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Bridge on W&OD Trail Over Wiehle Avenue Approved

An aerial bridge on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail over Wiehle Avenue could be constructed by October 2022.

Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved final design plans for the project, which is expected to cost $11.4 million, according to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

The bridge includes retaining walls and directional access to Wiehle Avenue for trail users. Wiehle Avenue would be widened from Sunset Hills Road to the Reston Fire Station property in order to make way for future on-road bike lanes.

Plans have long been identified by the Reston Metrorail Access Group’s plan to improve vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian access near the new Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station.

Robin Geiger, a spokeswoman for FCOD, said design plans are currently 90 percent complete. The project timeline expects utility design and relocation to take a little over a year-and-a-half, land acquisition to take a year, construction authorization and permitting to take eight months and construction to take one year.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the project faces the challenge of ensuring the bridge maintains synergy in the midst of urban properties that are coming together down the street.

The developer of the Isaac Newtown properties, which are being redeveloped, said they were concerned the project’s scale interferes with the development. County officials said they would work with the developer to mitigate any concerns.

However, according to FCDOT, the height of the bridge is necessary because the design of the bridge uses existing infrastructure in order to cut cost costs. The height is also vital to meet grade requirements and requirements stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Rendering via FCDOT

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Pedestrian Bridge Project at Wiehle Avenue and W&OD Trail Moves Forward

A grade-separated crossing and bridge at the Washington & Old Dominion Trail at Wiehle Avenue could be coming closer to reality.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion tomorrow (July 10) to allow the county officials to move forward with land acquisition and final design plans.

The project, which is expected to cost $10 million, aims to address safety concern at the intersection. Changes include a new bridge, retaining walls and directional access to Wiehle Avenue for trail users.

Wiehle Avenue would be widened from Sunset Hills Road to the properties near the Reston Fire Station. The pavement would be widened for on-road bike lanes in the future.

Improvements were contemplated in Reston’s Metrorail Access Group’s plan to improve access near the new Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station. The new fire station planned in the area would be built before the pedestrian bridge.

An exact timeline for the project has not been set.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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To Close Funding Gap, County Board Approves $40 Million for Route 7 Widening

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will contribute up to $40 million to help close a funding a gap in the widening of Route 7.

The $278 million project, which will widen Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive from four to six lanes, will cost roughly 95 million more than what engineers’ originally estimated.

The board unanimously voted to approve additional funds on Tuesday (June 19). The Virginia Department of Transportation is expected to also contribute up to $40 million.

Tom Biesiadny, director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, said cost overruns were linked primarily to how the contract was bid. The state is currently negotiating between two offerors who offered bids above the estimated price. The contract is a design-to-build, which is costlier than design-to-bid projects and would allow the project to begin two years earlier than originally anticipated,  Biesiadny said.

Officials hope to reduce the expected costs of the project by negotiating with the two offerors. Final bid offers must be in by early July.

Most funding to meet the gap will be taken from dollars allocated for Tysons projects. A plan to widen Frying Pan Road will also be deferred, Biesiadny said.

Biesiadny said bicycle and pedestrian improvements are also planned along the seven-mile stretch, which he said connects Reston and Tysons.

It provides benefits to both of those areas by allowing traffic to move more quickly through those areas, reduc[ing] congestion, but also provid[ing[ bicycle and pedestrian improvements and bus stop improvements,” he said.

File photo via FCDOT

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Fairfax County Commits $1.2 Million for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted today (Tuesday) to contribute $1.2 million for the redevelopment of downtown Herndon — an effort being led by Comstock and the Town of Herndon.

The funding commitment is the largest dollar contribution for economic development to date. Funds are drawn from a funding category designed for one-time, seed money for projects that provide direct economic benefits for Fairfax County. Roughly a quarter of $5 million in available funding has been committed to downtown Herndon.

County officials hope to recoup their investment within the first two years after the project is complete. Estimates suggest the redevelopment will generate $800,000 annually in new property and sales taxes for the county, according to an independent analysis commissioned by the town.

The 4.67-acre property, which is owned by the town, is currently tax-exempt. The new town center would pay real estate taxes and generate additional sales tax from retail elements.

The project includes an 18,000-square-foot arts center, which will serve as the centerpiece of the downtown area. Overall, downtown Herndon will include around 281 apartments, 17,600 square feet of ground floor retail and a 761-space parking garage.

Fairfax County will release its funds only when the Town of Herndon contributes $1.2 million of its own funding. The town plans to pitch in $3.6 million for the public-private partnership.

