Reston, VA

Thursday Morning Notes


Airbnb Cancels Area Reservations — “Airbnb says it is cancelling bookings for next week in the D.C. area, in response to threats of violence during the Inauguration week.” [ARLnow]

FCPS Announces Vaccine Schedule — “The COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to FCPS staff via Inova Health System, in partnership with the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD), starting this Saturday, January 16, 2021. All FCPS employees will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine as a part of the Virginia Department of Health 1b group of other essential workers.” [FCPS]

Lane Closures Planned on Dulles Toll Road — “Beginning on or about Thursday, Jan. 14,  at 10 p.m. to Friday, Jan. 15, at 5 a.m., Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project (DCMP) crews will be performing pedestrian bridge utility work along the eastbound Dulles Toll Road (DTR) requiring the full closure of three left lanes beginning at mile marker 1.6 on the west end of Innovation Station and continuing to mile marker 5.0 on the east end of Reston Station.” [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Cash will no longer be accepted at the Dulles Toll Road beginning next year.

The decision, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, was made in response to customers’ preferences for electronic toll payments, according to a statement released yesterday by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

No loose change will be accepted and tollbooth change baskets will be removed as part of the permanent move.

Here’s more information from MWAA on acceptable forms of payment:

Any lane can be used with a valid E-ZPass account or other form of electronic tolling. Customers can visit E-ZPass Virginia for information on how to obtain an E-ZPass. If toll-lane cameras identify a license plate associated with an E-ZPass account, that account will be charged for the transaction even if an E-ZPass is not present in the vehicle.

To make it easier to get an E-ZPass, the minimum opening account balance has been temporarily reduced to $20 per transponder (from $35) for online and phone applications. E-Z Pass also offers a reloadable Virginia E-Z Pass Card, these can be purchased your local CVS Pharmacy and 7-11 Convenience Stores.

The GoTollSlora and Peasey Drive On smartphone apps are also accepted as payment. 

Motorists passing through all toll plaza lanes without electronic payment will be sent a payment notice by mail. Missed tolls which are paid within six days of the violation will not be charged an administrative fee. Customers are encouraged to visit the Virginia Department of Transportation’s online toll violation payment website for information on proactively paying missed tolls.

In early April,  manual toll collecting was suspended in response to COVID-19. All personnel from toll boots were removed and cash-exchange toll collections were suspended.

Electronic tolling became the preferred method of payment in 2003, when more than $18 million was collected with E-ZPass, compared to roughly $17 million collected in cash that calendar year.

In 2017, roughly $130 million was collected via E-ZPass while nearly $18 million was collected by cash, according to a 2018 study by the MWAA.

Image via Google Maps

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Planning to repair the bridge on Reston Parkway over the Dulles Toll Road is underway after a tractor-trailer crashed into the bridge earlier this month.

According to a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation, the tractor-trailer struck the bridge and damaged its girder and the connection to its superstructure.

Since the bridge is joined owned by VDOT and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, both entities are devising a plan for repairs.

So far, structural engineers have assessed the damage and are in the “final stages” of creating a repair plan, Ellen Kamilakis told Reston Now.

“Likely, VDOT bridge crews and their contractor will perform at least some of the repair,” she said.

The bridge strike happened on Nov. 20. Since then, the right northbound lane on the bridge has been closed to traffic indefinitely.

Photo via VDOT

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Dulles Toll Road Revenue is Down — “The Dulles Toll Road generated just under $8.45 million last month, roughly half of what it pulled in during June 2019, according to documents issued by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority ahead of its upcoming board meeting.” [Washington Business Journal]

Neighbor to Neighbor Program Serves 100th Resident “The Fairfax County Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) Shopping Program just served its 100th resident! Thanks to the overwhelming dedication and effort of the Fairfax County Emergency Services, Fire and Rescue volunteer personnel, the program proudly announces that it has reached this milestone.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday Morning Notes

Positive Test Rate Lowest Since Mid-March — “The Virginia Department of Health reported 551 additional cases of the coronavirus Sunday, a lower increase after four consecutive days of new daily cases increasing. The latest cumulative totals are 57,994 cases, 5,840 hospitalizations, and 1,611 deaths.” [Patch]

New Trail Offers Outdoor Classes — The small business is offering classes outdoors nearly everyday. Classes can be booked 14 days in advance online. The cycling studio is located at 1641b Washington Plaza. [New Trail Cycling Studio]

Lane Closures on Dulles Toll Road This Week — Several areas along the toll road and Autopilot Road near the Reston Town Center Metro Station will be closed this week. Most of the work is scheduled to happen between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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One of the region’s worst bottlenecks is expected to get some relief after state Gov. Ralph Northam announced a plan to expand the American Legion Bridge.

Virginia and Maryland, which will take the lead on the project, which Northam said was a “once-in-a-generation achievement for the capital region.” The interstate compact has been named the “Capital Beltway Accord”

Once completed, existing lanes in each direction across the Potomac River will be replaced and two new Express Lanes will be added in each direction for roughly three miles between George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to River Road in Maryland. Trails on both sides of the Potomac River are planned to improve bicycle and pedestrian access.

