Missing SLHS Teacher Found Dead Near Crashed Motorcycle

A South Lakes High School teacher who was reported missing earlier this month was identified as the motorcyclist found dead Thursday near Fairfax County Parkway.

Simon Chang, 39, of Ashburn, was a special education teacher and a member of the boys basketball coaching staff. He was reported missing on August 16.

The news comes just days before students return to SLHS. Kim Retzer, the school’s principal, wrote the following message to parents about Chang’s passing:

The South Lakes High School community is mourning the death of one of our teachers, Simon Chang. As a special education teacher and member of the boys basketball coaching staff, Mr. Chang was as a beloved member of the Seahawk family. He will be remembered for his positivity and dedication to our staff and students.  He will be greatly missed. We have been in contact with Mr. Chang’s family to offer our condolences and support. 

We feel it is important for you to be aware of this situation so that you can provide any support your children might need.  Our counselors and an FCPS crisis team will be available Monday to meet with any students or staff who need assistance.  All staff will have information on where to direct students who need support. We are taking every step we can to be responsive to the needs of our students and families.  Please reach out if there are ways we can support you.  

Our thoughts are with Mr. Chang’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Police believe Chang was riding a motorcycle from Lee Highway to northbound Fairfax County Parkway when the motorcycle ran off the shoulder of the ramp and drove into a wooded area near a pond.

Chang’s body was found on Thursday, August 23 after a groundskeeper found the wreckage.

Detective do not believe other vehicles were involved in the accident. It is unclear if speed or alcohol were factors.

Photo via Loudoun County Government

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FCDOT Seeking Locals’ Input for Fairfax County Parkway Changes

(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Locals in Reston will have a chance to provide feedback this week to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) on a study looking at the Fairfax County Parkway from Route 7 to Route 1.

FCDOT is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on the “Fairfax County and Franconia-Springfield Parkways Alternatives Analysis and Long Term Planning Study,” which stretches 31 miles and consists of 83 intersections and 17 interchanges.

Some questions that the study wants to address include:

  • the degree to which existing intersections should be considered for conversion to interchanges or under/overpasses
  • how transit should be integrated into the corridor
  • bicycle/pedestrian mobility

Tolling is off the agenda after FCDOT sought feedback from the community last fall. “Strong public participation, with more than 200 people attending meetings and 15,150 responses to the online survey, informed the formulation of strategies that will be discussed at the upcoming round of public meetings and led to the removal of tolling along the parkway as one of the approved strategies for improvement,” according to a FCDOT press release.

Ultimately, the study will provide recommendations for 2040 and beyond and will consider whether or not changes should be made to the county’s current transportation plan.

The meeting is set to take place on Thursday (March 28) at the Armstrong Elementary School (11900 Lake Newport Road).

The meeting will start with a presentation at 7 p.m. followed by a question and answer period at 7:30 p.m. and time for public input activities at 8 p.m. The Reston event is one of three public information sessions — the other two are at Fairfax and Springfield.

Locals will be able to give their feedback to the FCDOT study team in person. For people unable to attend the meeting, FCDOT will upload the meeting presentation to the study webpage by Thursday, April 4, and accept feedback through an online survey until midnight on Monday, May 6.

The input is meant to guide the study team to determine which improvements will be developed for screening and testing.

Courtesy via VDOT

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Hotel coming to Reston Station — “Comstock Holdings Cos. Inc. has closed a franchise agreement with Marriott International Inc. to bring a Renaissance hotel to Reston Station… The hotel building, to be topped by 80 luxury condominium units, is expected to deliver in 2022 on a site bounded by Reston Station Boulevard, Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road. It is being designed by Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects.” [Washington Business Journal]

Crash caused lane closures — Commuters heading on Fairfax County Parkway by West Ox Road last night around 6 p.m. may have noticed a multi-car crash that closed two southbound lanes on the parkway for about half of an hour. All of the lanes opened up shortly before 7 p.m. [Fairfax County]

Reston makes “hottest up-and-coming” list — Reston was included in the Northern Virginia Magazine’s annual roundup of neighborhoods to keep an eye on in Northern Virginia. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Make dip dye scarves — Tonight from 7-9 p.m. at ArtSpace Herndon, you can learn how to make dye scarves and some basic Shibori style folding and binding methods. [ArtSpace Herndon]