In prepared statements, local elected officials reacted to the funding commitment:

“I am pleased that funding from the County’s Economic Development Support Fund will help make the Herndon Arts Center a reality,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who chairs the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission. “Activities around the arts create thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity in Fairfax County. The Herndon Arts Center will also contribute to the success of a redevelopment project that will significantly increase the tax base of the town and the county. Projects like the Herndon Arts Center also contribute to the county’s economic success by creating a community that will attract a 21st century workforce.”

“Allocation of this grant funding to the town is a tangible, impactful demonstration of Fairfax County’s commitment to economic development in Herndon,” said Mayor Lisa Merkel. “Redevelopment of Herndon’s downtown creates a new and exciting destination at the county’s western edge, and we greatly appreciate the spirit of partnership symbolized by this grant.”

Photo via Comstock

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Route 7 Widening Project to Tysons Hit by Funding Gap

An additional $40 million is being sought to begin widening a seven-mile stretch of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

State officials’ estimates of the overall $278 million project came in $95 million above the amount originally anticipated by the proposal. The project has been bid and is ready for construction, pending the approval of additional funding.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider approving funding at their June 19 meeting.

Once the funding gap has been bridged, construction will begin to widen Route 7 from four to six lanes with intersection improvements and the addition of a shared-use path on both sides of the roadway. County and state officials said the project is necessary to reduce congestion, improve safety and boost mobility for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Officials said the project came in nearly $1 million above estimates due to the competitive market generated by ongoing construction in Northern Virginia, several challenging utility relocations (including a $200 million upgrade project by Washington Gas) and the more than 230 property transactions required to ensure right-of-way.

The county is considering pitching in $23 million in funding that was not previously allocated by the board. Dollars will be drawn from the following project:  Route 123’s widening ($13 million), Frying Pan road widening ($3 million) and a park and ride expansion at the Lorton VRE ($690,470). The Virginia Department of Transportation will provide up to $40 million in state funding.

According to 2011 traffic counts provided by VDOT, the stretch of Route 7 carries between 46,000 and 54,000 vehicles per day. That number is expected to increase to 73,000 to 86,000 by 2040, VDOT says.

Map via VDOT

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Monday Morning Notes

Lynchburg police search for Reston man — Police have identified Mark Anthony Goldring Jr., 31, of Reston, as a shooting suspect in a malicious wounding reported late Sunday evening. [WBDJ 7]

Dredging underway at Lake Thoreau — All dozen coves of the lake will be dredged and up to 400 truckloads of material could be removed. [Reston Association]

Five-story hotel approved — A 138-room hotel will replace surface parking in Lake Fairfax Business Park. The county offers an update on the recent approval. [Fairfax County Government]

A fine time — The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival took place in Reston Town Center. A local outlet posted several photos of the art displays and work. [Around Reston]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Funding Approved for Improvements at Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved $500,000 to cover preliminary engineering for interim improvements at the intersection of Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

Planned upgrades include lane reconfiguration, signal optimization and improvements to pedestrian and bike facilities.

Depending on the option selected by individuals, the project is expected to cost between $2.2 million and $4.3 million. The board approved intersection improvements as part of Reston’s transportation funding plan in late February last year.

The timeline of the project was not immediately available.

Photo via Virginia Department of Transportation

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Fairfax County Rejects Redevelopment Proposal for Phase One of Reston Town Center North

(Updated on May 18, 2 p.m. to include information about the release of the RFP)

Fairfax County officials formally rejected a redevelopment proposal for two blocks of the future Reston Town Center North project, a 47-acre plot of land where a street grid, mixed-use buildings and a recreation center are envisioned.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors rejected Reston Civic Core’s October 27, 2017 proposal earlier this month, citing that the proposal’s scope was well beyond the intention of the project and required a “substantial financial commitment” from the county. The cost of the project was not immediately made available.

RTC North, which is located south of Bowman Towne Drive, will be developed through a public-private partnership. The first phase of development, blocks seven and eight, could include more than 420 residential units, an expanded homeless shelter and library, private commercial development and office space for nonprofit organization.

An advisory committee with representation from Reston citizens and senior county staff first recommended denying the proposal. The county will continue examining other development proposals in the coming months.

In response to a request from Reston Now, the county declined to release the RFP, which was issued in July 2017, and Reston Civic Core’s proposal. Here’s more from a spokesman about the denial: 

Because the proposal was rejected, the request for proposal and proposal are sealed, following the county’s purchasing regulations. Reston Civic Core’s proposal was rejected due to its additional scope and the financial commitment required of  the county. Fairfax County is evaluating how to move forward, including considering future planning and procurement options.

This story has been updated.

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New Hotel Approved in Lake Fairfax Business Park

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved plans Tuesday to replace surface parking in Lake Fairfax Business Park with a four-story hotel.

