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:
This week has been Try Transit Week in Virginia, and officials across the DC Metro area are hoping residents will take it one-step farther Friday.
Car-Free Day, according to its website, is an annual event when commuters are “encouraged to get around without driving alone in cars and instead ride a train, bus, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, subway or walk. For those that have the ability to work from home, telework also counts.”
All residents who are participating can fill out a pledge form and receive a buy-one-get-one promotional offer from Chipotle. They will be entered in a drawing to win other prizes for participation as well.
Participants from Fairfax County are eligible for specific prizes courtesy of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, including SmarTrip cards.
“With the benefits of potential commuting cost savings, increased physical exercise, fewer cars on the road and a cleaner environment, everyone is invited to try a new way to get to work,” reads an announcement from FCDOT. “By reducing the number of single-occupant vehicles on the road — or getting more people in fewer vehicles — commuters can enjoy less traffic while improving air quality and saving money on fuel, maintenance and parking expenses.”
2 Dead in Great Falls Crash — A 26-year-old Annandale man and a 23-year-old Great Falls woman were killed in an automobile crash at about 7 p.m. Saturday in the 10500 block of Beach Mill Road. A 15-year-old girl, reported by the Washington Post to be the woman’s sister, also suffered life-threatening injuries in the crash. The Post says the two victims were Virginia Tech students who planned to marry. [Fairfax County Police Department/Washington Post]
County Promoting Car-Free Commuting This Week — Fairfax County is encouraging residents to go car-free for a day and try an alternative to drive-alone commuting during Try Transit Week. Participants will be eligible to win prizes include SmarTrip cards and more. [Fairfax County Department of Transportation]
Volunteers Needed for Reston Expo — Volunteers are needed to assist with setup, parking, children’s activities and more at Sept. 30’s Reston Expo. Everyone who signs up to volunteer will receive lunch, snacks, drinks and a volunteer T-shirt. To volunteer, or for more information, contact Ha Brock at [email protected] or call 703-435-7986. [Volunteer Reston]
FCPD Warns of Jury Duty Scam — Once again, the Fairfax County Police Department says, crooks are scamming money from residents through calls claiming a jury duty appearance has been missed. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Herndon Seeks Nominees for Good Neighbor Award — Residents can nominate a family members, friends or neighbors who make noteworthy contributions to improve the quality of life in their neighborhood. [Town of Herndon]
A handful of local residents joined Fairfax County Department of Transportation representatives Thursday at Dogwood Elementary School to discuss how best to increase pedestrian safety in the area of the Dulles Toll Road.
FCDOT hosted the community meeting to discuss options for proposed changes to the crossing of the Fairfax County Parkway Trail over the eastbound Dulles Toll Road ramp. In that area, the crossing is around a curve as cars northbound on the parkway turn onto the ramp.
“There’s no visibility, and they have to do something about visibility if they can’t do anything about the grade,” said Steve Steiner, who said he has particular interest in safety on the trail after being struck by a car two years ago at a nearby crossing and spending four days at Inova Trauma Center. “We’re putting a really expensive and massive transportation system and we’re trying to promote the use of the trail for commuting … and you want to try to make it safe and accessible.”
FCDOT has given two options for safety improvements at the intersection in question, which was flagged as part of the Reston Metrorail Access Group (RMAG) II improvements study. It is proposing either at-grade improvements including a signalized crosswalk, or the construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the ramp.
Adam Lind, FCDOT’s Bike Program manager, said neither choice was the department’s first option.
“Our original plan, actually, was a tunnel option [under the Toll Road ramp],” Lind said. “However, once we did a survey we found out there are four major utility lines and an underground stormwater tank — that pretty much nixed that option.”
The two options that remain have a vast difference in cost. The at-grade improvements would cost about $633,000 to implement, according to FCDOT, while the cost of the bridge would near $7 million.
Lind said the at-grade option focuses on improving sight distance by bringing the trail up to the shoulder of Fairfax County Parkway and creating two one-lane crossings instead of the current two-lane crossing over the ramp. He said options of stop signals for cars or the installation of a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon to alert drivers are also being considered.
