The “road from nowhere” is a household term among Restonians who are abreast of the day-to-day happenings in local development and land use. The conceptual road, which runs from the Isaac Newton Square property to American Dream Way, cuts straight through an open space resource that local grassroots groups are trying to protect from development: Hidden Creek Country Club.
There are no plans on the books to build the road. But the presence of the line in Reston’s Comprehensive Plan has some scratching there heads: Where did this road come from? And what does it mean for the golf course?
County officials say the road is entirely conceptual in nature, but could possibly be needed to improve connectivity if planned redevelopment happens in the Isaac Newtown Square area. The road could also relieve congestion at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue by serving as an alternative route to Sunset Hills Road, according to Robin Geiger of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
Geiger stressed the road has not been designed and if it is — whether through private development or through a public project — the community will have multiple opportunities to provide their feedback. The county will also work through the potential impacts to the golf course or environmentally-sensitive land in the area.
No development applications have been submitted for the Isaac Newton property to date. In May 2016, however, an application to develop a nearby three-acre site at 11480 Sunset Hills Road into an apartment building was indefinitely deferred.
But grassroots groups like Rescue Reston, which actively led efforts to stop the redevelopment of Reston National Golf Course and pledge to do the same for Hidden Creek Country Club, want the planned road connection removed from the comprehensive plan’s map. Its presence suggests the disruption of the golf course, which is one of two in Reston that the plan intends to protect.
In February, then-Reston Association CEO Cate Fulkerson requested that the county remove the line from the Reston Master Plan. Similar requests from community members surfaced again in recent workgroup sessions with county officials this month.
But county staff have remained reluctant to remove the road, noting that the conceptual road shows the intention of connecting the grid of streets with American Dream Way.
“As with any new roadway design, the county will work to minimize negative impacts on existing uses and the environment. In staff’s view, the planned road being shown as part of the conceptual street network does not negatively affect the viability of the Hidden Creek Golf Course,” Geiger said.
Despite assurances, some concerns remain, especially as Wheelock Communities engages with community stakeholders to determine the future of the golf course. No redevelopment plans have been formally proposed yet.
Photo via Google Earth
County and state officials will present the findings of an architectural survey of ten parcels on Association Drive that could be impacted by the Soapstone Connector project on July 19.
The Soapstone Connector, approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2014, would connect Sunset Hills Road and the Sunrise Valley Drive crossing over the Dulles Toll Road. The half-mile road would cut through the western side of an office park and require the removal of properties on 1904 Association Drive.
The building is currently home to the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
The latest architectural survey — called the Supplemental Phase 1 Architectural Survey in planning jargon — makes recommendations about whether or not specific sites are eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
During the meeting on July 19, officials from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation will seek public input on the survey.
The meeting will take place at the Hunter Mill District Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive, Reston, VA 20190). An open house at 6:30 p.m. will be followed by a formal presentation at 7:15 p.m.
In order to qualify for listing in the historical register, buildings must be at least 50 years old or have “exceptional merit.” Buildings’ architectural value may also be considered in groups, not merely as individual properties.
The project is expected to cost $169.2 million.
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
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
State officials have modified a proposal to re-stripe South Lakes Drive between Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive as a two-lane road with buffered bike lanes.
Based on community feedback and updated traffic analysis, the Virginia Department of Transportation will maintain four travel lanes between Reston Parkway and Colts Neck Road; between Soapstone Drive and Ridge Heights Road; and Twin Branches Road and Sunrise Valley Drive.
Striping modifications on South Lakes Drive were reduced to between Colts Neck Road and Soapstone Drive, as well as between Ridge Heights and Twin Branches Road.
The on-street bike route will only be connected between the Colts Neck Road bike lanes with the bike lanes on Twin Branches Road. A signed detour will be placed via the Soapstone Drive bike lanes and the new Ridge Heights bike lanes.
“The compromise solution will create a safer east-west bike route and address many of the road safety concerns. It is not expected to negatively affect traffic,” state officials wrote in a statement.
County and state officials held a meeting on March 19 to discuss the proposal, along with other paving and re-striping changes in the Hunter Mill District.