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Friday Morning Notes

Google moving in Reston — “The Mountain View, California-based company is close to announcing plans to move from Reston Town Center to 1900 Reston Metro Plaza, the trophy office building Comstock Holding Cos. Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fox Mill Road now open — A car crash and downed pole on Valentine’s Day shut down Fox Mill Road at Lawyers Road shortly after 2:30 p.m. The road opened up a few minutes ago. [Fairfax County Police]

Tolls tanked — “Tolls are off the table for Fairfax County Parkway, and long-planned High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes in the Virginia County may even be a stretch.” [WTOP]

Todd Hitt pleads guilty to fraud — “Former Kiddar Capital CEO Todd Hitt pleaded guilty to orchestrating eight counts of securities fraud that ultimately cost investors $20 million, according to a plea deal announced Wednesday by the Department of Justice.” Hitt admitted to soliciting about $30 million from investors over a period of four years while making false statements. Part of the $30 million included $17 for Kiddar Capital’s purchase of a Herndon office building. [Washington Business Journal]

Fishing workshop — A hands-on workshop at Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive) will cover tackle, rods and reels. The program runs from 6-7 p.m., and the cost is $8 per person. [Fairfax County]

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Thursday Morning Notes

Happy Valentine’s Day — Hundreds of locals from Reston and Herndon recently created 10,000 handwritten valentines as part of volunteering efforts for two initiatives produced by the Barbara Foundation of Reston. [Connection Newspapers]

Girl Power! Book Club — Book lovers can share their love of reading and head to Scrawl Books to discuss “Into White” by Randi Pink at 7 p.m. [Scrawl Books]

Reston company nabs NASA IT contract — “Leidos Holdings Inc. has been awarded an information technology contract with NASA potentially worth almost $3 billion that it’s calling a ‘marquee’ win.” [Washington Business Journal]

Money and politics — The candidates vying for the 86th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates recently disclosed their campaign finances. Democrat Ibraheem Samirah has raised the most — $73,243 — followed by Republican Gregg Nelson, who has raised $23,359. [VAPAP]

Fire at Herndon home — Crews responded to a fire in the 2100 block of Oram Place around 2:30 a.m. The fire was in the basement and extended to parts of the upper floors. The fire is now out and no injuries have been reported. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

P.S. — Reston Now recently rounded up several Valentine’s Day events this week. Some of them are happening today.

Photo via J. Sibiga Photography/Flickr pool

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UPDATED: Two Vehicle Crash Shuts Down Part of Fairfax County Parkway

Updated at 3:15 p.m. — All lanes of Fairfax County Parkway are open, according to a Fairfax County Police Department tweet at 2:42 p.m.

Northbound on Fairfax County Parkway near Sunrise Valley Drive was shut down around 1:20 p.m. as crews work to free a trapped driver from a crash.

Fairfax County sent out a traffic alert at 1:21 p.m. about the crash.

Six minutes later, Fairfax Fire and Rescue tweeted that crews were on the scene of the two-vehicle crash.

Crews freed the driver about 10 minutes later. Two people were transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to a second tweet at 1:36 p.m.

Image via Google Maps

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Thursday Morning Notes

Free health expo — WUSA9 will offer information and free screenings with the Reston Hospital Center and the YMCA Fairfax County Reston today. Head to the YMCA Fairfax County Reston at 12196 Sunset Hills Road from 7 a.m. to noon and 2-7 p.m. [WUSA9]

The Hungry Hungry Games — Kids ages 12 to 18 can eat snacks and play life-sized Hungry Hungry Hippos from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Great Falls Library. [Fairfax County]

Dabke choreography — Dabke, which is based on a Middle Eastern folk dance, is a line dance often performed at celebrations. The dance performance — in partnership with Dance Place — will take place starting at 8 p.m. tonight at CenterStage. Tickets cost $20 for Reston residents. [Reston Community Center]

Temporary Reston road closure this morning — Southbound on Fairfax County Parkway at Walnut Branch Road shut down due to an accident shortly before 5 a.m. The parkway opened back up around 5:11 a.m. [Fairfax County Police on Twitter]

Silver Line test trains hit track problems — “The first test train on Metro’s Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport made it only 1,000 feet out of the Wiehle-Reston East station before running into trouble, sources told News4 … But the two-car train, pushed by an older locomotive, made it about 1,000 feet along an 11-mile journey before it ran into issues with the new tracks, sources said.” [NBC4]

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County Mulls Longterm Improvements to Fairfax County Parkway

Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation is exploring ways to improve Fairfax County Parkway. In concert with the state transportation officials, the county plans to begin a multi-corridor study for Fairfax County Parkway from Route 7 to Route 1, covering a span of 31 miles with 83 intersections and 17 interchanges.