The bridge option, Lind said, would require about 700 feet of structure. It needs to be so long and high, Lind said, to allow 18 feet of clearance on the ramp below it. The result would be a bridge that travels parallel to the ramp as its elevation increases, then crosses, then decreases in height back down to the parkway.
Lind said there will be a lot of other projects similar to this one in the area as connectivity to Silver Line Phase II Metro stations is addressed; however, he said, this particular intersection doesn’t directly affect Metro access.
“While this is a big and important connection for the county and the region, it doesn’t directly serve the Metro station,” Lind said. “If you’re coming from the north, you can get off at Sunset Hills … and if you’re coming from the south, you can access via Sunrise Valley Drive.”
While it may not directly connect with the Metro, local residents Norman and Barbara Happ said the crossing is very dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists and they are happy to see it being addressed.
“I can’t imagine anything being safer than the bridge, but at least with the [at-grade crossing] you could be seen,” Norman said. “With the Bikeshare coming in on the south side, there are going to be a lot more people using this.”
FCDOT will continue to collect comments on the project through Friday, Sept. 29. Those comments can be made online; by writing the FCDOT Bicycle Program at 4050 Legato Road, Suite 4050, Fairfax, VA 22033; or by calling 703-877-5600.
Reston Association Budget Meeting Tonight — Sridhar Ganesan, treasurer and RA Board at-large director, will facilitate a budget-development community meeting tonight from 7-9 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). According to information provided by Reston Association, members “are invited to share their thoughts and comments on issues related to next year’s budget.” [Reston Now]
Meeting on Fairfax County Parkway Trail Crossing Tonight — The County Department of Transportation has slated a community meeting to discuss options for improving safety at a trail crossing of a Dulles Toll Road ramp. The meeting is tonight from 6:30-8 p.m. in the cafeteria of Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive). [Reston Now]
Changes Coming to South Lakes Bus Route — To address crowding associated with South Lakes High School ridership, Fairfax Connector will shorten headways on some afternoon trips on Route 551 beginning Sept. 30. [Fairfax Connector]
2017 Virginia Tax Amnesty Program Begins — Until Nov. 14, delinquent individual and business taxpayers can pay back taxes with no penalties and half the interest. [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]
No More ‘Wiley’-Reston East? — In a tweet responding to a rider’s question, Metrorail says it is “exploring ways” to fix automated voice announcements that mispronounce the name of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. [Metrorail Info/Twitter]
File photo courtesy Karen Raffel
Looking to improve conditions it sees as hazardous for pedestrians and bicyclists, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation is considering options for altering a crossing of the Fairfax County Parkway Trail in the area of the Dulles Toll Road.
At the location in question, the trail crosses the eastbound on-ramp for the Dulles Toll Road. FCDOT, as part of its Reston Metrorail Access Group (RMAG) II improvements project, says that is a problem spot. In its analysis, FCDOT has presented two options for making the crossing safer: making at-grade improvements including a signalized crosswalk, or constructing a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the ramp.
The options have a huge difference in cost. The at-grade improvements would cost about $633,000 to implement, according to FCDOT, while the cost of the bridge would near $7 million.
“Cost estimates consider construction mobilization, clearing and grubbing, earthwork, pavement, incidentals, drainage, erosion [and] sediment control, maintenance of traffic, and bridge construction,” the FCDOT report reads. “Engineering design cost and construction engineering inspection cost are also included in each cost estimate.”
A community meeting to discuss the options has been slated for Thursday, Sept. 14, from 6:30-8 p.m. in the cafeteria of Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive).
Comments on the project can also be made online, by writing the FCDOT Bicycle Program at 4050 Legato Road, Suite 4050, Fairfax, VA 22033; or by calling 703-877-5600. Comments will be collected through Friday, Sept. 29.
