excellence in Nursing Award for Compassionate Care. It is the highest honor given to one nurse each year across HCA Healthcare facilities. [Reston Hospital Center]
DMV2Go at Reston Town Center — The DMV’s wireless office on wheels will be onsite at the pavilion in Reston Town Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. Services offered include driving records, driver’s license and ID card applications, vehicle titles, plates and decals. [Reston Town Center]
Sunrise to Host Creative Conversations — “USA Today editorial page editor Bill Sternberg will visit Sunrise Senior Living in Reston to help launch an evening speaker’s series program that will be open to the public. The program, called “Creative Conversations,” will be the first of many such evening events that bring together noted journalists, authors and “literary luminaries” to Sunrise Senior Living for conversation and sharing of ideas.” [The Connection]
DMV2Go — The wireless office on wheels offers DMV services, including driver’s license and ID card applications and renewals, driving records, vehicle titles, license plates, decals and more. Locals can find it at the pavilion in Reston Town Center today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. [DMV Virginia]
New digs — Right Source Marketing recently moved to new offices in Reston. The digital and content marketing agency also acquired new space in Timonium, Md. [@CarissHampton on Twitter]
Gusty day ahead — The National Weather Service issued a Wind Advisory for today. [NWS]
Presidents’ Day is coming up on Monday (Feb. 18). Whether or not you plan to spend the day remembering past U.S. presidents, check this list if you’re planning to visit government facilities around Fairfax County.
The county’s public schools will be closed.
The Fairfax Connector will be running on a holiday weekday schedule and some routes won’t operate.
Colvin Run Mill Historic Site will be closed, while Frying Pan Farm Park will remain open.
County trash and recycling collection will not have any changes to the collection schedule next week.
The Reston Association offices, including the Central Services Facility and Nature House, will be closed.
Reston Community Center will be open.
Town of Herndon government offices will be closed.
Refuse will not be collected and will resume service on Tuesday (Feb. 19).
The Herndon Community Center will be open from 6 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Classes will be held as scheduled.
The Herndon Centennial Golf Course will be open from 8 a.m. to until dark.
DMV and more
All Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) customer service centers will be closed.
Metrorail will be running on a weekend schedule, while Metrobus service will operate on a Saturday supplemental schedule, with some late-night trips canceled on select routes.
Speaking of closed offices, Reston Now will be on a break as well on Monday.
Several government facilities around Fairfax County are closed today (Jan. 18) for Lee-Jackson Day and on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this coming Monday (Jan. 21).
Fairfax County’s courts are closed today and Monday.
Fairfax County’s government offices and libraries will be closed on MLK Day.
The county’s public schools will get off three hours early today and be closed on MLK Day.
Frying Pan Farm Park will remain open on MLK Day, while Colvin Run Mill Historic Site will be closed.
County trash and recycling collection will not have any changes to its schedule on MLK Day.
The Reston Association offices, including Central Facilities and the Nature House, will be closed on MLK Day.
Town of Herndon government offices will be closed on MLK Day.
The Community Center will have altered hours from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. on MLK Day.
Metro, DMV and more
All Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) customer service centers will are closed today and Monday.
Metro will operate on a Saturday schedule, opening at 5 a.m. and close at 11:30 p.m. on MLK Day. Off-peak fares will be in effect all day, and parking will be free at all Metro-operated facilities. Meanwhile, Metrobus will run on a Saturday supplemental schedule with some late-night trips canceled on selected routes.
Speaking of closed offices, Reston Now will be on a break on MLK Day.
Wexton, Democratic incumbents celebrate Election Day victories — Local voters also turned out in numbers the surpassed recent midterm elections. The Fairfax County Office of Elections estimated a 69.7 percent turnout for the general election, up from 45.7 percent in 2014. [Fairfax County Times]
DMV2Go in RTC today — The wireless office on wheels will offer DMV services today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the pavilion. Services include driver’s license and ID card applications and renewals, driving records, decals and more. [Reston Town Center]
Reston Association budget hearing, assessment increase proposal tomorrow — RA will hear comments from members about its plans to increase assessments by $11 at a hearing tomorrow (Thursday). [Reston Association]
Robert Sapolsky to speak at CenterStage tonight — Sapolsky, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, will speak tonight. His lectures touch on topics like stress, baboons, the biology of individuality, memory aggression and schizophrenia. Tickets are sold out but the box office will maintain a waitlist today for any returned tickets. [Reston Community Center]
Photo by John Pinkman
Beginning on October 1, Virginians will be able to obtain through the local offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles a REAL ID that complies with federal regulations to prove their identity. While having state-issued, federally-approved identification to prove who you are is offensive to many, the practical use of the REAL ID will result in most if not all complying with its requirements.
The REAL ID came about from recommendations of the 9/11 Commission studying ways to improve security to prevent other horrible terrorist acts from happening. Half of the September 11 hijackers had received driver’s licenses in Virginia. Congress passed an act to help prevent terrorist attacks and to reduce the number of licenses issued to undocumented residents. It established the requirements for states to follow in issuing driver’s licenses, and the program is implemented by the Department of Homeland Security. Under the congressionally passed law, states are required to issue licenses only to applicants who provide in-person proof of their identity and legal U.S. residency. The new cards must use the latest counterfeit-resistant security features.