Traffic lights on Colts Neck Road, Soapstone Drive and Twin Branches Road are expected to “create breaks in traffic which will aid left turns,” according to Robin Geiger, head of communications for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
The project will be implemented in late June and early July. A more precise starting date was not available.
Expanded and upgraded sidewalks are planned on South Lakes Drive between Green Keepers Court and Twin Branches Road.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will provide information about the proposal at Reston Association’s Design Review Board on Tuesday (May 15) at 7 p.m. in Reston Association’s Conference Center.
In total, roughly 3,600 feet of sidewalk will be installed in the area, along with a bus shelter on Green Watch Way. Upgrades to curb ramps and six bus stops with ADA-compliant loading pads are also planned.
The project is divided into three segments: from Greenkeepers Court to Pond View Court, from Salt Kettle Way to Ridge Heights Road and from South Lakes Drive at Twin Branches Road.
The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to rebuild the traffic signal at the intersection of South Lakes Drive and Twin Branches Road. Currently, a sidewalk does not extend to the intersection.
Land acquisition is expected to begin in the fall and be complete by fall 2019. Construction should begin around spring 2020, according to estimates from county officials.
Map/photo via FCDOT
Some Metro users say the Wiehle-Reston East garage is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. Limited spaces are available during weekday morning hours as construction continues in the area.
Beginning at 9 a.m., few non-reserved parking spots are available in the 2,300-space garage, Metro users said. The garage (11389 Reston Station Boulevard) includes reserved spaces, which open up to the public at 10 a.m. if they are unused.
Garage users said some drivers park their cars in reserved spots not assigned to them due to the challenge of finding space. Jude J. said police often issue tickets to those individuals ten minutes before the parking space opens up to the public.
“You’re lucky if when you enter the ‘lot full’ light is on, otherwise you’re stuck in a dangerous situation with cars going every direction trying to find a spot,” said Jude. She has been commuting for past year and a half from Leesburg to Washington D.C..
County and transit officials pointed to several possible explanations for the scramble for space. County data indicate the average paid utilization rate in March was 88 percent. The rate for reserved parking is $65 a month and $4.95 on weekdays, except Thursday when the rate is $3.
Robin Geiger, head of communications for the Fairfax County Department of Communications said temporary construction in the garage may explain why spaces are limited. Construction is expected to end next month, Geiger said.
In response to space constraints, the county is promoting other alternatives like the Reston South Park and Ride, as well as Fairfax Connector Routes 553, 557, 559 or 585 to Wiehle.
Comstock, the developer behind Reston Station which sits above the garage, built the garage through a public-private partnership with Fairfax County. The county retains garage ownership while the Washington Metropolitan Area Authority operates the facility.
Maggie Parker, a spokesperson for Comstock, said space may also be limited due to “increased activity” with events like the cherry blossoms in the District. WMATA indicated they have seen an increase in parking demand as a result.
Signs in the garage are programmed to display “lot full” when 15 spaces or less are available.
Parker also said it is possible that people are not driving down far enough into the garage, especially three levels down in the ParkX parking area.
The situation has some hoping for other parking alternatives, especially as summer swings in and the recent opening of restaurants like Founding Farmers and Sweet Leaf attracts more customers.
Prepare for a sea of orange cones. With spring quickly approaching, Virginia Department of Transportation officials are gearing up for re-stripping, road redesigns, and new bike lanes on multiple Reston roads this year.
Roadwork will take place from April through November. The Virginia Department of Transportation is holding a public meeting on plans on Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m. in Terraset Elementary School‘s cafeteria.
In response to residents’ concerns about safety along the South Lakes Drive corridor, the county plans to redesign a strip between Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive by converting an outside travel lane to a buffered bike lane — a move the county hopes will address concerns about limited sight distance for vehicles turning onto Sunrise Valley Drive and pedestrian traffic.
Bike lanes on South Lakes Drive between Reston Parkway and Sanibel Drive would be extended. The county will keep one travel lane in each direction due to the limited projected impacts of future development on traffic in that area.
Other plans include adding or expanding bike lines on Bennington Woods Drive, Bowman Towne Drive, Explorer Street, Lawyers Road, Pinecrest Road and others. South Lakes Drive, Bluemont Drive and Fountain Drive are slated for redesigning.