The study will offer longterm recommendations for 2040 and review whether or not changes to the county’s current transportation plan are warranted. According to the county, the study will offer “intensive analysis” to spot major problem areas and deficiencies.

Once completed, the study will explore the possibility of tolling and HOV lanes on the parkways, bicyclist and pedestrian mobility, the integration of transit, and if current intersections should be converted into interchanges, overpasses, and underpasses.

The county will lead a public meeting about the study in Reston on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in Armstrong Elementary School (11900 Lake Newport Road). A presentation by the county will be followed by an opportunity for public input at 8 p.m.

After initiating a public engagement period, the county will pitch possible ideas to the public by the winter of next year and kickstart another round of public outreach. Officials plan to solidify recommendations by the summer of next year, review study recommendations with the public in the fall and explore any comprehensive plan amendments that might be necessary by the spring of 2020.

A short term study on transportation issues and recommendations for improvements along Fairfax County Parkway and Franconia-Springfield Parkway was completed in 2016. The 113-page report included a mix of recommendations, including improvements to trail crossings on the northbound ramp from Fairfax County Parkway to Sunset Hills Road.

Other meetings on the longterm study are set for today at Navy Elementary School (3500 West Ox Road in Fairfax) and on Thursday at Sangster Elementary School (7420 Reservation Drive in Springfield).

Photo via Virginia Department of Transportation

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Friday Morning Notes

Weekend road closures canceled — Closures scheduled for the eastbound Dulles Access Highway between Centreville Road and Fairfax County Parkway this weekend have been postponed to next weekend. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Tickets for Professional Touring Artists series now available — Anyone can purchase tickets for Reston Community Center’s professional touring artists series. Presenters include activist DeRay Mckesson and opera diva Elizabeth Bishop. [Reston Community Center]

If it floats your boat — Don’t forget: The cardboard boat regatta at Lake Anne Plaza is on Saturday. Teams will make their own life-size cardboard boats, which will then take to the water for an eventful race. [Reston Historic Trust & Museum]

Summerbration concert tonight — Enjoy modern country rock as part of the weekly “Summerbration” concert series. Parking is free from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tonight’s event also includes free dancing instruction. [Reston Community Center]

 

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Developing: Two People Killed in Car Crash Near Walnut Branch Road

Two people were killed and two others were injured in a car accident that happened around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The crash happened at Fairfax County Parkway near Walnut Branch Road. Northbound Fairfax County Parkway at Baron Cameron Avenue was closed for roughly three hours.

A crash reconstruction unit is investigating the incident. Two people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

This story will be updated.

Photo via Fairfax County Police Department

 

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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 Officials Seek Input on Prioritizing 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 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].

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Thursday Morning Notes

Lake Anne Concert Series Ends Tonight — The “Take A Break” concert series at Lake Anne Plaza will wrap up tonight with a show from Texas Chainsaw Horns, an R&B group, from 7-9 p.m. [Lake Anne Plaza]

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

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Public Safety Forum Set for Tonight — The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station will hold a community public safety forum tonight from 7-9 p.m. at McNair Elementary School (2499 Thomas Jefferson Drive, Herndon). Police leaders will discuss the “State of Reston,” pedestrian safety initiatives and crime prevention, and they will introduce the community to valuable resources. [Supervisor Cathy Hudgins]

Morning Crash Causes Traffic Delays — At about 6:15 a.m. today, FCPD reported a crash on Sunrise Valley Drive in the area of Fairfax County Parkway that caused “significant traffic delays.” All lanes were reported open again before 7 a.m. [Fairfax County Police Department/Twitter]

Supervisors Approve Budget Carryover — At its meeting Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved $59.6 million in FY2017 carryover funding, to be used in part to fund reserves and infrastructure needs, along with other projects including the demolition of the Massey Building. [Fairfax County]

Review: ‘Disgraced’ Challenges and Chafes Audiences — The play about Muslim assimilation and identity in America, now being performed at NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) left a reviewer “examining [his] own life experiences and [his] own long-time, deeply-held progressive values and beliefs.” [DC Metro Theater Arts]

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Crosswalks or Bridge Considered for Pedestrians, Bikes Over Eastbound Toll Road Ramp

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.

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