The 138-room hotel, proposed by TH Holding Company, would be built next to the headquarters of Thompson Hospitality (1741 Business Center Drive), TH Holding’s retail food and facilities management company.

TH Holding Company plans to provide 299 parking spaces, including 149 spots for hotel guests and employees. An outdoor terrace will be adjacent to the hotel’s main entrance.

Under requested rezoning approvals, the hotel will be subject to its own zoning and permit regulations, separate from Lake Fairfax Business Park. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project on May 3, with one member abstaining from a vote.

Photo via Fairfax County Government, Google Maps

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Preliminary Planning for Silver Line Underpass to Begin This Year

Local and state officials plan to explore options to build a Silver Line underpass from Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive.

The project, which is expected to cost around $169 million, is in its early planning phases.

Pending the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ approval on Tuesday (May 15), the county’s transportation department and the Virginia Department of Transportation will propose three options for the four-lane underpass.

Preliminary engineering and designing will begin in fiscal year 2020. No timeline for construction has been set.

County officials said the project is a “high priority” to improve circulation in Reston, support traffic from additional development and improve connectivity in the overall road network.

In 2014, the county board approved a plan that recommended constructing the underpass west of Edmund Halley Drive and committed $8.7 million to advance the effort. Three years later, the board incorporated the project in Reston’s funding plan for transportation improvements.

The underpass is planned beneath a future Metrorail line. Metrorail tracks will span the future road roadway extension. 

The board will vote on the agreement between state and county officials to begin exploring options on Tuesday. The scope of the study includes:

  • A review of previous studies
  • Aerial mapping
  • Three planning and profile studies
  • A preliminary project cost estimate
  • Information on environmental impacts

Image via Google Maps

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Fairfax County Supervisors Adopt 2019 Budget

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors officially adopted the proposed FY 2019 budget at their meeting last week on May 1.

Among the highlights of the new budget include an increase in the real estate tax, and increased funding for schools, including teacher salaries.

Homeowners can expect a two-cent increase in the annual real estate tax, from the current $1.13 per $100 of assessed home value to $1.15.

Supervisors said this will result in an average increase of $241 per year for homeowners, and a revenue increase of $49.3 million for the county.

“I believe the additional revenue is an important investment needed to shore up the foundation on which our quality of life in Fairfax County rests,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said in recorded comments on the county website.

The new budget also includes increased funding for Fairfax County schools by $91.49 million, or 4.22 percent over the previous year.

“The package fully funds the school board’s request, bringing teacher salaries into competitive alignment with our sister jurisdictions in the region,” Bulova said. “Again, 52.8 percent of our general fund budget [will be] going to the schools.”

Of the additional $91.49 million, $53 million of that will be dedicated to teacher salary scale increases, according to the county website.

“It is anticipated that the FCPS FY 2019 Advertised Budget will remain fully funded, with increased state revenues,” county documents explain. “This includes projected cost increases related to updated enrollment information.”

Bulova said the increased funding will also allow for a 2.25-percent market rate adjustment for county employees, as well as allow for performance, merit and longevity increases.

The approved budget also provides funding for many early childhood education programs, gang prevention and opioid addiction intervention, as well as an increase in funding for Metro “pending a long-term solution,” she said.

The county’s “Diversion First” program will also receive funding. Diversion First offers alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities, who come into contact with the criminal justice system for low level offenses.

Other small tax and fee increases for basic services include:

  • Trash/Refuse Collection and Disposal – Annual collection fees will increase by $5, from the current $345 to $350. Annual disposal fees will increase by $2 from the current $64 to $66.
  • Sewer Fees – Annual sewer service fees will increase from $6.75 per 1,000 gallons to $7. Annual base service charges will increase from $27.62 per quarter to $30.38.
  • Stormwater Services – The district tax rate will increase from $0.0300 to $0.0325 per $100 of assessed value.

One area in which fees will decrease is the Phase I Dulles Rail Transportation Improvement district tax rate, which will go down from 15 cents to 13 cents per $100 of assessed value, thanks to a recommendation by the Phase I District Commission.

The county produced a video on its annual budget is formed and adopted for interested residents.

File Photo: Sharon Bulova

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Homeowners, prepare for a hit — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have sent forward a budget that includes increases in the county’s real estate tax rate. Most homeowners will pay an additional $241 annually. [WTOP]

Report card for Boston Properties — The real estate investment trust reported results for its first quarter, with a net income of $176 million, up from 97 million this time last year. [Business Wire]

South Lakes High School summer camp — Registration is now open for summer camps at the school, which offers programs for girls basketball, field hockey, football and volleyball. [SLHS]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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More Community Charrettes Suggested on Population Density Proposal

More community meetings about a controversial plan to increase Reston’s population density may be forthcoming.