A complete breakdown of plans in the Hunter Mill District is below:
- Bennington Woods Drive: Addition of bike lanes.
- Bowman Towne Drive: Addition of northbound bike lane, southbound shared line markings and striped parking lanes on both sides.
- Bracknell Road: Addition of buffered bike lanes between Stevenage Road and commercial driveways.
- Explorer Street: Addition of bike lanes. On-street parking on both sides of the street will remain.
- Fountain Drive: Road redesign to “increase traffic safety.” There will be one travel lane in each direction, with one dedicated left turn lane and buffered bike lanes.
- Stevenage Road: Addition of buffered bike lanes between Bennington Woods Road and the northern Home Depot driveway and Reston Parkway. Existing parking restrictions will not be changed. Timed parking will remain.
- Temporary Road: Addition of bike lanes.
- Walnut Branch Road: Addition of eastbound buffered bike lanes and westbound shared lane markings.
- Lawyers Road: Extension of existing bike lanes west to Reston Parkway and upgrades to existing shoulders between Twin Branches Road to Hunter Mill Road to buffered bike lanes.
- Pinecrest Road: Addition of buffered lanes between South Lakes Drive and Glade Drive. On-street parking will remain.
- Ridge Heights Road: Addition of bike lanes. On-street parking will remain. “Extra wide” parking lanes will be provided for school bus parking.
- Soapstone Drive: Addition of buffers to existing bike lanes.
Photo via Fairfax County Government
Public Meeting on Sunset Hills Road Realignment Today — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation will hold a meeting today at 7 p.m. at Sunrise Valley Elementary School (10824 Cross School Road). Plans aim to address traffic backups on Hunter Miller Road near the Dulles Toll Road. [Fairfax County Government]
Suspects in Five Killings Reportedly Linked to Macabre Neo-Nazi Group — The Atomwaffen, a relatively new neo-Nazi outfit that defines itself as a “revolutionary national socialist organization centered around political activism and the practice of an autonomous fascist lifestyle” is reportedly linked to the Reston murder of Scott Fricker, 48, and Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, 43, in late December. [The Washington Post]
Shadow Puppets Show on Friday — Children can play with light and shadows at the Walker Nature Center on Friday from 10-11 a.m. The cost is $6 for Reston members and $8 for all others. Parents and caregivers must supervisor their children. [Reston Association]
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
After years of discussion, Fairfax County officials are finalizing long awaited plans to tackle traffic backups on Hunter Mill Road near the Dulles Toll Road.
The Fairfax County Dept. of Transportation plans to realign Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road, with a roundabout as the intersection control, according to a proposal filed last month. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the plans today at 7:30 p.m.
Hunter Mill Road would be widened to four lanes between the intersection of Crowell Road and Sunset Hills Road to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps. The four-lane section would use existing right-of-way and pavement along Hunter Mill Road.
The plan departs from six alternatives discussed during six community charrettes since 2014. County officials found that no alternative would adequately reduce congestion during peak hours, according to the proposal.
Originally, the county hoped to shift the Sunset Hills Road intersection by moving it opposite the westbound off-ramp for the Dulles Toll Road and relocate the on-ramp to begin at Sunset Hills Road west of Hunter Mill Road. But a Metrorail track power substation is now being built at that site.
A second option would have relocated Sunset Hills Road by bringing the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Hunter Mill Road as close as possible to Reston Presbyterian Church. That option would not provide enough space between the intersections. A third option with roundabout in the area would have required the church to relocate.
The proposed solution would address traffic congestion and the roundabout feature meets the community’s desire to “calm” traffic to the north of Crowell Road, according to the plan.
The road realignment was prompted in response to increased traffic congestion driven by new development.
Currently, morning and afternoon traffic along Sunset Hills Road near the westbound Dulles Toll Road causes daily traffic congestion at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Hunter Mill Road.
A hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set for March 6 at 4 p.m.