Dominion Rates Going Down as of Today –The net impact of the changes for the monthly bill for the typical Dominion Energy residential customer is a decrease of 1.1 percent, lowering the typical bill from $117.20 to $115.65, which is 30 cents lower than in February 2015. [Dominion Energy]
Bechtel Selected to Complete Georgia Nuclear Plant Expansion — Bechtel has been chosen by Georgia Power to complete construction of a two-reactor expansion of a nuclear power plant near Augusta, Georgia. These will be the first new units built in the U.S. in the last three decades. [Markets Insider]
King, Browns Finish Preseason Undefeated — Deon King, a South Lakes High School graduate, recorded one tackle Thursday night as the Cleveland Browns shut out the Chicago Bears, 25-0. The Browns finish the preseason with a 4-0 record. In the four games, King recorded nine tackles (including seven solo) and a fumble recovery. ESPN’s roster projection has him making the cut and being part of the 53-man regular-season squad. [ESPN]
Fairfax Crew Making Rescues in Flooded Texas — Fairfax Fire and Rescue provided an update Thursday of its efforts to help with rescue operations in flood-ravaged southeast Texas. They have helped save six people and two pets from flooded areas, and they have also assisted an owner with accessing and retrieving three more pets. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]
Last Day to Get Comments In on BikeShare Locations — Comments on plans for 10 new Captial BikeShare stations in Reston, including nine south of the Dulles Toll Road, must be in by close of business today. [Fairfax County Department of Transportation]
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation plans to bring 10 new locations of Capital Bikeshare to Reston, including nine south of the Dulles Toll Road.
Phase II of the expansion of Capital Bikeshare to the area is intended to “increase the number of destinations within the system, while also taking advantage of new bike infrastructure in 2017 to make riding safer and more enjoyable for all,” according to FCDOT. Fifteen Capital Bikeshare locations have already been installed in Reston, all in the northern part of the community.
The proposed new locations for Capital Bikeshare stations include Baron Cameron Avenue/Hampton Avenue North, as well as nine in South Reston:
- Soapstone Drive/Sunrise Valley Drive
- Soapstone Drive/South Lakes Drive
- Campus Commons Drive
- South Lakes Village Center
- Hunters Woods Village Center
- Barton Hill Park
- Lake Audubon Pool
- Glade Pool
- Hunters Woods Park
Public outreach events to gather community input on the proposed sites are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 10 at Lake Audubon Pool (2070 Twin Branches Road) and Thursday, Aug 17 at Glade Pool (11550 Glade Drive). Both are slated for 1-5 p.m.
A third outreach session will be held Saturday, Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Reston Farmers Market in Lake Anne Plaza.
Phase II of the Bikeshare project is federally funded, with 10 new stations being paid for by a TAP grant. Because of this, they all must be located in the public right of way. Therefore, FCDOT plans to replace some of the locally funded Phase I stations that are on public rights of way with federally funded stations, and then relocate the Phase I stations to South Reston sites (Campus Commons Drive, South Lakes Village Center and Hunters Woods Village Center) where public right of way is not available.
Folk Music Tonight at Lake Anne — The “Take A Break” concert series at Lake Anne Plaza will continue tonight with a performance by contemporary folk artists Sweater Set. [Lake Anne Plaza]
Car Hits Pole in Reston — A Wednesday evening crash on Lawyers Road at Soapstone Drive took out power and closed the road. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Fireworks Safety Urged — Fireworks can turn a holiday into a tragedy within seconds when illegal and dangerous fireworks are being used. Fire officials have released a video to promote fireworks safety this July Fourth. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/YouTube]
Shared-Use Path Planned — A meeting June 29 will discuss a proposed path from the future Innovation Station Metro station kiss-and-ride on the north side of the Dulles Toll Road. [Fairfax County Department of Transportation]
Photo via @butler_law on Twitter
Following a community meeting last month regarding the potential addition of bike lanes to Glade Drive, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation has decided not to go forward with that possibility.
“We obviously heard from the community along Glade about their preference for parking, and that helped to drive our decision,” said Adam Lind, FCDOT’s Bike Program manager, Friday morning. “We’re not going to take any parking; we’re sticking with just sharrows.”
A shared-lane marking, or sharrow, is painted in a travel lane to show where bicycles may be on the road and what direction they should be traveling. Lanes remain the same width, as does space for cars to park.