“This is once-in-a-generation project that will improve accessibility throughout the region,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “This is a milestone in regional cooperation. We in Virginia look forward to working hand-in-hand with Maryland to deliver this transformative transportation solution.”

Officials expect the changes to reduce congestion in regular lanes by 25 percent, providing 40 percent more lane capacity over the old bridge.

While Maryland would rebuild the Legion Bridge, Virginia would pay nearly half of the cost.

No homes or businesses are expected to require relocation as a result of the project, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Daily traffic on the American Legion Bridge has grown by 390 percent since the bridge opened in 1962.

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The county is seeking proposals for a permanent, 3D public artwork at the Innovation Center Metro Station‘s garage.

The artwork must integrate with the larger public space in the project at 2435 Innovation Center Drive.

The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services has budgeted $100,000 for the project, which should “evoke the spirit of 21st century urban living, creative inspiration and a sense of community.”

The artwork would be located in the pocket park on the southeast corner to the Metro garage.

Here’s more from the county about the project:

The Innovation Center development will be a new transit-oriented development just south of the Dulles Toll Road, adjacent to the Innovation Center Station, one of six Metrorail stations being built in the Silver Line’s second phase. The overall 14.6-acre site consists of the 5.5-acre footprint for a County-constructed Metro commuter garage, kiss-and-ride spaces, pocket park, and Metro plaza with the remaining 9.1-acres to be developed by a private developer. Fairfax County has partnered with the private developer to clear and grade the nearly 15-acre undeveloped site before installing stormwater infrastructure, building a road network, erecting streetlights, constructing public space, and landscaping. The infrastructure will serve the overall development including the Metro Station Garage.

The design of the Innovation Center Metro Garage and adjacent development envisions a site-specific artwork to evoke the spirit of 21st century urban living, creative inspiration, and a sense of community. The artwork may address local themes or landmarks of the surrounding area. The work should be visible from the street and the Metro Plaza, just north of the pocket park and kiss-and-ride. The artwork shall be accessible to the general public of all ages and ability levels, and shall not impact planned infrastructure, easements, trees, and critical root zones. The artwork may engage visitors by being tactile or interactive; may be an identifiable landmark or gathering spot on the site; may offer opportunities for environmental education; or may engage site features such as trees or topography to provoke a spatial experience.

Applications are due by Friday, Nov. 8. Three semi-finalists will be selected by a committee with representatives from the county.

More information about submission guidelines is available online.

File photo

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Monday Morning Notes

Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors to Hold Annual Public Hearing Tonight — Attendees will learn more about RCC’s plans for the future, including a status report on the renovation of the Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center and the center’s annual report and strategic plan. The hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. at RCC Hunters Woods. [Reston Community Center]

Flash Flood Watch In Effect Today — A flash flood watch is in effect from 2 p.m. through this evening. Widespread thunderstorms and showers are expected. [National Weather Service]

Route 7 Widening Project to Provide Traffic Relief Soon — “The $313.9 million project is designed to ease congestion on a section of Route 7 that links northern and western Fairfax County and includes the busy Tysons area, which is undergoing a massive transformation of its own. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority provided $10 million in funding. Other money for the project comes from Fairfax County and the state.” [The Washington Post]

Overnight Closures of Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Airport Access Road Ramps Planned This Week — “The ramps from the eastbound Dulles Toll Road and the eastbound Dulles Airport Access Road to the southbound I-495 (Capital Beltway) general purpose lanes will be closed nightly Monday night, June 17 through Friday night, June 21 for bridge work as part of the Jones Branch Connector project, ” [Virginia Department of Transportation]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Friday Morning Notes

Silver Line Construction Snag Could Delay Opening — The contractor responding for building the new rail yard near Dulles Airport revealed their latest schedule slipped 67 days in just one month. The estimated completion date is now set for late July 2020. [WTOP]

Project to Widen Route 7 from Tysons to Reston Breaks Ground — The project held its groundbreaking ceremony yesterday (Thursday). It would add a third lane from Leesburg Pike in each direction from Reston to Tysons. [Tysons Reporter]

Triple Left Lane Closure Overnight on the Dulles Toll Road Next Week — Drivers should expect 20-minute stoppages nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Wednesday, June 19 through the morning of Monday, June 24. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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State and local transportation officials have been working for more than a year on clearing the Soapstone Connector through the environmental approval phase — one of the latest hurdles for the roughly $170 million project.

The connector — which extends Soapstone Drive from Sunrise Valley Drive over the Dulles Toll Road to Sunset Hills Road — provides a new north-south alternative to tackle increasing traffic congestion on Wiehle Avenue. By the time the project breaks ground, hundreds of additional residential units are expected to come on the market in Reston.

County transportation officials are working with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to determine the next steps for the project after the state determined a group of buildings on Association Drive the project could cut through are considered historic. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation must conduct an alternatives analysis to find possible ways to reduce the impact on the buildings.

Discussions have been ongoing for more than year. The county’s Architectural Review Board first determined the collection of buildings could be historically significant in early 2018. Since then, county staff have been trying to chart the best path forward to minimize the impact on the buildings  — which are considered historic as a collection, but not on an individual basis.