Photo via Fairfax County Department of Transportation
Plans to extend Soapstone Drive could move forward as Fairfax County officials seek public comment tonight on the project, which would create an additional crossing on the Dulles Toll Road for cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
At Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive) from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., the floor will be open for the public to comment on a environmental assessment completed as part of a multi-step process since the Board of Supervisors approved the project in 2014. The study examines the potential effects of the project for properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historical Places, the country’s official list of historic sites worthy of preservation.
The new roadway will provide a half-mile extension between Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road and a new crossing over the Dulles Corridor. County officials have said the project is necessary to tackle congestion on Wiehle Avenue, limited access for buses to Wiehle-Reston East Station and the lack of connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists in the area.
Completed in August, the assessment reviews impacts of the project on surrounding land. For example, the assessment finds the project rests within 200 feet of on two sites with hazardous materials and would result in increased noise for two areas near the project.
Overall, the assessment concludes the project will not “contribute substantially to cumulative impacts, particularly in light of the efforts to minimize adverse impacts of the project and other mitigation measures to be implemented.”
Following the public hearing, the county will revise the assessment as needed and submit it to the Federal Highway Administration, the body which will make a decision about the feasibility of the project.
In 2014, the county’s supervisors included $2.5 million for the preliminary design of this project as part of its Six Year Transportation Project Priorities. At that time, they also put the project — estimated to cost $91.75 million — on the county’s list of high-priority projects for 2015-20.
More information on the project is available on the county’s website. Written or oral comments may be submitted at the hearing or in writing within 10 days after the hearing to [email protected]. Include “Soapstone Connector” in the subject line.
Fairfax County is celebrating the first year anniversary of Capital Bikeshare this month as more stations in Reston are on the horizon.
County officials laud the program as a success. According to the Capital Bikeshare’s website, more than 1,000 people have signed up to become members and more than 27,150 miles have been travelled overall. More than 10,000 trips have also been taken with the bikes.
Adam Lind, the county’s bicycle program coordinator, said the county sees the program as a success so far, especially compared to counties like Montgomery County in Maryland and Fairfax County overall.
“Memberships and trips taken have continued to increase and we expect this to continue as we expand bikeshare to new areas of Reston and the county,” Lind said.
Currently, there are 15 stations installed in Reston. Within the next few months, a new station will be on the way near the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. A dozen additional stations are planned for next year in 2019, 11 of which will be funded by a federal grant and pone of which will be funded by a development. Ten of these stations are planned on the south of Toll Road, he said.
Funding is also available for expanding Bikeshare to the west of both sides of the Toll Road within phase two of the Silver Line extension.
The most popular stations are at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station and the Reston Town Center Transit station is the 2nd most busy. The county expects bikeshare to continue to grow as more bike infrastructure is built in the community.
Public Meeting Tonight on Unfunded Transportation Projects — Fairfax County Department of Transportation officials are seeking public input on nearly 300 transportation projects that are vying for roughly $100 million in funding. Local residents can provide feedback on proposed projects at a public meeting tonight from 7-9 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). The meeting will include a formal presentation about unfunded projects and a question-and-answer session. [Reston Now]
Be Alert for Deer on Roadways — Police are urging residents to be alert and aware of the potential for deer to dart into the road in front of their vehicles. About half of all deer-vehicle collisions occur during the months of October, November and December, they say. [Fairfax County Police Department]
County Rape Suspect Arrested in West Virginia — Eusebio Romero-Rivera, 48, is believed to have fled the state after a warrant was issued for his arrest on a charge of raping an adult family member in August. The U.S. Marshals Service says Romero-Rivera, a Salvadoran national, had previously been deported and had re-entered the country illegally. [The (Martinsburg, W.Va.) Journal]