Half the states are now in compliance with the new federal law, and others like Virginia have been working hard to put the new system into place. Beginning in the fall of 2020, persons who want to board a commercial flight must present a REAL ID or an alternative form of acceptable identification. Likewise, persons entering federal facilities must present a REAL ID. The DMV-issued credential will meet the requirement of REAL ID and will allow holders to access federal buildings, including military installations, and board commercial flights.
Obtaining a REAL ID when you renew your driver’s license is voluntary. That is what I intend to do. I do not want to have to remember to make a special trip to the DMV in the future to prove my identity for a REAL ID when I can do it as part of renewing my driver’s license.
To get a REAL ID you must apply in person and provide DMV with physical documentation of identity, such as an unexpired U.S. passport or a U.S. birth certificate and provide your legal presence through the same documentation. And yes, there is an additional one-time fee of $10 to help pay for the new cards. Hopefully you can visit a DMV office when they are not too busy. But you do need to go in person and take the time to meet the requirements.
Important news for those who do not drive and hence do not have a driver’s license: You can get a REAL ID through the same process just described to use for entering federal facilities, boarding commercial flights and voting.
Need more information? The DMV website is filled with full details. Check my interview with Commissioner Rick Holcomb of the DMV on YouTube after October 10 or watch it on Reston Comcast Channel 28 for public service programming or Verizon Channel 1981 at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23 or at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24.
Foulger-Pratt plans new development — The Potomac-based developer has submitted plans for a 1.5 million-square-foot development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. Plans include up to 907 units, an assisted living facility and an office building with ground-level retail. [Washington Business Journal]
Outdoor movie postponed — Plaza America’s outdoor movie night has been postponed to Friday, September 14. The featured movie is Despicable Me 3 and the movie will begin at 8:45 p.m. at the SunTrust Bank. [Plaza America]
If you’d rather avoid DMV offices — A wireless office for the DMV will be on-site at Reston Town Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Services offered include driver’s license and ID applications and renewals, driving records, vehicle titles, license plates, decals and more. [Reston Town Center]
Creative response tonight — Kimberly Battista leads this month’s creative response at the Greater Reston Arts Center. Creative responses allow a creative professional to respond to work on view in the gallery. [Greater Reston Arts Center]
Yoga workshop this evening — Local yoga and wellness coach Rupa Shah discusses the ins and outs of yoga at this free event at Reston Regional Library from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Attendees will also get to practice a few techniques. [Reston Regional Library]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
A peek inside Reston’s trauma center — Take a look at how experts and employees at Reston Hospital Center’s trauma center work together to help seriously injured patients. [WUSA 9]
The DMV on wheels — The DMV2GO wireless office will be at the main pavilion in Reston Town Center today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to offer services ranging from driver’s license renewals to license plate applications. [Reston Town Center]
‘Trends in TV Viewing’ presentation tonight — “Allan Hide from Fairfax County’s Department of Consumer and Cable Services will cover “enabling devices” (including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Blu-ray players, and game consoles) required to access streaming and online TV services. He will also share tips on ways to lower your cable bills.” [Reston Regional Library]
Stateside: Police investigate death of inmate — “Police say they are investigating the death of a 68-year-old inmate in Virginia. The Washington Post reports the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center inmate was found unconscious in his cell Wednesday morning. Police say preliminarily, there are no signs of foul play.” [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
Silver Line Only Running To Ballston — There will be no trains Saturday or Sunday between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle. This means Silver Line trains are only scheduled to run between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston, where riders can transfer will need to transfer to the Orange Line to continue their trips. [WTOP]
DMV Looking at Change in Renewal Reminders — About 120,000 customers who have online DMV accounts, and whose vehicle registrations expire in October, will receive a yellow postcard as a renewal reminder instead of full-size packets. The state DMV is testing the efficiency of the change in an attempt to save costs. [Virginia DMV]
Former Local Teacher, Administrator Has New Job — Jennifer Hertzberg is taking over this year as the principal of Flint Hill Elementary School in Vienna. Among Hertzberg’s previous jobs were as a teacher at Floris Elementary School and an assistant principal at Forest Edge Elementary School. [Inside NoVa]
SLHS Grad Takes Football Coaching Position — Former South Lakes High School gridiron star Chris Royal, who had a stellar career playing at Marshall University, will be working this season as the cornerbacks coach at Morehead State University in Kentucky. Royal is also the older brother of NFL wide receiver Eddie Royal. [The Morehead News]
Time to Go Back to School — Pat Hynes, Hunter Mill District representative on the Fairfax County School Board, has issued a video statement welcoming students and their families to the 2017-18 school year. [YouTube]
Report: Golf Course Could Sell for $25-$35M — Real-estate news website GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week that it hears anyone who buys Reston National Golf Course for that price and gets approval for development might be looking at a $200 million windfall. [GlobeSt.com]
Mobile DMV Service Coming to Reston — DMV 2 Go, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ mobile service, will soon visit Reston. DMV 2 Go is a handicapped-accessible full-service office that provides all DMV transactions. The mobile DMV will be at the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 3-6. [Virginia DMV]
Independent Panel to Study Metro’s Woes — Former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood will take charge of a panel to examine Metro’s governance and long-term financial needs. Meanwhile, Metro’s general manager says the system needs major work to fix its “unsustainable cost model.” [Washington Post]
South Lakes Lacrosse Team Kicks Off 2017 — The Seahawks’ boys lacrosse team won its conference and advanced to the state tournament last year. They started the 2017 season with a 16-3 win over Fairfax last week, and though they dropped their second contest to Stone Ridge, they still have big dreams. [South Lakes Athletics]