In an April 23 letter to the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a community group opposing the increase, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins suggested holding more meetings to discuss issues related to the proposal, which would increase population density from 13 to 16 people per acre in Reston’s Planned Residential Community areas.

Hudgins pitched the idea of holding another group meeting with CPR, Reston Association and the county’s planning staff. Work sessions in small groups would follow based on topics like infrastructure implementation, transportation, schools and parks.

CPR and RA declined to meet on April 2 to discuss the county’s response to their concerns. County planning staff reiterated the need to pursue the proposal in order to effectively implement Reston’s master plan. Staff affirmed their commitment to ensuring infrastructure matches the pace of development, but did not accept a number of amendments suggested by both parties.

In her letter, Hudgins acknowledged the county’s response was “slow in coming.”

“But a commitment was made to respond and the planning staff did so in a detailed and thoughtful manner. It is unfortunate that CPR and RA declined to meet on April 2 and to discuss the staff’s response and to outline next steps and the process going forward,” she wrote.

Hudgins also noted that Reston’s master plan includes protections for existing residential communities and Reston’s golf course.

Most of the potential growth is slated for village centers, St. Johns Wood apartments, the retail area north of Baron Cameron avenue near Home Depot, Reston Town Center North, parts of Reston Town Center and other parcels in Reston’s Transit Station Areas.

“As was evident again this year at the Founder’s Day celebration, Reston is a special place that we all love and I am confident that we can all work together to resolve the issue of the maximum density allowed in the PRC zoned area and the concerns of the community regarding the Reston Master Plan,” Hudgins said.

CPR met on Monday to discuss the county’s response. In a statement, Bruce Ramo of CPR said the opposition group is disappointed with the county’s response.

It is evident that in the absence of leadership by the Supervisor, Restonians must step forward directly to convince the Board of Supervisors of the need for changes in the Master Plan,” Ramo wrote.

Dates regarding when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will officially introduce the legislative proposal have not yet been announced.

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Fairfax County Board Approves Expanded Reston Station Project

Major redevelopment is underway as Comstock Partners continue to complete the massive Reston Station development on the northe side of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

On Tuesday (April 11), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an expanded version of the project, which calls for a further 1.7 million square feet of development, including a mix of residential units, a hotel and office towers.

The project is part of a public-private partnership with the county, which owns seven acres of the roughly 12-acre development. Changes include the addition of 362,450 square feet of development for the buildings on the Reston Station Plaza, increases in the heights of building, and the addition of a hotel to respond to “industry feedback,” said Cooley LLP’s Mark Looney.

The Promenade, an extension of Reston Station, would redevelop a Bank of America, medical buildings and 30 office condominiums on the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue into high rise buildings with up to 540 units, a 14-story office and a 23-story, 280-room hotel with 80 private residences.

Under amended plans, the county’s 1.3-acre portion of the project, previously designated for Reston Station, will be included in The Promenade in order to better unify the block.

Around 17 percent of the units will be affordable at levels of affordability ranging from 70 to 100 percent of the area median income. Comstock also plans to provide $1.9 million to the county’s affordable housing trust fund.

Comstock’s plans also include a woonerf, a shared street system that is used by pedestrians, bicyclists and cars, but does not contain sidewalks, curbs and traffic lights.

The county’s land use plan for the area north of the station includes 2.4 million square feet of development and roughly 1,900 housing units.

“Lots of trees gave up their lives for this application,” said Sharon Bulova, chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Comstock plans to begin construction on its next office building at 1906 Reston Metro Plaza this spring. Plans for another 180,000-square-foot office are under county review.

Photos via Comstock

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Thursday Morning Notes

Recognition for Frank de la Fe — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors honored the Restonian for his service on the county’s planning commission for 16 years. [The Connection]

Mom defends son who faces murder charges — The 17-year-old Lorton teenager who has been charged with the murders of Scott Fricker, 48, and his wife Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, 43, has been called an alt-right killer. But his mother told says her son has struggled with mental health issues for years. [The Washington Post]

A response to school shootings and gun violence — South Lakes High School seniors held a voter registration drive in their U.S. history class. [The Connection]

Walk for the Walker Nature Center — The 15th annual walk to benefit the center, which offers environmental education, is set for April 14. Registration is open online. [Walker Nature Center]

USA Today highlights local Olympian — March is Girls Sports Month, so the news outlet featured Reston’s own Maame Biney, an Olympic short track speed skater. [USA Today]

Photo by Ruth Sievers

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