Some residents had expressed concern that if bike lanes were added to Glade Drive, the subsequent removal of street parking would cause problems with overflow parking at Glade Pool, Walker Nature Center, the Quartermaster Soccer Field and other locations along the road.
In another community meeting in March, Lind presented possibilities for bike lanes on Colts Neck Road, North Shore Drive and Twin Branches Road. In regard to those plans, Lind said:
- bike lanes will be added in both directions on Colts Neck Road, along with a road diet
- there will be a bike lane in one direction and sharrows in the other along North Shore Drive, with the location of each alternating “depending on the section of the street”
- bike lanes will be added in both directions on Twin Branches Road
“No major alterations [from what was presented],” Lind said. “Most of the tweaks have been local comments about specific items — [such as] where we’re looking to shift the double yellow to give more room for people to pass when there’s parking along a road.”
At March’s meeting, a number of residents were particularly concerned about the proposal for the road diet on Colts Neck Road, which will take the road from four lanes of vehicle traffic to two between Glade Drive and South Lakes Drive.
Bicycle riders responded by saying Colts Neck Road is particularly dangerous for them and for pedestrians as well. The road diet could also allow for the addition of a crosswalk. Lind also said it is not believed the diet will have a major adverse effect on vehicle traffic. In a presentation during the March meeting, Lind said roads with traffic less than 20,000 cars per day don’t require four travel lanes, and a traffic count showed less than half that on Colts Neck Road. Those cars will be slowed by the diet and safety will be increased, Lind said.
Residents argued, however, that the road is a major “cut-through” during rush-hour times when traffic is backed up on Fairfax County Parkway, and that the road diet would cause additional traffic delays specifically during those times. According to a recent study, less than 1/2 of 1 percent of Fairfax County commuters bike to work — an amount some residents said is not worth potentially causing daily bottlenecking of cars. Possible safety hazards that could be presented by a center left-turn lane were also raised by citizens.
Repaving and re-striping will be conducted by the Virginia Department of Transportation after school lets out for the summer, Lind said. Further details will be provided on VDOT’s paving program website.
Anyone seeking additional information can request it by emailing [email protected].
Let us know what you think below:
File photo at top from Glade Drive community meeting April 27. Map of Colts Neck Road redesign via Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
About 525 bicyclists had passed through the stop at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station plaza as of about 9 a.m., said Ashleigh Soloff, Reston Association’s special events coordinator. She said this is the third year the event has been held at the Metro plaza in coordination with Comstock Partners.
“[Riders] have been telling me that this is the best pit stop that they’ve come through today so far,” Soloff said of participants’ feedback on the event. “It’s very active and lively.”
Nineteen organizations participated in the event to share information and goodies with riders. Food was provided by Whole Foods and Einstein Bagels. A DJ was playing music and giveaway drawings were being held every half-hour.
Soloff said the concept of biking to work is important to Reston Association.
“We’re trying to get everybody out of their cars just for one day, but then they learn that ‘Hey, I can actually do this every day,'” she said.
Rod Colen, of Reston, was riding along with his daughter, Steph. He said increasing participation in bicycling to work is important for multiple reasons, including public health and improving commute times.
“There’s just so much pressure on everybody for productivity and hours and commute time,” he said. “As traffic gets worse, biking to work will actually be competitive.”
Colen said improved infrastructure and planning is needed to increase the number of bike commuters in Fairfax County. His daughter, who now lives in Arlington but works in Reston Town Center, said she doesn’t regularly ride to commute but she chose to today.
“I also have friends who live in Arlington and work in the Town Center who decided yesterday when they found out about [Bike to Work Day], they’re not big bikers, but they were just going to do it casually,” Steph said.
Adam Lind, Bike Program manager for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, said the county seeks to expand participation in Bike to Work Day each year. He was providing visitors with information including copies of the county’s new bike map. In addition, he said, the county is running a 50 percent discount through the end of May on yearly memberships to Capital Bikeshare, which is expanding in Reston.
The regional Bike to Work Day event is organized by Commuter Connections, a program of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments that promotes bicycling to work, ridesharing and other alternatives to driving.