Learn About Lyme Disease Tonight — The National Capital Lyme Disease Association will host a panel discussion on the topic tonight, 7:30-9:30 p.m., at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive). [NatCapLyme]
Herndon Welcomes South Korean Guests — Herndon’s mayor and Town Council exchanged gifts, including a ceremonial Town Key, with the South Korean visitors, who were guests of Grandmaster H.K. Lee Academy of TaeKwonDo. [Connection Newspapers]
Local Military Veteran Dies in Texas — Carl Bolle, a 1977 graduate of Herndon High School, served 20 years in the U.S. Army and achieved the rank of sergeant first class. Among his medals, he earned the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. After retiring, he worked as a contractor in the computer intelligence area at Fort Hood for 16 years. [Temple Daily Telegram]
RA Offices Closed Today — Reston Association offices, including the Nature House and Central Services Facility, are closed today in observance of Columbus Day. [Reston Association]
North Shore Drive Sidewalk Project Planned — The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will host a community meeting about the North Shore Drive sidewalk project Wednesday in the cafeteria of Lake Anne Elementary School (11510 North Shore Drive). Plans are to expand the sidewalk on the south side of North Shore Drive from Sycamore Valley Court to the existing sidewalk east of North Shore Court. [Fairfax County DOT]
Reston’s Tree Canopy Shown Off — Reston has a 49 percent urban tree canopy, RA Environmental Resource Supervisor Patricia Greenberg explains in Reston Association’s latest “Reston Today” video dispatch. In the video, Greenberg explains the benefits of the canopy and how to take care of it. [Reston Association/YouTube]
Why Reston is ‘One Better Than Ashburn’ — A recent Money magazine list named Reston the 29th-best place to live in America … and nearby Ashburn the 30th. A local blogger compared the communities in a tongue-in-cheek fashion and determined just how the magazine came to the conclusion that Reston is “Ashburn plus one.” [Restonian]
Local residents can provide feedback on proposed projects at a public meeting on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 7-9 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). The meeting will include a formal presentation about unfunded projects and a question-and-answer session.
Residents can also take an online survey by Nov. 9 to indicate preferred projects, or mail a printed copy of the survey to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033).
Feedback will allow the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to prioritize unfunded transportation projects in line for funding through fiscal year 2023, according to the county’s website.
Unfunded projects in Reston include those listed below:
- Installation of roundabout at the intersection of Sunset Hills and Hunter Mill Road ($73.1 million)
- The extension and addition of the grid of streets in the Reston Transit Station area ($500,000)
- Construction of turn lanes and installation of a traffic signal in the area of Fox Mill Road and Pinecrest Road. ($1.7 million)
- Extension of southbound left turn lane on Reston Parkway at Temporary Road ($280,000)
- Addition of left turn lane and traffic signal on Lawyers Road at Twin Branches Road ($1.7 million)
- Construction of a bike and pedestrian trail on Baron Cameron Drive from Cameron Heath Drive to Gatesmeadow Way. ($1.5 million)
- Addition of walkway on Center Harbor Road from Heritage Oak Way to North Village ($1.4 million)
- Addition of bike lanes or trail on Lawyers Road from existing bike lanes to Twin Branches Road ($5 million)
- Addition of bike lanes or trail on Lawyers Road from Twin Branches Road to Hunter Mill Road ($7.5 million)
- Expansion of Reston Capital Bikeshare ($500,000)
- Construction of sidewalk on Ridge Heights Road from Lakewinds Drive to South Lakes Drive ($600,000)
- Construction of walkway on the south side of South Lakes Drive from Pine Cone Court to Tanbark Drive. ($1.5 million)
- Installation of bike lanes on South Lakes Drive from Reston Parkway to Sunrise Valley Drive ($5 million)
- Addition of walkway on the east side of South Lakes Drive from Thoreau Place to Sunrise Valley Drive ($550,000)
- Addition of shared use pathway or bike lanes on Wiehle Avenue from Baron Cameron Avenue to Reston Station Boulevard ($12 million)
Other projects of local interest include:
- Construct sidewalk on north side of Fox Mill Road (Herndon) from Monroe Street to Greg Roy Lane ($600,000)
- Roadway widening from West Ox Road to Fairfax County Parkway (To be determined)
- Addition of pedestrian refuge islands on Beulah Road from the entrance of Wolf Trap Elementary School to Talisman Drive (To be determined)
Countywide projects include:
- Improvements on two existing bus routes in the Herndon and Centreville Road areas ($1.3 million)
- Addition of five new recommended bus routes that provide north-south and east-west connections ($55.6 million)
- Expansion of the Tysons Capital Bikeshare ($500,000)
- Completion of identified bike roadway spots. ($1.1 million)
All project costs are based on estimates.
For more information, call 703-877-5600 or email [email protected].