More hurdles are expected as the project goes through design and planning. Construction isn’t expected to begin until the mid to late 2020s.

“Anytime you’re building a new major project in a built environment, it’s more challenging than if we’re working out in a cornfield,” Tom Biesiadny, FCDOT’s director, told Reston Now. “None of them are insurmountable.”

Although funding for the project has not been secured yet, Biesiadny says the county has enough dollars to finish project design, which will move forward once the county receives necessary environmental approvals. The county plans to then tackle right-of-way and land acquisition between 2022 and 2024. Utility relocation is also complicated by the fact that area businesses rely on fiber optic cables along Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road.

“At the moment, money is not holding anything up,” Biesiadny said. “It’s several years out before we need the construction dollars.”

So far, the project has $24 million secured from federal, regional and local funds. A $45.4 million grand application for Smart Scale funding has been submitted. The county plans to continue to aggressively apply for grant funding.

The connector has been on the county’s planning books for years. A hybrid design for the project received county approval in 2014.

Map via Fairfax County Government

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Thursday Morning Notes

Overturned Truck on Dulles Toll Road Causes Delays — “An overturned truck on Va. 267/Dulles Toll Road just after Route 7 in Vienna, Virginia, caused significant delays starting Wednesday afternoon. Around 2:30 p.m., the overturned ready-mix concrete delivery truck prompted lane closures and traffic reroutes.” [WTOP]

Dollars and Sense Today at Reston Regional Library — Join a monthly group discussion about business leaders and markets from 7-9 p.m. This month’s session covers “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis. The event is free and open to the public. [Reston Regional Library]

Live from the Den — In the continuing saga about a local fox family, the Walker Nature Center releases another live video from the den. [Walker Nature Center]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Despite a toll increase that went into effect in January, more drivers are using the Dulles Toll Road than the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority anticipated.

Between January and March, tolls brought in $46.4 million — 31 percent more compared to the same period last year. That gives the MWAA $11.2 million to work with in order to fund phase two of the Silver Line.

Even though the number of toll transactions dipped by 4.8 percent compared to the previous year, transactions were 1.3 percent higher than MWAA expected. So far this year, there have been 21.7 million transactions.

The cost of operations also increased this year. Year-to-date expenses were $1.3 million or 17 percent higher than the same period last year. MWAA attributed this increase to $1 million in operating expenses for expanded service and $300,000 in transaction fees.

Toll prices increased for the first time in four years from $2.50 to $3.25 and from $1 to $1.50 at ramps in order to cover phase two of the Silver Line past Reston Town Center to Dulles International Airport and Ashburn. Another increase is expected in 2023.

Photo via MWAA

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For the final Reston Then and Now — a series where we’ve used Fairfax County’s aerial photography to track changes in the area — we’re looking at the area overall and at how far it’s come since its founding.

Reston was founded in 1964, but some of the paths that are roads today — like Baron Cameron Avenue — are still visible in photography from 1937. Reston’s iconic man-made lakes are also absent, leaving most of the area that’s Reston today just open fields.

By 1976 though —  10 years after Reston was founded — the region was starting to take shape in the neighborhoods around Lake Anne and Lake Thoreau. The village design envisioned by founder Robert E. Simon is still apparent in those early aerial photographs showing retail and residential areas clumped together.

But over the years, those isolated communities start to become increasingly interconnected to the point of being almost indistinguishable from above. By the mid-1990s, the only major patch of green space around Reston is Colvin Run near Lake Fairfax and southeast of Lake Anne.

After the Reston Town Center starts showing up in aerial photography in 1990 (construction began in 1988) the development starts to shift west of the original area and more toward major transit routes.

In the photography from 1990, construction also starts to bunch around the Dulles Toll Road in the Reston Station neighborhood. The Toll Road was built in 1982, and by the early 2000s, the urban centers of Reston shift away from the villages to the north and south and more towards the developments along the major highway. This density starts to ramp up in 2011 as the area builds up for the Silver Line’s opening in 2014.

The density continuing to focus around the Silver Line is poised to continue as developers plan new mixed-use buildings near Woodland Park by the planned Herndon Silver Line Metro station.

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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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Snow plows are working to clear roadways this morning after a snowstorm began earlier this morning.

A traffic camera facing westbound at the snow-covered intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills Road shows more trucks with snow plows than cars this morning.

Still, drivers can expect some slow-moving traffic on the Dulles Toll Road and major roads in Reston and Herndon with spots of congestion near intersections.

Fairfax County wants locals to stay off the roads, especially with low visibility near the Reston Parkway.

https://twitter.com/fairfaxcounty/status/1098213296472240130

The National Weather Service’s Winter Storm Warning is in effect until 7 p.m.

The warning says that “travel will be very difficult, especially during the morning commute. The hazardous conditions could also impact the evening commute.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation wants locals to stay off of the roads. “Pockets of heavier snow may limit visibility and stick to the pavement, and a mix of freezing rain may quickly make roads slick,” VDOT said in an update at 6 a.m.

https://twitter.com/VaDOTNOVA/status/1098210597328556032

Images via Virginia 511, Google Maps

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